It was late on a Sunday evening. I was standing at the bathroom sink as Hubby and our seven year old, Lil’ C, were in the shower washing a day’s worth of grass from yard work and water play off their legs and feet.
I heard the water shut off and Lil’ C say, “I don’t have a towel.”
Then came Hubby’s voice, muffled under the cotton of his own towel, “You mean you came down here to get in the shower, but you didn't bring a towel?”
“I forgot . . .” Then, “Mom, will you go get me a towel?”
I sighed. Right in that moment I was really invested in picking at the middle-aged period zits that seemed to have inhabited my chin and neck.
“What do I look like to you?” I asked and squeezed another one.
Lil’ C poked his head out of the shower and said simply in his cute, scratchy little boy voice, “Well . . . Mom.”
Hubby’s head poked out just then. “He’s right, you know,” he said with a wink and a smile.
I sighed again. He was right.
I am Mom.
I have made ‘Being Mom’ my job for the past eleven and a half years.
As I walked up the stairs to get the towel, I tripped over toys, swim towels, and wet bathing suits left to rot the new wood floor. I thought to myself, If this is how I Mom, I should be fired.
Suddenly, something came over me and I started to rant, “You boys get down here and get all these toys off the stairs. Someone is going to trip and fall (namely, me). And you pick up these wet bathing suits and towels. I've hung your towels up three times already today. I'm not doing it again. And who is making your baby brother cry again?”
Maybe I was just tired. I was probably PMSing just a little a bit.
I was definitely panicking that I am not raising good human beings.
In any other job you get the benefit of a performance review. You sit down with the boss, and she has a piece of paper on which you can actually see what areas you are rocking and what areas need a little more effort.
But when your bosses are tiny little humans incapable of wiping their own bottoms and cooking their own food? Well, you're kinda screwed.
Aside from the nosey eyes of strangers at the grocery store who may or may not be silently rating you on a scale of one-to-ten on how you are handling your toddler’s meltdown in aisle seven, or the teacher who is judging your home discipline skills based on the number of smiley faces that Little Johnny did NOT get on his chart this week, or the mother-in-law who seems to have “just a little piece of advice for you” every time she sees you, or the Facebook commenter who really IS the perfect Mom, there is no rating scale or evaluation period for the job of ‘Mom.’
Those tiny little humans are, unfortunately, our only markers of success or failure.
And that’s kind of B.S. if you ask me.
To hang your career success on how quickly you can make it to the bathroom to wipe somebody’s bottom or how deftly you can shove peas into someone’s wailing mouth or how easily you can divert a tween’s foul mood is a ridiculous experiment in certain failure on most days.
Do you know why? Those tiny little humans come already equipped with their own temperaments and thoughts and ideas; and try as we might to bend them, they keep growing straight and strong despite our best efforts.
They make mistakes, and so do we. But that’s how we both learn.
As good leaders, truly good teachers and guides, we should be leading by example. Placing ourselves in a supervisory role, if you will.
Because if the only evaluation our tiny little humans are getting is coming from someone who has no marker for her own job success or failure, they're screwed.
The great thing about our job is that Moms and kids are in it together. One to lead and teach and guide and love.
And the other to learn and grow and teach us back.
I think that’s a pretty sweet working arrangement; one that lends itself to creativity and innovation and the sharpening of problem-solving skills.
All of that must be good for employee/employer relations, evaluation or not.
Later that Sunday night, I was finally taking a break on the couch when Lil’ C tapped me on the shoulder.
“I brought you your water, just like you like it,” he said, holding out a cup with a huge, toothless grin on his face. “A straw, lots of ice, and a slice of lemon.”
I took the water and gave him a hug. “Because you're Mom,” he added (a perk of the job!).
Attention to detail, compassion, repayment of debt . . .yep, I’d say I've done my job today. High marks on the day’s job performance evaluation.
For both of us.