“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?
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.