I write about motherhood a lot. Like a lot, a lot, a lot. And it’s enough to make this post seem a bit uncharacteristic at best or completely hypocritical at worst, but I’m going to throw this not-so-new topic into the ring of our family blog – I’m more than a mother.
And I realize, more and more, that I don’t know how to balance that so well with the fact that I am also a mother. From here on out, I’m going to be “Marin’s Mom” to someone (at the very least, to Marin) and I’m going to have milk-stained T-shirts on for most of my day (because my body expands, deflates, and gets awkwardly somewhere in-between again and again these last few years and I can’t bring myself to actually invest in a real wardrobe).
But thinking on the fact that 10 years ago, I was a senior in high school (*gasp* and move on…), a lot has changed and my outward identity specifically. I went from “Ashley Lynn” to who is “Ashley Lynn”? To “Ashley Lynn” is “Ashley with the Boobs”. To a small little pool of “_____’s girlfriend”. To “RA Ashley”. To “Mike’s wife, Ashley”. And now I’ve landed on “Ashley Lynn Bennett” as my Facebook name to wrap it all up (beautiful, no?).
But the problem is, I’m still deep down the girl who will always cry watching the Goofy Movie (because it is the saddest when his son throws his stupid hat in the rain puddle…) and the Notebook (shut up, it’s amazing). I am still the girl who hid in trees, who loved insects, and played in the dirt because dolls are stupid. I am still the girl who went on jobsites with her Dad and loved Take Your Daughter to Work Day with her Grandma Lynn. I am still the girl who loved to grade papers for her Aunt in New Orleans and who listened and sang Tanya Tucker at the top of my lungs with her Aunt in Chicago. I am still the girl who lived on a ‘farm’ and brought our chickens in the house when there was a thunderstorm so they wouldn’t get struck by lightning and loved all animals. I am still the girl who loves sun showers, and heat lightning, and the way it always pours on a summer afternoon in Florida. I am still the girl that loves to go fishing on a dock and the way I can smell the sea breeze as soon I land at Tampa airport. I am still the girl who bites her nails and tries to quit. I am still the girl who believes in loyalty and making it work – because I know how hard it is when it doesn’t. I am still the girl who admires a man’s hands that are calloused and a Grandma who won’t let you beat her in cards. I am still the girl that loves to make a present vs. buy one from the store. I am still the girl that covered her room in pictures of middle and high school friends that later left for no good reason. I am still the girl that scoffs at her love handles and admires her long legs. I am still the girl that wishes she could just run and not look like an idiot. I am still the girl that instead swam and threw a discus into the stream behind Countryside High. I am still the girl that got notes in her Mom-made lunch everyday till the day I graduated and whose Grandma Judy would’ve lied for her if she were just honest about skipping school…once. I am still the girl that invited her friends to her Uncle’s house to lose in Super Nintendo Jeopardy and met her future in-laws by trashing their son’s car and then breaking into their home (that’s a good story…). I am still the girl that misses going to painting lessons with her Grandpa and would give almost anything to have him back. I am still the girl that went to college, and thought that I was underdressed for college when I saw sorority pledges. I am still the girl whose parents didn’t go to college, and who didn’t know what a sorority even was till I went to Florida State. I am still the girl who loved the Florida Gators till I became a Seminole. I am still the girl that got over-involved, hurt my GPA, and made lifelong friends – with some old Facebook pictures to prove it. I am still the girl that couldn’t pass Physics to save her life and wanted to deliver babies one day – but settled with International Affairs to graduate on time. I am still the girl that wasted years hoping for commitment from someone who would never give it and whose friends were right. I am still the girl who two sweet campus ministers loved, cried over, and invited into their home – who later stood beside her on her wedding day. I am still the girl that Mike always thought he’d marry, and the girl that still gets insecure over the fact that he could actually love her so very much. I am still the girl that didn’t believe in God when my parents were paying for Catholic school, that now, can’t imagine where my life would be without Him – through all the wonderful ways I’ve been made and more importantly, been made new, time and time again.
And I want my kids to know that girl. Because that girl is their Mom. That girl is complex, and she is not just a mother – even if her wardrobe indicates otherwise. So, I’m doing this to tell them about her. To remind me of me. To get back to my own self identity. To remind myself of who Jesus says I am. To remind myself that I am more than someone’s food source or their activity coordinator. I’m still a creative, deeply empathetic, sensitive, reflective, and intentional thinker with a few the added title of “Mommy”, but I am still me.