Recently I was chatting online with a friend that I’ve met as part of a book launch team. She was expressing her frustration at not feeling like she was living up to some standards that she had set in her mind. And then she said something mindblowing to me…..”I’m only a nurse. I can’t do it.”
Of course, my response to her was, “Just a nurse? How can you say ‘I’m only’ a nurse! That’s an amazing thing!!!”
This online conversation really got me thinking about the words that we use to describe ourselves.
How many times have I described myself as ‘only’ a mom’?
‘Just’ a mom’?
How do those word belittle one of the biggest ministries, responsibilities and joys of my life? Perhaps my very most important? If I listed all that being ‘only’ a mom entailed…we’d both get tired of reading such a long list. Right, friend? I ‘just nanny for my friend’s 4 kids’. Just this morning I taught the twins how to blow their noses. I have taught them Bible songs and stories, wiped noses and bottoms, cooked healthy meals, washed and folded their clothes, taught them about God’s love, sin, being obedient, and prayed with them daily, told them ‘I love you’ countless times a day…and yet I almost always say I ‘just nanny’ when someone asks me what I ‘do’.
And why is being a wife and mother not the first thing I reply when someone asks what I ‘do’. Is it because I get paid to be ‘just a nanny’? Is it because the person asking the question usually knows or assumes I am a wife and mom? Or is it because it is so much a part of me that I don’t feel like I even need to mention those roles…that they’re so ingrained, so important, such a part of me, that just assume anyone I know knows I am a wife and mother. (Or maybe they have witnessed enough of my chaos and crazy to know I must be a wife and mom!) I certainly hope that it is the later reason, but when I search my heart, I fear that that may not always be the case.
Do I minimize how crucial my role of wife and mother is? In the day in and day out chaos and crazy, it is very easy to forget about the vital, even eternal importance of my role as a wife and mother. When there are rushed goodbyes and meals throughout the day, teenager attitudes and eye rolls, ADD frustrations, carpools, and puppy problems, it is simple for me to forget that all of this really matters. If I can love my family well, or at least try, during the chaos and crazy, then I should be shouting from the rooftops that I am not ‘only’ a wife and mother….
I AM a wife and mother.
No disclaimer, no apology, no minimizing my worth. Loving and raising my family well is a high calling. One I am ever so thankful God has entrusted to me.
No matter ‘what’ you are….be it well. Wear it with pride. Tell people!
And don’t ever use the word ‘only’ when you describe yourself!
And to my friend, the nurse, thank you for shining God’s light into a place in my heart that needed to be illuminated.
Stephanie B. says
I love this post…and I’m a nanny. It’s interesting that when I first started, I didn’t really think that my job was that important. As time went on, I realized how much of a blessing it is to be trusted to care for other people’s children. You’re right, our words are powerful and we have to think of ourselves as more than “just a …” Thanks so much for this! I look forward to reading more of your blogs.
Melissa Mulvaney says
Caring for other people’s kids can be more difficult than caring for our own! But I’m thankful for the opportunity to invest in them. We’re certainly not ‘just’ nannys!!
Brenda K | PhotoOrganizingPro.com says
Brilliant viewpoint that so many of us women need to keep in mind. We are always knocking ourselves down a peg with the caveat talk of “only ” and “just.” I think this also happens in people’s weight loss journeys as they focus on what they have left to lose, instead of claiming what they already have accomplished. One friend said something many years ago that stuck in my head & seems similar to your abolishing of the words “just” & “only.” She said we should stop “should-ing” ourselves…I “should” do this or that, I “should have” done, etc. We are always thinking of what we didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t, haven’t instead of what we are or can be. As an advertising copywriter, I know the sales power of words so I should be more aware of how diminishing & deprecating my own commentary can be. Then we can truly “shine on” as you encourage!
I will never be able to say ” just a …. ” again. Great reminder. We all work hard and create value to many people in our lives. We are not just mom.
What an amazing reminder and post. Thank you! We get so conditioned to minimize ourselves with what we do, how we look, what we feel. And it’s so true – how we see ourselves will also affect how our children see themselves. I definitely need to remove “only” from my vocabulary. Especially when talking about THE most important role in this world – to be a parent.
Mary from YourDesignerDog says
What a beautiful message! Everyone needs to be proud of who and what they are, because regardless of what they do, it’s important to someone. Every job is difficult and has its own unique challenges, which is why not everyone is right for the same jobs. Each person is equipped to handle their own unique challenges and that makes everyone special and talented in their own way.
Interesting post! I’d also like to add that I get tired of people asking “What do you do for a living?” when they meet you. I prefer “What do you do for fun?” We are more than our careers. And for those that stay home with your kids – that is awesome! My mom stayed home when I was growing up – I loved having her there. One choice isn’t better than the other – you have to do what you feel is best for you.
Aaron - Essentially Ready says
Thank you for this. With facebook and photoshop it’s easier than ever to compare or worst days to someone else’s very best. We’re all enough, so important to remember!
