The modern way of thinking suggests women who are moms shouldn’t hang their entire selves on our motherhood identity. Parenting isn’t everything special about us. I get this and yet I struggle with identity often. I define myself largely on what I do. When I was in theatre school I was an actress. When I worked in Hollywood I was defined by who I worked for and the films I worked on. When I became a caregiver to my grandmother I absorbed that role with all I had. Motherhood has been the same.
Yesterday I took W to his 7 year wellness appointment. I’m going to just marvel for a moment that my child is seven. It was exactly eight years ago when I discovered I was going to be his mom. Life changing.
At the check in at his pediatrician, a doctor’s office he has been visiting since he was two years old, I was told, “your insurance is expired.” I wasn’t thrown by this comment from the front desk. One of the quirks of the Affordable Care Act insurance plans is that by having families renew every six months the date on most insurance cards on file are not accurate. We hadn’t been to his doctor in a year so they had 2015 cards on file.
I simply pulled out my updated card from my wallet and told the front desk clerk, “they number is the same if you want to run it and check, the date is updated.”
She pointed to her screen and replied, “It says expired here.”
I blinked at her. Then tried to help. “Yes. Probably because it pulled in information from the card from last year? I have an updated card…”
She sighed and took it from me then asked, “and you are?”
“His mother. I’m his mother.” I pulled out my own insurance card and offered, “we are on the same plan- same numbers.”
She squinted at me and said, “I need to see ACTUAL id for you to prove you are who you say you are.”
I can not even begin to explain the physical reaction I started to have when someone questioned my connection to W. I felt faint and woozy. Around us other families were checking in with other front desk clerks. I felt weirdly singled out. So I asked if there was a problem.
The clerk shrugged at me and said, “the name is familiar but YOU don’t seem familiar.” I blinked at her. What?
I tried joking, “well – I am letting my hair go white…”
“It’s our policy. We HAVE to check.” Then she instantly contradicted herself by saying, “we check at our discretion.”
I calmly told her I appreciated her concern, but as a single parent to a child with no other parent on file – it was upsetting to be spoken to and questioned this way. For seemingly no reason other than an expired computer file. I told her it felt like she singled me out and I want to understand why.
“I’m sorry you feel that way.”
Yes. Me too.
My identity as a parent was questioned for the length of a power trip and it was an awful feeling. Awful.
In other news my child is officially the tallest 7-year-old at the doctor’s office.