10 Proofs I’m Failing Mommy Math

In a world where #commoncore can be a four-letter-word, it’s not surprising math doesn’t always add up. Years ago, I unknowingly enrolled in an upper-level math course.

Mommy Math (Math 701)
Explore never-before-understood mathematical concepts in this graduate level course. Learn how fundamental methods flip upside-down in parenthood. Prerequisites: Genetics (Bio 307), Dynamic Systems and Chaos (Math 654), Theory of Numbers (Math 623)

The course has a broad scope and wide reach, covering topics previously-considered mastered.


1 = 1/8

How it works:After a 40 minute battle of “stay in your seat” and “but, you eat yogurt every morning,” it’s finally time for Mom’s breakfast. A perfectly toasted & perfectly buttered bagel is millimeters away from Mom’s mouth when little hands shoot out to commandeer . Toddler cheers “bagel! bagel!” Preschooler declares “but I love bagels!” Just like that, 1 bagel is reduced to 1/8.


∞ = 3.

How it works: No one knows if a number exists after 3 anymore. Start counting at 1 and if you get to 3, bad things happen. Bad things. 


x + 1 = ∞

How it works: Add 1 child to any number of children and while you expect a linear expansion, you instead approach infinity. Infinitely more laundry, infinitely more dishes, infinitely more toys, infinitely more schedules, infinitely more crumbs, infinitely more words, and, yes, infinitely more laughter. 


♥ Δ → ♥ Δ _

How it works: Mom knows what to expect, based on carefully observed patterns. As long as Mom is convinced things will play out a certain way, Mom will be wrong. Patterns exist to throw Mom off the trail.


Triangle ≠ Rectangle ≠ Circle ≠ Square ≠ Star

How it works: While appearing to be a standard mathematical rule, sandwich-cutting brings on new story problems. Only one shape is ever “right” and is dependent on the family surname, the child, the external temperature and the phase of the moon. Get it wrong and expect an untouched sandwich at days’ end.

0 minutes = 20 minutes

How it works: Mom says “now” (0 minutes) and child waits 20 minutes before responding, obeying, eye-contacting or breathing.

2 minutes = 20 minutes

How it works: Child asks for “2 more minutes” to complete an important task such as “the next step” in the Lego instructions, the final minutes of Ruff Ruffman or mindlessly shoving puzzle pieces under the couch. 20 minutes later, mom is engrossed in whatever task she busied herself with for 2 minutes and now everyone is 18 minutes late for whatever came next.

5 minutes = -5 minutes

How it works: A perfect play-date nears the end. The 5 minute warning is issue as an epic wrestling match ensues, a toy is broken, a child is traumatically injured, something red spills on something irreplaceable and former BFFs are no longer speaking. Play-date should’ve ended 5 minutes earlier. 

3 hours = 1 hour

How it works: Half-day preschool sounds like a dream. One day into “parenting paradise,” mom does some mental math to discover 3 hours is really 1 hour. Factor in drop-off, questions, paperwork, chit-chatting with drop-off moms and then driving somewhere, anywhere – home to nap a baby, meet a friend, run an errand, slip into a meeting. Account for checking out, packing up, corralling a toddler, traffic, driving back, and a 5 minute buffer so yours is not left in the horrific role of last-kid-at-preschool. What you are left with is 1 hour. No more, no less. Every day. 1 hour. Schedule an appointment:1 hour. Get groceries:1 hour. Call customer service:1 hour. Play-date: 1 hour. If your plans cannot be made for precisely 10:00am, you cannot make plans. 1 hour.


kid tax = 30%

How it works: For each child taken to the store, receipts reflect a 30% tax. Sneaking stuff in the cart, begging for “just this one thing,” bribed for behavior, promising to eat it because the sample tasted “sooooo good,” lack of brain-silence for decisions – all increase volume and cost of overall purchase.


x units = x+2 units

How it works: In store, child’s foot fits seamlessly in size 3 cleats. On Opening Day, child’s foot has jumped 2 sizes, necessitating amplified screams. Mom prepares snack for a team/class/party. There will always be 2 extra kids. Pack 2 diapers; you will need 4. 


How it works: There is none. If mom has it, the kids won’t buy it. If kids have it, they won’t be silenced. #childlawyers for the win.


P = 1

How it works: If a mom thinks it, the probability of it happening is 1. Will child need the bathroom as car passes last-exit-for-miles or as cart hits the back corner of Target? Yes. P=1. Will she wish she had packed more than 10 baby wipes? Yes. P=1. Will it rain on the only day friends could meet at the park? Yes. P=1. Will someone get sick while Dad is out of town? Yes. P=1. Will something crash loudly in the half-second baby’s door is closing after finally getting baby down? Yes. P=1. Will the phone and doorbell ring at the same time, all while a child is screaming at lung-top levels? Yes. P=1. Will child have urgent-important questions as my on-hold call is pushed through? Yes. P=1.

Math is hard. Mommy Math is even harder. Especially when Mom is the one always expected to make Pi. #tokenmathjoke

4 thoughts on “10 Proofs I’m Failing Mommy Math

  1. Nailed it, sunshine. I shared it on my Facebook page. You should go into standup comedy. Seriously.

    1. Thanks Dayle!! That was great of you to share it!! Glad you got a laugh. I laugh every time the math is funky ’round here.

  2. I know l little math, but I LOVED the way you pictured child rearing with it! SO true! Keep writing you’re gifted!

    1. Thanks Alice!! That’s so encouraging!! These little observations make me giggle as they happen (and sometimes pull my hair out!)

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