When I met my husband seven years ago I was at my weakest. I was broken hearted and my dreams had recently been shattered. I was fearful of the future, the unknown, what (and who) I would become. He loved me anyway, let me know that it wasn’t a career that made me loveable or worthy or successful. He promised to take care of me, to let me find my way, to believe in me, and to love me through it all.
Five years ago I saw two pink lines form in front of my eyes. My whole world was about to change and I was no longer tied to the failed dreams of my past; new and exciting adventures were coming my way. I could let go of what I had planned for my life and let this sweet baby shine much-needed light into my cracked heart. I could let go of the dreams that had died only a few short years before. I could heal what was broken within me by birthing something new and beautiful and wonderful. I could be okay with my former title because now I had a better one, a more fulfilling one. Now I was responsible for a tiny soul, a tiny heart beating alongside mine. Mama sounded so much better than teacher.
When asked the dreaded question “what do you do?” I didn’t have to cringe or blush with humiliation and failure. No longer did I have to whisper I used to be a teacher. Now I beamed “I’m a Mom, I stay home with my baby.” I had a purpose far greater than I had ever imagined for myself. One that was more fulfilling than the life I thought I wanted.
When my short-lived teaching career came to a crashing halt at 23, I was overcome with shame and embarrassment. I had spent the last six years of my life working towards this goal, spent thousands of dollars trying to earn a certificate, and now I was left with nothing. I had let down everyone around me, and the worst part was I felt relief when it happened. The career I thought I wanted hadn’t been fulfilling, and now it was no longer attainable. Losing something I thought I wanted made me realize how much I didn’t want it. Sitting alongside relief was brokenness and emptiness. I had lost such a vital part of who I was. If I wasn’t a teacher then what was I? Who was I?
What we do is not who we are. I didn’t lose my identity when I lost my job nor did I gain it back when my womb became full. My identity should never have been tied to this career I had worked my entire life to achieve. I had wrapped myself in this job, made it my identity, and lost myself when it was gone. It was in the midst of motherhood that I found myself again.
For the past seven years, I have been trying to paint over the cracks in my life with gold. I now have two beautiful children that I spend my days with. It is because of them I feel the need to mend this broken heart of mine. I am mending the deeply wounded part of me that hears I am not good enough, smart enough, talented enough, this part of me that is afraid to try to do anything else, afraid to fail and to succeed.
I have had to do the hard work because it’s not just about me anymore. I don’t want to give my children broken pieces of me, I want them to have a whole and happy mama. I want them to have a mama who believes in herself just as much as she believes in them. They make me want to be better, to do something that brings me joy, ignites a fire within my soul. In piecing me back together, they helped me remember what is at my core, what I love and what I aspire to be, as their mama and as my own person. They helped me remember that I am my own person, that I shouldn’t lose myself in motherhood or anything else. They make me want to try, even if it results in failing. Especially if it does. Then I can show them how to get back up again and again.
That dream wasn’t meant for me, but through the devastating journey I took to figure that out it led to so many better experiences; experiences I searched for in spite of the heartbreak. Those experiences led me to them.
They are the strands of gold that have pieced together this broken heart of mine. They have turned my pain, my failure, my broken dreams into something beautiful. The plans that I laid out for myself at eight years old were not the plans that were meant to be. These children of mine- they were the plan all along. These days, long and frustratingly beautiful, were the plan all along.