Tuesday, August 24, 2010

um... who am i???

A contact recently asked me to write a short bio about myself. So I started...

Gretchen is a high school math teacher - turned - stay at home mom.

Gretchen is a lover of all things chaotic.

Gretchen is a saint.

Have you ever had to describe yourself? It's almost painful. I feel like that first sentence classifies me. If I say that I'm a stay at home mom, that defines me one way. If I say I'm a Christian, that defines me another way. If I say I'm a blogger, I'm defined yet another way.

I feel like, these things are all just silly labels. I can't decide if labels are a bad thing or a good thing. "Mom", "Wife", "Volunteer", "Scrapbooker", "Photographer", "Texan", "Overweight", etc. Do these labels that I use to describe myself, define me? Do I allow the labels to define me? Like the label, "Girl Scout Volunteer" conjures up visions of being handy with a campfire and being able to classify dozens of trees, leaves, and plants and pulling a cart filled with cookies every spring. But in reality, my fires always burn out too fast, I couldn't tell a live oak from poison oak, and this year Peppermint Patty only sold Girl Scout cookies to us. Not even her grandparents, just her immediate family. (We were still in shell shock from the horrible GS Cookie experience of '09).

I think labels are really subjective and open to a LOT of interpretation. For example: let's say you went for a job interview. On the application there was a list of words, and you were to check off the words that describe you. Would you check off "Loyal"? What about "honest"? And "Hard Worker"? And "Prompt"? I think we can all agree that if you don't check "honest" then your application likely goes straight to the office shredder. And prompt? Who would admit, "Yeah, I'll do my best to be to work on time, but no guarantees. After all, I didn't check 'prompt' on the application." To some degree, we all consider ourselves hard workers, loyal, honest, and prompt. But each of these terms are vague, because what I consider loyal may not be the same as what YOU consider loyal.

Same thing goes for the label Stay at Home Mom. What I think of is a person who is really invested in her kids' time, who keeps the household running smoothly, and who is really the manager of the home. I look at it as my "job" the way my husband has a job. Rarely do I ask him to help me, because he has never once asked me to get a job in order to help with our finances. (Not that I wouldn't, but I'm just making the parallel that his "job" is to earn the money. My "job" is to take care of the household, keep it clean, keep it tidy, keep the bills paid, etc.) But someone else may think Stay at Home Mom means lazy, unmotivated, career-ignorant, ladies who lunch and get manicures. The waters get murky when trying to affix a label onto a person and define her by the perceived boundaries of that label.

As I approach - OKAY, as I am deeply entrenched - in mid-life, I am realizing how much I enjoy redefining those labels. I love joining groups that usually cater to one type of person and I go in and shake things up a little bit. This perspective gives me the extra push to say things that are going unsaid, to try things that have never been tried before, and to think outside the box.

Maybe the new label I should try on is "rebel". Ooh, I'm feeling a little naughty already.

By the way, this is what I ended up settling on for my bio:
Gretchen is about what you'd expect a wife and mom of 5 kids to be: Busy. Frugal. Loves children. Volunteers at school and Girl Scouts and church. Belongs to a mommy-and-me group. Cherishes the few stolen moments she gets with her husband.

But Gretchen is also a reliable old friend. She's the person you can trust to give you her honest opinion, but she's also the one who will quietly listen when you have to get something off your chest. She will happily loan you a few bucks if you need it and she isn't afraid to come to you when she needs to borrow some milk since she forgot to run to the store today. She pays attention to what her family is doing, and steers them in the right direction. She takes pride in her state and her country and her family and, when she's worked really hard, in herself.

Gretchen is someone you want to get to know better, but don't be surprised if you feel like you already know her after just meeting her.

I don't know if that's me, but that's what I got.

Texan Mama


Maggie S said...

Sounds about right. Some bloggers ask me where my "About Me" page is. This is why it isn't there. I feel oddly like I am standing naked in front of the mirror, when I try to write it.

misssrobin said...

I think you captured the difficult of writing about yourself very well. I think most of us have a hard time defining ourselves, especially in written form.

You did well.

Aunt Crazy said...

It's very hard to define yourself and you are so right, what means something to someone means something totally different to someone else.

Jennifer said...

I've always had a really hard time describing myself. I used to have to do these self-performance appraisals and I HATED it. I'm not a "toot my own horn" kind of girl. And it always feels like that's what I'm doing when I try to describe myself.

Kirby said...

Sounds good to me!!! It would take me forever to try to describe myself!

Lainey-Paney said...

describing yourself is hard!
you've done great!

Hello, Texas Mama.

Melani said...

I think you did a wonderful job! I totally agree with the stay-at-home mom thing...I am a stay-at-home mom, like you, I run the house, do the laundry, cooking, cleaning (but my older duaghter does help somewhat) I give the baths, change diaper (now pull-us in hopes of potty-training!) I cook dinner and clean up the mess. My husband works so I can stay home with our children. Now, some people have asked me, do you get resentful that your husband doesn't help in daily stuff, and the answer, sometimes, yes. BUt, mostly no, because he does appreciate me and what I do, which is virtually EVERYTHING, and I don't feel like a slave, I do feel appreciated and if I don't then we need to talk!

Gigi said...

I think you summed yourself up nicely - along with making a great point about labels. I've decided that I like the term rebel - so I'm going with that one (although everyone I know will laugh at that one for me.)

mama hall said...

well said! i think you did a GREAT job on your bio...sounds JUST LIKE YOU! :) and you should be very pleased with every label you wear. own it, girlfriend!

Anna See said...

I knew I liked you! xo

GunDiva said...

That is an excellent bio! I hate writing those things myself. Before I met RCC and was doing the internet dating thing, I agonized over what to write. It was pretty horrible, but worked out in the long run.

stephanie (bad mom) said...

Well done.

My About Me is a list because a)I'm OCDish that way and b) it lets me put all that stuff that you mentioned at the beginning together and hopefully keeps people from landing on one thing for too long...

P.S. If you ever want to teach HS math again, and can get yourself to my neighborhood, we're the Renegades; it feels good to be an official one :D