Finding the Beauty in the Unexpected: Meet Jennifer


A mother and daughter holding hands. As the oldest of four children who grew up with a stay-at-home mom for the first decade of my life, I always knew I wanted to be a mother. With my siblings’ ages spanning over two decades, I always wanted the same type of family.

I wanted to be surrounded by children, and everything I did in my twenties was with an eye toward how it would fit into my life as a mother.

Even as I spent my days in graduate school earning my teaching degree and nights out with friends, I was always looking into the future and envisioning my life as a mom of at least four kids with a teaching career that would allow me the same breaks and summers off. My friends showed no signs of wanting to settle down, while I always looked for the guy who seemed like he wanted the same things as I did.

When I met my first husband at 28, my plans for my life seemed to be coming together—our first apartment, our first holidays together, our engagement, and a big fancy wedding. Naturally, the next step would be to grow our family.

Unfortunately, our marriage started to fall apart shortly after it began, and as much as I wanted a child, I could not, in good conscience, bring one into a troubled situation. Leaving my first adult home, my marriage, and my dreams of starting a family were some of the hardest things I had ever had to do.

I was left single with so many questions about my future. Would I ever meet someone? Get remarried? Have kids? It felt like resetting the clock back to zero as I watched everyone around me get married and have kids.

I learned quickly that as a young, divorced woman, everyone wants to set you up with someone they know, even if it isn’t the best match! I met many guys I didn’t click with and had all but given up when I reluctantly agreed to one more set-up through a coworker who begged me to meet her friend who was installing a car seat for her daughter. I went into the meet-up with very low expectations and treated it as a favor I was doing for a friend, a task to check off my to-do list.

Long story short, four years later, I married the guy I met in the parking lot, and we welcomed our daughter two years later.

I always thought I’d be one of the first people I knew to have kids and, at age 40, have at least a kid or two about to enter their teen years, but instead, I’m worrying about potty training, preschool registration, and figuring out how to break a bad pacifier habit.

My beautiful daughter will very likely be my one and only child, although I’m holding onto many bins of baby clothes, and the swings and other assorted baby gear live in my attic in case plans change (or until I can part with them!).

This isn’t the plan I had for my life, but life rarely goes according to plan. Instead, I’ve learned to find beauty in the unexpected.

I love what I have now. I love the time I can dedicate to my daughter as I take a break from teaching and explore new career paths. I love that all the kids I watched come into the world are now like big brothers and sisters to my daughter and treat her like a sibling. We never need toys or clothes with so many special hand-me-downs.

My daughter has taught me to enjoy the unexpected plans life has for you. Some things are worth the wait, even if it’s not what you expected. Sometimes it can be even better.


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