Don’t Run. It Gets Better.



Don't run it gets better

After being single for most of my adult life, I got married at 38.

To a widower.

Whose first wife died of brain cancer.

Who was raising two young children on his own.

You might be thinking, “Dang. That’s a movie.”

Which one are you thinking of? The classic “Sarah, Plain and Tall” with Glenn Close and Christopher Walken? Or maybe Katherine Heigl in Hallmark’s “Love Comes Softly?” Or better yet, the heartbreaker “Stepmom” with Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon?

I mean, yes, my life became what could someday be developed into a Hallmark classic, but it certainly didn’t feel that way at first.

People have told me and continue to tell me, “I don’t know how you do it.” They say, “I could have never done what you did.” The grandparents still (after almost four years of us being married) tear up when they talk about how happy they are with how the kids are doing and how the life we are building is coming together. It is as if people are shaking their heads in disbelief that all of this is somehow working.

And why wouldn’t they? I marvel at the fact that it is working.

Because there are still days when I think it isn’t. That somehow it isn’t coming together. However, then I take a step back and look; I look at our life and how far everything has come since that first year.

The year I moved into the house my husband had shared with his first wife.

The year I moved to a new town and now took on a 40-minute work commute.

The year we found out we were expecting our first child together.

The year we sold two houses and bought a third.

The year I often chose to stop in front of the Chinese restaurant around the corner from the house and nap for a bit after work because I was so tired, but I couldn’t bring myself to go home.

The year I was called into my Assistant Principal’s office and ended up sobbing, telling him everything that was happening. He didn’t need to tell me I was underperforming in my classroom, I already knew it, even though I was giving it all I had (which wasn’t much).

The year I lost myself.

To put it plainly, that year was hard. The hardest of my life up until this point. So I get why there are the looks of disbelief. I mean, I am one of those people.

What I have come to learn is that this is life. This is marriage and parenthood. Like so many times in life, specifically in marriage and parenthood, you realize that if you had known how hard it was going to be, there is a good chance you wouldn’t have done it. However, you keep doing it. You keep getting out of bed and putting forth the effort.

You do the best you can, even though there are a lot of tears and doubt and anger and sadness because that isn’t what it means to be a wife. That isn’t what it means to be a mom. That is what it means to be a person who is choosing to live and to feel ALL OF IT every. single. day.

It Gets Better.

The best piece of advice I received that first year was just a few months into being married. A friend of mine, who also got married and became InstaMom, said to me, “Look. The first year is terrible. You are going to think that it has been a terrible mistake and you are going to want to run. But don’t. It gets better. Each year that passes gets better. So don’t run yet. Give it some time.”

I look back at that conversation, which took place over beers at Easystreet, as one of the most important of that first year; more important than the conversations with my mom, my counselor, or the priest that married us. I doubt my friend knows how much I needed to hear what she had to say. Maybe I should tell her–ha! It was real advice coming from someone who had been in the trenches.

So, if you are in the trenches and questioning all of your life choices up until this point, that’s okay. It’s important to question. But if you need some real advice, hear me when I tell you, don’t run. It gets better. It might not feel like it now, but one day soon, you will look back at where you were and where you are now and you will see it. You will see the progress. You will see the changes in your husband and the kids, but most importantly, you will see the changes in yourself. You will realize that this wasn’t such a bad choice after all.

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Katie Heffernan
Katie is 41 years old, lives in Toledo and before becoming a SAHM, taught for 16 years as a high school English teacher. Katie and her husband Michael have three children and one super cute schnoodle between the two of them. When not shopping at Target or working on their 1920s home, Katie likes to spend her time volunteering at the kids' schools, exploring regional history and taking advantage of all things local in and around Toledo.



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