Are You ‘Jonah’s Mom’? The Identity Crisis of Parenthood

Check your driver’s license really quick – what is your name? Is it ‘So-and-So’s Mom’? Probably not. My guess is that your given name (or married name) appears. So why is it that we are OK with being known as our kids’ mom for 18 years of our lives (or more!), rather than our given name? It was not your parents’ intent for you to stop using the name they settled on just for you after months of thoughtful consideration. That’s actually quite rude of you!

Shakespeare notwithstanding, a name isn’t just a name in this case. In fact, if you allow people to introduce you in this manner (“this is Jonah’s mom!”), I would daresay you are committing a crime against your own individualism and probably permitting other more destructive behaviors in your home.

Hypocrite-Alert:  I am guilty of this. Everyone knows me as my kids’ mom. I allowed this to happen. I’m slowly correcting the behavior, but it’s taking time and conscious effort. I also know that, in certain cases, this manner of identifying us is productive. After all, if your kid is one of 40 in the classroom (we taxpayers can cover elevator attendants for congress – $440,000/year – so they don’t have to push the buttons themselves, but funding the schools so we can reduce class sizes? There is no money for that!), the teacher can only associate you with his student by playing this little name association game. I get that. My problem is when it becomes the rule rather than the exception.

If your actual name is replaced with ‘So-and-So’s Mom’ more than once or twice, it’s a sign that there is probably a reversal of power taking place in your home. Your kids have become the main players with you dutifully following behind as anonymous mom-bots. You have officially caved to the idea that your life must be put on hold during the process of raising your kids. Not making the leap with me? Let’s analyze.

What happens when you meet someone new? Perhaps it is another mom at the school or a new coach. How do you introduce yourself? What do you lead with? I guarantee that you say, “Hi, I’m So-and-So’s mom!” or “Hi, I’m Suzy Smith…I’m Jonah Smith’s mom!” Every time you do this, you’re losing a piece of your identity. You have declared to this new person that your kid is the center – the essence – of who you are, and that your kid OWNS YOU.

Words have power, and perception is absolutely reality. You would never walk into a business meeting and introduce yourself as “Joe’s employee”. What kind of knucklehead would do that? Yet we do it every single day – and with minors who don’t pay us! Do you see what I mean? Your kids are absorbing this subservience like a superpower and using it against you. They are more demanding as a result (and dismissive of your time and priorities), and more apt to display a casual, disrespectful attitude towards other adults. Since I am the ‘other adult’ in your child’s life, I don’t appreciate this. I expect to be called Mrs. Burnedoutmama and nothing else. Chances are this kid is either not addressing me by name or, even worse, refers to me as ‘Jonah’s mom’ (which is extra bad because I don’t have a kid named Jonah, but you get what I mean).

If I had it to do all over again, I would start a new trend. Instead of, “Hi, I’m So-and-So’s mom”, I would say, “Hi, I’m One Burned Out Mama. Jonah is my son.” See the difference? It’s a slight shift in possession. It clearly states my identity (no, that’s not my real name, silly, but it might as well be due to how perfectly it describes me) while also acknowledging the connection to my child.

I Love My Children!

Remember, your children are an extension of you…not vice versa. Nothing good will come from wrapping your identity around them, and if you feel pride when someone calls you ‘Jonah’s Mom’, you might as well get that driver’s license changed because your old name no longer exists…and you kind of don’t exist outside of your kid’s life either.

About oneburnedoutmama

Ever so slightly burned out mama. Love kids. Not so much on a few of the parents. Hate folding laundry. Love long stretches of silence. Prefer rain over sun and football over HGTV.
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