My Time for Enlightenment

   I'm happily married with two healthy little girls and we just moved into a new house.  Who knew it would take 30 years of blood, sweat, and tears to write that sentence?  More specifically, the last five years of my life have been an absolute whirlwind. 

   My husband and I got married in April after dating for two and a half years.  For various reasons, we had convinced ourselves we couldn't get pregnant and just recently resolved our life together as a childless, jet-setting one.  A honeymoon and a few months later, I had been feeling like absolute death and was unable to remove myself from the couch for several days.  But, enough was enough, I had to get over it and find the strength to go to work. I put on a wink and a smile and dragged myself through another show.  My mom still came to watch me walk in fashion shows and it always warmed my heart to see her in the crowd, especially that day.  The show was at Northpark Mall so we decided to go shopping afterwards.  I'll never forget the moment that I just felt too ill to go on, and sat down in the purse aisle of Macy's. 

Mom- What are you doing??
Me- I'm sorry Mom.  I just have to sit down.  I've never felt this sick!  I think I'm dying or something.
Mom- What?  What's wrong?  What hurts?
Me-  Everything!  I'm nauesous. I'm exhuasted.  My head hurts, my back hurts, my whole lower body hurts, everything hurts!  (insert moan and a large, obnoxious exhale)
Mom-  Amandaaaa!!  I think you're pregnant!!!
Me- What??  Mom, NO.  I'm not pregnant.  I don't think I can even get pregnant.  Don't stress me out!  God. I need a cigarette.

   Of course, I mustered the strength to nab a great deal on a beautiful Marc Jacobs bag.  And on the way home I bought an economy pack of pregnancy tests.  When they came up negative, I scheduled an appointment with my Ob-Gyn.  I must have cancer.  I must be dying.  As it turns out, nope, I was definitely pregnant.  I had a major meltdown in her office, one which she will never forget and we laugh about now, thank goodness.  I'm sure most of you are thinking, "Meltdown?  Why?!  Isn't being pregnant good news?"  And a few of you who are struggling to get pregnant are probably saying, "That ungrateful B." Let me just say, as a full-time model with absolutely no intentions or hope of a pregnancy, it was pretty shocking news to both my husband and me.  (He was in such denial that at the first sonogram, he looked at the little tiny peanut baby and said, "So I guess she's really pregnant?!")  After hearing the news, I walked to my car, grabbed an almost-full pack of cigarettes, threw them in the trash, and drove off into a new life.  I went through withdrawals the next few months from tequila and cigarettes, from all of my "friends" who couldn't be bothered with someone who won't hang out at bars, from all of my "model friends" who forgot I existed as soon as my bump was too obvious to work, and basically from all that I had known the past ten years. 

   I'm sure most people think a model that gets pregnant immediately shifts to doing all the pregnancy ads.  Wrong.  Some women glow, smile, and buy a few empire-waist shirts to wear with their existing jeans, held closed by a cute little rubberband.  Others (i.e. me), have an emotional breakdown and try to cure their identity crisis with oreos. 

   I am an honest person by nature, at times to my own detriment, and I couldn't keep a secret from my bookers at the agency.  I didn't want them to think I was one of those unreliable girls using excuses like, "I got stuck behind a parade and can't make it to my job," or, "I have mono and will be out for a month," which was always translated to mean, "She's got a drug problem," in the fashion industry.  So, I told them I was pregnant and work stopped coming in pretty suddenly.  I had one job on the books that I was still going to try and wing it through, even though I was growing by the minute.  It was for Saks in New Orleans.  What looked like a food baby when I got on the plane ballooned into a seemingly five-month baby bump a few hours later on the ground.  Swelling on airplanes had never been a problem before!  It was my last booking, but a great one!  I love me some New Orleans.

   With all the changes, it was a scary time.  But once work stopped, so did the anxiety and the microscopic analysis of myself every day in the mirror.  I had always dreamed about a loving husband and a family full of children.  It was time to put my big-girl pants on and really embrace all of God's blessings in my life. 

   I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy Little Girl and started my journey of becoming the mother I'd always dreamt I'd be someday.  She was fiery from day one and changed our lives more than we ever knew was possible! 


   The real estate market bottomed out and we saw an opportunity to take advantage of the newly-reduced home prices.  We put our cute little duplex (he always liked to call it a townhome because it was two-story, but whatever) on the market.  What felt like a million showings later, with a toddler running around undoing everything I did to get ready for each showing, we changed our minds.  We couldn't find a house in a neighborhood or a city we loved enough. However we did end up stumbling upon a sweet deal on some great land in a town that I hadn't ever considered.  So we bought three acres in a great neighborhood outside of the city and took the house off the market. 

