By Lynn Perkins
Back in April, I was having dinner with my friend Megan, who was about to turn 40. “What do you want to do to celebrate?” I asked her. “Go for a run, or a hike? Get pedicures?” I wasn’t prepared for her answer: “They’re holding auditions for The Amazing Race in downtown San Francisco tomorrow,” she said. “I want to try out.”
What seemed like a completely random idea as the words came out of her mouth—why would two working tech moms of five kids want to compete in a six week televised race around the world?—made more and more sense as the evening wore on (and the wine bottles emptied). If we weren’t the ideal candidates, I realized, then who was? Because:
1. The Amazing Race is all about efficiency—and so are moms. I don’t have time to do all the things that need to get done for my family in any given day. That’s why I started a babysitting business—to buy time for all the other parents out there who are just like me: beyond busy. When it came to auditioning for the show, there was no way I could handle getting up at 5:00 a.m. to stand in line to wait for a number. So, I used the TaskRabbit app to find someone who would stand in line for me. Resourceful from the get-go!
2. To be a strong competitor on The Amazing Race, you have to be up for endless challenges—just like moms. Will the show send us to the Ikea factory in Sweden to put together a pile of unassembled furniture? How is this unlike pretty much every weekend at my house, when my kids ask me to put together Lego with limited instructions. And since I’m the mom of twins, I understand how to get faster as I go, so by the time I get to the second X-Wing Fighter set, I’ve cut my assembly time in half!
3. On The Amazing Race, you have to try to sleep while you’re crammed into a crowded airplane—another score for moms! Not only can parents sleep pretty much anywhere (I’ve nodded off on public buses and in gym locker rooms). But to me, flying for eight hours in a plane without any kids, no matter how crowded it is, sounds like the equivalent of a week in a luxury hotel. Not to mention, sleeping like this would be infinitely more restful than the first 6 weeks of my kids’ lives.
4. Amazing Race teams often form partnerships and navigate conflict—two of the greatest of all mom skills. As a parent, you’re constantly brokering deals between your bickering children. Or smoothing things over between your kids and their friends. Not to mention, I can’t believe there are any Amazing Race teams that would be tougher to infiltrate than some of the mom cliques we've all heard about in the schoolyard.
5. You’ve got to know how to rush to make it on The Amazing Race—welcome to my whole life! When I think about it, rushing from challenge to challenge is no different than my daily rush from home to school to work to soccer practice to the grocery store to back home to basketball pick-up to meeting my husband at a bar for a date. Moms are champion rushers—we not only rush, we plan what’s coming next at the same time, so when we arrive, we’re ready for action!
6. You get further on The Amazing Race if you know how to ask for help—moms win again! I used to be one of those people who never like to ask for help. Then…I became a mom. I am no longer the person in the car who would rather drive around aimlessly than ask the guy at the gas station for directions. Likewise, as I rushed around the world and (doubtless) lost my way from time to time, I would be more than delighted to ask a bunch of villagers in Mongolia for help, rather than powering through the map that’s gotten me lost in the first place.
7. On The Amazing Race, many things will go wrong—similar to everyday life at my house. Moms are used to not having things go as planned. A few weeks ago, I was in an important business meeting when I got a call that all my boys had lice. Trust me when I say, getting them nit-picked was not on my agenda for that day. As my older sons were getting treated, and my toddler and I were getting checked over, I managed to finish my work emails and order food for dinner. This is the kind of resiliency that’s key for surviving on The Amazing Race.
8. If you’re too squeamish on The Amazing Race, you’re probably going to lose—but moms can’t afford to be squeamish. Okay, I’ll admit that I wouldn’t be thrilled if I had to eat a broiled grasshopper skewer on the show. But I’ve watched my twin boys eat food out of each other’s mouths, which is more disgusting than any unusual foodstuff The Amazing Race could throw at me. Not to mention, I am constantly talking to all three of my kids about trying new things—time for me to put up or shut up!
9. On The Amazing Race, you have to pack light—a mom-traveling-solo specialty. No kids and husband to get out of the house? Watch how fast I can get dressed and pack a toothbrush and an extra pair of underwear, just for myself. And I’m not afraid to wear the same team “uniform” day after day; when my boys were infants, I wore a Lululemon outfit every day for…well, who’s counting? I just picked it up off the floor where I’d dropped it in an exhausted stupor the night before, and stuck my weary bod back in it for another bleary day. Plus, on The Amazing Race, my clothes probably wouldn’t have spit-up on them—bonus!
10. Every day on The Amazing Race is one big clue-solving scavenger hunt—any mom’s true area of expertise. Today alone I have found one missing soccer cleat, my husband’s keys, a missing library book, and three extremely important Matchbox cars. I have also managed to solve the mystery of what was going on with my 2-year-old son, Jack, who was a blubbering wreck incapable of speech when I walked in the door (he desperately needed a snack—again). Trust me, Amazing Race, I got this.
11. Almost everyone on The Amazing Race will lose—and moms will be okay if it’s them. Why? Because rumor has it they put you up in a resort until the race is finished, so the secret of who wins remains a secret till the end. Just Megan and me, alone in a resort for three, or five, or sixteen days? Uh, isn’t that the very definition of winning?
Photograph by Caleb George, via Unsplash