Cheryl / O the Places We Go says
I recently became a SAHM and I’m not going to lie – some days are tougher than others. Much tougher than when I was actually “working” in an office. Thank you for the reminder that being a mom and wife is enough. Actually more than enough. 🙂
This post gave me goose bumps & brought tears to my eyes! For many of my adult/married/motherhood years, I have used this word to describe myself ~ I’m just a homemaker; only high school educated; simply a stay at home mommy….until a couple years back, I had an old friend explain to me that the role a wife/mother/etc has is harder than many CEO’s jobs & certainly requires just as much if not much, much more dedication. We are never “only” anything! Thank you for the reminder!
Sometimes that how I feel about every area of my life that I’m “ONLY”…..time to shake it off, thanks for the inspirational words of encouragement 🙂
Dee Dee says
I wrote a post similar to this and I posted an image of me and my littles with the text, I am a stay at home and I am enough. Just as you stated, I had come to the conclusion that my role was just enough because it was fulfilling God’s purpose for me. It was where He wanted me to be and that was all I needed. I think we often get bogged down with titles, thinking that is what defines us and it doesn’t. God defines us and that is enough. Thanks for sharing, MOM!
Sibylla Nash says
Most definitely, shine on! What a wonderful post and a great reminder that we should embrace our roles and celebrate. Not to bring gender bias into it, but as women no matter what we do, we always tend to minimize our position. We should never feel as though we have to apologize for our success or accomplishments and running a household, raising kids who will become productive members of society, yell it from the rooftops. 🙂 It’s one of the most demanding jobs ever where family and strangers alike often feel free to chime in and give unsolicited advice!
Deborah Davis says
The word ‘only’ is such a diminutive. I agree that we all must be careful not to minimize ourselves and our definitions of self but using that term to define ourselves. We are so much more! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book!
What an eye opening post. Thank you so much for writing this. When we say “only” it is almost like we are demeaning ourselves. I’m “only” an administrative assistant that works part time, but this job gives me the opportunity to be the mother that I want to be for my 3 month old son! And I am not done having kids. I would love to be able to say “I AM a stay at home mom” someday and be very proud of that.
Dawn Pratt says
I love this, I am also guilty of saying I am “only” fill in the blank. It is a habit I have been working on breaking for a while now. Thank you for he suggestions.
I am also guilty of saying that I am just a “mom”. Maybe this is because everyone around me works a full-time to part-time job and I just stay home and homeschool my oldest. then take care of his younger brother when he gets home. But your post opened my eyes and realize that I do a lot around here; I’m a cook, maid, and mess cleaner upper. Thank you!
Hum…I wonder why “only” is a 4-letter word. How many times have we had a fit about them. Maybe this one should join the list. Mom is a tough job, I think…. no I KNOW Lady Clariol was a Mom, cause she’s got most of us covered.
I have often said “Just a Mom” and felt a little ping in my heart that maybe that means I am not enough. Thank you for the reminder that I AM a Mom! What a wonderful blessing that is.
Thank you so much for sharing your heart! This hits home with so many. Really looking forward to the book review.
Bryant Hall says
Melissa, thanks for sharing your heart and how valuable each of us are in our roles as parents, siblings, and children. I feel so blessed to be a husband and a father. God is always first in my life followed by my beautiful family.
Noemi Szarka says
Every job is an important job , the God knows what we are supposed to be, there is a reason!
Thank you so much for this post. I know I have often said “I’m just a stay at home mom” like that was something to be ashamed about. Since when did raising your own children become undesirable? And why have we as women bought into that lie? Thank you again for shedding light on the face that whatever we do, we should be proud of it!
I think I love you! What beautiful words! Yes, I will never call myself “just” a mother of an only again. My days are so full of crazy with “only” one. No more apologies. I AM a Mom and all that entails. Thank you for the encouragement,
Melissa Mulvaney says
Thank you for your kind words Jessica!!!
Rena McDaniel says
I agree so much with you on this! I have said that myself many, many times. We do so many jobs and take care of some many people and things that we often forget how important it really is. Thanks so much for reminding me of that.
As a stay at home mom, thank you for the reminder to stop downplaying what I do and be proud of the blessing of being able to be mom to my two kids. With social media and society in general, it’s far too easy to compare ourselves to others and think we don’t measure up. Your post is a great encouragement to not do so. Thank you.
Melissa Mulvaney says
I had to stop using Pinterest exactly because of the comparison trap that it is. ‘Pinterest perfection’ is too much for me and makes me feel ‘less than’. We need to be comfortable and proud of ourselves for who we are…not compared to anyone else!
