Who am I? …in 500 words or less?

Me - swimming with the jellyfish

Me - swimming with the jellyfish

I’ve been through this exercise a number of times in the past few years, only looking specifically from the perspective of my location in society and what power or privilege I have or lack depending upon the situation. The anglophone, Caucasian, heterosexual, able-bodied, educated, middle-income me. The female, student and (once) single mother. I know what my location brings to my (and my children’s) benefit. I know where we struggle due to the same.

I’ve also done the inventory of roles I play or have played. The list is long and in-exhaustive: mother, daughter, sister, wife, ex-wife, spouse, girlfriend, friend, woman, employee, employer, co-worker, mentor, boss, manager, director, team leader, chairperson, supervisor, early childhood educator, consumer, activist, advocate, facilitator, writer, reader, photographer, researcher, archivist, runner, cyclist, swimmer, triathlete, cook, cleaner, launder, driver/chauffeur, book-keeper, storyteller, caregiver, nurse, confidante, counselor, learner, student, teacher, navigator, planner, coordinator, social worker, volunteer, organizer…

But I do not define myself in such concrete terms. Who I am is difficult to capture, and more difficult to describe. I am a big-picture-visionary sort of person always looking at things from the perspective of change. How can this situation be improved upon, and how can I be the change-agent or catalyst for such change?

I am forever seeking the ultimate balance, and forever uncertain it can ever be attained.

I have an idealist way of looking at things, yet I struggle with putting it into practise.

The greatest priority in my life is my children, yet I know I must take care of myself first in order to be available to them to my fullest ability. There is a constant battle within me as to whether one takes away from the other.

I often take on too much, always wanting to be/do more than I am.

I speak my mind, and often at the risk of loss, in the hopes of the greater good prevailing.

While I could never be mistaken as an extremist, I always try to do what is consistent with my ideals, without fear of stepping outside of the accepted norm.

I love to read, enjoy my garden, prefer the simple things in life. I have a constant desire to be more creative, yet a need for greater order and structure.

I try to lead be example in my life. Convinced that the best way to raise socially-conscious, compassionate, caring children is to live it myself.

Above all, I like to consider myself a genuine, honest person. I seek the company of those who are real in every aspect of their lives.

I am a dreamer.

I am a doer.

I am me.

What’s in a name?

I recently participated in a light-hearted discussion with my mom and some friends of hers, who have a similar family situation (pseudo re-married, with children), about what we call my significant other.  Just how do I, and others, refer to him?  For my children it’s fairly simple – we call him their Bonus Dad, although not everyone “gets it”.  The term was coined by Jann Blackstone & Sharyl Jupe, who offer an explanation of the reference here: http://www.bonusfamilies.com/articles/bonus-living.php He calls them his Bonus Daughters, but even that doesn’t sound quite right to me considering he has no other daughters.  However, it works for them.

But back to me, what do I the single mom, now sharing daily responsibilities with a new life partner call my significant other?  At 30-something and 4 years in I can’t imagine calling him my boyfriend – I really never have. Besides, we’re really beyond that now aren’t we?  Together, we bought a home and are raising my children.  I sometimes refer to him as my partner, and it never feels quite right.  We don’t like how “partner” sounds either like a business relationship, or is accompanied (for some people) with a strange feeling of the need to qualify that we are not gay. During this conversation some humorous stories were shared of how some found themselves doing so at one time or another (“…and no, she’s not gay!  I’m just sayin’…” or “her partner, is a really nice guy!”).  Spouse sounds impersonal – like something a professional would use in an attempt to be politically correct.  Partner-in-life, or life partner, sounds so formal, and rather difficult to use in conversation.  I don’t know if we’ll ever marry, but if we do it will be a big decision, and I don’t like referring to him as my husband, when we haven’t made that decision yet.  So where does that leave us? A friend of mine referred to her man in her life as “my Michael”.  And I do find myself often simply referring to mine by somehow tieing him in to my family as an addition (“my girlies… and Ian”).

If anyone can offer an insightful suggestion I’m all ears!

It’s incredible to me how something as simple as a title or reference to someone has so much tied up in the language.  But it only goes to show how complex this whole transition in life can be.

Meanwhile, I seem to be referred to by my Newfoundlander as “Da Wife”. Hmmm.