Letting Go of the Plans in My Head
Be Inspired is a column where inspiring women are interviewed and showcased for their ability to go after what they want. The realities of their journey towards success is what is fascinating and inspiring.
An interview with Waneta Storms
“It was like I was just pissing in the wind,” Canadian actress Waneta Storms recalls, sipping mint tea as she shares her remarkable story with me. We are in a downtown Toronto diner, and she is reflecting on a time in her life that we can all relate to: when nothing goes as planned. Even though Storms is now exactly where she should be, it was never the way she’d envisioned.
Forty-four year-old Storms is a single mother to twins (a boy and a girl), and she is a Choice Mom (A Choice Mom is one who chooses to become a mom on her own). It was an arduous path, laden with emotional and financial challenges. But this story is not just about overcoming these trials, it is about the courage she had, to let go of what she thought her future was supposed to look like.
At some point in our lives, we are infused with perceptions and ideals that come from the world we see around us. We are introduced to conventional thinking, and planning within the parameters of what we grew up with, and maybe later, trying to defy it all together. Some of us dream of big white weddings; others plan on becoming rock stars. There are dreams, and then there are expectations.
For Storms, her fate was an expectation. The future she had always conceived was a family much like the family she had come from—parents in love, happy children running around.
“I always, always assumed, as a hetero-sexual woman, that I would have a wonderful man at the right time in my life and we would either accidentally or consciously choose to have a child. This would be a love child. And then we might have another so they could have a sibling and then we’d make a life,” she tells me.
Growing up on a small farm in British Columbia, with her parents and her brother, Storms was the product of a happy marriage and a solid family unit.
“It was a secure, stable, encouraging home. We did things together. I knew how amazing my parents were,” she says with a smile.
They didn’t have a lot of money, so when she left for Toronto, she was determined to make a life for herself. And she did.
After over 15 years in the business, Storms has been nominated for four Gemini awards; she was a lead on CTV’s The Eleventh Hour; and has starred in countless plays and film. Her credits as a prolific actress are mega impressive, yes, but it is the candor about her challenges that intrigue me.
Minutes after we meet and sit down at a table, she opens right up. There is no stage, no set of curtains, and there is no script. She is fully herself, and even though I have only just met her, I know this. The ease with which she shares is infectious—I have to remind myself that I am interviewing her, not having a glass of wine with my best friend.
Her story is one much like one of many women in their thirties. Meet a man, be with him, then be single for a while, and do it all again. At 38 years old, Storms had been dating a man whom she believed wanted the very same things as her. She had been married before (in her twenties), had gotten pregnant twice, and she’d had her fair share of heartache. She was ready to put it all behind her and start that family she had always assumed she’d have. This was the guy. The time was right for her now.
But her boyfriend, the love of her life (at the time), had changed his mind. In fact, it wasn’t the right time for him. His career was taking off; he wasn’t ready. Storms didn’t have the time to wait and see if he really was the right guy. Devastated, she broke it off and said goodbye.
“I refused to live the rest of my life being an actress, being in relationships, travelling the world. I had done all of that. I was going to be a mother, come hell or high water.” And just like that, her commitment to having kids became bigger than him.
She talks about the year she spent drinking wine in a friend’s backyard, crying and trying to figure out why things weren’t working out. She wanted her life to change—it didn’t reflect who she was. There were movies to be made; boyfriends to get over, but really, at the core of it all, she wanted babies. The expectation of having kids at the right time with the right guy had slowly turned into a dream.
Once she was back out in the dating world again, everything had changed. A panicked, little voice inside her head provided the soundtrack for each date. Are you the guy? Are you the guy?
“It was torture,” she recalls. The pressure to find the perfect guy to be with, to procreate with, seemed impossible. And after almost two years of searching and contemplating other options, something occurred to her. “I downsized my expectations and when I did that, I empowered myself,” she explains.
But make no mistake, she wasn’t lowering her expectations and preparing to settle for a man willing to give her security and children. “If I don’t meet a wonderful man until my 50s or 60s, so be it, I’m holding out for a really good one,” she says. “I was either going to watch my biological clock complete itself and be without children or I was going to do everything I could to have one.”
