Sunday Special: Successful Saleswomen

Before I sent in my resume in to be a mom, I didn’t realize that my little bosses would require backgrounds in sales and diplomacy. That wasn’t in the job description.

But an ability to think on your feet is really one of the most important qualities in the job that no one really tells you about. And the ones who can really do it and do it well are the ones who move up quickly in that mom-corporate ladder and should get raises, or at least awards, kind of like in high school where there are those “Best Dressed” or “Most Likely to Succeed” awards, there should be “Most Likely to Divert a Major Meltdown,” or “Most Creative”.

And it takes more than “Letter weeks” like I do, to be considered this creative. It isn’t about finding money in the budget where there is none or scrounging up ingredients in the fridge and turning them into a magical yumminess that everyone drools over for years to come. None of that.

It’s the genius that comes out in the littlest things. The every day moments. The ones that could go really bad, but somehow they don’t. Where a mother takes a situation that is rapidly spinning out of control, refuses to lose her cool even though she is pushed to the very brink of insanity, and just by tweaking a few words, manages to pull a 180 and completely divert a toddler-meltdown-emergency.

I was honored to be a witness of this on one such occasion recently and it made me realize just how diplomatic we moms can be. Smoothing over situations like we’re the United Nations.

A few days ago my best friend was driving her boys to story time. It was Superhero day. And we were on the phone when she realized a tragic mistake was made.

The kids forgot their capes. *Shudder*

I know. On Superhero day. Imagine...

Now, if you have any experience with boys at all and even if you don’t, you probably know that boys and even girls, especially at the tender, very sensitive ages of 5 and 3 are pretty big fans of superheroes because why wouldn’t they be? They save the earth, all the people on it, all while wearing tights and capes.

And if you’re going to pretend you’re a superhero, what are you without a cape?!

I could hear this dire urgency in her little boys’ voices after realizing that they’re cape-less. They’re yelling in the background and their voices get more urgent and panicky the further away from home they get, “But mommyyyyyy, we can’t go without our capes!!!” “Nooooooooo! We have to go hommmmmeee!!!!!”

And she’s whispering to me on the phone and they can’t hear her because they’re in the very back of the minivan she tells me, “We’re so late, I can’t go back, should I go back?”And she really wants to because she knows that not only could this situation worsen into complete meltdowns, but that their little hearts could break when they see all the other little capes and no mother wants that no matter how late they are. And she’s sounding more desperate as she gets further and further away too because she knows what’s coming, we all know what’s coming, and she’s trying to get these little superheroes to wrap their superhero minds around not having a cape to be a superhero in.

So I said, “No, you don’t have to go back, you don’t need a cape to be a superhero!” Even though I had no idea where I was going with this.

And she repeated it to them, even though she had no idea where she was going with it either.

And they, of course, loudly and very disappointedly disagreed. When I realized, ooh! Superheroes are real people at some point, aren’t they? And so I say this and we both get excited because we both could see where we were going with this. Even though we didn’t quite know all of the superheroes’ real people names but we were improvising here.

“Honey, do you know who Superman really is?” she asked them. To which both of us in that second went blank and I heard my front door open, knowing it was my husband and I burst through my bedroom door and almost collided with him while I was on the phone and yelled, “Who was Superman? What’s his name as a guy?! Hurry! Hurry!” And he’s looking at me like I am a crazed lunatic and says, “Clark Kent, why?” But I yell, “Clark Kent! Clark Kent!” into the phone and she relays this superimportant superhero information, “Honey, he’s Clark Kent! He wears normal clothes and is a normal guy and puts on his cape when he doesn’t want people to recognize him! But he’s still Superman without his cape! So you can (and here is where the brilliance just seems to roll off her tongue) be Superman in disguise!”

And the oldest one mulls this new information over for a second and the silence is almost deafening because obviously this could go one of two ways and one of them is not good. But he decides that this is the best idea EVER!

And then we’re on a roll. The little one says he wants to be Batman and we both think, oh crap, what’s his name? And fortunately now my husband knows I am a complete lunatic but that is why he married me and I run out yelling, “Who’s Batman! Who’s Batman!” Because all I can think of is “Bruce Jenner” and I know that’s not it. And he says “Bruce Wayne,” and I yell to her in the phone “Bruce Wayne!” and she again relays this information and the little one is so proud that he has just become Batman in disguise and his name is Bruce Wayne.

Then the older one decided he doesn’t want to be Superman, he wants to be Spiderman, but all we can think of is Toby McGuire, we can’t think of his name either even though we both know that we both know this one. And I ask my husband again, (what would you do without husbands, I guess they can get some credit too every once in a while), and he says Peter Parker, and so it goes that the older one is Peter Parker for the day.

Tragedy averted. Phew.

These are the things I’m talking about. Creative mothering is sometimes about being a successful saleslady. You talk them out of buying the pair of shoes they want and talk them into buying the pair that you want them to buy with only the tweak of a few words. Like the magical word, “disguise!” Who knew?!

I saw another moment like this when we were eating my birthday cake at her house and her oldest said in kind of a complainey voice that he tasted fruit in the cake and what was it, and without even so much as a thought, she replied, “It’s jelly. Like on your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.”

Yes, she’s that good.

Because had she said, “Raspberry filling,” he inevitably would have put the cake down (not that we’re trying to talk him into eating cake, it’s more about diverting anger here) and said he didn’t like it and whatever else after that. And then there could be crying…and well, everyone would rush to it like firemen to a fire to try to put it out.

See? It’s about sales.

Prevention, even.

The saddest part about this phenomenon is that you could, theoretically, miss these moments of sheer brilliance if you’re not watching. And moms do it literally every day. It is like second nature to most of them, especially the veterans. And they’re not moments that moms would ever take credit for because they are so woven into their day that it has become a non-issue and an unspoken job description. Now, I personally am still a novice to this artform. Only one of my kids talks now so I am only now learning. I’m a white belt. But I’m watching my girlfriends and family members who have had children before me (and boy am I getting a kick out of watching my girlfriends with whom I went to college with during a time when the most important thing in life was what we were wearing out to a club and now watching them divert things like “cape situations”). And I am glad I am.

So stop and watch a mom every once in a while. If you’re really paying attention, you may actually witness one of these miracles of nature. And wouldn’t that be great? Because so many of these moments become lost or go unnoticed and are lost forever. But catching them. Well, that would mean that one mom’s nano-second of brilliance could possibly live on in infamy. And what mom wouldn’t want that?
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  1. Hahaha, yep, pure brilliance. Moms are cool folk with lots of tricks up their capes. :)

  2. Brilliant! Simply brilliant! Mothers are the most creative of people on the planet.

  3. oh i love this post! clairanne has smarts we could all learn from.

  4. Thank you. You truly made my day! Do you think that I could put in for that raise you mentioned though?



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