Expat Life

We’d Probably Call This Oversharing

We'd Probably Call This Oversharing

We’d probably call this oversharing, but it’s been at the forefront of my mind for a couple of months now, and even though it has very little to do with travel blogging, I feel like it has and will continue to affect my little home here, so please indulge me for a few moments.

Almost 13 years ago I gave birth to a baby girl just two weeks after my high school graduation. That’s right, I was that girl. The one that made every other girl in our graduating class breathe a sigh of relief that it wasn’t her and immediately go out and buy a pack of condoms. (I believe that’s the first time I’ve ever said the word condom on my blog.) It’s a period of my life I don’t talk about very often. In fact, hardly anyone I’ve met since moving to London knows I was once a teenage pregnancy statistic, unless I happened to mention my age in passing and they’re good at counting backwards. It’s not that I’m ashamed, quite the opposite actually, or that I’m trying to forget this once painful piece of my history. It’s simply that it was so long ago, and so much has happened since, that it hardly even feels a part of my own lifetime anymore, much less defines in any way who I am now. I try my best to live in the present, and if I’m guilty of anything, it’s spending too much time looking to the future, not reminiscing about my past.

However, while I do not let the age I was when I gave birth define me, motherhood absolutely has. I gave birth at 18, which means I have been a mother for my entire adult life. In fact, it feels like I have never not been a mother due to everything before that growing a little hazy in my memory bank. Everything I’ve done, every choice I’ve made, big or small, has been with not one, but two people in mind. Even down to the wonderful man I married.

I met Cory while I was pregnant with Lexie, or I guess I should say I got to know him. I’d met him years before. When Lexie was just a few months old we began dating, less than a year later, we were married. Would I have married at 19 were I not a single mother? Of course not. My life plan was to spend a few years building a successful career, after which I’d marry, no younger than 30 of course, and babies hadn’t been factored in at all. Essentially the opposite of the path I ended up going down, but I’m probably the luckiest girl in the world to have her life plans unravel so quickly – a life without Cory and Lexie is a life I am completely disinterested in. Choosing to marry young was the first major decision I made with my newfound motherhood status in mind, but it wasn’t to be the only important one.

We'd Probably Call This Oversharing

Lexie’s timing that wasn’t timed at all was actually quite flawless. I completed high school by the skin of my teeth and then had two months to spend with her before diving headfirst into university. Leaving Lexie nearly every day of the week to go to classes was one of the hardest things I’d ever done at that point, but I’d been offered a full academic scholarship that I could not put on hold. It was during this period I discovered something very important about myself. I can give 100% to something and really excel – I graduated with a major in Communications, a minor in English Lit, and a 3.97 GPA – but it will come at the expense of something else in my life.

At university, I was trying to achieve perfect scores in all my classes, work a few hours every week to keep my scholarship, plus be a perfect mom and wife, all at the same time, which I don’t have to tell you is impossible. I missed a lot during Lexie’s first four years, but thanks to family willing to pick up the slack, the one who suffered the most was me. By the time I graduated, I was 85 pounds, sick every day, and so mentally and physically exhausted that during my graduation ceremony, I had to sit forward in my seat the whole time to avoid falling asleep. I had, quite literally, worked myself to the bone.

And so when it came time to make a decision – where to start my career – the choice was easy. A job in the broadcasting industry would have meant long, often unpredictable hours away from the people I loved. I’d already missed so much, and I didn’t want that to be the story of our lives, so I chose to take a break for a year. Not surprisingly, that year-long break turned into a many-years break and so, excluding a few part-time jobs, I’ve pretty much been a stay-at-home mom for the past decade – the second major life decision I made as a mother, and one I’ve never regretted. Besides getting to be there 24/7 for Lexie, this change in lifestyle also helped me to abandon my overachiever-perfectionist tendencies, so I think it was a win for both of us.

Almost ten years down the road, though, I’m finding myself in a unique situation. Cory and I long ago made the decision not to have any more children, and with Lexie leaving in just five years for college, I’ll be an empty-nester at only 36! I’ve an opportunity here that I can’t pass up. The opportunity to, in a roundabout sort of way, live out that life plan I’d originally intended for myself. But only if I start taking action relatively soon. 36 is not at all too old to begin a career, but I’ve got quite a bit of work to do in between now and then to prepare, starting with deciding exactly what the heck I want to do with the rest of my life. No pressure, right? I’ve a few ideas and I’m giving myself the next year to really sort it out, but no matter what I do, I know I’ll need to return to school or train in some form to be qualified for it, so the earlier I can get started the better.

