This article was also published in The Huffington Post.
“So, what do you do?”
It was 6:47am.
Sweat was pouring down my arms and legs, and the soft pink haze of dawn had just begun to illuminate Tampa Bay.
We were about to do final stretches when my new boot camp buddy asked the question.
“What do you do?”
There are soooo many ways to answer that.
I wanted to give a good answer. Something that conveyed what I do, but was easy to understand.
I looked down and pretended to flick specks of dirt off my exercise mat.
What should I tell you about what I do?
I teach babies to wave. To say ‘hi.’ To point to the dog.
I kiss boo-boos.
I clean up dinner dishes, kid butts and dog accidents all day long.
I do laundry. And occasionally fold it.
I clean up milk spills and wipe spaghetti-coated faces.
I make up silly games and hold dance parties.
I know our toddler’s favorite book, the baby’s favorite food and the exact right time to start dinner so no one’s hungry.
I take kids to the doctor, to playdates, to church, to the park, the library.
I’m why our family members have a gift on their doorstep for birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Christmas.
I do the grocery shopping, the kid chauffeuring, the hair-cutting, the cooking and the majority of the cleaning.
I manage the money my husband earns for our family, plan for retirement and manage our rental homes.
I’m the reason our 3-year-old says ‘please’ and thank you.’ And, ‘are you okay?’ whenever someone seems a little forlorn.
I’m the person who delights in running my fingers over my children’s perfectly-soft foreheads as they sit next to me, completely oblivious, watching TV.
I’m the person who watches my children sleep, and weeps tears of gratitude as I thank God for the blessing of their lives.
And, I’m the person who carried these precious gifts inside my own body for 10 months. And then sustained them for a year more.
I don’t mean to brag, but I do so many things.
Things that are relevant. And important. And valuable.
To everyone but me, my 2 kids and my husband.
I should have come up with a witty response. Something clever and funny.
But I didn’t.
Without thinking, I blurted out the first thing that entered my mind:
“I don’t have a job. I just take care of my kids.”
And there it was.
I should have said it differently.
I should have made it sound better.
I should have said more.
“Just a mom.”
In truth, I’m “just a mom” as much as President Obama is “just a politician” or Martha Stewart is “just a decorator.”
That’s not to say that I’m the best. That’s not to say I’m perfect.
But what I do is soooo much more than just one word.