Way back when I was in high school, I did this program through West Virginia 4-H called the Charting Program. During that year, we 15-year-olds participated in activities designed to promote self-discovery, goal-setting, decision-making, critical-thinking, and communication. We discussed values and ideals and worldviews. I learned a lot during my year in the Charting Program, but I learned even more when I was 19 and was trained to teach Charting Classes at 4-H camps.
I remember one particular activity we did in our training program. We partnered up and took turns asking each other, “Who Are You?” “Where Have You Been?” and “Where Are You Going?” The first time we asked each other these questions, the answers were basic and surface-y. Then we asked the same questions again. And again. And again. Each time, the answers got a little deeper, a little more revealing, a little more raw. This activity forced us to think about our identities, what had made us who we were, and where we were going in life.
Every now and then, I think about that activity. Those are good questions to ask. I should probably be asking myself those questions at least once a year.
Instead, I get caught up in life. Carried away by its current.
Who Am I? What is my identity? Because I am the stay-at-home mom of six children, it is very easy to allow that to completely define my identity. Somebody recently told me that I talk about my children all the time. So I looked over my Facebook status updates. Wow! I do talk about my kids a lot. Well, I love them and they are my full-time job, so I suppose that’s normal.
But that got me to thinking — is my identity too wrapped up in being a mother? Have I forgotten or lost some of myself, the me I was before I had children and the me I will be after they are gone? See, that’s the thing. The years are flying by; and, before I know it, my kids will be grown and gone. I don’t want to be lost once they are gone. I don’t want to look in the mirror and wonder, “Who am I now?”
At the same time, I don’t want to be selfish. I am raising children, helping form and develop real, actual, living people. And I won’t get any do-overs. I don’t take this job lightly. And I want to do it the best I can.
Of course, I don’t get any do-overs with my own life either. And there is certainly much more to me than being a mother. There are more answers to that question “Who are you?” than “A mother.”
So, how do we balance it all out? What is my identity? How do I nurture and develop the elements of my identity apart from “mother” while still being the very best mother to six children? And how am I supposed to talk about anything else when, for now, raising these six people is consuming so much of my time?
Who am I? —- Where have I been? —- and Where am I going?
These are the questions on my mind today.
How about you?
Who are you?
Where have you been?
Where are you going?
Am I the only mother who struggles with how much of my identity should be wrapped up in being a mother?
It’s your turn.