Regrets of a Young Momma

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The older I get the more I realize how young I was when I became a mother. I am beginning to realize how naive, clueless and inexperienced I was. I am just starting to realize the sadness that my mother had in her heart when she found out what I was about to face. Being a mother at any age is difficult, there is no doubt about it, but there is something extraordinarily hard about having motherhood tossed at you just as you are exiting your own childhood.

As of last week it has been four years since I found out I was pregnant. I often look back at that day for what it was, one of the scariest days of my life. There was no joy, there was no celebration. There was sadness, loneliness, and a whole lot of confusion. I didn’t know exactly how hard the road ahead of me was going to be. There was nothing anyone could say or do to fully prepare me. Lately for whatever reason I have had resentment seep into my thoughts. Not at my daughter or anyone in particular except for myself. Why was I so stupid? Why didn’t I think about what I was doing and the responsibility that I was taking on at such a young age? In my darkest moments I think that my daughter would have been better off with someone else. Someone who wasn’t still trying to figure themselves out or who could be happy playing and reading books for most of the day.

Maybe its these toddler years that are getting to me, or that it’s been over three years with no real break. Maybe I’m realizing that my own youth is slipping past me and I’m spending most of it changing diapers and buying juice boxes. Maybe it’s this stressful but incredible trip that made me realize how much harder life is with a child. When I got back last week I sat and cried to my mom, “I never even had a chance to be an adult.”

Life is full of choices and I’ve certainly made mine to get me to where I am today. Despite these dark moments, the second guessing and feelings of being a failure, I’d make the same damn choices again if it meant I got to be my little girls momma. It’s so difficult, but so worth it.

Post Trip Blues 

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Just one week ago I was in Norway on my way to London. Just a week and one day ago I had one of the most memorable nights of my life. I saw the northern lights. The day before we had spent over $100 each to take a bus out of the city to see the lights. We stood outside in the cold, but never saw a thing. We didn’t get back to our room until past 2am, but still didn’t see a thing. 

My sister seemed more disappointed than I was. Seeing the northern lights wasn’t really something I had thought about. A couple of my friends said they were jealous when I said I might see them, and I chuckled when I heard one of the popular songs on the radio talk about not seeing the lights. It just wasn’t something I had a chance to think about, but in that I discovered the beauty of the checking things off your bucket list that you never even knew were on it. 

It was the next night that my sister said she was going to step outside and see if she could spot anything. We were told it was much more difficult to spot the lights  in the city, but it was worth a shot. Not long after she went outside I got a call from her, she saw them! I rushed downstairs, as much as one can rush when needing to dress a 3-year-old for an arctic night. By the time I got there, they were gone. We decided we’d hike up the hill to find a more clear area, away from the city street lights. I went back inside to get extra layers and when I came back I had missed them again. Just my luck I thought. Frustrated but not completely hopeless we started to walk up the hill when all of a sudden, in the midst of bright street lights we see the northern lights just above us. As bright as be, just above our heads. It seemed as if I could easily fly up and touch it. It danced above us, swirling and starting to turn pink. If anything is perfect, this was it. It was surreal, beautiful and majestic. It was magical. 

When it stopped we continued up the hill until we found a graveyard of all things. We stood and saw it come and go, until we decided it best we didn’t stomp on anymore graves. Walking further we found a quiet spot, a small bit away from the street lights without too many trees blocking our way. The lights came on long strips, but the intensity was never like the first time I saw it. It was beautiful none the less. We stood there among the snow, staring up at the sky until my toes were numb. Much of the time we stayed silent as Eloise slept in the carrier. One time my sister mentioned how crazy it was that just 48 hours later I’d be home in San Diego. I closed my eyes, “but I’m not now.” 

