I read a brilliant article posted by one of my friends about being a nurse. The article begins with a professor telling his nursing students to remove the “I’m just a nurse” sentence from their vocabulary. “Just” diminishes their value, simple fact. And yet, I am struggling with the use of “just” right now.
Yesterday was my last full day of work. I am no longer a working mom, just a mom. See, how easy that is? In full disclosure, I did have a bit of breakdown last night. Outside of a brief attempt and failure at being a stay at home mom after the birth of my daughter (PPD takes most of the credit for this) I have always been a working mom. My kids have always be after-schoolers and they have grown from 3 month old babies to kids in the care of their awesome Montessori. I, on the other hand, have gone out and made a career, brought bacon, and maintained an identity outside of mom. In the USA we are so fixated on work that the first question when we meet someone is, “what do you do?” and now my answer is, “I am a mom.” But you know the terrible thing that happens then? Something that we are all guilty of? We silently judge that response as “not enough,” that raising children to be happy, productive and influential members of society is somehow less than clocking 40 hours a week at a job that you rarely enjoy but that is somehow viewed as a more of a valiant pursuit. And yet, my breakdown last night was on just that. How to hang up half of my identity.
Work provides another side of life. You exist in a world in which you are judged on your professional merits and not on the cuteness/quality of snacks you provide on a playdate. My new daily schedule consists of the gym, packing and after school activities with the kids. I am giving them everything I had always dreamed of, and yet, that means hanging up the other half of me for a bit to do so. I agreed to this clearly but in practice I find it more difficult to embrace the sentence, “I am a mom,” rather than, “I am just a mom.” I don’t want to do a disservice to the importance of the role in the least but I find myself, during this transition, thinking more of what I am leaving behind than what I am gaining. I know in time I will love this new role, in having a chance to take a time-out from the rat race. I know it will be a life changing time for the kids as well.
I just hope that when I take the other half of me off the hanger the moths have not done too much damage.