On Every Corner
Tuesday I blogged about feeling cornered, that sick, trapped sensation you get when someone slaps you with a label that makes you feel small. Defined. I am mysterious, enigmatic, unknowable! How dare you tell me what I am… Who I am…
I resist labels, and I do my best to wriggle my way out of corners, but I’m starting to realize that maybe my stubborn opposition to anything that smacks of classification is unnecessarily reactionary.
You want to know something? For a long time I resisted the label “adoptive mom.” I just wanted to be a mom — no special distinction or qualification necessary. Isn’t motherhood complex enough without adding an extra addendum? But the longer I’ve been a mom, the more I’ve embraced the reality that there are a lot of things that make my particular situation unique. I am an adoptive mom. I’m also a mother of boys, a mom of four children I will never hold in this life, and a working mom. Admitting that I am these things (accepting my labels, so to speak) allows me to connect with other moms who find themselves in the same situation. Being an adoptive mom comes with its own special steam trunk of baggage — just like being a single mom, a mom of daughters, or a teenage mom all carry their own unique set of joys and pitfalls. I like finding myself in the company of moms who understand the bewildering mix of joy and frustration that accompanies life as an adoptive mother. And the only way I can single them out is by wearing my own badge proudly: Adoptive Mom.
It struck me recently that whenever I think of a corner, I think of a concave corner — one that folds in and creates a tiny space that cramps my shoulders and makes me feel trapped. But corners can also be convex. And somehow, standing on a corner feels very different from cowering in a corner.
One of my classmates in high school once told me that I was multifaceted. He meant it as an insult, but to this day I take it as a compliment. I am multifaceted. There are a lot of different sides to me, a myriad of aspects to my personality that are varied and sundry, and that may even seem contradictory at times. I stand on a lot of corners, crossroads where the layered facets of my personality overlap, one leading into the next. You might say I’m multi-cornered.
Sometimes I find myself on a corner that leads nowhere. I hope I have the grace to keep walking when that happens. And sometimes the people that keep me company in my little neighborhood make me want to put on a Groucho Marx mask and pretend I don’t belong. I’m sure they feel the same way about me from time to time. But I’m learning to let it go. To embrace the fact that my many corners are vast and ever-changing. And just because I built my soapbox on one particular corner ten years ago (or even ten days ago), doesn’t mean I have to climb that platform again. I’m a different person.
So go ahead and label me. I know where I stand.