There are several groups of women I have found myself a part of over the years: organizations, study groups, gatherings of friends, etc. Recently, I was sitting in the audience of one such group when a mom of two stood up to share a bit about her and her family. She mentioned she used to be a softball catcher, a trombone player, and had gotten her masters at UF.
Here was a stay-at-home mom with two small children whom she is currently homeschooling and whose quiet disposition and love of motherhood had in my mind pegged her as someone who must have grown up thinking that’s what she had always aspired to be. She was the second woman that week who had surprised me with her unlikely background.
This got me thinking, who were we before the titles currently given to us? The words “wife,” “mom,” “teacher,” “accountant” or “(insert profession or hobby here)” are definitely part of who we are, but they’re not all of who we are. We are intricate, complicated creatures with interests, passions, and histories that have shaped us into the person we are today. The problem is, with all the time that our titles demand from us, we have a tendency to forget those details.
A few weeks ago I was in the Florida Keys for my sister’s wedding. This trip was the perfect occasion to jog my memory of the details that comprise who I am. My husband and I had the opportunity to go on a date night so I wanted to get a scooter and see Key West. As I rode with my arms around my man and the wind in my hair, I felt a mixture of confidence, freedom, and gratitude for the reminder that I am more than a meal-maker, laundry-folder, and diaper-changer. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled and proud to have the role of mom, but that wasn’t who I always was and it isn’t who I’m always going to be. It’s good to remember that somewhere way down beneath the to-do lists, grocery runs, and fatigue that you are still in there! The salt on my skin that night and the sense of adventure I felt reminded me that at one time, I was a free spirit who had backpacked through Europe and scooted around the cliffs of Greece. As I walked hand in hand along the moon-basked shore with my husband, it reminded us that there was an “us” before kids and if we take the time to nurture that there will be an “us” after them as well.
[Our current titles] are definitely part of who we are, but they’re not all of who we are.
If you want something fun to bring up in a conversation this week, ask someone “who were you before?” Since asking that question I have discovered a refugee from Colombia, a former CEO who now has six children, a former journalist, a former street punk who used to proudly don a red Mohawk, a former river raft guide, and a Crossfit champion. Not one of these would I have ever guessed by looking at them or even knowing them on a surface level.
You will be delighted and intrigued by the answer you receive when you ask a woman about the time before her current role and she will most likely be delighted to be asked about something other than sleep schedules and sippy cups. It will help you not to box in that person you think you know so much about, and it will remind you not to box yourself in either!
Each of us have exerted grit and experienced grace throughout our lives. It’s our joy as women to share those moments with one another—reminding ourselves of who we are, what we’ve accomplished, and memories we hold dear.
You’ll also like Choosing to Recharge, Freedom From the Glass Ceiling and the Glass Slipper, and How Do I Know What Defines Me?