From Failure to Thrive to Success through Empowerment by Kristin
I didn’t want to be a mom. I never babysat. The idea of changing diapers was gross and laborious. The very concept of child birth terrified me. What did I know about raising children? I will tell you what I knew about motherhood, I knew exactly what I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want to be… her.
You see, I was born to a 15 year old girl. A young woman who saw having a baby as a way out of her own abusive home. Born prematurely, I entered the world fighting for survival. By the time I was just six months old, I was taken from her custody and placed into foster care, labeled a “failure to thrive”. Toward the end of the first year of my life, my mother found herself pregnant again. When my sister was born, the state deemed her a suitable custodian and I was returned to her care. An action that I still question but have learned to accept as part of my journey. As a result of her own personal traumas, my mother was emotionally and mentally unwell and turned to drugs for relief. I witnessed several overdoses, met too many of her “friends”, and learned to cook and clean by age five so that my sister and I could eat. Phrases like, “go play in the street and get hit by a Mac truck” regularly echoed in my ears hours after she yelled them from behind her bedroom door.
Through it all, though, I knew that I would never become like her. I worked hard in school, obeyed all the rules, went to church, and avoided even kissing a boy until I was past the age she was when I was conceived. I graduated, with honors, from high school and was accepted into the local Christian college. That same summer, I married my high school sweetheart and was promoted to assistant manager at the restaurant I had worked at since I was 16. I was writing my own happily ever after and that story did not include failing at motherhood because I simply wouldn’t become a mother.
Life definitely has a way of teaching us lessons we need to learn, though. Just over a year into our marriage, my husband and I learned that we were expecting our first child, a son. Four years, countless prayers, and three miscarriages later my daughter entered our lives. As a young mother, I read every parenting book, subscribed to all the parenting magazines, joined all of the play groups, attended every story time, and even began a stay at home mom support group. With the birth of my daughter my perspective shifted from trying to prove to the world what I would not become to setting the example I wanted her to follow.
The year she was born, I decided to go back to college and obtained a degree in business. I wanted to be her example of an educated and empowered woman. Two years after that, I began working outside the home part time. I wanted to be her example of an empowered working mother. Two years after that, my marriage ended and it was an opportunity to show her that empowerment comes from pursuing your happiness and becoming confident in who you are as an individual. On my quest to raise an empowered woman, I became an empowered woman.
It hasn’t been without its share of hard lessons, however. When she was six she was diagnosed with ADHD w/impulsivity and was placed on medication. She cried every day for 6 years because she had to take medicine. She didn’t like the way it made her feel, she felt different than the other kids because she had to take medicine to make her more like them, she began experiencing depression and when it became too much, she approached me as an empowered adolescent and asked if she could stop taking her medicine. I agreed and together we began to research holistic methods for quieting the mind, as well as creating balance within her physical body to regulate the chemical and hormonal imbalances that caused her symptoms. Within weeks she experienced real and dramatic positive changes. Her grades went from failing to merit roll. Her smile returned. Her creativity blossomed and she discovered a passion for art. Last year, she began experiencing severe pain and bleeding associated with dysmenorrhea. When her pediatrician recommended low dose hormone therapy (birth control), she immediately looked at me and asked if there was another way. Once again, our search for holistic therapies proved successful. This young lady had become an empowered and educated advocate for her health and reaped the benefits of doing so.
These experiences sparked within me a great desire to empower more women. I felt a calling to help other women and girls to feel more confident, especially in matters of health and wellness. I wanted to share all we had learned with other women who felt helpless (and sometimes bullied) by our pharmaceutical sales driven healthcare system. I enrolled in a Holistic Health Practitioner program and made it my mission to support women specifically in their maiden and mother phases by providing holistic and alternative remedies and support services that nurture and heal. Now, as a birth and postpartum doula and women’s holistic health advocate I have daily opportunities to spread empowerment and confidence. I will forever be grateful for EJ, not only for being my biggest motivator and cheerleader, but for initiating the perspective change that perpetuated this positive cycle of sharing empowerment.
Kristin is also the Founder of Living Amity :)