I can say (with a fair amount of certainty) that most women I know want to be a perfect mom. Let me clarify what I mean by “perfect.” I’m not talking about the type of mom who wears a permanent smile, keeps an immaculate house and has a full cookie jar at all times. As if.
The kind of “perfect mom” that I’m talking about is a woman who somehow manages to teach her children the lessons of life without making too many mistakes. You know the kind of mistakes I’m talking about, right? Losing our tempers, stooping to bribery, telling white lies, fighting our kids’ battles, threatening, coaxing, begging, pleading. Yep, those mistakes.
I don’t know how many times I’ve uttered the phrase, “I’m a terrible mother.” I usually feel this way after an especially hurried morning when I’ve yelled at my daughter because she just can’t get out the door, or when I’ve snapped at her for asking me for an iPhone for the one millionth time. (She’s 10, for cryin’ out loud.)
I am capable of having a rational conversation with her about the importance of respecting other people’s time, and the difference between needing something and wanting something, but those types of lessons just can’t take place when I’m stressed out. My blood pressure increases, my hands start to sweat, and, soon enough, I feel the urge to bang my head against the wall over and over again. Ah, the joys of parenthood.
Ultimately, we moms do the best we can. Dee’s mom Annette, in Monday’s Lie, tried to prepare her kids for all the pitfalls of life (real and imaginary). Annette wasn’t “perfect,” and Dee, tired of the constant, yet creative lessons and warnings her mother forced upon her, rebelled by marrying the most conventional and normal (AKA boring) man she could find.
Dee flourishes in her “regular” lifestyle. She’s content living out her days void of the didactic adventures and games of her childhood. She is happy and pleased with the choices she’s made, and is thankful that her husband, unlike her mother, doesn’t see possible dangers lurking around every corner.
But the daughter of a covert operative doesn’t just forget the training instilled in her for years. Dee knows all too well that intuition can’t be ignored. Despite her “normal” life, she always scans a room, looks over her shoulder and keeps her eyes open for unusual activity. Annette taught her kids to recognize a clue when they see one, which is exactly how Dee figures out that her conventional and boring husband is planning to kill her.
As it turns out, the danger that Annette taught Dee about isn’t lurking around dark corners; it is hiding within the four walls of her home. So Dee does the only thing she can: She resurrects the learned memory games, spy techniques and her uncanny ability to lie on command in order to prepare for the fight of her life… literally.
Apparently the old adage is correct: Mothers really do know best.
Jamie Mason is the best-selling author of Three Graves Full. Monday’s Lie is her second book. Simon and Schuster 2015.