"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Many of my friends answered with big elaborate occupations that sounded extremely impressive. My answer was always one thing...
..... a mom.
And without fail I would often get another question "Well, do you want to be anything else?"
"Nope" would be my reply. I wanted to be a mom like my mom was.
Now fast forward... to the age of 16. I had horrible self worth and believed that I was trash so I often allowed others and myself to treat me as such. I had a boyfriend who promised me the world and professed his desire to spend the rest of his life with me. We had sex and SURPRISE I got pregnant!
I was shocked, horrified, scared, ashamed, guilty, and even a bit excited. I had skipped a grade in school so I was about to graduate High School and turn 17 when I was four months along. I made plans to marry my boyfriend and dreamt of raising my wonderful baby!
But then the worried feelings started to creep in... and my eyes started to open. Truth poured in and I didn't like it one bit.
I started to consider another option to marriage or single parenting. I tried to dismiss the thoughts often but in that option was a ray of hope... unfortunately that hope was also surrounded by pain and fear and the requirement to sacrifice the very thing I loved most. My child.
Through several very spiritual experiences and well-thought out considerations, I decided adoption would be whats best for my son and myself. I wanted him to have more than I could provide...or my boyfriend. It was very important to me that my child had both a mother and father who were prepared for him and would also love him very much.
After 5 1/2 challenging months after birth, my son finally made his way to his parents. It was the most excruciating and heart-breaking experience of my life yet it also came with such love and peace and gratitude for bringing such an incredible little person into this world.
I did not have contact with him for 18 years but last year I was blessed to be able to reconnect. We have an amazing relationship and I'm continually shocked to see how much we have in common through genetics. He is amazing and I love him so much!
I married at 18 and didn't have my next child for ansother 5 1/2 years. I had a son and I completely fell in love with him! There were strange moments where I would be hit with intense grief because of lost time with my first born but luckily the sweetness of holding my new baby would help me through those times. He is now 14 years old and towers over me! I call him "Tallboy" (think of Princess Bride ... "Farmboy") and I constantly ask him to "fetch" items high in my cupboard. He always helps me willingly and joyfully. It's a beautiful gift he has.
Next I had a daughter, who is now 12. She has been such a delight in my life. I used to always say I could raise a dozen more kids at the same time if they had her temperament (well... until this last new teenager phase - whew! Hang on to your hat with teenagers!) But she is cheerful, kind, creative, and a wonderful help to her younger siblings.
A year after I had my daughter, I went through a divorce. Divorce can be one of the MOST shattering things to your life. It was so painful and I felt broken and lost. I quickly dated someone I knew from Jr High and got married.
Looking back, I probably should have waited to heal myself before entering a new marriage. There were many difficulties trying to combine me and 2 littles with a man who had been living alone for awhile.
But I am glad I made the choice I did. I have been married for 11 years and although there have been many challenges, I am continually amazed and grateful for my husband's determination to work on our marriage and family. I feel very loved.
We have had 3 other children... a 9 year boy named Duke (who looks just like his dad and I LOVE it!). He is a mellow kid but also has the funniest personality ever! We share the same humor and he constantly makes me laugh. He is also a cuddler, a brilliant lego builder, and a very kind-hearted child who cannot stand to see human cruelty of any kind.
Next, came our 7 year old daughter named Lillia. She was BORN for the stage! No kidding! Her voice projection, constant singing, dancing, acting, and inventing new ways to entertain are part of every moment of every day. When she talks her eyes light up and she shines with passion for life. She is also a little romantic and always loves to hear about love stories.
Last, but certainly not least is my youngest daughter, Vivian. She is 19 months old. I was totally shocked and a bit traumatized thinking I was going to enter the world of babies again, but once she came into this world, all my worries melted away. She has been the best little gift to our family and she brings so much joy into our home. She LOVES taking selfies with my iPhone.
Although I had always wanted to be a mom, it is not always easy. At first, I threw myself into parenting and completely lost myself. Then there have also been times I work too much. So I am always learning the delicate balance of motherhood.
I can be an awesome mom, and a not-so-awesome mom. Sometimes I lose my temper, say swear words, get tired, feed them cereal for dinner. But I learn from my mistakes, love them more, say sorry, and keep on trying to do better and better each day.
I am grateful for many other mothers that are a beautiful example to me.
I feel love and support for women who have experienced loss or infertility and they teach me many things.
I'm grateful for my son's mother because without her struggles with infertility she wouldn't have been looking for my son and I wouldn't have the beautiful relationship I have with her now.
I'm also very grateful for the women who do not have children but who serve in various mothering roles (teachers, friends, neighbors, aunts, you name it!).
Having children is different for all... and many don't have the easy road to having them. But hopefully, even if you didn't answer "mom" when asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, I hope that you are able to call yourself it now - no matter the circumstances around it. I believe the definition of "mother" should extend to include any female who shows unconditional love to a child or nurtures others.