This is part of my “story,” what helped shape me.
I can remember being in elementary school and someone asking what I would want life to be like when I am sixty. I matter-of-factly said I can’t imagine ever being that old. I’m betting he just thought it was because I was a child and that sixty seemed old. In reality, it was because I thought I would not live past thirty.
As I revealed in my last blog, I grew up with my dad having died when I was three months old. I want to discuss a way that his death seems to have affected me: I grew up believing that I would not outlive the age my father lived. He died a week before his thirtieth birthday.
The goals and dreams I had for myself always had an end date. I truly thought that by February 15, 2012, I would be dead. Let me clarify, I did not want to die by age thirty, I just felt that I would. For me, this caused a great drive to succeed and accomplish things at a younger age. I married a month before turning twenty-two. I had my first child at twenty-four and my second at twenty-seven. I strove to make a positive difference in the world at a young age (something I continue to strive for).
At one point, I remember discovering my older sister felt the same way. I was flipping through channels one day and saw Oprah was on. The whole episode was about children (now adults) who feared dying at the same age their parents died. I couldn’t believe that others felt the same way. I immediately called my sister and told her what I was watching. I then admitted I had always felt I would not see thirty. I was shocked to hear she felt the same way.
When she turned thirty, she threw a huge party. She had made it past the feared age! Instead of relief, fear then settled in that my dad was the second child (and I’m told I very much take after him), and therefore my sister made it because she was the firstborn. The rational side of me knew it was ridiculous but a part of me still feared that I would not see thirty and I would leave my children motherless. I even talked to my husband about how he would need to find a good mother for them.
The fear was a constant companion. I have had many medical tests done fearing the worst and finding nothing.
In 2011, I went ahead with the “plan” of having my kids three years apart (and we wanted three kids). Once pregnant with my third, I realized that I would be pregnant when I turned thirty. This took away some of my fear of turning thirty as I truly felt my baby would be okay. I did not throw a huge party but quietly took in the day with my husband and kids. I had made it!
I still worry about aches and pains more than many. My husband would say I’m still a hypochondriac. But, I don’t regret where my fear took me. I wouldn’t trade where my choices led me.
I frequently wonder what the story is of the kids I’m working with. That’s part of my job-to help them find it.
I’d love to hear your story!