A Beautiful Risk

Two weeks ago, two different families that were “friends of friends” lost children on the same weekend. One a newborn baby who inexplicably never breathed, and one a teen in a freak accident. Since then, I have not been able to stop thinking about this post I wrote back in October 2007 (!!!) about my baby Sophie, for the old online magazine TopBlogMag. I finally searched for it so I could re-publish it here for you guys, because it adequately expresses my thoughts on what I’ve been feeling for these two families, and on the great way we expose our mom hearts when we have kids.

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She’s sleeping soundly, and I pause to observe a rare moment of calm in my wild child, my crazy girl, my daring daughter. Her long, fine hair covers her thick eyelashes and rest on her plump, peaceful cheeks. She is, to me, simply amazing. But I am, of course, her mother.

Eleven months ago, I exhibited the opposite of the serenity she now sleepily displays. I was pregnant with her, and on the cusp of giving birth, rotund, uncomfortable, and scared. I was anxious, apprehensive, and fretful about my baby girl. My fears frustrated and confounded me. I already had a son, and he was healthy and strong. I had done this before, what was wrong with me? I just wanted her out, and as my pregnancy progressed I became more and more convinced she would be safer outside the womb than in.

A few days before my due date, after a doctor’s appointment where once again, everything looked fine, I sat down to try and analyze my fear, to seek to know the enemy that was taking the joy out of this pregnancy. What I came to realize after some careful, quiet thought, was this: because I already had one child, I knew what I had to lose if something went wrong with this pregnancy. I knew what it was like to hold my own child in my arms, to nurse it at my breast, to feel its breath on my cheek, to marvel at its first smile and revel in its first laugh. This baby already had my heart. Giving her life meant risking her life, and I already knew I couldn’t live without her.

A few days later, right on time, my risk, my beautiful risk paid off. My daughter came into my world healthy and strong, just like her brother. The last eleven months she has brought me joy upon joy, and looking at her now I don’t regret the risk for a minute. Still, knowing what I have to lose, I don’t think myself brave enough to take it on again.

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Choosing to Be Unstoppable

I wrote this post as part of my participation in a blog tour for The Motherhood on behalf of the makers of Children’s MOTRIN® and received compensation to thank me for taking the time to participate. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

soveryunstoppable

Over the past couple of months I’ve told you about who and what inspires me to be an Unstoppable Mom. I’ve talked about awesome moms in my life and my strategies to make it through the holidays. But the truth is, I’m an Unstoppable Mom by choice. I do what I do because I LOVE my family, and every day I choose to do what needs to be done to make us work. That includes 7:30 preschool, my job, speech therapy, dinner, homework help, swim lessons, church, house church and hopefully time for extended family and friends.

And the truth is? I’m tired. See?

Jenny is tired

As I write this it’s 10:33 p.m. and I have miles to go before I sleep. These kinds of miles:

dirty dishes

And these kind:

messy table

The fun miles have been run. I ran them during my children’s waking hours. Those miles included hugs and kisses and silly games and hot chocolate and Advent time. Now it’s time to run the last couple, the couple you force yourself to do long after you felt like throwing in the towel. Those last couple miles can be grueling. But they are necessary to make the fun miles happen. So I do them.

(Please note: I don’t run in real life. 0.0, baby!)

I’m unstoppable because of those waking hours. The moments of life and love I have with my family are what make me unstoppable. And it’s really just as simple as that. Simple and simply wonderful. These people who leave me so worn out at the end of the day also make me indescribably HAPPY. I am such a lucky mom.

The Makers of Children’s MOTRIN have asked me to share my unstoppable stories with you the last few months, and now I’m going to ask you to share some time with me (and them!): Thursday, December 4, we’ll be tweeting all things #UnstoppableMoms at 1pm EST. Check out the invite for more details – we’ll be giving away FIVE $50 gift cards!

Oh, and hey – you can still share your unstoppable tips over on the Motrin Facebook page. Because one of the best ways we can help each other be unstoppable is to share what works for us! And what’s awesome about that? For every tip shared, they will make a $1 donation made to Safe Kids. Your tip might also win you $100 just for posting (all details on the Motrin Facebook page)!

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY, OPEN TO LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE 50 UNITED STATES & D.C., 18 AND OLDER. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Promotion ends 11:59p.m. ET 12/28/14.  Sponsor will donate $1 for each approved Submission made as part of the promotion, with a minimum donation of $30,000 and a maximum donation of $50,000.  For Official Rules, and complete details, visit www.unstoppablemoms.com. Sponsor: McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc.  To learn more about Safe Kids Worldwide visit safekids.org.