I knew it would go by quickly. From the start, I knew. But there were so many moments when things were tough that it felt like our trip was at a snails pace. It’s always at the end that we realise just how fast it went. I’ve been home a week now, and I would do anything to be back with my frozen toes staring at the northern lights. I’d do anything to be drinking a beer and looking at the Eiffel Tower with my best friend. I’d love to go back to Italy and enjoy a plate of spaghetti and a glass of red wine, or be in Ireland drinking a Guinness. It’s difficult to go from the wild experiences we had, to home. I’ve never been completely happy at home. People say there is nothing like your own bed, but I’ve never felt that way. I’d rather be sleeping in my bed at the hostel in Edinburgh or the bed in Paris. My life feels very boring now. How can I top the last few months? I can’t, but I can hold on to the memories.  

 

Traveling to Europe with a 3-year-old 

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When I first found out we were going to Europe some of the reactions from my mom friends included “wow, you’re so brave!”, “I wouldn’t be able to do it, good for you.” and “you’re young, you can handle it better than me.” Most of these comments struck me as odd. Obviously these people haven’t traveled with their kids much. Last year we spent several months in Oregon, and since Ellie has been alive she has gone on 3 major road trips to the mid west, a flight to St. Louis, up to Oregon and back 2 times, up to Sacramento and a million trips to Disneyland. Sure, Europe was on the other side of earth, but what’s the big difference? 

Well, the time for one. If you’re thinking about taking a small child to Europe for less than a few weeks, don’t bother. We spent the first week adjusting to the time. Alone it would have been pretty easy to adjust within a day or two, but I didn’t have that option. I slept when she slept and I was awake when she was awake. My sister was also on her schedule   so it was difficult to enjoy our time in that first week. 

We’ve been here a couple weeks so we are adjusted now, but it almost seems that she can sense how far we really are, even though I know she can’t totally grasp it. She often crys for her grandma and says that she wants to go home. Granted we are traveling around more here, but in Oregon she never said things like that. Then again, 3 is a completely different age than 2. She asks a lot of questions about everything, which can sometimes be overwhelming for me, but I know she is just trying to make sense of everything. 

Traveling abroad can be stressful and overwhelming no matter how old you are. Traveling to Europe with a toddler is hard, but is it worth it? I think so. Though she may be young, we are learning a lot about the world and making great memories. I’m excited to tell her “when you were three we went on a big adventure!”  

 

Our Biggest Adventure Yet 

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My sister has had the travel bug since she left home at 18, 14 years ago. She would either be in some random part of the country working at a national park or some random part of the world hiking solo. It got to the point where I’d lose track of where she was and would make something up when people asked about her. I always thought it was cool because she was pursuing things that she loved, but I never really had the same desires. I always thought I would like to travel if I had the opportunity, but I wasn’t anxious to go looking for it.

When I got pregnant in 2012 it solidified that I wouldn’t be doing any of the typical, or as I like to call them, cliche young people things. You know, skydiving, partying every weekend, traveling to Europe and serial dating. I accepted these truths early on, and began my life as a young single mom. I have never been skydiving, I don’t date and very rarely “party”, my daughter is my bff and I proudly know the words to every Disney JR theme song. Life is different when you have a child, but there is still excitement and adventure to be had. 

Last winter we traveled to Oregon with my sister and her boyfriend and stayed on a farm for several months. I got a small taste of my sisters nomadic life and had a blast. It was tough and uncomfortable at times, but looking back I am so glad we did it. We had so much fun that my sister emailed me several months ago and said she wanted to go on a trip with us again this winter, possibly somewhere abroad. As a broke single mom I didn’t really know what our options were, but I was excited about the idea. Without much of a travel bug I hadn’t really thought much about places I would like to visit, but Europe always sounded nice. As I mentioned it to her, I really didn’t think anything would happen, but her travel wheels started turning and she started planning us a trip. Getting the flights for close to nothing, booking hostels and confirming farms we could work on like we did in Oregon. My sister isn’t just a talker, she’s a doer. I say that as I lay here in our hostel in the middle of London. 

Although my sister was planning everything, I was still nervous about coming to a foreign place, especially with a 3 year old, but this isn’t the kind of opportunity you pass up. This is our third night here, and honestly with the time difference it has been pretty tough, but also really incredible. It’s surreal to actually be here and experience this culture that we hear so much about. Though I brushed off the “cliche young people things” as things people in their 20’s need to do to feel validated, I feel incredibly blessed that I’m getting to experience on of them now. Not validated, but pretty blessed. 

