I remember this night. We’d gone out on a real date. It’d been so long. It was so hard to coordinate. There was so much to prep for the babysitter. And we came home to a little guy who’d spiked a fever.
Because life with kids is complicated. Wonderful. Worth it. But undeniably complicated.
And I think that’s what makes my skin do that crawly thing every time I hear a certain four letter word.
It’s probably not the kind of four letter word you might be thinking.
Actually it’s sort of totally vanilla. It even implies no big deal.
But the thing is – it is a big deal.
Okay, I’ll just say it. I guess I just did. There, I did it again.
Just. The word is just.
Now that I’m a mom, I just hate it! I just do.
The darn word says “simple.” It minimizes whatever we’re attaching it to - when we know full well ‘simple’ left the building the moment our child entered our heart.
Because as soon as that first baby is placed into our trembling arms, everything gets complicated. Reeeaaally complicated. Like down to the soul level complicated.
There is no more JUST anything!
Except have you noticed how that word is used ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY now that you’re a mother?
We say it ourselves constantly.
“Let me just…. (Send that email/feed the baby/figure out dinner/make a call/etc/etc/etc – all the things we imply are easy peesy no big deal when we say them outloud to someone. Except there’s the small problem of our brain being split a million ways, hanging onto every detail for every family member. We’re trying to check all the boxes, all at once, and often with kids physically tugging on us at the same time as the mental pull.)
“Just a minute.” – (To kids, partner, work, any blessed person needing your attention while we juggle eight other things.)
“I just have to run a quick errand.” (We know we’re going to stop 3 other places, put little ones in and out of carseats repeatedly, soothe a crying baby, breakup a sibling wrestling match in aisle four, end up buying two carts full of food to feed our starving teenagers, take a work call in the car, remember the cupcakes we needed for the school party while finally leaving the store with one hand steering the overloaded cart and the other carrying a melting down toddler.)
“No problem, I’ll just …” (Whatever goes sideways, we’ll just fix it right?!…. Just.)
“I just need to lose some weight.” (Beating ourselves up while simultaneously trying to figure out time for self care in a schedule that no longer belongs to us.)
“Why can’t I just keep up with it all?” (Because - remember this is complicated and hard!)
“I just need five minutes.” (No we don’t. We need an actual break and support.)
“I’m just a stay at home mom.” Or “I just can’t stay home.” (No, neither! We know there’s not one shred of easy for any mom trying to sort out how to best support her family. Whether you’re working outside the home, or you’re on all day long in the home, there are so many layers. This is no small thing!)
“Sorry, I’m just running a few minutes behind.” (Because getting out of the house required a scavenger hunt for matching shoes, or a new diaper, or was the exact moment the teenager decided to finally open up about that thing that’s been weighing on them, or, or, or…)
"I just need to go to the bathroom, or take a shower." (Um. There are whole years of raising little people when even these most basic of functions are laughably tough.)
And if we’re not saying that word ourselves, then we’re absorbing it from others. Because the world seems to have a lot to say about mothers.
“Why doesn’t she just… (Fill in the blank, there’s no shortage of unsolicited opinion about what seemingly little fix a mother should be doing. But the thing is, you can trust that a mom has thought about, tried tried and tried again, prayed for, worried over whatever it might be from every possible angle… and likely at 3am when she can’t sleep because she’s still working it around in her heart. Yes, maybe she’s still struggling, maybe she doesn’t have it figured it out yet, but you can bet she’s trying.)
I don’t say this to complain.
But to remind, that there’s nothing simple about what we are carrying.
There’s just not.
We don’t have to minimize it.
And it hurts when others minimize it.
I guess I could say, let’s ‘just’ put down all that expectation and pressure to put on a good front…
But I know that’s not simple either.
So I won’t leave you with any advice on this one.
Just know, that it’s known… it’s never just.