A Positive Mom’s Fairy Taleby Elayna Fernandez
From “Journey to Joy”
Tired after a long October day, the room was cold and dark but I couldn’t fall back to sleep. Something was wrong, and when I turned the lights back on I realized my husband Ben wasn’t home yet and that it was later than I thought.
Alarmed, suddenly the one hundred and twenty-five square foot room in which we lived felt as big as an ocean. Where is he? I wondered, as doubt and uncertainty filled my mind. I had no way to contact him. He might have gotten stuck at work, but somehow I knew differently…
Frantic, I ran outside in my not-so-warm pajamas and scanned the street looking for his car. It wasn’t there. Now in a panic, I returned to our room and realized Ben’s clothes were gone! Then, I saw the letter—it had been right there the whole time. I read the words, as my heart nearly pounded out of my chest. I wanted to cry out loud and scream, but I couldn’t gather the strength.
“By the time you read this, you will probably realize I’ve left, and won’t be coming back,” the letter read. A few days earlier we’d arrived in Florida after a week-long cross-country drive from San Diego to close on a new home and “live happily ever after.” The closing never happened.
I had a thousand and one questions, but was terrified to learn the answers, and didn’t want to wake my one and two year-old daughters, blissfully asleep in my bed. I hugged my little angels and thanked God they were safe and in my life. My breath seemed to slow as I held them tight, knowing they were worth all the pain, anxiety, and drama I’d endured.
Now I fell to my knees and curled into the fetal position on the cold ground. Pressing on my stomach, I sensed an unfamiliar emptiness there that spread like the worst cancer and hurt like no other pain I’d ever felt before. Someone tell me this is only a nightmare! I begged. Tell me I’ll wake up to my usual life soon and everything will be fine…
I felt pathetic, knowing I’d been living in denial, forgetting who I once was and putting aside my own desires and sense of self. What happened to the bold, confident, driven, joyful woman I’d once been? I desperately wanted to be her again, to drag her out of the deepest parts of my being!
Then the flashbacks began to play in my head. Before Ben and I married, I lived in my home country, the Dominican Republic, happily surrounded by loving and supportive friends and family, enjoying a successful career. I was living the life I always dreamed about and for which I’d worked so hard. So why had I given it all up for the man who’d just left me all alone? I berated myself. How could I have been so foolish, and how did I get so derailed from my deepest purpose?”
With a deep sense of guilt, regret, and overwhelming fear, I wondered if I could have avoided this downward spiral. Maybe I wasn’t loveable—maybe I’d never be. My thoughts turned to avoiding divorce, as divorce meant failure…my failure. I couldn’t believe my marriage was over after only three years! At the age of twenty-eight, my chances for shame-free happiness were seemingly over.
“All Men’s Misfortunes Spring From Their Hatred Of Being Alone.” ~ Jean de la Bruyere
Alone, ashamed, and without a penny to my name, stuck in this one room “efficiency” without a kitchen, I didn’t have a job or a car. I didn’t even know how to drive! I thought it was a tasteless joke that Ben had left the girls’ car seats behind. I was so angry I’d ever believed in and loved him, but my desperation and anger dissipated suddenly when I looked up and there they were—my two angelic daughters, peacefully asleep, without a clue how their lives had changed forever. I sighed in relief. They didn’t have to know, at least not at this young age.
I thought of Roberto Benigni’s Academy Award winning film “Life Is Beautiful” and smiled, remembering how a parent can make the most dreadful horrors seem like the funniest of games to an innocent child. I can do that, I thought, and immediately a slight feeling of hope rose from within. I realized I wasn’t alone; I still had my most cherished treasures. In the midst of my dark agony, I found comfort in a vision of love. I vowed to become a positive mom, a healthy role model, and a source of happiness to my children. This meant I had to reset my life and reinvent myself at any cost.
The days that followed were the hardest. My non-existent self-esteem and my uncertainty grew as I found out my children couldn’t leave the country without their father’s consent. Going back home to my family was the only “Plan B” of which I could think, especially when “Plan A”—if only we could work things out—was never going to happen. I didn’t even know where Ben had gone, or what exactly we needed to work out!
How does one raise two toddlers with no money, no support, and no resources? I wondered. Having always longed to be a career woman—I’d started my first business at age seven—I was surprised that it didn’t feel remotely exciting now that I had to leave my children behind to do so. I really wished I could have it all. Maybe one day…
I sought consolation in my prayers and the scarce telephone conversations with my family and friends overseas in the Dominican Republic. I prayed fervently for miracles, and lo and behold, they began to manifest. First, in the form of confirmation that I was definitely not expecting another child (as I’d originally suspected), then in the opportunity to learn how to pass the driving test and actually get a driver’s license and, finally, in the possibility of a family friend renting us a home even though I didn’t have a job or any type of credit.
