I caught myself a few weeks after I decided to stay home with my first child saying, "I'm just a stay-at-home-mom." A stranger approached me in a local store one afternoon. She wanted to see my new little bundle I had strapped to my chest. After she asked how old he was and commented on his cuteness, she asked what else I did. It was the first time I had been asked this question.
I was so uncomfortable; her eyes burned through me as she studied me, head to toe. I didn't even know her, and whether I did anything "else" or not was not was none of her business.
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Driving home, I was angry, mostly at myself. Why did I say I was "just a mom"? Moms who choose to stay at home with their children—whether it's for a few months, years or the rest of their days—are so much more than "just a mom."
We don't "just" give birth and learn how to care for another human being.
We don't "just" escort our tantruming child out of the grocery store.
We don't "just" nurse our baby while reading to our toddler.
We don't "just" get dinner on the table every night during witching hour.
We aren't "just" anything.
We are badass women who can multitask like nobody's business. We are the queen of the house. We know what's best for our family and we are nailing it every single day. Sometimes we do it with grace, and sometimes not so much, and that's all right because we show up again and again for our children and put their needs before ours.
There is no way to know how hard staying at home is going to be until you're experiencing it for yourself.
We can run on a fraction of the sleep, and eat most of our meals with another body stuck to us like a burdock. We are the one they want when they need to fall asleep, or they scrape their knee. We know how to make everything better. Our little minis love us so much they want to be next to us when we are going to the bathroom. We've mastered dividing our attention between more than one child to make sure everyone gets their fair share.
There is no way to know how hard staying at home is going to be until you're experiencing it for yourself. Moms who decide to stay at home definitely have preconceived notions that it will be peaceful, relaxing, easy even—I know I certainly did.
I was wrong, so wrong.
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So when this woman asked what else I did, I felt the need to down play the fact I stayed at home and did nothing else because deep down, I felt like it wasn't supposed to be this hard—maybe something was wrong with me because it wasn't peaceful, easy or relaxing, at all.
It was all-encompassing. It was scary, and I was doubting myself almost every day because it was so different than anything else I had ever done. There was no way I could've taken on anything else—especially those first few months.
It was also making me a better person, but more than that, it was exactly where I wanted to be and I didn't owe anyone an explanation because I chose to do this and only this.
I certainly didn't need to dilute my role as a mom by calling myself "just a mom" and I never did it again. We all know, no matter how a mom spends her day, she isn't "just" anything.