Friday, February 27, 2009

So What Do You Do?

A few weeks ago, Urban Kid 1 was asking what women can do.

Can women be astronauts?
Of course, women have been in space a while now.

Can women be doctors?
Isn't yours? And so is your dentist.

And so I explain that women can be just about anything today. Aunt Pink Power Ranger is a police officer. My friend Julie is a lawyer, as is Aunt Chris. Best Namma Ever! was in charge of lots of stuff at Boeing and helped open the Chicago HQ. Her godmother is a decorator. Riley's mom is a pilot for UPS. Lucy is a teacher with Urban Dad.

Etc, etc, etc.

Her reponse?

When I grow up, I'm going to do something. I'm not going to be just a mom.

Just a mom?

Just a mom?

Wait a minute, kid! I used to do stuff! I used to direct the morning newscast for the NBC affiliate in Peoria. I used to get up at an unGodly hour to do it, too. Then I packed everything that would fit into a Toyota hatchback and drove to Chicago, knowing little more about the city than I had a job on Monday morning with Great Big Ad Agency. I spent eight years at Great Big Ad Agency. I went to meetings and monitored budgets and hired casting agents and edit houses and traded e-mails with our offices overseas. I decided to bail out of that career and try my hand at teaching high school English -- I decided that when my clients acted like children, it might be nice if they actually were. I did reasonably well at it. And I met this guy who had been all over the world and had traded at the Mercantile Exchange and for himself in Australia and who left it all in order to teach because he was nothing less than called to it and who was also patient enough to wait and wait for me to stop being so freakin' scared of marriage and parenthood being some sort of prison. (and yeah, it's a run-on sentence, but i'm having a moment, so leave me alone)

I did stuff.

Just a mom?

Did time just start the moment she was born? I did exist before she was born, right? I get to keep a few threads of who that person was as I move down this path in life, right?

Just a mom?

She's reading at nearly a fourth-grade level at 5 1/2 years old. Doing first grade math. Art, piano, Spanish, swimming, soccer. Who researches all of that? Plans all of that? Carts her rear-end to it all? As I ask her some days, "who makes all of the good stuff happen? and who can make all of the good stuff go away?"

Just a mom.

I remembered a college prof who said that when his wife was working that people at parties would engage her in interesting conversations. When she became a stay-at-home mom for a while, the conversations became much shorter and involved much smaller words.

All of this ran through my head in about two seconds before I returned to my rational self. And after the kids were in bed, Urban Dad was quite reassuring that our little microcosm is as good as it is because of little-ole-me. (yeah, he says all of that swoony stuff... i think it's a total load of **** sometimes, but would never argue with him. who would?)

And Pink Power Ranger enthusiastically assured me that on behalf of her 900,000 brethren, she was endlessly grateful that I was "just a mom." That if more people could be "just a mom" or "just a dad," that her job would be so much less demanding.

But, wow. For some reason, it caught me where I live. And it gave me pause. Not the kind of pause that makes me panic over a bad decision. It was more like the kind that makes me stop and take inventory of myself and the life I'm living, and all of the balance of this and that that goes along with it.

And I was happy with what I found. I'm not doing anything that I thought that I would be doing when I moved to Chicago 16 years ago. Not one single thing. But you know what? I had no idea who I was back then. And somewhere inside, on a subconscious level, I knew it. As a result, I could never quite get comfortable with myself.

Today, I know who I am.

I'm Just A Mom.

EVERY path may lead you to God, even the weird ones. Most of us on are on a journey. We're looking for something, though we're not sure what it is. The way is foggy much of the time. I suggest you slow down and follow some of the side roads that suddenly appear in the mist.
(from, found on


Smook said...

yeeoouch! Hmph. The little people (Ukids) are in their soft little bubble of a world and quite honestly it is better if they stay their for awhile. Remember when everything seemed so safe? Reality breaks through early enough...

She has it good - nothing is competeing for your attention besides the other Ukid. She is very lucky and lucky you - you get to wait another 16 years before she realizes it!

Janeabelle said...

I loved your conclusion. I'm happier now than I ever have been. It's not easy, but the best things in life never are. Cheers to all us Just Moms!

eclecticallyyours said...

Your last paragraph was beautiful.

Just a thought, too...when my husband says all those great things about me I start giving him reasons why he's not right...but you know what? OWN IT!!! "Just moms" are worth a lot. They've made the world go around for a long, long time. Way before Big Ad Agency's.

Tiffany (aka T, Tiffers, Tiffster, and Pally) said...

WOW! I really needed that quote, so thank you. I've been struggling here feeling "invisible". I used to be "someone" and do "cool stuff" too. I so relate to this.
I think being a mom is the most important job on earth. While I'm not one yet, I hope to be. In the meantime, I am so struggling to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing.
Thanks so much for this stuck a chord. Some day your wee ones will realize just how cool you are.

BTW...I'm in Chicago in MAY...Wanna do coffee/valium/chocolate martinis?

xx, your friend in Bermuda.

PS...I haven't posted in light years so apologies!

Dy said...

I think the people who see the effect of kids who don't have "just moms" are most appreciative (aka - Dads, PPR and her associates, the rest of us who have to live with other people in the world). It's good stuff, isn't it?

I laughed about the shorter words and conversations bit. Kind of a bitter laugh, but still.

Although once, while Zorak was in school, we went to an art showing and a judge approached me to say "Thank you" - he blew me away, and I'm sure I made some kind of choking noise that didn't speak well for my mental state - he said many complimentary things about children who have parents Very Present in their lives (namely, that they don't come into his courtroom very much).

I pull that memory out on days when I'm feeling more "just" than "mom". Well, and on days when I wonder if they're all going to jail for some big, sibling-oriented bank heist.