One mom’s story of overcoming both tragic loss and a difficult upbringing to create a happy family life with her husband and kids.
Nobody is more surprised than me that I ended up in a totally traditional family setting.
Surprised, but most definitely delighted. And grateful.
My parents split when I was four and it wasn’t very amicable. Neither was my stepmother, who often demonstrated that the “evil” behaviour in my favourite fairy tales and their Disney adaptations wasn’t that far from reality.
Though the stresses and strains of being a single mom occasionally knocked her down, as a university professor of math, computer science, and physics, my mother advocated for the importance of education and the fulfillment and enjoyment a career can bring.
But as she approached her mid-thirties she began experiencing extreme mood swings and exhibiting erratic behaviour. It started getting bad, and then it got worse. A diagnosis of manic depression (what’s now called bipolar disorder) soon followed, as did multiple extended stays in hospitals and mental health facilities. She took her own life shortly before her 41st birthday. I was 17. If not for the unfaltering support and unconditional love from my paternal grandmother and aunties, I’m not sure where I’d be right now.
I didn’t believe in happy endings. Until I created my own.
I had some great boyfriends, but I also kissed a lot of frogs. It wasn’t until I had truly come to peace with the fact that my fun career and loving family were enough that my Prince Charming fell into my lap. Or rather, I ended up in his at our company holiday party.
Now, almost fourteen years later, we are blessed with our daughter Megan, who is almost nine, and our son Riley, who is five. As a family we could not be more “normal”—although I appreciate the irony that the “normalness” I craved as a kid is actually now, in all probability, not the norm. Our weeks fly by in a whirlwind of commutes, careers, daycare, school, chores and activities, but with as much fun as we can squeeze in and a healthy dose of laughter.
Of course there never seems to be enough hours in the day. There is never enough time or money. The house is always a mess except for five minutes on a Saturday afternoon after it’s been tidied. And sometimes we struggle with being the parents we wish we had when we were kids as opposed to the parents our kids actually need.
But we cherish our downtime, go on incredible trips, and try to get out and experience as much of our awesome city as we can.
Cinderella sang that, “A dream is a wish your heart makes.” Our “normal” life is beyond anything I could have dreamed or wished for. And I know we’ll live happily ever after.
This is #1000families post number 60. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.