A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

10 Superhuman Things Only Moms Can Do

Mothers these days seem to wear more hats than ever before. They're juggling work, activities, housework, homework, and everything in between. How do they do it all? You can thank the hidden talents of motherhood, many of which you'll probably never notice until you become a mother yourself.

1 / 10

You can spot illness a mile away

No one tells you this before you have kids, but you’ll inherit a sixth sense for sickness as soon as you have kids. Just like that, you’re able to diagnose a fever before your hand ever touches your child’s forehead; one look at the glazed and glossy look in the little eyes staring up at you, and you’ll know what to do. You’re also able to tell the difference between a cold and allergies with surprising accuracy—just by taking stock of your child’s symptoms and your background knowledge of all the sniffle episodes that you’ve experienced before. This might not seem like rocket science (or even an incredibly valuable talent, at that), but when you’re able to predict a carsickness attack before it hits, the talent suddenly seems like the handiest of tools to keep in your back pocket.

2 / 10

You have a knack for soothing

There’s just something about a mother’s touch that can ease so many maladies of childhood. Skinned knees, hurt feelings, and nightmares are inevitable during childhood, but without mother’s gentle reassurance, they would seem a lot worse than they are. While you would like to keep all pain and discomfort away from your little one, motherhood comes the ability to kiss away the pain and soften the blows. It truly is a humbling privilege to hold so much of a child’s comfort in your hands. Sure, your kisses might not hold any actual healing power, but your kids don’t have to know that.

3 / 10

You know when a meltdown is coming

Your husband may not think it’s a big deal to leave the crust on your toddler’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but you know better. In almost slow motion, you watch the plate be set before your child, and you silently count down to the the wailing and meltdown that will ensue after he sees that dreaded crust. That very moment is one of the best things mom do: They know almost everything there is to know about when an outburst will occur. It’s not a talent that anyone wants to have, but it sure comes in handy. In the store, at the park, in your living room—you’ve seen enough temper tantrums to know exactly what is going to set your child off. And now (perhaps as a coping mechanism) you brace yourself for their impact. Even if the outcome isn’t pretty, at least you can see the clouds gathering before the rain starts to fall.

4 / 10

You are always aware of time

Before kids, time is important, but not everything. You know when to leave for work, when your lunch break is, or how much longer before you need to add more change to the parking meter. After kids, mothers become a human timer. It begins right after birth: You start timing feedings, diaper changes, lengths of naps and their intervals, baths, and maybe even how long it’s been since you showered yourself. So naturally, when you’re out shopping or running errands, you constantly have a clock ticking internally, telling you exactly how much time you have until you need to feed your little ones or put them down for a nap. The truth is everything will still feel hurried, but that internal timer is everything, especially when an unexpected guest rings the doorbell, giving you five minutes to clean.

5 / 10

You know when they’re lying

No one wants to believe their child would ever be dishonest to them, but the fact is, it happens. Good thing moms are living, breathing lie detectors. Whether it’s their tell-tale grin or the way they’re holding their hands behind their back, you’ll know that something isn’t ringing true. How you deal with it is up to you. Some parents prefer to call it out right as it’s happening while others choose to let the lie play out, hoping their child will learn from the consequences that are bound to follow. Either way, children are going to test boundaries and take risks; it’s all part of them exploring their independence as individuals. Thankfully, being able to spot a liar is half the battle.

6 / 10

You know when to let things go

There’s so much of parenthood that makes you feel like an insufficient mother. Everything from the way you feed your children to how you put them to bed seems to be up for discussion (and judgment), and it can feel like your shoulders aren’t strong enough to bear the weight. So when you come to the realization that you cannot do it all—at least not perfectly—you’re going to find that you have a hidden talent for letting things go. Maybe it’s the laundry (does it EVER end?) or the Pinterest-perfect lunches that you think will inspire your kids to eat their veggies. Maybe you’ll find an incredible talent for letting go of the judgmental glances of others when you mention bribing your kids with candy. Whatever it is, learning when it’s time to let it go is beneficial to you and your kids. Plus, Elsa would be proud.

7 / 10

You know when to let them off the hook

As a parent, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to teach your children right from wrong. There will be times, however, when it feels like offering forgiveness, grace, and understanding to your child trumps lecturing. After all, we all need to be let off the hook sometimes, especially when we’re having a hard day or going through a tough time. Maybe your 12-year-old daughter needs to hear more about the time you felt embarrassed or awkward instead of how she should have listened to your advice about friendship. Either way, one of the best things moms do is knowing when to let up and give a hug instead of a consequence or scolding. Sometimes a simple kindness from parent to child says volumes more than a lecture ever could.

8 / 10

You know when to call the doctor

New moms often get a bad rap for calling the pediatrician at every sniffle or cough their child makes, and to be honest, there is some truth to this stereotype. But it isn’t without its benefits because after a few go-rounds on the illness and accident carousel, moms inevitably learn when it’s worth calling the doctor and when it’s time to just grab an ice pack. Most mothers become so well acquainted with their child’s normal behavior that it becomes much easier to know when something is amiss. Even the most confident of mothers sometimes miss the mark, however, so even if you’re pretty sure all is fine but still feel a bit uncertain, it is always best to err on the side of caution, and place a call to the doctor. Consider it one more experience to help you in your future decisions to call the doctor or wait.

9 / 10

You know exactly where their favorite toy is

Even if your child’s playroom or bedroom looks as if a toy store erupted in the middle of the floor, one of your hidden talents is knowing where your child’s favorite toy is at all times. Whether that’s behind the couch or in the pantry with the cookies, you know exactly where it is. This talent is a sanity-saver on long road trips, for example, when your toddler insists on holding his stuffed turtle the entire drive. Your partner might shrug their shoulders when he asks where it’s packed, but not you. You know that Mr. Turtle is packed in the bottom, left-hand corner of the toy bag, completely accessible to either the driver or the passenger from the front seat. It’s the little things that make this motherhood thing so sweet. That, and seeing your little one’s face light up when he’s reunited with his beloved toy.

10 / 10

You can make any object a toy

For any parent that has ever waited in a waiting room filled with bored children, you’ve most likely unlocked your hidden talent of creating toys out of ordinary objects. A brochure becomes a paper airplane, a bottle of hand sanitizer becomes a talking frog, and a pen suddenly becomes a magic wand. It’s invention born out of necessity at its finest, and you aren’t ashamed of the games you’ve created in those desperate moments at the doctor, car repair shop, or in traffic. Sure, you’d rather be reading Reader’s Digest or watching Netflix on your phone, but keeping your kids entertained is more important when the wait is endless and entertainment is scarce.

Jen Babakhan
Jen Babakhan is an author and credentialed educator living in California. She writes regularly about advice and culture for Reader's Digest. She is also the author of Detoured: The Messy, Grace-Filled Journey From Working Professional to Stay-at-Home Mom (Harvest House Publishers, 2019). She earned her BA in Communication Studies from California State University, Stanislaus. You can follow her on Instagram @JenBabakhan , Twitter @JenBabakhan, and Facebook @JenBabakhanauthor.