Everyone’s doing it—sharing the moments that shaped their lives over this last decade. But how do I? How do I summarize an entire decade? A decade that changed my existence in the most amazing and heartbreaking ways. I was filled with purpose, broken and rebuilt more than once over the course of the last ten years. In amongst the years of celebrations and storms there were many moments of calm and simplicity—clarity—time to breathe in between the chaos. But those moments seem to hide in the wings as the highs and lows take centre stage. So while I have experienced and learned more than I could ever fully express—or adequately summarize—in a single blog post, there are moments of significance that seem worthy of reflection.
These last ten years have challenged and enlightened me. They put pressure on my marriage that ultimately made it stronger. They pushed my mental health to the brink of defeat. They challenged my capacity to forgive and gave me my first true experience of grief. This decade found my body image destroyed and reinvented. It gave me space to discover my passions. All of this comes to mind when I think of the 2010s but I also think of my own decade—this was the decade that took (most of) my twenties. And it’s within those years I left the two most formative experiences of my adult-life thus far: motherhood and paralysis.
I gave birth to my oldest son just 17 days into 2010. Motherhood brought a deeper understanding of sacrifice, selflessness and exhaustion. It gave me a fresh perspective on my own parents and the immense gratitude I hold for them. Becoming a mother also caused me to reevaluate my relationship with my in-laws and forced me to let go of the resentment I carried towards them—I needed to be part of a solution that would help create the family dynamic I wanted for my children. Motherhood stretched the limits of my patience and showed me my true capacity to love. It gave me purpose when I needed it most.
Paralysis brought a new perspective to absolutely everything. It revealed a strength I never knew I possessed. It showed me that there is more than one way to live a good life—to reach your goals and become the person you want to be. Being paralyzed taught me resilience and increased my threshold for compassion. It opened my eyes to how much love and support surrounded me and my family and that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Paralysis forced me to question my worth but pushed me to evolve in my ideas of what it means to be a woman, wife and mother—what it means to be me.
The last 10 years changed the arc of my life story—the birth of my children and the addition of my spinal cord injury being the two most profound developments. But it’s the moments of simplicity I mentioned before—the ones you don’t add to the reflection reel of the 2010s—that assure me the decade was well spent.
It’s the family game nights and bedtime stories. It’s singing in the car and staying in our pajamas all day. It’s evenings spent on the couch watching Netflix. It’s sex, laughter, catching up with friends and spending time with family. It’s reading in the bathtub and adding another finished novel to your bookshelf. It’s the every-day-uncelebrated moments of life that make me happiest.
So what’s next? I really don’t know. Certainly no more babies and I’m good with just the one spinal cord injury. I do know this next decade will take my thirties with it. It will put me up against teenagers and see two of my children graduate highschool. I imagine my mental health will continue to be tested and grief will always be lurking in the shadows. However, what I’ve learned—more than anything else—through the last decade is that the future is full of surprises. So I will focus on my family, work on being present in my life and do my best to keep doing the every-day-uncelebrated things that make me happiest.