Dear 2008 Graduate | Momspiration | Pekin, IL
Being twenty six has apparently matured my reading genres substantially. I find myself browsing “self-help” books and philosophical journeys more often than I am picking up a great fiction book. Currently I am reading “How Toddlers Thrive”, because I am that mom. I am the mom who has no idea what she is doing and reads self help books to raise her children. Maybe I am just nearing a mid-life crisis. That’d be grand. It means I’ll get to go out at 50 something with a bang and never have to live the lonely life of an 80 something year old.
Fifty is a long way off though, right? I used to think thirty was. Now, a small series of events has led up to my ever strengthening realization that I will soon be thirty in a mere four years. I feel old. I see the people I graduated high school with forming careers, starting families, blending families. I see a lot of things now. Yet somehow, I don’t completely understand who I am or who I want to be.
When I was twelve I wanted to be a forensic scientist. When I was fourteen, I wanted to illustrate children’s books. When I was seventeen, I wanted to be a psychologist. When I was nineteen, I wanted to teach. When I was twenty one, I wanted to be a nurse. When I was twenty-three, I just wanted to be a mom. At twenty-six years old… I don’t even know. In twenty-six years on this Earth, I am no closer to discovering who I am than when I was a kindergartner.
I started to believe that I am just not an ambitious person. But that’s not true, I am. I am just not what current culture defines as successful. I don’t have a bachelor’s degree. I haven’t spent the majority of adulthood climbing the corporate ladder. The initials I can sign behind my name do not hold a lot of prestige (Certified Medical Assistant in case you were wondering). I’ve had more jobs than I would care to admit. Why should those things be what define me? Why can’t the things I love be what define me?
I am a mom.
That’s one hell of a job. It’s all-encompassing. I have two tiny humans that are dependent upon Chris and I to make them productive members of society. At the very least we have to figure out how to keep them alive. Have you really even thought about that side of parenting? I can’t keep a fish alive. I can’t keep a frog alive. I barely kept our dog alive (why do dogs feel the need to eat socks?). Now I have two souls with bodies and brains and hearts and lungs. I may never get a cool plaque one day recognizing my thirty years of service as a parent, but that milestone will be infinitely more rewarding than any award a supervisor who just met me three months ago could hand me.
I am an artist.
In my world, I walk around seeing life in rule of thirds, in vivid color, in strong contrasts and compelling black and whites. I see things in swirls of movements and wonder how beautiful that scurrying toddler could look as a ghosted figure in an image. I see sunsets in exposures and color profiles. I see flaked newborn skin and tiny milk bumps, and I remember that these things are fleeting. They are only present now. And I want someone to see them forever. I want that exhausted mother who just endured 27 hours of induced labor like a champion to remember every expression her new baby could make on day one of life. I want her to remember the tiny, soft, peach fuzz downing her infant’s cheek and shoulders. I want for someone to stand in my shoes for just the briefest moment and see the beauty I see.
I am a shoulder.
I’m there for leaning on, for crying on. I’m there to help hold your baggage. I’m there to help throw it all away too. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I am worn out and need a little ibuprofen to keep me going; but in those circumstances you have a second shoulder to lean on while I’m down for the count. But I am always there. And I’ll give all I have to give. And then I will give a little more. More than one person reading this knows exactly how true that is. More than one person reading this has had some late night heart-to-heart facebook messages with me. And I don't stop. I don't give up. We're going to get through it.
I am 26.
I am in my later twenties. I was born in another century. I am starting to like my coffee with less and less cream. I struggle with seasonal allergies. I enjoy wine. I need to know if Kepner and Avery end up back together. Come on Shonda, you’re killing me. I’m 26 without a ten year plan to secure a retirement fund. I’m 26 and facing my first high school reunion in less than two years. TWO YEARS PEOPLE.
And I am going to show up and someone is going to say, “Oh wow, Brittney Heath! What the heck are you doing with your life? I haven’t seen you in years!”
And I am going to say… I’m doing me. I’m pursuing a dream to be a successful birth, baby and family photographer while raising two children and refrain from day drinking. And as hectic and tedious as some of it can be, I’m loving every moment of it.
What are you going to say?