The other night I was so tired, and our youngest, Peter, was just not going to sleep. It was one in the morning, and I was desperate. I brought out the big gun.
“Peter, that’s it. I’m putting on All the Presidents Men”.
“No mommy. No All the Presidents Men,” came his plea for mercy.
I was too tired for mercy.
Yes, my secret is out. When I can’t get my youngest to sleep, I bring him into my room (if he’s not there already) and put on a movie that’s guaranteed to bore him to sleep. All the Presidents Men is my strongest weapon. If I’m feeling a little more patient, it’s Julie and Julia or Field of Dreams.
But this was a night for a political thriller.
Before Woodward met Bernstein, Peter was asleep.
I’ve developed such a strange skill set in 12 years of motherhood that I started thinking how I could possibly define it if I was ever looking for work in the corporate world again. How could I possibly sum up all the creative problem solving I’ve done as a mom? Is there a position where I could use all these skills?
As I was considering my options, I thought about CEO of a Fortune 500 company or perhaps Secretary of State.
Yes, Secretary Clinton’s impressive resume includes turns as senator, first lady, lawyer, and congressional aide on her way to becoming the nation’s chief diplomat. Admittedly, I’ve been none of these.
But, how much do you want to bet that when it comes down to the nitty-gritty negotiations she has to do with world leaders, she relies on her time as a mom as much as any other position she’s held?
Who does more day-to-day negotiations than a mother? Every day we have to get our little darlings to do things that they just don’t want to do. Eat with a fork, use the potty, not put their fingers in their noses, and that’s just for starters.
When my oldest, Tom, was four, he refused to go into a Friendly’s restaurant because he feared they might play music that he found painful to his ears. I spent almost an hour, slowly and carefully getting him from the car to the restaurant, determined that he not let fear rule his life. Now it may not be the same as getting Middle Eastern heads of state to the negotiating table, but, it’s pretty close.
Thankfully I had my own dad to encourage me and stay with a then one-year-old Lizzy while she slept in the car. But, every good executive has assistants to help her out with difficult assignments.
I have made burping noises while cutting fingernails so little people don’t get freaked out but don’t have cat claws either. I have sung, ate and swallowed every animal in “I Know an Old Lady Who Swalled a Fly” to entertain children while we wait for what seemed like hours in doctors’ offices. I even came up with a story of a princess who learned to get out of the pool without screaming, so I could avoid a meltdown and get everybody out of said pool in one piece.
I am no pushover either. I have slashed TV, iPod, and movie privileges when the situation called for it, and I did not back down. If I could withstand the furror of a teenager, I’m pretty sure I could handle a board room of executives.
We haven’t even spoken about the multi-tasking required to diaper a baby, contain a toddler, and make an appointment with the pediatrician all at the same time as you look over a picture book with your eldest child lest they feel left out. It’s perfect preperation for a board meeting.
Motherhood may be the best training ground we have to develop strong leaders and heads of industries.
If there are any future leaders who don’t have time right now to start their own families, yet would like a crash course in a) negotiating, b) improving productivity, and c) operating on time and within budget, I will gladly let them spend time with my family. Come spend a few days being in the trenches of motherhood with me. It’s a sacrifice I would make for the good of my country.