Family has always come first. Growing up an army brat and an only child I knew I wanted two things when I grew up. One was a house, a place I could put down roots and two was to raise a family of my own. By God’s grace, I have both. I was blessed to be raised by two parents who not only loved each other but loved me enough to let me be little. Growing up, I had this sense I could breathe fire if I was so inclined. I knew I could rise above, become what I most wanted to be and be unstoppable to boot. I was free to be myself, to spread my wings, to soar and to experience the magic the world around me offered and to be innocent. Childhood is this delicate dance of imagination and first steps. It should always be full of new ideas, experiences and adventures. Our imaginations are wide open, wild, free and untamed. We can dream big and explore without being boxed in. I wanted the same for my own children.
Being a mom, well it’s everything to me. I wanted nothing more than to be a mama since I can remember. I would say I wanted this more than being Wonder Woman, which was big believe me. My boys, they are my greatest achievement ever. They are more than a personal legacy, they are an extension of my heart, beating or not. In them, I’ve found joy beyond measure. Through their eyes I have seen the world and all its wonders. I truly believe with all my heart as Psalms 139: 14 says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” is true of my boys. And yes, I absolutely believe with all certainty Joshua and Micah, are my greatest gifts from God. As I gave birth to each of my little bundles of joy, I knew I wanted to raise them in much the same way I was raised. To love them fully, wholly and completely equally. Individually, they bring different qualities to the table and distinct smiles to my face. In many ways my boys are polar opposites, unbelievably unique and individually distinctive even though they’re cut from the same cloth.
Life Lesson #55 ~ let your children be little, just as the song says. Let them explore, find their own voice, rebel a little bit and experience both the risk and thrills life has to offer. See life through their eyes but be very careful not to live your life through them.
I was raised on Disney, Sci-fi, and Jesus and not in that order. So to say I was determined to raise my children up on those same three staples is not an over exaggeration. Jesus, well He is a constant, never-ending presence in my life. Sci-fi, can’t browse through our weekly TV list without a handful popping up. And Disney, well it’s been a part of my life since forever. I watched those old movie reels on our home projector with my parents until they fell apart. Dumbo was my most loved. It’s now one of our family favorites. Ya, probably best not to get me started on our Disney movie collection. My parents and I made our first trip to the Magic Kingdom in 1978. I was five. Till this day, during our Disney trips, I can sing almost every song, giving great testament to my hubby's patience levels. Growing up my mom used to take me on post to the movie theater almost every weekend. We saw everything from Bedknobs and Broomsticks to The Rescuers. If you asked my children which one classic Disney movie left the biggest imprint on my childhood, they would answer you in unison, ‘Pete’s Dragon’! Then they would tell you, it’s the same movie summing up their childhood. So when I heard there was going to be a remake of Pete’s Dragon I was nervous and excited. We were there with bells on, popcorn in our hands, ready. It was a family adventure. My parents, the boys and of course Johnny and myself were all in a row. Nope, I wasn’t let down, not at all. This beautiful, heartwarming retelling of my beloved original was spectacular. Even Johnny wasn’t holding back tears at the end. What a wonderful moment, recapturing not only my childhood memories, but my boys as well. Our ride home was whimsical to say the least, the boys retelling Johnny the original story line while I sang, Mickey Rooney’s part, “It’s a dragon, a dragon, I swear I saw a dragon.” You see, even now, being nearly grown and yes educated in the ways of this world, my boys don’t have to pretend to have outgrown pieces of their childhood. Of course they don’t believe in dragons anymore, though they may still chase a few from time to time. See Joshua and Micah understand the key to growing up is keeping the embers, the spark of childhood imagination very much alive. I’m actually very humbled understanding their mastery of this. They’re not only aware of but still appreciate these fleeting moments of childhood innocence.
The reality is they’ve seen and experienced more angst and worry than two children should have in a lifetime. At 6 and 9, Joshua and Micah had to face cancer, face death, the beast continually knocking at the door, wondering if they’d have to bury their mother. They could’ve grown up quickly, lost their childhoods, become angry and bitter but they didn’t. They never became victims of their circumstances. In spite of the worry and the fear, we encouraged them to stay little for as long as they could. And because of this, they both learned to spread their wings while staying innocent, using their imaginations, dreaming and yes breathing fire, becoming unstoppable. Today, a nearly 10 year survivor, I sit in awe watching how they each have learned to take the bull by the horns whistling oo-de-lally. They’re both a little hard headed, kinda like their mama. They’re loud sometimes, quiet a little more often, and entertaining always. When they’re getting along, there’s no keeping them apart but then when they’re not, whoa; hold up and Katie bare the door! I know neither one of my boys are perfect. We bang heads, raise our voices, but at the end of the day we’re family, we’re close, faults and all.
After all these years, the ups, downs, troubles, joys and yes differences, they still believe in the power of imagination. More importantly, they know we never rushed their childhood. You see, these boys, they are my life, my greatest undertaking and the fulfillment of my most ambitious dreams and they call me mom. Yes, I may have given them life, but the truth is in their own unique, remarkable ways, they gave me mine back. Walter M. Schirra, Sr. is word perfect, “You don't raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they'll turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes.” Let them be little for as long as they can and you know what, they may truly surprise you…