We go through quite an identity shift when we have children because our world and priorities change forever. Whilst we realise that we are doing an exceptionally important role by being in charge of another persons physical and emotional well-being, in some circles, we are reacted to as if our lives or we ourselves are uninteresting, particularly if we give up our career to stay-at-home.
At certain types of parties and social gatherings the response to being a full-time mum can be less than inspiring, with silence falling after we have answered the question ‘What do you do?’, as if there can’t be anything interesting about us as full-time mums. And it is frustrating because we know the value that we bring as parents to our children, yet it is hard to convey this to another person who has no idea.
Recently I read a post ‘Re-defining yourself after work’ on a great blog called Fabulously 50 & Living with BATman. Elena writes about that party scenario and it set me thinking about those times when we are asked to define ourselves and how we rely heavily on our jobs. But we are so much more than our careers.
Becoming a full-time mum I struggled to know how to convey the value I felt about my new role in some social situations. Once I found myself saying ‘I’m just a mum’ and immediately promised myself never to use that diminishing word ‘just’ in the same sentence as ‘mum’ ever again.
I wish I had watched a talk by Adam Leipzig ‘How to discover your life’s purpose in 5 minutes’ (it is at the bottom of this post). He spells out five questions that he hopes will direct us towards knowing our purpose is in life.
Who are you? (Your name)
What do you love to do? (What do you feel supremely qualified to teach other people?)
Who do you do it for?
What do those people need?
How do those people change as a result of what you give them?
I like it. A short but focused way to get us thinking about what we are good at and what we bring to the world.
More importantly for this post, he goes on to say that in those party situations when asked ‘What do you do?’ the best response to give is your answer to question five, ‘How do those people change as a result of what you give them?’.
So for me now, back being a counsellor and hypnotherapist I answer
I help people accept themselves, learn to know what their strengths are and how to use them
rather than saying my job title.
Returning to motherhood though, as a full time mum with no job title to rely on this would have helped massively, using Adam’s method I could have given a number of intriguing answers
I work with children to help them develop a healthy sense of self and know who they are
I help children to feel valued and important in life
That would have got a different reaction to saying ‘I’m a mum.’ It at least would have got some further questions but more importantly it would have conveyed the value that I know I bring as a parent.
Now just to clarify here. I am not saying that stay-at-home mums are doing a more important job but rather that when we do give up a career, it removes the way we socially identify ourselves, which can leave us feeling a bit a drift, particularly when we have to verbalise what we do.Mothers are so important, not just to their families but to wider society Click To Tweet
The most important thing, of course, is that, regardless of others, we value ourselves and the massive contribution to society that raising children brings, whether we are a working mum or a stay-at-home mum and whether it seems to be valued or not. Mothers are so important, not just to their families but to wider society and even though there is no pay cheque or prestigious job tittle, it is the thing I am most proud of being.
Have you ever been in a social situation where a conversation has fallen flat once you said you were a mum or where it has swiftly moved onto something else? How did you answer the question ‘What do you do?’ as a full-time mum? Would you change that now or not? I would love to know your thoughts.
So what is next?
If you liked this article then you may also like:
- Are You honest? Changing The Face Of Motherhood
- Be Yourself- The Self-Worth Challenge
- 5 Tips For Repeated Problems With Your Children
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