Hi, My Name Is…….Um……What Was My Name Again?

This post is related, albeit very indirectly, to another post I wrote about having wanderlust.  One of my points about having wanderlust was that when you live in the same small community all of your life, people have a LOT of preconceived notions about who you are.  If you’re not careful, this can lead to a full-blown identity crisis.

As a mom, this is always in danger of happening anyway.  Our kids define us, but at the same time, they sort of suck the you out of you–it’s a vicious circle, isn’t it?  I think all moms fall victim to that “I’m so-and-so’s mom” thing.  This is partly our own fault, because we allow it to happen–even encourage it at times.  (Unless the kid is doing something bad–then they must belong to someone else.)

I don’t know if I’m hormonal (likely), if my nerves are shot (also likely), or if I’m just losing my mind (most likely), but it seems like this person that used to be me has completely vanished.  I don’t even know her anymore.  I tried to think of the last time someone actually said my first name out loud, and I’m coming up with nothing here, people.  Hopefully my memory is just bad (it is) but I don’t think that’s all it is.  Consider the following:

  • I seldom (never) go to the doctor, but there are a lot of people in this house, so it always seems like somebody is going to the doctor or dentist all the time, and I’m the coordinator.  In other words, I constantly start telephone conversations like this: “Hi, this is Evelyn’s mom,” or “Hi, this is Matt’s wife,” or “Hi, this is Mindy’s sister….” you get the idea.  (I had some dental work done several months ago, and I think the main reason I liked all of them so much is they all called me by my first name.)
  • I have officially reached the age where I am “Mrs. Last Name.”  This bothers me more than anyone could ever, ever understand.  I can correct people and they will keep doing it anyway.  It’s not that I mind having the name or anything, but I have always connected that Mrs. Last Name thing with old people.  Now it’s me.
  • Everyone around knows The Grandfather.  He’s a Baptist minister, so when I say everyone, I literally mean it.  Remember when I said that some of this is partly our own fault? I’m guilty here–if someone doesn’t know me, I say, “I’m The Grandfather’s granddaughter.” They immediately know who I am.  I have more about this, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
  • My sister is almost as well-known as The Grandfather.  When we are out, we run into people who know her, and I don’t have a clue who they are.  Here comes the kicker.  These kind but ultimately  upsetting people say, “Are you Mindy’s mom?”  Now, what goes through my mind is, “Screw you, asshole, I’m three years older than her! WTF?” What I actually say and do is grin really big and say, “No, I’m her sister.” Then she giggles the rest of the day.  I guess at least it’s making her happy. Sigh.
  • People are constantly telling my mom, “You can’t be old enough to have a daughter that old!”  While this is a compliment to my mother (who really doesn’t look old to enough to be my mom) it certainly isn’t a compliment towards me.

What happened here?  My whole life is wrapped up in other people.

Now, before anyone feels compelled to give me a lecture about how fortunate I am to be surrounded by my family and loved ones, and how wonderful it is that they depend on me as much as they do, do me a favor and shut up.  Save your breath.  I know I’m fortunate.  I have the best friends now that I have ever had, and I met them because of my kids.  I always felt sort of pointless, but when my kids were born, that went away.  I believe my job in life is to be a caretaker, and I’m okay with that.  It suits me.

What I don’t understand is how I went in so completely.  People assume a lot about me because of who I’m related to.  Here’s that thing with The Grandfather I was talking about:  A couple of years ago, before I gave up on a lost cause and started homeschooling my son, I was attending our local school board meetings and trying to do things to improve our local schools.  I was all set to give my first of a few impassioned speeches, and my turn was up.  Just as I was about to stand, the board president (against whom I have nothing personal, but who always reminds me vaguely of Patrick Star) said “Aren’t you The Grandfather’s granddaughter?” The eyes of the other members lit up as well.  Now, when my sister was in school, The Grandfather was a terror at all board meetings, demanding handicap accessibility and a million other things.  He would make a point to get quoted in the paper.  Now, The Grandfather is a good man, but very, um, frank (yeah, that’ll have to do) and he just says whatever he thinks.  So immediately all of the people there who knew him sort of braced themselves, and I felt I had a reputation earned for me before they had ever even met me.  I don’t mind too much, because I think, in all honesty, I’ve quite lived up to that reputation, but still……

Isn’t it ironic? We spend our youth trying to “find ourselves” and then we spend our adulthood trying to recover who we were when we were young.  Blah.  I don’t want to be a teenager again–no thanks.  I have no desire to live just for myself, because I think that is a selfish, unhealthy way to live.  What I want is to have someone form an opinion about me that has something to do with who I actually am.

