I’m just a Mum, I’m just a cleaner, I’m just a sales assistant, I’m just a student…I’m just, I’m just, I’m just!!
I hear this repeatedly and it breaks my heart, particularly I’m just a Mum, which I think is why I finally feel able to write about this now. It’s as I’m in conversation with my own Mum and I pose the question ‘how will I cope when I go back to work’ that we talk about her personal journey. She told me of how she worked for the first year after I was born but then decided to spend more time at home with her growing family. She talked it over with my Dad, and they agreed that she would finish work to spend time with my brother, sister and I while my Dad continued to work. Yet as I listened to my Mum and she told me her story, she told me of how often there were times she didn’t feel respected or valued, ‘you see Cheryl, I was just a Mum.’
My heart sank and I immediately piped up. My Mum knows I’m quite opinionated when there’s something I don’t agree with- But you’re not just a Mum! No one is just a Mum! No one is JUST anything!
Consider this; if you were to glance at a job description you would see a specification that listed something to the effect of the following qualities and abilities;
- Can multitask
- Is organised
- Can communicate effectively
- Can build relationships
- Flexible, adaptable and positive attitude
- Is Committed
- Is Motivated
- Is Resilient
- Can work as part of a team and independently … Sound familiar?
Each Mum has qualities in some capacity of all of the above! Your capacity to perform one of the above and someone else’s capacity will be different I’m sure, but you will possess them non the less.
I hear so many women say ‘I’ll never get a job now after having so many years off being a Mum’…take a look at that job description- you’re half way there already!! Interviewers listen up!
‘I’m just a school kid, I’m just a college student, I can’t have any impact yet.’
‘I wont speak up in this meeting, I have no influence over the decisions to be made, I’m just…’ in actual fact I feel we learn more sometimes from children, college students and the people who really get their hands dirty- working on the front line of their job role, whatever that may be.
Why is it we seem to demote ourselves as soon as we’re asked about our job description. When I worked at a pre-school I used to do this all the time.
The question would always come up- what do you do? And for some reason I would lower my view of being a nursery assistant. I would rattle off some the tasks I did or tell them of my long term goal in an effort to justify my title and let them know I wasn’t just what my title depicted. The same when I worked in retail– I’m just a sales assistant. To me, if I wasn’t a supervisor; manager, someone in a position of authority or if I hadn’t gone to university and got a job that really wowed people, then I didn’t value my role and contribution to society. I became all about the name, the label and what people thought. I also fell into a terrible trap of comparing myself to others. That’s always been one of my biggest challenges to overcome- constantly worrying what people think and comparing! Anyone else or am I on my own there?…
One month into motherhood and I’m beginning to realise just how much Mothers do- and this comes as I’m doing what I feel are the basics at the moment; feed, nurse, change, play- repeat! I actually sit back and think- it may have taken all morning and I’ll be doing it all over again in another 2 hours- but I did it! When Carl rings me on his break and asks me what I’ve done in the morning- I run off the list of things I’ve achieved with an excited and enthusiastic tone. Although, there are days where this routine feels slightly monotonous and my tone is less enthusiastic when asked the same question. If the call comes before 12 midday, he can usually expect the same answer. Anytime after 12 and he might get a ‘we managed to get out for a bit’ response.
But I manage to do it, get out and about, all the while running on very little sleep and exhaustion. I don’t say this to be big headed; proud or patronizing, but I’m beginning to realise that being a Mum has no just about it! All I can say is I salute you mothers of more than one! I don’t know how I’d cope with another child around my ankles while looking after Ava.
One thing I do know is that this job as a Mum is forever changing; promoted to the next level every day as new challenges arise. Yes, my opinion is that being a Mum is a job. It may not be paid in the financial sense but I am paid every moment in what money cannot buy; with a smile, a cuddle, a giggle, a new sound, a look, a turn of her head when she recognises my voice and so much more. It’s a position I’ve taken up with great responsibility. It’s a contract I’ve signed up to full time, irrespective of terms and conditions- permanent not temporary, a bond that cannot be broken between my daughter and I. It’s an occupation I am proud to tell the world about and work hard at everyday. It’s a job I am proud and feel honored to have been blessed with.
Yet, considering all of the above, why do we place a ‘just’ before our job role, or our role/position of responsibility in day to day living. I feel it’s partly because whether we like to admit it or not, society actually places a stigma over a select few jobs. They seem to have a food chain ranking for jobs.
I wonder how many cleaners say, ‘I’m just a cleaner.’ Well, I salute you! I can’t imagine eating in a restaurant, going to a toilet, walking through public areas that aren’t clean; full of rubbish, unhygienic, spillages. You keep our public areas and facilities clean so we can all enjoy them in comfort, walk along a clean path, use a practically germ free bathroom. You enable people to sit in a clean and tidy environment comfortably. You help to prevent accidents and injuries by cleaning up spillages, complying to health and hygiene procedures. You do the job that so many would not do. You are not JUST a cleaner.
And that’s only one example. We need to realise that we are never just anything. To name our role with a ‘just’ before it, is to diminish and degrade who God created us to be and indeed our creator. For He is not just God! When you consider the fact that you were known before your parents even knew they would have you, you were made by design; on purpose, chosen, given individual talents and skills to use for good and Gods purposes here on earth. You have a purpose; a personal plan by your creator- you have a creator! He didn’t JUST pluck you out of thin air, he didn’t JUST decide to make you because he was a few people short.
1 Peter 2:9-10 (MSG)
But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.
Jesus chose a select few fishermen who made up some of the 12 disciples. When Jesus approached them I bet they thought, ‘why us, we’re just fisherman’ but you see, they were servants, people who got their hands dirty and worked hard. Often I feel we have a preconceived notion of who Jesus can use. We label our identity with job roles, titles or positions and so often have the outlook, I’m just…He couldn’t possibly use me, what could I have to offer?’ It’s as I read the bible more and more, I see how God used people who they probably identified themselves as ordinary, to do carry out significant works with everlasting impact- pretty awesome!
Jesus himself was often spoken of and seen as ‘just’ a Carpenter. (‘He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary’ Mark 6:3) Little did they know he was anything but ‘just’ a Carpenter. He was and is the son of GOD, the Messiah, the One who has come to save the broken, seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), free the oppressed (Luke 4:18).
I want Ava to hear me talk about being a Mum and any other roles I take on- regardless of whether I go back to work or not- with enthusiasm, strength, passion and zeal for doing it all in Gods name- to glorify Him! I encourage you to no longer call yourself ‘just’ anything. To know that you are chosen, you have a purpose, He can use you and you are loved by your Father God. In His eyes you are precious and you are beautiful!
I have called you by name; you are mine.
1 Peter 3:3-4
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.