Once, when I was 29, a student asked me how old I was. It was the beginning of the school year, and she was a freshman so I was new to her.
“Twenty-six,” I answered and kept going on with that night’s workshop.
About thirty minutes later, as the students were quietly working on something, it dawned on me that I had totally told her the wrong age. I was 29 not 26, but, somehow, I had never, in my mind, come to think of myself as a 29 year old.
“I am so sorry. I just realized that I told you I was 26, and I am not. I am 29. I just don’t ever think about my age and kinda forgot how old I actually was.”
Needless to say, the student who asked was totally confused. How does someone forget her age?
A few weeks ago, a dear friend, who is also a mom of a toddler, emailed me with a note that said something close to this: “Have you collected any good information on flu and swine flu vaccinations for children and the potential benefits vs. risks?”
I thought, Ah, bummer, I’m not writing about vaccines right now and so I haven’t done any research and have no sense of what parents should consider with the new swine flu vaccine. Wish I could help her out.
A day later, it dawned on me. She wasn’t asking me as a writer who has a wellness/health beat. She was asking me as a mom. As in I am a woman who now needs to make decisions about flu shots for my child. Totally missed that one.
On Tuesday night, I was teaching a journaling class and I was having participants consider the way they balance their lives. I gave them categories for consideration including family. When it came time for me to consider how much energy I was putting into my family, I gave myself a “3” because even though I had talked to my sister and broher in the last two days, it had been a few days since I had talked to my parents. A few minutes later, as I was reviewing all the pieces of the puzzle, it occurred to me that the category FAMILY no longer referenced only my relationship with my siblings and parents. I have a family now!
I mean, come on, everyday, I obviously operate in the world as a mom. I feed my baby boy, sing to him, run up and down the driveway with him in his car, put him down for naps, tell him “that’s not a toy” more times that I can count. I redirect, change diapers, give him medicine, do laundry, dress him. BF and I negotiate schedules, amend our approaches, regroup. We are so clearly a family. Like the time that I said I was 26 when I was really 29, even in the midst of doing these grown-up things, I sometimes forget that I have the role that goes with them. I am somebody’s mother. I am half of a head of household team, I am the CEO with BF of a family. And the fact that it took me 8 months to realize OH, THAT’S WHAT THIS IS kinda cracks me up.