From Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul

Motherhood—A Trivial Pursuit?

You’ve no doubt heard of Trivial Pursuit, the popular board game based on answering trivia questions. I’ve often thought that mothering is similar to such a game. It seems we spend much of our time in a maze of trivia, fumbling through the daily minutiae of family living, never quite sure whether we’re ahead of the game or not.

With that in mind, I have devised my own trivia game for mothers. The rules are simple—you’ll start with 10 marbles, and collect or deduct marbles as you play the game.

Are you ready? Okay, let’s go...

Square 1. You are awaiting the arrival of your firstborn child. If you look at your rapidly expanding waistline and say, “As soon as the baby is born I’ll be a size 6 again,” deduct 2 marbles—for wishful thinking.

Square 2. It is two years later and your second child is soon to be born. To avoid sibling rivalry you have prepared carefully for the event, spending “quality time” with your firstborn, giving him his own baby doll to feed, bathe and cuddle. When the new baby comes home, older brother is fine. But deduct 1 marble—it’s the dog who’s jealous.

Square 3. Your number one son has just announced at the supper table that he is to be an oak tree in the school play and needs a costume by tomorrow morning. If you stay up until 3 A.M. making an imaginative and innovative costume, deduct 3 marbles for setting an impossible example for the rest of us. On the other hand, if you stick him into a brown paper bag with a hole for head and arms and tape green leaves all over front and back, collect 5 marbles. You’ve just taken the rest of us off the hook.

Square 4. The kids now number three and are all in school. You have discovered that “mother” is synonymous with “taxi service.” On a typical day you drop the youngest off at her music lesson, then go with the boys to their Little League practice. Then back to pick up daughter and drop accumulated Little Leaguers off at their assorted homes. It’s dinner on the fly because somebody has to be at choir practice at 7 P.M. It’s now bedtime and you discover you have an extra kid. But you don’t panic . . . it’s happened before and soon the phone will ring as another mother discovers she’s missing one. Collect 5 marbles for endurance.

Square 5. The little darlings that you tucked lovingly into bed for so many years suddenly treat you as though you lost your brains in kindergarten. They are embarrassed to be seen with you. Guess what: You are the parent of teenagers, those strange creatures who think they are eight feet tall and bulletproof. If you survive this age with your senses intact, collect 8 marbles for heroism under fire. Until then, always remember that you hold the ultimate weapon—you have the car keys!

Square 6. You can tell your oldest child is home from college when you see the pile of dirty laundry in the front hall. If you take the clothes downstairs to sort, wash and press as in days of old... deduct 3 marbles and shame on you! If, instead, you take him by the hand and show him the room where the automatic washer and dryer have been housed since he was small, collect 5 marbles. Some of the most important things in life are not taught in college, you know.

Square 7. The children, by some miracle, have grown into responsible adults. By chance you overhear your now grown-up son telling the same bedtime stories to his firstborn that you so long ago told to him, and the tears fall silently down your cheeks. Don’t despair—these are the pearls of parenting, and that is what the game is all about.

Congratulations. You have crossed the finish line and it’s time to add up the score. The game you have just played is called “Motherhood”—and if you haven’t lost all your marbles—you win!

Jacklyn Lee Lindstrom

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