I have thought about this and thought about this, nearly every day since my son was born.
If someone were to ask you to describe yourself, what would come to mind? If you had to give a one word answer, how would you demonstrate who you think you are?
There was a point in my life where I found that question simple. “I am me. Mandy.” And when I would see women driving around with vanity plates that said, “JOSH S MOM” or “MOM OF 3” – bumper stickers that proclaimed “World’s best MOM” – I would look down upon them. I thought it was horrible that they thought so little about who they were before their children were born, that the person they ‘used to be’ no longer mattered. I always knew that I would never be like that.
When Ronan was born, a funny thing happened. I spent my time with him, all of my time. I didn’t go anywhere without him. I took him to the mall and the grocery store and the park. He became like another part of me – only a part that I was so proud of, I couldn’t help but show him off. I wanted all the world to see the new bit of Mandy. I absolutely loved every minute of being with my boy, and didn’t wish for time to be left alone. Who wants time off from their left arm, or their ear?
Then came the day that I went somewhere without Ronan. I was just Mandy again. “Just Mandy.”
I. Hated. Every. Minute. I felt like I was naked, like a part of my body had been taken away from me. I walked around Target, and I thought, Every person here that looks at me just sees ME. They don’t SEE that I’m a mom. They don’t see that I’ve given birth, and don’t see the wonderful little miracle that I get to share with the world, how cute and sweet and funny he is. They only see me. I wanted to shout out, “I AM A MOM! I HAVE A SON!” I wanted to wear a sign that told people that I wasn’t just some other person walking through the store, I was special. When I saw another mom that had her children with her, I wanted to say to her, “You know, I’m a mom too. I’m part of the club.” I still find it hard to resist the urge to point out my mother-ness.
It was then that I realized that I haven’t lost my old identity. Mandy isn’t gone. She’s just changed a little bit. She’s become a little something more. And she’s very proud of the fact that she has created a life – and that new little piece of her is worth being proud of. I’m not Just Mandy, any more. I’m Mandy Plus. Being a mom isn’t the ONLY thing that makes me special… it’s just one of the sweetest things.