These three words are loaded. For many women loaded with pride. For many women loaded with shame. For many more loaded with fear. For many more loaded with insecurity.
"Just a mom."
The other day I shared an image of some blocks with my thoughts on how at times I wish I was still "just a mom." The past couple of years I transitioned from being a full time stay at home mom who volunteers and leads a Bible study here and there, to running a ministry while being home with my three girls who are five and younger. I shared the pull I feel between the two. Called to both. Love both. But inevitably torn.
I got a couple of comments on social media about that post but even more messages. What's interesting is the variety of feedback on those three words I shared (I'll summarize all the feedback for you)--
"Thank you for sharing. I think the same thing. I'm working (in varying capacities) and I'm afraid I'm missing out on my kids. I know I'm doing what's best for me and our family, but it's still hard."
"You got this Becky! Hang in there!"
"I'm proud to be just a mom. Just a mom is noble. Just a mom is enough. I'm offended that you degrade that role with inferring that being a mom is for the simpleton."
I wasn't intending to make a statement then, but I am now. I've been "just a mom" and I've been a working mom, so I feel like I can speak from both perspectives.
First, no one is ever just any one thing.
Do you hear that mom? Yes, both working mom, part-time working mom, single mom, widowed mom, stay at home mom, homeschool mom, you are not just any one thing.
You are a million other things. Pick a few from this list: friend, lover, confidant, speaker, influencer, teacher, daughter, devil's advocate, closet dancer, shower singer, canon ball splasher, encourager, master in your kitchen, HGTV worthy decorator, budget dominator, follower of Jesus, learner...
If you struggle with the "just" part when you hear or say "just a mom" maybe, and I say this with so much love, maybe it's you.
Maybe the sting of the word "just" isn't actually in the intention of someone else but in the insecurity you hold with it. I can say this because I was this. I felt like I didn't measure up being "just a mom." I felt like I needed to make a grand contribution to this world outside of my home. That's was my insecurity, not other's ignorance.
If this is you too, spend some time praying. Ask your Father to heal this wound. Surrender it to Him. Be honest with Him. Ask Him to show you how else He sees you.
Second, being a mom is ALL encompassing.
For better or worse, we are just moms. It trumps everything. I've been hours away from leaving for a speaking engagement to find myself covered in puke and calling to cancel. My kids come first. I've turned down countless opportunities because I've heard from women just a few years (or a whole lot of years) say again and again how they wish they would've treasured these days with kids little. They promise it all is over in a blink of an eye (which seems wild because the days are SOOOOOOOOO LOOOOOOOONG).
Just a mom. Yep, that's what I am. I'm a wife and a lover and a best friend to Chris, but all in the context of those three little girls tucked in tight. Like it or not, they are constant on my mind. I am a writer and teacher and leader, but at the end of the day I care most that Karis, Moriah, and Chandler hear and see Christ in me. If not, it's all a waste. I'm a friend and a daughter and a neighbor, but at the end of the day, the five of us gathered around a table is my favorite spot to sit.
I have a life outside of my kids but I am in no way ashamed that I'm pretty crazy about my family of five. They are my favorite five on the planet.
So yeah, I'm just a mom. And I can finally say with full confidence that I love that. It's a gift I was unsure I'd never have and it's a gift I know too many ache for with very empty arms.
So this (very short season) is largely (not fully) about me being just a mom.
Third, the harder the job the greater the reward.
I think we find offense in the word "just" because it seems simple and easy, even lazy. Which are all antonyms for motherhood. Motherhood is complicated and intricately woven into every other fabric of our lives.
Time and time again I see God call people who were totally out of their league and terrified, and He used them to do some really amazing things. There are certainly many mundane moments to my days, but there are some crazy wild rides too.
I've learned this past year that where I'm at is good for me. I've also learned that where you are at is good for you (if in fact it is, only you can actually say that).
Seasons and years change and with that so will our roles and responsibilities. I hope in all of them I can say I was brave and followed the steps the Lord called me to take.
So to the mama that is reading this as you feed a little one in the middle of the night, hang in there. These wee hours are so hard, it's okay to want to wish them away. But, as a mom who is done with wee hours, I encourage you to stare into those little eyes just a little longer tonight and rock. Believe it or not, you will sleep again. Trust yourself and your God to know what is best for your family, you are just their mama.
To the mama reading this on your lunch break between client meetings, do you your thing. Trust yourself and your God to know what is best for your family, you are just their mama.
To the mama that has a table full of ones and you are their primary educator. That responsibility it heavy, but you know what? Trust yourself and your God to know what is best for your family, you are just their mama.
To the mom who finds yourself trapped in the quiet. The beds stay made now except for holidays and you are wondering what is next for you. Trust yourself and your God to know what is best for your family, you are just their mama.
So let's move on from this "just a mom" label with freedom. May we find joy if and when we say it or hear it. May we find respect when we hear and see it in the different contexts around us. And may we encourage other moms in their "just a mom" ways.