I think all moms would agree that becoming a mother involves a major shift in the way you perceive yourself. All prior warm and fuzzy notions of wanting to put other people’s needs before your own seem laughable the moment you realize an infant’s dependency on you. Your career, your social life, and your schedule are all thrown for a loop by a little creature who has no interest in knowing about your previous experiences or interests. During 2am feedings, you often find yourself thinking, “Whoa, who have I become?”
Tanzanians answer that question by giving you a new name. With the exception of most muzungus (that’s white people in Swahili), I am known as ‘Mama Townes.’ I don’t just mean that I’m called that affectionately, I truly don’t think that any of the Tanzanians that we know would recognize the name Kacey at all. When I call them on the phone I say, “Jambo, this is Mama Townes calling.” At times, it feels crazy to have so much identity wrapped up in another person but there’s something about my new name that acknowledges the identity theft and embraces it with a smile.
(Townes calls this the 'old, tired swing' because he's mixed it in his mind with the old, tired engine from The Little Engine that Could.)