If These Walls Could Sing

If these walls could speak…

When we’re young we are often reminded of the ‘good things in life.’  The things that our elders told us would change our lives forever. Ya know. Growing up. Graduating from high school and maybe college. Getting your first ‘real’ job. Finding love. Getting married. Buying your first house. The things that many only dream of. Myself included.

You see, I came from a small town in southern Illinois. I had no idea what life was like outside of Route 3, the only highway that ran through town. I knew I always wanted to be more than what others assumed I would be. I mean, it wasn’t ever hurtful or intentional. But when you are a small town girl living in a small town world you only know what you know. And the stories are written on the wall for all to see.

At a very early age, I knew I wanted to be more than that. I was a dreamer. I dreamed of moving to California to be a movie star one day. I know. Pretty far fetched, right? I guess you could say it started when I was Aunt Em from The Wizard of Oz in my kindergarten play. I wasn’t pretty enough to be Dorothy or graceful enough to be Glenda the good witch. Fortunately, I wasn’t evil enough to play the wicked witch either. I was Aunt Em. The motherly matriarch that took care of her family, raised down on the farm.

I spent the rest of my small town childhood life dreaming of being bigger than myself in a world where people like me were often forgotten. I graduated high school and went to a college in Kentucky where I graduated with a degree in theater. Musical theater at that. I was well on my way.

I had the amazing opportunity that put me on the career path that may not have been stage acting but the theater of the mind. I fell into radio at an early age and decided to make a go of it. I pushed. I climbed my way to the top as hard as I could. Finally one day at a station in the hallows of Virginia and the hills of East Tennessee I had the opportunity to move to Chicago. It would finally be the move that this country girl makes it to the big city to meet the many of her dreams.

Chicago was short lived for me. Not because it didn’t work out but because it did. I married the man of my dreams and shortly after our wedding, we moved to Philadelphia when he got the job of a lifetime. A dream one for him, no doubt. I remember when I left my dream job because I thought that was the right thing to do. This small town girl was loved by a big city boy and we were to live happily ever after.

Here I am. Sitting in the dark in the home we have lived in for ten years. The place where I brought my babies home to grow. Our first home that while growing up as a small town girl I never ever imagined I would be blessed with.

Tomorrow that moment will completely change forever. My nine-year-old and four-year-old are following my husband to San Francisco, California. But we all are here, in this home, for the very last time.

As I sit here in the dark with only the fireplace that warmed our hearts and bodies for ten years on and as I listen to the sound of my computer keys clicking I can’t help but wonder what these walls would tell me if they could talk. I was eight months pregnant when we moved here with absolutely no idea how much my life would change. We didn’t know one person in this town. And if you don’t know Philly I’m not kidding when I tell you these folks are tough. Their iron clad walls were not easy for a country girl like me to break down. Truth be told, the first few years were beyond tumultuous for our little family. Motherhood put me into a terrifying postpartum depression. I was living a nightmare on days when I prayed would be living the dream. Without my faith, I’m not sure if I would be sitting here today.

I remember sitting here in this room on so many nights. Alone while my eyes filled with tears watching the fire wondering how I got to this place. Wondering if I would ever break down the walls around me praying I’d feel motherly loved in the city of brotherly love. I can’t help but tear up thinking about that pain I felt. The sadness that overwhelmed me for years trying to fit in and not living up to my own personal dream.

Fast forward many years later and those feelings are different than they were back then. If only these walls could talk. I’d hear my dad’s voice when he came to visit. My mom’s laughter when she played with my oldest and the singing holiday decorations she’d torture us with. The little feet shuffles coming from the kitchen. I would feel my heart tighten as I stayed awake for days with a crying baby. I would feel the same heart burst with joy hearing my babies giggle. I would hear the replay of the days we brought our babies to our home for the first time. When we introduced our new puppy to the other new creature in our newly married life. I’d hear my dog playing and my husband saying “throw the ball to the daddy!”

Boy. If these walls could talk? 

I know they would sing.

This musical of life has been filled with highs and lows. Moments of despair and many breaths of fresh air. Moments that I never realized were precious. And moments where I wish I would have realized I was not alone.

Tonite I feel those walls crumbling down. I feel the motherly love in a town known for brotherly love. All the feels that bring joy, fear, love and more.  As I sit here in the dark in a completely empty house with the warmth of the fire wrapping its arms around me I realize all those feelings are real. I am not alone. I have been loved. Life is precious. It’s not just a musical act. This is not just an intermission. This is the reality of me.

Tomorrow my little family will embark on the biggest act of our lives. We’re boarding a plane with the only things that truly matter and heading to a world that none of us know. Not down the street or around the corner but over the hills and through the woods like Dorothy did in the Wizard of Oz.

I’m so glad that I wasn’t Dorothy in kindergarten. The matriarch, Aunt Em was what kept their life together. So bring on that tornado and the winds of change. I’m ready to turn this black and white life into true living color.

After all… isn’t that what happened when Dorothy looked into the crystal ball? The black and white Aunt Em was living in color.

Joey Fortman (Founder, RealityMoms)

Joey Fortman is the brains behind #RealityMoms. In 2008, after 20+ years in traditional media hosting radio shows around the country, Joey traded in the microphone for a diaper bag, struggling through her own personal crisis: unemployed, overweight and lost in the land of mommy bloggers. Little did Joey know, her traditional media background would pave the way for success at Real Mom Media. As a sought after media magnet, Joey has been featured nationally on Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Anderson Cooper, the Katie Couric Show, Dr. Oz, Redbook, The Today Show, The Talk, Fox and Friends & The Newlywed Game. When not at the sports complex with one of her kids, on an island or a grocery store run, or on Facebook Live with #RealityMoms contributors, Joey is obsessed with adult coloring.

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