Hi, my name is Nicole, and I'm a pee-pee dancer.
I can't be alone on this one. Whenever, in the course of my mothering, I've needed to take care of a child's needs -- opening a pesky bag of fruit snacks or catching her vomit midstream -- I've also needed to pee. I've needed to, but I haven't. That is, I choose to hold my urine until such time as the dam bursts.
This all began in my own childhood, of course, where the seeds of habit bloom into reasons to seek therapy.
I have put off urinating since forever, choosing not to go but to stay glued to any social or entertainment scene lest I miss something. Family gatherings? What if the adults started gossiping and I missed it? Is there anything more tantalizing to a child than hearing Aunt Barb let slip that she's never liked her sister's husband?
Go during prime time? Even at commercial breaks? Never. I chose to wiggle through the urgency, sitting with my heel pressed into my "zone" so that the pressure from my bladder wouldn't cause a leak. I didn't want to miss the Tootsie Roll commercial: "Whatever it is I think I see, becomes a Tootsie Roll to me."
You'd think, as I stand in my own kitchen finishing the dishes, twisted at the waist in a stationary anti-rain dance, I'd have learned by now to just go. I'm 37, after all. And I have four impressionable pee-pee dancers. It's not enough to trot out the old, "Do as I say, not as I do."
But there's a psychology to withholding your waste that I think is especially particular to mothers. Mothers are often the last to sit down to dinner, the first to get up in the middle of the night. It's long been the habit of the mothering set to put their needs, even peeing, at the end of a list of other people's needs.
The time when this habit of mine was most ridiculous was when my children were infants. In what world is it preferable to change the diaper of a screaming infant, safe and secure in his crib, before first emptying your distended bladder? The 45 seconds it would have taken me to pee would have prevented my wild jungle dancing at the crib side, rushing through a diaper change, leaving my infant half-clothed with a loosely fitted Pampers on, while I sprinted to beat a leak.
If I could travel back in time and tell myself a little something, it would be this: Pee first.
I can't save myself the damage I've done to my urinary system. It's too late for my abused bladder. But maybe I can save the new mothers of the world.
Ladies, people will tell you lots of things you simply must do as a new mom. They'll tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps (a pipe dream, unless you have a full-time nanny -- give it up now or suffer disappointment). They'll say, "Don't forget to take care of yourself; crying never killed anyone." True that babies rarely suffer permanent damage from crying, but show me a new mom who can take a shower while her baby wails in the other room (or in the same room, trapped in an infant car seat but within soapy arm's reach of mom), and consider this a relaxing, rejuvenating cleansing.
No, there's only one bit of advice that I can give you that you can actually follow through on with little trouble. Pee first. You'll be more efficient because you won't rush through a nursing session just to get to the toilet, or, worse yet, find yourself on the toilet while nursing. Pee first because there's something off-putting about watching mom stir the mac 'n' cheese with her legs tightly crossed. Pee first because the alternative is a lifetime of slightly damp panties every time you take a class at the gym, run around the backyard with the kids or laugh a little too hard.
Pee first because, if nothing else, you've earned it, mom.
A study published in the journal Infant Behavior & Development revealed that the standard "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby" has little to do with reality. When 253 college students were asked to rank photos of the same individuals as infants and young adults (without being told who was who), there was no relationship between how cute the students found the babies and how attractive they found the grown-ups.
No, really, it's true. It doesn't matter how many times you've heard the shout "Mine!" -- research shows babies can sense fairness at 15 months. During one study at the University of Washington, 47 babies observed videos of an experimenter distributing milk and crackers to two people. When one recipient received more food than the other, the babies paid more attention. That means they had expected a fair distribution. The researchers also found that babies who did notice unfairness were more likely to share their own toys.
OK, so they're not exactly psychic. But a recent study from the University of Missouri found that babies just 10 months old are starting to follow the thought processes of others. Yuyan Luo, an associate professor of developmental psychology who conducted the study, tells The Huffington Post, "Babies, like adults, when they see something for the first time -- when something is surprising -- they look for a long time. It shows [they recognize] something is inconsistent." It's called the "violation of expectation," she explained. When babies are surprised by something or notice something unexpected has happened, they tend to gaze at that thing longer. In Luo's research, babies watched actors consistently choose object A (such as a block or a cylinder) over object B. When an actor then switched to object B, the babies stared for about five to six seconds longer, meaning they recognized the change in preference.
Don't judge a book by its cover. Treat all people the same. We're all equals. These are sentiments parents strive to teach their kids from a very young age. And they should. Starting, like, immediately. Researchers at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom found that babies at three months begin showing a preference for the faces of people of their own race. But not all hope for equality is lost. The same study showed that babies who are exposed to people of all different races are less likely to develop bias at such an early age.
Researchers from Brigham Young University found that five-month-old babies can identify an upbeat song as being different from a series of sad, slow songs. In other words, they are happy. They know it. They will clap their hands. Or stare longer, as the case may be. The experimenters showed babies an emotionless face while music played. When they played a new sad song, the babies looked away. When the music pepped up, the babies stared for three to four seconds longer.
Babies have a sense of morality at six months old, say Yale researchers. During the Yale study, babies watched a puppet show in which a wooden shape with eyes tried to climb a hill over and over again. Sometimes a second puppet helped him up the hill, and other times a third puppet pushed him down. After watching the act several times, the babies were presented with both puppets. They showed a clear preference for the good characters over the bad ones by reaching to play with the good puppet.
Dr. Janet Werker of the University of British Columbia, who studies how babies perceive language, found that if a mother spoke two languages while pregnant, her infant could recognize the difference between the two. And they don't even have to be spoken out loud. Werker's research found that infants four to six months old can visually discriminate two languages when watching muted videos of someone speaking both.
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