I was 35 (advanced maternal age they call it, um, thanks) when my twins were born and when I held those darling new lives in my arms, I realized that I had been many things before I became "mommy". At different moments I was called student, cancer patient, World traveler and professional... all before I was"mama".
My path was certainly not a straight one, it held tons of twists and turns before I got to the land of motherhood, but from where I stand now, I'm glad to have the wisdom of those experiences (even the truly horrible ones) to guide my parenting decisions.
In 2008 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At 27 and with no family history of the disease, it was a complete and utter surprise. Nothing could have prepared me for the reality of spending the next eighteen months in and out of chemotherapy and surgeries. It was a dark time, and a season of my life that required every reserve of faith, family, and strength that I could muster. On my blog, I have written in detail about that time here. Sometimes, I still can’t believe that it’s a part of who I am now.
Spending time as a “patient” is a funny thing. You’re a little cut-off from the world and in that way it’s a bit like being a stay at home mom. Time spent in doctor's offices and hospitals means that you lose touch with close friends and you miss the rhythm of regular life. You wonder if the world is passing you by, a little worried that you might be forgotten. When my treatments were finished and my strength was coming back, I decided that I would make it my mission to travel and see, well, I wanted to see everything. After going through something so awful, you need one thing. You need to heal. Not just your body. Your soul needs rest, time away from that harrowing stress of cancerville. And so I moved from cancer patient to traveler.
While I was "traveler" I learned how to heal. I learned you need to laugh with friends. Big belly laughs that make you cry, that's healing. You have to challenge your mind. You need to figure out a map in a language you absolutely do not understand, and you definitely need to visit a Lion Sanctuary (see picture above). Colombia, South Africa, Mozambique, Spain, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, just to name a few. It was a glorious time of spending every dime of my single girl paychecks on airfare and hostels. Kind of like the period I spent as a patient, it seems funny to type that now. Was that me? Was that really my pre-mommy life?
After healing came love, and when I met my husband, we fell in love quickly. We had lots of adventures before we settled down and became a party of five. We have not strayed that far from our traveler selves and here on the blog you can read about crazy trips that involve three toddlers on a airplane.
As I write this I’m surrounded by three extensions of my heart. Not triplets, but we had twins and a baby within eleven months. We have some very sweet (and of course sometimes very frustrating) days. Life is quite a bit different now than any other time in my past. However, I feel blessed that I wake up everyday with the health and strength to be a mom to these three. Those life experiences before becoming a mom are so much a part of who I am now. Of course, some days are just full of poopy diapers and I have to remind myself that I was once that intrepid girl who traveled the world and moved to Manhattan.
I can’t wait to see what my little adventurers will be one day,