I never thought I would be anyone’s mom until the age of thirty-five. I assumed then I would be financially well off, deep into a successful career and ready to adopt three siblings. Since the age of sixteen that was my idea of motherhood. I thought I would be brimming with wisdom, odd humor and a warm heart – all of which sounds like a Hallmark movie. Perhaps, as a high school sophomore, I really wanted a Hallmark happy ending for my parenting future.
Though life is what happens when you’re making plans. Nothing rarely ends the way it should, especially at the beginning. So instead of being a thirty-something successful writer (or architect or teacher or otherwise billionaire), I was actually a college freshman. Though I didn’t find out till the end of the school year, so I was technically a sophomore if that sounds any better. My boyfriend, whom I had been seeing for three years, and I decided to accept the challenge. We were already engaged, so why did it matter if we took life out of order?
The next three years of college was hard as I balanced being a mom, making my volunteer commitments, working and staying full time in school. There were days where it felt as if nothing had changed. I’d be sitting in the library, drinking coffee and studying Epidemiology. Then other days everything was out of whack. I’m talking about taking online classes while breastfeeding and listening to an audio clip of a lecture while changing the world’s worst diaper disaster. Sometimes, just to feel like a college student again, I’d take my son in his stroller and let him sleep while I studied in a Starbucks. Though that’s all mild compared to the times when my breasts would randomly release milk while I was in class because it had been hours since my last pumping, trust me, it happens.
It doesn’t sound like the most golden college experience ever, but it really was because as my son grew so did I as a person. I learned more about my values and priorities as I was forced down into the nitty gritty. I thought I was missing out on great opportunities, but I wasn’t, I was just trading them in for something just as great; my son Noah. On top of that, I learned that I could rise to any occasion, make do with what I got, and still make time to do things that made me my own person.
I remember reading a lot of articles about motherhood during my pregnancy, some more opinion based than factual. I read about the au natural mom who denies the epidural, drinks wheat grass and does yoga as a morning routine. I read about the sophisticated mom, the hot mess, and every other stereotype under the sun. There is no wrong way to your motherhood – unless it of course involves negligence though that’s a different story.
Overall, I did not get my dream of being an adoptive mom with a big house and a successful career. I’m the mom working her ass off so her three year old can collect every Thomas the Tank Engine he sees.
It’s not my Hallmark ending; it’s better.