“Mom! You’re fired!” my four year old yells with tears running down his sunburnt cherub cheeks. It is 2012 and we are standing, post game, in the middle of the little league field. My shirt is stained with coffee, my make-up is in the drawer back at home, and my unwashed hair is disheveled into a mom bun (before the messy “topknot” was even a thing). My arms are breaking off as I try to balance folding chairs, water bottles, and a generous amount of parenting un-necessities. Smarter moms with their Costco wagons roll by me, only to pause with their children captivated by my dilemma.
Tad wipes the tears away, leaving streaks of dirt on his tired face and repeats, “You’re fired, Mom!” My six year old, Elijah, stands next to me with his jaw lost somewhere in the dust at his feet. I can feel the weight of curiosity heaved upon me. My response becomes the ultimate cliffhanger for everyone tuning in to my scandal. My two year old is happily stomping around as she grasps the box of cookies that lead to this request for my termination.
My mind races in search of an adequate response. Six years and three kids into the battlefield of motherhood, you’d think I’d be able to defend my post. I imagine the humor of throwing my things on the ground and proclaiming, “You can’t fire me, I quit…” Yet, I say nothing. My silence isn’t some act of wisdom or profound statement. My silence is a result of shock at this parenting first. I turn around and continue to the car, trying to buy myself more time while distancing myself from the crowd I hope to never see again. Tad, dragging his feet; now shouting louder to reach my panicked ears, “You’re fired, mom!” I continue to march toward the car, three baseball fields away. I feel like I am in a parade, but without all the ticker tape and happiness. I move further from the crowd only to gain a new following of people I hope to never see again. Tad’s tears and repetition part the crowd while collecting a growing number of curious eyes and eavesdroppers.
To think that, when I woke up (and chose coffee over make-up), I actually thought I might fly under the social radar at the morning T-ball game. As a mom, I am no stranger to humbling experiences-I just would of worn something else or washed my hair had I known I was to be the source of public humiliation that afternoon.
I continue to think of what to say in response to Tad. My children made me a mom, but who hired me for the job? Was it my husband, when he selected me as his partner in life? Is there anyone who considered my qualifications and requirements before putting me in charge of these tiny, sticky squishes of endless energy? If I applied to be their mom would I get the job? Would I hire me over other moms? Being a mom had always been my dream job, but was I truly qualified?
When I was expecting my first son I felt over-qualified, having spent a lifetime (in the mind of a twenty something year old) working with children. Yet, when they wheeled me out of the hospital with a tiny soul’s life in my arms, I had a major freak out. I turned to the nurse and begun to cry. Leaving the comfort of the nurses and lactation consultants, I gasped, “I can’t believe you're letting me leave with this baby. How will I be able to make all these decisions for him? I don’t know what I am doing….” The nurse turned to me and asked, in the most serious mental health brand of voice, if I needed to stay in the hospital longer; To which, I quickly replied, “no” in the most convincing, stable tone. I waited quietly for my husband to return with the car. I piled into our modest Honda Civic, dream job in hand, never to question my job status until confronted with a stiff-fisted, three-foot tall, hot mess of a little boy.
It is evident my children did not hire me to be their mother. It is also true of motherhood that it is a job offer, an offer one chooses to accept. Who is offering us this job of motherhood? Is it the doctor or midwife handing us our little one? Is it the birth mother or social worker entrusting us with life’s greatest gift? Is it defined by the state, governing how we should or shouldn’t parent? No, there is no earthly soul passing out employment for motherhood. When it comes to taking my job to the Human Resources Department, it is God whom I am dealing with in the matters of motherhood. God offered me this position and I gratefully accepted the honorable position.
God knew my motherhood resume before it was written. As I was standing at the doors of the hospital that day, He knew my qualifications, when I felt so uncertain. There are too many skill-sets of motherhood to name. Nurturer, non-sleeper, personal chef, high stakes negotiator, housekeeper, caregiver, WebMd-er, and a million other skills fill out a mother’s resume over the years. The only requirement for the job of motherhood is love and what love requires of us.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. . . And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4 – 8;13
I stood at center field, feeling like the rookie of motherhood that afternoon in 2012. I didn’t know how to respond. Thus, I marched in a parade of humility across three baseball fields to the car. I didn’t know if there should be a consequence for Tad's behavior, I am sure there is some pro to set me straight on the topic, but what I did know was how to love Tad that day. I loved him with the love of 1 Corinthians and that was enough. We drove home quietly that day, all of us still in a bit of shock. Tad fell asleep at home, before lunch, before the peanut butter even hit the bread. I don’t have any motherhood tips of how to avoid this from happening. All I can say is that I know love is enough to get us through.