|Shiloh, learning to drive.|
My four year old woke up before the others yesterday morning. He padded into the kitchen where his daddy was stoking the wood fire while I sat with Bible and coffee in the pre-kid morning lull. He is most talkative in those minutes before he has to compete for our full attention. He started chattering about his agenda for the day; fixing the roof over the kitchen was apparently priority (this is my son; not my husband talking.)
"Shiloh, what do you want to do when you grow up?" My husband asked, poking at the coals and enjoying the prattling from his usually reserved son.
"Bigger." Shiloh returned practically.
"What job do you want to do when you are bigger?" He pressed.
"I want to drive big trucks." No surprise there. He lives and breathes in diesel.
"But I am not bigger now." Shiloh continued the thought. "Well, I am not bigger than Daddy now, but I am bigger than Mommy."
We laughed. Daddy is much bigger than Mommy, but my four year old definitely hasn't surpassed me. Not yet.
Mommy's apparently not the imposing figure I used to be in my little man's life, though we both know he will still fit over my knee for some time to come.
"Can I have milk?" He asked, not skipping a beat.
"Please." I remind him automatically, smiling. I'm just mom. I'm not formidable or remote. I'm simply necessary for basic sustenance, even for the future big rig driver swinging his legs from the stool.
Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel...
My friends and I joke about being known as just "the wife" to our husbands in some circles and "the mom" of our children to their peers. Our identity is bound up in them. Most of the time, I'm OK with such infamous notoriety (except at the library, where I know they look at me as "that mom" when we burst vivaciously through the door to return en masse our stroller load of truck and dinosaur books...) Its the season of my life when I haven't time to worry about a name for myself because I'm too busy humming baby's name to him while hollering the older brothers' names too loudly, too often, and generally in the wrong order. We stay within a tight orbit between home and the grocery store, with occasional outings to church and grandmas'. I'm on call 24 hours a day with this job; it's the only hat most people see me wearing. And yes, it probably is on backwards, and flecked with glitter, and smeared with oatmeal on the brim. I wear it proudly.
In the Bible, most females you read about are known as "so-and-so's wife." Lapidoth's lot was different. His wife was a renowned prophetess in Israel. She even had a tree named after her, where she would sit so people could find her when they needed a judge. She was the person everyone in the country knew they must listen to if they wanted to hear the words of the Lord. Through her, the Lord called up Barak (not Obama) and a militia to rout a huge army of the bad guys. She was the leader of God's chosen nation. Lapidoth must have gotten used to being called "Deborah's husband."
What did she call herself?
"Village life ceased... until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel... My heart is with the rulers of Israel who offered themselves willingly with the people."
A mother in Israel. Not the "leader." Not even "the" mother. She was simply another mother in her nation. Out of that job description, she was a leader, a judge, a prophetess, an advocate and good advice-giver for hundreds, maybe thousands of the sons of Israel. Ten thousand men followed her into what looked like a losing battle.
I don't ever plan to spend my days sitting under palm trees while people come up to me for tidbits of wisdom. Nor do I expect 10,000 men to follow me into war. Heavens, I hope not! I'm just a mother in America. My job is to be leader, judge, advice-giver, booboo-kisser, discipliner, mitten-and-boot-puller-on-er, snot wiper, sandwich maker, chauffeur, artists' helper, flashcard holder, dictionary, diaper changer, confidante, bathroom attendant, tickler and spell checker. Among other things.
I do help plan strategy for battle. I do hand out swords. I guess sometimes I even hold the little leaders by the hand while they lead the charge against the bad guys (at least when it involves going upstairs into the dark where they need help turning on the light.)
Perhaps my job isn't so different from Lapidoth's wife's.
Just a mother.
Nothing grand or huge. I'm not aspiring to be voted into any office; quite the contrary. Many days I'm not aspiring to anything more than basic survival till bedtime! But I look over my little nation with a maternal hope for their future; my heart is with them, supporting them as they learn to do what is right and good. Until you are able to stand on your own two feet, Son, I will hold your hands. You will have to go to battle, sometimes, you will have to fight. But until you can stand alone, I will stand next to you.
That's the funny part of motherhood. If I do it right, I should work myself out of a job.
You, child, won't always need me to tie your shoes, feed you, or tell you what the Bible says. Someday, you will put on your own footwear, get a job to support your food habit, and choose for yourself whom you shall serve on a daily basis.
And you will be bigger than me.
Maybe then I will go find that palm tree to sit under.