I hear women say this a lot, and even catch myself saying it more often than I care to admit: I’m “just” a mom.
The plan to be a stay-at-home mom was a total no-brainer for Ryan and me. That’s been the plan from the very beginning of our relationship, and neither of us have ever regretted following through on that plan. But in spite of our confidence that this is the best situation for our family, I still find myself justifying or qualifying my “occupation” when someone asks what I do for a living. I tend to say something like “Well, in my former life I was a teacher, and a business owner, and a fitness instructor… and now I stay home with my boys.” And all too often, I lower my voice and rush through that last part.
Lately, for some unknown reason, I’ve been asked on several different occasions, by several different people if I’ll ever “go back to work.” Some days, I want nothing more than to hop in my car and escape to a job where I can hold adult conversations that don’t include the words “poop” or “boogers”. Some days I’d like to be rid of the weight of the world that rests squarely on my shoulders, out of worry for what could possibly happen to my sweet babes. But most days – even the hard ones – amidst the trains and legos strewn on the floor, and the jelly spread on the table like fingerpaint, and the whining (ooooh, the whining!), I know that there’s no place on earth I’d rather be than at home with my boys. Because if I was anywhere else, I’d miss out on the chubby arms wrapped around my neck, offering sloppy kisses. I’d have to rely on someone else’s description of the joy on my son’s face when he finally mastered that seemingly insurmountable task. And for what gain? (note: I realize there are some families who have no other option. I’m simply sharing my personal opinions and experiences.)
A few months ago, I stumbled upon a sweet blog called Five Days… 5 Ways, and recently, the author posted a piece that resonated deep within me. In “‘M’ is for Mama“, she describes her feelings of inadequacy when she compares herself to the world’s standards (or at least, her interpretation of them) of what a successful, important woman looks like – and I can so relate. There’s this odd fight in my brain… I know that above all else, I was called to be a mama. But when I say it out loud, somehow it just doesn’t sound good enough. I’m thrown back to 7th grade when I wasn’t quite cool enough to sit with the most popular girls, and suddenly I’ve been made to feel as if I’m wasting my time and talents. And I know many other moms feel the same way, at least sometimes.
But I know that’s not the truth. I’m doing the most important work in the world, as far as I’m concerned… I’m a mama.
And then I read things like this, and I cry… and then I stand up a little straighter, and hold my head a little higher. It’s worth the extra couple of minutes to read the full post, but here’s an excerpt:
I am a mom.
I can build a blanket fort, pry splinters out of fingers, and sharp words out of young hearts.
I have lost it, yelled it, fought it, cried it and apologized it all before 9am.
I have fingerpainted, caffeinated, and run out of explanations for a line of why questions that stretches around the living room, out the front door and around the block.
I have tripped on Legos, stepped on scooters, slept on bottom bunks, and strung yards of white, twinkling lights above the heads of two blonde brothers afraid of the dark and their bad dreams.
I have been woken up, shaken up, thrown up, loved up, and shut up. I have never quite, completely, ever given up.
Love sleeps in my bed. Curiosity eats at my table. Delight runs laps around my back yard. Exhaustion is a faithful friend. But so is grace.
I am a mom.
And then she says:
I am full and fulfilled.
I am older and comfortable in my skin.
I am about the work of raising tiny humans.
I am out of my mind and in my calling and desperate for five minutes alone and a lifetime together.
YES! And AMEN! Oh my word, if this doesn’t explain how I feel then I may never speak again. I may not be comfortable in my own skin every day… or even for a full day. But I’m far more comfortable than I used to be because I know that I have embraced the woman God intended me to be. I may not be “putting my education and credentials to good use” but I’m investing in a future generation, teaching lessons that can’t be learned with a paper and pencil and workbook.
I don’t know if I’ll ever go back into teaching… Heck, I don’t know if I’ll ever have a job that earns real income again. Only time (and lots of prayer) will tell. In the meantime, I’m challenging myself (and you!) to walk proudly through life knowing that my work is noble, and difficult, just as important as those who work outside the home… that I’m not “just” a mom. I. Am. Mama.