You know what? I’m not one of those women who mourns getting older. In fact, the last two years or so, I’ve been relishing the fact that I was beginning to really settle in to the Real Beth. I started to feel like I knew who I really was, what I really wanted out of life.
True, I’ve always had strong opinions and I project a confident self image, but that confidence only goes up to a certain point and, for most of my life, my identity has been shaped by whatever sub-culture I’ve found myself in (nice girl, band nerd, regular nerd, mega-Christian, etc).
So, as I got older and started to cast off things that I really didn’t need, I began to feel free from having to fit into a role that I wasn’t really meant to play. I started to walk with my shoulders up, laugh loudly, say what I thought with utter confidence.
Enter: a 9-year-old boy.
The transition for Alex has been a bit easier than mine. I mean, he took a few weeks off work, but his schedule, with the exception of weekends and evenings, looks largely the same. He was able to return to work and attain some level of normalcy. I, on the otherhand, have been taking maternity leave here and there and I’ve been juggling snack time and playdates and Medicaid and appointments and camp rules and adoption reporting.
It has really thrown a wrench in this whole “I know who I am” business. Even when I can sneak away to work, I find myself wondering whether my son is having a good time and making friends. The night before he starts a new camp, I can’t sleep because my brain won’t stop running through scenarios where he spends the whole day alone, wishing he was at home. At a girl’s night out, I inevitably end up talking adoption ethics and parenting techniques (even though none of the other girls have kids yet).
I mean, this inner struggle about my identity doesn’t affect my ability to parent my son most days. It’s not like he says, “Beth, can I have a piece of cheese?” and I stand there staring at him until I say, “Who are you? Why am I here?” as I walk off into the sunset.
No, no, it’s in the quiet moments, like right now, when I start to feel the full affects of being responsible for this tiny, ever-hungry hurricane and the toll that it has taken on my identity.
This emotion I’m feeling is not regret over adopting my son; rather, I think I’m grieving the loss of feeling confident that I’m on the right track, that I could enter my 30s knowing full well the depth of who I am and my identity. And, you know what? It was probably a farce that I could figure out who I am in my late 20s and then live the rest of my life feeling settled and sure of myself. I was chasing a pipe dream that that’s how life works.
I guess I’m realizing that the cycle of life and death occurs over and over again as we begin new chapters in our lives. It’s not a one time thing. The old self dies, a new one arises.
From child to college student. From single woman to wife. From confident 28-year-old to a weepy, weirdly introspective mother.
As I was thinking about writing this blog, I realized that this is a fresh start for me as much as it is for him. I can choose to be a more patient Beth. I can choose to gossip less because little ears are listening. More generous, more prayerful, less sassy.
And as I think about this opportunity I’ve been given, I’m incredibly grateful. Yes, I will still mourn the confident, easy-going thing that I had going, but God works the best in my most unsure moments.
He’s got plenty of room to work right now.
(and I’m excited about it)