This summer, thanks to Troy's magnificent gardening, we have been very rich in tomatoes. Big, fat, heavy, luscious, juicy... sexy... hot tomatoes.... Oh, sorry, I got carried away there. I have a thing for tomatoes. Well, I noticed that I started thinking of myself as "Person With Tomatoes." Hello, my name is Rachel, and I have tomatoes. I might share some with you, and I might not. I have to go now, I'm going to go eat tomatoes. After all, I am Person With Tomatoes. Well guess what. It is October, and it got cold. Frosty cold. I was dumb and didn't collect all the green tomatoes before the frost came and now I have a bowl on my counter with five tomatoes left it in. I am hanging on to them for dear life; I hardly dare to eat one because then I would only have four tomatoes, then three, then two, then one...then....oh no!!! Who am I if I no longer am Person With Tomatoes?
I have done this several times in my life, this thing where I label myself and see myself only through that label. For instance, I used to know myself as "Girl with Naturally Curly Hair." I had a straight-haired childhood. Stick straight. Hair so straight that it refused to even curve with the roundness of my head. I can still remember the feel of a comb, freshly dipped in water, that my mom dragged through my hair trying to get it to lay down. Then this amazing thing happened called puberty, and over three months I magically developed curly hair. Of course, I had a tom-boy hair cut that was cute and rather pixie-ish with straight hair but more indicative of a helmet once it got curly. I kept it short all through high school and then in college I grew it out. Note to future Girls With Curly Hair: I shoulda done that earlier. I might have had a date in high school if I had. Over the next couple of years I grew out my new curls and ended up these thick long Botticelli waves and ringlets. Forgive my vanity, please. If there were other things I didn't like about myself (my waistline, my pasty white raddish legs, my general lack of tallness or grace) I always knew I had a great head of hair. Well guess what. I had to pay a price to the baby gods, and that price was my hair. (As stated by one Amy March, "Oh Jo! Your one true beauty!") With every baby I bore, my curls went slightly more limp and frizzy. Believe me, I'd pay that price again if I had to, but many is the moan coming from the general direction of the mirror in the morning when I'm trying to get my hair to curl again. It just isn't going to do it. So good bye, Girl with Naturally Curly Hair. I so loved knowing you and perhaps we'll meet again on the other side. I am now "Girl with Big Hair," which translates to "Girl With an Expensive Straightening Iron." Ah, the circle of life.
Here's proof of my once-curly hair: (Awww! I was that kid's nanny in college and that family was/still is awesome.
Another label I'm wearing with a vengeance these days is "Mother of Small Children." I have had diapers in my house for so long I wouldn't know what to do with out them. I have baby food in the cupboard and fruit snacks on the shelves. My purse bulges with diaper cream, plastic toys and an extra change of clothes in case of the dreaded blow-out. I couldn't believe it the other day when I was at a playland and a mother of older children sat down beside us, looked at her disgusting table, and didn't have any baby wipes handy to clean it up. Luckily I came to her rescue. Who doesn't have wipes on hand? Oh. People who don't have little kids, that's who. I will still be in this category for some time to come, but as with the annual tomato season-o-joy and the luxurious long hair, it seems that this too will come to an end. There are days when I feel sure it never will, that my kids won't ever grow up, that I'll spend the rest of eternity wiping noses and getting peppered with random questions and picking up toy after toy after toy. But it will end. I try to always keep that in mind. It makes me appreciate the things I usually get annoyed by, and it makes me do weird things like sniff my childrens' necks and take pictures of the backs of their heads. I know that other labels are waiting for me in the future. Certainly many happy, probably some sad. Hopefully some delicious. And I sincerely hope that one of them is "Woman Who Fits in Her Old Pants Again," but we'll have to see about that.
In the mean time, I've been pondering about this habit of labeling myself. I will always have the labels that come and go; those things will always be precious to me even after they're gone, be it my tomatoes or my youth. But perhaps more important for me to think about those labels that don't ever go away. Bitty was talking about becoming a mommy the other day. After she assured me that she wanted to have some babies of her own she comforted herself and me with, "But you'll still always be my mommy." I won't go into great detail about these forever labels, but they are probably the most precious of all. Something to think about.