I love this grainy old picture of me, and not because I was much thinner and had the long, flowing tresses that twenty-one year olds actually have the time and energy to maintain. I love this image of me because it captures a particular moment in my life that was powerful and special and to which I can never return.
You know that space in time…the one where you are on the cusp of becoming a young professional, you are about to begin life as an adult.
I went to my final sorority formal event that evening with a friend – my future husband was away at graduate school – and by that point I had taught high school English for a semester and knew that I was heading to the University of Pennsylvania for graduate school in the fall. Had I been asked to define myself I might have said that I was a teacher, a student, a thinker, a scholar, a friend, a girlfriend. Once I gave birth to my first child that question suddenly had one answer: mom.
There is something about becoming a mother that seems to erase everything that came before it. Certainly I continued to thrive on learning, devouring books in stolen moments, even taking online continuing education classes, but were someone to have stopped me on the street and said, “What do you do?” I would not have said that I was a teacher. I would have simply said that I am a mother.
One of the most powerful examples of this utter transformation of identity is evidenced in the world of bloggers. I have gotten to know hundreds of women online, many of them well enough that I could tell you their favorite foods, intimate details about their marriage, and their worst fears for their children. But I can tell you almost no one’s career before becoming a parent. To me, the timeline of their lives begins with the birth of their first child.
Today I want to get to know the parents who read this blog. I want to know…what did you used to be?