21 Years of Parenting

I've been selfishly depressed this month about my only child turning 21. I mean, let's face it.....her turning 21 means that I'm officially getting older. And who really likes growing old?

But then it dawns on me. It is nothing short of a miracle and a handful of blessings that I am here to see this day. Diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer in 2007, I was given three years to live when my daughter was 13 years old. It was her harsh words to me that motivated me to undergo grueling chemo treatments.

When faced with an unplanned pregnancy my second year of college, my love for my unborn child motivated me to do better and be better. My own traumatic childhood forced me to do whatever it took and to the best of MY ability to ensure that my child never felt motherless like I often did.

I was never a perfect mom but I did strive to make sure that she never went for anything that she needed. For the first thirteen years of her life, I had to do it alone and did it by any means necessary with no apologies. I always wanted to be her role model in case the world around her was disappointing. I learned early on that those entrusted to care for you can and will let you down. I was determined for her NEVER to be a victim.

I truly am grateful that I have been able to watch this little premature infant in NICU develop into a self assured, sometimes OVERLY confident, talented, intelligent and beautiful young woman. There were times that we couldn't stand one another but I hope she realizes that every mistake I made was done out of a deep desire to push her into making good decisions and developing her own potential. 

I am grateful for the girlfriends along the way, beginning in labor & delivery, who stood by my side, provided support and resources and loved us both unconditionally. I am grateful for a loving husband who would treat my child like his own and take care of us both when I battled cancer. I'm even grateful for the men along the way who took more than they left because they taught me resilience and strength.

Twenty one years can seem like a lifetime and if mine ended tomorrow, I would have experienced a love that I never imagined or had. I gave my daughter everything that I would have hoped for in a mother and that is everything I was capable of. She will never second guess whether I love her and when the chips are down, she knows she can count on me to pick them up and count them. Twice.

Being a mother to this beautiful little girl has made me a complete person in so many ways. My life is truly better because she called me her mom and I responded.

Happy Birthday Jaclyn! 


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