Guest Post from Sydney Giannell
Growing up, I had a plan: Graduate from high school. Go to a 4-year college. Graduate college. Get married. Have kids. Live happily ever after.
Of course, that’s not how it worked out for me. I switched them around a bit.
It started out as planned: I graduated high school and started taking classes at a community college. Check and check. After a few years there, I got married and transferred to a university to finish my degree.
About a year after our wedding, I had surgery to address some medical concerns I’d had since I was in high school. When I was a teenager, my doctors had told me I might never be able to have children biologically, but with the success of the surgery, the odds were looking better. So my husband and I decided that if we wanted to get pregnant, we should try right away.
A few months later, at the end of my first year at the university, I found out I was pregnant! Did I drop out? Nope! I even went on a planned two-week trip to the Philippines. Side note: the only thing worse than morning sickness is morning sickness while you’re traveling.
When I returned to school in the fall, I was about 15 weeks pregnant, taking 15 units, going to school 5 days a week, and working part-time.
Since my son was due at the end of January, I’d planned to take off the spring semester, but after missing the first week of class, I couldn’t bear to miss the whole semester! So I emailed my professors and signed up to take two classes. The guys in my Jazz Ensemble class were totally freaked out when I came to class the day before my due date; they were afraid I would have the kid right there! My contractions started the next day, and Jeremiah was delivered that afternoon.
A little more than a week later, I was back in classes, with my newly retired dad pushing the baby around campus. (Granddad of the year, right?)
I nursed Jeremiah in practice rooms next to pianos, in my car in the parking structure, and everywhere in between. Once he was hungry and screaming while I was singing in class; a friend brought him over and handed me a cover. Jeremiah latched on, and I never missed a note.
If I didn’t have anyone to watch him, I put his volume reducing headphones on him, wrapped him in my Moby, and wore him to class. Everyone loved it. (It didn’t hurt that he was super cute.)
Before I had kids, I heard a talk from an amazing woman. She told the huge conference center of women not to use their children as an excuse not to follow their dreams. Finishing school was important to me, and I loved my classes. Music was, and is, an integral part of who I am. I didn’t need to give it up because I had kids.
Being you bravely is about more than your identity as a mom; it’s also about who you are as a woman and as a human being. It’s about thriving in that identity and pursuing that passion, however creative you have to get.
Don’t stop doing what you’re passionate about just because you have children. Don’t hide behind your circumstances; use them as reasons to follow that dream you’ve always had, to attempt something you’ve always wanted to do, and to try new things. For me, it was finishing school and singing on stage at my commencement ceremony.
Now I encourage and empower other moms: loving on them and letting them know they’re not alone. I work from home, I serve my community, I babywear, (and I’m not above bribery when it comes to the toddler and preschooler). All the while, my kids see a strong woman who is passionate, creative, and brave.
I may not always feel brave, but I strive to be myself every day.
Be you bravely,