Today, I am a twenty-eight year old wife and mother of two. I control my household, our rental home, our daily tasks, errands, making and attending appointments, keeping our home clean and laundry washed, taking care of our pets, and shuffling all these beings to and from activities with the MOMS Club that I am the president of.
In order to become that woman, I had to meet a lot of people along the way. These people affected me in so many ways both good and bad, essentially shaping me into the woman I am. This is the list of the most influential people in my twenty-eight years. Both positive and negative.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Mom – the built in best friend. Your mom is the first person you meet in the world (aside from the 45 doctors and nurses present in the room when you’re delivered). My mom has always tried her hardest to ensure that I had everything I wanted – even the silly things I only wanted because my friends had them. When we couldn’t always afford them, she’d find a way for me to get them anyway. I always thought it was pretty awesome, but I didn’t realize at the time that sometimes, my family had to suffer because of it. Our closeness in age, thanks to young motherhood, has often been a curse and a blessing. We butt heads in a lot of ways but the bond and love we have for each other always comes out strong in the end. In reality (whether I always saw it or not) that woman has always wanted me to be happy even when the thing making me happy wasn’t always good for me. Speaking of what wasn’t good for me..
Mark – the first real boyfriend. I say this because every “boyfriend” before that I basically only saw in the hallways at school and talked to on the phone. This man-child was one of the worst and best things that ever happened to me. He was a horrible person. A liar, a cheater, a manipulator, an abuser. Mentally, physically, verbally, emotionally. He destroyed me over and over but I stayed over and over. He convinced me that I wouldn’t be able to live without him, that I needed him. I believed him, I believed that I would never find anyone that would want me, I believed that I had to accept being cheated on and lied to in order to have a boyfriend. After two years and four months – I left, I realized what life was like without him, I moved out, and I never went back. I became stronger and smarter. I knew that THIS was not a relationship and I would never put myself in that situation again.
Travis – the rebound. This influential part of my life was not actually Travis, but his family. At the time, I was about to turn 22 years old and had just spent almost 2.5 years locked away in a horrible relationship. I shouldn’t have been dating, but I found myself dating someone anyway. Over the year we were together we spent a lot of time with his family. Travis had one of those families that sits down to eat dinner together every night, they had game night every other Saturday at his cousins, they had big holiday parties, and they genuinely enjoyed each others company. It sounds so sweet now but then, it made me feel overwhelmed. Every year when they’d put up their tree, his mom would take out ornaments one by one and hand them to each of her kids. Every one of them had a special meaning, an ornament she had hand picked to represent something that stood out that year. A winning sports team, a new car, a vacation, an adventure, etc. I remember rolling my eyes while I watched. They had a love that I found sickening at the time. But now that I have my own family, I find myself wanting to bring so many of the elements into my own family. Every year since we’ve been together I have purchased an ornament for my husband and now my kids have received one each year as well. I was too young to realize it then but their family was the kind of family I strive to have, I was just too immature to appreciate it.
Breana – the lifetime friend. When I was 16 years old, I started my junior year at a new high school. I had made a few friends over the summer courtesy of MySpace but hanging out with a group of skater boys wasn’t exactly the best friend I needed. When wrestling starter, I signed up to be a team manager and met the other manager, Breana. She was in my grade, older than me by one week, and exactly what I was looking for. Together we shared a lot of adventures, got ourselves into a lot of trouble, and had a lot of laughs. Fast forward twelve years, we’re still friends. We see each other a lot less now that we live just under two hours away but when we are in each others areas, we make the time to meet up. She is the kind of friend that I want my kids to call aunt, the kind of friend whose kids I want to call me aunt, the kind of friend that I could call at any time and she’d be there. That is a forever friend.
Michael – the love of my life. Meeting Michael was one of the most chaotic times of my life. Not because we fell madly in love at first sight but for the opposite reason. Before I met Michael, I had not known many (if any) successful men my age. I knew boys with no ambition. The drive, ambition, knowledge, and commitment that he had to his career was astounding. He pushed me every day to be successful, to do well in a business where there are very few women, to be the best that I could and then some. I had never had someone believe so strongly in me. It was refreshing to have someone standing behind me pushing me to be the best at what I was doing. And now, four years later – he still does just that. The career is a little different and there is a lot of women in my field now – but he is still behind me cheering me on to be the best I can everyday.
Sharleen – the new friend with the lasting impression. We have only been friends for roughly a year now (thank you Facebook for reminding us) but it feels like a lot longer. She has shown me how to be comfortable in my hot mess moments, come to the realization that wine really is a great thing, and that time doesn’t affect how strong a friendship is. Sometimes I feel like Sharleen is better to me than I deserve. She has watched my children on countless occasions, brought me coffee when I was stuck in the house with tiny dictators, and enjoyed quite a few nights out sans kids with me. I hadn’t realized how strongly I felt about our friendship until one day I didn’t attend a playdate and she texted me to ask if I was okay, I mentioned my migraine situation and she IMMEDIATELY without hesitation asked if I needed her to bring food, coffee, or come pick up the kids for a while. I was in awe. Such a moment of clarity. This woman was truly a lifesaving, in the time of need, great friend. She has influenced me in a way that makes me see that kind of friend that I want to be to her to everyone. Whether she knows it or not, I love her very deeply and would do the same for her in a heartbeat.
Jamie – the father in law. I have never had someone in my life quite like my father in law. He will listen, really listen to me vent for hours on end and then without hesitation, he gives his honest opinion. It isn’t always what I want to hear, but it is always what I need to hear. It is hard to find someone in your life that is comfortable enough with you to be THAT honest, but he is. He tells it how it is, good bad and ugly. He has taught me to be more honest with others even when they may not want to hear it.
Who are some of the most influential people in your life? How have they influenced you?