09 April 2012

identities and types

a comment on a friend’s photo, about not thinking of her and her uni friends as being ‘family type people’ at that time (she is now married with two daughters), got me thinking. i’ve only known this friend since she was married with an 8-month daughter who i babysat as she attended her grad classes. her life before that is largely unknown to me, except for brief glimpses through conversation. to me, she will always be that cool grad student mom, who carried her daughter around in a carrier as comfortably as other students wore their backpacks. she was the smart japanese student who was now navigating life in cairo, living amidst her husband’s large egyptian family.

of course, what i knew of her was so limited. our conversations generally focused on our immediate surroundings: auc, the day care her daughter was at, cairo, her daughter, kids, our few common friends, and sometimes we would talk of japan and hk. she rarely talked much about her marriage, her dreams, her future plans.

we all must carry so many identities, perceptions and dreams within us, with them merging and separating as we grow and embrace new experiences, new challenges. i know that as a teenager, i was SURE that i would be married with kids by the time i was 30, but this was somehow separated from my wanting to be a writer and travelling the world. the latter was where my energies were focused, what was ‘real’, while the former was just.. something that would happen while i went about my ‘real’ life.

today, being married and 30, i can say that there is nothing more real than this. i foresee this to be the case for the next few years, as our family grows. perhaps later, my identity and role will evolve yet again..

her comment reminded me of another comment, made by another friend, a few years ago. she said that before she got married, before she had her daughter, she was largely oblivious to kids. any kid sitting next to her would get practically no response from her. now this was from someone who i saw as good with kids, who spent a considerable amount of time with her young nephew and niece, regularly babysitting them when their parents were out of town. she was naturally friendly with other kids at the mosque; she could make them laugh, have a conversation with them. none of these were skills i possessed.

i like kids. but i am not naturally comfortable with them. it takes me time to build up a rapport with them, which is why i am good only with my nieces and nephew.

her comment made me feel better. if her skills and comfort had been developed, mine could too. i assume (and hope) that this development will increase several fold when i have my own kids!

in other words, 'type' can always change..

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