"This is Melissa..."
"This is Melissa -- she has five kids."
At a social gathering recently, someone introduced me to someone else as, “This is Melissa -- she has five kids.” It felt odd and deliberate, and it spiraled into a social anxiety whirlpool that had me hurrying home earlier than I might have otherwise.
Self-doubt is a powerful thing.
While I don’t deny my motherhood, I also struggle to define myself by it alone. Parenting is just one part of my greater whole. To be introduced that way had me question how others perceive me -- could this be the most interesting thing I have in my “cocktail conversation” bucket? Is it pointless to try chatting with me about anything else?
Perhaps it rang hollow because it isn’t how I connect people.
When I introduce people I know for the first time, I usually toss in a tidbit about their neighbourhood or how I met them, and then link it to something about them that I find fascinating: “This is Jay. He lives in Centretown, and has been wowing me with stories about renovating his century home. Some of the things he has found in the walls are fascinating!” “This is Jane -- I met her when working at the Geological Survey of Canada. She volunteers at her local food centre and works with new Canadians. She has been learning German in her free time!” “This is Stephanie. She lives in Almonte, and has recently left her office job and taken an apprenticeship in cabinetry. Isn’t that cool?”
I like to leave folks with something to talk about.
So, if you ever bump into me at a party and can’t think of how to introduce me, I’ve come up with a few ideas:
This is Melissa -- she enjoys being outside, she loves vintage dishware, she devours books at speed that would make many jealous, she likes to sew and spin yarn and knit. This is Melissa, who has spent many years volunteering in classrooms, on school council, who started her own coffee roasting business and grew a loyal following of caffeine addicted microroastery aficionados. This is Melissa -- she tries to make it to every Blue Rodeo and Jim Cuddy concert, and has been a Blue Rodeo fan for 30 years.
This is Melissa -- she lives in a tiny urban home (1000sq ft!) in a totally hip neighbourhood which she loves passionately, but she still misses the ocean every single day. This is Melissa, who lets Nature lead her landscaping and has a garden planted among trees planted by the birds. This is Melissa -- she bakes bread in duplicate, with a control batch and a test batch because she finds kitchen science fascinating, she also collects vintage cookbooks. This is Melissa, who enjoys writing, blogs sometimes, and wishes she had more time to work on both.
And, yes, this is Melissa: She has five kids, whom she loves with every fibre of her being, for whom she would walk on fire, whom she is teaching to treat others with respect and consideration and acceptance, without whom she would be a very different person -- five kids who sit down and talk to her about BIG THINGS with little prompting because they know she will listen without judging, five kids who seek her out to spend time with her, five kids who enjoy being with each other (mostly, because.. well.. siblings, right?). She has five kids who inspire her, encourage her to try new things, and provide a lot of incentive to be a better person.