This morning I woke up and decided to put on makeup. At around 7:50am I looked in the mirror and thought, “Way to go good looking!” Snapped my fingers two times and concluded, “I should date.”
Not more than 2 and a half hours later I’d fielded 3 phone calls from my son because…Ebola (no he doesn’t have Ebola he has a cough but he’s male and 8 so…); completed an EEG; been summoned to an emergency meeting about a former student; and hosted my middle school anger management group. Passing myself in the mirror at work I decided, “I should nap.” And that is the pace of my day, everyday. I go from full speed ahead to stillness to mind racing ‘what was I doing’ to sleep.
I was once in a meeting, completely asleep and the woman who was presenting actually called out across the room of about 60 people, “Wake up in the back roll.” No one in that meeting was brave enough to nudge me. Later when the presenter saw me walking in the hall, she asked quite defensively, why I felt the need to sleep during her presentation. I told her in the most non-impatient voice I could muster, “Honey, I work 10 hour days 4 days out the week. On the 5th day I work 15. My sleep in day has me rousing at 7:30 am. If I’m sitting still for longer than 5 minutes with nothing in front of me that has to get done, my body shuts it down. She goes to sleep, because frankly she don’t know when I’ll have sense enough to do it on my own.”
I don’t think I’m an outlier, though. In fact I believe that the pace of my life actually runs a bit slower than most women I know. I know this one woman with 4 kids. All 4 of her kids are involved in extra-curricular activities. And we’re not talking chess club either. They do gymnastics, karate, theatre, and orchestra. Each kid has a calendar for all their events, activities, rehearsals, and school responsibilities. Then she has a master calendar that incorporates all the other calendars. On top of that she’s got her stuff because she’s like head usher at her church and supports the Willing Workers Ministry (which means if there’s a funeral chances are she’s one of the ladies behind the counter at the repast handing out pieces of fried chicken). Did I mention she does all of this in high heels with full makeup and a weave whipped for the GAWDS?!
I have one kid and every day I’m amazed that I am able to keep him clean and fed. Seriously, clean and fed are my go to parental standards. The rest is icing. If I’m wearing make up it’s because I’ve forgone breakfast. My hair situation is a situation (enough said)! I don’t even think about flirting because that would be something else to add to my to do list and don’t forget the laundry that’s still in the dryer from a few days ago…well it’s still in the dryer.
I like adult conversation though. I rarely find myself in adult conversation that does not somehow revolve back to kid things. It’s the nature of my work. I work with kids ALL day. And I work with other adults who work with kids ALL day. So even if we are talking about adult things suddenly someone will say, “On Fleek!” and the adult conversation completely digresses to the point of adolescent giggles and snorting. I once wrote my name on a white board.
And before I could even loop the last a of my last name, I was near tears because I realized the only person who calls me by my first name is my mother. I’m a grown woman with real responsibilities and I nearly had a break down in front of a room full of people who came across town to hear me speak because I realized no one calls me by my name.
Think about it. If you are an adult who works primarily with children everyone calls you by your last name and when you come home your kids call you…Mom. Anyone else in your life who’s talking to you won’t really use your name unless their calling out to you in a grocery store because they assume that if they are speaking to you you know it and therefore, there’s no need to call you by your name.
You can go days without someone saying your name. Days.
May not seem like such a big deal until you’re standing in front of a white board preparing to introduce yourself and write your first name only to realize that if someone said it out loud you probably wouldn’t even flinch.
The tears you nearly cry aren’t about loneliness. I think too often men and women assume that they are lonely when the truth is they are missing affirmation. Hearing your name spoken out loud is affirmation.
It is a declaration that you are seen. You are felt. You are.
Calling you by your name is a ratification of the truth of who you are. Everyone person alive wants that. We all have a deep desire to affirmed, to be declared as authentic as true as you. All during our childhood and adolescence we are affirmed for better or worse. We are called over and over again by our name. And we learn to live in the truth of that. We learn to either rise to the expectation of what we are called or we learn to overcome the barrier of a mislabel.
When you get to adulthood, you become Mr. or Ms. or Mrs. And before you know it you are morphed into Mommy or Auntie or Granma…You become a title. A nurse or social worker or teacher or lawyer or journeyman or carpenter or police officer. And slowly because you keep on living those titles start to pile up and pile up and slowly but surely the you of you gets lost until you are standing at a white board someplace writing your name across it only to realize that your title surpasses your name. Your title is more of who you are to the people before you, than the you of you. And that makes you wanna cry.