October 3, 2012

The Art of Appearing to be in Control--Smithville Review column, Oct. 3rd

The Art of Appearing to be in Control
Featured in the Smithville Review 10/3/12

Being a young wife and mother has taught me a lot of things, and one of the most useful is the art of appearing to be in control. The fact is, you will never truly be “in control”, so you have to master looking like you are. I’m willing to teach you this art if you are willing to listen.

If your child starts screaming in the grocery store, and everyone looks at you like you’re the worst mom on the planet, start screaming as well. Then say to the person closest to you, “I’m teaching my child the art of primal therapy.” Suddenly, they’ll think your child is screaming because you want them to, not because they love to embarrass you in Wal-Mart. Victory.

If you forget to bring the diaper bag when you go somewhere, you risk looking like an un-attentive mother. But not if you say “We’re teaching our daughter survival skills. When the zombie apocalypse comes, will we have a diaper bag? No.” Disaster averted.

If you burn the roast (or TV dinner), say “This is no mistake, husband.” Tell him you read in some vague magazine that the burnt bits have healing powers and can remove toxins from your system. Instead of looking like an absent-minded mom, you’ll look like Dr. Oz. Somewhat.

Next time your daughter gives you a “makeover” (puts bows in your hair and applies lipgloss to your eyebrows), and you forget to remove it before you go out in public, don’t sweat it. Hold your head up high, and to that lady giving you The Look, say you paid $300 for this hairstyle, thank you very much. Then ask her if she’d like you to give her your stylist’s number.

How do you appear to be large and in charge (scratch that, just in charge) when your daughter tells you to shut up? You have a few options here. You can
a) Say, in a scary voice, “Don’t talk to me like that.” Then lower your eyelids to look more threatening.
b) Start counting to 3 (I don’t know why, but this is surprisingly effective with children)
c) Praise your child and say, “Yes! Shut up is a great thing to say! Please say it all the time!” This works because children notoriously do the opposite of what you tell them. At least in my case.

What if your child shanks you in public? This has never happened to me, but I did witness this at Wal-Mart about 2 years ago. The mom didn’t hesitate. She promptly pulled up her pants, grabbed her child, and gave him 3 solid whacks on the bottom. Was she still embarrassed that the whole store saw her undies? Probably. Did she appear to be in control of the situation? No doubt. I mean, I wanted to give her an award. Or a tighter belt.

One tried-and-true method of appearing to be in control: pretend it’s opposite day. This can be applied to anything you can imagine; I find it extremely effective when I ask a non-pregnant woman when she is due. After I ask, if she looks angry, hurt, or confused, I yell out, “Just kidding! It’s opposite day! I asked you, because you look the opposite of pregnant!” See? Now, you can remain friends. Or “not” remain friends—it’s opposite day, remember?

There are times when you will not be able to hide the fact that you don’t have it all together. When that happens, you can still save face. Just deny that anything happened.
Boss: “But you just sent the entire office, including  me, your boss, an email about my body odor.”
You: “No, I didn’t.”
Boss: “Yes, you did. I have it right here. How can you explain yourself?”
You: “I forgot to tell you! It’s Opposite Day!”

Want more Mother, Interrupted? Visit the blog that started it all at www.interruptedmum.blogspot.com. You can email me at debra.carp@yahoo.com!

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