I think part of what prevents me from more actively engaging in the MDA (which, um, OK, would mean doing the first active thing. . .) is the fear that once I dip a toe into the water, being an MD mom will define me. This has me thinking, contemplating just what it is, or who it is I am. As you’ll read, I am nowhere near an answer. Someone told me once that my blog was kind of self-serving. That I couldn’t really write about it because it isn’t my thing, it’s my son’s thing. Self-servingness is the point of the exercise here. It’s the whole damn point. This isn’t for him, or maybe it will be one day, I don’t know. I know that for now, it’s definitely the thing for me.
Once I got my masters degree, I became a speech-language pathologist. When we meet people, we often ask them “what do you do?” When people ask what it is I do, that’s what I say, that I am an SLP. But I’m not just that. Why do we often define ourselves by our career choices? I talk about career- and practice-related topics and philosophies a lot, but I’m not one of those quintessential SLPs; it’s not my hallmark identifier the way it is for many of my colleagues.
I’m a wife and mother, two roles I cherish and work my ass off to be good at. Two roles I can never fulfill adequately enough for the boys whose lives I share and owe the world. Is it strange that neither wife nor mother define me ultimately? What’s wrong with me? They’re the things I spend the whole of my heart and mind on, but I just don’t feel like I define myself or derive my sole identity as someone else’s something. I’m Tom’s wife, my boys’ mom. There’s possession in that, and that takes away the me. Right?
I am a fiercely loyal friend. My dad once said to me that if I could count on one hand the number of true friends I have, I am lucky. I’ve been more than two hands’ worth of lucky, that being the case. I have friends I talk to frequently, more that I’m in contact with infrequently, and I have those gems who, despite not seeing them often enough, I know would be there for me in my own zombie apocalypse were I only to call. On the other hand, I have been the doormat in many friendships during my lifetime. I remember the good stuff, and when true colors are revealed, I want not to see them. I hold on to the good things, and overlook what doesn’t fit my happy memories in order to sustain relationships. Does that make me by definition a good friend? Sometimes. Does it make me stupid? Sometimes. Is a loyal friend the thing I am? The phrase blind loyalty is doing laps around the back of my brain right now, and I just can’t kick it. The same can be said of my loyalty to my employer, the city in which we live, and a collection of things to which I pledge allegiance. I’m overloyal. And now I’m confused.
I realize we each are more than the sum of our parts, yet our parts are identifiers that others affix to us, don’t you think? Which one’s Wendy? “Oh, she’s the one who. . .” and you complete the sentence with whatever defining characteristic you see through your individual lens of experience with me. I could be the pain in the ass speech path program support teacher; I could be the crazy Barenaked Ladies one; I could be the one with the hair (oh, 1989, how I loved you); I could be the one whose favorite color is orange or who gave up bakery three years ago. I am all of these.
I don’t know what is the one, singular thing I am, but I know what don’t want it right now to be: I don’t want to be the one whose kid has muscular dystrophy. I understand this is not changing; I am that mom, but I’m not ONLY that. I’m basing it on a very small n, but it feels like being that mom, becomes who you are. *confused, contemplative sigh*
How do you define yourself? Are you the thing? What kind of thing are you? What about my big kid, will my son become the thing? Will I? As he matures, how can I help him understand what will define him when I can’t answer the question about myself? Unlike most of us, my son has a finite number of days left in his life that he can still walk. He can’t be “the one who’s not going to be able to walk in his adulthood.” I wonder what he will be–a writer? a scientist? an ice cream man who plays in a band? That was his career dream at age four, and I’m not gonna lie, when speech therapy gets to be too much, I might just co-opt his dream. Ice cream and music are two life-sustaining forces for me, maybe even defining. . .
In other news–You guys!! Seriously? The 1% stuff is killing me! Thanks for your comments on the last post. What a fun birthday present those have been for me!