I just celebrated my birthday on December 1st, my second since I started my blog. This past year provided me with some insights to discover who I am at this point in my life. So often and so normal for us to live our lives being defined by our association to others – somebody’s daughter, sister, girlfriend, wife, mother, boss and friend. Those depictions are often starting points and only a glimpse into the mystery of our identities.
Birthdays are an interesting phenomenon; an exciting expectancy of looking forward to milestones when you’re young, and a reluctant anticipation as you get older, but you certainly don’t want them to stop. When I was young, I looked forward to celebrating my birthdays and was eager to age. I so envied my older siblings who were going out to parties and enjoying life. I would watch my mom pack food for my brothers and their friends as they went to Coney Island and on other overnight trips. I would listen to my dad yell and scream when they would return home late as they hardly ever made curfew. We already had a large family, and my brothers’ friends practically lived with us. I thought the life of a teenager was full of parties, fun and laughter. I idolized my brothers and adored being their younger sister.
When I turned 16, I thought I would be able to hang out like my brothers and have fun. It didn’t happen mostly because I was a girl, and we did not have the same privileges as the boys. Instead of going to the school discos, I was in church. Tuesday night was Bible study, Friday night church services, and on Sundays, Sunday school first and then regular church services. I couldn’t wait to get out of school, and I certainly did not miss the “L7” tag that came along with being a “square” for NOT partying. But, I was being a good daughter.
At 18, I had all of these dreams about what I would do as an adult like vote, and it did not include having a baby, but hey – it happened and no regrets. At 21, I could officially drink. At 25, I finally felt like a real adult. I had my own apartment and did what I wanted to do. At 28, I bought my first home and was travelling all over the U.S. for work. In my early thirties, I got married and had children. I prided myself on being a good wife and mother.
My children are the joy of my life. I used to be referred to as somebody’s daughter, sister, girlfriend, wife, and now I am referred to as somebody’s mom. Honestly, my heart warms with that designation because it’s an exertion that I continuously try to perfect on a daily basis. However, my children are my center. They keep me grounded. Some people, unknowingly, get trapped in those representations without ever finding their own identities. They look in the mirror and a branded reflection stares back. Your individuality is defined only by your association to somebody else and you have to hold on at any cost or else, you’re lost.
Last year, I wanted to do something to uncover my own uniqueness which is why I started this blog. I knew I was different from the person I was over 20 years ago, when I was last single. I had my foundation and I had my center which concealed the ambiguity of my new identity. The underlying obligation of doing something to write about forced me to be engaged in my life. In doing so, I figured out my likes and dislikes. In retrospect, I would take this any day over being a couch potato and continuing to define myself only through my work and by my children, who have their own lives.
In the words of one of my favorite poets, E. E. Cummings – “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” To re-enter into the world alone after floating around as an incidental shadow in another’s creation is a challenging fete. There is an acclimation period for everything, including being single. This year, my birthday gift to myself was finding myself. For the first time in many years, I felt comfortable in my skin. I recognized that it takes courage to find and live in your own identity.
Peace and Blessings,