Happy Mom Series: What Did You Used to Be?

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?

To share your own blast from the past images, please visit Facebook.com/ResourcefulMommy and upload pictures of who you were before you became a parent.

Written by: Amy Lupold Bair

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23 Comments

  • This would have to be a two part question for me. Since I was 17 when J was born, I was pretty much a child before I was a parent.

    In the 10 year gap between him being born and getting married and having K & D, I was a retail manager, working on my Associates in Social Work.

    Yes, me…working with people. I know. Shut up.

  • Maman A Droit

    I was the customer service manager at a Target. It had nothing to do with my degree and terrible hours. I’m so happy to be a Target shopper only now!

  • The words that I would use to describe myself before “mom” would be Wife and a person learning her way in life. I had a rough upbringing, so I didn’t discover things until after I met my husband. I am still trying to discover what I want to do in life, since I am no longer in telecommunications. But the 2 things I do love about me is loving wife of 19 years and mother of 2 wonderful sons!!

  • This post resonates with me for a few reasons, but mostly because I’m in a state of flux, again, similar to that I experienced when I was 20 or so, wondering what to DO with myself, careerwise.

    Prior to kids, I had many jobs, but found the career I loved in radio. I fell into a part-time, Sunday morning fill in position for a local top 40 station, and discovered that, not only did I find a passion for performing on-air, but that I was pretty decent at it. I gained a small following (I STRESS the word small) and was offered a full time job, in the coveted PM drive time slot. I rocked it and radio was my LIFE. During that time, I also oversaw music direction, and all station promotions.

    A small part of me misses the perks of the job, the recognition I’d get around town (you’re THAT Sherry!!! Oh, HI!) and the amazing staff who became my dearest friends. But, I don’t miss the piddly paycheck or the LONG hours or the constant battles of being the only woman in a male dominated field.

    I can only hope I can find another passion filled career post-kids as I had pre-children…

  • I was an accountant for Reynolds Metals. In a training program, I got to work in all areas of the company and finally settled in Corporate Accounting. I was always terrified of speaking to an audience and was painfully shy. I got over that pretty quickly when I was paid to manage people – I realized I better get over that fast! Money is quite a motivator! Now I could talk forever to an audience. weird…

    When I married and got pregnant, I so very much wanted to quit my job and stay home. I had a windfall inheritance of around 90k when I was 3 months along, and knew that was a sign. I’ve been home now 21 years. Would kinda like to go back to an office job and be around people who don’t look like tiny square heads… 🙂

  • Before I was a mom, I wanted to be a mom. And then I had no clue what I wanted to be so I majored in English at college because hey, I liked to read and knew I could pass it with relative ease. I minored in Latin American Studies after three years of Spanish in HS. Sadly, I don’t speak Spanish as much as I used to and this makes me sad.

    I met my husband right after college, got married, and had kids shortly thereafter. In between though, I had lots of temp jobs, mostly office work. I toyed with going to grad school for Industrial Psychology for a bit but then our first was born and I got PPD, recovered, had a second kid and had PPD even worse, finally recovered, had a third kid, blogged, didn’t get PPD, and well, here I am. Applying for grad school for Social Psychology and hoping very much to get in sooner rather than later!

  • I was a teacher too. But after my first degree I went home and worked at my parents tour company writing their brochure, presenting at trade shows and traveling a lot. I love seeing old photos of bloggy friends nice peek into their past.

  • Before being mom, I was unhappily wed. Yes, I got married at 21 (stupidly), 10 years into the marriage and I had a 2yr old and a divorce in my hands! Yes, I did get a 3yr B.A. but did nothing with it since I got out of school early (never completing what I had set out to do) and went to work to make money since we were young, newlywed, and stupid!

    Fast forward to today….I’m 42, have a 12 yr old, many emotional scars, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I do have a wonderful new partner though!

  • Before I was a mom, I did PR in the tourism industry for over six years. I spent my days pitching stories, writing press releases, wine-ing and dining travel writers and exploring my city. It was an awesome job, but now I realize that the *most* awesome job is that of being a SAHM. Nothing beats it – not even a “vacation in my own backyard”.

  • I was a high school school student and before that, a child. I had my daughter at 18, fresh out of high school and ruining the scholarship at a New York school I’d worked so hard to get. I was a writer, though, and it was a writing scholarship, so it’s all kind of working out in the end. It just took me ten years to find my way back through single parenthood, a psychology and a Spanish degree at the local university, a career in nonprofits, marriage and becoming a mom again three more times. I wonder what my 30s will bring?

  • Janet

    I don’t know the answer to the question, “What did you used to be?” I find that funny not because my life changed when I had children, but simply because I’m now in the tail-end of life and I don’t want any words to define who I am. They’d be too limiting. I’m so multifaceted that even I don’t know whose image will be staring back at me when I look into the mirror each day. There’s the mom Janet, the engineer Janet, the high-tech geek Janet. There’s the do-your-homework Janet, the pick-up-your-room Janet, the bring-home-takeout-for-dinner Janet. I guess if you had to define who I was both pre- and post-children, a few things would be constant. I’m the best darn friend you’ve ever had, and I’m gonna fight the Grim Reaper tooth and nail when he/she comes to take me away. Please don’t ask me to define myself any more than that. I simply can’t do it. 😉

    (PS I love your photo, but better yet, Amy, I love your story. Thanks for sharing it.)

