I remember being asked in group, “How has your identity changed since the death of your child?”
Camila was my only child, and so, like many others, my identity as a mother, as a parent, became vulnerable after her death. She was so much a part of my life, a part of me, that I could not imagine my parenthood ending.
And so it didn’t.
After losing my daughter, I had to decide how to respond to the question, “Do you have any kids?” The response that seems to matter most to me and has proven the most helpful to going forward is to keep claiming Camila, to speak what is in my heart: my motherhood, my memories, my daughter.
There isn’t much I can control, but I can control how I view myself. I am a mother. Just as I will always love Camila, I will always consider myself her mother and she, my daughter, my girl.
So much of our identity is based upon choices we make. Did we choose a profession? Are we a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor? We are socially encouraged to introduce ourselves according to our profession, but we need no encouragement to identify ourselves as parents. I know of no parent who doesn’t consider their parenthood to be the most important, most defining aspect of their life. And even though my Buttercup isn’t sitting beside me, she lives in my heart. When I think of the joys of being her mother, I smile. I still smile. I will always smile – because I will always be glad to be identified as her mother. And that is a choice I can make.