Whenever there is a major life change one experiences a shift in who they are. How they are affected and how they take the next steps in life all shape their identity. I don’t think age matters in this case. Teenagers usually spend all their time discovering who they are and who they want to be, which finally solidifies at about the age of twenty.
Looking back, I can pinpoint a few life changing moments that have shaped who I am today. Thinking back to my childhood I remember first the many trips my parents took me and my brothers on — camping, hiking, and road trips — and then recall the security I felt with my mom staying at home to care for us and homeschool us. Though these early memories aren’t really a life changing moment, they do shape who I am inside. I remember when I was two or three our neighbors dog kept barking and running around being all “look at me I’m huge, pet me!” which scared me to death. (They say someone can’t remember that far back but if there is a strong emotional reaction to the event, according to psychology, then the event gets burned into the memory. All memory is attached to strong emotion.) So, I have, still, a small fear of dogs.
Just embarking on my teenage years I was recruited into the adult choir at church. Our church did not have a youth choir yet and just because I tagged along with my dad they all welcomed me with excitement into their fold. I took two major steps that year: I forced myself to be brave enough to stand in front of church with others and I was brave enough to sing my little heart out with the other mezzo sopranos.
Working at EAA for four years brought a whole different “me” out. I went from shy, “I’ll do whatever you say” Camille to letting a hidden leadership attitude out.
When I decided to pay for a novel-writing course I realized that writing was all I wanted to do. It was who I was becoming.
Getting married to a Navy man marked another “goal” off my list. I was a wife, and let’s bring on the kids!
OK, not so fast. Michael may be an only child.
All this is to say that having a baby — becoming a mother (it never matters how long you knew you wanted it) — has been probably the biggest life change event yet. So who am I now?
This is the question that I need to answer. It’s easy to say that I’m a wife, mother, and a college student. But who am I really? I need to look at what I want for my life. I need to decide what is important to me. Are they the same things as before, or do I need to let some things go?
Doing a “Spring cleaning” of my identity could be a bad idea, too. At first when I realized that I had become a mother I felt like I had to throw everything that I was before away. A writer? I have no time anymore. College student? Are you kidding me? Everything that I was suddenly felt like it had to change. But that is not what should happen. Yes, becoming a mom has changed more than anything ever has, but it doesn’t mean I throw who I am at the core out the window. Michael needs to slip into our lives (and we do need to adjust) and not take over our lives. Becoming a mother isn’t about flipping a magical switch. It’s about fitting Michael into my life and fitting my routine with Michael.
So who am I? First and foremost I am God’s daughter — His favorite, I might add. *wink* How I live every part of my life is dependent on how I live for Him. My identity is based on who I am as God’s daughter, not who I am as a woman trying to do everything on her own and make it perfect. Secondly, I am a wife. What I do at home and abroad (abroad meaning beyond my front door) is my part in our family. Thirdly, I’m a mother. Thirdly. “Wait a second,” my brain interrupts, “Michael depends solely upon you and you are his main caregiver!” Well yeah, but does that mean I let him overwhelm me and take over my priorities? He’s my son, and if I let him take over like that then he will be one spoiled little brat.
After reminding myself of these three things, the most tricky part now is to determine who I am as a person now. I don’t have those answers yet, but I’m realizing that I need to sit down in a quiet place and work this out. Who do I want to be? It almost feels like being asked as a kid, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” again.
A question to ponder. Do you know who you are, after listing your top three priorities? And how often does it change?