The Physics of motherhood

Though it’s spring break, I’m thinking about physics. A long time ago in a land far, far away I went to highschool. I had a fabulous teacher, Mr. Harvey. His love for physics and his sheer energy were contagious. He taught me about Newton’s three laws of motion. These laws of motion are fascinating and I see their effects all around me.

The first law of motion is inertia. Don’t you see this daily? It provides an accurate picture of what’s going on in our house too frequently. Basically it says that a body at rest (me) stays at rest (thus not getting things done). While a body in motion (bodies in this case…you guessed it..the children) stay in motion (and make messes while they go). bodies in motionWhen my children become bodies at rest, if it’s not bedtime, we worry that they are sick. For adults,  the problem is different. Force is needed to overcome inertia. We have to force ourselves to start doing dishes or laundry or various other things…notice once you start it’s relatively easy to keep going. We are simple beings, so setting a timer (fly lady’s 15 minutes) create a deadline (I’ll get up as soon as a I can after 9). Artificial motivators work and we are well to remember that the force needed is frequently mental.

The second law of motion relates mass, force and acceleration. I will gracefully sidestep any discussion of physical mass, because I have noticed that in my home those with the smallest physical masses often have a huge negative effect on my acceleration. why mommy is sometimes a body at rest
Instead we will discuss emotional mass…the cute little eyes of the 3yo pleading for you to be the pony or the wicked step mother in the game, the darling 5yo who needs you to read them a book, the 14yo who forgot that she needs to be somewhere right now. Our darling emotional masses can knock of “off course”. These are situations awaiting wisdom.

The third law of motion says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. As with the other laws…these laws are frequently represented on a pool table. The white ball hits two balls and knock them in opposite directions. I have noticed that it applies at home too. Dedicate yourself to the room of the week (the bathrooms and home office this week). See what happens in other rooms in the house. This fascinating law explains why the other rooms in your house get so dirty while you are cleaning! Your children can’t help it! It’s physics! For every item of laundry you fold, somewhere a child will choose to play in the mud. For every toy you pick up… a child somewhere is dumping a whole box of toys out. boys are frequently happiest when they are dirtiest. It’s true! Consider that there are grandparents getting things done without an obvious equal and opposite reaction…never fear. Their reactions take place in their grandchildren. It all works out according to physics.

Laws of physics appear to sabotage us in Getting Things Done! I have noticed that they do not need to keep us doing what matters most. Love. A snuggle in a rocking chair looks like inertia, but it’s actual nuclear in it’s power. Love. Taking the time to listen and play with your children may be just the direction you need to go. Driving that 14yo can give may be an interuption from your to do list, but it’s an opportunity for bonding. Love. There are opportunities all around us to remind our children we love them in spite of the messes they make. Physics isn’t always something to overcome, but it does help to understand it.

ps. I love when I spell check and the options it gives me for 14yo are yo yo. carry on.

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4 Responses to The Physics of motherhood

  1. Gloria Hamson says:

    love this post. I often blame inertia for my naps on the window seat in the afternoon sun…..

  2. Christina Lyon Maughan says:

    Love it! A perfect way to explain what is going on in my home too. It seems that the laws of Physics seem to slow down the adult and speed up the child. How is that even possible?

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