I knew something was wrong as soon as I struggled to bench press 85 pounds. I remember thinking to myself, “you are such a sissy,” and then it hit me: I had felt like this before, not long ago in fact. I was in disbelief and shock. Could I really be?
I couldn’t bring myself to actually take a test for two days. I was shopping for party supplies for my almost one-year-old’s birthday when I finally HAD TO KNOW. I went to the dollar store (because we all know those tests are the most reliable) and bought 4 pregnancy tests. I shoved those scientific oracles into my purse; my husband was completely oblivious to everything at this point, and carried on to the next store. We walked into a sporting goods store when I found the perfect opportunity to use the restroom. I nervously took the test and didn’t even look at it for almost the full five minutes, praying with my eyes closed that only one line would appear. I looked up and there it was: two bright pink lines. I said out loud in the middle stall in the most unnatural setting for this type of thing to take place, “I’m pregnant.”
I think I turned more than a few heads when I walked out of the restroom to return to my husband bawling. He asked me what was wrong and I whispered into his ear in a terrified yet soft voice, “I’m pregnant.” His face lit up and then I felt it: guilt, shameful and penetrating guilt. It only took me a few minutes to identify my true feelings about the situation.
To put a long explanation short, I WAS OVERWHELMED. Here I was trying to plan the perfect first birthday party for the baby I already had, and by my standards at the time I was failing. Not just failing concerning the party planning, but the whole mom thing. And now I was supposed to parent another baby?!
These are the real life dilemmas that I remember flooding my conscience at that moment (brace yourselves): the cupcakes I had tried to make just that morning had sunken tops, the cake I had professionally made was “just a sheet cake,” not a tiered cake, and I could not for the life of me find fabric that coordinated with the color scheme to make a DIY banner that read “Happy Birthday.” I didn’t paint my little girl’s finger nails a new color every week, I felt guilty for leaving her two days a week to go to school while I was finishing my degree, and sometimes I sat her in her bumbo instead of holding her. I felt like I was failing terribly at being a good mom. Now I was going to be a mom to two babies; two babies I felt I didn’t deserve.
I kept my pregnancy a secret from everyone except for immediate family for almost 20 weeks. I would have kept it longer had my brother in law not let the cat out of the bag accidently. Now that the news was out the pressure was even more daunting. On top of being pregnant that summer, I experienced my first PCS move. I tried to pull myself out of the dark place I was in to enjoy the adventure but I still remember not being able to see the yellow lines on the road as I left “home,” due to my tear clouded eyes. The fear emerged and I was going to be alone with two babies, no friends, and a million doubts. I felt trapped.
Fast forward three weeks, I was siting on the couch watching one of my favorite tv shows when I heard a knock on the door. It was my neighbor dropping by with her little girl to see if we wanted to hang out. We became great friends. In fact, making friends wasn’t as difficult as I had thought. I soon found that there are about three million young spouses with young children– shocking, I know. Upon this realization I discovered that not one of us were the same. We all came from literally every corner of the country, we were all “new,” to the area, and everyone was far from family. I thought that moving would cause me to lose myself even more, but in all reality I rediscovered who I was.
Before babies I was an athlete. Let me get all “Unlce Rico,” on you for just a minute to paint a picture. I was born to play basketball. The hardwood was my playpen and I felt most at home and most comfortable when I had a ball in my hand. When life got hard, I went to the gym, played some ball and the world was balanced again. I partly fulfilled my dream of playing division one basketball until I found out I was pregnant with my daughter (yes I know how to use protection– different story for a different time). After I gave birth to my daughter I felt like I had lost ME. I was suddenly thrown into the pinterest version of what a “good,” mom should do, be, and become. I gave up my ball for bows and my gym shorts for skirts. I trained myself to be interested in making my own wipes (wouldn’t recommend it) and crafting silk flower head bands with flames and hot glue. I read mommy craft blogs on how to sew ruffles onto old t-shirts to make infant dresses. I remember crying more than once because the “easy dinner recipe,” that I had anxiously “pinned,” turned out to be food for the raccoons. I didn’t like this stuff, it stressed me out, nothing about being the crafty, perfect chef, DIY ninja made me feel validated.
It took moving away for me to realize that I didn’t have to be a certain “TYPE,” of mom to be a good mom. Think about it-if all our spouses all had the same MOS or all performed the same duties, well, I’m no strategist but I’m guessing the title of the most powerful military force in the world would belong to someone else. We all have different qualities and all perform different duties that make us great.
While I may not be the best cupcake decorator, party host, or cook, I have different talents that are just as noteworthy and valuable to my family, friends, and most of all, to my children. I can capture a real life moment in a photo that can make your grandma cry. I can score on a reverse layup like nobody’s business, and I make the best three ingredient fruit dip this world has ever seen. I’m no Martha Stewart but I possess qualities that still make me a great mom, wife, and friend.
Once you find or rediscover your talents, develop them and SHARE them. I am in awe when I think of all the DIFFERENT TALENTS that I’ve encountered in the military spouse community. Some spouses have outrageously insane musical talent (“AMSC-THANK YOU”), some spouses can make perfect cupcakes- literally ( “The Cupcake Queen-Military Spouse Wins Cupcake Wars”), some spouses are great organizers, planners, and DIY genies who run marathons, make their own clothing and can live off of $200 per month. Our ability to be different is the very cornerstone to the success of our society and our family life. The point is we all have different talents that greatly benefit our military community and likewise our abilities to be good parents, spouses, and friends. I realized that my talents weren’t necessarily “mainstream” but they were still important and they could still catapult me from drowning depressed mom to awesome empowered mom if I just allowed me to be ME.
I still struggle when I see other moms and spouses doing activities that aren’t necessarily “my thing,” from time to time and question my abilities as a mother and wife, but for the most part I’m finally in a place where I can appreciate my unique qualities and abilities. I truly believe that if we can all make a conscious effort to find those things that make us special our everyday lives will be more wholesome, meaningful, and validated.