As a child, I remember crying myself to sleep many nights. Not understanding why I didn’t have a father. Broken.

My parents got divorced when I was very young, and consequently, my father was absent from my life until the day he died. I remember all too well watching my friends with envy at birthday parties, or sports days, or even just school drop-offs. To me, it seemed as if they had perfect lives… Simply because they had their dads there.

I grew increasingly bitter and angry because I felt like a piece of my life was missing – a piece that should have been there like it was for all the other girls I knew. When I became a teenager, never knowing what it felt like to be cuddled and kissed by a man who loved me unconditionally, who would carry me on his shoulders and make me feel invincible, or who would sit with me at dinner and tell me stories about life, I felt robbed.

It left me crushed.

My mom worked from 7 am to 5 pm, daily, just to support us. She came home tired, still putting dinner on the table and managing to spend a few moments with us before she headed to bed. Weary. Exhausted by the day. The sacrifices that she made for us I never fully understood or appreciated until now. I was too young and frustrated to even consider that she too was alone, sad, and bombarded by the demands of life and raising three kids on her own.

The anger I felt was so embedded in me that it ruled. I was a loaded gun. Reckless. I had no self-love. No understanding of my own worth as a woman.

My soul was so consumed by how the world had done me wrong that I wasn’t able to believe in myself. I honestly didn’t think I would ever amount to much. My anger spilt over into every facet of my life. Almost every decision I made was one of self-destruction.

An attitude of never wanting to be married or bring kids into this pathetic world raged in my heart. I was hell-bent on going it alone… after all, life had taught me that I was meant to be alone. Deep inside I refused to be another statistic of yet another woman being hurt by a man. Thinking back, I hated men. That seems like a harsh thing to say. But as a 19-year old, I couldn’t make sense of or verbalize what I felt.

Until I met my husband.

The walls that I had so carefully built around me began to crumble. I was so confused; torn between what I was feeling, and the urge to “protect” myself.

I allowed myself to trust for the first time in my life. All the while suspecting that it was just a matter of time before I would end up getting hurt. It surprised me that he stuck around. Slowly and patiently removing one cracked and re-plastered brick at a time.

Fast forward a few years…

The day we were told that we would never have children hit me square in the face. All those familiar feelings of anger came rushing back like a pack of wild animals. A huge black hole opened up and threatened to suck me right in again. What was the point of marriage? I asked myself over and over again. All it does is hurt! I detested being vulnerable. For me, it was a sign of weakness. I had finally opened myself up to possibilities, only to be hurt again by the fact that we would never have the family that I had never wanted in the first place. Crazy thinking, I know!!

I had spent so many years vowing to never be hurt again, and here I was … hurting.

Then came the most magical day, the day I met my boys. I so clearly remember looking into their scared little eyes and silently promising them that I would never let them go. That I would fight to the death to give them what I sadly had never had. That moment will stay with me forever. I vowed to be their forever mommy. The anger that I had been carrying with me for so long. The aching hurt of feeling abandoned by my father simply slipped away. There was finally an explainable peace in my heart.

I had found my purpose. I am now called Mom.

There is a love so undeniable when you become a parent. On days when I am tired, stretched thin in every direction when my patience is waning when responsibilities threaten to overcome me, I reflect on the moment that I made a conscious decision to leave the broken, angry teenager behind, to allow myself to be vulnerable and embrace what I believe is my purpose.

No longer am I that, scared, anger-filled and lost teenager. I am a mother that dotes on my 5 little miracles – even though I may get it horribly wrong some days. But oh, how rich is my life now!?

Sometimes, allowing ourselves to become vulnerable is one of the bravest and most rewarding choices we can make.

Jacqui Bester