I have found that people are extremely curious about my life at Maggie’s Place; what I do, how I do it and why. Every conversation, even with my family, turns into a discussion panel—me standing up there alone explaining, re-explaining and defending my work. Things common to my everyday life are foreign concepts for my friends, family and acquaintances. I find myself chuckling as I watch people attempt to wrap their minds around my life. I feel I’m now a pro at explaining Maggie’s Place—self-proclaimed only.

Per usual, I wandered unknowingly into one of these conversations, or traps, the other day. A friend from home could not, for the life of him, understand our house structure. It just so happened to be a week where everything that could go wrong did, and I was buried under a mound of consequences and strikes I had to give out. Just like any well-functioning community structure, with no desire to re-enact the plot of Lord of the Flies, we have rules that we all must abide by—Corps members and moms alike. When they are violated we have to give consequences, the lesser, and strikes, more elevated offenses. I was feeling pretty down about having to give out so many in one day, five if I remember correctly. Close to tears, I called my friend and rambled about how it weighs on me; giving “tough love” was being a continual challenge. Stunned, he exclaimed, “How many strikes do they get?!” Like any other time a question about Maggie’s Place is posed, I stopped to think about how to best proceed with my answer; anticipating follow-up questions and misunderstandings. The only thing I could think to say was, “Just like baseball: even when life throws you curve balls, it’s still three strikes and you’re out!”

Later that day I went for a hike, my favorite and most dangerous pastime (I’m a tumbler). I couldn’t get that analogy out of my head, even with my music blasting  as a full proof way to drown out my thoughts—but not this time! The more I thought about it, the more I identified with the comparison:

The moms are up to bat. Even though she has a whole team behind her, her house and the Maggie’s Place community, she still has to stand at the plate alone. She’s facing the pitcher, who’s pitching for the team of life; ready to throw those above mentioned curve balls. This team is comprised of CPS cases, drugs, men, abuse, homelessness, unemployment, debt, fatigue and the list goes on. Life is one of the best teams in the league, and it seems they have put all the ringers out in the field! The moms train for these “up to bat” moments—we hold practices at the home seven days a week, we give them the best bats, new cleats and a uniform to wear proudly. If you ever come to a Work Saturday, you’ll catch a glimpse of our jerseys. People are in the stands cheering—some for and, unfortunately, some against the moms. It’s quite an exciting game, but it’s not a game—she might strike out. And there I stand, the Umpire, ready to call strikes. Secretly, I’m a Maggie’s Place fan, wearing the jersey underneath my official uniform. I have to be fair and impartial, yet my stomach sinks each time I watch substance abuse strike out a mom, or lying throw a mean winder (she just missed!). Still, I call those strikes, and I whisper cheers in their ear from behind. Sometimes the Ump gets yelled at, and I understand why—it comes with the territory. Yet, I love my job and I will continue to do it even when I have to make the hard calls.

By Sarah Gregorini, MissionCorps member at The Elizabeth House