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.
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.
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 – @thewanderblogger.
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. :)