I’m Sienna’s Mum.
At least, that’s how you know me.
I still remember the first time I heard this new name. I’d collected Sienna from school and had Jack in the buggy. As we were walking out the school gates, Sienna was chatting with her friend, Sophia. Suddenly Sophia turned to me and said, “Sienna’s Mum, can Sienna come and play at my house?”
In that one moment, my identity was redefined.
Everything I was before,
everything I had achieved in my life before having children,
all my personal hopes, dreams and abilities,
erased in those two words.
I had a new identity. And for a whole generation of children, my multi-faceted self would be reduced to the one-dimensional figure known as ‘Sienna’s mum’.
Lockdown has only exacerbated the situation. Before, I had times at work, at church, where people used my name, related to me as a person in my own right. Lockdown has taken away these moments. I am no longer the person I was before. I am now ‘Sienna’s Mum’ 24-7. I can barely remember the last time I heard someone speak my name.
Don’t get me wrong – I love my children. Sienna, Jack and Theo are the delight of my life. My greatest joy is when we are all together, talking, sharing a meal, watching a film. But, just occasionally, once in a while, I’d love to be me.
While I share the concern of the politicians and experts about the effect of lockdown on children, it’s not just the children who are missing out.
I miss being a friend, a confidante, a person whose value is greater than their ability to make a grilled cheese sandwich. I miss being asked for my opinion and being listened to. I miss having discussions about things that are important to me. I miss the walk to work, those 10 minutes of peace and quiet, alone with my thoughts.
In our valid national attempt to protect the vulnerable, I feel overlooked. I feel highly vulnerable. I feel alone and unseen.
Today, I was reminded of the story of Hagar in Genesis 16. (Confession time – I’m already 17 days behind in my Bible in a Year schedule!) Hagar is a slave. Her mistress gives her to her husband, so she can bear her a child. However, when Hagar gets pregnant, her mistress treats her so badly, she runs away. As I read the story today this is what I noticed:
1. God speaks to Hagar – This is only the second time we see God talking to a woman in the Bible (the first one being Eve at the time of the fall!).
2. God knows her name – He calls her Hagar.
3. He ‘sees’ her – She calls Him ‘The God who sees me.’
As ‘Sienna’s Mum’, in lockdown, far away from adult conversation – God speaks to me. He still wants to talk to me. He wants to tell me about the things important to Him. He wants to hear about what is important to me.
For the whole of this month, I have only heard the name ‘Mum’. That is what I am called by everyone in this house. But God knows my name. He knew me as a child. He knew me in my pre-children years. He knew my name before I knew Him. I am important to Him as me – not just as Sienna’s Mum.
God sees me. I may not be seen by many people – by anyone really! No one is discussing the effect of lockdown on my mental health. No one considers the impact of this on my life. But I am not invisible. I am not unseen. God sees me. He sees my frustrations and my hurt. He sees my lack of personal space and loneliness. He also sees my future and the future of my children.
You may know me as Sienna’s Mum. You may be known as Someone’s Mum. But God sees you. He knows your name. He wants to speak to you. Let that truth heal your heart a little today.