I've been a mom for twenty-six years.
I was a single mom first at the age of twenty, intent to do everything backwards, it seems. I met my husband when my daughter was five, and became a married mom, and a step-mom to a second delightful girl, two years younger to the day than my daughter. They were fast buddies, and eventually, when my husband adopted my daughter, truly became the sisters they were from the moment they first met.
My husband and I each had a child from prior relationships, so when I turned thirty we got to work *practicing* with every arrogant assumption that we would be fruitful together. Two years passed without a pregnancy, we'd moved and I became a stay-at-home mom for the first time, and I got a puppy. A furry little replacement baby until the Universe decided it was time for the human variety.
It would take six years, during which I was diagnosed with PCOS and endometriosis, suffered one loss, two surgeries, a multitude of disappointments, was one ovary down, and on my way to a likely hysterectomy if I didn't find an alternative to the conventional INfertility path. The path that focused on IMpossible, and UNlikely, and ADVANCED age, and FAILURE. The path that, the temperature charting and obsessing of which, caused untold stress, weight-gain and wrinkles. I hate wrinkles, dammit! And it contributed to adrenal fatigue and chronic acidosis, and babies won't grow in an acidic environment.
And so, I sought another path. A path of healing, a path of spirituality, a path of empowering myself to follow my instincts and use my intuition to take control of my wellness and my FERTILITY; a path that would lead the little spirit I wasn't ready for before, to finally come to be my amazing, bright, imaginative now ten-year-old son. I've come to understand that the Universe had known better. There had been so much more I needed to know before I was ready to mother my son. He was born when our daughters were sixteen and fourteen, and everything I thought I knew about being their mom/step-mom, I had to relearn when it came to my son.
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And actually there is something missing, and has been for over ten years...an income stream. Not that I would trade a moment of the last ten years of being *just* a stay at home mom to the delightful, imaginative, remarkable boy it took six long years to brew, but I've definitely missed working and contributing a paycheck to our household--financial independence, choices, etc. It's also put a tremendous amount of pressure on my poor husband. It's miraculous, in fact, that despite two job losses in the last seven years, he's managed to keep us going all this time, though it hasn't been without great cost.
What a bum I've been!
There goes that Momma-guilt machine again, dammit!
We moms seem to be damned if we do and damned if we don't. The incessant demands of the every-day life of the Stay At Home Mom leave us weary; fulfilled to a degree, but in ways that are so far removed from professional, we're sometimes left feeling broken and like the huge holes in our resumes have closed any portal to job fulfillment that may have once been open. This leaves many of us paralyzed with fear that prevents any attempt to enter the workforce ever again.
I've been reminded recently of all that we've overcome and all the *work* I have done over the last sixteen years, and things have happened since my last post to compel me to share them, and to create a business out of it, resume gap and Wage Gap be-damned!
I haven't been a businesswoman since we closed our restaurant in 2001, and obviously that didn't exactly leave me feeling like I was a successful one. I haven't been much of anything besides a tired, Warrior Mom who managed to heal her own infertility naturally, and then rescued her infant son from a probable future of profound neurological deficit, and then spent the next years of his life fixing the damage he'd incurred and discovering how in the world to help him become the best version of himself he can possibly be.
Nah, I haven't done a damn thing.
I couldn't have done any of it without the undying support and faith from my husband. Sometimes he was just holding on tight and going along for the ride, but I certainly wouldn't be here without him. It was just Father's Day and his birthday was yesterday, so I feel compelled to celebrate him--though it isn't nearly enough. He took our son to the movies this weekend to allow me to make progress on the launch of my new program, GANE Possible: RECLAIM Your Fertility. This will hopefully allow me to pass along everything I've learned in the last sixteen years and truly make a difference in our lives, by making a profound difference in the lives of others, and perhaps even someday in the world.
I must also thank Alissa Sheftic of Sheftic Communications & Imagery. She not only did a beautiful job editing the great picture my husband (he was just learning the ins and outs of the new professional camera he'd procured) took of me around midnight in our dimly lit kitchen, but she spent a good chuck of time and effort to help me align my efforts, and to better develop my branding. I've still got a ways to go and look forward to more assistance from her, but this evolution couldn't have happened without her amazingly wise and capable advice. Anyone with similar goals would benefit fantastically from employing the services of her new company.
And finally, through the amazing coaching and instruction of Nicola Bird of JigsawBox, I was able to finally recognize her amazing education portal tool as the answer it is to the question, HOW can I possibly accomplish what I hoped to accomplish in 2013, beyond simply publishing a book that you read (maybe) and set aside, and to do it now?
