Through the years, however, I've held several titles because of someone else. I was Elbert Tippett's daughter. When he dressed up in his Navy whites with all his officer's medals, I was proud to be his kid.
I graduated from college on Thursday and was granted my BA then three days later was presented with my Mrs. title. Even before that wedding day I tried on the wife title. Doug and I went to hear a debate between Madalyn Murray O'Hair and the preacher of Bourbon Street, Bob Harrington. We filled out visitor cards and although I was engaged, I penciled in my upcoming title, MRS. DOUG HENDERSON, just so I'd receive junk mail with my new name on it. It felt good to write it.
When we moved to Kinston, NC, it actually shocked me when a church teenager from our first youth group called me, "Mrs. Henderson." I forgot to answer for awhile. They were only a few years younger and I'd been Kathy, Tip's daughter, all my life.
Ah, then came my coveted title, Mama. I earned that one three times. You know anything beginning with labor ain't gonna be easy. I wore that title like a World Federation wrestler, a badge of survival.
The reward for that was my next title, Nana. I fought for that one too. "I want to be called Nana, to distinguish me from J.D.'s grandma on the Grainger side," I informed Kimberly before the birth of our first grand.
"Mama! It sounds like BAnana to a kid. They'll be confused, thinking you're a fruit!" she chided. It didn't change my mind. If they were confused, it wasn't over my Nana title.
When my mother met her first great grandchild, her grandson, Brian, smiled proudly, proclaiming her new title, "Now you're a GREAT grandmother!"
"I always was," she smiled right back.
Our church daycare kids treat my husband like a rock star when they see him walk down a hall. "HE-EEEEYYYYY, Mr. Doug!" one starts. Then a chorus chants along, "Hey! Mr. Doug!" over and over until he stops and hugs or high-fives the little knee-clingers in his very own mosh pit. My face is not as familiar to them. But recently I was in the fellowship hall with him and his chorus line started. They realized I was his wife and as I left, one little girl handed me this:
|"I LOVE YOU, MRS. DUG"|
It earned a coveted position on our refrigerator gallery, with the grandkids' artwork.
Now that I think about it, this is my favorite title. Mrs. Dug, without an o. It's the one that lasts a lifetime, til death do us part. She didn't know my name but she knew I belonged to my beloved.
Rather than ownership or loss of identity, I find my titles through the years signify my relationships. At the end of this journey I believe I'll be glad I invested my life in people over job. People who call me sister, friend, mama, encourager, Nana, Honey. I'll take that over CEO any day!
But the bra burning. . .I could still go along with that.
Truly liberated in Christ to be me,