I, Mommy: A Blogling Identity Crisis

February 6, 2010

“Ask her how life is in the shoe!”  I hear my friend Amy’s boyfriend shout, once he realizes who is on the other side of the phone call.  It’s a joke, get it?  About the old woman who lives in the shoe?   So many children she doesn’t know what to do?   Granted, as the mother of a mere three, I’m actually a far cry from shoe-dom, but to my graduate school friends, most of whom are unmarried and almost all of whom are childless, a life and household like mine is practically unimaginable.  So, I smile at the joke, even cherish it, happy to be thought of as the mama of the group, and grateful for all the free babysitting hours I garnered as the only one with kids.

Sometimes, however, the mama role doesn’t feel quite so comfortable.   Sometimes, I yearn for the days when I could have played a different part in a social circle, thought of as the crazy one, perhaps, or the sporty one, or the posh one.  (Yes, somehow my graduate school friends just became the Spice Girls.  Don’t know how that happened.)  Sometimes, I find myself wondering if I woke up the next morning, somehow stripped of my motherhood, if there’d be anything interesting left.  What am I, if not a mother?  All week, I’ve been wondering. 

Monday:  Due to the high level of chaos in my life and the corresponding loss of brain cells, I blanked briefly on my mother’s first name when asked.  Recalled a childhood instance in which, in response to my brother calling out for her repeatedly, my mother yelled, “I am changing my name from Mom, and I am NOT going to tell you what it is!”

Tuesday:   Editing Sandy’s profile, I realized, in all of my pictures, Sandy was featured with one or more of her children.  When Gwynne suggested I crop a picture to feature Sandy alone, she added jokingly, “Sandy’s more than just her kids, Meryl!”  Gwynne couldn’t have known that I’d already been obsessing over this very concern, berating myself for not making my questions less child-related, nervous that I’d missed the chance to show Sandy how much I respected her as a person, and not just a mama.

Wednesday:  Somehow found myself alone in the car, and therefore allowed the rare opportunity to be boss of the radio.  I chose NPR, and it did not disappoint.  “Talk of the Nation” was doing a piece on the six-word-memoir, begun as a feature in the online magazine Smith and recently turned into a series of books.  As callers from across the country phoned in their defining six words, I started conjuring up my own.  “Mom of three.  Covered in pee.”  “Had career.  Had children.  They won.”   I couldn’t come up with six words that didn’t involve my children.  All of my memoirs were mom-oirs.*          

Thursday:  A kind woman approached me at the gym, with the best of intentions.  I looked familiar, she said.  How did she know me, she wondered.  Where did I work, she wanted to know.  Without thinking, I countered with a question of my own.  “Do you have children?”  I asked.  “I have three, at different schools, maybe we know each other from there.”  As though that were the only possibility – the only way I ever interact with anyone.

Friday:   In line for drive-thru coffee, writing a completely different post in my head, one that you, readers, will now never have the joy of reading due to the universe’s highly unwelcome interference in my thought process.  (That’s a lie.  Aforementioned post will totally surface next week.  Never fear.)   Saw a vehicle with the license plate pictured above parked to the right of me.   Took a picture, contemplated this post.

I, Mommy.  There are days when that’s all I could want—days when my oldest’s teacher calls to tell me what a pleasure it is to have him in class, days when my littlest rocks the baby drum set like a punk rock protégé.   Then, there are the days when, if I had a chance, I’d shed the mom skin and flee – days when my oldest is suspended from the bus, days when my littlest poops in the tub for the fourth time that week.  It’s those days that worry me, that fill me with an eerie, unsettling emptiness. 

I, Mommy, but if not, who am I?  Help me figure it out.  Who are you, outside of your mama-self?  Tell me in the comments below. 

-Meryl at the Goose

*The mom-oir collection is actually really fabulous, when I’m not in the throes of self-doubt.  Check it out here, and share your six-word memoir or mom-oir with us.


4 Responses to “I, Mommy: A Blogling Identity Crisis”

  1. Casey Says:

    How could you have been the posh one when that title was so clearly intended for John? Great, thoughtful, post.


  2. Kelly Says:

    I have lots of identities and when I feel like one of them is getting the best of me, I make a date with a friend. We meet for coffee or wine, go for a walk and blab, blab, blab …

  3. Margie Rosten Says:

    As a grandmother, my mommy memories are selective. I have one clear moment of an identity crisis which occurred when my two children were probably 6 and 3. Each evening I would fix their dinner and watch Square One with them. One night I heard myself singing “Nine, nine, nine, that crazy number nine” along wtih the people on Square One. I looked around the kitchen. The next day I went up to the attic and retrieved my academic degrees and put them up on my kitchen walls. The next evening, I fixed dinner for the kids and happily sang along about the number 9. I still miss Square One.

  4. Katherine Says:

    I love this: “I am changing my name from Mom, and I am NOT going to tell you what it is!”

    What a thoughtful post. If I weren’t so addled from two solid weeks in the house with sick kids, I’m sure I’d have something very wise to say in response!

    Love this blog!

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