By Martianne Stanger
Hats. Some people have an affinity for them. Me? I just like swapping out the figurative ones.
Yep, in my twenties and early thirties, I racked up quite an array of hats — among them: teacher, traveler, tutor, cruise ship employee, professional speaker, cultural affairs assistant, volunteer, sometimes office worker, writer, even marathon finisher. But, in all honesty, the elusive hat I longed to don to more than any other was not a hat at all – it was a veil.
While I attended UCONN in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I hoped to graduate with my MRS in addition to the BFA in Acting that I was technically going to school for. When that didn’t happen, I thought I might find “my fish” at sea or, perhaps overseas, while working on a cruise ship and, then, teaching, traveling and volunteering abroad.
When I hit 25 years old, I had yet to make “my catch”. I was living and working in Japan, where they had a saying about “Christmas cake”, which alluded to the fact that once a gal was 25, she was old. No one wants to eat Christmas cake after the 25th. My “best married by” date had expired. But, I was hardly going to allow life to go stale!
So as not to drown in my own self-pitying tears as what seemed like the oldest Singleton in the world, I decided to stop coveting the wedding headpieces in the window and, instead, to enjoy the view from under my wide-brimmed, traveling hat. I adjusted my life goal: If I could not immerse myself in the spheres of Wifedom and Motherhood, I would at least enjoy the world at large. My aim became to always have traveled to as many countries as I was years old.
I stayed true to that promise until my mid-thirties when, just as I was planning an extended world trip with a French friend of mine, I stumbled upon my M&M man quite close to where I had grown up in Plymouth, MA.
M&M? Yes! My “meet and marry” man.
Mere months after meeting Mike, we were married. (Say that ten times fast!) Thus, my globetrotting stopped. I gladly exchanged the collection of hats I had been wearing as a footloose and fancy-free Singleton for ones I had longed dreamed of: Wife, Mother and aspiring Homemaker.
Since then, as is the case in most modern stories, “happily ever after” has had its hiccups.
As I look back at the past six years, I recognize that “real” often tempers “ideal.” Triumphs are counterbalanced by trials. A house was purchased, yet a handful of homeowner woes we never saw coming keep popping up. Employment for both Mike and I has come and gone and come again. We were told we may not be able to have children, were blessed with three in quick succession, two of whom needed significant surgery, but all of whom are doing great now… And the equilibrium of life continues to waiver…
As it does, the hats keep a-switching: Mom, Wife, aspiring Homemaker, and, most recently, Homeschooler, are constantly worn. Drama Teacher, Tutor, Curriculum Mentor, Resume Writer, Typist, Blogger and a host of other hats get tossed on and off the rack with regularity. All hats signify roles in life that I value for one reason or another – ones that immerse me in community with family and friends, with folks in the local vicinity and those across cyberspace.
Both in person and online, I have been involved with homeschooling communities for several years and currently blog about our family’s homeschool journey at Training Happy Hearts. As a mom navigating special needs parenting, I joined the team at Our Journey THRU Autism a while back and also write for The SPD Blogger Network. As a parent who thinks faith is key to growth, I also share regularly at Catholic Mothers Online. Through all these ventures, I am honored to combine my love for writing with my passion for parenthood in order to help build community – both real and virtual. And, now, I am especially excited about adding Signature Moms to my collection of blogger hats.
As a Signature Mommy Blogger, I look forward to sharing and learning with other local parents who juggle their own variety of roles — the most important of which is parenthood.
Hats off to all moms (dads, grandparents and interested others) for doing all that you do! I look forward to building community with you.