“Charlotte is 23 ½ months old.”
“Jackie was a natural birth, but Stevie was a C-Section.”
“She just loves grape jelly, but won’t eat grapes. So weird!”
To anyone who has attended story time at the library or “Mommy and Me” anything, there’s nothing out of the ordinary about the above statements. In the first ten minutes of meeting a mom, you’re already well versed in their child’s name, age, and dietary preferences. Me – a total stranger – has the inside scoop on your little bundle of joy’s poop.
And yet, with nearly all of the moms I’ve met, while they will openly confide in me the number of times their child has eaten dog food, not one has started the conversation by telling me their name. Most of the time, their name never even gets mentioned.
Their freaking name.
When I tell them mine, there’s this moment of panic. Almost as if they realized that other people can see them too. Their eyes go from staring at their child to meeting mine. Only then do I get to learn the most basic and essential thing about them.
Their freaking name.
It could be easy to blame parenthood. That we are so focused on our kiddos, we forget the basics of conversation. I would agree with this if it were not for my experiences with a different beast – dads.
When I have met dads, I still learn all there is to know about their child (they are proud too, you know!), but only after I have learned their name. This is usually followed by their wife’s name, their occupations, and their own dietary preferences. They seem to remember that they are a person, too. Crazier still, it seems that they remember that it is okay for them to come before their child.
Is this small difference – whether or not we introduce ourselves – part of a larger issue? Does it snowball from losing our voice at the library to becoming a face in the crowd at work and a doormat at home?
Having a child 100% changes our identities. There is no denying it. For me personally, becoming a mother has turned my sense of self upside down. I am no longer able to define myself as the career woman I used to be, because I do not work full time. And yet, because I still work part time, I cannot classify myself as a stay at home mom. Gone is the carefree, young, well-rested girl, and in its place is a tired, frequently paranoid, tired (yeah, I said it again) woman trying to make sense of it all.
While it is a new identity, and one I am not completely comfortable with, it is still mine. I have not lost it; I am just over here evolving.
Ladies, it is so very easy to lose our identities during this time. It is scary to change, but that hungry caterpillar is becoming a beautiful butterfly, and you better own it.
Maybe, just maybe, by remembering to put ourselves first – if only by saying our names before our kid’s birth weight, we might be able to stay seen and heard in other parts of our lives too.
Say your name.
I am more than happy to hear all about Junior’s milestones and Janie’s rash. I’ll tell you all about how my kid loves salmon and is basically a genius.
But before we get into all of that, let me first introduce myself.