My husband and I sink onto a gray sofa in our neighbor’s living room, surrounded by new and old friends. It’s the first night that our community group is meeting, and I’m excited to get to know everyone better. “For our ice breaker,” the group leader announces, “Let’s go around the room and tell everyone our name and what we do.”
I wait my turn, nervous. I’m going to say it this time, I tell myself. But the words that come out of my mouth are not the ones I intend:
“My name is Megan, and I’m a speech therapist.” Shoot, now I have to explain myself. “I mean, right now I only work on the weekends,” I add. “During the week I’m at home with my kids.”
Everyone smiles and nods encouragingly. The conversation moves on to the next person (who is in his second year of medical residency), but I stay stuck on my answer.
Technically I told the truth, but I’m disappointed in myself for not actually saying the words. For not just shooting it straight and saying, “I’m a stay-at-home mom.”
It feels like a secret confession, a truth that can’t stand on its own but instead must be propped up with pretty little qualifiers: I still work at the hospital a few days a month. I’m writing a lot these days. Did you know I went to undergrad and grad school at UNC?
Because at the end of the day, when the lights are dim and all the props are off the stage, I worry that being “just” a mom is not enough. Yes, my days are full to the brim with caring for our toddlers and our house. But shouldn’t I also work full time outside the home? Or at the very least, run a successful Instagram account sharing kitchen and parenting hacks?
The voices of fear and insecurity nag me, provoke me. They say things like: You must not be very ambitious if all you want to do is stay home and change diapers. What a waste to get a master’s degree and barely use it. You should be making more money. I bet other people think you’re lazy for not balancing motherhood with full-time employment.
The voice of truth is quieter, and I have to strain to hear it. But when I do listen, it is gentle and kind, like a best friend who knows everything about you and loves you anyway. It sounds something like this: I’m so proud of you. The work you are doing is valuable. You’re valuable. Keep going.
If only I stilled my soul to listen to the voice of truth more often—to remember that our value lies not in what we do, but in who we are.
A wise person once told me that the truth doesn’t need anyone to defend it, because it is strong enough to stand on its own. So today I’m giving myself permission to tell the truth, unadorned:
I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I love it.
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 “Permission Slip”.