Finding the silver lining; being a more grateful parent.

I can get a bit whiny…snarky…and ya know, those things on this blog. I often go into situations lookin for the “funny” or the one part I can make fun of, because thats the type of mature, and well rounded individual I am. I shy from the serious, I shy from the junk, I shy from things I actually have to “think” about…I’d much rather think of life in 30 sec tosh.0 sketches or something like that…but as I went to put together a post about something mundane, like Luke’s weekly fashion statements, I just stopped…

WARNING NO GIFS OR FUNNY IN THE NEXT FEW PARAGRAPHS…

I see the world differently now that I’m a parent. I see things on the news about neglectful parents and it makes me see red and want to hug my kid until he squirms because he’s turnin blue. I see movies about kids being kidnapped and I want to place handcuffs around my kid so he’s attached to me forever. I see stories of really heroic parents, doing all they can for their kids and I wanna do that…even though I can barely order a pizza on the phone…I wanna be someone my kids knew was their advocate, teacher, and someone who just loved them, everyday. I want to be Annie.

Annie, is my husbands aunt, no relation to me, making her even cooler just by lack of genetic association. She lives in Raleigh with her family, consisting of 2 dudes: husband Matt and dog Jake and 3 daughters Elizabeth, 14, and the twins Katherine and Genevieve, 12. Back before we had kids, Pete used to tell Matt how he only wanted girls if our girls were like his girls…caring, sporty, and not like ya know…all “teenage girly” in that Regina George meets Gretchen Weiners kinda way. We also only wanted a dog if it was going to be as well behaved as their dog Jake, who has a slight intense tennis ball addiction, but we could handle that…we got Gracie instead…maybe the well behaved and adorable daughter thing will work out for us someday :).

Why am I telling you all this? Because Annie gives me daily doses of what it means to be a mom, a really good one. Not a mom that makes fun of The Little Gym, even though…funny, but a real one ya know. The kind that creates a home where teenager girls want to hang out, not because they have the movie room or live next to the cool boys, but because people want to be around her. The kind of mom that understands the importance of sharing their heart with their children everyday, just because they know it will make them better. The kind that makes other moms look at them and just want to take notes…The kind of mom I need to be for my kid.

January 2012
January 2012

If you’ve been following my journey on this blog at all, you may remember that Annie has ALS. Diagnosed in 2011, Annie has been living and breathing in her fight against this debilitating illness; robbing her of her ability to walk, type, point, hug, shout, breathe, and everything requiring neuron functioning; you ALS are a monstrosity of evil. But you know what Annie figured out you don’t need neurons for? Hope. A four letter word, that’s all it is, but carries such weight and courage that it can carry one through even the darkest of challenges.

Meeting Luke in April 2013
Meeting Luke in April 2013

When I’m complaining because my back hurts because my over sized 12 month old won’t let me put him down that day, I need to take a step back, smack myself, and realize what a blessing it is that I can pick him up, I can bounce him, I can fly him around like an airplane…when Annie can’t. When I’m complaining because my dog is going nutty and wants to go for a walk…in the rain…I need to step back and feel thankful that my legs still work, when Annie’s don’t. When I feel like I’m drowning in laundry that needs to get folded, or dinner that I don’t feel like cooking, or an email I don’t feel like writing…I just need to do it, and be thankful, because Annie can’t. But when my heart is feeling so full of love for my son, I can be thankful knowing that Annie can do that. She can still love us all. She can love her children. She can love her husband. She can love her dog and her neighbors and her family and her friends and the guy at the ice cream shop, she can do that, and she does do that, everyday.

September 2013, spikey head likes buttons.
September 2013, spikey head likes buttons.

Last Friday, CBS Evening News ran an interview with Annie and Chris Rosati, another local NC dad living with ALS who, like me, has a passion for a doughnut…man after my own heart. Chris is in the process of creating a documentary called “The Blessings of My Disease” and sat down to interview Annie…

The love that you feel, from ALL the people, in your life, it really overflows…

I can’t begin to understand what it feels like to have ALS. To wake up one day and not be able to walk, or move your pinky, or feed yourself, or hug your child, or cheer them on at a soccer game. I just don’t know and I probably never will, but what I do know is that being a parent is more than that. It’s more than being able to walk your kids to the bus, or play a round of mini golf with them, or teach them to drive, it’s more than that….it’s instilling hope and love and joy and heart and wisdom and all of those things that require no neurons at all. Cuz neurons are stupid.

There is so much I can learn from Annie about being a parent, but the biggest things I take away from her are to A. still be funny and relevant because kids like funny and they like to talk about what they like…i.e.beiber B. no phones in the bedroom (save that one for later) C. Free Choice Saturday…will stick with me FOREVER and D. just love your kids and be thankful for every little thing you can do, even if its just an extra squeeze or one more push on the swing….DO IT.

Want to know more about Annie and her family? Visit their blog at teamfortier.org or donate to the Fortier Family or even the ALS Foundation. Thanks y’all. Love ya, mean it.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Alice Miller says:

    I have known Anne for 14+ years and her smile always brightens a room. Love her. Great article.

  2. I was fortunate enough to meet Annie at The Washington Duke when she was there for the filming. What a beautiful person and he smile is amazing! I really enjoyed talking to her. Thank you for this post.

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