Originally published in the October 2014 edition of 605 Magazine.
With two children now, it is somewhat infrequent that we patronize hip, chic restaurants as a family of four. It’s not that we don’t so imagine ourselves as hip, chic people per se. It’s just that, I don’t know, something about a double stroller, obnoxious amounts of kid gear, and constant breastfeeding kills the whole hip, chic vibe. However, a few weeks back, while traveling, we found ourselves at a young, groovy restaurant with some friends eating tacos. And if you know anything about me, you know tacos are my love language.
So there we were, eating delicious tacos. Our infant was sleeping soundly in his carrier and our toddler was miraculously behaving gloriously. I had a margarita in my hand, a taco in the other, there was great conversation among friends, and I had my dashing husband sitting next to me. It felt like warm heaven. And I felt like Mom of the Century -- hip and chic all at the same time.
Somehow the conversation turned to what we were all doing with our careers and I listened intently and excitedly about each person’s latest promotion, big sell, and new job venture. When it came around to me -- the only mother in the group -- I began to get excited to detail some of the random happenings in life as of late. But, as I started to talk, I was suddenly cut off when someone smiled at me and said, “And we all know you must be busy at home being just a mom!”
I blinked. “Just?!”
Out of nowhere, I suddenly felt the urge to reach across the table and grab the person by the collar and say through fiercely clenched teeth “JUST a MOM?!” But as my arms began to reach across the table in this deliberate act of aggression, reason caught up with me and, oops!, I grabbed another taco. Awkward crisis averted.
Thankfully, someone made another unrelated comment and the conversation veered into an entirely different trajectory. But, the damage to my ego had been done. The seemingly innocent word “just” sliced me with the power of a four-letter word.
As we drove away from what would have been a perfect evening, I confessed to my husband the reason for my bruised ego: I hate being known as “just” a mom, as if I’m not contributing to society enough to be involved in a career conversation. And because he is a dreamboat husband, he turned to me and said, “If they only knew all you did.”
Yeah! Take that!
But as I later mulled it over in my mind (in between bouts of daydreaming of big city tacos), I wasn’t so much aggravated by the common misconception that being a mom is some kind of easy career. I feel no need to make an exhaustive list of everything moms do to prove mainstream thought wrong. And believe me, it would indeed be an exhaustive list. But, that’s not my hill to die on. No. What really bothered me was the fact that I was even bothered at all by such a small, flippant comment. What it revealed to me was the gross fact that I still place some of my identity in what others perceive I do rather than who I actually am.
Because reality is, I am not, and no one is, “just” anything. We are all dynamic, once-in-a-universe individuals created to alter the course of history by simply being who we were created to be. I hope one day I will get to a place where I fully live that out unabashedly and share the wisdom with my children. In the meantime, I would be remiss if I did not advise you, dear reader, to strike all references of the word “just” when referring to anyone or anyone’s profession. If not, you might just get a taco thrown at you by yours truly. Just kidding. I would never waste a taco.