Becoming a mother was a very different experience for me than most women I know. My heart was full of pain and shame, not joy and hope. I was 18 when I got pregnant, and 19 when I had my oldest son, Skyler. Yes, I was legally an adult when I became a mother, but I wasn't married, had just started college, and was still living with my parents. The relationship I was in wasn't one I should have ever been in, but it still took me a while to figure that out.
The first thing I did when I found out I was pregnant, was open up the phone book to search under the letter "A." At the time, abortion was the very first thing listed in those hefty yellow pages. Thankfully, that's not the path I chose. I had some great friends who lifted me up during the scariest time of my life. I never stepped foot into a clinic. I thought briefly about adoption, but couldn't give my baby up for a lifetime in exchange for who knew how many more years before I would eventually choose to be a mother.
It was hard facing the world, unmarried, pregnant. Preparing to enter a world unknown to all the twenty-somethings I was surrounded by at school. No late-night parties or other crazy college antics for me. As my belly swelled, so did my insecurity--my mistakes were out there for the whole world to see. But I made it through, and when Skyler was born I knew that I had made the right choice.
My parents, although disappointed when they first found out I was pregnant, became my biggest support and were instrumental in helping me continue going to school. I also had a great support system of friends and a faith community who celebrated my choice for life. With them I was able to travel the rocky road laid out before me. I learned to put my heart and trust in God's hands, knowing that He had a future in store for me and my son.
Things eventually ended with the father, and although my heart was broken through this experience, I met my husband, Chris, while Skyler was still very young. I think that everyone around us could tell that we were crazy about each other from the start, but we really made an effort to get to know each other as friends before we pursued a romantic relationship.
And when we did decide to start dating it was with the purpose of discovering if we were meant to be married. Our friends and families were very involved in our courtship (I even wrote his sister a really bizarre letter before I met her) and I began to learn more about his faith as a Catholic. We talked about everything we hoped for in life, marriage, and family. Chris asked me to marry him and we began plans for our life together. We were married nearly six years ago when I was 22 and just before Skyler turned three.
We had our second son, Liam during our first year of marriage, and Chris was able to adopt Skyler as well. There have definitely been challenges (that's putting it mildly) in having a family from the start, but it's made us work harder at building our marriage.
I graduated from school about a year and a half after we were married, and began working for a local non-profit. Soon after beginning my job, I became pregnant with our third child, Eleanor.
We embarked on yet another adventure when I decided to leave work a year later to become a stay-at-home mom and my husband began his own career change to becoming a firefighter. I faced a whole new identity crisis as a 24-year-old STAHM with three kids (Skyler was in kindergarten by now). Still not what most women my age were up to in their lives.
I also began noticing a new set of challenges when I had three kids. People started raising their eyebrows, making remarks about how many kids we had (really). So you can only imagine what it was like when we had our fourth.
I struggled with my sense of self-worth, with the experiences I never got to have, the dreams I still wanted to reach for. I can't tell you in an easy sentence or two exactly how I made it through. Some days were pretty dark and lonely--even in a full house.
My faith played an integral part. I continued to trust that God would see me through the hard times--and whether it was bringing a friend just when I needed one, or sending a monetary gift from a secret angel when money was tight--He did guide me through.
It was also during this time that I found my way to crafting. When I quit my job and my husband changed careers, our income took a big nose-dive. I started looking for ways to be resourceful. Which led to saving old clothes to make quilts, bringing home curbside finds, and obsessively hoarding recyclables for projects with the kids. I reacquainted myself with sewing, picked up crocheting, started a craft blog, and here I am today!
I can't say that life is always rosy, or that I don't still have struggles, but I've come to a place where I'm learning to be truly comfortable with my life, who I am, what I do. My faith has been the binding thread through it all, and crafting has been a life-changing outlet for my creative spirit. Being a wife and mother, making things with my own two hands, are all what make up my "career." And I have found joy in embracing these as truly worthwhile vocations, no matter what the world might say.
Now that I am nearing thirty, I've finally learned how to let go of living in the shadow of the past. The future is bright for us all, we just have to learn how to pull back those heavy curtains and let in the light to see the abundant life already in the room with us.
Thank you for letting me share my story with you. It is my hope that you will find inspiration for your own journey here in this little nook I've crafted online--whether it's finding strength in your faith, growing in your experience as a mother, or learning the joy of making things with your own two hands--we all have the power to find value and fulfillment in our lives as women, mothers, makers.
What have your struggles been in your journey as a mother? What has given you strength in facing them?