Last weekend my husband and I left the little one overnight for the first time (!) to attend our 5 year (!!!) college reunion. We were both lucky enough to attend this place:
We were about an hour away when I first thought, “Oh my goodness – we are about to be around some of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met, and my only accomplishment in the last year has been keeping a child alive.” I started to hear that ugly little voice in the back of my head, telling me that I was inferior to my classmates who are experiencing success in their professional lives.
Here’s the thing – the last 1.5 years has been rough. I don’t think I completely understood the change that would happen when I stopped living my life for me and started living it for someone else. I had started to learn to do that in our first year of marriage, but parenthood is different. I haven’t weathered the identity shift from Tara to Tara, mother of Kateri, as well as I’d have liked, and I’m still not in a place where I feel like I completely recognize myself. This weekend, however, put me back on the right path in a couple of ways.
First of all, all of my classmates were genuinely interested to hear what I was doing. Just as I was interested in the details of what they’ve been up to (Federal Clerkships! Dual M.D. and M.P.H’s! World Travel!), they wanted to know what life was like as a mom. They wanted to see pictures and talk about Kateri’s latest accomplishments. They wanted to know how I was – not just what I was doing. The authentic love of old friends just can’t be beat.
Second, we were able to attend our class mass, which was celebrated by President John Jenkins. His homily was beautiful, and hit me right in the gut. He talked about how the last 5 years have brought joys and challenges to all of us. He talked about redemptive suffering, and a God who knows our pain and sorrow. He talked about how good it was that we could come home, and be refilled with the beauty of Christian community. He reminded us to reflect on the last 5 years and thank God for our blessings.
In my tennis shoes and mom shorts.
My friends reminded me that the fun-loving, dance crazy, up-for-nearly-anything Tara of my college days was still hiding under that slightly-softer-than-before mama belly. She’s been tempered (thank goodness!) but she still knows how to dance the night away and sing loud enough to completely lose her voice. Sometimes she can be found at the Backer at 3:00 AM and sometimes she can be found scrambling eggs at 6:00 AM for a little one. I’m so glad I figured out where she was hiding.