“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin
So this is me, lying next to my 5 year old daughter on a Wednesday afternoon, while she is taking a nap. Learning the art of shutting down my ever busy mom brain is a work in progress because that is just who I am. An overthinking, over analysing, perfectionistic busy bee, who took several years, many tears, numerous anxiety attacks, feelings of failure, heartache and misjudgement to realize who I really am.
I am no famous writer or author, but I have walked a path that not many women or men for that matter truly understand.
See, I am the wife of a professional rugby player. To many it sounds for the most part glamorous, exciting and adventurous, a life many people could only dream of. For me, it’s one of the hardest, most challenging titles that I have ever owned.
I want to share my story…my raw, difficult, adventurous, scary, happy, sad, and lonely story…
7 years ago my husband and I went out on a limb and pursued his rugby career in France. This was great in the beginning, I mean, young newlyweds moving to a beautiful new country.
We could barely say “bonjour”, but adventure awaited. There we were, newly married, from a small town in South Africa, sitting in a hotel room in a big fancy city in the South of France. Couldn’t speak a word of French, and didn’t know anyone apart from Willie’s rugby agent.
I took unpaid leave from my “dream job” at a school in Bloemfontein where I worked as a grade 3 teacher, however all of a sudden my life drastically changed. I went from having friends, living in a small town, (which I loved by the way) having a wonderful job, my own income, my apartment, my family only a 4 hour drive away, my independence and my comfort zone.
I found my 25 year old self scared, self-conscious and not even sure who I really was. I was in a very vulnerable situation.
“Not being able to work in the first 5 years of living abroad, I felt a sense of loss. What was my purpose? “
What made me “special”? Was I another rugby wife living the “high life” like many people think and believe?
A few years later we had kids and although I love my children with every inch of my being, raising them alone in a foreign country with a foreign language was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.
Many days I felt alone and purposeless. Many times, I felt like giving up, packing our bags, and moving back home…but I realized years later, after many tears, that God puts us in certain situations to change our views and perspective of life.
Many things have happened in the last 7 years of our life abroad, some BEAUTIFUL memories were made, and we also went through some very hard and tough times.
Let me just begin to say that it isn’t all terrible and bad, but I want to write this to make people aware of what this title means to me, and to so many foreign women that I have met along the rugby journey.
For so many, including me, for years the term “rugby wife” had such an alluring affect. Kind of like “they” were invincible, a hierarchy, untouchable, money was no problem and they had the world at their fingertips. Little did I know, and sadly it took me a few years to realize and accept, that this was not at all what this title entailed.
See I don’t like change, I don’t like the unknown and I love living in my comfort zone. We move every two years. New house, new town, new friends, new community, new schools, new bakery, postman, neighbours…the list goes on.
And it might not sound too bad to some, but the language barrier makes it ten times harder. See this is where I had to make the conscious decision to accept, adapt and appreciate the challenging and difficult journey. But I couldn’t do this without fuelling myself and reminding myself of who I was. I am a rugby wife, a mommy, a housewife, and a teacher. But I am also Carla du Plessis.
Then came writing Annie’s Alphabet Adventures which had always been a dream of mine.
“This was something I did to remind myself, who I was before marriage, before moving to France, and before becoming a mommy. It is something that I am extremely proud of.”
My future goal for Annie’s Alphabet is to create worksheets that can accompany the story and translate it to French so that it will be more user friendly for French speaking children.
When I look at this book, I see a strong woman, a woman that overcame so many obstacles, a woman that is blessed beyond measure, a successful woman. I think the long and the short of this is…YOU have a God given purpose and talent, even if you think it is insignificant, IT IS NOT! Do the things that light a fire within your soul, that make you feel alive, happy, and healthy.
Mental health is such an important aspect of our well-being, and many people tend to take it for granted. So if I can share my story as a reminder to all women to maintain your identity on this journey!
We can sometimes live in the shadows of our husband’s success and career but I hope that you can find that one thing that makes a spark, makes you feel unique, valued and so irreplaceable.
Follow your dreams, keep your feet on the ground, love one another and always, always praise God!!
Carla Du Plessis xx
Get to know Carla https://www.instagram.com/carla_dup/
Read Carla’s book Annie’s alphabet adventures https://anniesadventuresbook.com
“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place. We stay there even though we go away, and there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” Pascal Mercier