What’s in a name? An age-old question, I know but … do the monikers we’re given really define who we are? I’ve been called a lot of things in my life … wife, daughter, mother, friend … and I’ve earned a lot of terms of endearment from those closest to me.
I remember when I first got married and I changed my last name. While I was thrilled with my new persona, it did take some getting used to. With a little time and some newlywed bliss, that new name felt as comfortable and right as my first name. Not long after, I experienced another name change when my son was born. While I was deliriously happy that I was now someone’s mother, I had another role defining me that I needed to adjust to. I took to being called mommy like a fish takes to water, but it was a shift that reinforced the new and serious responsibility I had been blessed with.
As my beautiful son grew (all too fast, by the way) and went to school, it tickled me to be referred to as his mother. Over the years as I’ve worn these assorted titles like badges of honor, I’ve occasionally wondered if the old JT was still rattling around inside of me … not mommy, not wife … just the carefree, starry-eyed, poetry writing, daydreaming JT who cries at commercials and sings Journey songs at the top of her lungs while cooking dinner. (Just for the record, she is.) We’re so busy navigating through our lives that sometimes we don’t see a change coming and an unexpected event can take us by complete surprise and rattle us. It was one of those surprises that gave me my newest name. Although it stunned me when it first occurred, when I stood back and thought about it ... I found that it didn’t surprise me at all and had been coming for a long time.
My newest name is one that I’m still fitting into as I don’t completely know what will come along with it because it is so new. In full disclosure, I’m a bit nervous about my new name, but I hope that with time, it will ease. At the same time, I’m also incredibly proud. My new name? Army Mom. And as my incredible son begins the journey that he has both longed and worked so hard for, so do I. JT Belangela, Army Mom … reporting for duty.