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Friday, February 28, 2014

27 Years...


Ten years ago (in a few days), I was celebrating my 17th birthday. I was probably sitting at school, working my way through the end of my junior year of high school. I can still see myself, taking notes in Mr. Smith's social studies class, reading a book in Mrs. Sterling's English class. Ten years has went by really fast. I can remember that my junior year was a critical year -- you started contemplating what college you were going to attend, what your occupation was going to be. You had dreams, aspirations. I remember I job-shadowed my junior year at the old West Muskingum High School. I wanted to be a high school math teacher, so I observed a teacher in this same field. I saw how passionate she was about learning and I knew that's what I wanted to do.

My senior year of high school, I applied to Muskingum College and was accepted. I was thrilled! I remember going through their course catalog and dreaming about all of the math classes I was going to take. I couldn't wait to take it all in. I thought, 'In four to five years, I'm going to be a teacher. It is going to be amazing!" I didn't have dreams of being a Mother... of being a wife...  I told everyone, "I want to get a condo and live all by myself." It's weird to look back and think about that, but being a teacher was my only dream. It's all I could see.

College was tougher than I had expected. Math kept knocking me down. I struggled to pass Calculus. And I gave up on that major. I thought, 'Okay, maybe math isn't for me. Lets try something else.' So, I started taking some English classes. I thought, 'Maybe I'll just go ahead and teach that.' And I struggled in that field as well.

As a matter of fact, I started struggling period. I remember the day, the year, just like it was yesterday. December 15, 2006, I walked out of Muskingum College for the final time. Anxiety had started ruling my life. I struggled to drive to school, I struggled to sit through class. As I drove home, breathing in through my nose, out through my mouth, the only thing I could think was --- There goes every dream I've ever had. How am I going to combat this? How am I ever going to be happy again? This is all I'd ever wanted and I felt like it was slipping through my fingers.

In February 2007, I tried out another local university. I did pretty good close to home. The drive wasn't too bad and I was back in to the whole teacher-English thing. It felt good again. Then a tragedy happened-- during one of my basic math classes, the girl next to me had a seizure. It was one of the scariest things I had ever seen in my life. And traumatizing for me. I remember grabbing my laptop, my bags, and running out the door in the midst of all of the chaos. The only thought I had was-- get out of the building, get to fresh air, get to your car, leave and never come back. That was the last day I attended that local university. That traumatizing event left me even more broken than I already was. Some people probably read this and think, 'THAT made you drop out of college?' But if you haven't struggled with anxiety, you won't understand. Traumatizing events leave you struggling to get your footing. At that point, I thought I would try online schooling. I wanted my degree, after all, should I let anxiety stop me from that?

I switched my major to business, worked from home, and that was my life for the next 2 years. I finally graduated with my Bachelor's Degree in Business in June 2009. I went on to start my Master's Degree in Distance Learning Education in September 2009. I thought maybe, just maybe, I could one day work for an online-school system. Some way to keep a hold of this dream I had.. and still cope with the anxiety that seemed to have me bound.

On December 23rd, 2009, I heard my husband's voice for the first time. My brother called me to confirm a story and he was hanging out at Ethan's house. I'd never met Ethan before. Never even heard of him, actually. He got on the phone using a really cool pick-up line and said, 'You want to just discuss all of this over dinner?' I told him he sounded like he was 12 and if he wanted to talk to me, he could get my number and call me on his own phone.

Wouldn't you know it-- he called me about 20-minutes later and talked to me the entire time his friend was getting a tattoo inside. And then he called me back after that and we talked all night long.

We talked all night December 24th, 2009.... all day December 25th, 2009... and we finally met for the first time December 26, 2009. Some people probably roll their eyes at the whole 'love at first site' gibberish, but I assure you. It's real. I loved him the moment I saw him. He made me feel safe. I can still picture our first hug. He's about 6-7 inches taller than me-- it was perfect.

We were inseparable from that moment on. He stayed at my house just about every night and I finally got up the courage to drive again on January 17, 2010. I drove down to his apartment and stayed with him there. I felt safe again. No anxiety. Just peace. He was the ONE.

I ended up moving in with him April 14th, 2010.. and that was history. I got my confidence back. I drove everywhere, went places alone to find things, worked on schooling at home, went out with him in the evenings. My life finally felt like it had purpose again, but I still struggled with having no dream. The thought of becoming a teacher was gone. When would I feel whole again? Like I was pushing towards another dream?

July 29th, 2010-- I found out I was pregnant.

It rocked my world.

As someone that struggled with anxiety, I struggled with medical anxiety even more. I remember saying over and over again, 'How am I going to do this?! What kind of life am I going to give this baby?!'

She was born March 31, 2011 and want to know a little secret?

My dreams and aspirations came true.

I look back and think about the fact that I didn't believe I could ever feel useful. Anxiety had taken me and stripped everything from me-- all of my hopes.. what I had pushed myself for.. what I'd worked all of high school towards. It was gone.

BUT.

God gave me something better in it's place.

Being a Mother is everything I never knew I'd ever wanted. It made me feel whole. Finally.

I looked down at that sweet, helpless baby and I knew my goal in life was going to be to love her unconditionally. It was going to be to cherish her. Tell her she's beautiful every single day. Mold her. Encourage her. Help her fight when she's broken. Kiss her boo-boos. Snuggle her when she's sick. Teach her right from wrong.

Tayler, I thought I had all of these aspirations before you were born. I thought anxiety stole them from me. I thought being a Mother was going to pull them away from my reach. Turns out, God had other plans. My aspirations weren't stolen from me. They were simply changed. It was a path that I had to go down and I am a better woman today because of that.

May 2, 2013, I had another beautiful daughter. She's my soft-hearted, tender baby. She cries at the drop of a hat-- she reminds me of me. Giving birth made me see life in a whole new perspective.

I am a warrior.

At 27, I can look at my life and say, 'Sure, I struggled. Sure, I let things get stolen that I wanted badly, but God didn't leave me or forsake me. He overflowed my cup. He gave me an even greater purpose than I had for myself. He made me a mother.

At 27, I see myself fulfilling the roles of a wife. I love my husband more than you could probably even fathom. He is my backbone and my best friend. He sees me through my tough times and pushes me to face my enemies. At 27, I see myself fulfilling the role of a mother. I have a gorgeous almost 3-year old, a gorgeous 10-month old, and I'm 33.5 weeks away from snuggling one more precious baby.

I am a blessed woman.

No, my life didn't go how I'd had it planned ten years ago. I sometimes wonder what my 17-year old junior self would think if someone told her this is where I/she would be a decade later. She would probably laugh.. maybe cry a little knowing the struggle.. But I hope she would be proud of me..... of us.

My life has a purpose. My life has a driving force. It wasn't what I had dreamed about for 24 years, but it's what makes me feel whole after 24 years.

I am preparing to turn 27 years old in just a few days and I can honestly say that I am the happiest I have ever been. Faith was a struggle over those years, but I am so grateful that He had every step in the palm of His hands.

Here's to 27 years of living and here's to 27+ more!

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