Tuesday, October 20, 2009

who am I?

I ask that, not from an existential place, not from a "where do I fit in within the greater context of the universe," but more from the challenge of having to find five appropriate tags to attach to my name for a twitter search. Mundane yes, but it led to an evening of soul searching.

You'd think finding five words to describe yourself would be easy—and if they were looking for adjectives, I'd be ok. Talkative, funny, outgoing, ridiculous, anxious, empathetic, creative, gregarious, even effervescent I've been told . . . but that's not what the search was about. The program picked five for me so I started there.

Author. Yup. That works. I am one. But author doesn't really cover what I do. Yes, I write. Conceptualize like crazy. Research both facts and visuals. Art direct. Publish books. Create print and online promos. And now market my book and myself as if that's my new full time job.

Design. I do that too. But look around. Everything you see has been designed by someone. Your coffee cup. The dashboard of your car. The pattern of your socks. It's a pretty vague term.

Blogger. This is my 22nd post in a row, which is fabulous for me. Blogging has become my new morning routine and I'm finding, every day, that people have actually read what I've written. My brother for one (that was quite a surprise), and people I've never met who somehow found me and find what I have to say resonates with them. A quick aside—when you pick a term on this site, it shows how many other people list themselves in that category. "Blogger" had more than twice as many listed as any of my other descriptions.

Mother. I was torn over this. Parenting is what I spend the vast majority of my time doing, but it seemed like a lame thing to list. And then I got pissed at myself. Being a mother is just about the most important thing I do. But the word "mother" doesn't cover it. I negotiate, mediate, organize, schedule. I discipline, feed, educate, engage. Soothe, cajole, entertain, support. I make great hot chocolate and just implemented a communication system for a middle school with 1000 kids. I organize after school classes, arrange play dates, help with homework (except for 6th grade math). I reassure when things are rocky. I hold tight when tears start falling. I set expectations and work to help my kids meet them. I am a dictator. A therapist. A rock. A friend.

Which brings me to number five . . . and I have no idea what I put. HA! So much for the angst I was going through for that list last night. Which got me thinking about how we all try so hard to categorize ourselves as this or that. When I was growing up, parents were generally just one thing. My dad was a doctor, my mom a housewife. It never changed. Looking back, my god, how limiting. How restrictive. How painfully boring. To be one thing and have no expectations that it could, it should change. But, as I write this, I'm thinking I could sum up what I do as one thing. I'm a student. The more I learn the more I know how little I know.

And day 22 is done, wrapped up and tied with a bow.


Jeremy said...

Number 5: friend.

Regardless of how generic or non-descriptive that term may sound, you should not underestimate its importance in the fabric of life.

Gordon and Silber, P.C. said...

How about housewife?

Elissa Stein said...

Another HA! Thanks J. That's number 6.

Anonymous said...

How about unemployed.

ps 41 parent said...

oh please, get over yourself.

Susan said...

Get over yourself? Please don't! I am so moved by all the honesty and openness of all of Elissa's posts. Every post gives me something to ponder and learn from. Keep up the wonderful work, sister!

Cyndi said...

I love this post! There are probably about 1000 descriptions that could describe each of us and they could change from day to day. Student is my favorite...nothing wrong with always learning.

And forgive me if I'm missing some inside joke or something but those last 2 comments posted anonymously seem like nasty little trolls. You may want to consider another description....comment moderator. If they aren't part of some inside joke, they are not adding anything to this discussion so why give them a voice? Just sayin... :)

ShellyKramer said...

Loved this post - and it's always so hard to define ourselves, isn't it?

Honestly, though, why some malcontent reads your blog, leaves a crappy comment and then is too much of a chickenshit to not leave their name - just makes me laugh all over again at how many losers there are out there.

Don't let losers get you down - ever. They are only anonymously mean and nasty because they can't or don't accomplish anything in their own right, so their only "accomplishment" is bagging on others. Something to be proud of, for sure.

PS41, go away and don't come back.

meandmymoments said...

I saw all the comments on Twitter about "the comment" on your blog so I had to come check it out.

I love your description of a mother...so true!

As a blogger myself, I think it is cowardly for someone to make a degrogatory remark without justification or identifing themself (with a link or a email).

Let this roll off your back. This is your space to release!