Identity Crisis

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“Become Who You Are.”
            — Friedrich Nietzsche

The last few days, I’ve been going through a bit of an identity crisis. Standing among all the moms at Alex’s preschool—put together, dressed well, made up, totally with-it—I feel like my fourth grade self again. Awkward, fashion-challenged, and a bit apart, whether anyone intended it to be that way or not.

I spent our Valentine’s date driving my husband crazy by analyzing what makes me different from them, and why. Why is it that they come in looking relaxed after school, while my heart pounds hurry, hurry, hurry? How is it that they chat like lifelong friends, while I, the woman who never shuts up, can’t think of one single thing to say that doesn’t sound like I’m trying to fit in? How is it that all of us with children the same age, loving the same superheroes and transformers, are so different? Am I jealous? Or just insecure? 

And then Kristen, at We Are That Family, posted this link. And as I read this birth story, something happened to me. I remembered who I am.

I am Julianna’s mother.

Being Julianna’s mom means something different than being Alex’s or Nicholas’s mom. Becoming Alex’s mom made me part of “the club”. Becoming Nicholas’s mom meant that I had to learn “zone defense,” as Christian says.

But becoming Julianna’s mother meant something altogether different. It meant learning words like Atrial Septal Defect and Ventricular Septal Defect; concepts like oxygen saturation and individualized family service plan; and acronyms like SPOE and PEEP.

Being Julianna’s mother means that I have to think through the day differently, and figure out ways to teach my three-year-old such basic concepts as off, on, out, in. It means that I spend three hours in a pulomonologist’s office, only to be referred to an ENT to do it all again. It means that I have to grit my teeth and space jump out of my comfort zone to call legislators, despite hating the political process top to bottom.

“But you’re more than just Julianna’s mother,” Christian objects—and of course, he’s right. I am much more than the mother of a child with Down syndrome. But being Julianna’s mother is the thing that takes the Kate who would have emerged from the ordinary crucible of parenthood and brands her with a new purpose.

And if that means that I sail into schools and offices with speed and intensity, no nonsense in my sloppy clothes and frizzy hair and un-made-up face, because I have too much to do to bother with getting all dolled up…then so be it. I am Julianna’s mom. I am become what I am.

The birthday girl

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11 thoughts on “Identity Crisis

  1. I’m not Julianna’s mom, so how is it that I feel the same way, with my sloppy or simple clothes and my unmade-up face, and just not fitting in? I’ll have to think on that I guess.

    Great new look to the blog too! Sorry, it’s been awhile since I’ve read it. Although, I see Bill reading it all the time 🙂

    • I think when we have these moments it’s always a stop and look at your life kind of moment; a survey the choices you have made and where they have landed you kind of moment. And then when you understand that, you get to decide, is it OK with me to not fit in, or is there something I ought to change?

      For me, that “aha” moment was Julianna. Other people will have other explanations just as valid.

      I have hopes that someday I’ll get everything under control enough to be able to start exploring some of the fashion-lack and makeup-lack that makes me feel conspicuous. Sometime AFTER I’m done nursing (for good), getting spit up on, and having snot rubbed on my clothes without warning (at least, on a regular basis!). When all my kids get a little bigger, start sleeping through the night and letting ME sleep through the night, yada yada yada. 😉

  2. And, as stressful as it is, you have something of great value to reflect on when you wonder why it is that you do not fit in with these women. It seems highly likely that many of them share your feeling of not fitting in, but they just have to put more effort into “looking the part” since they do not have the blessing of something more important to focus on.

    Obviously I do not really know what I am talking about, but humans (and women in particular) seem inherently insecure and uncertain about where we fit in with others.

  3. Andrea

    It’s evident to me that they come in looking relaxed because they have been relaxing all day. You, on the other hand are a crusader! A go-getter! A writer! A composer! I love you for it!

  4. I can relate with the identity thing. I have been in many situations that I don’t feel like I fit in and it’s quite humiliating but humility is a good thing , so we don’t become like pompous asses right? Anyway I thought having down syndrome was so that we could become more compassionate and caring and hopefully it would lead us to love and that is a good thing also! Love and humility are the keys to christian unity and we must all possess these virtues if we are to be true christians .

  5. Julianna is lucky to have you as her momma! I feel the exact same way, so I don’t think you are alone. Although I know I don’t fit in because I am not the religious preference of the 90% of the parents in this town and that is the club I will gladly not belong to. And I will chose comfort in who I am over ‘trying to fit in’ any day of the week. 😉

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