I have heard a lot about "identity theory" this summer from my son, who is taking a philosophy course. In fact, his professor has written a whole book on the subject.
On my drive to work this morning--my new job at my son's high school, now his alma mater--I reflected back to my son's sixth grade year. Arriving one day to do some volunteer work at his middle school during the changing of classes, with the halls packed with junior high students, I suddenly realized that when the students looked at me, all they saw was somebody's mother. They did not see me as a person unto myself. I was attached to someone else who gave me my identity. It was startling.
While I will always be my son's mother and will always love him deeply and dearly and best of all after my husband, I am looking forward to these next few days and weeks and years where, after 18 years, people will not know me as somebody's mother. I will get to forge an identity apart from that, just like my son is now beginning to forge an identity apart from being somebody's child. He and I will be travelling parallel paths during this time in our lives, looking to find ourselves, him for the first time and me once again. It's an exciting time for both of us.