35 Murphy’s Laws of Motherhood

A few weeks ago, family matters called my husband away on a four-day trip out of state. Up until then, things around our household had been going well—everyone was happy and healthy, and aside from minor stresses, the week had been a peaceful one. The night before my husband’s departure, I was awakened at 3:00 A.M. by an awful heaving sound coming from my bulldog’s crate. I’ll spare you the details, but I cleaned up Bustopher and his kennel and, thinking it was nothing more than a fluke, went back to sleep. By the time my husband hit the road at 8:00 A.M. the next morning, I’d been up at least three or four more times washing vomit off of crate pads and tending to a very ill bulldog. Bustopher seemed lethargic and miserable, so I loaded him and my six-year-old daughter into my car and headed off to the vet’s office. Diagnosis? Possible allergic reaction to something he was stung or bitten by—we’re not sure. Treatment? Bloodwork, x-rays, and an overnight stay with an IV for dehydration. Fabulous.

Pretty pathetic, huh? (Don't worry—he looks like this normally.)
Pretty pathetic, huh? (Don’t worry—he looks like this normally.)

Fast-forward a few hours later, and my daughter randomly started to complain that her “tee-tee hurt” every time she used the potty. Knowing that it would be foolish to wait if Harper had somehow come down with her first bladder infection, I scooped her up and zoomed off to Urgent Care. Sitting in that Petri dish of a waiting room, I suddenly felt familiar pangs in my lower abdomen. I went to the restroom and discovered—lo and behold—I’d started my period…four days ahead of schedule.

It was in this moment that I wondered what in the world had happened to our peaceful week, and why it all seemed to have come undone literally within hours after my husband left town. A couple friends who knew the circumstances of our situation texted me to check on both my daughter and dog while we were waiting at Urgent Care, and I found myself replying, “We’re OK. Just one of those Universal Laws of Parenting, isn’t it? It’s all smooth sailing until Daddy leaves town. The second he’s gone? All hell breaks loose.” This got me thinking about Murphy’s Law—the notion that what can go wrong, will—and how often it applies to parenthood. (Murphy must have been a parent himself or he probably wouldn’t have been so jaded!) Don’t believe me? Check out these 35 Murphy’s Laws of Motherhood:

1. Load up the car, secure your kids in their car seats or boosters, place your key into the ignition, and slap the gearshift into reverse, and a tiny voice from the back seat will suddenly proclaim, “Oh, I forgot to put on my shoes.”

2. The day of a class field trip, when your child absolutely must be at school by a certain time, you’ll leave 10 minutes earlier than usual only to spend an extra 30 minutes in traffic.

3. Your toddler will careen into the coffee table and earn a massive forehead bruise the night before your scheduled family pictures.

4. The amount of clothing your child is wearing, the difficulty of the snaps/buttons/zippers, etc., and the degree to which you are running late are directly proportionate to how badly your child will suddenly need to pee.

5. You can make a grocery list, double-check it, head to HEB, and buy everything on your list, and you’ll still manage to forget something, which you’ll realize within the first five minutes after returning home. (This is especially true if you happen to be hosting a dinner party later that evening.)

6. On days when you have nothing on the agenda, your child will nap for three hours. On days when you have a 2:30 P.M. appointment or dinner plans, your child will outright refuse to nap. (And, of course, within the first two minutes of the drive to your 2:30 P.M. appointment, your child will fall asleep in his car seat.)

7. If you’re super diligent and remember to charge your camera battery the night before a big event, there is a 99.2% chance you will show up to said event with your camera…sans the battery.

8. Throw a tee-shirt and Target shorts on your child, and both will be spotless when you return from running errands. Dress her in that boutique outfit you spent $49 on? It will be (permanently) stained within the first hour it is worn.

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9. A child who was running 102°F and acting like he was at death’s door a few hours earlier will miraculously morph into a fever-free tornado the second you step foot in the pediatrician’s office, leaving the only diagnosis to be a case of Hypochondriac Mom.

10. Your baby will NEVER need a diaper change in a public place except for the one time you leave your diaper bag in the car.

11. If your child gets sick, you’d better believe it will happen on the Friday before a three-day weekend. At 4:00 P.M.

12. Nightmares occur only on evenings when you are utterly exhausted and desperate for extra sleep or up late working on a major work project to which you must devote several hours of intense focus.

13. Your child will inevitably hit a growth spurt right after you’ve purchased most of his wardrobe for the upcoming season.

14. If you think to yourself “ahhh, the kids are asleep so I can finally sit down and enjoy this new book,” the thought will instantly permeate your children’s brains while they are sleeping and rouse them like an alarm clock.

15. Stop by the grocery store after a work meeting or lunch date for which you are dressed nicely, and you won’t see a familiar soul. Run to HEB in a wrinkled tee-shirt and no makeup, and you’ll bump into six people you know, including your former boss and that friend everyone has who is always perfectly coiffed.

