Losing my identity was not the plan. I don’t think it ever is the plan, except perhaps for those wandering souls searching for the identity they hope to find while leaving the former as a dust trail to be blown away in the next gust of wind. I, however, knew exactly who I was and who I wanted to be.
It wasn’t this.
I never expected to be a stay-at-home loser with two beautiful daughters. I didn’t go to a job every day, or contribute to society, or use my intelligence. A Master’s in Education for French sat lonely and depressed on the basement shelf, while I became cognitively numb reciting the lyrics to the Wiggle’s “Fruit Salad” song. Every day. For years.
So who was I?
I despised the term stay-at-home mom because it insinuates that Mom and kids NEVER leave the house. I was not a hermit with young ones in my care, living amongst hoard and filth with dusty kids eating off torn linoleum. Though it’s true my housecleaning and laundry skills lacked (OK, they still lack) merit, I never transformed into a red smock-wearing lunch lady holding a wooden spoon to my children’s behinds.
Alternatively, many predetermined ideals abound to the mystery of daily life as a mother. Images of watching TV with happy babies playing on the floor was not a reality. Eating bonbons while reading a magazine was not a reality. What remained real was the constant demand growing bodies require: incessant feeding from my God-given milk bags, poop explosions on the brand new carseat, changing difficult onesies for this reason or because: a bird pooped on her at the park, she threw up on herself, her sister peed on her, or any combination thereof.
When friends and strangers told me how lucky I was to stay home with my kids I was inclined to give them a run-down of a normal day’s trials. Instead, I just smiled and accepted it as a compliment, wishing I could be at a job talking to grown-ups, using smart words, and getting paid to be there. How divine!
Instead, I was a stay-at-home loser. A diaper-changing, milk-donating, crying, stupid loser.
My kids don’t think I’m stupid. In fact, whenever they need help with homework, who do they ask?
Yep. They ask moi.
It’s been eleven years since those tumultuous days of growth. The children have grown in stature and beauty, and I have grown in, well, other ways. I look back on those difficult years with pride. (Though I still have the teen years ahead of me so wish me luck.)
Raising children at home every day for years is a privilege and a sacrifice. My identity has flipped over and over like a somersault on a grassy hill, only to land upright again. The recent plunge to take on a new creative outlet has achieved my original hopes that I believed only work could fulfill. Though I don’t hold a certificate or claim to possess skill, writing has allowed me to use smart(ish) words and contribute to society via anyone who will
Previously searching an outlet for intelligence, I am now dumbfounded by the roles I play. Having time and the motive to contribute to the greater good, I boast the titles of: Mom, Volunteer, French Event Organizer, Husband’s Rock Band Fan, and currently the most humbling of all, Writer.
I can identify with that.