Dear Applicant,

Thank you for your interest in the Maternal Studies Program here at the University of Motherhood. The following are your required classes. Upon successful completion of this course work, we are confident you will be well-prepared for a future in the care, feeding and nurturing of developing humans. Best wishes in all your motherly pursuits.


The University of Motherhood maternal studies department

1. Sippy cup location techniques

Learn tried-and-true methods of finding wayward beverage receptacles filled with rapidly spoiling milk. This practice will be employed until all cups come equipped with "sippy cup locator chips," thereby enabling mothers to locate said cups via key chain clip-on homing buttons. (We can put a man on the moon but we can't come up with...?)

2. Maternal medicine

Learn how to discern answers to questions such as: Is this one of the times you actually do need to haul your child to the doctor and pay the insanely high copay only to be told it's a virus that just has to run its course? Or is this the time for movies and medicating with popsicles?

3. Stain identification and removal

Hot for oil, cold for blood. But what about stains of questionable origin? Is that brown splotch chocolate? You think it's chocolate. You pray it's chocolate.

4. Sibling conflict negotiation

How to achieve world peace via peace at the breakfast table.

5. Sleep deprivation management

Or, how to look and act like a well-rested, high-functioning adult when your sleep debt makes the national debt look trivial.

6. Cooking for picky eaters

Wherein the child who loves chicken one night refuses to have anything to do with it the next, but you will learn how to intuit this and decide to serve grilled cheese sandwiches.

7. Everyday plumbing

You have Draino. You have a snake. Don't be afraid to use them.

8. Math for moms

If Timmy has three apples and two kumquats and he puts all of them on a train traveling 63.7 miles per hour that leaves Chicago at 9 p.m. Australian Central Time, how long will it take for his mother to run screaming from the room to email the math teacher a strongly worded message about the stress of homework on children and their families?

9. Psychotherapy for hormonal adolescents

Otherwise known as, "It will be okay, honey. How about some homemade chocolate-chip cookies when you get home from school?"

10. The care and funding of orthodontia

Parent to child: "I will buy you a pony if you can just decide you're fine with those two weird vampire teeth."

11. Interpretation of eye-rolling

Learn to interpret "I'm tired" and "I'm stressed" from "I love my mom like crazy, but think I have to act like I don't in order to be a normal middle-schooler."

12. Unconditional love as a primary language

To wit: "even though I know you bashed in your bedroom door with a hammer and then covered up the hole with a poster, I still love you and will claim you as my own in public." (Not that you're going to be out in public anytime soon, however, because you are grounded — without WiFi — until further notice.)

13. Tween-speak as a second language

Your 11-year-old: "Mom, that lunch you packed me today was on fleek." You: "Why, thank you, sweetie. I'm glad you liked it and that it really hit the mark." [Hypothetical example only]

14. How to navigate the school drop-off line and live to tell about it

Really, is there a reason that child in the car ahead of yours has to store his ENTIRE LIFE'S POSSESSIONS in the back of the SUV and unload them at the curb?!

15. How to fold a fitted sheet in 67 easy steps

Step 68: give up and cram the thing in the linen closet. Follow up with restorative chocolate.

16. School artwork appreciation 101

"Why, of course, my darling, that looks exactly like a cow sliding down a rainbow, and I absolutely do want to hang it in the middle of the living room wall in the spot currently occupied by your father's and my wedding portrait."

17. Multitasking 401

Yes, you can breastfeed a baby while simultaneously making dinner for the rest of the family and texting the school secretary to demur on her request that you head up the elementary fun fair.

18. Cheap jewelry repair

Tweezers and needle-nosed pliers. If you don't have them, get them. Because that little pink plastic necklace your daughter got in her birthday party goodie bag is, at this moment, the most cherished thing she has ever owned.

19. Advanced sleuthing

The rest of the family cannot find [insert any item necessary to the functioning of the entire household] even though they have looked "everywhere." Mom will find it in 0.07 seconds with her eyes half-open (see #5, above).

20. Motherhood as cardiovascular workout

Your heart is swollen by love for your children. Your heart is crushed by love for your children. Repeat ad infinitum for the rest of your life because being a mom is a study in continuing education if ever there was one.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on Elizabeth Spencer's blog, Guilty Chocoholic Mom. It has been republished here with permission.

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