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Thursday, May 15, 2014

To My Precious Boys

My Dear Ryan, Zachary, & Connor,

A few days ago I talked about the sadness I felt in learning that I will never have a daughter. And yes, that sadness is real. I hope that as each of your grow up with me as your Mama and Daddy as your Dad that you will learn  to always feel comfortable expressing your emotions, especially in a productive way, no matter what those emotions may be.

But no matter how sad I may feel at never having a daughter, I don't want any of you to EVER doubt my love for you and how much both Daddy and I wanted each of you. Daddy and I pretty much always knew we wanted three children. When we found out Zachary was a boy, we started having many conversations about whether we definitely wanted three children or if we were just thinking of a third to hopefully have a girl. And the answer was a resounding, "We want three kids, whether that third be a boy or a girl." So, Connor, know that you were wanted and dreamed of long before you ever came to be. We haven't met you yet, but we just know you'll be the perfect completion to our family and we cannot wait for you to get here!

Ryan and Zachary, watching the two of you develop a relationship as brothers, and being your Mommy has been the greatest joy of my life. You make raising boys a joy (most of the time!) and I wouldn't trade you for the world...not even all the daughters in the world! ;)  I know Connor will just add to the fun and I can't wait to see it happen.

I promise, no matter what, to always be there for the three of you and I hope you will always be there for each other. I promise to support you, love you, brush you off when you get hurt, build you up when you're feeling less than confident, to foster your strengths, work on your weaknesses, and love you unconditionally. I'm your Mama, you're my sons, and I will always be here for you.

As you grow up, as you develop close relationships with people outside of our family I promise to support you in learning the complex task of only letting people who truly value and respect you for who you are into your inner circle. I hope to develop in each of you a strong sense of confidence and self respect so that one day, by the time you choose someone to spend the rest of your life with you will choose someone who loves you for the amazing person you are. And I promise to love and respect that person as you do. (A letter to my future children-in-law is forth coming).

Until that time comes, I will relish this brief time Daddy and I have of watching you become who you are. It is a challenge, a joy, and the greatest privilege of our lives, to walk with each of you, to help mold you into the young men you will one day be. We won't be perfect. We'll make mistakes. Please forgive us when we do. Please understand that we always want what is best for you. And know that despite the mistakes, we will never, ever waiver on the fact that we love each one of you for who you are, unconditionally. On this life journey, along with the mistakes, we hope to enjoy lots of fun, many tickle fights, family dinners, hugs, snuggles, games, sporting events, concerts, performances, kisses, cuddles, goodnight stories, family vacations, day trips, walks to the park, and everything in between.

I love you so very, very much Ryan, Zachary, and Connor. Thank you, each one of you, for being a part of this amazing little family we have.

Always,

Mama


Monday, May 12, 2014

"Because, Well, That's What She Is"

Today at Target, in the check out line, there was a young girl, maybe 12 behind us in line. She was with her mom, and she was in a wheel chair. She appeared to have some form of Cerebral Palsy. I immediately noticed that she had on bright yellow Crocs, just as Ryan does.

I looked at Ryan, and pointed to the girl's feet and said, "Look Ryan, she has yellow Crocs just like you! She has good taste in shoes!" The girl laughed. I asked if yellow was her favorite color. She said, "Yes! Is it his?" Ryan said, a bit shyly, with a little encouragement, "Yeah, I like yellow, too." Zach then piped up, not to be outdone and started saying "Hiiii-eeee, hiiiii-eeee, hiiiiiiii-eeeeeeeeeeeee!" The girl laughed again, showing her beautiful smile. She said, "He's cute." It was clear speech is something she struggles with, but she was completely understood. I said, "Thanks!" And we finished paying for our items. We turned to say goodbye before we left.

Seeing as I had two small kids, and more items than they did, by the time they were leaving we were still getting situated. We said goodbye again, and the mother, quietly, sidled up to me and said, "Thank you for talking to her like she's a normal kid. Because, well, that's what she is." I was a bit caught off guard and said the only thing that came to mind, "Of course!" And they left. Mom and daughter left, chatting together as they headed out the door. I watched them sadly, thinking that if the mother went out of her way to thank me, that someone treating her daughter "like a normal kid" must be a fairly rare occurrence.

