In my small class of about 20 students, I am one of four mothers (including the tutor) and one of four people over the age of 30. Needless to say, the four people over 30 are the mothers. I think two are even grandmothers! The rest of the (predominantly female) class are young. Very young.
One of the conversations I overheard included:
'I love your tattoo!'
'Yeah, I love yours too. Did it hurt?'
'Naaaa. Awww a bit. You?
Many of the girls reminded me of me when I was in my 20s. They meant well, had big ideas and were terribly pretentious in their idealism and anger. They call themselves 'jaded' and 'feminist' without ever substantiating it and spent half the lesson attached to their mobile phones. One young girl stank of smoke and I wanted to tell her off, but thought it might not be appropriate since I wasn't her mother.
The class I am doing is Creative NonFiction - a hybrid of literature and non-fiction, a marriage of journalism and storytelling. What you would get if you threw Four Corners and Playschool in bed together.
We did a number of writing activities today but one of them struck a chord so I am going to reproduce it here. We were asked to write a paragraph about six roles or identities that we play in public or private.
My primary identity at the moment is that of MOTHER. I have two little girls and it is difficult to escape the duties associated with mothering, although I am still coming to terms taking ownership of the identity mother. The activities swamp my day and sometimes I feel I don't get to 'play' out any of my other roles, yet it still feels foreign to take on the title. Being a mother is the single most rewarding thing I have ever done and a primary reason I am here today being a STUDENT.
From today I am a STUDENT again. This is my 4th degree and I had vowed never to do another one after finishing a Grad Dip of Medical Science (Education) back in 2005. But writing will be a way of life for me, one that can fit around my other identities especially MOTHER. If you love it, it's not work.
I have always been a SISTER but since becoming a MOTHER I have felt the pull towards my sister a lot more, especially as she had children around the same time as I. We have really discovered each other in the past few years and found out we share many secrets and desires. I am fortunate I get to see my SISTER regularly as part of my MOTHERS GROUP.
As a member of my MOTHERS GROUP I am one arm of a tight group of mums who have been meeting (with and without children) for almost four years. We are honorary family members, babysitters, gym buddies, Kindy mums, coffee drinkers, recipe and battle-story swappers, someone to bitch about and bitch to. I am the organiser of the group, the list maker, planning all the rosters and parties. Sometimes I hate that, but I love my group.
Recently I have been a RENOVATOR. It's a process much akin to getting pregnant and having a child except that having a baby is quicker, cheaper and less painful. We are about to finish significant second storey additions and I am currently interviewing painters and blind-makers, the finishing touches to our new house. I am eagerly awaiting my new study, very attic-like and a perfect space for a new writer.
But before all of this I was a WIFE. We have just celebrated our 11th anniversary and have known each other half our lives. I met my husband on the first day of university back in 1995. We have essentially grown up together and he is very supportive of all my roles, especially my becoming a student. Again.
After I finished writing this I was somewhat surprised to see that I had not included WRITER as one of my roles. I guess that will come in time. At least I didn't have any difficulty coming up with 6 roles. I had half a dozen more on the tip of my pen that I could have included. At least being a mature aged student comes with some benefits - two of the twenty year olds in my group couldn't come up with more than 4 roles and identities.