I have been thinking about motherhood and relationships a lot lately. What that means, and what that looks like for other women. I have started asking questions to the mothers that I know – yearning to hear about their experience and to learn from their journey.
I do not know if this will become a series or not, but this story is one that I am passionate about sharing.
Meet my friend, Sara.
Sara is warm, genuine, and one of the very best neighbors I have. She brings us the most amazing vegetables from her garden, doesn’t get salty about our dandelion-dappled yard, and understands what it’s like working full-time while raising a 4-year-old.
Sara was a single-mom on and off her entire adult life, running a daycare shortly after her daughter was born and continuing that work through the birth of her son several years later.
Even though she’s in a beautiful relationship now (with her former high school sweetheart), she spent decades in a string of bad relationships that started when she was young.
Sara was a woman who never picked the right guy. She fell in love quickly to men that frankly, didn’t deserve her. She was caught in an abusive relationship cycle from one person to the next. Always hopeful, she dreamed these men could change, but they never did.
Over and over, she continued to leave these partners. During the periods in between, she focused on what mattered most to her: her two children and her job caring for kids in the community.
There were times, long stints when she was single, where she barely had money to pay her bills. After working through her weekly budget, she maybe only had $20 to purchase groceries for the following week.
She always made sure her kids had what they needed, but they often didn’t get what they wanted.
Sara put the needs of everyone else before her, and after 25 years of this, she felt lost. She didn’t know who she was anymore. She didn’t know what she wanted out of life.
It was during that time that she reconnected with Mitch, her former middle and high school boyfriend, who understood her and matched her in all the ways that she needed. They had spent most of their life apart, but they seemed to come together at a time they both needed each other most.
They celebrate 10 years of marriage this May.
Sara’s daughter-in-law and two children are currently living at their house. Even as a grandmother, Sara is still putting the needs of others before her.
However, she’s not lost anymore. She feels confident in who she is, her capabilities, her marriage, and her family.
Also, I think it’s important to say, Sara made it very clear to me that she has never once regretted her life. She was proud to have always put her family first. She wishes she could have provided her kids with more, but she did what she could.
Sara has overcome so much. Many of the life details she shared with me were truly heartbreaking, but she somehow continued on when I definitely would have given up. She made the best decisions she could during every twist and turn along the way.
Knowing Sara’s background endears her more to me. I knew she was kind and funny and genuine, but now I know she’s also strong and capable and can persevere despite all odds.
Her story provided me with a much-needed perspective. These people in your life, you only see snippets of who they are, and you so rarely see the struggle of their journey.
“If you can be anything in this world, be kind.” I hear this phrase all the time, but I never really connected it to the world around me.
You truly do not know what someone else has experienced – until you take the time to ask.
Thank you for taking your time to speak with me, Sara. I treasure our newly deepened friendship, and I am proud to be your neighbor.a