You’re not a JUST anything


I’ll never forget the first time someone asked me if I was JUST a mom.

The question made my skin prickle and my face flush.

Surely I wasn’t JUST a mom.

Or was I?

For four years I worked a regular, ‘ol 9-5 job, and by the time someone asked me whether or not I was JUST a mom, I had already spent that much time (and more) at home raising my kids.

So did that make me JUST a mom?

It was a simple yes or no question.

But instead of answering yes or no, I launched into a long diatribe about all the EXTRA things I was doing in addition to being JUST a mom.

Last week, I had lunch with a friend who just had a baby.

“Before my daughter was born, I was vibrant, creative, innovative, and busy. I’m still busy, but I now I feel so BORING!”

I know how she feels. That time someone asked me if I was JUST a mom was the first of many times I’ve been asked that question. And every time I’m tempted to talk about all the other things I love to do besides manage my growing family.

(Cue the guilt trip.)

Why should I have ever felt like I needed to apologize for my role as wife and mother? After all, isn’t everyone always saying that moms have the hardest job in the world?

(I was beginning to believe that people weren’t being entirely truthful with me.)

I wasn’t the kind of girl who grew up dreaming of motherhood. I thought I was going to be a doctor, a real career woman, and if kids showed up, well, we’d figure it out.

But once they were born (four kids in eight years), it turns out that I kind of liked my new role. I was pretty good at it. Heck, I was even proud that tiny feet padded around the house and followed me everywhere and called me “Mommy.” While different than what I was doing in my previous life, I knew that my investment in the next generation was important work.

Strong families are the foundation of a strong community, and community engagement has always been a passion project of mine. By that rationale, I was perfectly positioned to do the work I was meant for all along!

My kids are older now, and people still ask me if I’m JUST a mom. It took me a good ten (okay, 15) years, but one day I decided to re-frame how I answered the question.

“Yes,”, I reply. And I’m only being a teensy bit smug. “I love it. What do YOU love about what YOU do?”

Maybe you are in a season where you’re not doing what you thought you would be doing at this time in your life or maybe you’re doing exactly what you want to be doing but what you’re doing doesn’t have the cache or panache of what somebody else is doing. Don’t fall into the comparison trap. Your unique contribution to the world is exactly that—yours—and yours alone. It’s not what you’re doing that matters. It’s what you LOVE about what you’re doing.

So, whether you’re JUST a mom or JUST an artist or JUST a teacher or JUST a waitress, remember: You’re not a JUST anything.

What do you love about what you do?