Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The identity of MOM

A friend of mine was sharing her feelings on becoming a mom of a school age kid, as her oldest begins kindergarten this week.  I think we all go through a myriad of emotions as our children reach different milestones, but for some reason the start of kindergarten seems to hit most of us the hardest.  Whether we work outside the home or at home (let's face it, every mom WORKS), seeing our little ones enter the realm of school is a tough pill to swallow. 

Our little babies are swallowed by backpacks (well mine is, she's tiny), meeting new kids, they have a new teacher, they're exposed to all kinds of new things.  Will they make friends?  Will they find the bathroom?  Will they ask questions if they need help?  Will they be able to open their lunch box?  Will they know where to go when they get off the bus, and where to go to get back on at the end of the day? 

Unlike the comfort of the day care, where we walk them to a room, give them hugs and kisses and leave them with a teacher who will give them a hug or rest them in their lap, now we're shoving them out of the car (minivan, perhaps?) at the sidewalk hoping they get to their classroom.  It's almost like airport security for some of us.  You can only go so far before you hit the "no parents zone", defined by an imaginary line, and the kids are effectively on their own.  That's if you're lucky enough that your kid will let you go as far as the imaginary line, and they're not already embarassed to be getting dropped off by their parents and getting a hug and kiss in front of the whole school.  I'm sorry, I digress.

Oh, there are so many worries we have as parents as we send our kids off to school.  My day is coming tomorrow, and I am only hoping I can sleep tonight.  And that I remember to pack her lunch.  But that's another story altogether.

On the flip side of the coin, for me (and many moms) this means that I'm an adult.  I'm one of those people they call 'parents'.  What the hell?  When did that happen?  Seriously?  Only adults do that.  I'm not an adult.  Wait, what?  That's *my* kid going to school?  Come on, you're nuts.  I'm.......wait.....um.....sigh.....

I almost can't finish the sentence.  I'm an adult.  OK, so my first sign might have come when I signed my first apartment lease, or when I started my first job, surpassed 10 years at my second job, or even when I bought my first place.  But.it.didn't.  I have been in denial for many years now.  Reality is slowly coming at me from behind, striking me in the back of the head as if to say, "Hey, Lady!".  And we all know what it means when they start to call you Lady.  Craptastic.

I pull up to a softball game (intercompany beer league) with two huge car seats in my back seat and remember when I used to pull up with beer in the back seat. I look around at all the 20-somethings going out for happy hour after work like I used to, and I'm going to pick up the kids. I see all the skinny girls walking around in cute clothes, and can't remember the last time I bought anything tighter than a garbage bag, let alone the last time I bought something for myself at all.


But then I get home. Home is my world. My family and kids are the focus at home. Nothing else matters. I don't have the same crisis when I'm at home. It's when I'm out, usually without them, that I feel like I'm not the same me that I was 10 years ago. And I went through the Chuck Taylors yesterday when I was at Target, remembering my first pair back in college, hoping that I might get myself another pair really soon. I also recently donated my beloved Doc Marten Mary Janes. And last night at Meijer, when I took Ethel to the "back to school" section, I felt like I should run for the hills. I seriously felt conflicted.

I feel like a huge dork so often, and can't believe that I have become who/what I am right now. I'm conformist in ways I never imagined I could ever be. I work in an office, a corporate office. I own a home, a Saturn, and live in the 'burbs. It doesn't get much worse than that.

But it doesn't get much better, either. I'm really hoping that I can resolve my identity conflict soon because I often feel like I spend more time on that than I do enjoying where I am today, and thriving as the mom my kids should have, and the wife my husband married. Still, I have to say, I wouldn't trade where I'm at today for anything.
 
I think that after dropping my daughter off at school tomorrow, I'll return home and put in my best cassette copy of Upstairs at Eric's {note to self - find cassette player} and dance with Fred.  While I cry.  Then I'll drink more coffee.
 
Updates to follow.