More Than A Mom: My Short Story

When I was little, I wanted to be a professional ballerina. I took ballet lessons from the time I was 5 until I had my first baby.  I fell in love with modern dance when I was in high school, and I was named one of the top 15 dancers in the state of Utah my senior year of high school.

I also wanted to be a writer, and I wrote a poem each school day my junior and senior years of high school. Realizing I needed a back-up plan, I thought being an English teacher would be fabulous – -English teachers have made the biggest impact on my life. Ms. Sheppard in 5th grade, Mrs. Secrest in junior high, Ms. Smith my sophomore year, Jenny who was my literacy magazine advisor for two years, and Brian in college.  I graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English – emphasis on creative writing – when my oldest daughter was a year old.

Then in 2003, I had a massive depressive episode that landed me in the hospital.  I was diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety, and OCD.  It was a lot to take in, and the pressure of it all was the last straw in my failing marriage.  In 2004, my divorce finalized.

I was a single mom for about four years before I finally became a special education English and reading teacher (I avoid teaching math as much as I can — it still gives me anxiety).

Depression, anxiety, and OCD are interesting to live with. I look back with the knowledge I have now, and I can see how much they played into my life. I remember my first anxiety attack. I was supposed to be getting ready for dance, and instead ended up on the bathroom floor struggling to breathe, unable to unlock the door to let my mom in, and thinking I was going to die. OCD was the reason I struggled to feel emotional connections to people, cleaned and checked and counted everything, and plotted horrible deaths for those who ticked me off. Depression was the glue that held it all together. Dance and poetry were the ways I had to communicate when I felt so isolated and trapped in my own head.

Reading has always been a part of who I am. I remember getting grounded when I was younger, and my punishment was to go ride my bike for an hour! I thought the world was going to end. I remember riding up and down the street, crying, counting the cracks in the asphalt and the seconds before I could get off the hated bike so I could  hide in my room.

I say all of this because there is so much more to me than being a mom. My kids are a huge part of my life, and it is rare for me to not be with them. When I’m not with them, I’m teaching other people’s kids at school or at church. But, I also want the rest of me to grow. Like the transformers my boys like to watch, there is more to me than meets the eye.

This blog is where I can start to put down my thoughts, connected to my reading, in all the areas that make me who I am. I welcome you into the crazy, messy, laughter-filled wonder I call my life.

Hello, I’m Jana.

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