So, one night, she poured herself a big ol’ glass of wine and turned on her laptop. After scrolling through a few donor profiles, the screen was promptly slammed shut. Nobody said it was going to be an easy path, but she realized that the first step was radical acceptance.
As her story weaves back and forth, from then to now, I can’t help but notice the difference between her past self and the present one. It was as though she had a funeral for the person she thought she was going to be, and then reinvented herself into the person she is. By defining her reality in the worst possible way, (no mate, no babies, no house), and by staring at it long and hard, she was able to accept that this was her reality. After the scary part—the gutsy stare down in the mirror—she decided that not being a mother wasn’t an option. And that was it.
“Once you call fertility clinic, your focus changes so much that it’s not about finding a man. It’s amazing letting go of something you cared about for so long,” she confesses. “So many people don’t want to ‘do it that way’ and want to do it the right way, the conventional way and then at some point it must be let go of.” Incidentally, by letting go, she was given more than she had ever had before.
Storms found the right donor, and when she talks about him, she gets teary-eyed, saying that his profile just spoke to her. In it, he was asked, What do you want to pass on to your children? His response was: An awesome positive attitude, and my head of hair.
“I just want to thank him for being the best one of all of them,” she grins.
Shortly after choosing this man, Storms began her journey of fertility. However, this story does not end with one treatment and a positive pregnancy test. After trying IUI eight times, she moved on to IVF. Bent over, gripping the sink, alone in her one bedroom apartment, she injected herself with fertility drugs once a day for three weeks. But this visual does not encompass her entire experience.
In fact, she was not alone at all. Incredibly generous and loving friends surrounded her each step of the way. Her family was there too, supporting and encouraging her. At the time, she was studying Writing for Television at the Canadian Film Centre; performing on stage; and working at a small catering company. Storms had so much going on, when one day she took a pregnancy test, and staring back at her was a positive result. The fact that there would be two in there was just another astonishing part of her journey.
When the babies were born, her mother came to help her for the first six months. Her friends chipped in and got her a night doula. Everyone gathered around, donating cribs, strollers, and changing tables. When Storms describes the altruism, her voice cracks with emotion and immense gratitude.
Towards the end of my time with her, we discuss life as mothers. I try to envision what it would be like if I didn’t have my husband to vent to, or to take the kids when I’m losing my mind. I can’t help but think of her, in the middle of the night with a crying baby, alone. And then I think about expectations, and how they can generate a certain state of mind—one that can make life a whole lot more difficult.
I thought I would be a lot further along in my career, my life isn’t as I mapped it out to be, I thought I’d have a husband to help me with my babies.
Don’t these thoughts make our current realities a whole lot more laborious? If you expect something more, something that you don’t have—isn’t that the antithesis of acceptance and therefore creating resistance? And there is no doubt that Storms’ life as a single mom to twins is tough, but this is what she has now come to know as her family. This is what she expects.
She describes their bedtime routine and how she sits in between them on the floor reading them a book while they snuggle in their little doggie beds. This is before she tucks them into their cribs and tells them how much their mommy loves them.
“I have the fullest love from my kids,” she raves. “Everything is exactly as it should be. A man would not complete this picture—he would just be the icing on the top.”
I want to know if she gets lonely, if she craves companionship. She lets out a breath and sighs, “There are so many worse things to feel. It’s a part of the acceptance. It’s okay to be lonely. Just because you’re lonely, doesn’t mean what you’re doing is wrong.” She also says that at the moment she is too busy to feel lonely, but expects that will change when the children are more independent.
Undoubtedly, Storms attitude to ‘just keep going’, to ‘never quit’, has brought her to this wonderful point in her life. Her career is thriving as a T.V writer; she is providing for her family, and she is open to the possibility that life will continue to surprise her. It shouldn’t only be a single woman in her thirties or forties who could be inspired by Waneta Storms; it is anyone who has ever said, I never thought I’d be here at this point in my life. The key to evolving and moving forward is not resisting what is, and working with what you have in order to get what you want. It’s key to realize that life isn’t about the plans in our head—it’s about the actuality right in front of us. Storms reminded me of this, and she taught me that pissing in the wind is simply just part of life. For this, I could not be more inspired.