We'd Probably Call This Oversharing

So, you’re probably wondering what the point of all this is. Sometimes I get started and I just keep going. I suppose this is just my long-winded explanation for why there’s about to be some changes around here. I’ve always written this blog like a journal. I love doing it this way, but it’s also very time-consuming, and I really need to be focusing that time elsewhere right now. The easiest thing to do would just be to quit. To write this post and say, See ya later!, but as long as we are expats, I’d like to continue blogging.

For me to do that, though, the frequency and format of my posts is going to have to change. Instead of meticulously writing about everything, like I usually do, I’m going to have to condense. A lot. Instead of numerous posts covering what we’ve done, there will probably just be a couple from each trip. This makes me a little sad because I always thought that was something that separated me from the rest of the travel blogging pack, but drastically condensed posts are better than none at all, right? As for consistency, I don’t want to see this place I’ve worked so hard to cultivate wither and die, so I’ll still try to share something new every week.

To save on time, and because I’ve never really had much interest in them anyway, I have abandoned all of my social media connected to my blog but one. Knowing I was going to be cutting back on regular blogging, I’ve started using Instagram as a “micro-blogging” format lately and I’m quite proud of how well I’ve been keeping up with it. So please add me over there if you’re looking for a little more interaction – @heysarahkate.

We still have one more year here in London before our contract is up, and I definitely want at least some record of that, so this isn’t a goodbye…at least not yet. (Who knows – I may still be blogging at 90, assuming the internet hasn’t been replaced by some higher form of intelligence by 2073.) I just felt compelled to prattle on and on about something someone else could have eloquently said in three sentences. What else is new? As always, thanks for reading and I hope you’ll continue to do so even when the posts are fewer and far between!

*All photos from our recent trip to Scotland, which will get blogged about, you know, eventually. :)

Share this post:

  • angloyankophile
    March 1, 2016 at 4:30 PM

    I came over here from Emma (Adventures of a London Kiwi)’s blog and just – wow. You’re an inspiration. I can’t believe how much you’ve achieved despite all the health issues you’ve endured AND raised a daughter to boot! So, so amazing. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 2, 2016 at 2:48 PM

      That is so kind of you to say! Thank you! :) I have had a lot of help along the way and that has certainly made all the difference!

  • Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    May 13, 2015 at 10:33 AM

    Thanks for sharing your story!! And I look forward to seeing how things unfold for all of you!!

  • Sammy @ Days Like This
    May 3, 2015 at 10:19 PM

    I love this post! I am excited to see what the future has in store for you. Lexie is one lucky kid!

  • A Silex
    April 30, 2015 at 9:11 AM

    Love your Blog and all your travel tips. Plus beautiful photos! Have you thought about looking into MOOCs, i.e. online university courses where you can put together what you want to hear and do and which are being recognized more and more? I use both Coursera and EDX which offer courses from many different areas and from prestigious universities. Then you can more easily test what could interest you and gain valuable knowledge on the way.

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 30, 2015 at 4:26 PM

      Hi! Thanks for the tips! What I’m interested in doing requires certification through very particular channels, so I don’t think this would work professionally, but I still plan on looking into these. It sounds very similar to Skillshare which I love using to learn new things!

  • Becky
    April 27, 2015 at 4:10 PM

    What a wonderful post! You are one strong lady! I’m wishing you so much luck as you decide what path to take over these next years.

    Although I don’t have as much time to read blogs anymore, I always enjoy reading yours, so I’m really glad you will continue to write!

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 29, 2015 at 9:42 AM

      Thank you so much, Becky! That is definitely a very big compliment because I know exactly what you mean about not having enough time to read blogs. There are so many good writers and photographers who blog and I just don’t have the time to spare for it anymore. It makes me feel exceptionally guilty to still write my own when I’m not reading others, too.

  • YeahWrite
    April 26, 2015 at 9:15 PM

    I’m so terrible… the whole time I was reading about your amazing story and you pouring out your heart… and my internal voice is “but but but…. Scotland?” LOL
    but take that as a very sincere compliment and heart felt gratitude that you will still be posting something :)
    I keep talking about going back to work.. but after almost 10 years at home, I have no idea where to even begin again..?? What to do?? IDK. Is 44 too late to start over? I still have a 5 year old for goodness sakes. which means, when I am actually retired, I will probably still have one child living at home. (bets it will be the eldest – the boy? LOL)

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 29, 2015 at 9:40 AM

      Ha! I promise I will still share about Scotland! I’m working on getting photos together this week, actually. Hopefully by Monday I’ll be ready to go!

      44 is definitely NOT too late to start over. I’d actually go so far as to say it never is! I’m going to copy and paste something I wrote on a comment above. It’s a quote from Baz Luhrmann that I love – Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t. – I completely agree with him!

