Twenty years ago, my husband laid our firstborn, Gabrielle, on my chest and I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her. She was the best gift I had ever received. After dreaming about my baby and wondering what she ‘d look like for nine months, she was finally here. I wondered what sort of person would she be? What would she teach me?
As I was being wheeled into the elevator to go home with our baby, I started crying. Uncontrollably. I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility. I began to doubt my capabilities. Would I be a good mom? I wondered, among countless other things, if I would be able to take care of all of her needs.
Four years later, when we found out we were pregnant with our son, Jared, I questioned how I could love another child as much as I loved Gabrielle. But my heart was already overflowing with love for them both, and later, their brother Jansen, too.
Being a mom is the role of a lifetime. My children have become my greatest teachers. Having a daughter with special needs and two boys who are typically developing has enriched my perspective on everything.
As Gabrielle’s student, I’ve learned to be trusting. At age four, Gabrielle was admitted into the hospital for her first seizure. I felt helpless because I could not protect her. Sensing what I might be feeling, my young daughter put her little hand in mine as she was falling asleep. Her loving gesture gave me confidence and without words, she told me that I had her trust. Gabrielle has also taught me to be compassionate and joyful. Gabrielle experiences seizures daily and she is always smiling. It’s impossible not to smile with her.
Jared has taught me to have fun. Rainy day? Why not make a slide out of the wet, muddy grass? Instead of stressing over his dirty clothes, I find myself right there with him.
And Jansen holds me accountable for my actions. If I talk the talk, he gently reminds me to walk the walk. When I am annoyed with someone, he inadvertently reminds me to look to my own behavior, almost effortlessly employing the lessons I have imparted to him over the years.
I am grateful for my children. They challenge me daily to become a better person, and by extension, a better mom.