For as long as I can remember, my identity has been attached to someone else. As a young girl, I was my mother’s child and her parent’s first grandchild. That tag has continued on, they can never change, and a few more have evolved. When my mother remarried, I became her husband’s step-daughter. In high school, I was Jenny’s friend. Doesn’t anybody remember me or know my name? As soon as graduation was over, I shipped off to Great Lakes for boot camp.
After having prepared for the last four years in U.S. Naval Sea Cadets, enlisting was an obvious option. Not only did I feel that I had a fairly good understanding of what I was getting into, I was proud of myself for making the decision to serve my country. It was a decision that I will never regret. Never-mind that I became known by my last name primarily. Those that did not know my last name tended to refer to me as ‘the girl with the truck’ as I happened to be the only girl on base who drove one. What about my name? Why does nobody know my name?
Then it happened, I got married, my last name changed and I became HIS wife. It did not get better when we moved to his hometown. I was his wife, his parent’s daughter-in-law, and his sister’s sister-in-law. Unfortunately, my husband was not of an upstanding character and it did nothing to help me feel like I was not a failure. It was not an association I was proud of. I could not decide whether I was more upset or relieved that people there did not know my name.
When I moved out and started a new life, I quickly became known as my kids’ mom. Considering that I am the spitting image of my mother, people around here who knew her first put the resemblance together and I was, once again, my mother’s child. Just when I thought I was used to referring to myself by either of the two namesakes, I got remarried. My husband happens to be a very popular fellow known for his helpful nature. Not only am I now referred to as his wife, which I do not really mind, but people actually stop me when I am out in town and ask me if I am his wife. When I respond positively, I am either asked to convey either gratitude for some good deed he did or to see if he might know how to help them with their mechanical problem. For this, I am glad to help. Still it did nag at me that nobody knew my name.
I have resigned myself to the knowledge that my children will be associated with my mother as her grandchildren, with my ex-husband as his children, and with my current husband as his step-children. Not with me as my children. Somehow in the grand scheme of life, my individual identity has been overlooked and, you know what, I am okay with that. So what if nobody knows my name? I am proud to be mother’s daughter, my children’s mother, and my husband’s wife. It is a great identity indeed!
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