The mom sits on the bench outside of the small side room at the post office with her two squirmy boys and a bulging file folder. Finally they are called back for their passport renewal appointment. After presenting their existing passports, completed applications, miniature photos, marriage license, notarized affidavits, and wad of cash the mom is dismayed to learn they cannot continue with the appointment because she did not bring the boys’ birth certificates. She pleads her case but the official is unmoved. “How do I know these two belong to you?” she asks.
You want the truth about proof of your life? I think you can handle it.
The above scenario is not fiction. This scene played out recently when I misread the passport renewal application and brought everything to our appointment but the kitchen sink and our birth certificates, a move that seems completely idiotic now. So that day ended up being a long climb for a super-short, unproductive slide.
This is what I wish had happened:
PO OFFICIAL: OK, so I will need to see the boys’ birth certificates to verify that they are related to you – that you are their mom.
ME: Oh, no. I thought we had established that with the original passport! I can’t believe that I don’t have that among the twenty other documents I brought! I guess we will have to reschedule our appointment . . .
PO OFFICIAL: Well, typically you would, but I have the authority to sign off on this deal if I can establish other proof of your life as their mom. I have a short list here that I jotted down while you were waiting, in the event that you messed this up. You were looking a little harried so I took the initiative. May I run these by you?
ME: Of course! Thank you so much, you are the most helpful, kind person I have ever met!
PO OFFICIAL: No problem. I’m just here to make things as easy as possible. OK, first: the younger one looks just like you. Except with brown eyes. So, check!
SON 2: Ugh.
PO OFFICIAL: Second, I saw your older one answer to some sort of nickname that felt very maternal and sweet . . . Duckie?
ME: Oh, yes, “Goose.”
PO OFFICIAL: Love it, like from Top Gun. Check!
SON 1: Yuck, that’s what she says!
ME: He was a very beloved tragic figure in the cinema of my adolescence!
SON 1: Gross.
PO OFFICIAL: Third, when your older one pulled out his homework, he clearly stated, “Mom, I need you to sign this,” in a very eager, son-like way. And your face positively lit up with parental pride as you signed the page. And he said, “I get it from you!” What was that?
ME: Oh, it was an assignment for his English class. He did a bit of creative writing – and he did a great job!
SON 1: I am going to puke. This is sooooo embarrassing! Is it legal for this lady to spy on us?
ME: Ha ha, you are so silly! Please be polite. Use your best manners, pretend she is a teacher or grandparent, like we discussed in the car.
PO OFFICIAL: Check and check!
SON 2: [rolls eyes and sighs loudly]
PO OFFICIAL: Next, did I see your younger son laugh when you looked over his shoulder at a long list and said, “Strike a pose”? What was that?
ME: Oh, last night I was calling out words from that study sheet he’s holding so he could practice for his upcoming Spelling Bee at school. And one of the words was “vogue.” So of course I said, “Strike a pose,” and when he didn’t know what that meant I looked up the Madonna video and we had a dance party study break. Then every time he got ten words right we looked up another Madonna video.
PO OFFICIAL: Hmmm. This presents a bit of a problem. That sounds like a lot of fun and goes against my typical mom criteria. Dance parties and music videos seem a little more teenage babysitter or cool older sibling . . . However, I have recorded all of your boys’ responses every time you have spoken with me today and those certainly confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are their mom. They seem positively tortured.
ME: Yes, apparently I am barely tolerable!
PO OFFICIAL: Perfect! Let me put my official stamp on your application and you are all set. And don’t forget to grab your complimentary dozen roses and dinner-to-go on your way out.
ME: Thanks so much. You have been wonderful! I may have messed up leaving the birth certificates at home, but the truth is, a piece of paper is clearly the very least of the things that prove that I am a mom.
Want to get a better handle on proof of life as a mom? Check out these iconic images of moms and their kids, laugh at the undeniable mother-daughter duo in this clip from the movie Postcards from the Edge, and consider a kid-specific personalized necklace for mom for Christmas this year.