As you know, I’ve been pondering my identity lately, thinking about the me I was before I became a mother.
Truth be told, I was very maternal before I ever became a mother. When I was nineteen or twenty, a guy I knew told me I was the most maternal person he’d ever met – and that included his own mother. Though maternal wasn’t the image I was going for when I was in college, I wasn’t offended he said that. I was flattered — which probably says a lot about who I was and who I am.
I’m reading this book called Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand. One of the main characters is a mother of two small children. In the scene I just read, she is watching her two little boys sleep and thinking about motherhood.
Being a mother was the best of all human experiences, and also the most excruciating. Getting the baby to nurse, getting the baby to eat solids, getting the baby to sleep, the teething, the crying, the crawling, into everything, can’t take my eyes off him for a second, a whole roll of toilet paper stuffed into the toilet, the first steps, the falling, the trips to the emergency room (Does he need stitches?), the Cheerios that stuck together and nearly choked him, the weaning from the breast, the bottle, the pacifier, the grating squeal of Elmo’s voice, the first playdate, the hitting, the grabbing, the first word, Dada (Dada?), the second word, mine, the earaches, the diaper rash, the croup. It was a constant drone, all day, every day, occupying Vicki’s hands, her eyes, her mind. Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Who did she used to be? She couldn’t remember.
Who did I used to be? Can I remember? Do I want to be that girl anyway?
Being a mother is such a part of my identity. In a way, it was part of my identity before I ever had children. You’re the most maternal person I’ve ever met! And that includes my own mother! As a little girl, I was a mother to my baby dolls. Then I was a little mother to my younger cousins, to the children I babysat. In college, I was MamaJennifer the RA to the girls on my hall in the dorm.
Then I had my own children. Pregnancy. Morning sickness. Labor. Nursing. Diapers. Spitting up. Baby scales. Growth charts. Developmental milestones. Long hours and days of waiting for test results. Sleep deprivation. Baby magic lotion. Board books. Homeschool curriculum. Strollers. Double strollers. Baby slings. MOPS. Chore charts. Research on learning differences. Full-speeed-knock-me-over-hugs. Sticky kisses. Soccer. Basketball. Theater. Science projects. Stuffed animals. Laundry. All of it became part of my identity. All of that and more. I mean, really, how could I possibly love six little people so much?
Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Invasion of the Heart Snatchers.
Who am I? Whoever I am, these six children, with all their cuddles and messes and snotty noses and sloppy kisses and complicated personalities, have certainly made me this woman. I am not only a mother, but that is definitely a huge part of who I am.
Who did I used to be? I used to be a girl wanting to be the woman I am today.