 

When You Tell Me I’m Beautiful 

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When you tell me I’m beautiful you don’t know how many times I’ve looked at myself and said I’m ugly. You don’t know how many days I felt ugly, or how many times I did ugly things. 

When you tell me I have beautiful hair you don’t know how many days I’ve cried over it, obsessed over it. You don’t know about the time I cut my own bangs, or wanted to shave my head. 

When you tell me I have beautiful eyes you don’t know how many times I wished for bigger ones, or how many people have made jokes about them. 

When you tell me I’m beautiful you don’t care that I’m not as skinny as I use to be. When you tell me I have beautiful hair you don’t care that I’ve been wearing it in a pony tail for three years. When you tell me that I have beautiful eyes you don’t care that they’re small or that I can’t see much without glasses. 

When you tell me that I am beautiful, I believe it. I believe it because I see the beauty in you. I believe it because I know you came into my life for a reason. I believe because I know I was meant to be your mom. I believe it because I know you believe in me and mean it when you say I’m beautiful. When you tell me that I’m beautiful, I feel beautiful. 

24

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I’ve always felt that we all are allowed to feel old no matter our age because in this exact moment we are the oldest we have ever been. If we are talking about “old” in relation to life expectancy than sure, some of us are a lot younger than others, but at the end of the day we’re all still the oldest we have ever been. Earlier this evening I was realizing on the eve of my 24th birthday that I am entering the last year in my early 20’s. They might seem like such a silly thing if you’re in your 40’s or beyond, but to me it is something. 
I’ll always remember crying on my 13th birthday because I felt so old. It has only been 11 years since that day, and even in everything that has happened since then, I still understand why I was sad. I was starting my life as a teenager for the first time. Little did I know then that I would become a mother just a few months after leaving the teen years. It’s still so odd to think that I only lived 4 months in my 20’s before getting pregnant and being a mom. You could say I never got the chance to experience my youth, but somehow I would think you are wrong. My early 20’s were a lot different than many, but I’m learning just as much, getting to travel and even having a drink here or there. Life is a lot different than it might have been, but I have a feeling it is a lot more exciting with my sweet girl. 

As of a few minutes ago I am 24 years old. I don’t know what this next year will hold for me, but I am excited for the ride. 

Reflections on a Wedding Day 

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Yesterday I went to my friends wedding. It was 8 hours from where I live so it wasn’t easy getting there, but we made it. She asked if Ellie (my 2 year old) would be her flower girl. Though the bride and I hadn’t talked much in a couple years, I knew that asking Ellie to be in the wedding was a way of including me. I couldn’t help but think of all the wonderful times we had together. Even the times when we would talk about her future wedding, and how all her friends at the time would be in it. None of those friends, except me were even invited. Weddings are a time to reflect. Thinking about our relationship with the bride or groom, how much has changed and how quickly these moments go by. During the rehearsal I met the groom. She introduced me as a “friend from college” which is accurate, but I wondered when I had just become a friend from college to her now husband. How quickly things change. 

I don’t know anything about marriage or being a bride, but I do know how valuable true friendship is. There were multiple times when I realized that it didn’t really make sense for me to go to this wedding. I didn’t have the money, a way to get there and I was so sure that Ellie wouldn’t walk down the aisle. Even on our way there my friend who drove me almost turned around because she wasn’t feeling well. Things were stacked against me making it, but I am so grateful that I did. The bride was a friend who never judged me throughout my crazy days, and was always there to listen when I needed her. The least I could do was be there for her on her wedding day. 

This weekend ended up being worth all the trouble, but it also gave me a chance to reflect on a lot of things. What kind of friends do I want in my life, and what kind of friend am I? It’s truly incredible how quickly life changes. I’ve learned to except the expected and go with whatever may come our way. Oh, and Ellie DID walk down the aisle. Much more on that later.