When I moved to Memphis 6 years ago, I knew one person and that was my then-boyfriend (now husband). Making friends as an adult can be difficult, especially if you're like me and teetering on the edge of social awkwardness, but through getting involved in our community, I’ve met so many wonderful people that have turned out to be great friends. I often want to skip over the painful small talk and get right into important discussions about dogs or Justin Timberlake, but the dreaded question always comes up sooner or later. What do you do?
It’s what everyone wants to know upon introduction, as if your means of earning money is somehow reflective of who you are.
When I was a graduate student, I would answer with how I’m focusing on grad school, and I felt like that was a perfectly appropriate response because I felt good about what I was doing (minus the mountain of student loans). As graduation was approaching and I was unable to find a job in my field of expertise, I began working as a legal assistant. During those 3 years, I hated having to answer that question. I felt embarrassed to admit that despite my degrees in English, I was answering phones and filing papers. I would always preface my response with “Well, right now I’m…” and follow up with “…but my degrees are in English…”
So when I became pregnant and made the decision to quit my job, I thought about how I wouldn’t dread introductions as much, and how I would feel proud of what I was doing again. I feel so blessed to be a stay-at-home mother— to spend mornings snuggling and afternoons playing, to read her books and watch her learn, and see her pull up for the first time then pick her up when she falls. Other days are challenging, like when I’m unable to shower or eat lunch and the only reason my teeth are brushed is because I held her while doing so, or when she's the MVP of Team No-Nap and the only chore that gets done is washing bottles (because, duh). I’ve been at this stay-at-home mom gig for 9 months now, and while I feel proud of the job I’m doing, I don’t want it to completely define me.
I’m a stay-at-home mom and at times, it seems like that’s all I am. It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week job with no monetary compensation, vacation time, or sick days, but its by far the most important job I'll ever have. But what if (heaven forbid) that were no longer my daily life? In what would my identity lie?
I think about the things I love to do: I love to read, but rarely do I find time, peace, and quiet all at once. I enjoy shopping but my boss only pays me in slobbery kisses, so that’s out. I’m passionate about dogs but I’m simply unable to volunteer with homeless pets because I would either cry all the time or bring them all home (and that would surely result in divorce).
If what I do isn't all-encompassing, who am I?
I really love being a mom, but there's more about me that I want people to know. I'm proud to be a Christian. I strive to be faithful. Underneath my drool-soaked clothes, is a compassionate heart for animals. I'm genuine. My friends say I'm loyal and dependable. I’m also imperfect. Some things I am working on include patience, forgiveness, and selflessness.
Moms, when you're afforded a few moments of silence, I challenge you to sit down and search your heart. What about yourself are you proud of? Who are you?