A couple of weeks ago, I went grocery shopping with my two youngest children. After getting everything that we needed, I had a pleasant conversation with the cashier while she rang up my items. She asked a variety of friendly questions about my kids and my family, leading up to this one that I was not expecting, “What do you do?”
Without even thinking, I answered: “I am just a stay at home mom.”
She promptly said something that stopped me in my tracks: “Oh, honey, there is no just about it. That is hard work!”
I wanted to kick myself for downplaying my role, knowing that she was absolutely right. Being a stay at home mom encompasses the most difficult work I have ever done – work that is unpaid and often unappreciated, unheralded, lonely and exhausting.
Even still, I do not feel beneath other women who have chosen full-time careers, and do not normally feel like I need to justify my decision to stay home, even though all of my kids are now in school. I am completely convinced that the most important work I will ever do happens daily within the walls of my home – that I am in the business of shaping lives.
For heaven’s sake, I even write a blog dedicated to helping other women live with more joy, authenticity and intention while embracing the craziness of motherhood and family life. I am passionate about this, folks. Yet, when asked about my job, I still proceeded my answer with the word just, as if it was of little consequence.
Why did I do that? Why do we, as women, do that? Why do we downplay our work, our accomplishments, our talents, and our commitment to and passion for motherhood and family?
Whether we say that we are just stay at home moms, just wives, just bloggers who write for a small audience, just teachers, just volunteers, or just anything, we are minimizing the things that make us who we are – the things that make us unique and amazing.
We may not have important titles or letters after our names on an office door. We may not live in the spotlight or motivate the masses with the power of our voices. We may not have advanced educational degrees or manage our own businesses.
Or maybe we do.
Either way, we simply must remember that we need never apologize for who we are, or feel inferior to those whose credentials seem to trump ours. We are not just anything.
We are women who do amazing things. We run homes and manage children, somehow navigating our way through the daily chaos. We are wives, sisters, daughters and friends who strive to strengthen relationships with those we love. We serve and teach others, regardless of what career we have chosen, and especially if we have chosen to make a career out of nurturing the little ones who grace our homes.
More than that, however, we are daughters of God, filled with light and potential that we can scarcely imagine.
Remember that Christ was, to most people who walked the streets of Galilee with Him long ago, just a carpenter’s son. But He was so much more than that. We, too, are so much greater than we know.
I love Marianne Williamson’s words:
Isn’t that beautiful? We are all meant to shine.
Friends, may we work on embracing the divinity that is within us. We can start by removing the word just from our vocabularies when we are describing ourselves.
Unless, of course, you would like to say that you are just amazing.
Because you are.