About Rebekah Cooksey
How do I describe myself? 36. Really tall (6’1”). Holding onto my blonde hair with a bottle. “Healthy” build (descriptor courtesy of an aunt when I was 13 that I’ve never gotten over). I live what I consider to be a very average life, which on its best days may border on the bubble of interesting.
But what I do think is pretty cool is that, before settling in this “average” life, I got to experience living on both ends of the spectrum. What I’ve found?
Average is actually Best.
End of Spectrum #1 – Growing up poor in a small town
Small town Oklahoma defined my early life. My hometown – Apache, mascot: Warriors (how perfect!), population: 1500. Our school was so small we had no class electives; home ec (for girls) and wood shop (for boys) were required courses. My class pictures between kindergarten and 12th grade included all the same people, generally in the same position (me? Always back row, center until 10th grade when some of the boys actually caught up with me in height).
I am the youngest of seven kids; Dad was a minister, Mom was a nurse. I think at one point we were actually below the poverty level but I have such great selective memory that period is all kind of blurry. I do remember being laughed at because of my clothes and wishing that we could live in a mobile home because some of my friends lived in them, and their homes were nicer than ours. While I had good friends (whom I still keep in touch with), I always knew I would move away because there really wasn’t anything there for me.
End of Spectrum #2 – International travel, six figure income + expense account
My first life change was in my 20’s. A roller coaster marriage and demanding career defined my life. My ex-husband was, literally, an Australian professional tennis player. Take a 4.0 Good Girl and mix with a long-haired Australian and you have a General Electric appliance ad (Brains + Beauty = Great Refrigerator). Add in lots of foreign living and travel (for both), the lifestyle required by a top tier management consulting firm (for me), the decline of athleticism and introduction of a job & mortgage (for him) and inherent cultural differences and there is really no surprise by the time I was 29 we were divorced.
During this decade, though, I experienced a totally different world that I feel fortunate to have glimpsed. I spent one entire year outside the U.S., on four different continents. I filled up an entire passport and had to get pages added. I rode a bicycle through rice fields in Japan, spent a week at the Ritz in London, drove through Lichtenstein just to get my passport stamped, went to New Zealand for a long weekend. I consistently worked 70+ hour weeks, pulled all-nighters, and flew across the Atlantic to attend half-day meetings and flew home as soon as they were done.
How I found that average is actually best:
At 30, I went for my second life change. I wrote my list for my ideal man at dinner with a friend, and met him later that night – Jim (who keeps getting even better, amazingly). I got a corporate job for a big, stable, well-respected company. We got married, had two kids, bought a house in suburbia, and drive a mini-van and SUV.
And I got something I never had before: a sense of belonging. In my small hometown, I was always too tall, too smart, too poor… too something that kept me from really fitting in. In my crazy-ambitious 20’s, I was moving too fast, working too much, trying too hard to be fully present in any relationships. But now, in my average-size house, driving my average car, cooking my average “assembled” dinners, I feel like I truly belong in my family, in my neighborhood, in my community, and in my relationships.
One of the fundamental shifts that has made me feel like I belong is that I became a Mom. Certainly within a nuclear family, Mom (or the Mom role) is an essential part of the mix, so belonging is natural. Anyone who has trouble being fully present in the moment just needs to spend time with a toddler taking his first step, grasping your hand with his chubby, butter-soft fingers. Or with a curious pre-schooler who is exploring his world and either labels the obvious proudly (“That is a yellow bucket”) or asks questions that force you to reach into your depths for an answer (“What did the hunters do to Bambi’s Momma?”). Or watching the man you fell in love with and married teach his son to ride his first bicycle, including doling out generous kisses and hugs when he falls off the first hundred times.
Becoming a Mom also creates instant bonds with other women you’ve never even met. Without any prior experience with or knowledge of another Mom, you instantly have a connection, based on the shared experiences you’ve now had and are having. Pregnancy or adoption, vaginal delivery or c-section, breast or bottle, stay-at-home, nanny, or day-care, private or public school, Girl Scouts or Indian Princesses…whatever individual choices we’ve made along the way, we all are mothering our children, trying to raise them the best way we know how, instilling the best values we can.
This is why the idea of a community like Moms Out Loud became a passion for me, and why I was compelled to leave my safe corporate job to make this idea a reality. I am enjoying the process of building the membership because it’s allowing me to hear each individual story of every Mom I meet. I can’t wait to share these stories with everyone who signs up on Moms Out Loud.