  • Alexandra @ Team Starnes
    April 26, 2015 at 10:28 AM

    I meant to comment on this when I read it earlier in the week. Let me say, I loved this post! It was so raw and honest; we rarely get this kind of content on the blogosphere anymore, or at least it’s hard to come by! I’ve pulled back from my blog a lot recently (though, I’m trying to get my bead back in the game) but I’ve also pulled back from supporting/interacting with bloggers that I don’t feel a connection with, or people that don’t share their “true self” online. I just don’t have the time or energy to invest in someone I wouldn’t want to hang out with in real life… Anywaysssss, I just wanted to say thank you for being honest and I hope it felt as good “getting it out” as it felt for me reading it! :) And don’t worry about your readers or followers, we will all still be interested in your travels and expat adventures, even if they are condensed… That’s what I’ve ended up doing to keep up with my blog and it’s helped me considerably! Happy Sunday! xx

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 29, 2015 at 9:37 AM

      Thanks so much for this, Alexandra! It feels really good to know you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. It’s the kind of thing I write in my head all the time (tell me I’m not the only one who does this!) but normally would never consider publishing in a public space. I’m glad I did, though. The response has been so positive.

      What made you pull back from your blog for awhile? Just tired of it? That and the lack of time is what is making me need to pull back. It’s like I’ve lost all will to blog!

  • Diana Bockus
    April 23, 2015 at 5:20 PM

    You are amazing. I’ve always loved your posts and feel like I’ve really gotten to know you but more so, I love your personality. I think we could be pretty great friends, haha! Your story is amazing and aspiring especially when we are use to hearing stories that turn out much differently. It’s funny that you say that you’re thinking of starting a new career when I have been thinking the same thing and say to myself “maybe I can’t do this when I’m turning 31 this year, maybe it’s too late”. A little new-found hope when I least expected it. Thank you :) Perhaps we can do this journey together. Your daughter has an incredible role model and mama!

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 24, 2015 at 12:06 PM

      I’m excited to hear you’re thinking of changing your career path, too! I know it’s confusing and even sometimes distressing, but there’s a lot of joy and excitement in it, too. I’m glad we’ll be doing this together! :) And you definitely CAN do this. We’re still young!

  • Sara
    April 22, 2015 at 8:33 AM

    Good on you for sharing this, personal posts are hard to get out there. Your life has been incredible and it’s great that a newer chapter is beginning :-)

  • Erin P
    April 21, 2015 at 11:34 PM

    Love reading your blog…as always! So glad I’ve been able to keep up via Instagram when I often times don’t make it to the web for blog posts. Looking forward to hearing about whatever you might have up your sleeve in the future! :)

  • Laura @ Laughter is Catching
    April 21, 2015 at 3:06 PM

    Im always taking my hat off to people like you who deal with having kids young and manage to juggle everything else with it. People think being a parent is easy, but Im sure being a parent is a full time job, plus a full time study or a full time career. Go you!

  • Amanda @ Rhyme & Ribbons
    April 21, 2015 at 4:38 PM

    I absolutely loved this post and applaud you for writing it. It was really refreshing to hear more of your background and so candidly at that. And besides, 36 is not too old to start a career in anything! I had a classmate in drama school who was 39 so they finished school at 41. You’re a spring chicken still! xxx

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 24, 2015 at 12:04 PM

      That’s so good to hear! If I end up back in school, I know I’ll be older than everyone else by like a decade, but that’s alright. Baz Luhrmann said, Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t. I like to think he’s right. :)

  • Katrin
    April 21, 2015 at 3:59 PM

    I loved reading and learning more about you, Sarah! Thank you so much for sharing this! I can only imagine how hard it must have been to get through university and that you had to leave Lexie so you have something you can be really really proud of. I hope that things will work out the way you want them to. You are such a wonderful and talented person, so I know it will work out! I always love reading your posts, no matter how frequent they are. :) And of course I love following you on Instagram! <3

  • Adventurous Appetite
    April 21, 2015 at 2:20 AM

    Wow, what a wonderful and inspiring story. Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Stacey @ One Trip at a Time
    April 21, 2015 at 1:46 AM

    I’m so glad you’re not saying goodbye in this post. I thought at first you might be. Whether it’s one post a week, or one a month, I’ll look forward to each of them. Can’t wait to read more about the new path you’re setting out on!

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 24, 2015 at 11:56 AM

      Thank you, Stacey! I sort of thought I was going to need to say goodbye, too! I’m in awe of the bloggers who are able to write regularly plus work and take care of families and still have time for fun. I must be worse that most with time management. ;) But I really will do my best to still contribute something to this space every week, and hopefully still get around from time to time to check in on what everyone else is up to, too!

  • Veronica
    April 20, 2015 at 7:45 PM

    I LOVED hearing your story Sarah. It was emotional, inspiring and happy all in one. You’ve been through a lot, and it sounds like you’ve gain a lot from it. Proof that age is nothing but a number.