It's all been part of the process of self-discovery, of learning who I am, who I hope to become, and how I hope to change the world, or at least my small piece of it, for the better. I believe that's what 2013 is all about: not accepting the status quo, using your innate gifts to better your own life by bettering the lives of others, and empowering yourself to build the future you desire. Whether or not you believe the Wage Gap is a misrepresentation, as most media buzz words are, it doesn't matter if you put yourself in the driver's seat.
One thing I've learned so far this year, without a doubt...absolutely anything is POSSIBLE...if you only believe it, reach out, take action, and just do it!
I was sitting in my neighbor's kitchen having coffee this morning, looking out over her spectacular view of the San Diego coast, and wishing we didn't live on the other side of the street. We were chatting about the things neighbors chat about, and I told her about my recent daily writing expedition for BlogHer's NaBloPoMo. And lo and behold, today's writing prompt asks us "Would you rather have more blog readers or more blog comments?" This is timely for me because I was lamenting that the blog I started with one measly entry back in 2006 not only fails to define me now, but I fear it also fails to attract readers. Being gluten free defined me then, because I allowed it to define me. All these years later, however, being gluten free represents only one very small facet of my life, my experience, and what I feel I can contribute to the Blogosphere.
Point in fact: I finally had the chance yesterday to visit and peruse Melissa Ford's blog, "Stirrup Queens." Before visiting, I couldn't imagine what a blog of that title was about. I assumed she was an expert of all things horsey; that perhaps she road horses, showed horses, owned a barn, shoveled shit in a barn, heck, maybe she even did her writing in her barn. I've met some horsey people from my daughter's years of taking riding lessons, and am familiar with the drama that tends to go on in barns. I thought it could be an entertaining way to pass the afternoon, and it could prove to be good research. Well you could have knocked me over with a flake of hay when I discovered that the stirrups to which she was referring were the ones we women put our heels into when a doctor type is having a look...er, down there!
It turns out that Stirrup Queens is a meticulous blog, into which Melissa has put an incredible amount of volunteer work. It connects women who are dealing with or have dealt with infertility (IF), whatever the outcome. Oh, to have had access to this fifteen years ago, but it still very much resonated with me because it isn’t something you forget or ever get over. Within her blog are sub-blogs that help connect those with one diagnosis vs. another who, through whatever means, achieved pregnancy but without a baby at the end (me), those who have adopted, and those who were blessed to give birth to a baby or babies at the end of it all (also me, very fortunately so). Through Melissa's blog, I came upon "Certainly Not Cool Enough To Blog," written by a woman who identifies herself only as "msfitzita," whose journey through infertility has come to an unfruitful end, with which she is trying to make peace. She writes so eloquently about being a "childless mother," and being in "perpetual mourning," and her feelings are so raw and palpable; she puts into words almost everything I've ever felt about being a mother, trying to be a mother again, being a mother whose monumental efforts end in loss, and even being a mother who can't believe some days how blessed I am to have become one again. I can't know how it feels to be a mother who can't touch, sing to, mold, treasure, and even fight with her children, except through msfitzita's beautifully penned words, and others like her.
It's been tossing about in my mind for some time, but it is partly through reading her blog that I understood that being a mother is the very essence of who I am, and permeates every facet of who I became the moment I realized I was pregnant with my daughter at only twenty years old and alone; as well, through the struggles and riches of being a step-mom. If I possess an ounce of the power to help and connect others as these women do, I would rather have more readers, whether or not they ever post a comment. I don't think I can do that with the Gluten-Free Gratefully name I chose for my blog so many years ago. The only people who are likely to read it now are those who are looking specifically for gluten-free answers, recipes and advice, of which there are probably thousands out there now. Back then there weren't so many, and if I hadn't been so mired in our daily dietary and behavioral struggles, and trying to survive from one day to the next, like Melissa I might now be recognized as a pioneer in that community.
And here's another thing...I didn't follow the normal, ‘conventional medicine’ path to have my son. I started out that way, but my path veered off in a very different direction, when I overcame my polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis through natural, dietary and holistic means. This is also something about which I feel I can share and contribute. It is also the original vision I had for my wannabe website, "GlutenNaziMom;" yet another example of the ideas being right there, but the execution hovering just out of reach due to my self-diagnosed ADD ways. Not only am I all over the place in my daily life, I'm pretty much all over the place on the internet, too. So in this particular case, if you are reading, I would appreciate your comments with any pointers in the right direction. Speaking of which, I need to catch up on that Writing for the Internet online course I'm taking so I can figure out how to put it all together into one place.
Author|Award-Winning Essayist|Freelance CommercialWriter|GANE
Kim was selected as a BlogHer '13 Voices of the Year Honoree in the Op Ed category for this post, an excerpt of which has been adapted for inclusion in the book, 51%: Women and the Future of Politics, to be released late 2014. Visit her Wordpress About page to see her CV.
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