When life gives you lemons you make lemonade…
Life handed me some lemons and Nurture Nest was the sweetness I needed to make them Lemonade.
How to Make Lemonade
You can’t take lemons and squeeze the juice out and call it lemonade. It would be sour, bitter, difficult to swallow. Lemonade needs something sweet, ice, maybe some water, and the attention it deserves to turn it into something palatable. My lemons were very bitter and came in the form of domestic abuse. The man I chose to spend my life with was on a downward spiral of mental illness. I did what I could to offer support and help, but the more I helped, the more he resented me and blamed me for his demons. It all finally boiled up when he attempted to take my life with his own hands, in our bathtub, as I held our infant daughter, screaming out for me. It left me reeling. I was flooded with grief. I knew this meant things will never go back to how they were before. Before I could get my thoughts and self together there was another incident. This time our older son watched and I needed to step up. I couldn’t for my sake, but somehow for his I could. This time the police were involved and my husband arrested and charged with assault. I suddenly realized him being gone for a few days gave me the opportunity I had been searching for: I could leave.
My mother got the earliest possible flight and came to help me. I threw our entire marriage and family home in to the dumpster. I took the kids’ things and my personal stuff and trashed everything else that had to do with, us. My mom and my sister cried while I couldn’t. I told them coldly, “I made the decision. Nothing left to do except do it.” When I had to resign from my internships I was involved in, I did tear up when I had to break the news to my amazing boss who loved my family dearly. When I had to fill out a form to withdraw from school a semester away from graduation and answer the daunting questions like, “you’re so close to being done! Why don’t you want to just finish it?” I was angrily cramming my lemons into a pulp, but it wasn’t sweet, yet.
Watering Down the Bitterness
I landed in my safe space: my childhood home, in Salem, CT. I was lucky enough to have one of those childhoods you see in picture books. We lived in the woods and I had two amazing, patient parents who loved each other deeply. Our house had only one rule: it is peaceful here. Even in disagreement there had to be peace. As soon as I was back there I felt safer. I still felt like a stranger in my own skin, but I no longer had to fight to be myself.
The differences in me were apparent. The teenager who would steamroll anyone in her way stared at me from photographs, as I bit my tongue. The effects of six years of emotional abuse and a year of physical abuse were vivid in my every move. I was worried what everyone thought of me, if anyone was mad at me, if I was doing enough. Were the kids watching too much TV? Was I using enough diverse language with my toddler? Was my son’s aggression genetic or because of the trauma he witnessed? And most of all… what in the world do I do with myself now?
In my desperation to find myself again my mother suggested sending my kids to school or daycare a couple days a week so I could get some time for self-care. At the very least shower, which was hard for me to do at that time. In these quiet moments I had to myself I finally began healing. I took up activities I had always wanted to try but was always discouraged from by a man who didn’t see my needs as valid. I began to search my soul for the painful answers to the questions I had. I started looking into what my next step would be, despite my parents’ urging me to stay home and recoup longer. I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t stop moving forward or I would fall.
Adding the Sugar
I looked into schools in the area. In order to finish in my degree program, elementary education, I would need at least two to three more years of school. I was so discouraged I gave up even thinking about going back to school. I decided I needed some way to make an income… I needed to continue my soul searching and asked myself one question: when was I happiest? The answer hit me like a ton of bricks one day while I was meditating. I was my happiest at my part time job at The Natural Baby Company. I loved being a witness to some of the happiest moments a family experiences. I loved seeing families grow and blossom. I loved helping new moms and dads find the confidence they needed to go bravely into the scary world of parenting.
I immediately began searching for a similar store to apply. Nothing existed anywhere near this area. When I went to pick up my children from my cousin’s house we started talking about the future. I shared with her my sadness and disappointment at the lack of natural parenting support in our area and how I knew in my heart that was my life’s vision. She said something then that changed my life forever. She said, “You know, I’ve always dreamed about opening up something like that.” We both laughed at how this was an impossible dream. Her sister walked into the room and overheard us. Being the headstrong woman that she is she demanded we think about this dream further.
It was then that the sugar was added. I looked at my cousin, Korie, an intelligent, motivated, beautiful woman and amazing mother and I realized that what I could not do alone I could certainly do with a partner as driven as she was. Between the two of us we had the grit and determination to make it happen. With that… Nurture Nest was born. My lemons became lemonade and Nurture Nest is the sweet part. We haven’t looked back since.