“Whatever they grow up to be, they are still our children, and the one most important of all the things we can give to them is unconditional love. Not a love that depends on anything at all except that they are our children.” ~ Rosaleen Dickson
As we are all just starting out this path together, in my mind it makes sense to tell you a little bit more about who I am and why I am so looking forward to spending some time together on this journey called life. It all starts with my foundation.
We never know where life will lead us. If you asked me even 10 years ago, if I thought I would be doing any of the things I am doing, or have done now, in terms of being on my second marriage, conception of twins through IVF, adjusting to having twins and a daughter with special needs, working in the entertainment business, and advocating with the March of Dimes, I would probably would have looked at you quizzically with a combined look of being supremely overwhelmed by what you were saying.Would I have dreamed that I would be writing two blogs and a book, managing a social media community and trying to provide inspiration for myself and others to look at life slightly differently? Probably not. What would qualify me to do that?
The events of the past 10 years, or more accurately, the last 37 years, answered the question for me. It’s not about being qualified; it’s about being willing to share. To have had so many different good and not-so-good experiences, that you hope someway, somehow bonds you to others in similar situations or experiencing similar emotions so that we can then come to know we are not alone and more importantly if we do feel this way, we don’t have to be.
Life, experience, changes us, alters us. If we can find the strength, it can make us empathetic, compassionate and nurturing. If we are surrounded by people that love us and believe in us, and will walk beside us, or even in our shadow when we need it, then these attributes can grow and flower into what can be the next phase of our journey. Would I have picked all of these experiences to happen to us? No. Would I change any of them? Now, looking back, no.
Do I still struggle with the feelings left behind from these experiences and the ones that lie ahead? Absolutely. Do I wish on most days it was easier for E, or that things didn’t get so complicated so quickly? Definitely. But before I was a mother, I was daughter and my foundation of love, hope and faith tell me we will get prevail in whatever way it is meant to be.
For me this isn’t cliché, it’s from the heart. I have stared down a road that I can’t imagine taking, so to have received the redirect to the road we are on while a bit bumpy, I cannot be more grateful.
For me, it all starts with a foundation of love. For the past 10 years, through everything, I have been my parents’ daughter, my sisters’ sister, and an Auntie to my niece and nephew. Things have not always been perfect, but we all love one another and like all families, we have to work on ourselves and our relationships with one another to stay and grow together. At our core is love. Never had I really known just how much this love created and shaped who I am and how I survive, until now.
I started out as the daughter of a wonderful, very young couple M & M. I was their first daughter of 4 girls, 3 for my mom and 3 for my dad. My sister D is 18 months younger than me, and K and A are both 9 years younger. They are both the babies of my mom and dad’s subsequent marriages. We each have our family roles. As the oldest I was a helper and overall, an over-achiever, I also knew I was loved very much, even when it went unsaid.
No matter what was happening around us, my parents always encouraged my imagination. Perhaps partially because we didn’t have much money, and, as was the time, we played outside and inside as much as possible. I have so many amazing memories: swinging on monkey bars, sweeping dirt floors in tree forts, winning and losing epic pine cone battles, creating backyard plays, making mud pies, roller skating and of lingering in the pool until the summer clouds turned pinkish yellow and the stars began to pepper the sky.
In those days:
I wanted to be a police officer like my daddy.
I wanted to be a ballerina.
I wanted to be a singer.
I wanted to be a VET.
I wanted to be a bank teller like my mommy.
I wanted to be grocery store clerk.
I wanted to be an FBI agent.
I wanted to be a lawyer.
I wanted to drive a giant roller or dump truck like my grandpa.
I wanted to be a writer.
I wanted to be everything.
I could be anything I wanted without question. My parents never gave me rational reasons why I couldn’t have a bakery. They made me cookies to sell door to door.
They showed me what could be and from there I focused on the future.
They loved me.
They allowed me to dream. I was the first person in my family (and not the last) to graduate from college and graduate school, which we never really discussed as a next step or financially, but my parent’s unwavering faith in my abilities made it inevitability. And while I had to work very hard to pay for it (and still am :)) I never gave up because my family believed in me. It’s in the unspoken love and faith in me that they have given me one of the greatest gifts that I never really understood totally until today.
For this I am forever grateful. I do not see the world in black and white. I am full of hope, and faith. It is these 2 things in addition to the love of my husband, family, and friends and now my babies that have carried us through the challenges of the past 10 years.
Unconditional love gave me what I needed in my greatest time of challenge, delivering Q and E at a very fragile 3 months early.
My experience as my parent’s daughter, helped me to be the best version of a mother I could be.
In the fear of what was happening to us, I didn’t give up, we talked about the future. Our biggest dream was that Q and E would both make it and we could all be a family at home.
We told Q and E as they fought each day to survive about the things we would do once they were out of the NICU. Playing in parks, reading stories, singing songs, going on family trips, being at home together. Our dreams were smaller than college or even preschool, but no less significant. They owed us nothing but to just be and we would take care of the rest. We would love them.
Now, as I type this today, the dreams do become a bit bigger. A road trip to see my family next summer, a possible trip to see KSP’s 95 year old grandma in Kansas. Before all of these we never lost faith, but these now bigger dreams had to wait to see our smaller dreams come true. Moment by moment, we dreamed for us and for them.
Dreams, hope, faith, and unconditional love are amazing gifts to give your children. We cannot control the world around us, and if we are honest, sometimes we cannot even control our own reactions to the things that happen to us for they go to some core part of our soul that does not speak a rational language, only feelings. But, upon reflection, we can control how we move forward. How we channel those emotions.
As my parents’ daughter, I take this foundation and channel it as a mother into unconditional love. Love for my own children no matter what their future holds, love for other wee ones with special needs, love for families and people that experience any struggle at all, and love for all the people that support me and other people like me. When it comes down to it, we all need love. We all need support, and we all want to feel like we are not alone. We can do this through compassion and empathy.
Both to receive and give this compassion, nurturing and love can most certainly make it a foundation for ‘anewfavoriteday.’
Are there any life experiences that you have overcome and had to call on love, hope, or faith? How did work through those challenges?