About 995 women & men mill around in front of me, squeezing into the narrow rows of theatre-style seats. A cacophony of voices rolls pleasantly through the balconied lecture hall here at Belmont University. Smiles everywhere, and an air of expectancy, as we all look forward to soaking up Donald Miller's Storyline conference. The doors have only been open for 10 minutes, and already the cushioned seats are stacked with bodies and purses and notebooks.
Deep breath. Swallow back insecurity. Wish desperately for Kevin to be with me. Step forward anyway.
"Hello; hi...'scuse me...is this seat taken? Oh, how bout that one...?"
I jostle in, computer bag over my shoulder, and settle into a small space between two strangers. Friendly hands extend, and the first of a hundred label-me introductions begins...
"Hi, I'm Teri; and your name is?"
"Where are you from?"
"And what do you do?"
I loathe it, but I do it too. It's just what we do, y'know? It's the American, surface, get-to-know-you question series. And these are creative people, so they ask it in so many interesting & interested ways: What's your life pursuit? How's God leadin' you out there in Colorado? Whatcha spendin' your life on? What kinda work fills up your days?
All around me are writers, artists, musicians, documentary producers, personal coaches, business owners. So much talent and creativity and success!
And the answer that falls from my lips over and over and over again:
"Oh, I'm just a mom..."
When did just-a-mom become my story?
I mean I know when I became a mom & all (duh), but when did I become just-a-mom?
In the quick banter of introductory conversation I can't think of anything more. I know there are so many things I am, I be, I do...homeschool & orphan-care & sing & dance & worship... But the sum of it all feels resignedly like just-a-mom. Sigh.
I'm here to pursue the bigger story God has for me.
For 10 hours Don & his team speak, encourage, teach, lead, inspire. Right leg tucked under me, left foot wiggling staccato, my heart races as I take notes furiously.
There is so much more of me.
Already there, ever has been, and still taking shape.
The beautiful, messy conglomerate of God's work in the wreck of my life.
It's no surprise, really; but why do I discount it?
Why do I shrink back in fear? Why do I minimize?
I'm so much more than just a mom.
In the evening I stand & stretch & gather my things. New acquaintances, now friends, huddle in small groups, laughing and making plans for dinner. We decide on a popular BBQ dive in downtown Nashville (yeah, they had fish-sandwiches for the non-cow-eaters), and meet up with another slew of folks.
Walking up the sidewalk in the cool of the evening, I extend my hand for new introductions, "Hi, I'm Teri; and your name is?"
But this time my answers flow more easily:
"I'm a Child Development Researcher. Collaborating on a new business called The Mommy Sabbatical. Getting my Masters in Psychology.
And most importantly, I'm married to this really great guy, and I'm a mom to our 7 amazing children.
Oh, I'm more than just-a-mom.
I've spent the past 18 years teaching each of those 7 little people how to be a human being. Pretty much the most important job on the planet..."
How are you more than just-a-mom? Seriously, think about it. You know you are.
You are more than just-a-mom.
Take a minute. Type it out; post it here.
Introduce us to who you really are...