Thursday, June 07, 2007

Who I Am, Really

I was interested by the thoughts posed by the Headmistress at the Common Room, who was commenting on the book
Seasons of a Family's Life by Wendy Wright. The Headmistress is talking about defining ourselves as Mothers, also as Wives.

I have been in the situation many times, where I am asked to "describe myself." When I begin, "I am a wife of 31 years, mother of eight..." I get no further when the person interrupts: "No. Tell me who YOU are, not whose "wife" you are, or whose "mother" you are."

This always frustrates me. So, so much of my identity is wrapped up in those relationships. I'm not "me" without them.

When I came to motherhood at nineteen (and marriage ten weeks later, at twenty), I was a certain person, a person with so-and-so personality, and so-and-so both interesting and irritating characteristics. I am in no way that person anymore (tho' maybe the Irritations are still there!). Now I can say, "I am a person with a certain amount of patience, for 'Tribulation worketh patience,' and being a wife and mother has cultivated that." I can say, "I am a person who has acquired some Wisdom, both from being married, raising eight children, and by "just getting up in the morning."" I can say, "I am a person with quite a store of Interpersonal Relationship Skills," by reason of the same.

The questioner retorts, "But, if you didn't *have* a husband or children, how would you describe yourself?"

What an unanswerable question. I cannot describe myself outside of these relationships. You can't close Pandora's box, neither can I ever separate Who I Am from those relationships.

When pressed, I could say, "I am a quilter," or "I am a reader," or, "I am a Non-Confrontational person, a Peace-maker,(or any other facets of my temperament)", but those monikers seem so absolutely empty for me. I have a high IQ, but really had very little Common Sense until my forties. I had "some college," but got married in the middle. Even if I had a degree (a thing for which to be proud, and which no one could take away from me), it would be just an Accomplishment, not really a description of "who I am."

Nope. I prefer to describe myself BY my relationships; daughter of my Father God, daughter, sister, wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandma, friend, good neighbor, and on and on. These, I think, are much more important that What I've Accomplished.

When all is said and done, I want people, not Accomplishments, to be standing beside me at the end of my life. These are who I am.

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