Ryan asked me what the mom had said. I explained that sometimes, because the girl was in a wheel chair, that some people might treat her differently and that the mom was thanking us for being kind and treating her like the normal kid that she is. Ryan said, "Why was she in a wheel chair?" (We've talked previously about why people use wheel chairs). I said, "Well, maybe she was born with an illness that made it so that her legs don't work so well. So, a wheel chair allows her to get around and go to all the places she would like to go." He said, "Oh, it helps her move around, like the people that use the special carts at the grocery store." And I said, "Yes exactly." He said, "Can she walk at all?" And I said, "I don't know. Maybe she can a little. But it probably makes her really tired, if her legs don't work quite right, so, when she's in a store its easier to use a wheel chair." Ryan said, "I wish I could ride in a wheel chair." And I said, "Maybe one day you'll have a friend who has a wheel chair and they will take you for a ride." And we headed out the door as well.

I hope more and more encounters like this, with other normal children, will teach my children to always be kind, caring, friendly, and casual with everyone, even if they do look a little different, talk a little different, use a wheelchair/braces/a walker, or act a little different. We're all just people, going through this world, looking for love, and hoping to find it in as many places as we can. If my children learn nothing from me, other than the goal of spreading love, kindness, and compassion as far and wide as we can, then, well, my job is done.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fare thee well, Tessa Margaret

A letter to the daughter I will never have

My Dear Tessa Margaret,

We had a beautiful name picked out for you. A name we had chosen before Ryan was ever born.  Tessa, a strong, beautiful name that your Dad and I just loved and Margaret, after your wonderful, loving, selfless grandmother, my mother.  With each of my pregnancies, I pictured you. I imagined you with long, brown hair like I had as a girl and a long lanky frame like your dad; deep soulful dark eyes. I pictured you excelling at basketball but being more of a center than the guard I always was.  I imagined the mother-daughter dates we would share; watching movies, going to lunch. I pictured doing your hair, and begging you to wear cute dresses, even though you probably wouldn’t have wanted to, because with two older brothers I expected you to be a Tom boy like I was growing up. I knew we'd argue and fight at times. What mother and daughter don't? But I hoped we'd have a special relationship that would allow us to get past any argument or disagreement. I imagined finding out about the first boy you had a crush on and then one day learning that you indeed had a boyfriend (or, perhaps a girlfriend. Either would have been fine).  I imagined the long phone conversations we’d have when you were off at college, maybe Boston College, or perhaps another college completely of your own choosing. Because I have no doubt you would have been a strong-willed, independent woman with a mind of your own. I imagined you beautiful and confident. I imagined you growing into one of my closest friends. A confidant, someone with whom I could share my soul, and I, as someone with whom you would share yours, as I do with my mom. You may have been all of these things, or none of them, but you would have been my daughter. A daughter that I will never have.


Yes, today, we found out that the sweet, beautiful, healthy (we are so grateful!) baby growing in my belly is a boy. A beautiful boy. One we can tell from the 4D pictures already looks like his older brothers, especially Zachary. One who will be celebrated and welcomed into this family with immense love from four people in his immediate family and many in his extended family; a family, immediate and extended, who will rejoice in his arrival and love him unconditionally. We are thrilled to add a third boy to our family. We know three boys will be lots of fun and chaos, joy, and noise. It will be trains and trucks, and sometimes painted fingers and toes, because if my boys want painted nails, then who am I to tell them no? Three boys, three smart, beautiful boys is what our family will be and was meant to be.


