One of the things I love about living with a three-year-old right now is how she’s always changing – not just her clothes, but who she is. An hour ago, she informed me, “I’m Mabel.” What that means, in a compact two-word sentence, is that she has transformed into her seven-almost-eight-year-old cousin, the one who loves to come over and play with her despite the age difference and the lack of cool we have at our house. When she’s Mabel, she expects me to call her Mabel, and she will sometimes even expect me to change identities too. She’ll tell me, as though this is something everyone must do, that I am now Aunt Bo Peep. Though I’ve tried to explain to her that Mabel calls Aunt Bo “Mommy,” just like she (Miss Muffet) calls me Mommy, she insists on calling me Aunt Bo.

Ten minutes ago, right before I dropped her off for “libary sool” (Nanny calls the weekly story hour at the library “library school,” and now it’s a part of our lexicon), she told me she was Rebecca. “I’m Rebecca,” she said. “I’m going with Muffet to libary sool.”

“But honey,” I said, playing along, “Why aren’t you in school yourself?”

“I don’t know,” she informed me, untroubled.

“Well, you know,” I started, not sure how this was going to go over with her, “You have to be Muffet for library school.”

This didn’t phase her.

“OK,” she said as we walked in, “I’m Muffet again. We’re going to libary sool!”

When she walked in and picked out her name tag, I thought about how often I pretend to be someone else. (I wouldn’t mind being, say Susieann for the day and hugging on those girls I don’t get to see nearly enough, and enjoying the mild southern clime…) Sometimes, at work, I pretend I’m a seasoned professional – let’s call it my “Ms. Sarah, Esquire” act. I act like the kids squalloring in the background are not phasing me in the least, and I pretend that work is the intellectual exercise that keeps me sane.

Other times I am “Mommy Sarah,” and I pretend that I have all the answers to whatever mothering concern arises. Maybe I catch myself giving out a tidbit to a friend – and it’s all very well and good until that little bit of ego starts to swell up and make me feel like, well, I know what I’m talking about.

Then there’s the “Mrs. Charming” act (which should fool no one), in which I’m the matronly figure toting the cute baby around whose husband is perfect, whose marriage is perfect, whose home life leaves nothing to be desired. (Note to Prince Charming: you are perfect and our marriage is perfect.) My point here is not that things aren’t that way, but that I shouldn’t be gloating about it.

There’s “Artsy Fartsy Sara,” the one who is hip to what all the kids like, who wins the popularity contests, and who, by golly, does not need to be hampered by an “h” at the end of her name. She can write about anything, that one, and is a wellspring of thoughtful gifts and meaningful gestures.

Perhaps the worst of my pretend personas, though, is “Dr. Sarah.” I can see you shuddering. She is the pompous donkey side of me, the one who just knows the right answers to…everything. She’s the pesky know-it-all who went to grad school, by gum; who read the article about thus-and-such, dontcha know; who knows the reason for whatever-it-is, hot dog.

Why is just being Sarah not good enough for me? The real me, like the real Miss Muffet, is not found in any of these people I pretend to be. (The real me is quirky enough without trying to be someone else!) The real me is someone who other people – also real – like, befriend, pray for. The real me is the person God’s calling me to be, with all her faults and special features.

So why is it so much fun to pretend to be someone else?