A Parent of Young Children Has Questions About The Americans

I just started watching this great new show, maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s called The Americans. What’s that? The show came out four years ago? Now that you mention it, I do remember hearing something about it during the spit up–soaked haze of my first child’s first year of life. And I meant to check it out, but then I had another kid, and shit got crazy. I spent the winter of 2015 nursing a newborn and silently weeping.

My husband and I didn’t have much time for Netflix and chill back then; ours was a divide-and-conquer approach to parenting. Our interactions were limited to the literal cries for help we volleyed back and forth as we attempted to keep our toddler and baby alive: “I’m dealing with a blowout right now! Can you get him his sippy cup!?” “No, the BLUE one!”

Now that things have calmed down and everyone is sleeping through the night, we’ve started preparing for our reentry into polite society by catching up on all the TV we’ve missed. (We decided to skip Stranger Things, as we learned everything we needed to know about it from Facebook.) We are now knee-deep in season 2 of The Americans, and our conversations these days consist of me questioning the veracity of the plot while my husband rolls his eyes and tells me for the millionth time to suspend my disbelief.

But what bothers me isn’t the fact that Philip and Elizabeth are constantly getting themselves out of impossible situations, or that their FBI agent neighbor doesn’t suspect a thing; rather, it’s that they can do all of this crazy spy stuff while raising kids. My biggest question is, what did they do when Paige and Henry were babies? When my kids were very little, I couldn’t even find time to watch a TV show. So how did they make time to be Soviet spies? Here are some of my questions:

  • Did the KGB offer maternity leave?
  • Did their handler double as a nanny?
  • Why did it only just occur to them in season 2 that being KGB agents might put their children in danger?

If my husband and I had to be spies when our kids were babies, it would have gone something like this:

SCENE 1

EXT. PARK – DAY

HANDLER
We need you to put a bug in the senator’s house.

ME
Great. Should I do that before or after the baby’s 2 a.m. feeding? (Takes a deep breath.)
I’m sorry, you didn’t deserve that. My hormones are crazy right now. I feel like I’m a terrible mother and spy!
And someone gave me their seat on the subway the other day because I still look like I’m six months pregnant! (Ugly-cries for 3 to 5 minutes.)

SCENE 2

INT. KITCHEN – DAY

HUSBAND
(Hanging up the phone)
The Center signaled for you to meet our contact at the warehouse at midnight.

ME
Ugh, but I did it last night. When is it your turn?

SCENE 3

INT. WAREHOUSE – NIGHT

I stumble in, bleary-eyed and un-showered. Sleep deprivation has made me sloppy, and FBI agents have trailed me to the meeting place. They bust in and arrest me. I go without a fight. They shove me into the back seat of their car, and I fall blissfully asleep.

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