a mom of four! - Mother\'s Day 2008

What Defines Me

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about definition. What defines me? I used to try to describe myself with vitals, lists, things like that. All you would really know in that case is that I am 31, a Chicago suburbanite, literary yet techy -minded, a sarcastic romantic, a daughter, sister, friend, a teacher, a writer, a fan.

But for most of my adult life, what defined me was my desire to have kids. And slowly, through painful processes, those kids came. They came in the form of “friend-nieces & nephews” from a very fertile group of friends. One came in the form of my sweet nephew Andrew, the blonde-haired, blue eyed, son of my brother, who now as an 8 year old, I can no longer call my Prince Pooh.

They came in the form of Josh & Paige, the children I inherited on March 28, 2003, when I married my best friend Rod. A realization came to me lately that being a stepmom is a huge definer in my life. It’s something as special and sacred as motherhood, but something not nearly as many people understand. It comes with its own set of rules, emotions, guilt, relationships, and blessings. I am still learning about it daily, five years later.

In the fall of 2004, I was diagnosed with infertility. This was, quite honestly, my nightmare come true. It’s a condition I had irrationally and always feared, and it was devastating. I plugged through, concentrating on finishing my teaching degree and being somewhat dutifully happy as several more friends got pregnant.

A little over a year later, days after my 29th birthday, I began my career as a high school English teacher – another lifelong dream – and made the decision with Rod that rather than pursue fertility treatments, we would begin the process of a Chinese adoption that summer (China requires adoptive parents to be age 30 or over).

I was grounded. I began to accept that my “worst” fate as a mother would be “only” having Josh and Paige as my kids, and I counted myself blessed. I also watched my brother marry his ideal mate, and I began to feel a sense of purpose in sharing my “stepmomdom” with my new sister.

And then, about a month after their wedding, I began to notice changes in myself. You know the rest of the story, right? On April 12th 2006, it was confirmed: I was pregnant. On November 22 of that year, Miranda Rose was born. And on June 29, 2007, an even bigger surprise: with Miranda only 6 months old, we were expecting again.

So my definition, I suppose, is grace and gratefulness. There is a lot more to me than what these simple paragraphs tell. There are stories of shortcomings and redemption and triumphs and disappointments. The bottom line, for my life as it is now, is that I have more than I could have imagined, I love my family, and while the moment I became a mommy was not the defining moment in my life, it has put my life in amazing perspective.

The rest is in the living.

Pictured: A mom of 4, Mothers Day 2008