Closing a chapter, reflecting on it, and looking towards a beautiful future.

My path has not been straight and narrow.  Lord knows it has been far from it!  It has been wide, often taking the longest, steepest routes possible.  At times it has been covered with tears, and other times marked with laughter.  The path has been one of solitude and one of companionship.  It has seen new life and death, failure and accomplishment.  This path has carried me through dark nights, but even brighter days.  Sunny moments highlighting the beauty of life are the ones I have most enjoyed.  However, it was the moments of sadness and struggle that brought new growth.  That’s the way it happens.

Bahama Lovin'

Last night marked the end of a chapter for me.  It was my final class, an ESL/ELL teaching internship.  It was perfect.  I handed in my paper and taught one last time, officially.   A BS in Psychology from the University of Georgia is the tangible reward.  Yet it is so much more than that.

Thousands of  men and women graduate each year.  It is a reasonable, sound goal.  I find it to be a personal triumph not so much because of the academic challenges.   Rather I feel success because I fought my way through the battles, internal and external, that raged at times.  I attended three universities, and changed majors three times.  From Methodist University to the University of Georgia, and English to Psychology, I flowed where I needed.  I left a dreadful marriage, and entered a beautiful one.  I gave birth to three amazing children.  I developed deep friendships, and strengthened family bonds.  Essentially, I grew up.

When I look back on the person I was when I set forth towards this goal, I shake my head.  That girl was stubborn, foolish and determined.   It was survival.  A mother at the age of 16, thrown into a great big world full of adult choices, I made some piss poor decisions.  Exhibit A:  getting married at the age of 16.  In what underdeveloped portion of my brain did I think that was even a remotely great idea?  The better question is, would I change it?

Nope. Most certainly not.  My current reality would have been altered.  I am where I am because of those choices.  The person I was needed to hit her head against the wall to get it right.  I learn by doing.  And sometimes I did really stupid things.  I let a man define me.  I let him artificially build me up and tear me down.  I broke the collective hearts of my family.  I was selfish.  I was seeking independence, yet had managed to create a world for myself that would prevent it.  Ironic.

What I did get right during that time was love.  I was one hundred and ten percent in love with my two tiny daughters.  Born less than a year apart, they were the lights of my life.  And as their mother, I have no regrets.  Each day I smothered them with kisses and loved them with all of my heart.  They did not know that their mother was just a child herself, nor did they care.  I truly believe that love is enough when it is pure. I wanted to love them like my mother loved me.  So I loved them through the hard times and the happy times.  From the moment they were born, that’s what I did.  I made a choice to bring them into the world, and I knew I better make damn sure I gave them all I had.

Vermont's Long Trail/AT

Mother-Daughter backpacking trip

A strong maternal bond is like no other.  It is a mama bear protecting her cubs from intruders, mama goose with her goslings, and it was me with my girls.  Defying the odds is no easy feat.  I should have, according the statistics, fallen on my face.  Yet the love I spoke of earlier has a hand in my story.  My mom and dad, who I have come to truly respect as the individuals they are, have taught me what true love is.  They continue to feed my soul with their support.  I have always felt their collective encouragement.  As an adult, I have come to understand that this is the greatest gift I have been given.  No matter what happens in this world, I have two amazing people who will give me their honest opinion, perhaps shaking their heads, yet loving me anyway.

So while this started as my story, it ends as a tribute to my parents. Mom and Dad, thank you.  Life has thrown us one hell of a wild ride, but here we are, holding on, with smiles.  I carry your message of love in my heart, it makes me strong. I use to it nourish my own children. And while I am biased, I must say, it is working.

Thanksgiving Turkeys Granddaddy HikeSibling Climb

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13 thoughts on “Closing a chapter, reflecting on it, and looking towards a beautiful future.

  1. A big congratulations, Amber. Having known your challenges from a distance, I always admired how gracefully you seemed to navigate them. I don’t romanticize the difficulties you have overcome to get where you are, but I know for sure that you are one hell of a person, and you inspire me. True grit. Thank you for sharing this. I have never regretted my poor choices, either. I would have never been brought to this moment on a different path. I’m so glad you can look back at it all with a sense of appreciation. Xo

    • Thank you for your heartfelt words April. Your warmness is felt all the way up here in chilly Rhode Island;) Sharing bits of my story helps me to learn from myself and ensures that I give credit where credit is due! I certainly believe that our triumphs are rarely accomplished in solidarity.

  2. I’m so thankful to know you and have you as a friend. You’re an incredibly resilient woman, and like your babies–you’ve taught me so much over the years. You’re loved and treasured more than you know! Your mom and dad, brother, husband, and everyone else in your life are no doubt proud as heck to know you as am I. Keep shining.

    • Wow, you ladies are bringing the love today! Thanks Ash, I know this post deeply resignates with you. Funny how parallel our lives have been at times, yet we were brought together through our love of adventure. I look forward to many years of crazy adventures with you by my side. May we continue to persue our dreams and brighten the world with humor and life’s true pleasures!

  3. That is awesome Amber, congratulations! What a great example for your kids and thank heavens for supportive parents! Hopefully the next chapter of your life has less homework 🙂

  4. Congratulations on achieving your goal through such a myriad of obstacles. But hey, you like defeating obstacles, right? You are such an inspiration to me, and I am so proud of you for sticking it out and finishing well. You go girl! Awesome mama, athlete, and woman!

    • Hey Jessica! I have such great memories of the girls playing in your parent’s backyard…seems like a lifetime ago! Thanks for your sweet words. I’d love to catch up next time I’m in town:)

  5. My entire body got chills reading this. I feel so incredibly honored to know you. I look up to you in many way, but especially as a mother and seeing you in action with your kids and mine freed me to love more deeply. You are real, you are solid, and you flow. Keep flowing miss amber. I am a better mama and human being thanks to you. And you do have incredible children.

  6. What a beautiful tribute, Amber. Graduating from UGA was one of my proudest moments, too, not because of the difficulty I experienced academically, but like you, because of the odds I had to beat to achieve it – financially and otherwise. Congrats!

    • Thank you April for the sincere congratulations. I happened to take a peek at your blog…your writing, especially regarding your beautiful baby girls, brought tears to my eyes. Straight from your heart:)

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