09 February 2017

The Need Hopper

This story is same for most Mamas of tiny humans. And possibly big humans. Wow there are a lot of needs.  And how many Mamas do they have?

That’d be ONE.


(They also have a father who works very hard and helps out so much. But for the sake of this post, let’s pretend it’s the week that he’s traveling, okay?)

So there is ONE Mama.

And there are oh-so-many needs.

The math doesn’t always work out in my favor. Whether it’s one kid or four, I’m fairly certain the need level feels equally as overwhelming.

From the moment they awake, The Need Hopper starts filling. (My Dad is the one who first used the term ‘need hopper’. He used it one day during their recent visit when he saw me meet need after need after need for my children. Since then, I’ve found that visual picture somewhat helpful. Thanks Dad!)


If I am diligent to get up before the children and get dressed and have a moment to, you know, THINK A THOUGHT or something, then I’m doing well preparing for the on-set of needs into The Hopper. However, if I can’t leave the bed earlier than my children, then I am jolted awake as The Need Hopper starts to fill. Now there is no stopping it. And it’s no use ducking for cover either. THEY WILL FIND YOU.

If you were to graph a mother’s day with hour of the day on on axis and amount of needs on the other axis (?! Where did that come from?!), the first couple hours would be preeeeeetttyyy high. We are talking bottom wiping, breakfast preparing, baby nursing, clothes picking, fit curbing (clothing choices, ack),  lunch packing, water bottle finding, diaper changing, yogurt feeding, teeth brushing, baby high-chairing, hair brushing (don’t even get me started), shoe putting (also, so much harder than it sounds if you have a toddler), jacket choosing, backpack carrying, finally exiting, car loading, fit  curbing (seatbelt meltdown), forgotten item retrieving, oh my.

I’m pretty sure I forgot some things.

Did you see that Hopper? Like, it was teetering waaaay up there in a pile. And as soon as a couple needs were fulfilled and dropped out (I love that feeling!), more appeared at the top: (“Mom! I need a new notebook for school! Mom! The baby’s diaper stinks! Mom! My ballet leotard needs washed for tonight! Mom! I can’t zip my jacket! Mom! He pushed me!)

I mean really. It’s like madness.

What was I saying?

Oh yes, that nifty graph.

It might taper off for a bit in the morning if needs diminish to things such as diaper changing and toddler-disaster-averting. Okay, wait. Toddler-disaster-averting is baaaasically a full time job. I tell you, as soon as you save him from pulling that mug of hot coffee on his head (good save, Mama! Bet you didn’t even know he could reach up there on his tippie-toes) and you sit down cause there was a need in The Hopper but you took care of it like a champ… then whaaaaaaat?! Plunk. That same TODDLER HEADED FOR DISASTER need falls back in The Hopper.  This time, your very new walker is headed straight for the stairs and doesn’t appear to be making appropriate adjustments to his direction or speed. AAAHHHHHH. Fill that need, lady!!

Got ‘im.

Need filled.



Wait. What was that? It’s baaa-aaaack?

What could it possible be this time?

He’s headed for the wires. Again.


Seriously people. That Hopper is rarely empty.


So, the graph.

It spikes at meal times, of course. At the lunch hour it definitely goes up because at the very minimum we’re talking a mess of a baby and a mess of the highchair and a good three feet diameter around the blessed child. Bring out the rags and the broom and a possible change of clothes. Not to mention getting out fourteen various foods to try to get him to eat and then putting fourteen various foods back away after they were nibbled, pushed away at the first offering, or promptly chucked across the room. (I have a for-real food-chucker right now. Sometimes he drops food he doesn’t want. Sometimes he gives it a real good fling. Fun times).

In our (slighly depressing?) graph… the needs might taper off after that, especially if one little human takes a nap. Glory, halleluiah!

This is when dear sweet caretaker needs to make a decision to either ignore The Need Hopper, or try to empty the darn thing.

Choose wisely.

Because once those kiddos walk in the door from school that Hopper might not be empty for the rest of the day. We’re now adding in homework and snacks and YET ANOTHER MEAL.

At dinner and bedtime… I tell you no chart could contain the number of needs on it’s tidy little axis lines. You must keep your head in the game to keep those needs falling out of The Hopper. Steady and diligent work will certainly get you closer to your goal of a mostly empty Hopper that might stay emptyish for a couple hours of the evening, as long as everyone stays asleep without incident. Which isn’t likely, especially if husband is traveling. You could also employ the ‘ignore The Hopper’ strategy in the evenings, which I often recommend.

And around and around it goes.

Some days I am a Need-Hopper emptying CHAMPION, lemmetellya.

Other days the first few needs into The Hopper feel crushing and I want to throw off the darn thing and have a moment for me-self.

As kids grow, it is rewarding to see them meet their own needs. And each other’s occasionally, glory!  My Hopper gets a little lighter and my heart swells with pride. But theeeeennn I get all nostalgic and sad that they’re growing up so fast, waaaahh!!!

Oh motherhood is so bittersweet. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Now that I think about it, if someone were to try to take my Hopper from me… I’d be one angry lady. “That is MY Hopper! Their needs come to ME, you hear me?!!” That’s what I’d say. Although I wouldn’t mind if someone borrowed it now and then I suppose…


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