My New Mom Ears

by Becky Myers on March 18, 2011

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Watch them wiggle to and fro. Tomorrow I will officially have a 7 week old in my house as well as the perfectly tuned hearing of a mom. I have honed my hearing skills to mommy level. Even if my husband is playing war video games, the dishwasher is banging dishes around because I loaded it wrong and the tv is blaring in another room I can hear my dear little daughter go “ehhh”. It’s amazing that I can pick up on this… Or is it? Does this mean that I am never calm, always waiting for her next move? I’d like to think it’s a biological instinct that I’ve been given to help me parent, but I dread the day that I’m caught constantly staring at my baby video monitor or walking back and forth to see what her little sigh was all about. I worry that one day my ears will burn out and I will become oblivious to what is going on in the next room. My alertness will vanish and then things may go terribly wrong. Obsessive or loving? The mere fact that I’m somewhat embarrassed over this is disheartening.

Although I’m a new mom I’ve picked up rather quickly on other mom’s attitudes and behaviors. I’ve noticed that they don’t obsess nearly as much as I do. While jogging with another mom of a 3 month old, she let her baby cry the entire mile back to her house. Granted she has a very fussy baby, but what gives with the lack of nurturing? Does it wear off somewhere in between fascination at the miracle of birth and beyond? I’ve given myself some lead way here since it really has only been 7 weeks, but it does make me wonder about parenting transitions. As our babies age do we slowly stop paying as much attention? Does our infatuating love for them turn into more of a chore? Do we run empty on love? Perhaps a parents love slowly shifts into a different shape and form as time goes on. Or perhaps our love tanks, as Dr. Gary Chapman of “The Five Love Languages” would put it, perhaps our love tanks become empty and we as parents have nothing left to give.

Yes I can hear my daughter coo and cry across the house, but am I listening to myself? Am I listening to my husband as he tells me about his day? How can I continue to provide a loving home to her if I drown out the sounds of the rest of the world…Mom ears…a blessing or a curse?

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Becky Myers (6 Posts)

Becky is a navy wife and new parent to a 9 month old baby girl. She plans to enter an English PhD program next year and enjoys cooking, writing, yoga, upcycling and gardening during her free time (what free time?! )


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kiehrstin March 18, 2011 at 10:41 am

My dd turned 26 months yesterday, and I dont feel as if my “mommy ears” have eased up in the least! I bf, bed share, and babywear (so no way would my baby be crying in a stroller for a walk!) I feel at times the acute mommy hearing causes me to sleep less (esp early on) when ever sigh brings me awake… but when she’s sick it actually gives me peace of mind to hear her breath if that makes sense. I have tried to not have her near to get some sleep and find I just lay there awake thinking about her. I have found that the drop everything and run to the cries slows down… you learn which cries need your immediate attention and which is a fussy/frustrated/whatever kinda cry that if she wanted to she could come to you (this started when she could walk obv). If Daddy’s home I even find my self resisting if I’m cooking or doing dishes to run to her, because she needs to learn other loving people can help her. My husband knew the first year or so was going to be ALL about BABY. The only thing that i saw heard or thought was her! She could not be reasoned with like she can now, to have patience and take turns ie “mom and dad are talking wait one minute.” Just wait for the “I dont hear ANYTHING… what is she up to?” LOL IMO the mommy hears are a blessing; it shows your attached and that you care!

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Jackie S March 18, 2011 at 10:54 am

I too have mom ears. I have a 18 month old, and my skill as never faded. I can decipher every sound he makes, if he’s hurt, upset, eating something he shouldn’t be, if he wants something.. I know all these sounds by heart.
I wouldn’t say it is a curse, or a burden. I can tend to him quickly and more efficiently instead of guessing what he wants, making both of us more frustrated when I get it wrong.
My husband doesn’t have the “mom ears” that I gained 18 months ago. Perhaps because I spend everyday with my baby, or because he has too much on his mind, and his “attention-tank” is running on empty.
The love for our babies do change and morph into different types of love over time, but I don’t see my love tank ever running out.

