April Jeppson: It’s not too late to be what you might have been

Published 8:16 pm Thursday, August 16, 2018

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

April Jeppson


I’m a 30-something mother of three. I’m very familiar with using the bathroom while my child insists on telling me a very important story about a ladybug they just met. If you’re in this stage of life, I don’t even need to give you another example. You get it. You get me. We are a united sisterhood. Our days are full of ups and downs. Are we doing enough? Did I just ruin my child? It’s absolute chaos sprinkled with bits of wonderful. I could, and someday I will, write an entire article about this. Today, however, I want to talk to my sisterhood of moms about something else. How we are more than our age and the number of kids we have.

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You might be a retired teacher, or a grandmother to six, perhaps a dairy farmer’s wife — we all have a short introduction, a brief look into what our lives our like. For me, it’s a 30-something mother of three. This two-second blurb about my life is meant to just be an introduction, but I’ve found that I’ve allowed it to pigeon-hole me. It’s caged me in and limited my ability to grow. I used it as an excuse to not try new things or to pass up chances to try things I haven’t done in years. Something within me snapped about a year ago. I didn’t realize it at the time, but in hindsight, I see that I reached a point where I was ready for more.

Last year, I had to opportunity to work outside my home for the first time in six years. A gymnastics club was opening in town and they were looking for coaches. The idea sparked something in me, and I knew I had to apply. Growing up in a small town, gymnastics was something you only saw during the Olympics. I told them during the interview that although I lacked knowledge of the sport, I was coachable, enthusiastic and had a background in training people. I got the job, and I was scared to death. Having gone that long without a formal boss — or a time clock — and teaching a sport I knew very little about — could I even do this? Had I been at home with my kids for too long? Could I learn a new skill well enough to then teach it to other people?

Going back to work was like riding a bike. It took me a moment to figure it out. I was a little wobbly at first, but then the rush came back to me and my concerns were gone. I love working outside the home, and I’m glad I took that leap of faith to do it. The gymnastics club has become almost a second home for my family and it has allowed me to meet so many people that I otherwise would have never known. This job, which I felt so underqualified for, has opened up so many opportunities for me to grow and push myself.

For instance, one of my co-workers has a summer volleyball team she invited me to play on. I haven’t played volleyball in years, and even when I did play, I was never great at it. I responded with some hesitation that I wasn’t that good, but I was competitive. Apparently that was good enough for her because she insisted that she wanted me to play. So here I am, a 30-something mother of three out on a beach volleyball court at 7 p.m. Halfway through the first game, and I was hooked. The thrill of playing sports came rushing back, and Tuesday nights quickly became something I looked forward to this summer.

I have friends who run their own business, and they asked me to help with a tedious dirty job. Like really dirty. The clothes I wear while working need be burned at the stake after my shift. I was nervous to head out there at first because I had zero experience doing what they wanted me to do, but like with all things in life I’m enthusiastic and willing to learn. Well, the other day while working, my friend asked me if I wanted to learn how to drive the skid loader. I don’t think my smile could have gotten bigger. He took the time to show me how to operate it and then ran me through a mini obstacle course so I could try out my very limited freshly learned skills. I was terrified I would back into a truck or an outbuilding. I mean, I’m just a 30-something mother of three, what do I know about operating a skid loader?

Then like all epiphanies, it hit me. I’m not just a 30-something mother of three. I’m April. I’m so much more than those two defining characteristics. I needed to stop limiting myself and cutting myself down. I needed to realize that although I am a 30-something mother of three, I’m also a coach, a friend, a hard worker and an artist. I’m enthusiastic, I love music, I’m messy, optimistic, funny, kind, I love to learn, I’m creative, sassy, I’m an encourager of dreams and sometimes I’m even a volleyball player.

This last year I’ve had so many opportunities to challenge myself and to remember who I am. Lets be honest, when you’re a 30-something mother of three, it’s easy to forget. It’s easy to lose your identity and just settle into this comfortable, yet thrill-less day in and day out of life. It’s easy to stop learning, and it’s really easy to stop taking risks that might make you look silly. I’m a firm believer that our children need to see us try new things, hard things, fail and get back up and try again. It’s not only good for our soul; it’s a great example for our littles. We have hopes and dreams and skills and talents and sometimes we need to put things on the back burner for awhile and that’s OK. Just remember that those things are still there, waiting for you when you’re ready to get back out there, because it’s never too late to be what you might have been.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams.