When someone asks me what I do, I can never answer. I’m a mom. I own my own business. I’m in the Cosmetic Industry. I used to be… You get the picture. I am not sure “what I do” because I am not sure who I am anymore.
I used to know what I was-a writing teacher, then a Literacy Specialist. The second title was most appealing because people wanted to ask about it. The second title meant I had an advanced degree and I thought that gave me an identity. I stood very tall when I was a Literacy Specialist. I helped people and I knew stuff-I was a specialist after all. Never mind that I hated it and wondered what in the world I was doing most days.
Then I had kids and I started a business that does not involve any of my degrees but that I love. I am able to work my job almost seamlessly around my family so that I am never quite sure when I’m working and when I’m being a mother. Through my business I have met some incredible women with impressive jobs. I have met women who research cures for Cancer. I have met women who work on Capital Hill. I have met doctors and lawyers and students studying to be both. I have met stay at home moms who recognize that while some day they may go back to a traditional job, for now their work at home is the most important job in the world to them. I have met many women and they can all answer the question, “what do you do?” with a very impressive noun. They are sure of their identities. I never was, until today.
I spent the bulk of the day packing my family of five for an interstate move and taking care of two sick kids. For the morning and early afternoon, I was mom. Then, in the evening I drove to a work appointment with a woman who lives in DC. She is a Capital Hill Staffer. You should know her boss. They do important things where she works. I found myself in awe of this young woman not only because of her job but because of her life as a single city girl-an identity I never tried as I got married fresh out of college. As I sat marveling at this woman and all the things I thought made her more impressive than me, she said something that caught me off guard. She said, “thank you”. She thanked me for coming. She thanked me for making her comfortable enough to talk about her appearance and how she wanted to change it. She thanked me for recommending all the things she would need to “feel better about herself during the day”. She had been to other Professionals and they had not given her the same level of care or information that I provided. This amazing woman who does important things thanked me, for helping her-I was stunned.
It occurred to me driving home that it does not matter if I don’t have a simple Noun for my job. Helping people is part of my identity-whether it is as a mother or as an image consultant. I know exactly who I am. And my job, while it’s not curing cancer or making laws, is important because I help women feel better about who they are. If I know one thing for sure it’s that a woman who feels good about herself is unstoppable. I don’t know exactly how I’ll answer the question, “what do you do?” next time. Maybe I’ll say I’m a work from home mom or an image consultant or an entrepreneur. Whatever I do say, I’ll be confidant in who I am and the important work that I do.
Crisis averted. World saved.
There is one marked difference between 2009 and 1950 that sets Silver Spring apart. The ethnic and cultural diversity that I grew up with and my kids are experiencing now is such a gift. My daughter’s Kindergarten class looks like a meeting of the UN. She is learning so much from her friends with different backgrounds and it’s far more valuable than any reading or math skill she is acquiring in the process. The beauty of this diversity is that even though we may all came here from different places, we embrace our sameness. Our goal is to give our kids the best life we can and to enjoy what we learn from one another. The support and kindness that you find in the neighborhoods of Silver Spring doesn’t extend only to those who look or even think like you. There are no lines of demarcation here. We are neighbors, parents and Silver Springers. Even if we don’t speak the same language or come from the same place, we all share a commonality that makes us true neighbors. That is what I love about Silver Spring and that is what I’m learning doesn’t ring true of every suburb of every big city. Silver Spring is unique. And I feel lucky to have it in my bones.
Thank you Silver Spring for giving me my roots and for giving my kids a foundation they can take with them anywhere they go.
If The Girl was born to bring peace to our family, The Middle One came around just when we needed a little joy. It’s sad that I mark my children’s births with the downward spiral of my mom’s life, but that is the truth of my world. Danny arrived when our lives were literally falling apart. The Husband was 4 months out of work. We were onto move number three as new jobs necessitated new houses. My mother was in the final months of her battle with cancer and she was beginning to let It win.
Then, in the midst of all this chaos, after a two week and 15 hour delay, My sweet First Boy came quite reluctantly into our world. He was battered and bruised and slept like a perfect little angel right next to me for three days of postpartum bliss. If I could have stayed in the cocoon of my warm hospital during that cold December I would have. He allowed me to forget for a while that anything was wrong with the world.
The Middle One has brought immeasurable joy since the minute he arrived. First off, I know I’m his mom, but others would agree-he’s adorable. His blond hair is almost white in the summer and his eyes are so blue that he sneezes every time he walks into the sun. When someone coined the phrase “he’s all boy” I swear they meant it for this one. He’s messy and loud and funny and precocious. He has two speeds: fast and asleep. He love racecars and superheroes. Every move he makes has a corresponding sound effect. He loves bodily noises and watching himself pee provides endless moments of entertainment.
You will laugh with him and at him and sometimes to keep from killing him. Then, when you least expect it and probably when you are at your wit’s end, he’ll speed by you and plant a kiss on your hip and yell, “love you mom” and you will forget any trials he may have caused you that day. He fills your heart like no other. Because, in addition to all these boy things, The Middle One is outwardly kind, polite and sweet. He adores his older sister and loves to make her proud. He seeks her approval so much that he is not above dressing in heels. The Middle One takes care of his little brother with a quiet tenderness that stops you in your tracks. When He performs the song Oh Danny Boy (and man does he perform!) with perfect pitch, it makes even the toughest person in the room tear up.