Courtesy of Liza Wyles

What Your Baby Does When You're Not Around

The first time I took maternity leave, it was winter. The cold prevented me from taking my newborn out much and I barely saw daylight thanks to the sun going down so early. While I did get visitors and got out of the apartment when I could, those 12 weeks felt eerie. It was probably affecting my psyche, and I found myself imagining strange things my baby could be doing when left alone while I showered. This could have been caused by some undiagnosed postpartum anxiety. Or, my baby was truly living the secret life I envisioned for her. Honestly, I’ll never know. Nine years later and she has remained mum on the subject.

I didn’t often leave either of my kids alone when they were babies. Not only was I bit paranoid about their safety (thanks to my son flipping himself over in his bouncy seat when he was left unattended for 20 seconds), but my time with them was so limited, so why would I choose to be without them when they were growing and changing every day? I am a full-time working mom, and I miss so much already so the choices I make about how to spend time outside working and sleeping are very much dictated by my children. And I’m OK with that, at least for now. (Ask me again when my daughter enters middle school.)

If you’ve ever wondered what your baby is thinking or doing, I’ve come up with absolutely plausible scenarios, though I could understand how they may seem far-fetched to non-parents. My children never cease to amaze me, especially when I’m out of the room.

Tossing Your Keys Into The Diaper Pail

Or the toilet (if you thought it would be harmless to let the tot crawl into the bathroom while you grabbed your phone). Or anywhere gross or inaccessible. It’s why babies are so cute; so we tolerate these sort of antics, which are not acts of rebellion but rather ways they are discovering their world (so I’m told), which is really code for “aggravating their mothers.”

Hiding One Sock From Each Pair

How else do I explain the lost sock phenomenon? To a baby, a sock is a puppet or a teething toy. It is irresistible. So, yeah, I blamed our babies on my widowed sock epidemic.

Draining All The Battery-Operated Toys

I don’t know how it is in your house, but in ours any and all batteries seem to have a shelf life of exactly one day. Literally nothing works in our apartment. Babies born before the industrial age might have lived precariously without vaccines, but they never knew the disappointment that is Elmo’s haunting stillness when you attempt to tickle him, due to dead batteries.

Saying “Mama”

My baby, like most, said “Dada” before saying “Mama.” When she would name her father, she’d shoot me a look, almost as if to say, “Yeah, I know it. I’m just not gonna say it.” She’d babble my husband’s name over and over.

So I’m convinced she was practicing “Mama,” but only when I was out of earshot. Just to humble me in those times when I felt so confident as a new mom (which was honestly never).

Happily Sharing

Kids hate sharing. However, I bet when I wasn’t around my baby was happily parsing out all her favorite playthings to her imaginary pals. True, the stakes are lower in that scenario, but I find it suspicious that babies inherently know that sharing sucks and it’s probably because they’re simulating it by themselves and calculating the risks in a safe, controlled environment.

Vomiting Somewhere You Can’t See

Soon, soon, you will smell it. I can’t count the number of times my nose has been assaulted by some foul odor emanating from some part of a room, but not being able to locate the source of the stench. Babies just know how to effectively vomit to this effect. It is one of their most evil super powers.

Hysterically Laughing

Apparently everything was funnier when I wasn’t there. I would hear my daughter emitting peals of laughter when I’d leave her in her Pack-N-Play for a little bit while I did some things in another room. When I’d return and ask “What’s so funny?” she wouldn’t let me in on the joke. Motherhood can be isolating.

Practicing Ninja Moves

I would leave the room for a second with my younger kid, and come back to find him in some far corner of the room, and usually precariously dangling from something I thought was baby-proofed. My son’s stealth and agility were, on one hand, admirable milestones. On the other hand, of course, blatant ploys to make my heart stop beating. Maybe it was second child syndrome, with him eager to discover a sure way to get my attention, but finding him grinning from the top of my desk was an arresting reminder to never leave him alone.

Throwing Everything Out Of The Crib

It’s such a fun game: toss out all toys and scream until mommy comes back to fetch them. I was such a sucker; I fell for this ploy a lot at the start of my daughter’s nap time. She wouldn’t dare throw a toy while I was standing there. She’d smile at me, clutching her little soft doll, and I’d settle her back down, kiss her and back out. Then she’d hurl it against the wall and wail.

Deleting Finale Episodes From The DVR

It is probably my fault because I can never remember the exact sequence of buttons I must press to access my viewing queue (which has grown to about 10,000 hours of unwatched TV shows since becoming a mom), but I blame the baby. Remote controls were some of our kids’ favorite playthings when they were little, so I think I have a strong argument with this one.