On my way to the first floor of the hospital, a couple with me in the elevator asked how to get to the parking garage from where we were. Since I was headed there as well, I walked with them instead of giving directions. We chatted a bit and I learned that the husband was an attorney. “What about you? What do you do?” I asked his wife. “I’m just a stay-at-home Mom,” she said.
But that’s not the first time I heard the word “just” before a woman describes herself as a stay-at-home Mom. In fact, if I had a quarter for every time one of my patients’ family members at the hospital described themselves to me as “just” a mom……. Well, I might have had that trip to Alaska paid for by now.
Why is it that we long to be Moms, and then act as though it’s not as important as other roles? As if there were any credentials more important, more satisfying, more joy-producing than MOM? Come on – Have you ever seen a 6’4″ quarterback get on camera and say hi to his attorney? his dentist? his financial planner?
I didn’t think so 😉
Moms are awesome, and you can spot them easily when you’re out and about. They move through the grocery store at lightening speed in the mornings while their little ones are in preschool or kindergarten. They make precision turns at the end of each aisle, with a box of coupons on the toddler seat in front of them as they find the best deals. Spaghetti stains are often sported on their shirts, hair pulled back, no makeup. Not a minute late picking up the kids after school! And they know all of the Blippie video songs and movements by heart!
There is art work all over their refrigerators and toys scattered throughout the living room. Moms are often the best fort makers, knowing just how to perfectly arrange each dining room chair and piece of furniture to facilitate the best place to nurse a fever. And they know better than anyone that forts are the best place to snuggle up and watch Finding Nemo or some other Disney favorite.
Moms are Masters of Multi-Tasking skills, their talents for preparing more than one meal at a time while simultaneously helping with math homework and folding laundry are unmatched. And let us not forget their entertainment skills with sprinklers outside in summer for all the neighborhood kids to run through, their well thought out cupboard full of snacks and freezer with every flavor of popsickle for hungry kids in summer time. They wrote the book on time management.
Moms don’t earn paid time off, get vacation time or holiday pay. They don’t clock in and out and go home to relax after a hard day’s work. They are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – for a lifetime! They don’t get to dress up, or drive a luxury company car, get paid vacations or business trips. Sometimes, in fact, their cars often smell of sweaty football playing sons. They don’t get a matching 401K contribution and there is no educational tuition reimbursement or double time pay on holidays.
Payoffs come in the irreplaceable ways like watching our children grow up before our very eyes, seeing them learn how to navigate their way through life, making difficult decisions, and even standing back at times while they make mistakes – and learn from them! When they take their first date out and open the door for a girl, and inside you are secretly wanting to just HIGH FIVE yourself because your son knows how to treat a lady like a lady!
Or how about that necklace fashioned out of clay and hung on a plastic string that you hold onto for 26 years as one of your most cherished and fine pieces of jewelry? The artwork you keep for decades? The notebook you kept full of the adorable, and often hilarious things they said as kids that keeps you smiling (and tearing up) for the rest of your life?
I’m finding these days that a good night’s sleep knowing my sons are good young men is worth every exhausting day I had as a young mom, worth every mistake I made along the way, worth every time my kids were upset because I had to say no, worth every time I had to be the bad guy just to teach them right from wrong and how to grow up and live life in this crazy world. And when I watch them walking alongside other young kids, or working hard to provide for their families, or when they know every word to the Blippie kid video songs because they are busy parenting – I can’t describe how I feel any better than saying, it’s the happiest I’ve ever been.
So hey – All of you “just a Mom” Moms out there? You’ve got the most difficult, exhausting, stressful, busy – but also most rewarding, joyful, satisfying jobs you will EVER land! Hang in there, and keep doing what you’re doing. The “payoff” continues to increase exponentially in the kinds of things that really matter, and it’s a job you’ll never outgrow. It can’t be outsourced. You don’t need to earn yearly credits to keep your credentials current. And, you’ll never get too old to hold the “Mom” title, and nobody else could ever, ever take your place. It’s YOU God chose just for your little ones. Yes, just you!
And if you’re blessed enough to become a Grandmother, you’ll get new credentials. Your grandchildren will give you those, and they will come as a surprise, and no one in the whole world will hold the same credentials as you. They could be “Beema,” or “Nana,” or “Gummy,” or who knows what else!
So please, the next time someone asks you what you do for a living, take in a deep breath, think for a moment about your little ones’ faces, then smile ear to ear, and respond, “I’m a MOM!” And if you really feel the urge to use that “just” word, then you can respond with, “And God chose me, JUST for them! And them, JUST for me!”
Hugs to all you Moms out there! Love – Rita, M.O.M. & “Gummy,” RN (and yes, in that order!)
“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3