“I was a high school counselor before I got married.”
“I have a master’s degree.”
Years ago, I sometimes found myself trying to drop these sentences into conversations. I wasn’t necessarily trying to brag. But as a new mom in a new place who no longer worked full-time—I worried what people would think about me. I wanted people to know that I used to be somebody. Not just somebody’s mom.
I’m still proud of the degrees I have and the time I spent as a counselor. But, I don’t believe they define me. And honestly, they never did. If anything, those stepping stones brought me to where I am now. If I hadn’t gone to grad school, I wouldn’t have ended up in Bozeman. And if I hadn’t ended up in Bozeman, it’s not likely my path would have crossed with a random grain farmer from the middle of nowhere, Montana. And these three kids? They wouldn’t be here.
Allie had her first day of school last month, and we sat down with the chalkboard to fill in the details about her. I honestly had no idea what to expect when I asked her, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Surprising no one, Rhett’s answer the day before had been “a farmer.” But Allie? I didn’t know what she would say. But without hesitation, she said, “I wanna be a cooker. Like you.”
With her watching, I wrote down “a cooker” in purple ink.
“You know I do more than cook, right?” I slowly said, immediately realizing this was more about me than her.
“I know. But I like cooking,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.
I decided there was no point in explaining more to her, and really, who was I trying to prove it to? Once again, I wanted to feel like I was somebody.
A few weeks ago, my mom was visiting, and we were sitting around the kitchen table for lunch. I pulled a pizza cutter with a decal from a former employer out of a drawer, and sat it next to the steaming pizza.
Rhett grabbed the pizza cutter and said, “Where’d you get this, Mom?”
“I got it from a place I used to work,” I replied.
“You had a job?” Rhett asked matter-of-factly.
“Your mom had a lot of good jobs,” my mom said. “But being a mom is your favorite, right?” she said, looking at me with a smile.
I guess the moral of this story is, my kids don’t understand what jobs are. Or maybe they do, and I’m trying to make it more complicated than it is. Allie sees me cooking a lot—because I do. So that’s what she sees as my job. Someday I’ll tell them how I was a high school counselor—peeling back another layer of me.
But for now, they don’t think of being a mom as a job. And maybe that’s a good thing. Even though being a mom is the most demanding job I’ve ever had—I don’t want them to see it as work.
I want them to see it as just another part of who I am.
This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “True.”