Let’s look at the facts—expat moms have all of the qualities needed for top spies including adaptability to new cultures and languages, the ability to survive torturous conditions of all sorts, and the ability to blend into new environments with ease and grace (sometimes).
The TV series, The Americans was nominated for their first Emmy Award and is a brilliant example of why expat moms would make excellent spies. Secret agencies are missing out on a likely untapped resource by not pulling expat moms into the espionage field.
Here are seven reasons why expat moms would make excellent spies:
1. Sleep deprivation torture wouldn’t be effective on expat moms.
Expat moms are experts at time zone changes and have already learned how to survive on minimal sleep thanks to years of babies, toddlers, and partners who toss and turn throughout the night. Need someone to travel halfway around the world on two hours of sleep? An expat mom is your gal.
2. The perfect cover.
Nobody would suspect Jane down the street who is on her fourth move because “her husband works in oil,” is really a spy, now would they? Expat families move frequently and their “assignments” are constantly changing. The expat mom role is the perfect cover for a spy. Not only are expat moms moving around the globe frequently but moms are always busy running errands—buying groceries, shuttling kids to school, games, and playdates, and zooming around town. Next time your expat mom friend says they are moving again due to “another reorganization” just give her a knowing nod and a wink.
3. Expat mom spies—the latest in a digital nomad career.
Expat moms are always looking for mobile careers and what’s more flexible than a spy career? Expat moms would be getting paid to travel around the world, which they already do anyway. Do you really think your expat mom friend is an expat life coach or intercultural expert who also happens to be fluent in five different languages? No way! She’s totally a spy. Think about it…
4. Pain tolerance is at an all-time high.
Childbirth, nursing through mastitis, thrush, or just nursing, in general, make women stronger than they may realize. Moms have an unusually high pain threshold established after years of stepping on Legos, sleeping in twisted positions, and being kicked by babies during diaper changes. I’ve seen my mom pick up a strand of spaghetti out of a boiling pot of water and pop it into her mouth to test if it was cooked. Shit…my mom might be a spy.
5. Expat moms know multiple languages.
Expat moms are adept at picking up the local languages, customs, and traditions with each new assignment. The ability to blend in has become second nature. In addition, toddlerese is a complicated language and moms are masters at translating what their little darlings are saying when it sounds like they are gargling with marbles to the rest of us. Moms are also used to spelling out words and speaking in code around their children. It’s not so much of a stretch to switch the code to discuss topics of a more delicate nature.
6. Moms can read body language like a pro.
Every mom knows when her toddler is pooping. Years of watching and listening to children in a covert way that doesn’t let them know that they are being watched are all part of a mom’s daily life. Moms can sense a shift in energy, strange stillness, and the sixth sense that something is just a bit off. Those types of observational skills make for an excellent spy and could be the difference between life and death.
7. Moms are super stealthy.
I have untangled myself from a sleeping toddler, stepped over and around noisy plastic toys, opened a creaky door, and successfully closed it again without my two children waking up. With these ninja-like moves, flexibility from those pilates classes, and awesome mom-strength, moms are primed to impersonate Catherine Zeta-Jones’ stealthy (and sexy) avoidance of lasers in the movie, Entrapment.
In closing, in case you work for the CIA, MI6, KGB, or any other spy agency I may not know about, you may want to consider employing expat moms as your top notch spies for all of the reasons I have mentioned. Expat moms have already accepted some level of risk in their lives and many of them have lived in conflict zones in the past. Adventure, danger, and multi-tasking are all part of a normal day for your regular expat mom/spy. Bring it on!
If you already are a spy who is also an expat mom, I apologize if I compromised your cover.
50 expat moms share their stories in the Knocked Up Abroad series.
Support former (and possibly current) expat mom spies here.