Identity is a funny thing. Not exactly haha funny, unless you identify as a comedian or something. (Not clowns, those are never funny.) As an American, I think I was taught early to identify myself by my job. Well, I quit my last paying job about 5 years ago, and, I'll be honest, the years after I quit were a little tricky, identity-wise. Awkward Dad was in medical school and then interviewing for a residency, which involved a lot of parties with doctors. Parties with doctors are decidedly not parties like my mom throws parties, with pinatas and confetti and tons and tons of cake. No, I am talking about work "parties;" which for me rank somewhere amid going to the dentist and renewing my driver's license at the DMV. I am introduced to someone whose name I promptly forget and whom I am never going to see again, and the first question is "So, are you a doctor as well?" After I produce my shameful "no," then I was asked what I did do. As someone who, at the time and since, fulfills nearly all of the self-esteem creation, feeding, personality guiding, health protecting, diaper changing, bathing, dressing, and maintaining of 3 other lives, this was simultaneously a daunting and simple question to answer.
"I'm just a mom."
Well, that's all fine and good (ignore the "just," I am well over that now), but tell that to a room full of doctors and the results are not going to be the warm-fuzzies that a mom, especially a new mom, is looking for. I have experienced the blank stare. The vague smile and walk-away. The clueless "oh, I meant for money." The fake "Well, that is God's work" or "The most important job;" these are always accompanied with a patronizing smile that you long to wipe off their faces with the wet wipes you always have in your purse anyway. The avoidant "That's nice, oh, I seem to need some more wine." The incredulous, "Wow, I could never do that! I just love working too much." (Because raising new life isn't work, I suppose.)The flat out rude, "Don't you get bored?" or "Why did you go to college then?" Or my favorite, "I bet Awkward Dad is just the greatest Dad."
This was getting old and I didn't want to risk Awkward Dad's career chances by starting to randomly punch people at parties, so I developed a defense. It is the defense I typically use; I got funny and I got sassy.
Party goer: Are you also a doctor?
Me: Lord no, isn't one in a family enough?
Party goer: And what do you do?
Me: As little as possible!
Party goer: Are you a doctor as well?
Me: Why? Do you have a rash you want me to look at?
Party goer: What do you do, Erin?
Me: Oh, I like long walks on the beach, Pina Coladas, and answering personal ads.
Party goer: Will you also be specializing in psychiatry?
Me: God no. Are you about to tell me some weird trauma from your childhood?
Party goer: So, where do you work?
Me: Here, there, mostly the bathroom.
Party goer: And you do....
Me: Oh, nothing much. Just kinky sex and stuff like that.
In defense of my defense, I was postpartum or pregnant for most of these and not hormonally right in the head. That last one felt really good though.....
I have grown as a person since then, and I have grown in my motherhood. I am no longer a new mom, but a seasoned mom of three with another on the way. I no longer attend doctor parties because babysitting is expensive and I don't want to waste it standing around in a room with people who just want to talk about insurance companies, "interesting cases" that make eating difficult, and how much money they make or intend to make. And since I am pregnant again, I can't even get drunk to deal with the parties, so no thank you. Luckily, Awkward Dad doesn't want to deal with them either. For a doctor, he actually has a surprisingly low tolerance for other doctors. He would rather hang out with the kids and me, which is pretty awesome.
But I am supposed to be talking about unmoming, which I am now very bad at, as a result of all this motherhood growth. The thing is; I have gotten so comfortable and used to being "just a mom" that I don't really feel like anything else. This is just another way of identifying solely with my job and no real growth at all!
Ever been around a bunch of stay-at-home moms? Expect a lot of poop discussion, milestone comparing, and complaints about bedtimes. We're no better than the doctors! And just as unpleasant to eat around. Gross.
Like everyone, I am constantly struggling to be a full person; well-rounded, interesting, interested, balanced, and happy. This is not easy, as you all know through your own struggles to be full people. Hobbies help. I don't really have a lot of hobbies. I like to write, but then I end up writing all about my kids. I like to read, which is usually interrupted by little fingers that want to "read" my book. I like to watch movies, and those are either interrupted by little eyes who want to know "why that bad man shot that other bad man" or big eyes that won't stay open because it is now too late around 10pm for all adults in this house. I already explained that babysitting is expensive and I find crafting to fall in the same fun category as doctor parties. And I can't drink because I am pregnant; dang, but I suppose drinking isn't exactly a hobby to aspire too.
Friends help a lot, but most of mine have kids and try though we might, we usually end up moming during our encounters. Either physically, because we are on a playdate or mentally, because our spouse just sent an adorable picture of our toddlers and everyone just has to see it. We try but we can't exactly help ourselves. We're moms and nothing brings out your mom flag faster than hanging out with moms.
I don't want to go back to working for money right now. It isn't practical with Awkward Dad's schedule and frankly, I like being at home with my kids. Someday I might work outside the home again, but that isn't what is going to solve this unmoming issue. I will always be a mom and that is OK. It is more than OK; it is the natural progression of my life journey and it is freaking awesome. I love what being a mom has done for me and my world view. I just don't want to get so lost in moming that I forget that I am a whole person. Being "just a mom" is good for no one; not me, not Awkward Dad, not my friends and family. But mostly and most importantly, it is not good for my children. How am I supposed to raise well-rounded, interesting, interested, balanced, and happy full people, if I am not one myself?
So, tomorrow, Awkward Dad and I have a sitter coming at noon (I have been saving all summer!) and we are attending the first MET at the Movies presentation of Eugene Onegin. To read more about our MET at the Movies adventures read here.) Anna Netebko is in it, so Awkward Dad is ultra-ready to soak in some culture. That's cool with me because she is singing opposite Mariusz Kwiecien. Oh, poor me.
So, whether my appreciation of opera is a pure love of the music or something else entirely is not something I am going to get into; it is not moming and that is a good enough start for me.
Maybe, but some of these opera folks go all out.....
You are right, though,
A horned helmet would be much more apropos.