I got my first official email from a literary agent a few weeks back, which shocked the eyebrow hair right offa’ my face. I mean, the idea that my writing could be called “literary” is as absurd as saying Velveeta is made of “cheese.”
I just had to schedule a phone call.
On the day of our meeting, our two loud kids were at home, so I went to my remote office (A.K.A. the senior citizens lounge at my local YMCA) and found a quiet place away from all distractions. Filled with anxiety and doubt, I took a deep breath, dialed the number, and prepared to sell myself as a writer.
Only I didn’t sell myself at all.
Instead, the agent spent a thirty solid minutes saying things like:
“Your writing is so… accessible!”
“You voice is one-of-a-kind, it just has to reach a broader audience.”
“You have an unmatched quality of blending humor and spirituality. So talented.”
By the time I got off the phone, I felt like my ego had been kneaded by angel wings and polished with the tears of Rainbow Brite. As I sauntered through the YMCA, I gazed at the faces of the senior citizens gathered for coffee and saw awe and wonder in their eyes.
It was a really good phone call
When I arrived home, my wife was on the couch. There was no awe or wonder in her eyes. There was, however, a pile of unfolded laundry in her lap.
She asked, “How was your meeting?”
I burst forth like a raging river, sharing every last word with her.
As the story came out of my mouth, I realized something. Agents are paid to say stuff like that. Their whole job is to make me think I’m awesome so they can negotiate for me and make me sound even more awesome to other people who don’t even know me. But somehow – miraculously – that fact didn’t make me feel any less awesome about myself. I know this because I still had a giant grin plastered on my face.
Meanwhile, Gabby just stared at me.
Without a grin.
“That’s nice. While you were getting showered with compliments, your son told me I was the worst mom ever. And your daughter didn’t eat the breakfast she specifically requested. Because I didn’t prepare her waffle the right way. A $#%#& waffle! Apparently, I am too incompetent to toast an Eggo and pour syrup on it.”
I was rendered mute. But she continued.
“Agent.” She scoffed. “You know what I need? I need a MOM AGENT.”
And then it hit me. My wife is a genius. Her off-handed comment could likely be the genesis of most amazing job idea in the history of the Universe. The one thing every mom needs when she’s trapped in the whirlwind of chaos, stress and doubt.
A MOM AGENT.
Those without children may be asking themselves, “Who the heck needs to be coaxed into doing something that comes naturally to every living soul on the planet?!”
Tiny people, that’s who.
Never again will you pull your hair out trying to cajole your children to eat, sleep, or poop. Now, the MOM AGENT will handle all proceedings, using whatever tactics are currently admissible by common parenting literature. Including, but not limited to: corporal punishment, bribing with tiny pieces of candy, guilt, locking doors from the outside, or outright manipulation.
Motherhood is known as the most thankless job on the planet. For that reason, our MOM AGENT will be present during the routine parts of your day, uttering those words of appreciation that kids rarely share until you are on your death bed. Things like, “I love how you are always there for me. So accessible.” Or “Boy Mom, your ass-wiping is one-of-a-kind!” And “This frozen waffle has an unmatched quality of both toastiness and sweetness.” And let’s not forget, “How in the world did you catch my puke in your bare hands without puking yourself! So talented!”
Mom-to-Mom Public Relations
All moms know that worst part about being the maternal unit is standing up to the barrage of silent judgment from other moms. The good news is, the MOM AGENT comes with a built-in “Side-Eye Alarm” that activates anytime someone looks at you in a scrutinizing fashion. For example, when your kid has a complete meltdown in the housewares section at Target, the MOM AGENT will be dispensed to the troubled area to distract the other moms by placing a “Clearance” sign atop a rack filled with new arrivals so you can discipline your child without being watched like an episode of SuperNanny.
Damage Control/ A.K.A. “Fetal Position Rescue”
All moms have been there. That moment when all hell is breaking loose at home and you have three choices: 1) line up every small person in your house and “slap ‘em into next week”, 2) pack a bag and buy a one-way ticket to Who-The-#%$^-Cares, USA, or 3) lock yourself in the bathroom, curl up in a ball on the floor, and scream and cry like you’ve just had your entire body scrubbed with a cheese grater.
Lucky for us, you crazy moms choose #3. Every. Time.
When this happens, the MOM AGENT will be on hand to usher your children into a room on the other side of the house, give them a pre-approved snack, and put on a wholesome TV show. Once the kids are extracted, the MOM AGENT will hug you, tell you how awesome you are, feed you unlimited pints of ice cream, and babysit that night so you can go to book club where you can drink wine, laugh ‘til you snort, and tell your stories to a bunch of girlfriends who really get you.
Moms, as you’ve been reading this, you may have heard yourself saying, “Yes!” Or maybe even an “Amen!” Out loud. In front of a computer. Which makes me feel both satisfied and sad.
My satisfaction stems from the fact that these words might give some of you some comfort. Some realization that you are noticed. And even, perhaps, understood.
But sadness comes from the fact that lots of moms struggle. And dad’s, too. (I’ll lump myself into this category. ) Constantly wondering if you’re doing a good job. Or simply an adequate job. And the inner doubt is so strong that it sometimes takes external validation for us to realize that we really are serving our families in a meaningful way.
But the doubt is real.
So today, my prayer is that we might be MOM AGENTS for each other. By ditching the Facebook stories of perfection and sharing our struggles and “fetal position moments.” Loud and proud. And offering a listening ear. Or words of encouragement.
Because there is a God voice inside each one of us saying “You are enough”. But sadly, that voice often speaks in tones that are far too quiet for our bustling households. Drowned out by the crying and the whining and the worry.
It’s in these moments that we must be His hands and heart. His AGENTS. Encouraging, supporting, and speaking this truth.
That there is honor in the struggle.
Excellence in the effort.
And forgiveness for mistakes made along the way.
* Enjoy this post? For more, just preorder Scott's book about his family's Year Without A Purchase on Barnes & Noble or Amazon launching August 4th from WJK Press (We know... dripping with irony...but there's always the library!). And, to see more posts like this, submit your email here to receive new blogs hot n fresh to your inbox. Or, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @sdannemiller. Cheers!