I'm not a parent. Well, not yet. I'm currently 3 weeks away from my due date with my first child. I haven't yet wiped away tears and boogers; or snuck in the pantry to eat my favorite snack; or sat up all night rocking a sick child like so many stories I've heard about and read about from "real" parents. I have however experienced all of the first time parent jitters of wondering how I'll be as a parent and what will happen to ME as a person. Will I be "Mom" and nothing else? My time will soon come and I'll experience all of the messy, sticky, wonderful moments of being a parent. But asking myself "WHO AM I" began months before the new parent jitters and thoughts set in.
My husband and I have been married for over four years and it took me over four years to start the process of changing my last name. I was never against a name change, or for it, I just didn't do it. Then when I became pregnant a friend of ours shared that when his wife was pregnant and in the hospital with their first, she had not yet changed her name and so all of the hospital tags and records for the baby had her last name, not his. Even though they were able to easily put his last name on the birth certificate, it upset him that when he went to go look for the baby in the nursery it didn't say his name. My first thought was, "Oh my gosh you're right. I need to change my name before the baby is born! He can't have my name in the hospital!" And so I started the not-so-fun process of changing my last name to my husband's.
As I was going through each tedious step (license, passport, credit cards - I never realized just how many things are associated with your last name) it dawned on me. I'm no longer ME. That part of my identity is now gone. Don't get me wrong. Of course I'm still the same goofy girl who loves a good book and a good piece of chocolate. I'm still the same person. And I compromised by adding my husband's last name to the end of mine and hyphenating the whole thing, but I couldn't help but think that was it. The end of my name being just that. MY NAME. Now it's mine and HIS name. To some of you this may sound silly because it's just a name and doesn't define you as a person, but to me it was the first step in realizing that I'm no longer the same girl. First I became a wife and soon I'll become a mom. Is that who I am now? Wife. Mom.
I'm also Daughter. Sister. Fur Parent. Friend.
All of which are huge jobs wrapped up in very small words, but at this point in my life it's hard not to miss that girl before she was also Wife and Mom.
And when she had her own last name.