Lessons From Strong Women

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Over the years, I have discovered that there are some really amazing, good-hearted people in this world.  For every bad person, there are numerous good ones. Each of these, good and bad, have taught me something valuable. Our relationships have changed over the years, but these women are my lifeline and my sanity. I have never had a lot of family. Not really. I grew up close to my aunt (and her 4 amazing children) and my father’s mother raised me from the age of 9. I have 3 siblings but I haven’t been close to them for years. I don’t feel like I missed out on much. There are a few experiences that I wish had turned out differently, but I wouldn’t be the same person had things been different

My mother taught me how to be a better parent. Not because she was, but because she taught me what not to do. She taught me how important it is for me to be present and available to my children, because she wasn’t for me. She taught me what it takes to stand strong when everything is against you because she didn’t.  I don’t want to sound bitter because truly, I’m not. This has been something that has benefited my kids in more ways than I can count. Jimmy and I have been completely honest and upfront with our children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, how they can tear your world and family apart and how to make better choices.

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Unconditional Love. My aunt has been more mother than I ever could have asked for. I made some poor choices and stupid mistakes when I was younger (heck, probably even yesterday), but she has stood by me 150% of the time. She loves my family and we love her. She has shown me what unwavering faith looks like, especially when I didn’t have any of my own. She was there the day that all 4 of my children were born and every birthday since. She sat next to Heath in NICU for hours when I couldn’t and was there in the last few seconds of his life. She has carted my kids all over creation for activities that Jimmy and I couldn’t get them to because of work.  She taught me what it is to love people in spite of their imperfections.  That’s what she’s done with me for my whole life.  I could never come up with the words to express how grateful I am to have had her for the last 27 years of my life. She has ALWAYS been my stability and my safe place to run.

f296dc1962ad6c4d14d3ff90dc3078df[1]Perseverance.  I won the jackpot in the mother-in-law department. My kids (and everyone else since Noah was born) call her Gram. She has been in my life since I was 14, when Jimmy and I started dating. She has been unfailing support through every single thing we have ever tried to do. She wants what’s best for us, which is something that was kinda new for me in the beginning. I hadn’t really seen what parenting was supposed to be like because I didn’t grow up in the kind of family except for where my aunt was concerned. My children adore Gram and they make the sun rise for her. They have a relationship that is more valuable than any amount of money. She has created a home away from home for them that makes them feel entirely secure and that is priceless to me. She showed me that it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can do become whatever you want.  She refused to settle.  She wanted to be a nurse and that’s what she became.  She wanted more, she worked for it, and she got it.

2017-03-19_01.54.45[1]Grace.  My friend, Mary, is my personal brand of Valium in human form. She has a way of calming  me, even when I don’t know I need it. She is logic and kindness.  I consider her as much my family as anyone. She has been there for me, even when I didn’t deserve it, even when I wasn’t there for her. She is strength and love if I’ve ever seen it (and I believe I have). I don’t remember what it was like before I knew her, it’s been more than 12 years now. She came over in the middle of the night when I was a crying brand new mom with a baby projectile vomiting and I had no idea what to do.  She sat at Heath’s graveside service and cried along with us.  She has demonstrated what it is to withstand the hardest storms of life and still come out with grace on the other side of it. What would I have done without her? Who knows? I would probably be rocking back and forth in the corner of my closet crying – or the kids would have me tied up.

wp-1489904861322.jpgAcceptance.  My Soul Sister, Jaclyn has been through so many trials with me. She has been through many of the same ones I have and has been nothing but supportive through all these years. We became close through the most unfortunate of situations. I would certainly change those if I could, but I could never trade what she has imparted to me about being a wife and mother. She has made me secure in the idea that I am a good mom, even when I don’t feel like it, when I’m losing my mind and my patience. She’s made me aware of the fact that we all lose it every once in a while and that it’s ok, that it isn’t going to ruin my kids. I have told Jaclyn my ugly thoughts, my frustrations and angers, my worries and there has never been any judgement. She has accepted me for who and what I am, with every one of my short-comings and flaws.  I probably sound like broken record, but I don’t know what I would do without her.

Selflessness.  I’ve only known M for 4 years or so but she has become one of the first I call or text if something9e76e98c94b5cb4bee15aeb86173384d[1] happens, good or bad.  The day of Heath’s visitation at the funeral home, I literally couldn’t get out of bed.  I laid in my dark bedroom and cried and slept and then cried some more.  I didn’t see many people those first few days, only the ones above and a handful of others.   was angry at God for taking my beautiful baby away.  I couldn’t see past the furious rage that was swallowing me whole.  M came to my room (dressed in comfy clothes) laid in my bed and cried along with me.  I’m positive there must have been a thousand places she would rather be, but she stayed with me anyway.  I had shared many good times with her, but she was there at my very worst.  She sat with me in silence and talked when I wanted.  She was a huge pillar of strength for me, even though she still may not realize it.  Over the years, she has made me feel human when I feel like a complete disappointment.  She plays devil’s advocate when I need it, even if I won’t admit it and helps me take a logical approach to situations and feelings that I can’t seem to get my head around.  She will never have any idea how much I value her.

I have had some huge, sometimes traumatic, changes in my life. These women have been there through them. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband.  He pushes me to be a better person, but there are certain parts of my heart and mind that he can’t understand (thank goodness — he would probably say the same thing).  These women and a handful of others (you know who you are) have made me… Me.  If I am the least bit strong, it’s because of them.  If I have any sanity left, it’s because they helped me keep it.  If I could write about each of them, I would, but even the internet isn’t big enough to contain all the praise I could give them.

I hope that I can be the same thing for Avery and teach her to be a resilient person.  I hope and pray that you have even one of these in your life.
I have been blessed enough to have several.

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