Bella Said: Deriving Purpose from Pain
Bella Said is an exquisite blend of comedy and compassion, sincerity and silliness, boldness and beauty. Her personality is the product of a turbulent childhood and continuous self-discovery, but judging by her sweet smile and the way she loves on her two children, you would never know that there was ever an ounce of brokenness in Bella’s bones.
Molded by her mother
“My mom worked when I was growing up,” explains Bella, “and that was safer for me. She worked long hours and after she was done working she went to the bar. I didn’t see her very much, and that was a good thing. It was the safest thing for me.”
Bella was an only child, and with the pain and abandonment she frequently experienced, Bella felt that she was often on her own. The hurt from her childhood carried into her adult years, specifically in the way that she viewed her own capability of being a mother.
“I became a nanny right out of high school,” says Bella. “And looking back on my motivation, I realize that I was seeing if I was capable of doing this, how I do this. I had a lot of fear because of my childhood. I didn’t know if I’d be a good mother. But I was really good at my job, and that made me feel more comfortable with being a mom myself.”
After 16 years as a nanny, Bella and her husband, Mark, welcomed their first child, Lily. Bella left her job to become a stay-at-home mom.
“Before we got married, Mark and I agreed that we didn’t want to have children until I knew I could stay at home with them until they went to kindergarten. I wanted to be 100 percent different than my parents were with me. I wanted to be there for my kids. I never wanted them to feel alone.”
A new boss in town
Aside from her motivation to become a mother unlike her own, perhaps another reason that Bella is such a beautiful parent is Mark’s steady support of her role as a mom. Now with two little ones — Lily, 4, and Sam, 23 months — Mark’s emotional support is especially valued.
“He understands how difficult it is to be a mom,” says Bella. “He knows it’s a hard job. It’s 24/7, never ending. You are a mom full-time and you are emotionally connected to, essentially, your boss — your children. In this job, you can’t check out at the end of the day. Mark is very supportive of me as a mom; he understands how difficult it is. But he wouldn’t have me anywhere else.”
Because Mark’s job requires him to travel three to four days of the week, Bella is the sole employee of her tiny bosses for long periods with no time for breaks.
“I’ve gotten used to being on my own with the kids, but by the end of the day I am so ready for them to go to bed!” she says. “The hours between 5 and 7, the kids are just nuts. I want to have my butt embedded in the couch at 7:30 with a glass of wine and a good TV show.”
Bella runs a tight ship, though, and she gets it all done plus some, earning that much-deserved butt-in-couch wine time. Thanks to her self-proclaimed obsessive-compulsive personality, she can accomplish more on her own in a morning than an army of mothers can do in a month.
Bella vacuums every morning. On top of that, she does laundry and the dishes, she sews clothes and sanitizes bathrooms, she bikes the neighborhood and scrubs her sinks. Every morning.
Although Bella secures great satisfaction from a clean home, she recognizes that a happy little face is better than a sparkling toilet any day.
“The time I would normally take making my house spotless is much better spent wrestling with Sam or coloring with Lily,” she says.
A mother and sew much more
“If our budget allows I’d love to stay home until the kids go to college,” says Bella, “and then find something else like nursing.”
But Bella isn’t waiting until the kids’ graduation to pursue her passions. In July she launched her own clothing business, Pickled Pink, from her dining room table.
“I started sewing three years ago,” she says. “I bought a sewing machine and fabric and taught myself because I didn’t want to spend retail to buy what I wanted. I started doing that for my kids and then I had friends wanting me to make stuff for them and for them to give as gifts. Then this past July, I said ‘Hey I’m going to name this business and see where it goes.’”
Bella describes her business as a “selfish” endeavor, “because it’s a creative outlet and it keeps me sane. I love having something to do that’s entirely mine and has nothing to do with the children. I love my kids but this is for me.”
Bella says she doesn’t know where the business is going.
“It’ll go wherever God wants to take it,” Bella says. “I’m happy with it now; I get orders from people I love and I get to have my hands on everything that I create. I’m able to pray over every single piece that I make, which I’ve done since I first started sewing.”
This tradition started with one of her first projects for the Yahweh Center.
“I made 17 blankets, one for each of the children in residence there,” says Bella. “I prayed over every blanket that I made because I knew that it was going to a kid who really needed prayer. It gave me comfort and gave me a way to connect with God and spend time with God doing something I love. And now I pray over everything that I make.”
The three questions that matter most
In one day, Bella sews for friends and sanitizes her home; she bakes cookies for Lily and crashes trucks with Sam. From the outside, she is supermom. But, on the inside, Bella sees herself as a work-in-progress.
“I am still learning how to be a mother,” Bella says. “I didn’t have an example when I was growing up, so I’m trying to figure that out for myself along the way. But Mark has helped me to realize that this is where I am meant to be. This is what I have always been waiting for. There are days that are stressful, sure. But all of it is rewarding because even the hard stuff teaches you.”
And her measurement of a good day is simple.
“At the end of the day I lay them down and I ask, ‘Did they smile today? Did they laugh today? Did I tell them that I love them? If the answer is yes to these three things, then I know that I have done my job. It doesn’t matter if the house is perfect — even though I’d love that. I know that if my kids are loved, I’ve done what I’m supposed to do.”