When do I get my mum voice?

Before I had kids, I didn’t have a whole lot to do with them. I thought they were cute when I passed them in the street, I attended baby showers and I visited friends with newborns.
When my first was on the way, I assumed that a lot of what I would have to do would come naturally. And it did (sort of).
But there are some “mum” things that I still haven’t mastered.
The mum voice
Most of my friends talk about how they shut their kids down or get them back on track when they’re wayward by deploying their “mum voices”. To say things like “no” or “don’t do that” or “we’re going home”. I do not seem to have this voice. I’ve been horrified to find that despite the arrival of my children, my voice is just the same as it always was and is completely ignore-able. While you’re fixing your children with a steely glare that makes it clear to them that they’ve crossed the line, I’m weakly protesting as mine disappear off over the horizon.
I allowed these to be a complete mystery to me before the kids came along. They still kind of are. I’ve done cloth nappies and disposable and had mixed success with both. But while your kids’ nappies are all nicely done up with the tabs lined up (or the clips clipped) mine are on a diagonal slant, with one tab right across, one barely touching and more than enough room for a disaster out the side.
(Note – I do not think this is necessarily a mum thing.) I always imagined myself baking nutritious treats for my kids. I thought I might even be one of those people who has more than one thing in the oven at the same time. In reality, I only ever do any baking now because my son thinks it’s fun to break eggs and throw flour on the floor. What we end up with is only edible perhaps a third of the time. I dread the day we are sent home one of those cake boxes in which you’re meant to send off a contribution to the school fair. This might be one for the kids’ dad.
Yep, I still haven’t mastered this. I had thought I’d find a method that worked by the time it was needed but in reality the longer we’ve gone along, the less I’ve known what is right. The more I research the options, the more things I know I don’t want to do – and I don’t find any replacements. I end up resorting to bribery and distraction. No parenting prizes for me.
I’ve always been a bit random with what I carry around in my bag. It’s quite likely that you’ll find 43 pens, an old lipstick and the programme for a conference I attended three years ago in there. I had assumed that once I had kids to worry about, this would change. I even bought a huge nappy bag in anticipation. But I still never seem to have a nappy when I need it, or wipes, and the change of pants I have for the kids is usually at least a size too small. Going on holiday is even worse. Last trip, I completely forgot socks. Which leads me to …
Matching socks
I’ve never really cared about having matching socks. As long as I have one for each foot, that’s good enough for me. But you see kids looking cute with their matching sparkly socks, and you would not believe how many pairs of sweet little booties you get when you have a baby. I resolved that I would do whatever I could to make sure my kids’ socks completed their journey through the washing machine at least within shouting distance of their mates. But can I ever find both halves of a pair as I’m trying to get everyone out the door? Definitely not. Other domestic things I haven’t magically developed a talent for, as I had hoped: Vacuuming, tidying, organising toy storage.
Make-believe games
I don’t know why I assumed that once I had kids of my own I’d become a storyteller-extraordinaire with fantastic ideas about exotic make-believe worlds. Instead, we end up playing games where I’m a robot and he’s a plane or he’s a rubbish truck and I’m a bin. Once or twice we’ve played “doctors” just so I can lie still on the floor and he can poke me with an emery board. And when asked to make up stories, I come up with something about a water monster that washes Dad’s car.
But they are only three and eight months. Perhaps there’s still time?

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