Weird thing about having kids. You stop being you.
I mean, we all exist as relationships to other peoples. “You work with so-and-so, don’t you?” is quite common up here where everyone knows someone who works, or used to work, at my place. “Oh, you’re so-and-so’s husband, aren’t you?” is one I’m used to and happy with. It’s part and parcel of married life and one I’m proud of. But when you have kids this gets raised to a whole new level.
I know dozens of people from doing the school run, nursery pickups, out-of-school events. But, to my shame, I can only name a few of them! However, ask me who Harry’s dad is and I’ve not got a problem. With 5 kids myself, I’m known by a variety of these names depending on which one of mine their kid went to school with. This isn’t as much of a problem as perhaps it should be. I have a dreadful memory for names. Truly awful. First place I worked, I was very lucky indeed. Almost half the guys there were called Steve, the majority of the rest were Daves. I had a 50-50 chance of getting someone’s name right first time. The way my brain works, it’s actually easier to combine peoples identities with those of their kids. My kids know their kids names and some quirk of my brain tags “mum” or “dad” onto that without being prompted too much. It all falls apart, though, if I have to introduce them to someone else.
In a way, this is a loss of personal identity. I’m no longer just me. But then, was I ever? Was there ever a time in my life when I couldn’t be defined by my relationship with someone, be it a parent, sibling, friend, colleague? We’re all shaped by our relationships and interactions with others. If you’re a friend to someone, and that’s how someone else knows you, their initial impressions of you will be coloured by their relationship with the friend who knows you. If you see what I mean. Hmm. This is turning out to be surprisingly deep for me.
Anyway, bottom line is, I am not now just me. I am a husband and a father. And if that’s how people know me, that’s perfect.