Introductions. The exchange of small talk when you first get to know someone. Some people hate them. I actually happen to like them. I love learning about people’s stories. Where they are from. What their interests are. How they choose to spend their time, etc.
We all have such different lives, but in all reality we have a lot of similarities too. Usually some form of common ground can be found among any two individuals. However, through my observations and experience, there is one question that I feel Stay-At-Home Moms (SAHM) can have a tough time answering, especially if asked by someone who has a career. And that question is “So what do you do?”...
It is all too common for SAHMs to respond to that question with something like “Oh, I’m just a mom” or “I just stay home with my kids”. Unless they are speaking to a fellow SAHM, sometimes that response can get a little awkward...often times due to a pause in the conversation.
But how else can SAHMs answer that question? Well for starters, we can ditch the “just”. And here’s why…
Mothers are the most influential people in the world! They help teach, mold, and set examples for their children...the future leaders. Saying you are “just a mom” is to suggest that you are doing something small and insignificant. And there is nothing small or insignificant about being a mother. It is one of the best yet most stretching roles a human being can experience in life. It is physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding. It takes discipline, sacrifice, selflessness, and a whole lot of love to do what moms do. To say that you are a mother is to also say that you are capable of the most important work on the planet. You are engaged in raising and having the greatest influence on the next generation. You are a mom, not just a mom.
Secondly, the reality is that you truly are not “just a mom”. You also have other skills, interests, and capabilities outside the realm of motherhood. You might also be a mathematician, a health expert, a reader, a writer, a painter, a comedian, a gardener, a historian, a runner, a baker, an actress, a musician, a hiker, a woodworker, a singer, a chef, a poet, a seamstress, a photographer, a designer, a speaker, or a teacher. The list can go on and on. And though you might not always be monetarily compensated for your skills and abilities, you are still doing them. They are apart of who you are. And they contribute to the great creations and development of society.
Perhaps though, you are currently where I once was...where I couldn’t really identify my own skills and fulfilling interests for quite some time. I have since learned that that is not too uncommon. But overtime I eventually I came to realize that motherhood can actually be one of the most creative periods in a woman’s life.
With so much inspiration from your children, it is a great time to explore different mediums of creativity. Never thought of yourself as a painter? Paint anyways alongside your kids and experiment. The great relief is that unlike back when you were in school...it won’t be graded. It doesn’t even have to be any good. But just like we preach to our children, the more we do something, the better we will become at it. Never had enough time before to compose your own music? You can put the dishes on hold a little longer and sit down on the piano and play. Motherhood is a great time for self-discovery.
I want to acknowledge, though, the real challenge it can be when a woman puts her dreams on hold to become a mother. That truly is a sacrifice and definitely not an easy one. However, you do not (and should not) need to neglect your own personal development when you become a mom. Though your available time and circumstances change, you can always create ways to develop skills, both old and new. Yes, certain dreams might not be ideally compatible with young motherhood, but many options are. In fact, if it weren’t for the “constraints” I have had in motherhood, I likely wouldn’t have discovered some of my current talents and interests...all of which have brought a lot of joy and fulfillment into my life.
Yes, you are a mom. You are also a lot of other wonderful things too. The world needs both your motherhood and your gifts. So drop the “just” and own who you truly are. And who you can ultimately become. You are a mother. You are a creator for good.
About the author:
Michelle Kinyon White lives in Texas with her husband and three young boys (ages 7, 5, and 2). She is the Owner and Founder of Rest Dress (www.restdress.com), a company that sells lounge dresses designed with mothers in mind. She enjoys hiking, writing, reading, and listening to podcasts.