The move to Naples, Florida was bittersweet. Finally we had a place of our own and the promise of a fresh start, but the feeling of failure crept in more often than I care to admit. People said “it will all get better in time,” but soon I realized time is no healer. I fought frequently with feelings of inadequacy and low self worth. My body became so weak and unhealthy that I went down to sixty-seven pounds, a low number even for my four foot nine inch petite body.
“The Way To Read A Fairy Tale Is To Throw Yourself In.”
~ W.H. Auden
Always a warrior, I managed to juggle my new forty hour-plus job with house chores and caring for my babies after daycare. I thanked God for my job success and for coming close enough to making ends meet, despite the confusion that invaded me with emptiness and sorrow. I longed to stay home—or at least to spend more quality time with my toddlers.
One night during Christmas break, I felt blessed to spend some time reading to my girls. Reading to them always brought me such joy. In between fairy tale pages, I couldn’t help but think that crazy notion once again: What if I could have it all? Isn’t that possible, even for a single mom? If Cinderella could have it all—why not me, too? Exhaustion was indeed getting the best of me, I concluded.
After blanket tuck-ins, nightly prayers, and goodnight kisses, I abandoned myself to yet another lonely, sleepless night. Upset, I refused to believe a girl’s happiness depended upon a Prince Charming. Furthermore, I refused to teach that nonsense to my daughters! I tossed and turned in bed and recalled my wedding day. Not your typical fancy gown and tuxedo ceremony, it had been more like a modern-day beach party. My smile had radiated the promise of a happily ever after now long gone.
Determined to find a believable, objective, no-nonsense approach to this fairy tale—one that taught my daughters the lessons of character and values, and one rooted in reality rather than erratic illusion—I composed my own Cinderella story! Pigheadedly, before the crack of dawn, I outlined five core principles:
Although not thrilled about her circumstances, Cinderella, allowed herself to dream of the royal ball, a prince, and a fancy gown…she had vision!
Cinderella learned to dance without a partner. She also worked diligently, as per her stepmother’s orders, and certainly would have been worthy of attending the ball, even if she didn’t exactly get there through her own efforts…she was prepared!
When her fairy godmother showed up, Cinderella could have dismissed her as crazy and told her to go away. Though not thoroughly convinced it would work, she believed in the possibility enough to listen…she had faith!
When her fairy godmother commanded Cinderella to find mice, a rat, and a pumpkin, Cinderella gathered everything her godmother requested, no questions asked. She didn’t hesitate—she simply took action to make her dream come true…she proved diligent!
Tempting as it may have been to stay longer Cinderella heeded the rules and didn’t forget her promise to leave before midnight. It was this very action which led her prince back to her…she was disciplined!
I enjoyed teaching my version of Cinderella to my daughters and decided to create my own magical life each day by making these simple yet powerful principles my own personal roadmap on my path to reinvention…and to joy.
Do What You Can, With What You Have, Where You Are.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt
I rejoice every time I think of that pivotal moment of choice. My journey from then on involved a lot of courage, surrender, trust in the unknown, and the willingness to let go of my anger and resentment. I forgave Ben and myself, and recognized the blessing in what I originally perceived as tragedy.
Living proof that there’s a way to move from “once upon a time” to “happily ever after,” from “always juggling” to “always joyful,” from “feeling stressed” to “feeling blessed,” I know now that the journey is not only worthwhile, but magical and rewarding. Today I travel the world contributing to others’ awakening, sharing my Cinderella story on stages both big and small to inspire moms who cannot see the fairy tale life God has created for them to live.
I’ve learned to look at myself as who I really was, to love who I’ve been, who I am, and who I’m becoming. I’ve experienced so much goodness and witnessed so many miracles, that I’ve gotten to know myself and my value at a deeper level than would otherwise ever have been possible. In a state of constant gratitude and awe for my many blessings, I now appreciate the lovely gift Ben bequeathed upon my girls and me: A positive mom!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elayna Fernandez-Bare is a Positive MOM, Bestselling Author and International Speaker. As a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Master Trainer, Elayna is the creator of the Guerrilla Positioning System™ (G.P.S.), teaching MOMpreneurs worldwide to increase Credibility, Visibility and Profitability™, while living with integrity and balancing their passions. Elayna has been recognized with multiple awards, including Best Marketer and Mom Entrepreneur of the Year, and is often featured prominently on national and international media. Elayna is the founder of The Positive Mom Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promote Character Education and family unity. She is passionate about #Motherhood #Mompreneurship and #Motivation.