My eldest daughter, A, is enraged when I use the word just. As in, I’m just a mum.

Don’t say that, she says, crossly.

I used to think she scolded me because, as a feminist, she was mildly embarrassed by the fact her mother had never forged a proper career.

Why do we do that? Why do mums who don’t go out to work do that – say I’m justamum – because I’m not the only one.

Is it because if I were a – say – a teacher, like my daughter, my sister, or if I were a journalist who worked on a paper, 9 to five, Monday to Friday, I’d say,’I’m a teacher. I’m a journalist’. I’d never say, ‘oh I’m just a teacher, just a journalist’.

Funny that. Because they’re proper jobs. With salaries? Employers? Recognition? Accolades?

Is it because, if we have children, we are necessarily mothers by virtue of gender and biology. Just like we’re wives or sisters or daughters. You’d never introduce yourself, ‘I’m A; I’m a wife, sister, daughter’. Even then I must qualify my position – I’m A’s Wife, B’s Mum. Because, ordinarily, I am meeting people within the context of others’ lives. Their work, their schools.

I’m a Mum. A pregnant pause. And …? What else are you?

It’s easier, always easier, to say, Justamum, and I deliver it with a little laugh. People know then not to ask anything further – and usually they don’t. Ah right. They move on and you’re spared the discomfort of having to say, because You’re a Mum, ‘nope that’s it. Just a Mum’. You’ll say it in end.

But I am, I say to my daughter the next time she ticks me off, it’s what I am. It’s what I do.

What I have always done.

‘Then say that’, says my daughter A with a hot glare, ‘say, I am a Mum’.

And then she says, so that I know she is not, has never been, embarrassed by what I do.

‘Don’t diminish what you do with just‘.

2 Responses to “Just”

  1. Sabine Says:

    And she is right.

  2. Ad dy Says:

    Of course she is right, but then again I always introduce myself as “just a stay-at-home-mum”. I think in my case I apologise for having studied to university degree level and then jacked it all in at the age of 40 to have a much-longed for child i wanted to enjoy. What with husband’s shift work as a journalist, it also made sense for me to stay at home and be the king-pin of the family. See, I am apologising and justifying even now!.

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