| by Stephanie Stewart |
In my 20s, I did not truly know myself or what life had in store for me. There was a time in my life that I believed I would not have children. I married a man that did not want to have children. He and I were both very concerned about the state of the world and considered having children to be the ultimate “selfish” act since they do not choose to be brought into this world.
As I grew older, my views began to change. I was driven to be successful in my career. This was fulfilling for several years. I enjoyed the freedom of doing whatever I wanted with my spouse and friends.
However, one of my dear friends had their first child when I was in my early 30s. I began to understand how wonderful Motherhood could be. I also realized that life is a gift. Yes, children do not choose to be brought into the world; however, life is precious. I began to feel compelled to have a family.
Part of the reason I shied away from starting a family was my own history. My own Mother suffered from severe depression. She was very difficult to live with and struggled to put the needs of her children above her own. I feared I did not have the skills or genetic composition to be a good parent. As I matured, I realized that she and I were polar opposites. I knew I was capable of being a great Mom based upon my many wonderful friendships and giving spirit.
After my Mother passed away (I was 34 at the time), I began to realize that my need to have a family was a critical part of my future. Career could never be as fulfilling as a family for me. My spouse’s Mother passed away six months after my own. He and I had a resurgence in our relationship and decided to start a family. Unfortunately, he changed his mind a few months later. I was very upset, and after a few months, I realized that this was a deal breaker for our relationship. We had our other battles, but this was the tipping point. We were divorced later that year.
At the age of 35, I felt I was young, but my biological clock was definitely ticking. A year after dating on various dating websites (ugh), I met my spouse to be. He shared my desire for family. The first week that we dated, I knew he was “the one”. We met in August 2008, and were married in March 2011.
I turned 40 in June of 2011. I remember feeling sad and concerned that my dream of having my own family would never be. A few weeks later I was at work complaining about how awful I felt. As I complained to a female co-worker, a bell went off in my head. Could I be pregnant? I looked at the calendar – I was “late”. I had never been late. I was so excited that I drove to the drug store during lunch. I even took the pregnancy test at work. It was positive!!
My sweet Sydney Evelyn was born in March 2012 (4 days after our first anniversary). Nothing could have prepared me for the joy and love I felt for her. For the first time in my life, I wanted to leave work “on time” to be with her. Being an older Mom, I felt guilty about both being separated from her and leaving work every day. I felt torn between my devotion to her and feeling like I was not giving enough to work. I had always had a strong work ethic. Then I realized that having a family gave me the reason I needed to have a healthy balance in my life. I stopped beating myself up for not doing enough for my sweet baby girl or my career.
In November of that year, my spouse and I decided we wanted to have a second child. Since were older, we wanted Sydney and her sibling to have each other. A week before Christmas, I felt different. I took a pregnancy test, but it was not positive. I was convinced that I was pregnant. Five days later I tested positive. I was so filled with joy once again. At Christmas Eve service, my spouse said, “What about Noelle for a girl?”. I said, “that is beautiful – if it’s a girl, done!” Since I was at this point 41 years old, I qualified for the latest genetic testing at 11 weeks. We were quite pleased to learn on our 2nd anniversary that we were expecting another baby girl. My precious Noelle was born in August 2013 (3 days before my planned C-Section). What a blessing.
I cannot imagine my life without my girls. Nor can I express the depth of love or joy that I feel. There are no words. Every day I love them more. It is such an adventure to hear their words, to see the affection they have for each other, to listen to their conversations with each other, to hear their observations and see the world through their eyes, and most of all, to hear them call me “Mama”.
I look forward to every moment yet to come.