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marcos March 18, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Oh yes, perfectly normal. My wife and I would say at the same time: “the girl!”. And you will not run out of love, it will probably become deeper and richer. Only her needs will be changing.
Just keep listening to yourself, and to her!

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Janine March 18, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I don’t understand those moms who let their babies cry at any age! Today someone on a message board was talking about how her baby was teething and fussy all day so she was calling the babysitter and going out to dinner. I won’t even leave my 6 month old with his father (whom I completely trust to take perfect care of him) if he is having a tough day! I think that women who have mom ears from the beginning never lose them.

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Madeleine'smom March 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm

My baby is 8 months old and I believe my mommy ears are stronger with every day. As time goes by I not only hear every sound she makes, but my ability to understand their meaning grows. I can now tell from the other end of the house if her wimper means – I’m hungry, my teeth hurt, I have rolled over and can’t find my way back, I just need to be heard or I’m lonely come get me.

I consider myself an attachment parent through and through, but I also believe we should not judge. How one parents is a very personal choice and evolves each day. I will freely admit to reluctantly “letting” my daughter cry from her stroller as I spring toward home knowing that it will be much faster to run with her in the stroller than to pick her up and carry her back. With my husband deployed for nearly a year, I have also let her cry for 10 minutes while I finish showering, peeing, teeth brushing.

For ME, the key is taking it as it comes and using my best judgement in each situation. There are some days where I know letting her cry for a few more minutes before picking her up so I can take care of my own needs for 5 minutes will allow me to hold her all night, breastfeed and wear her all day and just be a better mom.

In the end, we parent our own way. let us not judge another parent’s choices and focus more on our own.

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Sada March 18, 2011 at 10:51 pm

My youngest will turn 4 in May…and I still have Mommy Ears! I can say, though, that like any “new sense” that you learn to process and put importance on what’s going on around you–almost like Mommy Ears are a hearing aid :) I “hear” my kiddos all day, but certain sounds/speech/cries catch your attention as “needing my involvement” and the rest is like background noise. And yes, when that background noise suddenly disappears, you notice that too and go looking to see what trouble they’ve gotten into!

And while my “general love tank” may run a little low at times (stress, illness, generally not taking the time I need to “be me”), the “kiddos love tank” is constantly being refilled, for example by the amazement and joy of seeing the world anew through their eyes as I help them discover and learn and grow…and my love feeds their love, so you could say the (attached) parent-child relationship is a constant “love tank” filling cycle :)

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jessica May 6, 2011 at 8:40 pm

I agree with the first and last posters – the mom ears change, but as kids get older the level of urgency can vary. My five range from 3-17 and very rarely do I go running anymore, but I can certainly hear when I need too.

Also – responding to an infant’s cries when you are in a less than ideal situation can sometimes be difficult. I wear my infants, so wouldn’t be stuck out with a stroller and crying baby, but if I hadn’t learned about baby wearing yet I could certainly see a situation where you knew that all the baby wanted was to be heald, but you couldn’t figure out how to accomplish that and get home and so you were just doing the best you could.

I’ve been in that situation in the car more than a couple of times. I’ve pulled over a dozen times to nurse the baby, but really they just want OUT OF THE CAR SEAT! The other kids are tired and cranky and don’t want to be sitting on the side of the road for hours. Or one or the other of has needs to get someplace and we’ve run out of lead-time. So sometimes you just have to hunker down with a screaming baby and get where you are going as fast as you can safely. Often times I feel like I want to vomit and am stressed to the maxed – but my strategies of talking on the phone or turning the radio up could likely look uncaring to someone who doesn’t understand the context.

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Grace May 13, 2011 at 4:33 pm

My experience over the last three years as a mother is that first time parents of very small children can sometimes be a little too swift to judge the parenting styles of the people they see around them. I think it’s only natural, particularly when you’re new to parenting yourself, to do a little comparing and contrasting as you feel out who you will be as a parent, but it is important to be aware of this tendency because you can inadvertently make a tough situation that much tougher with a well-timed disapproving sniff or judgmental frown. A parent who is struggling to keep it together needs support, not condemnation. I know this was true for me, anyway. I was the perfect, loving, nurturing, grounded parent until my kid developed the ability to run faster than a speeding bullet. ;)

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