Thursday, June 14, 2012


There was this time back in the 90s when I gave birth to three children in about four years. It was crazy, and chaotic, and wonderful and the only thing I would do differently if I had a do-over is I would have four children.

During that era I loved the challenge of the simple act of getting us all dressed and fed and out the door even if we were just going to the library. I liked knowing that if I did it all just right we made a peaceful and serene mother/children scene that made people smile--like a mama duck and her babies. And if I do say so myself, we looked pretty good most of the time.

I remember talking to my sister about how tricky it was to do that.

She said it was like being a duck: if you did it right, on the surface you were sailing along peacefully, your children calmly circling you--but underneath if anyone could see your feet you were paddling like hell.


Most of the fabulous mom friends I know are fantastic ducks. Or even swans (Ann R and Martha come to mind). They look amazing, they glide along, they look calm, their children now teens still glide along next to them peacefully and I love them and admire them for it.

And I know that this is not as easy as it looks.

I know that a lot of us (all of us at some time) are gliding along despite a broken webbed foot or a pond that is losing water rapidly. But we accept these challenges and work that much harder to glide.

Sometimes you might see a mom who is not so good at this. 

I saw one yesterday at the Shedd Aquarium. She was there with two quiet school-aged kids but somehow she made it feel like she was herding a dozen screaming toddlers who needed naps and lunch.

It did not help that she had waaayyy too much gear: strollers, backpacks, lunchboxes, GameBoys--you get the picture. These types always have too much gear; sometimes they even have a spouse and they still look like they have no control over anything.

She was talking way too loudly, over-managing the kids, quizzing them to make the visit "educational", correcting them when it wasn't necessary and ignoring them when it was. 

In short, she was making her own job much, much harder than it has to be. I thought "There goes a bad duck."

But later, when thinking more about it, I realized that this mom isn't just a duck who swims poorly, she is an upside-down duck. She has her head under the water, her feet paddling madly in the air, flapping her wings beneath the surface nearly drowning, and making her children (and the rest of us) crazy.

If she just put all that effort and energy into paddling under instead of above the water she'd be sailing along.

So the next time you run into an upside-down duck (and you will) do us all a favor--tell her to TURN OVER. 

We, and her children, will thank you.

No comments:

Post a Comment