Hi! I’ve acquired a few new ears around here since Scary Mommy ran my essay a few days ago, so I thought it might be a good time to tell you more about myself if you’re a new visitor here. There’s a bit on my About Me page if you haven’t been there yet. But as with most of us, the full picture is a little larger.
I’m Katie, and I live with my sensitive and curious six-year-old son and his sweet but very spunky three-year-old sister in northern Georgia. Life is never boring with these two, and they are hands down the very best thing that has ever happened to me. Motherhood pulls away the veil like no other experience (for me at least), and they push me to be better and stronger each and every day. They are the center that holds me together on most days. And the mess that makes me come completely unglued sometimes, too. Funny how parenthood works that way. We are never perfect and almost always messy, but they are my saving grace nonetheless.
I’ve had this little blog for almost 6 years, and it used to be full of musings about how much I loved motherhood and my simple stay-at-home mom life. Truthfully, it really did bring me so much happiness. I cloth diapered and had a passion for natural birth and made my own baby food like one of those moms (haha!) and perfected all kinds of yummy recipes and pretty much found peace in all the little details of my day. I had a husband I loved and a life I loved. We traveled a lot with our kids (Costa Rica! Paris! Aruba!) as a result of my then-husband’s job, and I love to explore. It was a charmed life, and I loved it.
But something was stirring in the world at large and in my own heart. I have a Masters in English and taught literature to loads of high school students before I became a SAHM, and I received an offer to teach at my beloved alma mater, a liberal arts college in northern Georgia, in the summer of 2013. I had a 3-year-old, a 14-month-old and an unsure head, but my heart said TAKE IT in a loud and clear voice, and so I did. I teach written composition courses now, and I love it. Teaching satisfies my calling in a way nothing else can, and literature is a lifeline for me.
My life blew up in November of 2014, and that is the part everyone knows by now. I was the girl who behaved in school, pushed myself for good grades, demanded perfection of myself, and made all the “right” decisions. What happened when it all fell apart is that it left me with new eyes to see that I don’t have to be perfect, and I shed the heavy armor that, in hindsight, I was wearing to survive the final months and years of my former marriage. I now believe that grace is better than guilt. It’s hard to summarize the growth that has happened since then or the ways that I am still growing, but one of the greatest treasures of my life is that I have every step chronicled here. From the moment I shakily typed through tears at 2am to the moments the light began to return for me and even now as I continue to grow and move forward. It’s all here in words and pictures.
I penned “Enough” in July of 2015 for a Sweatpants and Coffee call for submissions entitled “Right Place, Right Time” about the time when someone said just the right thing to you at just the right time. I felt proud that it was chosen and immense relief at having written down the heavy lesson I’d learned. I unleashed it into the wide world, but I didn’t know just how far it would travel. It has since been re-posted on Role Reboot, Alternet, and Scary Mommy’s Club Mid – all of which have widened the readership of this tiny journal that I’ve held closely for so long.
I’m honored it has resonated with so many people, and I still get chills every single time I receive an email or comment from a reader explaining why she relates to it. I’m forever grateful for what that little essay has done for me, and it’s amazing to watch it make its own way in the world at large and connect me with so many wonderful readers.
That said, I have grown in leaps and bounds since I wrote that 6 months ago, and I hope to continue moving forward and writing, writing, writing as long as I have something to say. That experience was the catalyst that pushed my life in a new direction, but it doesn’t define me. It feels like it defines you for a portion of time, (and those of you who have lived through any kind of unexpected trauma know what I mean) but as you heal, you see that experience in your rearview mirror as a piece that you will always carry with you but only a small picture of what else there is to you. I am currently 14 months out from those early moments, and I see it getting smaller in my rearview. I hope it will continue to get blurrier as my years roll by.
I have written a lot here, but I don’t give much space to the specific horrifying details of my divorce. I allude to clear and basic facts only when they are necessary to understand the context of my own growth. I was married almost ten years; I found email letters between him and a coworker; I begged and competed for a few weeks before a switch flipped inside of me and I heard the clearest voice imaginable telling me to get out and close that door. They got engaged five weeks later, got married seven months after that. The rest is my own story, my own progress. I made a decision as I began a life on my own that I would not grow smaller and more bitter as a result of what happened but that I would grow softer and more fearless. You can’t fake motivation, and I think readers can see in my writing that I have no desire to punish anyone, and I believe that people are complicated beings. As Charles Bukowski says, “Nobody can save you but yourself– and you’re worth saving. It’s a war not easily won but if anything is worth winning– this is it.”
Though I have written in this space for 6 years, I’m just beginning to reach more to the outside world. My one and only resolution for 2016 was to write more, submit more, reach more. I’m vowing to create more space in my life for writing and just see where it goes and what the universe has in store for me.
I believe in God, and you can see that spirituality weaves itself in my writing often because it is central to how I understand the world around me. I simply believe, with every ounce of me, that there is a greater plan at work. That bad things don’t happen to you as a punishment but they happen for you as an agent of growth. That every single experience I’ve had is there to shape and mold me and prepare me for what is ahead. We can find meaning in even the worst moments of our lives as we put the pieces together in reflection.
I never once prayed for the pain to stop, never once asked God to soothe my heart even in the early, raw moments. My only prayer for about four months was help me, show me. And that happened. I sincerely think that human connection is the most incredible way that God reveals what we need to know and learn, and I’ve watched a handful of invaluable teachers show up for me when I needed guidance. Rob Bell, Pema Chodron, Jen Pastiloff, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Cheryl Strayed have been the main ones for me in this season. I have faith that I find the words I am meant to find in the wide world at exactly the time I am meant to hear them. We learn from each other and find comfort in each other, and now I see so clearly that it is the raft that will carry us when we’d otherwise drown. The way I have survived the past year of my life is through the words of others, my tight circle of girlfriends who are my restoration, and a stubborn practice of gratitude that shapes the way I see the world.
I am not done yet. I don’t have it all figured out. I do the best I can with every day, and sometimes the best I can do is just breathe deeply and vow to try again tomorrow. I think “balance” is a myth in the life of a mom, or at least the traditional way of seeking balance. I think balance means that sometimes I’m less prepared for my class than I’d like to be because my kids needed extra attention the night before. Or my kids get too much screen time one Sunday afternoon because I have books to read and papers to grade. My house is a wreck
sometimes often because I spent time preparing a healthy dinner instead. And sometimes I feed my kids cheap pizza or curl up in a blanket and binge on Netflix to hide from the world when I have the house to myself because my sanity is important to me, and it often hangs by a thread. Balance means prioritizing and doing the best you can. My best is good enough.
So that is me in a long-winded summary. I am so honored that new readers are finding me across the crowded internet. If you feel like speaking up, I’d love a little roll call in the comments – whether you are a familiar friend or new.
Where are you from? What brings you here? And do you have a blog link or Instagram handle you’d like to pass along? Community is the very best thing words can offer, and I’d love to know more about you.