As I've gone through the various seasons of my life, I've found that my identity changes depending on what is important to me at any given time. Of course there are the constant core values that have always defined my innermost self, but my outward identity has varied over the years. As a child I was a tomboy. That tomboy grew into a teenager who identified herself as an athlete. After high school the athlete label followed me into college, where I ran on the university's track team. For so many years, that was who I was. I was a runner. An athlete. I practiced 5 or 6 days a week 8 months out of the year. My weekends were spent at track meets, my evenings in the weight room. When people asked me what my hobbies were, I easily responded that I ran track. My hobby was exercise.
And then everything changed. One week after graduating from college, I competed in my final track meet. There was so much suspense leading up to it and the meet itself was fantastic. I set new personal records, and our team did well. And then it was over. I cried, of course. Just like I'd cried in high school after my soccer team lost our semi-final match in penalty kicks, and I knew that was the last time I would ever really play soccer like that. I still play soccer occasionally, just like I still run, but it's not the same. It will never be the same again. And that makes me sad.
In the case of track, it didn't really hit me that it was over until a few months after the season ended. When all of my friends (and even my husband) were starting school again, but I wasn't. When my old teammates started practicing again, but I didn't. I'd get texts from friends saying things like "you are so lucky you didn't have to do those 800's with us today!" and I never thought I'd miss 800's. But in moments like that, I did. I quickly tired of staying home and watching TV, so I started volunteering at a local high school and soon got a job as the head soccer coach and assistant track coach. Coaching helped fill the void. When I'd go watch my old teammates at track meets, the fact that I was now coaching helped me not miss it so bad.
Coaching helped me find a new identity. I wasn't a college athlete anymore, my new name was Coach. And I loved it. When I got pregnant with the twins, I was sad to leave that title behind. But with the sad came so much excitement over my new name: Mommy.
I quickly realized that being a stay-at-home-mom is hard. Really, really hard, actually. But in the midst of the hard, is the overwhelming wonderful. There are times as a mom to my 3 little munchkins that I feel like I don't really know who I am. When people ask me what my hobbies are now, I don't know what to say. If I answered honestly, I would have to say my hobbies are watching Parenthood, Gilmore Girls and Psych during naptime. But somehow I don't think that's the answer they're looking for. I could also say my hobbies are changing diapers, making dinner, doing dishes, washing and folding pile after pile of laundry. But again, not the right answer. I used to like reading, crafting, hiking, and running. But who in the world honestly has time for all of those things when you are raising little children? Maybe superwoman does. I don't.
It can be so easy to lose my identity in the monotony of the everyday. But it's all about perspective. When I think of things from a more eternal point-of-view, I know there is nothing else I'd rather be doing. I wouldn't trade all of the reading, hiking, running, or underwater basket weaving in the world for this opportunity to raise my children. My new name is Mommy, and it's my favorite name yet.