"Star Trek" in Real Life: Motherhood is Just Like "The Borg"

Those of you who read my column with any kind of frequency know that I am a huge, dorky fan of Star Trek.  Recently, I’ve been trying to give “Voyager” another chance, but, I don’t know…I still feel like it was a wasted opportunity to do some great, cutting-edge story telling. Still, my favorite character on the show is Seven of Nine. (She’s my husband’s fave too – gee, I wonder why?) Seven, of course, is a liberated Borg drone. Throughout watching the progress of her storyline, I have come to a rather interesting conclusion: As a parent, I often think like the Borg and I even act like the Borg. I don’t speak these Borg-like thoughts out loud (my kids think I’m crazy enough), but they exist in my mind nonetheless. Maybe as a parent you can relate, or as a son or daughter this seems all too familiar….

Resistance Is Futile. This is what I’m thinking when my 3-year-old has a tantrum over wanting to put his socks on by himself when we are in a hurry to leave or when my daughter tries to go out with her friends before doing a chore that I’ve assigned. They can complain all they want but these things are going to get done, eventually. Whine and whinge and moan- but more often than not, like a Borg Cube, I have the superior fire power.

You Will Be Assimilated. I think one of the most surprising things about parenthood is that I kind of thought my kids would be more like me, like, little versions of the best parts of me. I don’t think I considered my kids inheriting my more negative personality traits. (Ha! right?) Either way, before I actually had kids I just assumed I would understand them because like I said, they would be smaller, more streamlined versions of myself. Wow, I was really wrong on that front. There are so many times when I don’t get my kids at all. This is why, on more than one occasion, I have wished they would simply assimilate and be more like me. It would just be so much easier and less complicated with a fraction of the drama. I don’t think this all the time, often I am in awe of their individuality. But when they are being annoying, I wish they would assimilate.

Irrelevant. This word is what I am thinking when my teenager talks ad nauseam about a boy she has a crush on. And I mean really, ad nauseam, for hours, if given the chance. This is also what I’m thinking when my 10-year-old gets started on the plot of a movie we have just seen together and describes it for a good 20 minutes or when my son is crying about not wanting that kind of cereal because the other cereal is better. It’s like, land the plane…I’m not a terrible mom. I am not always thinking this. It mostly happens when I am tired, when I have had a challenging day and my patience has worn down to a little nub of nothing. Admittedly, I do think “Irrelevant”  at least once in a 24-hour period. I don’t actually say it though, so points for that.

We Are Borg.  Okay, I never actually think this. But I do use the word “we” far more often than “I.” This is both the blessing and curse of parenthood. Once you start a family, you are part of a collective, a hive. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the individual. We are stronger together, and unity can be beautiful. However, many mothers in particular, lose their identity. They forget who they were before they had kids and it becomes difficult to act selfishly, even when it’s clearly needed and it’s needed on multiple levels. As moms, we need to make sure that we are happy and getting enough alone time so that we can be better parents. It’s also important for our kids to see that while they will come first most of the time, it won’t be all the time because that’s life. A child who is constantly catered and deferred to will have a lot of problems “assimilating” in the real world.

State Your Designation. Every Borg drone has a function and a designation. For example with Seven of Nine – her actual name is Seven Of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Of Unimatrix Zero-One. I think the same goes in many families too.  Family members often have a slot they fill, a role that is theirs. There’s the Black Sheep, The Middle Child, The Patriarch, etc. Sometimes this can be great, knowing where you fit in. Sometimes it can be constricting and debilitating. It just depends on the family.

We Will Adapt. This is the one Borg-ism that really actually works outside of my head. Truly, I think the ability to adapt quickly and without feeling sorry for oneself because things didn’t go according to plan is one of the greatest gifts a kid can get from a parent. That’s not to say we shouldn’t mourn or grieve the loss of something important to us, however, it’s healthiest to do this grieving while accepting that the outcome has changed. I think the happiest people I’ve ever met have this ability to adapt quickly.

I Cannot Hear The Others. This is what a Borg says when they have been cut off from the collective. This is also what I say when I get the house to myself and it is really quiet. At first it’s a little unsettling. Then I realize I’m alone. I adapt quickly. The quiet is awesome.

Your System Is Not Efficient. I think this as I am forced to watch my daughter use her floor as a closet or when I see my son destroy a room I have just cleaned in under 30 seconds or when one of my kids leaves a project to do the night before it is due. Being that I am a hyper organized individual, the total lack of efficiency my children apply to their lives really makes me want to spike their dinners with nano probes so they can get with the program. Since this is not possible, I have adapted to the pick the hills you want to die on strategy. There are worse things than a messy room.

We Seek Perfection- This is the ultimate Borg goal. Perfection. Nobody is perfect. Not my kids, certainly not me. It’s hard though, when as a parent you see the unlimited potential of your children. It’s difficult to let them follow their own path when you can see clearly that they are squandering that potential. However, since they are not drones and not connected to the Hive mind, you have to let them go and make mistakes and figure things out on their own. It’s really hard though. It’s probably one of the hardest things you have to do as a parent. But, if they were part of the Collective, as a parent you would never get to experience the joy of when they do figure it out and they do something extraordinary, something that only they could do. I’m glad we aren’t Borg- but I still wouldn’t mind a working Comply protocol occasionally.

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