After 8 years, I am finally starting to understand how math relates to motherhood. Like all those years ago in the classroom, I’m just figuring things out. I used to be pretty good at math, but parenting hasn’t come as easily. Sometimes I wish I had a parenting calculator to arrive at the answer sooner, but unfortunately I have to work it out the long way, by hand. I find discipline to be the most challenging problem that needs a solution.

I have found a few shortcuts to get to the “root” of things quickly. When my son misbehaves, I give instructions and begin to count, awaiting his timely compliance. For some reason, counting usually gets him doing the things I want him to do. I don’t really understand why counting is so effective. What does he think will happen when I get to 3? I get how counting DOWN could be scary. In movies, stuff blows up at the end of the countdown. But counting up?

Does he think, “Man, if I don’t do what she says she might count ALL NIGHT”? I mean, I would understand if I did it like the Count on Sesame Street. He would have good reason to be like “Mommy’s completely lost it, maybe I should go brush my teeth and stop trying to reason with when she’s like this.”

Or, maybe he thinks, “Mommy is so mad she doesn’t have words for this situation. She just has algebra.” Even at 8 years old, algebra must be pretty scary. In school, they tell you math will come in handy. They don’t tell you it will be mostly for disciplining your kid in the form of counting.

Outside of counting, my life as a mom is a big word problem. If my kid has 3 field trip forms and needs $8.97 for random school fees, how many times do I have to ask him to please find his shoes? Shoes seem to evaporate, as do socks. You see, when you have a kid, laundry multiplies exponentially. Housework and meal prep overlap, dividing my attention. By the end of the night, I feel like my mind has been subtracted from the equation entirely.

Even still, I’m thankful for the day my son was added to my life, even if I only got to enjoy a fraction of the sleep I used to (which is why I’m currently counting down to bedtime, before something else explodes).

What’s the most challenging parenting problem you’ve tried to solve?

ICYMI: The Math of Motherhood

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  1. If I am 44 and my 1st grader’s mom is 27, could I actually have given birth to her too?

  2. If my 4 year old asks the same question 32 times while travelling 15 km/h heading towards the edge of a cliff, and my 10 month old wakes up 9 times during the night, 3 of which times she is awake for 45 minutes each, exactly how many chocolate chip cookies will I have to stealthily consume before I am caught?
    Show your work.