Mothers celebrate our childrens' hits, and clean up after their misses.

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Cleaning my sons' bathrooms recently, it occurred to me that target practice is not just a military enterprise, as mothers across the country run their own personal boot camps with very few metals to show for it. This Mother's Day seems like a good time to celebrate the Strategic Air Command that makes up the modern home … with Mom as commander-in-chief, and queen of the bulls-eye.

Motherhood can be summed up as a long and intensive training camp in which target practice is our primary focus. It is our mothers who define the target early on, celebrate our hits, and frankly clean up after the misses, and it's moms who delight in every goal reached, no matter how mundane.

Of course it starts small … the food goes into the mouth; its antithesis goes into the potty. The baby goes into the chair, to grandma's house, to a play date, to the doctor's office where the child becomes his or her own personal pin cushion of immunization while the mom holds the weeping child, wishing she could take the shot.

We applaud our children as they target their first letters between the red and blue lines on writing paper; hang their drawing when they color outside of the lines, show them how to charm the person in authority — from the teacher, to the traffic cop, to our boss — for those inevitable moments when they will miss the mark, but need the grace.

Moving from encampment to encampment, it's a miss when your child runs into a bully, an apathetic teacher or a cruel soccer coach. So we gear up for battle, to fight for our children, moving them to better places, teaching them to stand up for themselves and grieving when they take a hit, even though sometimes that's what it takes to learn hard lessons.

Did you ever notice in a Disney movie that nothing bad happens until the mother is gone? Even at the level of cartoon living, sanity (somewhat), order and an absence of mayhem occurs when one sentient woman enters the picture, with a large imposing purse, both weapon and source of all matter of infinite wonders … and snacks.

Women understand that the mystery of being a mother is illustrated most often in the unseen, unknown, and un-experienced — as a family moves through life, blissfully unaware of the disasters that did not occur as one woman beat back the chaos of empty toilet paper rolls, dirty clothes, empty stomachs, pending electric bills, empty gift boxes, and traffic. That's because almost every day, clean bathrooms, folded laundry, healthy dinners, signed notes, wrapped birthday gifts and rides home arrived with the appearance of effortlessness while one, often tired woman makes her "To Do" list for the next day. That it looks seamless is an act of love and supreme skill (most days).

Life is hit and miss, trial and error, and always mothers are keeping their eye on the targets, urging children on as they try to score a goal, pass a test, ask out a girl and stay under the speed limit. Moms know the score, and moms got you to the game, with the tools you needed to give it a shot.

In Louise Erdrich's The Round House, the narrator, a young boy, talked about his mother's impact on the family's home: "Women don't realize how much store men set on the regularity of their habits. We absorb their comings and goings in our bodies, their rhythm in our bones. Our pulse is set to theirs, and as always on a weekend afternoon we were waiting for my mother to start us ticking away on the evening."

While sadly there are women who end up featured on the crime channels or are anti-heroes in their children's needed therapy, they are exceptions that prove the rule. We celebrate Mother's Day to honor those women who spend their lives keeping kids out of the tabloids, off the street corner, in class, on the field, at music lessons, in physical therapy, at the orthodontist, in shoes that fit and jeans that aren't "embarrassing" and constantly engaged — in anything — that can both wear children out and build them up.

No matter how bad your day, how minimal your achievement, or how great your failure, it's your mother who truly cares to hear about it. And when you make it big, most of us call mom first to celebrate.

Which brings me back to my sons' bathroom — a case study in near misses — and yet today I am not discouraged. Today I am thinking that my greatest life's work will be applauding my children as they reach targets and goals of their own, and find the strength of character to leave my home to build lives of their own … but they better not forget to call on Mother's Day.

Kristi Hamrick is a media consultant and mother of four, who knows that her own mother (who had six children) knows more than she does.

In addition to its own editorials, USA TODAY publishes diverse opinions from outside writers, including our Board of Contributors. To read more columns like this, go to the opinion front page or follow us on twitter @USATopinion or Facebook.

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