And now I’m bawling. I hear myself say “just” or “only” so much in a day. Like I only did the laundry, I didn’t get the house cleaned or I am just a mom that no one listens to and so on. I do so much and just because I acknowledge that I do so much doesn’t mean I’m saying someone else does less or that I’m arrogant. For some weird reason I feel like I’m giving myself too much credit to say I’m a mom, I should be giving myself credit – I am a mom and being a mom is hard! I feel like saying I did so much laundry today and I’m awesome is bragging – I should brag, I did what felt like 17 loads (really only about 3) of laundry, I did the crap out of my laundry and now my family doesn’t have to wear dirty clothes! Why is it we feel we have to put ourselves down instead of celebrate ourselves. Yeah it may just be laundry but now our family just has clean clothes or I may be just a mom but those kids can’t make themselves or survive without me. That is a heavy responsibility and it is awesome! My sister is a nurse and so many times I find myself saying “well I’m no nurse I only do this” or “I just do that” but when she leaves her kids with me for two weeks in the summer because they love being at my house and she wants to pick up more hours she isn’t thinking “well she isn’t a nurse” she is thinking how totally awesome her little sister is for being such a stellar Aunt – or at least that’s what I am going to tell myself from now on! We all make a difference, no matter how small or insignificant we think it is, it is a difference and it matters and shouldn’t be belittled. Thank you for this reminder and helping us all feel better about the roles we play and reminding us to own our fantastic-ness whether it is saving lives in a hospital or keeping little ones alive all day at home. We are all important!
Melissa Mulvaney says
A stellar aunt (and obviously a stellar mom)…..own that Katy!!!! How awesome are you?!?! I’m thankful my words could help you see how amazing you are!!!
Becky @vintagebeckym says
We as women spend a great deal of time in our lives belittling ourselves. We need to stop. We are God’s creations and He doesn’t make junk. We need to be proud of who we are are. We are wives, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, friends….We are God’s children. You have written a beautiful article. Thank you for sharing it with us. Have a Fabulous Day!
Melissa Mulvaney says
Amen!!! Thanks for the encouragement Becky!!!
I am hearing Gods voice though your words loud and clear: “And don’t ever use the word ‘only‘ when you describe yourself!”
I am pondering and praying on that thought today.
Just so much Amen!
Christina Myers says
I am a wife and mother too and it is amazing how much we all question at times the importance of what all we do in those roles. Thanks for the encouragement!
Lisa/Syncopated Mama says
Yes, wonderful point to get rid of the “only” in our descriptions of ourselves. Unless it’s to describe our uniqueness, as in “I am the only one God created just like this.” You did a great job with this post.
Thank you for the encouraging post. I think a lot of people have this problem at one point or another, because it is so easy to fall into. Normally when I feel this way, it is because I have been comparing myself to others. I am so thankful that God has a purpose for me, that only I can accomplish.
I know for a fact that many people do not realize how much moms really do. I just can’t say that I’m only a mom, because there is so much more to me and what I do daily: I’m a cook, housekeeper, caregiver, driver, blogger, etc. You are the only person who knows YOU, so I believe that you need to teach people how to treat you, if that makes sense. The way you present yourself to the people around you is going to be the way they see you.
Well said. I used to be in the Air Force and when people asked me what i did I proudly told them I served in the military as a civil engineer and when I decided to stay home I felt that I wasn’t doing as much as I should for society. Kind of dumb when you think about it since raising my son is way more important that building a road or any construction project. But it was still a hard choice and one I continue to struggle with on those hard days. Thanks for the words of encouragement. I am a Mom and I am proud to be. 🙂
Kemya Scott says
You are doing a wonderful service to women who consider themselves a just “only” something or another. No woman is ever an “only” and your post proves it. Language is so powerful, and we have to be conscious of how we think and speak about ourselves and our contributions to society. I loved it!
I am so guilty of using the word “only”. Thank you for bringing to light how using it as adjective to describe ourselves really places a limit on who we are and what we’re capable of. I believe, too, when we describe ourselves as “only”, we’re also putting some limits on what we believe God can do with and through us. I will definitely think differently about that word going forward.
Also, I enjoy Michele Cushatt, too. I am an avid listener of Michael Hyatt’s podcast and enjoy hearing her there. I have added her book to my “To Read” list.
Jean Wise says
Yes let’s drop the word only when used to describe ourselves. Very well stated and a perfect example. I think it is also an excuse at times to try something new. Great points here glad I came over from Blogelina to read your post.
April G says
I haven’t been able to wrap my head around being a mother and wife. It’s hard work but when surrounded by more successful people, I find being a wife and mother insufficient. I’ll have to really reassess how I talk to myself. Thank you for the reminder.
Beautifully written! And a wonderful encouragement! 🙂
Melissa Mulvaney says
Thank you Holly!
How true your words. I can’t think of anyone who is “Only”. Everyone fills a special need somewhere. I hope I never make anyone feel they are “Only”, because of the way I act or something I say. Thanks for bringing up this discussion.
Melissa Mulvaney says
Thank you for your kind words Elena! I hope I never make someone feel they are ‘only’ either!
Linda Remson says
Melissa Mulvaney says
Thank you Linda!!!