Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mrs. Jackson's Mama

The other night I went out with a group of friends from my MOPS group. The next day, my kids asked me who went with me. "Emily's Mama, Hannah's Mama, Brooke's Mama, Eli's Mama..." and so on until I had listed all the ladies who joined me. It never occurred to me to use their names. I wonder if other people refer to me as Jackson, Ethan, and Aaron's Mama?

There was a moment when I was pondering this that I thought it is so very sad that women lose their identities over time. We marry our husbands and become Mrs. So-and-So. Then we have our children and become Jr. So-and-So's Mama. We pack away our hobby rooms to make space for a baby. We stop listening to music we enjoy and start listening to Silly Sally Sings Sunday School Songs. Ask any mom to tell you about herself, and she will instead tell you about her family. "Well, I have 3 children and a great husband."

But I've decided it's not so very sad after all. Being a wife and mother IS my identity. I spend my days thinking about what to make for supper, how to potty train, when to start my kids in school, how to get a baby to sleep. That's my life. 5 years ago it might have sounded miserable. I always pictured myself as the working-mom type. I liked the image of me working by day and mothering by night. No way was I going to trade in my identity for a day full of diapers and Goodnight Moon. Then everything changed. During my first pregnancy Mike and I started having the talk about my returning to work after the baby was born. Something inside of me had already changed. I couldn't bear the thought of dropping off my baby in daycare so I could go to work at a job that suddenly seemed meaningless. So, Mike and I compromised on a part-time working solution. No daycare--I would work 3 days a week, and my mom would help me with the baby. So, when my Jackson was 12 weeks old I went to work. I showed off pictures of the baby, felt the overwhelming need to run home to him, burst into tears and holed myself up in my office for the rest of the day. I called Mike and told him we would make it work but that I just couldn't COULDN'T do this. He agreed (bless him), and I called my boss. She already suspected that I wouldn't return and had a replacement for me picked out. The next day I returned to work for my last day--baby on hip.

So, 4 years and 2 babies later, who am I? I'm Jackson's Mama. I'm Ethan's Mama. I'm Aaron's Mama. I'm Mike's wife. I am Miss Katina to the kids in playgroup. I'm Kat to my best friend since childhood. And I'm still just plain old Katina to my mom. I guess you never really lose who you are. I'm still Katina. I still enjoy musicals. I still get excited about Christmas trees. I still cry when I watch Steel Magnolias. I'm still afraid of artificial sweeteners. I still crave "depression cake." I still hate heights. I'm me--but better. Now I have magic kisses that make boo-boos feel better. Now I know all the words to Raffi's Greatest Hits. Now I am the queen of my house. And, my, it's good to be queen.

Mike and Katina, in a previous life (2003)

Mike and Katina (and sons) now

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