Over the past eight months since my retirement from the El Paso Independent School District, I have been searching (again) for my (new) identity and purpose in life. For years my identity and purpose were intertwined – that of being a mommy. My identity was mother, my title and name were mother, mom, ommy om, momma and on occasion MOTHER!!! My purpose was mothering, defined by Merriam-Webster online as:
a : to give birth to
b : to give rise to : produce
: to care for or protect like a mother”.
I was the mother of my daughters Brennyn Alexis and Lauren Allegra. But while I was mother, I was also wife (for a time) and full-time librarian. And when I became a SINGLE mother, I also became waitress, TV show host, tutor, in-home senior caregiver, yard-waterer, community college children’s reading teacher.
A half-dozen years ago, the job requirements of my position as mother changed when my younger daughter graduated from college and moved 742 miles across Texas to be closer to her boyfriend, then fiance, now husband. My older daughter had preceded her moving 601 miles across Texas several years earlier to be closer to her fiance, now husband. In a little more than 36 months, I went from single mother with two daughters at home, working multiple jobs to support them and me to empty-nester and newlywed (life events that usually happen 30 years apart), blushing bride to my own Prince C., Paul Clingan. Traded in the many hats that come with being a single mom for the shiny tiara that came with marrying someone responsible and financially stable.
Fast forward to December 2013. With much reluctance, I retired after 25 years working as an elementary school librarian. I think I will save that story for another post. But with retirement, I shed the last of the hats I had worn for most of my adult life. When I stood before my mirror, there was no reflection looking back me. I didn’t recognize myself. I felt something like the Emperor in the Emperor’s New Clothes. For years I thought I knew who I was but at 56 years old, all that had defined me had fallen away and I was standing naked and hat-less and feeling somewhat hopeless.
Today I took a big step toward rediscovering me. I became a Young Rembrandt’s art teacher. As El Paso YR program director Marcela Riano reminded me at our training, I was a librarian and now I am an ART TEACHER. A Young Rembrandt’s ART TEACHER. See the beret on my head?