Last week I got sent a rejection letter for a manuscript I’d submitted to a big publishing house. Oh, don’t feel sorry for me, I’m used to it, and it was quite a good rejection letter as those types of things go. Full of praise for my wit and passion and other phrases people write to you in birthday cards. It’s small recompense that they asked me for the manuscript and some consolation that two other publishers are currently considering me also. I only need one of them to want me after all. But any way you cut it, it’s still a rejection letter. A sanitised missive addressed directly to me.
Only they didn’t address it to me. They addressed it to Bruce. That’s right. Not only was I rejected, but they wrote the letter to the wrong person. I’m assured they read the manuscript as they made specific reference to things they could only have known by doing so, but still, they called me Bruce. Like my rejection makes me so insignificant as to void my name entirely. Any name will do, I’m just one rejection in a pile of many. Just as now I’m just another mother taking up space in a coffee shop.
Where has my identity gone? For the first thirty years of my life I was a daughter, sister, relative and friend. Most people can’t escape some of those titles at least. Then came wife, which brings with it a whole slew of other jobs and responsibilities, but it was really when I picked up the moniker of ‘mother’ that I noticed the most distinct change.
Where did my individual identity go?
All of a sudden, my daughter defines me first. I’m not suggesting this is a bad thing, or even that it is bothering me, but it is an adjustment to be sure.
Beyond my other roles (sister, friend and so on) I used to be ‘Naomi the singer’, ‘Naomi the dancer’, ‘Naomi the unemployed’ – only between gigs I would like to clarify. But ‘Naomi the something’ is how I was known, how all of us are known I would venture to say.
My title related directly to me…until now.
Now I’m ‘the peanut’s mother’. Even people who knew me prior to meeting my new human now use the peanut as my yardstick. And of course, every decision I now make involves thinking of her first.
Can I make it back from a run before she needs to eat again?
Should I get that desperately needed coffee or do the laundry before she wakes?
How many nappies does one peanut need?
These are the all important questions that currently consume me.
The world is her universe and she is at its centre. Slowly but surely, she’ll learn the unfortunate truth that that is just not the case, but life is long with that reality, so I am more than happy to indulge this fantasy of hers for as long as the world will allow.