When faced with adversity, there are two types of people: People who merely accept their hardships, and people who instead bend them and mold them into personal triumphs. I'm not sure Andrea has even heard of the former.
As a child, Andrea was told time and time again about what she supposedly couldn't do. She was born without a bladder, see, and that (understandably) worried her parents. She grew up surrounded by the fears of those who cared about her: What if she was hurt? What if something exacerbated her condition? Hell, what if she died?
Where some would wrap these fears tighter around themselves like a blanket, Andrea found them cumbersome and intrusive, and continually worked to shrug them away. She had things to do, places to be, and goals to achieve -- nowhere in her plans did she have time for fear or doubt.
It became a game of dares for her sometimes. They would say she couldn't, she would react with "wanna bet?" before doing it. Physical feats and sports -- specifically kickboxing -- were her main outlet, but she went after just about everything with the same vigor and determination. She fell in love with her now-husband in high school and never let go. She pursued acting for a time, and only stopped when she decided it was time. If it took every ounce of sweat within her, Andrea would prove that there wasn't anything she couldn't do,and that she lived according to no terms but her own.
Of all of the women I've had the pleasure of working with for this project, I've known Andrea the longest.
The day we met, we clicked instantly. I was drawn to her humor, her confidence, her foul mouth, and her introspection. More than anything, though, I was drawn to her amazing ability to say things that most people are terrified to say.
Sometimes, these things would make me laugh. Other times, they would result in my staring at her like she'd grown a third head. Never, though, would she say these things with an ounce of regret or embarrassment; rather, she'd say them while looking right back at me with a knowing look, because most of the time she knew that I was thinking it, too. Much in this vein, when I asked her how motherhood had changed her, the answer was upfront and honest.
"I don't think it's changed me. I mean, there are things about me that have changed, of course, but I'm always changing. I'm constantly trying to figure out who I am."
This constant flux isn't anything to fear, she knew -- rather, it's something to celebrate. It's a chance to pursue new goals, to crush new assumptions and to conquer new doubts every day. It's a constant challenge, and it keeps things interesting. If there's anyone who hates it when things aren't kept interesting, it's Andrea.
Each of these women has taught me something profound in one way or another. By doing, Andrea has taught me this: motherhood isn't magically going to answer questions about who we are or where we're headed. Rather, it's an ongoing growth, both for our children and for us. In response, we can either dig our heels in and fear the constant changes within us, or we can face this growth with an eagerness to learn and to see where the next step leads. Life is so much more fun if we act as if we've never heard of the former.