By Kate Kole
“Right now, I’m just a mom.”
That’s how the woman on Supermarket Sweep described herself when asked the casual ‘where are you from and what do you do’ question.
My mom and I glanced at each other with empathetic expressions plastered across our faces. “Just a mom,” we said in synchronization. As if our words could be heard as a knowing hug.
Because we’ve been there. At dinner parties and get togethers and in line at the grocery store. When that unassuming type of small talk comes up. The person on the end posing the question to simply fill the space that hangs between us. Often walking away without a care, or judgement, or perhaps even memory, of our response.
I’ve been known to go beyond the “just a mom” line before. Replying instead with “nothing”. Nothing that requires pants with buttons or earns a salary to provide for our family. Nothing that I presume anyone else would find interesting or worthy of additional conversation.
I have belittled myself and my role in our family privately and publicly and everywhere in between.
The words coming from the lady circa 1992 on the TV screen struck a chord with me because I am her. And yet hearing it come from the mouth of another woman hit me in an entirely different, soul crushing, kind of way.
I bet she bakes amazing chocolate chip cookies or offers hugs that have the ability to evaporate tears. She probably has an entire pantry stocked with favorite snacks and a linen closet filled with toilet paper (which we can all recognize as an impressive feat). Maybe she’s mastered the skill of the color coded schedule. Or maybe she’s so chill that she just goes with the flow. I’d wager that she’s memorized at least 20 children’s books and I wouldn’t be surprised if she has choreographed a dance to a Disney theme song. Her voice is comforting to her kids. Her smile makes them smile. She fills their bellies and gives them baths and masters bedtime. She is so much more than just a mom. She is everything to her family.
With all that said, I know that she is more still. Maybe she loves fashion or football. She might be the kind of friend who remembers birthdays or the type of sister who always knows the right thing to say. Perhaps she’s the woman who fills a room with laughter or the one who makes everybody feel like somebody.
Does she run marathons? Or love decorating? Has she memorized every line from Dumb and Dumber? Is the beach her happy place? What brings her joy? What breaks her heart?
She is a mom. And she is more.
Seeing her and all her beautiful complexities makes me see my own.
So that next time someone asks that dreaded question, I can smile and confidently say, “I’m a mom.” Knowing that’s enough and not all.