Operation Motherhood: Avoiding Global Meltdown

Sometimes being a mom is like a never ending clandestine operation. I don’t mean how we moms pretty much know everything going on all the time or the old saying about eyes in the back of our heads (but that is true). Rather, it is that when we have major successes most people outside our “profession” will probably not notice or even have any idea about our hard work, but when we have failures it seems like the whole world is a witness to the mess. For example, if I were to walk through Target with my three wild animals behaving like exactly that, there would be people all the way on the other side of the store talking about what a disaster we are (they’d probably be right). However, if my boys are behaving like sweet angels, we could make it through the whole store without much more than a brief glance from other shoppers. And of course it would be against standard operating procedures for me to walk around pointing out to every person we pass what an incredible job my well-trained off-spring are doing and that everyone is enjoying a peaceful shopping trip because of me. They would just think that’s how children should behave, obviously. But this world is full of lots of “shoulds” that are actually quite a struggle… adults should be able to disagree about things without resorting to insults or violence, we should be able to feed all the children of the world, and, perhaps most importantly, I should be able to pee without an audience. These are all still a work-in-progress, just like the behavior of children in public.

The same is true for the state of our households… a fellow mom might notice when she comes over that it is vacuumed and even dusted (occasionally), just like MI6 might notice how the CIA has managed to keep certain undesirables — like crumbs, dirt, leaves, rocks, and trash — out of the US. But a visitor without children would just walk in thinking the high level of cleanliness is no big deal and is how the house always looks. However, should that same visitor come over right after lunch and in the middle of a playroom holy war, there would likely be some not-so-subtle passive aggressive comments about the amount of crumbs and toys covering the floor and the “failure” would surely be the type of news that makes headlines. But there is only so much one person can do when it seems like there are so many (albeit tiny) people working against you. So, not unlike our tireless intelligence community, we moms try to recover from (and even cover-up) our so-called failures as quickly and effectively as possible, knowing full well they will probably happen again because, just like world peace, children are a work in progress. You can only bask in the glory of your successes alone or over a glass of wine with your fellow moms at book club, just like I’m certain old spies get together in dark corners of tiny cafes and talk about that one time in Moscow when they all helped avert a global meltdown. Occasionally the outside world might get a glimpse of what good work you do… like when you kill Osama bin Laden or when an older woman, semi-retired from the mom game, comes over to you at a restaurant and tells you how nice your children are (because a retired spy can still read the news and pick out a successful operation) and then the table next to you thinks “oh yeah, I didn’t even know they were here.” That’s motherhood, when things are going well, no one has any idea there is an operation happening right under their noses… but when things go to hell in a hand-basket the headlines read “Global Meltdown!” and it’s your face is on the cover.

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