When I was growing up, I was constantly being reminded of where I came from. You see, when you grow up in a (very) small town, everybody knows who you are. And since both sides of my family had been living in the area for a few generations, there was always someone who knew me…and who I came from.
This was one of the biggest reasons that I moved away. I didn’t like the feeling of claustrophobia I had when I was in my small town. But, every time I came home to visit, I would inevitably run into someone who would ask “Aren’t you Donna’s daughter?” or “Aren’t you LeRoy’s daughter?”
When Tim and I started dating, and in the early part of our marriage, he would always think it was strange when I couldn’t seem to go anywhere without running into someone I knew…or someone who knew me.
When we finally moved back to Wisconsin a few years ago, I was quickly reminded that nothing had changed. Every time I went to the grocery store or the coffee shop or the gas station or out to eat, someone would recognize me. And, they would usually ask me how everyone else in my family was doing.
Usually, I would recognize who was asking, but sometimes I had to ask how they knew me. They would tell me that they used to play softball with my mom, or they were related to someone on my grandma’s side of the family, or they went to school with my uncle.
Recently, I’ve noticed that my identity is changing. I’m not always Donna or LeRoy’s daughter anymore. More often, I’m Jaden’s mom. Last night, this reality was driven home for me. I went up to the middle school to sign Jaden up for tee-ball. As soon as I walked in the door, some little boy came up to me and asked if Jaden was with me. I didn’t recognize this kid, but he was very disappointed when I told him that Jaden was at home with his dad. Then, one of the ‘grown-ups’ helping to organize the event, came and asked me if I needed some help registering Jaden. I didn’t recognize this lady either!
I know that I am not always the most observant person in the world, but these people clearly knew me…or at least they knew my son. It was a little strange to say the least.
Fortunately, I also saw some people who I went to school with. That was great! Not only was it nice to catch up with them, but I was finally able to just be me. Not anyone’s daughter or anyone’s mom. Just Heather.