Do you remember these books? At various points throughout the book, you (as the reader) would have a selection of choices to make. You’d then advance to the page that coordinated with your choice and see where your decision led you. I loved these books as a kid. First of all, the reader is typically the main character in the book, which makes it all the more intriguing as you submerge yourself into the story…secondly, you always have the option of backtracking and choosing another page…completely rewriting your story.
As the protagonist of my own story, I’ve made countless decisions, big and small. Some of the outcomes were expected and typical, while others caught me off guard, but I can tell you with certainty, they have all led me to exactly where I needed to be.
Think of some “unconventional choices” you’ve made in the past (that some may consider “mistakes”. Can you think of one that led to or became one of your biggest successes? I have several big ones. My daughter, for instance. I got pregnant in college. Most people don’t consider that a responsible choice. I wasn’t married. I made little money and I had absolutely 0 experience with babies. Yet my daughter, I am certain, is the core of who I have become. She is one of my greatest gifts in life and she is the reason I have had success.
Once I knew she was coming, ready or not, I found out what I was made of. I was on a mission to defy every stereotype about teen motherhood. I refused to let my premature decision hold her back in any way. I read every book I could get my hands on about pregnancy, parenting, the first year, the first 5 years, what to expect, what people don’t tell you, etc. I wanted to do right by her, so I stepped up my game in a way I may not have had I remained in the position of having no one to worry about but myself.
In hindsight, the information in the books I was reading was of little use. While most of what parenting is about can not be articulated with words in a book, I can tell you exactly why it was important for me to read them: It kept me focused. Reading every book I could get my hands on was a reminder multiple times a day that something more important than me was going to require my constant care and attention. It made me feel more confidant in my ability to succeed as a parent. It gave me a plan. It reminded me that every decision I made going forward was now consequential to me and a being that was entrusted to me.
Once Izzy was born, the world as I knew it was transformed. I can’t explain to you what it feels like to hold your child for the first time because words don’t do it justice. To try: It feels like the hand of God is squeezing your chest from the inside until your eyes leak and you chin quivers. This is the moment where a mother is sprinkled with an invisible dust that gives her the strength to wrestle a lion. At this moment the rest of the world fades to white. Remember this moment, because this moment will be your refuge as the real work begins.
Labor is easy. Even if it isn’t, it is. Yes, it is physically demanding. It hurts, but it is temporary. Labor is just something you have to get through, then the real work begins. As the word “love” isn’t powerful enough to describe what you feel for a child, there are other feelings you will experience where the word doesn’t quite convey the enormity of it’s true meaning. For instance, “tired” doesn’t begin to describe the zombie-like trance you will enter when you feel as though you will never sleep again. Scared, confused, brave, protective, and did I mention tired? These are all words that do an inadequate job of emphasizing what you are feeling as you face this huge challenge. I assure you that it’s worth every moment of uncertainty, struggle and sleepless night. All of the greatest things are.
Home from the hospital figuring out how to even hold this thing? Aunt Stephanie close by with an equal lack of experience (at the time-now she is super-mom!), but plenty of love!
She’ll be 15 in about a week!
You may or may not be able to relate to my experience of becoming a parent. Whether you are one, or not, I know you’ve had monumental moments in your life that have knocked you off of your feet. I’m sure you’ve had to fight for something that you believe in or take a stance to make a change in your life. Whatever life experiences you’ve faced, they’ve led you to where you are today. They’ve made you stronger, more patient, understanding, assertive, inspired, and [insert your “not powerful enough” word here]. Do you like the pages you’ve turned to? Did you choose the correct adventure at every fork in the road? What now? Where is your adventure taking you next? What page should we turn to? It’s time to make history!