Spotlight: Ms. Brooke Hooker

5/2/2016

I am so thrilled to introduce you all to a friend of mine  She is the older sister of my friend, Candy, who has a neat blog.  Whenever I would go to Candy’s house when we were kids, I remember thinking that Brooke and her friends seemed like the COOLEST, smartest, prettiest humans who had ever lived.   After reconnecting with Candy a few years ago, I had the distinct pleasure of reacquainting with Brooke as well.  Her story is one of grace, strength, and resilience. I’m pretty sure that my assessment of her as a child was right on the money.   I am honored she shared her story with us, and to quote her, “I promise to take good care of it.”  Love, jj

 

I am a rule follower, first born bossy pants, straight-A student and overall I do what I think others expect of me. This means that when I became a mom with a dad that liked order and schedules, I followed right along with what was expected of me (by him? by society? – whoever! I’m sure someone had expectations and I was following them).

Before we left for a fun outing to the park, we had to do the chores. Well, yes – we can plan something fun this weekend, but we really need to mow the lawn first. How responsible. We should also visit my grandma every Sunday, on the way to the grocery store, like clockwork.

​This worked, sure. The dad became the leader. He felt it was important to teach the kids to do the chores. And we can’t skip nap time. And we should really save money. Agreed.
Kids on Friday: “Mom, are we getting pizza for dinner?!”
Me: “I’m not sure, dad is still at work. We’ll see what he thinks”
Kids on Saturday morning: “Mom, what are we going to do today?!”
Me: “I’m not sure yet, let’s wait for dad to wake up and see what he thinks”
Friends: “Do you want to have dinner on Saturday night?”
Me: “I’m not sure, let me talk to the hubs”

I didn’t know this is how I was living my life. I totally and completely lost my… me. Did I seriously not have an opinion or vision about anything? The thing is, since I didn’t see it or notice it, I probably would have kept right on living this life. I wasn’t unhappy, so I wasn’t seeking or craving change. It just was what it was. Until suddenly, in the blink of an eye, it wasn’t.

He left.

​I could no longer reply, “let’s wait for dad to get home”.

​This abrupt change happened in the fall. In the winter, I tried to put the pieces of ME back together. By spring I was embracing the “Year of Yes” and by June, my sister dubbed me the “Queen of Summer”. Sounds so easy right?

I realized a few things. I couldn’t change the bad stuff that was happening. I couldn’t fix the broken. I couldn’t know what was in store for some of the major life changes that were coming our way. I didn’t know where we would live. I didn’t know how my financial situation would shake out. There were so many things beyond my control that I felt like I was barely holding on.

I had to quickly learn to focus on what I could control. I could control the kind of mom I would be to my three kids, and I could control the kind of me I would be to me. I told myself that if I could be true to myself in those two areas, the rest of it would make sense when the dust settled.
With the kids, I decided that I wasn’t being the mom I knew I wanted to be. Yes, chores and schedules and routines are important. Yes it’s intimidating to take three small kids on outings by myself. But limiting us to these parameters was stifling. We adopted a “1, 2, 3… FUN FIRST” motto and created a new normal for us. We became a group of doers and go see-ers and didn’t worry about the chores until we got home.

We didn’t wait until the weekend to go to the pool. If it was nice out on Wednesday after work, why not go swimming? Then the kids can have a snack at the concession stand (no cooking) and swimming is like a bath so that’s taken care of too! Why wait around for everyone to get bored and cranky and hungry and tired while we try to get stuff done around the house on a Saturday? Instead we head out for an adventure while we are all fresh, spend a few hours having fun, then come back and tackle the work together.

I was no longer the “let’s wait and see” mom – I was the “come on, what are you waiting for?!” mom. And if we run out of time to go to the grocery store, well then Peapod can just bring us food tomorrow.
With my free time, yes – single moms do have free time, I had to relearn what my interests were. What do you do when after 10 years of being one person, you are faced with charting a new path?
I started saying yes. Want to try a yoga class? Yes. Want to go to a wine tasting? Yes. Want to go on a date? Yes. I challenged myself to try new things, make new friends, go on dates with people who weren’t necessarily my type, etc. I learned so much about my likes and dislikes, and learned where I want to invest my time and energy. All of that self-development led to being a better mom, better employee, better friend… but most importantly a better me.

I found me! And I like me.

Kids: “Mom, can we get pizza on Friday?”
Me: “Why wait until Friday, let’s have pizza tonight instead!”

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