I’m so excited to share today’s post. As you know, I love inspirational stories, especially from mamas who work hard to make their dreams come true (whatever that looks like). Today’s mama, Sonal, did just that, and I find her journey so awesome. But more than that, I love that she never gave up and went with the twists and turns life threw her way.
I’m lucky to call Sonal a friend, and when I asked if she was interested in sharing her story on MIS, she quickly agreed.
So grab your favorite snack and be prepared to be inspired. Oh and follow Sonal on IG at @deargirlslovemom. Her feed is filled with beautiful food, stories about motherhood, and her general thoughts and ideas. I love the mix and the authenticity with which Sonal shares.
Ok, enough from me. Over to Sonal…
A few weeks ago, after I launched my biscuit buisness, Parita reached out to me to share that she felt inspired by what I am doing. Truth be told, I don’t think she really understands how following her blog has been regular doses of motivation for me. I guess that goes to show that when you really are true to yourself and who you are, others find pockets of your story to inspire with them.
I digress by saying, I did not, and even in this moment, DO NOT have my shit together. Even with an equal partner in parenting, a mother-in-law to help, and a father-in-law that jumps in when he sees I’m about to lose my mind when raising my girls, I still don’t get a shower in every day, there are many peanut butter or avocado toast lunches, the TV still is on duty to help baby sit, and I still have a post baby body to love more than I would like to admit most days. Some of this may change as the girls get older, but I have my arms open to all the other unforeseen challenges to come. It’s my life, and my lane. I can’t and won’t change my past for someone else’s no matter what has happened because there are too many lessons I’ve learned to get me to where I am and where I want to go. That is gold right there.
While try I to write my story so that my daughters grow up knowing they have a strong, motivated, daring, hard-working mother, they and the rest of the world should also know I am full of mistakes that I learn from, failures so that I can grow, and scars to remind me that I am human.
There aren’t many things that have not gone exactly as planned in my life. Most of my 5 year plans get thrown off but I think taking chances and living in the moment has helped me accept curve balls. The first big one being meeting my husband. I was on the “screw boys” parade when I met him and never looked back after our first date. We went ring shopping six months into dating on my first trip to Vancouver (where I also fell in love with Granville Island and the small culinary school there) and were engaged by eight months. Since that trip to Vancouver, Darren, my now husband, always asked me why I don’t just go to culinary school. He knew my love for cooking and was always my biggest cheerleader when I would tell him about my dreams of having a successful cooking blog. It was comforting to know he had my back but I never acted on it because I was blissfully content.
Finally in fall 2014, after having our dog for less than a year, I decided it was time to give up my career as a chemist. I loved my job and how dynamic it was, but as we started to think about wanting a family one day I knew the things worried I was already bringing home around our dog would give me more anxiety once we had kids. Some of the chemicals I have worked with in the past were toxic enough to make a man go sterile to give perspective of the types of hazardous materials I would use. Darren was also at a point in his career where he could either choose to venture into having his own private practice in Canada or keep working in the States. So after a years of Darren’s encouragement to go to culinary school, I applied to The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Granville Island, and was accepted to start in January 2015. We packed up our house in Tallahassee, Florida and drove to Vancouver, Canada with a car full of our things and our dog in December 2014. A curve ball in my 5 year plan that I never thought would happen even after I knew I was marrying a Canadian.
Highly recommend a cross-country road trip! One of the best trips I’ve done and can’t wait to do it again with my girls.
Once in Canada, it really hit me hard. I had lived away from home since I was 18 but being 3 time zones away from my friends and family and in another country really took a toll on me. I LOVED being in school and all the fun exciting opportunities I was getting. My imagination was going wild with the creative dishes I could make with every ingredient imaginable. But when I would leave at the end of the night, I felt isolated and alone. Darren was working opposite schedules than my school schedule, and I spent more time talking to our dog than I would any of my family or friends because of the time zone difference. Pastry school was a bit easier since I was in morning classes but days felt long because right after school, I would go to my our clinic to help Darren with administrative work. I heavily depended on him for a social network and continued to struggle to find my own community here. There were many days where I questioned what I had done. The worst part is the questioning would continue for years to come.
I graduated in December 2016 and skipped my graduation to help at the clinic. It’s where I knew I was needed for the future of my family. Sometimes people ask if I regret never going into the industry after getting my culinary and pastry degree and the answer is still “no!” I know what the industry requires. The biggest thing chefs sacrifice is time for themselves and family. I was well aware of this before I even went to school so the fact is not a surprise to me. My diploma is valuable to me because it is proof that I took a chance on myself. It fulfilled a part of me that I suppressed to fit into this idea of what I was expected to be. Ultimately this chapter of my life will serve as an example for me to talk to my girls about following their dreams and happiness.
Fast forward to September 2016 when I find out I am pregnant. It happened a lot faster than we anticipated and it was only a matter of days after when I really started feeling the intensity of the hyperemesis gravidarum- basically non stop severe nausea and vomiting that landed me in the hospital almost weekly for my entire pregnancy. My pregnancy journey for both of my girls left me with A LOT of post partum anxiety. Something I didn’t even know was a thing until my second was about 9 months old. I got pregnant with my second while my first was only 10 months old so I was NOT ready to do this again. So much of the trauma from my first pregnancy manifested itself the second time around especially since I had hyperemesis gravidarum again, but this time while raising a strong willed toddler.
My life between September 2016 to January 2020 was filled with lots of emotional and mental ups and down. I felt like since birth I was groomed to go to school and have a career and that motherhood would just naturally come to me. That there were some magical hormones that would tell my brain and body what to do so that I would be a happy mom. Obviously not the case as any mother will tell you. We are all struggling and thriving! We are all sacrificing and growing! This is why I felt compelled to share at the beginning that I am just another mother taking it day by day. I knew the day my first daughter was born that getting myself to feel like I have a grip on this was going to take time. I had been to hell and back with my pregnancy and I was NOT going to let myself or anyone make me move on from how terrible it was until I was ready. Letting go of a timeline to get back mentally allowed me to pay attention to my day and how to be better or simply just survive the next day. There were days I felt like I was wasting valuable time because all I could do give my girls all my energy leaving nothing for myself. I felt like there was no end to these difficult baby/toddler days and that my life would never have purpose beyond being a mom. But simple reminders of where I was and how far I’ve come would allow me to refocus on how this is MY story and the two people that will likely want to know it needs to see how I grew.
Which is why, after many unsuccessful cooking blogs, I have now found the perfect one. My blog, Dear Girls, Love Mom is filled with love letters to my girls. It is the passion project I want to leave them with so they look back and read about their childhood through my eyes and my motherhood journey with them. An extension of it is a small, one man business I started this year in the middle of Covid-19 called Yo Momma’s Biscuits- a place to get southern style biscuits in Vancouver. Even though I never worked in the industry, there are binders and binders of valuable knowledge I have on food businesses and recipes that I want to share with my girls and anyone that follows my blog. I have many dreams about where Yo Momma’s Biscuits will take me, but, like I learned from my recent years of becoming a mom, I’m taking it one step at a time. Biting off more than I can chew is a recipe for disaster so I am okay with keeping it simple and orders at a minimum.
I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned in the last 5 years is give yourself the grace you give others, and also ask from others. It wouldn’t be a lesson if it was easy to do. As you can see I am not some well-to-do, big shot, boss babe (although I call myself that in the mirror to boost myself esteem). I am a Mom just trying to be the best example I can be to my girls by living the lessons I want to teach them. If someone can find inspiration in that, then I hope to connect with them so that we can champion motherhood together.