You probably thought this post was about me and John Michael.
Well, it is... sort of...
I was reflecting on motherhood and how my mom has shaped who I am as a woman and as a mother.
My mom taught me the value of hard work, of being present and listening (she wasn't distracted by cell phones or computers) and how to keep a home warm and cozy. She was always there for me and my "little" brother while we were growing up (she still is by phone) and quit working when she became pregnant with me. Her lifelong example of being a stay at home mother and homemaker inspired me to follow in her footsteps, even when there were many times I thought I should be working since I'd sweated my way through college and earned my bachelor's degree in applied mathematics. Being present and available to my children while they are young and growing allows me to teach them valuable lessons in life and to share our faith with them on a daily basis. And while it's not always easy, it's certainly very rewarding.
Looking back, there was a time when I was in college that I remember proclaiming that, "I never want to have children." Perhaps volunteering in Sunday School classes frightened me to believe I could never be a good mother. For one thing, I wasn't patient and a mother needs to be as patient as a saint, right?
After college, when Doug and I were married, I envisioned us having two children... a girl and then a boy. Never even considering having more than two. One for each arm, I thought.
Fast forward to being pregnant with Crumley Baby #5.
It has been a slow and gradual learning curve. For me, I found that having a third child was far more difficult than having two. By the time John Michael came around, however, and in spite of having Down syndrome, I'd become quite comfortable in my role as a mother and felt like 4 wasn't any more difficult than 3, except for the shuffling of after school activities. That's when we learned we had many willing friends to help out here and there. We also learned that, while having 4 children was an anomaly in modern society, the younger siblings were a huge blessing to the older children and taught them a few lessons on patience, sharing, love and compassion. The older ones were natural teachers to the younger ones and I'm amazed at how much Greta and John Michael learn from Nic and Anna just in their natural roles as siblings.
This baby will have a big job ahead... to push John Michael and help him continue to move ahead. This baby will be born into a family with a sibling who has an intellectual disability. This child, I pray, will be healthy, although I'm not afraid to have another child with Down syndrome. I know just by its very birth order, this baby will likely be very loving and compassionate and accepting just because John Michael is her or his older brother. I'm excited to watch John Michael develop into that role as well.
Looking back... there's no doubt my mom loved her mother... my Oma Else from Germany. My Oma had seven children, my mom being the eldest. Times were very difficult in the late 1930's in Germany, as you can imagine, but the love and respect my mom had for her mother always showed. We also loved when she would come to visit us for many weeks.
I know John Michael loves me.
While he can't say the words, he shows me daily with his big slurpy kisses, warm hugs accompanied by pats on the back and his LOVE sign.
But this family is more than just about John Michael.
The love that my kids show me is more than I could've ever imagined. Nic tells me daily that he loves me and at age 12, that might not be "cool" anymore, but I'll take it as long as he'll give it. Anna is sweet and sensitive, kind and caring and shows me she loves me with her little love notes she leaves me around the house. Greta doesn't make me guess... she hugs my legs and tells me I'm the best mom in the whole world. And she delights in announcing to the world that, "My mom is going to have a newborn baby."
All of this is made possible because I have a loving husband who cares for me and encourages me and lifts me up on my worst days when my waistline is making me mad or the kids are driving me insane and best of all, he prays for me daily. I can't imagine a better dad to our kids. It's going to be a little crazy around here once the baby is born in early June, but eventually things will roll smoothly and we'll be smiling and laughing more than whining about what we don't have.
Stay tuned... our ultrasound is only 5 days away... is it a brother or sister?
I've been married for 20 years to my wonderful husband, Doug. I'm a Catholic SAHM to 5 children. Our 4th child, John Michael, was born in November 2007, and has opened us up to the amazing world of Down syndrome. We are grateful to God for the blessings He's given us and the journey He's put us on. When I'm not spending time with my family, I sing with RSVP, an amazing vocal group, educate on Down syndrome, have my own health and wellness business, and blog about our life.