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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Letter to My Children

On this Mother's Day, 2011, I am so thankful and I feel blessed beyond measure that I have my 2 beautiful children.  I am often reminded by certain family members that I always said that I was never getting married and I was never having children. It's funny how times change.  As I got older, I vacillated between wanting marriage and children and not wanting marriage and children.  Then I met your dad and my life has never been the same.  But even after we got married, we were not sure if we wanted children.  I wasn't sure that I could even get pregnant.  You see, I had a pre-existing condition, endometriosis to be exact.  I also had another condition called uterine septum.  I had been told years before I met your father that it would be difficult for me to become pregnant.  At the time, I was okay with that since I was so unsure of marriage and family.  The idea of marriage and children frightened me for so many years but I am so thankful that I saw beyond the fear and I now have my precious family.

Dear Jackie,
My sweet, beautiful daughter, I love you so much.  I am so glad that you are a part of my life. There is so much that I do regret, though, especially during your first year.  I admit, that first year was a challenge in so many ways.  I regret that I do not remember very much during that time.  It was a rough year for both of us. You were severely jaundiced after birth and I was unable to bring you home after I was discharged from the hospital.  You were a colicky baby and you were eventually diagnosed with failure-to-thrive.  Looking back, I now realize just how tiny you were at 4 months when we took you to Florida for the first time.  You were just 10 pounds.  No wonder the doctors and nurses were all over me.  But being a first-time mom and being in a fog of postpartum depression, I didn't know any better.  Being a thousand miles away from family, I didn't have a support group.  However, there was  a very nice couple who would take you anytime but unfortunately, they moved away just months after you were born. 
I remember the first time I saw you smile.  You looked up at me from nursing and smiled huge.  I was so excited.  You were such a beautiful baby and you still are a beautiful little girl. You have some of the most beautiful blue eyes I've ever seen.  And when your hair started to grow in, I thought for certain that you would end up with strawberry blond hair.  I was so excited about that possibility.  But alas, your hair started to turn dark by the time you were 3 years old.  But you're still beautiful.  Don't ever forget that.
When you were just 6 months old, you were diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. My world came crashing down.  I was so fearful.  I wondered if you would ever be able to get into a sitting position on your own.  I wondered if you would ever walk. I worried about how you would do in school.  Then you were diagnosed with a speech delay and the worries consumed me even more.  But your "disability" forced me to come out of my shell and advocate for you.  We got you enrolled in Early Intervention and ended up with the best therapists for you.  I give EI so much credit for the tremendous progress you made during those years.
Before you were even  a year old, several people commented on your strong will.  At first, I took offense.  How dare they call you strong-willed?  And how dare God give me a strong-willed child?  But you know what?  They were right.  I was just in denial.  But I really hope you will use your strong will to your advantage as you grow older.  As mild as your disability is, you will still face adversity, discrimination, and possibly even bullying.  That is one reason I think your strong will can be used for good.
Jackie, I hate that we have had some difficult times (mostly because of your very strong will) but it is my hope that we will draw closer as you get older.  I want more than anything to have a very close bond with you, my precious daughter.  This is something that I did not have with my own mother and I am determined that it will be different for us.  I am also determined that you will have a close father-daughter relationship, something else that I did not have.  See, it means so much to me that you get to experience the closeness that I never had.  I want you to feel worthy, cherished, and very much loved.  I want the best for you.  I may get upset, angry, and even say some unkind things to you.  As difficult as life can be at times, I do love you so very much.  Never, EVER forget that. 
I am so proud of you. As much as you now fight with your therapists, you are so proud of yourself when you experience improvement, especially with your left hand.  And it makes you so happy when you feel like your left foot is catching up with the growth of your right foot.  You tickle me when you tell others, even strangers who have no clue that you have CP, that your bad foot is growing. I certainly hope that you can keep this attitude about your CP and not be ashamed about it.
You are a very smart little girl and you have excelled in Kindergarten this year.  You won the school Character Award for the Winter.  My heart swelled with pride for you.  I was nearly in tears when the school social worker called me to let me know.  That was such a proud moment.  You've learned how to read more this past year and you even learned math concepts.  I don't remember learning that stuff in Kindergarten.  You also love music.  You have a beautiful singing voice.  That is, when you allow people to hear that side of you.  I also have you enrolled in piano lessons.  I know your left hand gives you trouble.  But, I am not about to let you give up.  You have a talent and I am going to do my best to make sure that talent is allowed to grow. 
My beautiful, precious little girl, I love you so much and I am so excited to see what the future holds for you.

Dear Ben,
My sweet son, I love you so much.  I never dreamed I would have another baby at my age but I am so glad that you are a part of our family.  I wouldn't change it for anything.  I admit, though, that I was really nervous, not only because of my age, but because I had such a difficult time after your sister was born. But God was good to me as you were such an easy baby.  You nursed like a champ and you were so easy to console.  You hardly cried unless you were hungry. You were a happy baby as long as somebody else didn't take you away from me.  You were definitely a momma's boy and I loved it.  Before you were born, I never really thought of myself as being a mom to a boy.  But you surprised me and I found that having a boy was more fun than I ever thought possible.
As you grew, it became very apparent just how smart you were.  You developed your motor skills quite early.  You were a mover, for sure.  In fact, I thought for sure that you would have us visiting the emergency room because of your many adventures, er, misadventures.  You had no fear of heights and you would try to climb to the highest point possible.  In fact, I'll never forget the time last year at La Jolla beach where we were watching the seals.  Your dad was supposed to be holding on to you while I had your sister on the other side of the raised walkway.  I turned and there you were, on the other side of the railing, standing on the edge right above the seals.  Of course, I screamed and everyone looked my way.  Your dad (and of course, you) was oblivious to the danger of you possibly falling amongst the seals.  I can laugh about it now but it provides a good idea of your fearlessness.
You, my sweet son, are my little snugglebug.  I love your wet kisses, your tight rocking hugs, your little impish smile.  It is my hope, just as it is with your sister, that we continue to have a close bond even into your teen years.  I love it that you are my momma's boy.  I love it more than I ever imagined. And I love you so very much.
Jackie and Ben, I love both of you so very much.  You mean the world to me.  You both keep me going, even on days when I'm spent.  You never cease to amaze me with your accomplishments, your humor, your talents.  You make me smile, you make me cry, you make me laugh,you make me want to pull my hair and  strangle you at times.   But no matter what, I am so proud of you, my babies. I am proud to call you my daughter, Jackie. I am proud to call you my son, Ben.  You truly are my miracles and I hope God will continue to remind me of that and to cherish you both at ALL times. 
I know you will not always feel love toward me and I may not always show unconditional love. As you will one day know, parenthood is not easy.  In fact, parenting is one of the most difficult tasks.  Ever.  But remember, that I still love you both with all my heart and I would give my life for you.  I want the best for my children and I want to watch you two succeed in life.  I hope and pray that I am allowed the opportunity to see you two accomplish great things in life. 
I will love you always, Jackie.  I will love you always, Ben.

Love , Mom

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