  • Jennie
    April 20, 2015 at 9:04 PM

    I am so impressed with what you have done with your life so far. You are far more mature than I could ever have imagined being at 31 and so responsible. You are going to go far in this world with your experience and background. You have lots of time to get there. Thank you for sharing this.

  • T. Lennie
    April 20, 2015 at 4:03 PM

    Okay, so I absolutely loved this post! And I wish you would do more like it, so we can get to know you and connect with you on a more personal level! But I totally understand why you feel like this is over sharing. I am the exact same age as you, and although you did things perhaps a little backwards, I am actually a little envious that at the young age of 36, you will be an empty nester. I am only pregnant now with my first baby, at 31. He will be born when I am 32. Which means that at 36, I will have a 4 year old. And I will not be an empty nester until I am 50 (o.m.g). That is, assuming he will actually leave the nest lol. But by then, I will probably be begging him to stay so he can take care of me LOL.

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 24, 2015 at 11:13 AM

      Ha!! 50 is still really young, too! Hopefully he won’t need to take care of you for another 30-40 years! ;) Congrats, by the way! You’re going to make a fantastic mother!

      Also, I’m really glad you liked this post. It was easier to write than I thought it would be. I used to write like this all the time before we moved abroad. Not that my blog is popular, by any means, but I do have a lot more readers now than I used to due to people searching for travel stuff on the internet, so it makes me feel quite a bit more exposed to share the personal stuff now. I will try to start doing it more often, though!

  • Ashley | Domestic Fashionista
    April 20, 2015 at 8:02 PM

    Wow! Thank you for sharing this! You have such a beautiful family. It was so nice to hear how it all began! I appreciate the beauty that comes from the unplanned. Knowing a bit more about you only makes reading your blog that much richer. I am excited for you and the new season that is ahead! Thank you for sharing your heart!

  • Emmymom
    April 20, 2015 at 5:52 PM

    You know I just have to say, I am proud of you and amazed by you. I love the women you and what you have done and accomplished in your life, especially when things didn’t go as planned. I worked with far too many women that started off on a similar path as you but then just completely gave up and didn’t grow to who they could be. This will be a change and a wonderful new adventure, I have no doubt you will be successful. And yes, glad you aren’t going to just totally stop blogging :)

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 24, 2015 at 11:44 AM

      Thanks for that, Emmy! I have lots of people to thank for helping me not give up. I certainly couldn’t have done it as well all on my own! :)

  • Stacie Stamper
    April 20, 2015 at 12:18 PM

    I love getting to hear the more personal side of your story. Everything happens for a reason, I believe. Exciting things ahead for you!

  • Jamie | The Healthy Passport
    April 20, 2015 at 1:58 PM

    Love your story girl! You are one determined momma :) It will be such an amazing experience to still have such a large amount of life left ahead of you when you become an empty nester! I probably still wont have any kids by 36 haha!! My blog is going to be changing as well…new career path, new ideas….change is good though!! I absolutely cannot wait to read about Scotland! We are headed there in a couple of weeks and I may just have to copy your trip :)

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 24, 2015 at 11:09 AM

      Nothing wrong with having kids in your late 30’s or even early 40’s! :)

      I’m so happy you’re going to Scotland before you head back to the States! I’m not sure I’ll have time to post before you go, but I’d be happy to email you our itinerary if you like. We really couldn’t have planned the trip any more perfectly. I was so pleased that we were able to do everything that we wanted to!

      • Jamie | The Healthy Passport
        April 24, 2015 at 11:24 AM

        Oh I would love you forever if you sent me your plans!! I was just checking your blog today to see if you had posted anything new!! We loved our first trip up and decided it would be fun to do again :)

        • Sarah Shumate
          April 24, 2015 at 11:46 AM

          No problem at all! I’ll email it to you today! We spent all of our days on Skye and I’m so happy we did. It’s such a gorgeous place!

  • Emma @ AdventuresofaLondonKiwi
    April 20, 2015 at 12:39 PM

    You are one amazing lady (but then I already knew that :D)

  • Jessi @2feet1world
    April 20, 2015 at 11:21 AM

    Wow, fascinating to hear more of your story. Look forward to following along with what the future holds for you – good luck!

  • Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
    April 20, 2015 at 10:04 AM

    I can’t even imagine the work you must have put in at university! To be honest, I think there’s a lot of pros to having kids younger, one of them being you’ve got the energy to keep up with them! I think it’s great that you turned a surprise situation into something so rewarding. I hope your new plans work out too, 36 is definitely not too old to be starting a new chapter!

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 24, 2015 at 11:06 AM

      I agree with you there! It would be a lot harder for me to keep up with a toddler now than it was back then! Not to mention staying up nights with a newborn. Yikes. As cute as babies are, I can’t say I miss that stage! :)