Now I can’t imagine life without her and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Finding a harmonious way to balance my two big loves, motherhood and journalism,  took longer than expected but the journey was well worth it. Here is a vulnerable glimpse of our story and how the love of a child transformed me.

Imagine being 22 years old and discovering you are pregnant. Imagine being a new university graduate with approximately $14 in a chequing account. No savings. No Line of Credit. No employment lined up. No RRSPs. No Life Insurance. No Will. No investments.
Imagine not owning a car or a home. Imagine being in a poorly-matched marriage. Imagine planning to inform friends and family you wanted a divorce. Imagine the feeling of complete and utter powerlessness of this situation. Then you will glimpse how I felt in July 2004 when I learned I was in my first trimester of pregnancy. Imagine the shame. Imagine the despair. Imagine the feeling of loss of life which paralyzed me to my core.

Back then, in the summer of 2004, I was fresh out of university with degrees in English Literature and Education. I was ready to end my marriage and begin a new life, a new profession. But I had felt sick for three weeks straight. Nausea and insomnia plagued me daily. My appetite was ravenous and I was desperately craving meat even though I had been vegetarian for a decade. My plan had been to move back from Kingston to Niagara and to inform my husband I wanted a divorce. I didn’t have all the details worked out. Where would I live? Where would I work? Who would help me through the transition? I didn’t know but I took each day as it came and was moving closer and closer to this outcome. But I had been feeling so physically ill that I couldn’t get a clear plan of action together. I kept thinking, “When I feel better, then I’ll tell him I’m leaving.”

So you can imagine my surprise and shock in mid-July when I took a pregnancy test just to eliminate this as a possible cause for my on-going sickness. I expected it to be negative. But it was positive. As I stared down at that little pink line indicating “pregnant” I went into a state of shock which lasted for days, maybe weeks. I left the house without telling anyone where I was going and I walked down to one of my favourite places by the water. I sat there on a bench looking out at the water, watching the clouds, noticing the birds. A baby? Now?….. “No” I thought. “No. Not now. Not here.” I couldn’t believe it. I was numb from head to toe. I was devastated.

In a small town in 2004 there was no room for a broke and unemployed university graduate to branch out on her own. Without access to money, without my own apartment, without a car, without confidence to tell my friends and family that I was living in a loveless marriage, without any resources at all, I just had to succumb to my circumstances and put on this “new role.” I made the best of it and played the “role” of “happy mother” even though a part of me inside felt like it has just been murdered.

I felt as though my dream of being an independent woman was impossible. I felt like sharing my hopes was criminal.

I quickly learned how to “play the role of happy mother.” Give up coffee; Stop colouring hair; Include more nutrition; Sleep at a decent hour. The instructions were clear. I read books about parenting. Joined a neighbourhood mother’s group. I did all the “right things.” I felt strongly that I wanted to do everything to give my child the best I could.

Unfortunately, internally there was a full-out ferocious combat going on between what we can describe here as “two parts” or “two visions” of myself. At the time they were not compatible visions.

One vision was of being a mother. The other vision was of being a freelance journalist. I saw myself interviewing ordinary people doing extraordinary things and publishing in newspapers and magazines. In this vision, I didn’t ever imagine anyone with me, ever. Not a husband. Not a daughter. Not a friend. Just me. I didn’t feel lonely about it either. In fact, even still, when I think of this lifestyle I feel so much Joy and Happiness. If I could live like this, I feel I would be connected to who I truly am, at a soul’s level.

Instead, I accept these imposed cultural roles, titles, responsibilities. The reality is that my inherited financial situation determines the level of my “freedom.” Living as a traveling journalist requires money, and not only do I not have money, nor do my parents, nor did any of their parents, or their parent’s parents.

Since I had these two different visions of myself – one which came from inside my soul and one which was imposed on me by my culture – one might hope that actually becoming a mother might have suddenly made it easier to want to be a mother. But it didn’t.

Over time, it became clear to me that what others would call “negative experiences” in my past had in fact hardened my heart. I was comfortable isolating myself from others because I had lost hope on humanity to some degree.

The miracle is that the radiant love from this little girl warmed and transformed my cold heart.

Her Innocence. Her Love. Her Light. Her Beauty. Her Joy. Her Humour. Her Hope. Her Dreams. Her Enthusiasm. Her Strength. Her Perseverance. Her Courage. Her Integrity. Her Grace. All these qualities she possesses so naturally warmed my heart just by knowing her.

Then suddenly, one day, more recently than I’d like to admit, I went in to wake her up in the morning and when I saw her sleeping there in her bed with her arm wrapped around her brown Bear’s neck, I just felt a wave of Happiness to be a mother. Finally.

Finally I feel very lucky to be a mother. I am grateful to God, the Universe, the Creator to have finally found a merging of my two visions for life, my two passions. To be a mother AND to be a writer, happening in harmony, at last.

The bloody battle is over. And there is Peace, as last.

What I realize now is that the issue was not that I “didn’t want to be a mother”…in truth, I didn’t want to be an “impoverished, powerless, devastated mother.” I wanted to be a Strong and Powerful mother, one who contributes in a meaningful way to the betterment of her family and her community. I wanted to be a mother who shares her Gift for writing meaningful stories. And at last that is exactly the type of mother I have finally become.

rachelandgracie

Gracie and I on a hiking trail in spring 2016