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16. Your children will entertain themselves for hours…until the second you shut the bathroom door or begin a phone conversation.

17. A rock that your child brought home from the playground can sit on the kitchen counter untouched for 15 days before you decide to throw it away. Five minutes after you toss it into the trash, your child will suddenly demand to know its location and sob when you do not produce his “treasure.”

18. If you start praising your immune system for doing such a good job of keeping you healthy despite being surrounded by sick kids who cough, sneeze, vomit, etc. on you, you’ll come down with strep throat the next day.

19. Your husband will return home from work and unknowingly suggest an impromptu trip to the ice cream store an hour after you’ve lectured your children on the importance of eating healthy.

20. Planning an outdoor birthday party is directly proportionate to an increased chance of rain in the forecast the week of your event. Likewise, on the day of your indoor birthday party you can bet that the weather will be some of the most beautiful we’ve seen all year.

21. The more time you invest in setting up a craft or activity for your kids, the less interested they’ll be in doing it.

22. Fix a dish you know your child loves for dinner, and she’ll suddenly proclaim, “Ughhh, but I don’t like macaroni ‘n’ cheese!” Similarly, stress out over what your child will eat at a not-so-kid-friendly restaurant—maybe even go the whole nine and pack a separate dinner for her to take along—and she’ll eat every bite of her coq au vin.

23. The day you signed up to volunteer at your child’s school or chaperone the class field trip will be the day you start your period and have demon cramps from hell. (Outdoor field trips strongly increase the likelihood that this will occur and are directly correlated with the discovery that your purse is running low on your emergency stash of Tampax.)

24. Your child will wet the bed only if you changed his sheets earlier that day. Also? Needing to wash urine-ridden sheets at 2:30 A.M. increases the probability of discovering that you forgot to take the previous load of laundry out of the washing machine.

25. Tuition will be due just as you discover you’re in need of a new air conditioner coil and your washing machine stops working. A pet may require a $1,500 surgery around the same time.

26. If you’ve bragged to your family and friends about baby’s recently mastered milestone, he will fail to prove it when in their company. (“He was walking yesterday! I SWEAR!”)

27. Mop the floors, and a child will undoubtedly track in mud or spill the sugar.

28. Once you’ve finally finished folding laundry, your child will decide she must have the article of clothing at the bottom of the stack (and will most likely help herself to it without consulting you, toppling over the entire pile of freshly folded nightgowns in the process).

29. Ask your child if he wants to help you make dinner, the response is, “No thanks, I’m [insert activity here].” In a super big hurry to get dinner on the table? Be prepared to hear: “Mommy, can I help you cook?”

30. If you’re teeter-tottering between grabbing your child’s jacket or leaving it at home and ultimately decide against bringing it because it’s 80°F outside, a cold front will roll in and approximately one hour later the temperature will be 42°F.

31. Your child will request the unhealthiest snacks he could ever possibly fathom in front of his pediatrician and/or teacher, especially if they are snacks you would not normally let him have (e.g., “Can we stop on the way home and get some Cheetos, Mama?”).

32. Utter the words “the baby is finally sleeping through the night!” and your infant will begin a three-month-long sleep strike the following evening.

33. Your child will be so excited about an upcoming birthday party that she’ll sleep with the invitation for a week, and yet at the party she will cling to your leg until the last five minutes, when she suddenly decides she’s having the best time of her life.

34. Excited about your upcoming vacation? You shouldn’t be, because there is a 99.6% chance that someone in your family is going to start puking or running an extremely high temperature 36 hours before you leave.

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35. If your children have been driving you especially crazy and you’re on the verge of a mama meltdown, they will say or do something so adorable that your heart will almost burst, and you’ll forget why you wanted to wring their necks 30 minutes earlier and instead remember only how precious these little people whom you created truly are. For about an hour, anyway.

Every. Single. Time.[hr]

Any Murphy’s Laws of Motherhood that I’ve forgotten? Feel free to add your own in the comments!

Taylor is a San Antonio native and stay-at-home mom to two daughters: eight-year-old Harper and one-year-old Hayes. She and her Okie husband, Jeff, have been married 12 years despite their Texas/OU rivalry. Taylor is a former Clark Cougar, a devout Texas Longhorn, where she studied English, an active MOPS member, and often feels like a professional juggler. She relishes trips to the theater, loves embarking on new adventures with her family, and admittedly spends too much time on Facebook. A former contributor, Taylor’s posts center on parenting her tenacious, strong-willed first-born and the challenges she faced along the way to becoming a mom of two. She now serves as ACMB’s editor and resident proofreader, and as such, cares way too deeply about the use of Oxford commas.


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