Thanks for joining this year on my #UnstoppableMoms journey! I look forward to seeing you at the Twitter party on Thursday!

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You Have What it Takes to Be Your Kids’ Mom

yourkidsmom2

I’ve had two articles bumping around in my head for a couple of weeks. One is well from the UK Daily Mail, an article in which Gillian, the mother of Stephen, a 47-year-old man with Down syndrome states unapologetically that she wishes he had never been born. The other is this one by my friend Jeannett in which she says she hopes her daughter with cerebral palsy and epilepsy never hears any pregnant woman say “as long as it’s healthy” while she rubs her belly. If her daughter hears this, she wonders, will she think herself unwanted, unworthy, or less because she isn’t “healthy”? Will she wonder if her mother thought for one second that she could trade her for a healthy child? This is just about Jeannett’s greatest nightmare. Because unlike Gillian, she rejoiced in the baby she gave birth to – disability and all.

So these two opposing posts are rattling around in my mom-heart. I posted a link on my Facebook profile to the Daily Mail article where Gillian recounts how her son with Down syndrome has basically ruined her life, and how she wishes he had never existed, and someone commented on my post, “That’s so sad, but I don’t think I am very well equipped to raise a special needs child.” (This is a paraphrase, and I should note, the person who wrote that comment does not have children.) But she is correct. She’s not equipped. Because she doesn’t have such a child. If she had a special needs child, and was willing to accept this gift from God, then she would become equipped real quick-like. Because God doesn’t make mistakes. I firmly believe that He gives us the kids we are supposed to have and he gives us what we need to be their parents. Jeannett didn’t dream of one day having a child with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, but she does and she rocks her job as Jill’s mom LIKE A BOSS. She in uniquely equipped to be Jill’s mom, just like she is uniquely equipped to parent her three other “typical” children who each have and will have their own needs or problems that Jeannett will help them with along the way.

And listen. I did not think I was equipped to raise a child with significant developmental delays, to teach her, to work with her, to become an at-home speech and occupational therapist. But when my daughter was diagnosed with said delays, I got on it. And I learned, I learned fast. I had no idea what I was doing but I was willing. And you know what? God equipped me. All that was in there inside of me just waiting to be activated. He gave me a child who needed to be taught and he gave me the skills to teach her. Yes, she had therapists, but they told me what to do and I did it! And though we were told she’d need 3-4 years of therapy, and she graduated in just 18 months.

God gave me the child I was supposed to have and then he gave me the skills to give her what she needed. It is that simple.

When I read the article Gillian wrote, where she says if she could go back in time she would end her son’s life before he was born “in an instant”, I do not feel judgment. I have not walked in her shoes, but I have experienced thinking you have a “typical” child and then getting smacked in the face with the reality that you do not. I feel sadness for Gillian. I am just so, so, sad for her. Because she could have chosen to accept her sweet boy and be the best mom for him, but instead as she says in her own words, she never came to terms with his disability.

I do not think she ever saw him as anything but a mistake. And I think she missed out on a lot. (Side note: please go read the article. It’s pretty chilling, and I don’t want you to think I am attacking some poor misunterstood mom.)

Listen, mamas. All our kids will have some sort of issue. Some may struggle academically, others behaviorally, some may sail through their school and teen years and then have trouble functioning as a young adult. Some of your daughters may struggle as young mothers. Listen, listen, listen: whatever your child needs at any stage, you can give it to them. I am not saying you can magically become a surgeon if they need an operation, but you can offer emotional and physical support and guidance. You can be THE MOM they need at that exact time.

You can do it, because they were born to you, and you were born for this.

One of the things that surprised me about motherhood was how so unnatural it is to me. I expected to be like a happy, glowing mom in a detergent ad, I guess, and…that’s not what happened. It is hard. All the sacrifice is hard. And I am selfish. And yet…I think I am doing ok, because of this:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

This is the answer the apostle Paul got  back from God when he was begging him to take away an affliction that he could not handle. It is the answer I get back when I think I cannot meet the constantly-changing needs of three different children at the same time. It is the answer that has proved true time and time again.

When I am weak, I am strong. I am naturally weak at mothering. But God makes me strong and equips me for the task.

Mamas, you have what it takes to be YOUR kids’ mom. They are yours, and you are theirs, for a reason.

Photo Credit: man’s pic via Compfightcc Text added by author.

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