My brilliant plan: I was confident things would go just the way I wanted
I had big plans for my life. I knew just how it would go. I made my list of goals and set about checking them off one at a time.
College scholarship: check!
Graduate from college: check!
Get married: check!
Start my career: check!
Get into graduate school: check!
And then… the unexpected happened. Only a few months after I began the grad program of my dreams, I found out I was pregnant. I cried. No, I sobbed. This was not part of my big plan. How would I finish my master’s degree, continue to work full time to support my husband through law school and be a mom?
Up until that point in my life, I had been mostly free to make my plans and pursue my dreams. Of course, there were bumps in the road and detours that sometimes changed my timeline, but my life was primarily my own. I was a free agent. Motherhood changed everything. Suddenly, I was responsible for a small human who clearly did not understand my list of goals and my need to check the boxes.
If I thought that becoming a mother earlier than I had planned was the biggest challenge of motherhood, I quickly learned that I was mistaken. My first child arrived; I was humbled and awed and overwhelmed with joy and I easily transitioned into the role of being her mom. I made new lists of goals. I would teach her Spanish! I would sing her to sleep every night! She would be reading before kindergarten! I would be the best mom this world had ever seen. That would be my new list of goals. Grad school could wait for a few years while I earned my master’s degree in motherhood. I envisioned it: check, check, check! Only two months into motherhood, the next blow came: my daughter, my beautiful baby girl, was profoundly deaf.
How could this be? What would I do now with my big plans? Forget teaching her to speak Spanish. Would she ever learn to read? And what about all those nights when I rocked her to sleep and sang to her? Did she really not even hear my voice? I remember returning to our home, baby carrier on my arm, and sinking to the floor. I looked at her, so small, sleeping so soundly, and I SCREAMED! I screamed as loud as I could. And she didn’t move. She didn’t wake up. She didn’t hear me.
I look back on those next few months and I see the tears and sleepless nights of that younger version of me. “Oh, honey, if only you could see the future,” I would say to that me. “It’s all going to be ok. It will be better than ok! Just wait.”
But as we all know, in the middle of the hard days, the bad days, and the dark days, no amount of “I promise that this will get better” can heal our broken hearts. Real life is hard! It’s messy and it doesn’t always go according to plan. It makes us stretch and reach and dig deep so that we can grow and learn. And then, the miracles happen. Real life turns out even better than we had planned. No amount of checklists full of accomplished goals could be as satisfying as being a mom to my four beautiful, busy children. By now, I have earned more than my master’s degree in motherhood. I’m fairly certain I’ve earned several doctoral degrees and my oldest hasn’t even left home yet.
I don’t think I ever made a list of goals that included sending my husband off to Iraq or coaching a robotics team at a national competition. I am certain that none of my items to check off mentioned anything about skiing a black diamond or running a literacy program at the elementary school. I can guarantee that I never planned to be in charge of a mountain bike league’s race registration. I cannot recall a checklist including anything about cochlear implants and speech therapy, breeding dogs, making endless batches of chocolate chip cookies, or trying to travel to all 50 states with my kids through a series of crazy road trips. Learning to keep score at a baseball game or being a room mom never appeared on my life goals lists. And yet, over the almost 17 years that I have been a mother, all of those things have happened, even sometimes simultaneously.
Each of the opportunities that motherhood has brought to me has challenged me in new ways. I have grown into the person I am now because of my four children and the adventures they have taken me on. I have tried new things and mastered new skills, not only because of their interests, but also because of their struggles.
Today, I look at my beautiful baby girl. She did not start out according to plan yet she has grown into a strong and inspiring woman. She speaks Spanish. She is brilliant. She probably never has appreciated the lullabies I sang to her as a baby. In fact, she hates to sing! But she does love to mountain bike. She has the best laugh, is loyal and loving, and is one of my very best friends. I am confident that she is so much better than anything I could have planned. And she is still profoundly deaf. And I am profoundly grateful.
This is #mybrilliantconfidence
By: Misha Peay
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