The Case of Missing Identity
So who has lost their identity? Could it be you?
Identity – it’s a hot topic these days. Stolen identity. Fake identity. Missing identity.
In this space, we are all about parents, single moms, grandparents and others wrapped up in raising and guiding children. It isn’t that we don’t love our roles in our families. It is just that while getting involved as life swirls around us, we may have forgotten how to nurture ourselves. So here is a post for all you awesome kid-carers:
Lily: Mom? Someone called you Carrie the other day. Don’t they know your name?
Me: I don’t know. I think people know my name. Are you sure they didn’t say Claudia?
Lily: I guess. Carrie. Claudia. That’s not your name anyway.
Me: What do you mean?
Lily: Your name is Mom.
Okay, I am mom. Was honey to my husband. Sister to my siblings. Lili’s mom to the folks at school. Ron’s wife to the people at church. Bev’s daughter to her friends. I love all those roles. But something felt off. No one was sure about my name.
Consequently, I realized people only identified me by who they saw walking beside me.
What’s with that? Can’t anyone remember my name? Is it even important for people to know my name? I thought that for true connections, where we touch each other on those deep levels, it is important to know each other’s first names given them at birth. Maybe it’s just me, but it seemed important.
However, to be honest, I was contributing to the loss of my own identity. “Hi, I’m Lily’s mom .” “Yes, I am Bev’s daughter.” “Yep, Ron and I were married 25 years.” So to fix that, I decided to use my name (which admittedly is difficult to remember) every chance I got, not as a prideful thing, but to share my true identity with people on that deeper level.
I also used the name of every mom who crossed my path to acknowledge them and also because I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one experiencing disappearing identity.
Something else was wrong, and it came to me in an aha moment.
About that time, it also dawned on me that I had ceased doing stuff I loved, amounting to more loss of personal identity. I decided to try to clarify my identity for myself and for people if they cared to know me. So, with my newfound boldness, I was determined to resurrect some fun activities as a reward for being that stellar mom, wife, daughter, sister, grammy, etc.
So, what did I love to do? Could I even remember? Who are you and what do you love to do?
I’ll be transparent with you. This person called “me” likes to sip tea in the morning sun on the back patio. She loves things that sparkle. She loves to dance when no one is watching. She likes day trips in the car with the group Casting Crowns on the radio. She loves to eat jelly beans, lots of jelly beans. And buy shoes. And take bubble baths. And naps.
Wow! I was remembering what it was that used to bring me joy before my full life with my family became my super important, but only, source of joy. So, it was time to make some modifications without shortchanging my family.
Time to implement “the identity fix.”
It seemed logical to start a day with devotions and tea on the patio while the sun warmed my bare feet. Then I got a shirt with sparkles to scratch the itch for glitter. I managed a rare day trip to one of the 7+ Wonders of the World, a mere four hours from my home and took Casting Crowns with me to sing through the open sun roof. And I brought along sugar free jelly beans. Lots of them. (Really, that wasn’t a very good idea on a road trip. They taste good, but sugar free candies are not so nice as they digest. If you have ever done that, you are painfully familiar with what I mean.)
I purchased a pair of shoes to replace the tennis shoes that might have been as old as my firstborn. I made use of the garden tub in the master bath and have been known to stop for a nap on days I am not at the office and others are occupied. Even though it was almost an insurmountable effort very week I worked out the details to fit in something I love to do. Does it detract from my family? No, it enhances all the other roles I have since I also have a role for me.
What do you love to do? The secret for you, mom, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, grandmother is to “try to remember when life was so tender when dreams were kept beside your pillow” – as the song goes – and recreate some of those moments for yourself. Nurturing yourself. Recovering your identity by treating yourself now and then. And for a few moments, allowing yourself to revel in the simple joy of rediscovering you.
For more Lily stories, check out claudiathomason.com/blog.