My son stole my identity. No, that’s not entirely true. I willingly gave it to my husband over ten years ago. After years of trying to figure out just who Jennifer Maiden Name was, I stood in front of 100 of my closest friends and family and became Mrs. Jennifer Married Name… and started from scratch.
In college, I got to know myself. I learned the obvious things like I would rather sleep until noon than attend a class that I insisted would have no real impact on my future success. That I preferred bandanas and freckles to oversized sunglasses and Greek letters. That I could have entire conversations with my roommate using only the word “dude” and timed exhalations of cigarette smoke.
I learned much more valuable things like every teenage girl dated “that” guy but none actually married “that” guy, not even the best friend you almost lost because of him. Or that people don’t really care who you were in high school because, chances are, and thankfully so, that will have little to no bearing on the person you eventually become. Things that happen during those awful years between 13 and 17 rarely matter and college students tend to realize this just in time for their first winter break.
I found my confidence at the student newspaper and learned my voice could be clever, witty and insightful. It’s also where I met my future husband, my other half. I believe the term “other half” derived from teenage romances where the people merge into some sort of two headed love beast that survives solely on saliva and gagging noises from onlookers.
My identity soon became that of a blushing bride-to-be, spending more time wearing ribbon-covered hats than sending out resumes and writing samples. Everyone loves a bride but, when you wake up next to your husband the following morning, you’re a wife. My Mom’s a wife. My frigging dentist is a wife.
We moved to New York and I stumbled into my first paid position as a college graduate. Money was scarce but love was a-plenty and, while it took a few years for me to get used to receiving calls for Mrs., I was happy with my new identity.
My sister welcomed her first child shortly after my wedding and I dove headfirst into the role of doting aunt. That is, until I wanted a child of my own. Within minutes, my identity became that of an infertile woman. “Sorry, perfectly healthy and happily married 25 year old, rug rats may not be in the cards for you.” Thank you, Jackass, M.D.
Given my fondness for turquoise jewelry and my weekend volunteering gig at the animal shelter, I forced myself to embrace my inevitable future: I would be the cool aunt that meditates, practices yoga and gifts visitors with rescued kittens.
I could only fake it for so long. The longing to have my own child continued to grow. After doing my own research and finding out Dr. Jackass was no longer a licensed medical professional, I adopted my new identity – the woman who was trying to conceive. There were a lot of us out there! I met amazing, yet relatively anonymous, women who educated and supported me. They rode shotgun on my road to motherhood.
When I eventually did become pregnant, I expected the happiness, the joy that came from family members and friends. What I didn’t expect was for my unborn child to be referred to as a “blessing” or a “miracle” or for every distant relative to begin their congratulatory speech with “See?” I know YOU knew it would happen, Aunt ThanksgivingandChristmas, it was my uterus that needed some convincing.
Now my identity was not only that of a mother-to-be, but also an infertility success story.
As my due date loomed, I had another identity to choose. What kind of mother would I be? I had planned on having a natural birth and breastfeeding but I was hardly an earthy crunchy Mother Earth Mama. Cloth diaper? Sounded great in theory, just not so much in practice. Puree my own baby food? People have trusted Gerber for years, that’s good enough for me.
I did have my natural birth and did breastfeed for 13 months but I could hardly be an advocate. My personal motto involves a shrug and a halfhearted “Eh, to each his own.”
A zen “let nature be your guide” Mom? My sanity comes with a $25 copay.
A crafty, DIY, cherish and display every one of my son’s creations Mom? Maybe… if I wasn’t a year behind on his scrapbook.
Maybe I could fake an accent and become a cool British Mom. “Mom. Dave’s Mom.” Aww, forget it; I don’t think anyone wants to drink breast milk shaken or stirred.
Two years into my motherhood tenure and I find myself looking forward to my son’s future sporting events and school fundraisers because maybe I’ll find my identity there.
Or maybe I have more time than I think I do to figure it all out. Since 30 is the 20 and all, maybe I’ll start telling people I’m 22 instead of 32… although I do think society would frown on a 22 year old celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary with a two year old on their hip.