I’ll let you know just as soon as I figure that out.  In the meantime: Hi, my name is Janice.


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4 Comments on "Hi, My Name Is…….Um……What Was My Name Again?"

  1. Marlee
    18/08/2011 at 12:31 am Permalink

    Hahaha my last post was about this exact same thing! I’ve had a bit of a reality check and realized I’ve been going to school for something I don’t want to do for the rest of my life. Ha so reading this was ironic! I love your blog, am a new follower!


  2. Sweaty
    18/08/2011 at 3:22 am Permalink

    I think my whole life’s been defined by the people around me, so I could totally relate to how you feel. It’s not troubling to the point that it made me have an identity crisis or anything like that–but enough to make me wonder what it would feel like to be known for my own…, um,… whatever it is that makes a person well-known 😉

    Just like you, I’m surrounded by people who are, lets just say, quite well-known in my community. My grandfather was a famous doctor; my mother is a highly-respected researcher, college professor, AND a well-known beauty. My husband is a widely-known businessman (and former infamous lothario, ugh). And my sister-in-law is a high profile socialite who graced the pages of many social magazines.

    To top it off, now I am a mother to a little girl, who for some reason, is a social butterfly. She’s only almost seven years-old, and yet it seems that everybody in town knows her. I myself am an extreme introvert, but my daughter is the total opposite. She would easily converse with adults on topics of their choices.

    So you could imagine, Sweaty the housewife vs. all of the above? Uh huh, not a chance. I have been the Doctor’s granddaughter, the Mother’s daughter, the Husband’s wife, the Sis-in-Law’s sister, the Daughter’s Mom. Dang if it didn’t make me feel small!

    At the same time though, being the introvert and the almost anti-social person that I am, I also wonder if I’d be ready to carry the pressure and the ‘consequences’ of being well-known. I know that people always scrutinized my mother to the point that her personal life (ie. marriage etc) was like a public knowledge. My husband has had death threats from his competitors. There are so many gossips and nasty rumors going on about my sister-in-law, I wonder how she could stand it. I know that if I were to have those things happen to me, I wouldn’t be able to handle it.

    Which brought me to my role as a wife and a mother. Which undoubtedly could be very boring indeed if compared to all of the above. But at the same time, being a believer in Jesus Christ, I know that everything happens for a reason. And that God knows what’s best for me, even if I myself don’t. It took me a long while to be okay with just being me. Even now, there are times when I would sigh and whine, ‘how more boring could my life be?’ but then I remind myself that I would probably be even more unhappy if I were to live the life that others have.

  3. Janice
    18/08/2011 at 11:13 am Permalink

    I don’t think I want anyone else’s life–certainly not someone in the public eye–it’s my own I wonder about sometimes. I cleaned all morning this morning because school started and I was actually able to do a few things, and I quickly saw how boring and repetitive my life would be without anyone to take care of. Like I said, it’s more that I wish people could know the me that I actually am, not the one they think I am. (Boy, was that a convoluted sentence or what?)

  4. Jenny Georgio-who
    18/08/2011 at 1:18 pm Permalink

    Hi Janice,

    I found you through the Blog Hop and I’m happy I did. One of the biggest problems I have with being a mom now is that I’m pretty much known as “Demi’s Mom”. While I love being my daughter’s mother I don’t ONLY want to be that.

    People think its funny or odd that I get upset about that but hey, I’m Jenny and I just so happen to be George’s wife, Gina’s daughter, Demi’s mother, Alex’s sister…I’m still me.

    So make sure you say your name often, it’ll get the point across. “Hi, I’m Janice, Matt’s wife…”

    I look forward to reading more from you!

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