Saturday, May 19, 2012

Who?



Who?  Who?  Whooooo am I now?
I hear the concept of "identity" discussed a lot around major life changes.  There is talk about teenagers establishing their identity as they become more independent in high school.  It seems many of us felt this process was complete at some point in college, and then had an identity crisis upon graduating and entering the "real world." 

And then there is the identity shift of becoming a mother.  This is often discussed as an intense experience taking place in the first months - perhaps the first year - of motherhood.  I realize that I am only 7-and-a-half months out of that first year with A-Train...but I am becoming increasingly unconvinced that my identity will ever be static again.  And, upon reading my journals from middle school and high school, I think I am realizing that it never was static...that I have always been changing....that "who I am" and how I need and want people (including my children) to see me is constantly shifting and growing.

When Bean was born, his personality and our bond broke me down and rebuilt me as his mother - the mother that he needed.  Yes, it was an abrupt, forceful shift.  Eventually, I became comfortable with a baby almost always in my arms and only slightly less frequently at my breast.   Even into his second year, my identity was largely as "Bean's mom," and that went right along with having him in my arms and at my breast much more often than I had ever anticipated.  Then I became pregnant with A-Train and had to grow into his mom and a mother-of-two - though I think there was a lot less growing to do the second time around (both because I'd already become a mother before and the "becoming" was familiar, and because of A-Train's disposition).

For 4 years I have spent much of my days with a baby and/or toddler in my arms.  For 2 months before that, my life revolved entirely around keeping Bean and myself safe and healthy.  For months before that, the first thing people knew about me - because it was visible - was that I would soon become a mother.

But now Bean is now rarely in my arms (though snuggles and sitting near me and hugs and kisses are still abundant).  A-Train is a much more independent toddler than his brother was, so he's not much in my arms either (though much more so than Bean, currently). 

And, as I am nursing less and less, I have more opportunity to be apart from my children.  I suddenly feel like I'm showing up as things other than "Bean and A-Train's Mom."  Literally, I am showing up to events and meetings with a different role to play.  I go places and do things without them.  I have goals that are completely independent of them.

They are entering new phases all the time, and I feel like I am finally entering a new phase of my own that is not purely a reaction to them.  For the most part, this is a good and secure thing for me - mostly I am thrilled to have space again (physical and mental).  It's amazing to have my own goals again and to be able to accomplish them!

The one thing I am struggling with is this:  the concept of beauty and fashion in my current identity.  I used to have a consistent beauty routine of hair removal and styling, picking out clothes, makeup, etc.

Not only am I not sure now which parts of that beauty routine I even find unobjectionable, but I'm not sure what my personal style is, how to mix it with my lifestyle, or how much anybody really cares.  In some sense I feel invisible.  Who really cares if I pluck my eyebrows?  Is it worth the time?  Whose attention am I trying to get?  Certainly I no longer care to catch the eye of the opposite sex, aside from my husband who doesn't care about any aspect of that beauty routine.  So do I care to pluck my eyebrows?  To put on makeup?

And back then, I was in my mid-twenties!  Now, in my early 30s, I have little clue what is even age-appropriate.  It certainly doesn't help that I do not watch tv and do not tend to read fashion/celebrity magazines.  I've tried to get some inspiration from blogs (including how to stretch what's already in my closet, rather than go out and make new purchases...)

But just who do I think I am?  Who do I want to be?

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