Growing up I wanted nothing more than to change my name. I went to school with a handful of other girls named Ashley and multiple others named Laura. As if that weren’t quite bad enough, my parents (lovely people that they are) decided to inflict eternal punishment on my brother and I by calling us by our middle names.
Which means I only answered to Ashley.
Or Laura Ashley Lord when I was in trouble. But more often than not, it was Ashley.
So I would go to school and the teacher would call on Laura, and I’d be looking around like a fool while twelve other hands went up and eventually it was narrowed down that she meant me. Now’s the fun part of explaining that I go by Ashley and watching the teacher scratch things out on her list, so the next time she called Ashley seven more hands could go up while I wondered if I was officially an Ashley now, or still Laura.
I wanted a new name.
By high school, I wanted a new image. I went through the goth stage where my closet looked like an Edgar Allan Poe wet dream. I went through the punk stage and wore pants with wide enough legs to be potentially used as parachutes if I happened to be dropped out of a plane. I went through the slut stage and dressed in the least amount of clothing the dress code would allow.
Granted, the last was hard to do. I pretty much looked like a boy.
And I’ll never forget coming home with the Levi’s Too Super Low Ultra jeans and my father seeing that there were only two buttons and no zipper to them immediately made me return them. I was devastated…then. Now I’m thankful.
By the way, thank you Daddy.
I saw all this, because even now, at twenty-something years of age, I’m still trying to reinvent myself. I go through phases of wanted to strive to be something else other than who I am in that moment. I am surrounded by friends that call me Laura, and family that calls me Ashley. I have so many names. The children call me Mommy, or Shuggie, or Mama. The husband calls me baby, sweetcakes, or dork. Occasionally, my mother slips and calls me Cooterboo (what a wonderful nickname). My Uncle rarely refers to me by name, but I hold out hope that he remembers it. I’m Mrs. __________ now that I’m married and my author’s name remains my maiden name. Some of my paperwork is still in my previous married name. I’m the “Parent of _________”. I’m the taxi driver, the personal shopper, the chef, the doctor, and the one second genius next second ‘you know nothing’.
Is this adulthood? Would changing my name as a child have changed all that I’ve become today?
I love who I am today.
So when we went to my son’s first soccer game this past weekend and all the children were sitting in a circle introducing themselves for the first time, my son….of course, only my son…says his name is Mater.
And his coach asked if he really wanted to be called that, which resulted in vigorous head nods to the affirmative. So he was Mater.
I spent the rest of the morning listening to the people next to me, and soon enough myself, crying out, “Go Mater! Go! Good job Mater! Woo!”
He had reinvented himself. Just like that.
My son, who already goes by a nickname because none of us like to call him his real name (that’s another long story).
And now for soccer, he is Mater. At five years old, he is accomplishing the list of names that as an adult he may be like me and look back on and think:
I am so many people. I’m all of these things.
I just hope he follows that thought with a smile and can learn to love every facet of this weird, tangled up, multiple-personality life.