   When Little Girl was almost one, we decided to start trying for baby number two.  In our earlier years, we both had dreams of a large family.  Now at 35 and 26, we needed to get cracking if we were really going to have more than a couple children.  And what if Little Girl was a fluke?  What if we were headed down a long path to have another child?  Wrong.  After one month of trying, I was pregnant!

   I gave birth to another beautiful, healthy little girl named Baby Girl and began the never-ending juggling act that comes with being a parent of two children 23 months apart.  It was, and still is, mind-blowing!


   With interest rates at an all-time low, we put the house back on the market right before Christmas.  More showings...with a toddler and a newborn...yay.

   Again, we had tons of interest in the house, so we gave ourselves the green light to start building our dream home (not just the home we'll be in for a few years until we upgrade- our final home where we will grow old together and be buried in the backyard).  We had been told that the building process was going to be amazingly stressful and we braced ourselves.  But there are no words to explain the stress.  We didn't build in a neighborhood that has several builders on site who show you a list of options, which you pick all in one day, and they return with a price tag, end of story.  No.  We built a custom home through a builder that was/is a friend of ours.  That is a horse of a different color.  We had to design everything from the floor plan and the roof line, to where we wanted every outlet and cabinet knob.  "Where exactly on the lot do you want the house to sit?  If you want a floor outlet, we have to place it before we pour the foundation (and before you even dream of where you'll put the furniture).  The plumber laid the jack-and-jill sinks off a bit and now half the house is a foot shorter." Etc., etc., etc.  The list of options for windows, doors, trim, light fixtures, flooring, countertops, cabinet hardware was infinite.  We didn't five-dollar ourselves to death like most everyone else, we five-hundred-dollared ourselves to death.  Oops!  But we did so knowingly, our old house sold, our new home was done, and our marriage miraculously survived, even despite having to live with my parents (yes, my family of five, including the dog, moved in with my parents) for TWO MONTHS....in their new, down-sized home they bought after retiring...in the dead heat of summer in Texas...and they have no boundaries...but they saved us from living in an extended-stay hotel for two months...which was only supposed to be two weeks. "When will the house be done?"  "Two weeks!"  Yes, The Money Pit- only Tom Hanks is a fireman who is continually sleep-deprived and Shelley Long is a stay-at-home mom with two children under the age of three. 

   Here I sit just five months after moving in and two months after turning thirty.  I am amazed at all we have accomplished in the past few years and that our marriage is healthier and stronger than ever.  That is a feat in and of itself.  But life doesn't stop just because I've checked some major things off the list.  I still want to grow and accomplish more, however I've been struggling the past few years with the question, "What next?"  I knew this time would come when life would settle down. My daughters finally play happily with eachother.  They giggle and race one another around the house.  Little Girl loves her preschool in town and Baby Girl loves getting quality time with us when Little Girl's gone.  Their daddy loves being closer to work and spending his free time staring out the window at our land, day-dreaming about all the uber-manly projects he can now realize.  Everyone's content, at peace, fulfilled...except me.  Don't get me wrong.  I love my life and I thank my husband and kids for filling it with love and inexplicable joy each and every day.  But I know I'm capable of more.  Ever since I came to terms with an unforeseeable truth- that unless I hire a maid, a trainer, a chef, and a nanny, I'm not going to get back to my model weight- that question has been haunting me, "What next?"  Well, I think I've finally figured it out.

   Since becoming a parent, I do my best to fill their little minds with knowledge, their hearts with unconditional love, and their temperaments with limits.  In doing so, I have rediscovered a long-forgotten passion of mine: BOOKS.  Picture books, board books, nature books, young adult fiction, adult fiction, adult non-fiction, biographies, fantasy, education, words, pages, authors, libraries, the dewey decimal system...BOOKS.  The first time I took Little Girl to Half-Price Books, my heart burst with excitement.  I should have realized then what I know now.  I am going to be a writer, a published author, an individual with original thought.  I'm not just a mom who can change a stinky diaper in less than a minute, who spends my days in front of the microwave and my nights in front of the newest debacle on the Real Housewives.  I have a brain.  It's time to dust off the cobwebs and turn a light on!  Well, now I did it.  The floodgates are open.  I have ideas for two different childrens' book series and am trying to organize my thoughts for my first novel.  It's sort of a cop-out because it will be a memoir.  As presumptuous and egotistical as it sounds, anyone who knows me well knows I have some great stories to tell.  And, why not?  I was always a great writer in school.  No matter that I didn't go to college and major in literature, I am an entrepeneur by nature and I'll make it work.

   So, welcome to my blog!  I'm not going to apologize for a long introduction because it's my blog and I'll be long-winded if I want to!  I'll be sharing all of my experiences, albeit successes or failures, here if anyone is interested in my journey to become a published author, or just a housewife clawing at a little "me" time.  I feel like I'm entering my time of enlightenment, or something profound.  And I like it.  We'll see what happens!

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