Earlier this week, I quoted an article “I Am a Mother.” It was written by Jane Clayson Johnson. If her name sounds familiar, it could be because she spent 15 years on network news, first for ABC News, then as a co-anchor on CBS’s Early Show. She was at the top of her game, and negotiating a lucrative contract, when she decided to leave journalism—for motherhood.
She talks about people’s various reactions in her article and in her book of the same name. Today I got to hear her speak at BYU. She’s now the happy mother of two (and stepmother of three more). I learned so much from listening to her speak; she has an amazing perspective on life and its seasons.
One of my favorite stories that she shared took place not too long ago. She was with her family in Florida (I think), and she said she had on her “new mom outfit,” no make up, diaper bag and kids in tow. Someone she’d worked with several times recognized her and flagged her down.
“So,” he asked once he’d caught up with her. “What are you up to now?” He glanced at her children. “Just a mom?”
It took her only a split second to respond: “Just a mom? No, no—I am a mother,” she declared proudly.
At the end of her excellent talk (you’d think she’d been paid to write and speak for decades! Oh, wait…), there was a little bit of time for questions.
Naturally, I hopped right up, ducked under a few handrails and got to the microphone (luckily my sister was there to hold on to Hayden).
I asked Jane how she found fulfillment as a mother. Here’s what she said (from my notes; my tape recorder wasn’t cooperating!)
It’s difficult in our culture because we place such an emphasis on measuring success—awards, titles, etc. As a mother, you don’t get a pat on the back every day. You can’t measure motherhood on a daily basis—it’s a long-term process.
The world esteems titled professions: lawyers, judges. Society seems to set motherhood below those things. But that success is fleeting; it goes away. And there is always someone waiting in the wings to take your place. Your relationship with your children will last forever. It is more important.
I like how she was unafraid to make firm statements, from “I am a mother” to “It is more important.” And that’s something that I like to be reminded of: my relationship with my children will last forever. It is more important. Success in the workplace is nice—I quite like it—but it’s fleeting, and someone can easily replace you there. There is no substitute for a mother to her children.