'American Ninja Warrior': Mom edition

There is reality TV, then there is TV that mimics reality. One mom realizes that her life more closely resembles 'American Ninja Warrior' than anything else she sees on TV.

Wong Campion/Reuters/FILE
Silent eaters? A breeder feeds a moon cake to a giant panda at a zoo in Kunming, Yunnan province, September 4.

There aren’t many programs we can watch together as a family, but there’s one show in particular we try to watch whenever it’s on. “American Ninja Warrior” follows athletically gifted and muscle-bound athletes through obstacle courses you’d have thought no mortal man (or woman) could traverse.  

You’ve probably never heard of The Slack Rope obstacle, but these guys have been training on it for years. Oh, and if you think the Salmon Ladder is a ladder that leads to seafood heaven (like I did), you’re greatly mistaken. Two things are certain: first, my family will spend the duration of the show fully invested in the lives and backstories of these fabulously jacked contestants and second, by the end, my children will be jumping from the backs of couches, hanging from light fixtures, and subsequently, nursing minor head wounds.

Aside from that, what is quite obvious to me, and what you may not have considered, is that moms are ninjas too. OK smarty pants, I know most moms can’t support their full body weight with their fingertips, or scale walls with nothing but willpower and wicked quad muscles. 

However, I’d argue that “American Ninja Warrior” fails to evaluate one very crucial ninja skill – primarily, that of stealth. So, taking into account the value of stealthy ninja-ness, I’ve created a new show in which mothers will compete against other mothers for the title. All assigned tasks must be completed with at least one sleeping child in the house. The aforementioned child(ren) must remain asleep for the duration of the test. (5 bonus points will be issued per each additional sleeping child.)

Here are the categories you’ll need to be prepared for:

The Basics: 


You know which floor boards creak – you have it memorized, so this should be easy. Walk silently from one end of the house to the other in order to retrieve an object. Once you get there, forget what you came for, look confused, and tread lightly back. Privately wish there was someone there to witness your silent genius. Snarl unabashedly at your spouse who is categorically unable to master this elementary skill. 


A true ninja can eat her meal silently, like a panda*. Like a worm. This involves more than choosing foods that can be chewed quietly. You must also retrieve the fork and the plate without knocking them against any other forks or plates, and close the cabinet door noiselessly. This is harder than you think and will require a great deal more attention than you should be giving to it.


Sneezing is optional. Get control of yourself, woman!

Truthfully, most bodily functions are optional, but when you’ve reached the limits of your bladder and can go no further (weakling), choose the facility furthest from the baby’s room. Time your elimination to the swells of the baby’s noise machine. If your noise machine selection is anything other than constant static, this will require great control and precision on your part. But you’re a ninja. Get over it. 

Advanced Skills:


This was a trick. If you fell for it, you are automatically disqualified. Under no circumstances, (if your baby is older than 8 weeks), should you attempt to take a nap. Babies are like Santa Claus. They know when you’re sleeping and they know when you’re awake. If you attempt to lie down, the quiet party is over. Power through your day, ninja mom, on little to no sleep, while remaining positive and upbeat. 


You are a master at knowing the wave rhythms on the baby’s noise machine in the next room (see bodily functions). Time your bed entry perfectly to mask the noisy springs with the sound of the waves. Only a novice rolls into bed on a whim, without a plan. So what, you forgot to brush your teeth. Too bad. You’re here now. No changing positions, no stretching. Don’t move a single muscle. Close your eyes, breathe lightly and wait to see if your last ninja move of the day was successful.

You did it! You made it! You are a virtuoso. A master. An absolute force to be reckoned with.

Laugh out loud at how absurd (and exhausted) you are.

Get out of bed to rock the baby you just woke up, and daydream about ladders that lead to a heaven filled with salmon.

*Disclaimer: the author has no idea if pandas actually eat silently. But she laughed when she wrote that.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to 'American Ninja Warrior': Mom edition
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today