Sunday, May 8, 2011

What's in a Name?

Mother's Day 2011. Happy day to all who are mothers, all who have mothered, and all who wish to do so. Giving birth to a child, an idea, or yourself, these actions, they all seem to blend. I know that labor is painful, I do remember those 20 hours it took on a cold December day, 18 years ago. But I also know that the creation process, whether it be a work of art, thesis, business plan or any other project that uses blood, metaphorical blood, is birth. The expectation, the fear, the excitement leading up to the fact - the pain and  release during birth, and the emptiness one experiences after. I sit here on a beautiful May Mother's day, just having completed three years work of intense undergraduate work, my baby heading off to college in a few short months, and I feel the emptiness, the after birth. Cardinals are singing, the dogs are groaning in their sleep, and I am in the midst of a transition period. A very scary transition period. When you peel away the identities, the names, the labels, mother, student, employee etc, who do you become? When the job of raising a child is over, when the work is completed, when you are left in front of the computer screen, who are you? I think this, can you call it, existential crisis, has me befuddled.

I am about to become officially divorced, and for the last year have been going back and forth about my name. Am I my husband's name, I was married for 13 years, it is the name on my child's birth certificate. Or am I the woman I was before marriage? What does a name signify? Who do I become if I take on a different name completely? Who do I become if I earn that degree? Names and Labels. What is in a name? My last name and my graduation, in the same post. Are they connected in some way? I trust that they are, just as I trust that I will know the answers to all the above questions, when I am ready and open to receive those answers. Right now I am questioning, I am thinking my way through when it might just be ok to sit back and watch the birds. They, after all, don't seem to be upset with their names. Crows and Ravens never quabble, and Great Blue Herons seem to take it in stride. So maybe for today I will be grateful, grateful for my mother, grateful to be a mother (it really was the best Christmas present ever) and grateful to be sitting here, in front of the computer screen, listening to the birds and pondering my name.

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