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Monday, August 26, 2013

What I Learned the First Day of School

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Today was the first day of public school where I live. It was also the first day that our university students had class. My Twitter feed and Facebook newsfeed were all abuzz this morning about the first day of classes ... pics of back-to-school outfits ... and tales from several friends recounting the first day of kindergarten for their young'uns. And it hit me that despite the fact that in a week my youngest will start his junior year of college, my back-to-school days are pretty much over. It has taken me most of the day to get over that fact and I'm not quite sure I'm there yet.

For the better part of my adult life, my identity has been so wound up with being someone's mom that I have struggled with who I am now that my kids are adults. Yes, of course, I am still their mom ... but gone are the days when my calendar is crowded with who has to be where when. My August was not consumed with finding the right size glue sticks, 15 different spiral notebooks, or khakis with the dress-code-approved pockets. And, however grateful I am not to be dealing with such minutiae, I'm still trying to figure out what sort of minutiae should occupy my time now.

My vocational life as a pastor, a teacher, and a youth minister was consumed, in part, with helping others to realize that they were more than their vocational choices, more than the familial ties that they'd been born with, and even more than the relationship choices they made beyond their immediate families. But, I think that while I was trying to ensure that others were able to find and maintain there own unique identities, I might have forgotten to listen to myself, or, at least to really absorb that those same things were true of me as well. This was brought home to me about a week ago at an adult gathering. When I was asked to introduce myself, the "hi, my name is Pam," was quickly followed by what I figured everyone would consider more important: "I'm <insert kid's name here>'s mom."

It is true, I am their mom ... and nothing has made me happier or more proud in my life. But, it could be that it's time for me to grow up too. Maybe it's time to realize that I am me separate from my kids ... just as they have an identity that is very separate from mine.

Hi, my name is Pam ...