Identity has always been a somewhat illusive thing for me. I’ve never really felt like I fit comfortably into any specific ‘category’, for lack of a better term. After I had my daughter, it didn’t seem to matter as much anymore. Keeping her alive, healthy, and growing was more important.
I know many mothers who have felt the same way, and I think society encourages it. Mothers are expected to put their own needs and wants behind their child’s. As my daughter grew more independent, I tried to dig free some of my identity from beneath the layers of motherhood. But I always thought of my daughter first.
However, now I am facing the very strange idea of being without my daughter for an extended period of time. Without her in my immediate vicinity, my mind is less occupied by her day-to-day care. I am free to notice details I hadn’t though about with for a long time. As strange as it may sound, I found myself looking in the mirror and not necessarily recognizing the individual staring back at me.
This is really the first time since my early twenties that I don’t constantly have anyone else’s needs to put before my own. It’s somewhat strange to think about the person I am, or the things I want to accomplish, without also immediately thinking of my daughter. Which leads me to the main question I’ve had these days: without the veil of motherhood, who am I?
Now, I’m not talking about in terms of career, gender, race, hobbies, nationality, etc. Society places more importance on those aspects anyway, so those identifiers come to mind more quickly. But they don’t really reveal much about the individual. The details I am talking about are the more personal aspects: what kind of person am I? Why am I the way I am? Did I grow up to be the woman I thought I would be?
Honest self reflection or examination isn’t necessarily easy nor fun. But I do believe it is vital for personal growth. And with this unique and somewhat foreign stretch of time laid out before me, want to accomplish as much growth as I can stand.