Send in the moms to clean up Gulf disaster

Categorized as 07/05/10 Goshen News column

Sigh. Do I have to say this again? Really? I’m starting to feel like a little one-woman band playing a one-note samba.

We’re going into month four of this disaster in the gulf. Engineers are still scrambling to find a solution, Washington is still trying to figure out which end is up, and that slick is still spreading.

Apparently Rahm lost my number and Mr. Hayward is screening his calls for all the luck I’ve had. It’s a shame, really, because I have one tiny bit of advice that could turn this thing around. It’s this – gentlemen, SITM. Send in the moms.

It’s certainly not a dearth of bright, creative minds that’s holding this up. The coast is awash in brilliant people specializing in everything from oceanography to engineering to drilling halfway to China. On top of that, you can’t walk two feet without stepping on a “communications specialist,” otherwise known as a PR guy, who is dying to tell an anxious nation how it’s going and what we should think about how it’s going.

Experts? Oh, yeah. Just not the right ones.

It’s confounding, really, that the talking heads have missed it. After all, you don’t scrub up an architect, put a scalpel in his hand, and ask him to perform an appendectomy, do you? No way.

It follows, then, that if you have a big mess to clean up, you bring in the people with actual experience in cleaning up messes. That, my friends, would be the mamas.

Motherhood, from day one, is synonymous with messes. In fact, that first little mess, deposited in a microscopic Pamper in the hospital nursery, sparks relief and celebration. What is world peace at that moment compared to a healthy little set of bowels? The parents rejoice.

As it turns out, that initial triumph is just the opening salvo. The Pampers deposits, you soon see, don’t stop there. In a manner that defies every known law of physics, they can actually outweigh the tiny owner of the colon, and he will leave his mark on your Sunday dress, your business suit, or the fresh sheets you just put down. You, as a parent, are not rejoicing.

At some point, you just get tired of heading up the solid waste management team, and those visions of the little doober entering college in paper pants are keeping you up at night. That’s when you decide it’s time for the big PT.

Potty training, I’ve learned, is an inexact science. If there was a sure-fire method (do this, this, and this and you shall have success), we moms would be all over it. There’s not. So you guess and you try and you fail and you sweat bullets because every other toddler in the nursery is wearing cute little shorts with pictures. Cotton ones.

Then, one glorious day, the heavens open up, angels sing (was that the Hallelujah Chorus?), and a mother collapses in relief, crying tears of joy into her celebratory mocha. Which is exactly what happened recently when the resident Elmo fan started managing his own solid waste. Never mind that he’s about three for seven (which means I’m still batting clean up), this mom is rejoicing.

If you have a spitter, you get used to someone gerking up his lunch all over your shoulder or down your neck. It happens. You may not rejoice, but you clean it up.

Eventually, they start feeding themselves. There’s spaghetti everywhere with the odd mac and cheese. There’s grape jelly on the wall and some on the floor, which you detect with a fresh, white sock. You clean some more.

Their noses run. You wipe them up. They throw up around (not in) the bucket. You wipe it up. They play outdoors and bring in exactly half of the back yard, judging by the dirt on the floor. You’d rather grumble than rejoice, but you mop it up.

Bottom line? We deal in messes. We’re frightfully organized and ever prepared. When others back away, we move in. There’s no dithering around, naming of committees, or taking of polls to gauge popular opinion regarding our clean-up methods. We’re too busy cleaning for that.

When a careless breakfast eater spills the milk, there’s no issuing of injunctions on others in the neighborhood to prevent them from pouring their own milk. We just clean up the stuff that’s spreading across our table and, if necessary, help them with theirs.

We may not be engineers or brilliant intellectuals, we moms, but we do have experience and a little bit of common sense. We’d be happy to serve. And after we get that mess cleaned up, we have a few ideas about solving world hunger and teaching Congress to get along.

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