In early May, I had the opportunity to be part of a magical afternoon where the stories of many made their way into the hearts and minds of an entire audience. Being part of the Listen to Your Mother DC cast was not just an honor, but a chance to connect with real women telling their stories of motherhood. Much like we do here at Just.Be.Enough. One of the women I shared the stage with was Chrissy Boylan, someone whose smile and laugh, friendship and kindness oozes out with every word and gesture. Today, she is here sharing her words and story of being enough with us.
“You’ll never guess who I met last night!” she exclaimed. “Do you remember a Scott Larson?”
Of course I remembered a Scott Larson. Except in my mind he was “the” Scott Larson. UVA grad Scott; rugged, I-like-to-rock-climb Scott. He and I had worked together in an office full of cave-dwelling Internet developers. He had stood out simply for showing his face during daylight hours and speaking in complete, coherent sentences. I hadn’t seen Scott since the Internet bubble burst and I decided to stay home with my first child.
“Oh, no kidding,” I reply nonchalantly. “Scott Larson, huh. Small world…”
“Yeah, and he totally remembered you!”
“He did? What did he say?!” I chucked aside my thinly veiled female pride and waited in anticipation for Scott Larson’s words to bring my former self back to me.
“Oh, you know – he wanted to know what you were up to, whether you were working or just a mom now…”
“Really? ‘JUST’ a mom? Did he say it like that?”
There was an awkward pause. “Well, um, yeah…But I’m sure he didn’t mean it that way. He’s just a guy, remember?”
There it was again: that word. Just.
Right then and there, I began to see the problem. It wasn’t Scott’s implied editorial, whether deliberate or not. The problem was that word!
Or so I thought.
For a long while after this incident, I held a grudge against that word. I had a sixth sense for spying it in print and secretly judged others for over-using it.
It wasn’t easy. The word is one of the most used words in the English language. Its popularity ranks above “very” and only slightly behind “more.” In addition, I’m female. As a gender, we women make it a habit to use that word twice as much as men.
And I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t myself use the word occasionally. When my children lap up to me like puppies and plead me to play with them, I have been known to say, “Sure sweetie. I’ll be there in just a minute!” Even they know a stall tactic when they hear one.
Over time, it also became clear that my hatred was not absolute. I began accepting several appropriate, even enriching, uses of the word. Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ campaign, for example. Or Stevie Wonder’s classic, “I Just Called To Say I Love You.” The word has even warmed my heart, like when my grandmother taught me how to knit. Her strong hands guided mine to complete my first purl stitch as she coached me to do it “just so” in her thick Italian accent.
In the end, I limit my strong dislike of the word to specific contexts, such as the word’s ability to help one cower (“I just thought that…”), to avoid confrontation (“just checking to see if you’re finished yet”), or to fake modesty (“What, this? It’s just a little something I whipped up.”)
Plus Scott Larson’s context: “Is she just a mom?”
No, I’m not.
I’m a mother, wife, twin, friend, neighbor, freelance writer, yoga student, bibliophile, caffeine addict, high-tech drop-out, armchair therapist, and storyteller. Just to name a few.