The Gift of Parenting
Every day I wake up surrounded by moments. Some moments are ordinary, and some are unforgettable. My favorite moments are the ones full of laughter, joy, and unconditional love. I’m not blessed with these beautiful moments because I have a perfect life, or due to a lack of suffering. Quite the opposite, actually, I have plenty of painful circumstances in my life. When people hear my story, they don’t envy me. The reason I have the profound privilege of waking up surrounded by these precious moments is simple, it’s because I’m a parent.
Being a parent is an amazing blessing, one that is often taken for granted. Of course, it’s exhausting and overwhelming at times, but it’s also full of so many precious moments. It’s full of a love that just cannot be found anywhere else.
Parenting is one of the most incredible experiences this life has to offer. From the moment I held my first baby in my arms, I’ve never been the same. Now I have three children who’ve made me who I am today, and I love them more every day.
A little less than two years ago, both of my sons were diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. With no family history and no warning at all, Duchenne came into our lives like a freight train. The news broke me. I thought I’d never get out of bed again. The diagnosis made me feel emotions I’ve never experienced before. It changed me and gave me a new perspective on life. That’s part of this journey with Duchenne that I’m grateful for because the painful experience is what opened my eyes. As Ernest Hemingway so famously said, “We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in.”
“We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in.”
– Ernest Hemingway
I’ve always loved being a mom, but it wasn’t until Duchenne entered our lives that I really learned to be grateful for the gift of parenting. I’m not a perfect mom by any means, and, at times, I lose sight of how blessed I am. Somedays, I focus more on the sorrow than I care to admit. Some nights I cry myself to sleep fearful of the future. However, my goal is always to point back to my purpose and remember that my life is an honor. My role as a mom is a God-given gift, and my purpose is divine – that’s what helps me on the hard days.
I think it’s fair to say we’re all guilty of taking our blessings for granted at times. Life gets stressful, and we forget to focus on the good moments. We start to complain about our hardships until that’s where our focus lies. It’s human nature to become accustomed to something and forget how lucky we are. Duchenne tries to steal my gratitude quite often. Depression tries to blind me from seeing the extraordinary moments that surround me – but I fight back. I fight to cling to faith. I fight to focus on the good moments because they far outweigh the bad ones.
My children climb into my bed every morning and hug me. “Good morning mama,” they say with the cutest, sleepiest smiles. The beauty of this morning greeting is never lost on me, even in my disheveled morning state. When I wake up, Duchenne is always on my mind, but so are my blessings. How can I not feel blessed when I have three beautiful children who make my life worth living?
Each night before going to bed, I sit alone in my living room. The house is quiet, the kids are asleep, and I get to rest in the stillness. This time is precious to me. It’s part of my self-care, and it helps me regain energy for the next day. My seven-year-old couldn’t sleep a few nights ago and wandered out to find me. He found me eating a snack and watching tv on the couch. He walked over and timidly asked if he could sit with me and have some too. It was late, and I could’ve sent him back to bed, but instead, I said yes. His face lit up with immense joy as he climbed up on the couch with me. With the rest of the house asleep, we sat together, cuddled under a blanket. We ate our snack and watched a show in the dark, then I tucked him back in. It was a simple moment, yet somehow a spectacular one.
The next day he bragged to Daddy about his “snack adventure with Mommy.” I smiled when he started telling him about how we ate our sandwiches while fighting off dragons. “I don’t remember that part,” I laughed. “Oh, I know mom, that’s because I just made it up.” Our ordinary moment somehow became an adventure in his mind. One that I would have missed out on if I sent him back to bed. Obviously, I don’t say yes to every request my children make, but Duchenne has taught me to pick my battles, which is a fundamental lesson for a parent.
When I look back on my almost ten years as a parent, it makes me extremely emotional. To be honest, I often wish I could go back and live it all over again. I’d savor all those moments I thought were simple and ordinary. Instead of surviving those late-night feedings, I’d rock my sweet baby a little longer. Instead of rushing through my daily chores, I’d stop and dance with my kids. I’d sit on the floor and play more. I’d ignore the mess, skip the obligations, and enjoy my days. I’d sit and memorize their little faces.
Now I know what an honor it is to be a parent. I’ve watched how quickly the years pass by. I’ve held my children with intense gratitude, and I’ve heard words that broke my heart into a million pieces. “Your sons both have Duchenne.” I believe I was a good mom before, but the perspective I have now has most definitely made me a better one. Instead of having a mindset that I have to take care of my kids, I’ve learned to remember that I get to take care of my kids. Caring for my children is my greatest joy, honor, and privilege.
This season let us be grateful for the gift we’ve been given as parents. We get to enjoy so many stunning moments that some people will never experience. We get to view our roles from a different perspective. One that makes the light brighter and the joy sweeter. A mindset that helps us learn to savor our days instead of just survive them.
Without my children, I wouldn’t be who I am today. They are my purpose and my most cherished gift. I take pride in my role as their mother. The diagnosis may have been devastating, but it’s also magnified the goodness in our lives. It somehow let the light shine brighter in our home. We were never promised a life without pain and suffering. What we are given is a chance to enjoy the life we have, to focus on the good moments, and to cherish the gift of parenting.