Sunday, May 10, 2009

Just a Mom

“Mom, when are you going to get a job?”

“I have a job. I take care of you.”

“No. I mean a real job.”

So went the conversation with my son Malik and daughter Imani. The next day was “Take Your Son or Daughter to Work Day” and I figure my children were feeling deprived. They didn’t have a place to go. Dad worked as a professor downtown in the evening, so they knew they couldn’t go to work with him. Although Malik suggested he might go to Starbucks with Dad, a place he knows his father often does a lot of writing during the day.

“I work from home,” I explained.

“But when are you going to get a real job?” Malik asked.

I went into a brief dissertation of what the “job” of motherhood involved, but to a 7-year-old boy, being a mom was not a real job. A real job entailed getting up and going somewhere every day. A real job was not what Mom did.

I understand. For him being a mother was not a “job.” It was who I am.

I used to have the same conundrum when people would ask me “What do you do?”

For many of the last 17 years, I have been a stay-at-home mother. And sometimes I felt dumbfounded when asked the question, “What do you do?”

In my own mind, I figured the expectation was to have a sterling resume of accomplishments, awards and accolades. It almost seemed like a disappointment or that I was living below my potential to say I was a stay-at-home mother. Many times I felt like a failure because I could not say my professional accomplishments.

Although we pay lip service as a society to motherhood being the most important job in the world, so many mothers are made to feel that what they do is not significant.

I met a young mother in Florida in February who was raising two pre-schoolers. Her husband lamented that when she met people and they asked her what she did, she would reply, “I’m just a mom.”

“She’s incredible,” said her husband. “I try to tell her that what she does is the most important thing in the world.”

Just a mom. How often do mothers, whether stay at home or “working” mothers who go outside of the home every day and bare the awesome privilege and responsibility of motherhood feel that way.

I’m glad to say now that I was able to encourage that mother and tell her how I had felt the same way.

I don’t know exactly when it changed. I don't know exactly when I stopped feeling like I had to almost apologize for being "just a mom." Maybe I just stopped caring about what others definition of success and expectations were and started feeling comfortable in my own skin and about my own life decisions. Maybe I just decided to believe that God’s Word was true and that my worth was not determined by what I did but by who I was and whose I was.

It’s not just about the question, “What do you do?” I think the more important question is “Who are you?”

What do you believe in? What have you invested your life in? In 100 years from now, what will you have left that really matters? I believe our character and what we have poured into the lives of others are the some of the things that will stand the test of time and that transfer on to the next generation and beyond.

My son wrote me a pre-Mother’s Day card the other day. It read, “You’re a cool mom. I decided you need a cool card.” Inside the card was a drawing of him and me driving in the car under a sunny sky.

I’m just a mom. A cool mom. Just a cool mom with the best “job” in the world.


Lisa Maria Carroll said...

Thanks for the video. I loved it.

It's unfortunate that the one thing that should draw us closer together often drives us apart. And that's motherhood.

It's a thankless jobs oftentimes, but remember they will rise up and call you blessed. (And I can't believe Malik is seven. It seems like yesterday that I was sitting in your kitchen cradling him in my arms. And he was probably seven months then.)

Anonymous said...

Oh, Monica--I hope and trust your children will long treasure your current Cool Mom status--as someone who has worked professionally with you, I know you have outstanding credentials, a sterling work ethic and a wonderful creativity--all attributes which also make you a wonderful Mom. Happy Mother's Day! MUB, Urbana

Anonymous said...

Dear Sweet Monica

You know what is important as do all of us other Mom's. I have had to break it down to my children, my mother had to break it down to me, and i am sure that my children will have to break it down to their children.

We are the only ones that are entrusted with the lives of others............oh certainly their are other influences.......but by far we are the greatest. To think that God thought so much of us to allow us to incubate the greatest creation made........Humanity. It's a tough job sometimes more fulfilling that others but if not us then who? BE BLESSED!

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