There are days when I feel so happy to just be the me I am right now; the mother and wife, chief cook and bottle washer. This is the me who looks with satisfaction at the gleam of freshly steam-cleaned floors, smells the turkey lasagna baking, and smiles at the laughter of her raucous children. This is the me who wakes to the whimpering of a hungry baby at 3am and happily, if groggily, nurses him in the quiet of deep night; the me whose heart still skips a beat when that chubby little hand reaches up and touches my face.
Sounds like I'm little Suzy Homemaker, right? I am pretty good at it, most of the time. There's another me, though, lurking where the dust bunnies hide behind the furniture. She comes out and makes me question what I do. Words pop up, words like accomplishment, career, intellect, ambition, contribution.
And worse ....
Recently I made contact with several friends from my old life, the life I had before I met and married and moved halfway across the world. They are women I went to university with, who now have careers like the one I might have had myself. It's sort of tough to hear about. It makes me wonder if I missed my opportunity. I always thought I would be successful, professionally speaking.
I'm not a good "professional mom". I don't go to all the PTA meetings, or get on committees. I'm not able to volunteer in the classroom or chaperone field trips (babies and toddlers tend to disrupt the class), although I do my best to provide the supplies the teacher needs. Maybe I'll get better at it as my younger children reach school age.
But I like to think I'm good at the more important stuff. In my eight and a half years of parenting, my "am-I-doing-this-right" barometer has always been bedtime. If the kids go to bed happy I know I've been successful that day.
And when I'm deep in my identity angst, I think about my grandmother. My Nana was a woman who was married for 51 years, raised three children and worked at a department store. She was a storybook grandmother: one who cooked amazing meals; picked perfect gifts; wrote letters and cards in her beautiful handwriting; and loved wholeheartedly her 18 grandchildren. She was always, always there for me. She didn't have a high-powered career, she wasn't rich or famous, but when she died her family was around her. There were scores of people at her memorial service, friends and family whose lives she made better. And we still use her recipes and tell the stories that keep her alive in our hearts.
That's a legacy I think I could live with.