But this does not mean that I’m not sad to never meet you, Tessa Margaret. I know there are some people who will read this and wonder how I can be so ungrateful? How can I be sad over a new life? So many people struggle to have any children at all, or to have the number of children they want. I am not sad about the new life. I always imagined my family having three children and am so lucky this will be the case. I am not ungrateful. In fact, I know how blessed we are to have three healthy boys. I have met far too many families who have had to suffer the illness or death of a child far too young. I know how truly blessed we are to have healthy kids. I love raising boys. I love being Ryan and Zachary’s mom. And I couldn’t imagine it any other way. And I know this will be true of our third boy as well. But I am sad that I will never have a daughter. Never have that special girl with whom I will share a special mother-daughter relationship as I share with my mom. Another boy is a beautiful gift. But that does not erase the fact that I am mourning the loss of the daughter I will never have.  


So, fare thee well, sweet Tessa Margaret. I would have loved to meet you. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

From DeBoy to Duggar?? Definitely NOT!


Seriously? So, I assume it was an accident, right? Well, you're gonna move now, I assume? (if I had a dollar for every time I heard this one we could actually afford to move!) Where are you gonna put all those kids? What, are you trying to create an empire? I hope you're done after this one!

These are all comments Matt or I heard (either in person, on the phone, or via Facebook) upon sharing the news of being pregnant with our third child. Given, most of these rather obnoxious comments came from people to whom we aren't that close. But some did come from family members (not necessary a shocker though, given who said them). And  it must be said that the people closest to us, and who are most supportive of us did nothing but share in our immense joy. However, there were enough people who didn't that I was truly left shocked. I mean seriously, when did having three children become equivalent to being on your way to starring in the next TLC reality show about people with an insane number of children?


To answer these questions, Yes! We are serious! No, it was not an accident. Though, given how long it took us to get pregnant with Zach we started trying a bit early, and well, let's just say it didn't take long....at all. So, when we saw  those two little lines on the pregnancy test we were a bit surprised, but also thrilled. No, we are not gonna move. Unfortunately we bought our house in 2006, at the peak of the market, and despite the fact that we would desperately like to move we cannot. But, we are financially more than stable, we have three bed rooms, bunk beds still exist, and we will be able to house all of our children under one, albeit small, roof. No, we have no goals of creating an empire, we've petty much always planned on three kids, and yes, we are certain we'll be done at three. But, what if we weren't? WHO CARES?

This is all to say, when someone shares with you the news of another child coming into their life, please, please, at least fain excitement and joy. Practice, right now, saying "Oh! Yay! That's wonderful news!" with a big genuine smile so that when someone you didn't expect to have "that many" (whatever that number might be in your head) kids calls to share their news with you that they are left buoyed with excitement, not doubt.

Having a child is a HUGE responsibility. No one who truly wants a child goes into it without much thought and consideration. It is a monumental decision whether it is your first, third, or fifteenth child. Even people who desperately want a child are a little scared and nervous when they first see those two blue lines on the pregnancy test. And Matt and I were no different. We were overjoyed, but as with each of our two previous pregnancies, we were also appropriately nervous. What was different this time, was that not everyone we shared the news with bolstered our joy and minimized our worry, as had been the norm previously. This was a shock, and a bit disappointing.

I like to think Matt and I are pretty great parents. We're not perfect, but we provide a loving, supportive home for our children. We nurture them in every way possible and love them immensely. Fortunately, all the less than supportive comments made never made us doubt our abilities as parents. But, imagine if similar comments were made to a couple less confident in their role as parents? I don't like to think of the pain and hurt that could be caused. Matt and I weren't left too hurt (though, the family comments stung a bit) and were rather left wondering, "What is wrong with [insert name]????" But no one sharing such happy news should feel anything but joy in sharing that news. 

Remember, once someone is announcing a pregnancy, its done. There is no going back. So, just smile, say congratulations, and give them a hug. Tell them what a lucky baby it is. And then, behind their backs, feel free to talk all you want about how crazy they are for having that many children. 

In the mean time, Matt and I will be over here anticipating the birth of our third child. We cannot wait to welcome him or her (we don't know yet, but we will find out) into our family, and our cozy little home. There is something magical about this pregnancy. Knowing its our last, knowing that he or she will be welcomed by two amazing brothers, and knowing all the joy (and yes, sleepless nights, diaper changes, flaring 2-year-old tempers, etc) that awaits us. Sweet baby, we never doubted that we wanted you! We can't wait until you get here!