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Transition times: when life is liquid

October 1st, 2004 · 1 Comment

I hadn’t read Aaron Swartz’s blog until last week when I saw a link (somewhere – everywhere?!) to his posts from his first week at Stanford. I have now subscribed to his feed, and enjoyed his descriptions. I also appreciate his school site.

Reading his adventures ( Day 1 starts here) reminded me of my first week at college. I felt liquid. I could become anyone. I had been miserable in high school and I knew I wanted something different in college. Traveling thousands of miles to the other side of the continent would give me more freedom. I couldn’t wait to go!

So in those early days, I tried on a few different versions of me. I found myself wearing a miniskirt at a frat party. I went on a date with a decathlete whom my roommate and I met while trying to transport our rented fridge across campus. I felt like I was some kind of aircraft hovering about, seeking a place to land. Where – and with whom – was my identity?

As I hung out in my dorm room, I was offered condoms and I was also invited to an ice cream social sponsored by the Christian groups on campus. It was a time when I could try anything. Whatever door I wanted to enter was mine. Or so it felt.

But I found through it all, despite my liquid outside, that I had a solid center. Like a magnet, I was drawn to what was the core of me, what I had known about myself for years. I could try to be the party frat girl flirt but the costume didn’t fit quite right with something inside me. I changed and I did things I’d never done in my life but I also became who I had wanted to be since childhood.

When I had my own children, that too was a time of transition. Reading Janece’s blog posts through the past few weeks since her daughter Amira arrived, have reminded me of those moments in early motherhood. The baby was born and I was a mom. But what kind of mother would I be? The diligent scheduled kind? On-time and tidy? Spontaneous and free-flowing? Going to Gymboree and Suzuki? Frugal or frivolous? Would I get it all right? Or would I make a dreadful mistake? Would I sew matching dresses for my daugther and me? Or buy them at the Gap? Would I be the granola hippy mom with flowing milk, flowing dresses and permanently attached children or the mom who keeps her career, her figure and her freedom?

Again, it was a time of options. A time of finding identity. I could be liquid. I had time and space. I could explore this new life in my arms and this new way of life.

I feel that I have changed more as a mom than I did in college. It’s a bit like comparing apples to oranges, such distinct stages. But motherhood, unlike college, was a binding commitment I could not change. I was a student for only a few years. But I will always be my daughters’ mother. I’m committed to them and to Ted more than to anyone else in the world. And these relationships have taken me on adventures across continents and inside the dark secrets of my souls, places I didn’t want to go but I would go there for the ones I loved.

I’ve tried on some different hats as a mom. But again, through the liquid, I’ve found the solid center of myself. I feel I have found myself more now in my maternity and maturity. Yet I know I would be foolish to assume that the transition times are done and that liquid life has ended. It is those times when I feel like clay on a wheel, like liquid flowing, when I see the doors, and the new terrain that I know I will know myself more.

Tags: journal

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Patricia Taylor // Oct 1, 2004 at 8:04 am

    You are definitely worth knowing, Julie, in all of your transformations. Reading your blogs is like a gift I know is waiting for me when I choose to open it. I remember the first time I met you, and I could not fathom who lay beneath that smile, really an enigmatic smile, not unlike the Mona Lisa we recently saw at the Louvre last month. I have not seen you in so long now in person, but I sense your smile is quite different now, coming from a totally different place, from that core of grace.