“I’m just a mum”
My WHO magazine had this quote against a photo of a Queensland mum auditioning for X-Factor.
It riled me up…perhaps not for the reasons you may be thinking. Sure, when I hear women say I’m “just” a mum, it annoys me in the same way that it annoys the café owner downstairs at work when he asks, “What are you having?” and people say, “Just a salad”. His salads are arguably the best salads in Perth. “Just a mum” … like being a mum is some second-rate, walk-in-the-park, non-essential role in life. Pfft…but that’s not actually why it annoyed me.
Whether it was a direct quote or (more likely) a condensed extract of her conversation complied by the editors of WHO magazine, the reference to self still included the word “just”. Like that is the only thing that defines her.
This is what upsets me the most. It’s not the downplaying of the importance of being a mum, but rather it’s the fact that she (like many of us) has followed suite and allowed herself to be defined as just one thing. We are not just one thing. We are so much more than that.
She’s a singer! Why didn’t they say that? Because she’s not paid to do it? Because she’s not famous? That doesn’t mean she’s not a singer. It’s like anything in life. The pure and simple act of doing something means you become it. I want to be a writer, so I pick up a pen and I write. See? Now I’m a writer. I want to be a painter, so I pick up a paint brush and I paint. See? Now I’m a painter. Yeah sure, we can argue about my skill level, but the pure and simple fact is, through the sheer act of doing something we by default become it. It doesn’t matter what we write, what we paint, what we sing…in doing it we are writers, painters and singers. Why do we let everything else get in the way? I’m going off on a tangent… this is a topic for another time!
Where was I? Yes, when you give birth I guess you could say part with a piece of yourself…but let’s remember, that piece wasn’t there before (you grew it). So really, post-pregnancy you should end up with exactly what you started with pre-pregnancy. You are still a whole, complete person, in and of yourself. Being a mum doesn’t mean you have to redefine everything about yourself. It doesn’t mean you suddenly become nothing more than just that - someone’s mum. You are still YOU.
WHY DO WE CONTINUE TO DEFINE OURSELVES BY THE ROLES WE PLAY, RATHER THAN BY THE THINGS WE ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT AND THE TYPE OF PEOPLE WE ARE?
Perhaps we could say something like this instead (if only the WHO mag word count would accommodate!):
“I’m Kellie and I love to write, I live for music, and my children add so much light and laughter to my world. I love sunrises and cold beer, arts and crafts with my kids, and watching a really good old timer perform on stage. I strive to lead by example and to give my kids a safe and happy environment in which they are free to be themselves. I work hard, I dream big, and I once stood on my head for 15 minutes straight.”
“Just” a mum – pfft.