A friend and I met the other day to see Jackie. After the credits rolled, we curled up in the reclining chairs and chatted until the theater started filling up again for the next show. This friend is someone I wish I could see more regularly, but when our schedules align and we’re able to connect, I leave feeling full, refreshed, and heard.
We talked a lot about identity. We’re both in our mid-thirties, both raising young kids, both still grappling with that elusive balance of being strong influences for our kids and holding this season with open hands and remembering that it is fleeting.
One part of our discussion really stuck with me. We wondered how, as moms, we hold on to parts of our story and identity that aren’t as significant anymore. How do we honor that part of our journey while recognizing that it may not play a big part in how we live our daily lives?
When I first moved to Denver after living in Paris and spending months in Kathmandu, I struggled a lot with how to describe moving back home. I was home, yes, but I had done so much more! Years passed and I struggled even more – college didn’t matter as much; people don’t really care which school I attended, and yet it felt leaving those years out of my story put me in a category of never leaving home. (Which isn’t a bad thing – it’s just not my story.)
When Bea was born and I settled into the role of stay-at-home mom, I was happy with that identity. But then, when a job opportunity arose a year later, I excitedly joined a team that perfectly encompassed my passions of innovative education practices with getting people into museums and experiencing the history of art. The other perk of that job is that when people asked if I “just stayed home” with the girls, I could say that I also had a really amazing part-time job.
I don’t think this search for identity is unique to stay-at-home moms. We were talking with friends about their parents’ recent retirement and how there has been a bit of a search for what that means. What do you say at dinner parties? What are the expectations of living a full retired life?
My years in Paris don’t really come up anymore. And, beyond a few ways that we choose to expose the girls do different things, I don’t think it really plays an active role in my life at the moment. But, as my friend said, it is a significant part of my story. It developed my world view and my views on faith. It made me the mom I am.
In this year of Capacity, I think part of it is becoming confident in my identity. How can I own what I do? Be proud of both the amazing parts of my journey and the mundane? How can I model for my girls that our identity is multi-faceted and that each part is worthy?
What part of your story is significant to you but is something your current community may not know about? How do you blend your journeys and lessons?