You have a name?

My son was in day care for a year and a half before I decided to stay at home full time.

While dropping him off, I would talk with many parents. One woman was always saying goodbye to her son at the same time as me. The two of us hit it off right away, often trading parenting war stories and funny kid antidotes.

After I pulled my son out of day care, I saw her at an indoor play area. My husband had never met her so I went to introduce them and froze. What was her name?

She knew my name because I worked for a local newspaper and had a steady number of bylines. We would often talk about my stories because she read the publication.

The entire time we had known each other I had always just referred to her as Jason’s mom. I had never bothered to ask what her real name was.

Mortified and with my tail between my legs, I confessed my error to her. She laughed it off saying she didn’t mind to being known as her son’s mother.

“There are much worse things to be known as,” she said.

One recent morning, I woke up early to do some work before my kids got up. A bit bleary eyed, I checked my e-mail for messages.

I had one from Facebook saying a woman whose name I didn’t recognize wanted to be my friend. I looked at the name and furrowed my brow. Who was that? I don’t know anyone by that name!

Just before I hit ignore, I looked at the picture. It was my son’s good friend’s mom.

I had her family over to my house for a play date and I shared intimate details of my life such as my battle with cancer five years ago. How could I not know this woman’s full name?

As I accepted the friend request, I made a vow. Sure, it’s fine to know someone as a child’s mother but I needed to dig deeper in the future. Sure, Jane Doe is Alex’s mother but she is probably many more things too.

As it turns out, she was a former teacher and coach. She helped launch a business and has two older sisters. Those are some pretty cool facts completely separate from her children.

So the next time you go to pick up your child from school or meet a new parent at the playground, remember while it’s great to be a parent, that is not the only part of a person.

By the way, names have been changed to protect my stupidity.

—Gina Gallucci-White writes from Frederick, Md.

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