Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Who Am I, Anyway?

There’s a poignant line from a song in the musical “A Chorus Line” in which the characters ask themselves, “Who am I, anyway? Am I my resume?” I think that line has been echoed by countless people through the ages, as they try to define themselves. Am I my job? Does what I do (or what I’ve done) define who I am? Since my current occupation is “stay at home mom”, it’s definitely a question that I struggle with.

Before I was married, I defined myself by what I did as a profession and what I did as an avocation. I was a technical project coordinator and a musical theater performer. It’s what I did, it’s who I was, and it’s where I got my validation and satisfaction. I was a valued employee and a valued cast member, and that made me feel good about myself. And when I got married, I layered being Herb’s wife on top of that. I work hard at being a good wife and a good partner, and Herb appreciates that.

But when I got laid off, I lost one of those layers. I didn’t have a paycheck or a performance review to make me feel like I was accomplishing something. And then I got pregnant with Ryan, and there was definitely a feeling of accomplishment there! But when he was born and I got into the cycle of early motherhood where it seemed like all I ever got done was feeding the baby, changing the baby, and putting the baby (and occasionally, myself) to bed, I lost that feeling of accomplishment.

Being a mom is an amazing and wonderful thing. But it’s all too easy to feel like you’re not really DOING anything. Which is kind of silly, because you’re molding an entire human being! You’re helping him learn about the world around him, keeping him safe as he explores, encouraging him to develop new skills. But that work has a definite tendency to take over everything else. I spend less time alone with my husband, because we’re both spending time with Ryan. I spend less time doing things for my husband, because I’m wrapped up in taking care of Ryan. My musical theater career has fallen by the wayside, because I would need to find someone to watch Ryan while I’m at rehearsals and performances, plus I’d need to find time to learn my lines, songs, blocking, and choreography - not easy to do with a busy baby in my lap! Even my time with friends is curtailed because it’s just not the same when I’m hauling a baby around with me, not to mention that my “free” time is now during the day instead of evenings and late nights.

So sometimes I need a bit of a reality check to remind myself that what I do is worthwhile. What I do is admirable. What I do is HARD. What I do is part – but not all – of who I am. But I think it’s still one of the very best parts.

Hi, my name is Sandy and I’m a MOM!

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