The Day I Lost My Identity

27 Sep

I couldn’t sleep this past weekend.  My mind was a whirl with all of the things I have to do over the next few weeks (I am feeling overwhelmed with trying to find a balance between my responsibilities at work, at home and to my self care).

 At about 3 am on Saturday night I decided to watch a movie – I ended up selecting “Everybody’s Fine.”  Strong celebrities are featured in it including Robert DeNiro.  I found the movie to be incredibly sad on two counts (1) Robert DeNiro’s character reminded me very much of my dad and (2) I could identify with Robert DeNiro’s desire to see his children and make sure they were happy.

One of the things that his daughter, played by Drew Barrymore, asked Robert DeNiro’s character was what did he want to be when he grew up.  He responded with I didn’t really have a dream – I just wanted my children to have one.  This made me think very much of my parents.  My parents, I believe, made many sacrifices for my sister and I (and continue to do so) at their expense.   I know they did it because they loved us so much but part of me thinks that being a parent became their identity.  I think that in many cases their sense of self is entirely or largely derived from being a parent.

I will never forget the day I thought my identity was lost.  It was at my son’s daycare center where one of the parents referred to me as “son’s” mommy.  This made me feel like I had lost my identity and the essence of who I was.  It felt to me that I was no longer an individual but insead identified as my child’s mother. 

In order to preserve my identity as a mommy, I have done several diffeerent things including running, reading and decorating our apartment to be a more contempory home.  Sometimes, I think I am selfish for wanting to explore my interests (outside of my son) because I believe any time away from him is selfish and at his detriment.   Nonetheless, I think that if i did not have the little free time I have come to enjoy as a result of my son’s visitation schedule, I may have truly lost my identity (in my inner life) and would not have an identity outside of being my son’s mother, my husband’s wife.  I felt like I lost myself during my marriage.  Now that I have had an opportunity to explore my interests on my free time I’ve learned that I don’t want to lose myself in my child.  I want us to grow together.   I don’t want to use my parental role to become more complete.  I want to be complete as a person and as my son’s mother. I find that the time away and my outside interests have enhanced all of the relationships around me and I believe that it will enhance my relationship with my son as he learns to appreciate my “outside” interests.

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