I may have rose colored glasses about my childhood, but I was pretty lucky. My parents adored each other, my brothers and I were healthy, active and all around good kids. We had an army of mothers, that we referred to as the “mommy collaborative”, who protected us and watched over us as their own. I had smart, silly and well behaved friends who had big goals in life and we each supported each other to reach those goals. We never went without, but also learned that things aren’t just handed to you. I had to pick up dog poop, clean the toilets and make sure my clothes made it into the washer. We traveled the country to see family members, who shared our bold laughs and raunchy humor. I’m so grateful.
My parents were (and are) amazing. They let us make our own mistakes, but provided us with a pretty stellar “moral compass”. My brothers and I didn’t want to disappoint them. I remember a time as a preteen when I didn’t tell my mom where I was going and I stayed out past dark. I’m not sure I ever received a “punishment”. I do know that I cried myself to sleep that night just knowing that I had scared my mom and that I never wanted her to feel that way again.
I’ve been taught that receiving an education provided opportunities and options. We were reminded to make choices with our work and play that were purposeful. As a teen I would be running out the door with friends, my sweet, gentle dad would ask “what will you be doing?” We replied “just hanging out with friends, I guess.” That was not enough. Hanging out leads to trouble, we needed a focus, even if it was listen to music and talking, we needed a plan. I didn’t admit it as a teen, but I absolutely loved that rule, it reminded me to be purposeful and it was yet another reminder that my dad loved me. I’m so grateful.
When discussing my future career plans my parents reminded me to choose something that helps other people. That was the most important work. Don’t be distracted by false success. My mother lost her sister Ann to cancer when I was very young. I have a few solid, sweet memories of my aunt, whom i’m named after. I have a beautiful picture of Ann and on the back I have a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that I like to live by.
“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
I realize that I’m gushing about my family. I can’t help myself, they are pretty wonderful.
It’s also important that I talk about the dark times. As a junior in high school I battled with seasonal depression. In the darkest months of the year (December through early March) I would shut down. My grades plummeted, by friendships struggled, and I cried. I cried a lot. My patient and understanding mother sat with me. She tried to understand what was happening. She then gave me a gift that I have carried through the years to follow. She guided me to ask for help, identify the problem and deal with it. We didn’t sugar coat what was happening, I was depressed and I needed help. She was the first to notice when I was having a hard time from then on out. The day of Liam’s diagnosis she knew I would need help and she helped me know that it’s OK to ask for help. I guess even when your baby is 32 your job is never done. I’ve lived a
better spectacular life because of her. I’m so grateful.
I give you this blog entry to show my gratitude to those in my life who have set me up for success. My loving parents, my big brothers who both have hearts of gold, my hilarious and giving extended family, the most amazing friends and a beautiful community to live in. I’m so grateful.
Liam has also been set up for success. He has many gifts and talents that will make him a powerful, contributing member of society. He will have options despite his physical limitations. I’m so grateful.