This first guest post was written by one of the most outrageously beautiful people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. She is smart and kind and funny and opinionated and has great tastes in everything. She loves her family like mad, and she's well... she's fucking drop dead gorgeous is what she is. I'm so honored to have her thoughts and words here, in my space, for all of you to read. Please be sure to leave lots of love and support, because she totally deserves it. PS- Be prepared to be totally blown away by this piece, and have a tissue handy.
(How about you? Do you have a story you'd like to tell to Last Mom On Earth readers? Please feel free to contact me with your guest post ideas!)
I am thirty years old. I am happily married. I am a mother of four--one boy and three girls (5, 4, 3 and 21 months, respectively). I am a biological mother. I am an adoptive mother. I am a foster(-ing to adopt) mother. I am a Scorpio (if you're into that sort of thing). I am ridiculously obsessed with cumulus clouds. I am stubborn. I am opinionated. I always wish on the first star I see in any nighttime sky. I am fiercely loyal. I am a cat person. I am addicted to soy lattes, red lipstick, short bangs, and high heels. I am many, many things.
However? I am not amazing.
Lately, I've been hearing those words--"you are amazing"--more than I care to admit. But before you're convinced that my ego is larger than the western hemisphere, allow me to continue. I am a new mom for the fourth and final time. My husband and I are fostering-to-adopt a beautiful three year old girl. She is amazing. No, really. Absolutely, unequivocally amazing.
Yes, she is amazing and I'm not just saying that because she's mine and gorgeous and heavenly and perfect all at once. She is a Shaken Baby Survivor. She has a Traumatic Brain Injury, a seizure disorder, Cerebral Palsy, some level of visual impairment. She is completely non-mobile.. She is completely non-verbal. She eats exclusively through a g button and will probably never eat anything by mouth. She will never go out for any sports in school. She will never win a spelling bee. She will never argue with me over curfew. She will never stress over college choices, majors, or occupations. She will never ask me to go shopping with her--you know, just to pick up a few items for her new apartment in the big city. She will never fall in love. She will never feel that immense joy of finding her place in this world as an adult. She will never hear her baby's first cry. She will never tell me her soaring hopes, her crushing fears, and everything in between. She will never tell me she loves me.
Since announcing her arrival to everyone in our world, people have said time and time again that we "are so amazing" for what we've done. But what have we done that makes us so amazing? We opened our home and hearts to a child; it was nothing more, nothing less. I have one son and three daughters and at the end of the day, they are all perfect and gorgeous and smart and sweet and spectacular...all of that and more, really. When I've pressed people for the reason behind the compliment (and I do believe it is said with the best of intentions), it usually comes down to one thing: how "little" we will ultimately receive in return.
It's hard for me not to be offended by this statement. Don't get me wrong, I truly do think the intentions behind this remark are nothing less than pure gold, well meaning, benign. However, I struggle with trying to express all that she's already given me, all that I will never be able to repay. Her presence in my already-amazing world has added another dimension I never knew I was missing, or that I needed. She is a total care child, yes. From a lifetime of diapers to administering fourteen rounds of medication every single day, what she has brought to my life...well, it's as close to a "religious" (spiritual, if you will) experience as I have ever been. Roughly a quarter of all shaken babies do not survive the abuse sustained. So already...this little girl has taught me volumes about what it's like to fight through it, even if some of the odds are stacked against you and willing you to succumb.
In caring for her, I've found there's a silence that communicates so much more than I could've imagined. Don't get me wrong, the conversations I have with my children--my son especially, as he's the oldest--are amazing. I wish I could bottle them. I love our hours of discussion with every fiber of my being. But in the silence with her, it's different. It's not as boisterous, but definitely as striking. I can't explain it, really. You just have to be here, living it. You just have to know.
Last night, my son (who usually caps off the bedtime circuit) crashed out early, my four year old and 21 month old daughter were both already out cold. It was just me, and just her. We watched a little television together and I told her some of the things I remember of my own youth. I cried to her then, as I just wanted--so much more than I can express--her to experience these still-tangible, memorable moments in her own life. I cried and then I apologized profusely. I explained that it wasn't that she made me sad, but that I wanted (so desperately) to have more than I could ever give her. As much as I love her and can't imagine my life without her, I would go back in a heartbeat, erase that horrid day from all existence, and never know her if it would give her back everything she's lost.
This morning, I woke up feeling refreshed. She greeted me, early, with her calling (a cross between a coo and a quiet yell) and suddenly, I felt more together. I looked at her sweet face and apologized for being an over-emotional mama. She understood. I don't doubt it for a moment. She got it. She gets it.
So am I amazing? Never. Not even close. Call me blessed, call me lucky. But save the word "amazing" for when you're speaking of her, when you touch her sweet hand and just know that her life, though altered, is bigger than it seems. Save "amazing" for when you realize a love that will forever remain unspoken can be just as strong as one peppered with constant conversation. Keep "amazing" for those who keep on going, who beat the odds, and who wake up to each new day willing to live it to the best of their ability. That is amazing. I am merely a bystander, blessed with the experience of being here with her, with all my babies as well as the love of my life, and knowing that to be in the presence of such greatness, of an overall, encompassing, familial love so much bigger than I thought possible...that is amazing. It truly is.
Courtney, a long-time blog neglector, writes over at Love Will Lead - Blog. She is a bio/adoptive mama of four beautiful kids (5, 4, 3, and 1) and considers herself to be one of the luckiest gals in the world. She likes long walks on the beach, candlelight dinners...or realistically, any meal where she gets 15 consecutive minutes to eat. Her home site is Love Will Lead (dot) com.