  • I think this is something we all struggle with. In my story, I was well-established in my second career, one I love with all my heart, when I found out I was expecting my daughter. I never considered NOT working (except for a few postpastum moments) because what I do helps me hold onto who I am outside of being an adoring mother. In my previous life, I was a tv producer. I am now a territory manager and motivational speaker for Weight Watchers. Making the decision to work and be a mom means I have to do a lot of juggling, but its kept me from losing me. I also think the fact that I waited until I was 30 helped me really establish who I was .. being a mom just added to it.

  • Love it, Ames. And FYI, you’re still hawt, but I love that dress!!

    I was a person dominated by her wild side, unwilling to listen to the quiet long enough to lean into any single endeavor. I didn’t try for fear of failing, and lacked a sense of purpose and connection. I just wasn’t sure why I was here, and tried to quiet the question by living in rowdy chaos. Sometimes happily, sometimes not, but always a maelstrom.
    My first daughter was stillborn when I was single and 19, and then I knew my purpose. But it was gone.

    I made one last frantic dive into the wild side, a dark leap that almost killed me. But it didn’t.

    I emerged and tried to rebuild what had never been there- order and structure. I went to college, I tried to drive forward. When I got pregnant, still single, it didn’t feel like a disaster. As my mom said, “We know the worst thing is not a baby, The worst thing is a baby dying.”

    My parent’s support buoyed me as I finished journalism school and worked in a gym childcare so my baby could go with me. I went from being someone who failed out of three colleges and three high schools to someone who never, ever got below a B and always sat in the front row.

    It was a weirdly easy transformation, as though a switch had flipped. It felt like, “Oh! THESE were all I had to do??? Write stuff down? Turn it in? I get it.”
    My focus was so much on my son that everything else became an efficiently turned task so I could get back to the Mom business.

    14 years after his birth and two other children later, I still carry a stripe of wild- the man I married when my son was 5 plays bass in a loud heavy metal band. I stood on the side of stage last night and watched him play in front of screaming writhing happy people, and I nodded approvingly like the Brady Bunch mom, beaming with pride. I don’t need to chase wild anymore. My family has allowed me to embrace strengths and weaknesses and just throw my hat in the ring and try everyday, and I am so grateful to them for it. And for seeing my efforts and saying, “Good job, Mom!”

    My 14 year old said this weekend, “I think it’s pretty cool that you went from working in the gym to some of the stuff you do now. I bet you didn’t know you’d ever be here.” And he’s right.

    Thanks for the help, Kid.:)

  • Before becoming Mom, I was a nanny and a Starbucks barista [and you bet I still remember how to make all those drinks!]. Before that I worked as a camp counselor with kids when I was in high school.

    And now, as I think about going back to school and getting a degree [when my kids themselves are in school] I think I want to be an occupational therapist and work with special needs kids.

    All my life I’ve wanted to be a mom or to work with kids. I don’t know anything different 🙂

  • The summer of 1993, I wanted to write, travel, and be the aunt who spoiled the nieces and nephews but not a mom. Then in 1995, the year I became a mom, I had just come home after living in South Carolina for 3 months and was a sophomore in college going to school for human services and social work. I continued to attend college off and on until after E was born in 01 – I decided I couldn’t stomach the idea of coming into a home and taking apart families when my own was so dysfunctional itself.

    I think the bigger answer to this was that I was young, funny, fearless, spontaneous, creative, energetic, and self-assured.

  • I was a drug addict. I stopped doing drugs through Christ’s mercy about 3 weeks before I got pregnant. Bet you didn’t see that one coming. I used to be absolutely nothing. Now I’m a mom. How did that happen? 🙂

  • Sometimes it’s hard to remember I used to have an idenity before being “mommy” but I used to be a kindergarten teacher and even then I got called “mom” by mistake a lot. With students that young I certainly felt I had to do a lot of mothering. Sometimes…okay a lot of times, it was the parents who needed more mothering and handholding then the kids, LOL! Praying I won’t be “that” parent next year when mine heads off to kindergarten.

  • Eureka M

    What did I used to be? Before I was a mother I was A social butterfly, Walk into a room and demanded attention. Free Spirited young lady. My life was fast paced school, work, boyfriend, get-togethers. As A mom I am now married have a lot more structure and major responsibilities. I needed this new lifestyle because I couldn’t see myself without my beautiful life. I am Truly blessed and grateful

  • Oh this is great. I actually stopped to think- what DID I used to be? Well, at 14 I was a city commissioner (no joke, long story). Joined the Army my senior year of high school at 17, became a medical guinea pig, then joined the Air Force ROTC (majored in Aerospace sciences and military studies). I’m now a stay-at-home mom and pre-k substitute. I’m happier now than I ever have been!

  • What did I used to be? lol, truthfully? a scatter brained idiot who hardly made wise choices about anything! I now work for a large community based,non profit mental health organization, I’m still an idiot but I’m now a compassionate, focused idiot:)

  • Tasha

    Wow. This really has me thinking. I don’t know who I am or was anymore. I used to be a scientist, sewer, crafter, and a lover of books and the library. Now I just know that Lola loves the library. But, as I think about 2011 I will add this to my goals. I need to resuscitate me.