I remember the tears I cried after my first son was born.

My kid hated me. I was a twenty-one year old mother. I was the approximate size and shape of a human fire hydrant or an overgrown Oompa Loompa. My friends had, thanks to aforementioned son’s screams, all but run for the hills. I barely slept. I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing – only that this wasn’t supposed to be the way of things. I had no goals. No ambitions. I barely recognized myself in the mirror.

They were bitter – these tears – because I’d spent my entire life knowing where I was going and what I was doing. There was never the slightest hint of hesitation in my step.

Finding myself lost, questioning my every decision, wondering what I was doing wrong (because clearly the problem was with me), well, these were new for me.

My life confused me.

Luckily, with a few suggestions from an old friend, I was able to figure out the What Next and Move Ahead with my life. My son was autistic – I wasn’t a rancid mother. I had to scrap medical school for nursing school. School allowed me to succeed and feel pride in myself again. Slowly, those baby pounds melted off as my son found his voice.

Once again, I was back. My steps were confident and certain, my life on a new track.

It took a lot more this time, to bring back that useless girl. Migraines. Antenatal depression. Encephaloceles. Postpartum depression. Financial instability. Workaholism. Post-traumatic stress disorder. Uncertainty. Anxiety. That purposeless feeling pervaded.

Certainly, during the day, I was fine – I had my blog, I had my Pranksters, I had three wicked cool kids, I had new friends who didn’t mind babies screaming. I had purpose then.

But at night, when the rest of the house was either sleeping or working, those feelings crept back in. Slowly at first. Soon, I spent my nights weeping the kind of soul-shaking cry that only comes with utter heartbreak. I suppose, looking back, I was heartbroken.

I had it all – everything I had worked for, and it simply wasn’t enough. The strings it came with had turned into a noose.

Everyone else seemed to be fine – flourishing even – so the problem, well, the problem was clearly my own. *I* was the problem. Broken beyond repair. Useless. My steps once again a shuffle.

I cannot tell you, Pranksters, how long I felt this way – convinced I was, indeed, broken. Months? Years? I’m not entirely sure.

I cannot tell you either, Pranksters, when that feeling dissipated. Because it has. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know when that empty space was filled for the first time in my life. My footfalls now echo with confidence and occasionally stupidity. My future is not a question of “if?” but a question of “when?”

I can see now that I was never useless. Never less than. Never without.

And never, ever, ever – not even for a moment – broken.

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