A few nights ago, my husband and I were in bed having a grand ol’ time. The baby was finally asleep, the house was clean(ish), all work emails had been returned and all deadlines met(ish). We had a whole luxurious evening all to ourselves devoid of any responsibility.
Which is why, as I’m assuming you’ve already guessed, we were lying side by side in bed taking dumb pop culture quizzes on our phones.
“Hey, in the ‘Which ‘Star Wars’ character are you?’ quiz, I got Han,” I proudly announced.
“I got C-3PO. That can’t be right. I’m taking it again,” he replied.
This, naturally, soon spiraled out of control as these things tend to do and we found ourselves down the Internet Quiz Rabbit Hole. We found out I’m a Picard and he’s a Kirk. He’s a Jane and I’m a Daria. I’m a Hermione and he’s a Snape. And we are both, in fact, Jim from “The Office” (although one of us may have had to take it four times because she kept getting Dwight).
Eventually we both landed on the “Which ‘Supernatural’ character are you?” quiz. And suddenly, things turned serious. Sure, all those other quizzes were just fun and games. But this was “Supernatural” we were talking about. Our joint all-time favorite show. The show we make sure never to miss. I mean, we own the “Supernatural” version of the board game Clue. I own multiple shirts with the characters’ faces splashed across my bosom. We even have an ongoing joke about how my husband goes on Supernatural forums to discuss the show with other geeks under the handle “MishaLover43” (although I’m 93 percent sure this actually happens despite his protestations to the contrary).
Of course, we both wanted to get Dean. Everyone wants to be Dean. And if you don’t want to be Dean, you’re lying to yourself. Stop it.
Considering what was at stake here and the immense pressure I was under, I got stuck on the question “What one word describes you?” The choices they gave were endless: Dependable. Confident. Lovable. Clever. Etc…
“Hey, what one word describes me? I can’t decide since neither ‘sarcastic’ nor ‘goddess-esque’ is a choice,” I asked Ryan.
“Here, let me see the choices,” he said, taking my phone and scanning it. “Hmm…want me to pick what I think?”
“Yes, please. I’m assuming it’s not cheating since we’ve been together 10 years and you’ve seen me puke naked.”
When he handed me back my phone, there it was, a bright green checkmark beside the one word the person I was closest to in the world thought described me.
“You think I’m strong?” I asked, taken back.
“Yeah, I do,” he casually answered before going back to his own quiz.
Strong. It had never even crossed my mind to choose that adjective. Tears actually started brimming my eyes before I sucked them back in less I be caught crying over a stupid Internet quiz.
He thought I was strong.
Correction: He knows I’m strong.
It can be easy as a woman to lose your identity, to only see yourself in relation to others. This is especially true once you become a mother but happens at all of life’s stages.
Nurturing, patient, loving. These were the things I strived to be with my son. As a wife, I strive to be passionate and compassionate. As a friend, I try to be loyal. As a daughter, caring and understanding.
All good traits to have and reach for, even if you fall short of the mark sometimes (and we all do). But too often we only think of ourselves in these sweet, nice categories. Sugar and spice and all that. Because too often society tells us that these are the only categories that matter when you are woman (besides the MOST important category of all: Is she pretty?).
And not often enough do we think of ourselves, of who we really are, outside our relationship to others.
Who am I? Just me? Not as a mom, wife, daughter, sister, employee, neighbor. But as Aprill.
I honestly didn’t know that night. Because the bathroom mirror I look into everyday often told me that I was tired. That I was getting fine lines and sprouting random gray hairs. That I shouldn’t have lost my temper when Riker threw his juice at me. That I forgot to call my cousin back AGAIN. That my husband would never want to be intimate with me again if I kept wearing my old pregnancy underwear every time I forgot to do laundry. That my writing had gone stale. That my career was flailing. That I was failing on all fronts.
And so, I want to thank my husband for being my mirror that night and showing me what I had trouble seeing.
I am strong.
And also, apparently, I am Crowley, the King of Hell, according to that dumb quiz.
But that’s a topic for a different blog.