Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Beautiful Joy has a Beautiful Advocate

  Yesterday, I wrote about my cousin April.  I hope you got to read it.  If you didn't, just go back one post until you see her joyful face!  

  Today, I want to write about a different kind of beauty.  This beauty is cultivated in the hearts of mothers of children who need long-term support.  Like April's mother, Julie.  Julie is one of the most beautiful women I have ever known.  Not just because she is my aunt, but because she is compassionate, fun, loyal to her family, and creative.  She's also a life-long advocate for her daughter, April.

  When women become mothers, advocating for our children becomes one of the most important aspects of our mothering. For some of our children, like April, that job is not only what we should do, it is a job that will not end.

  Mothers need to intercede for their children all through the growing-up process.  We need to make sure they are in the right classes at school.  We help them figure out what to do if they are being bullied, and we need to step in when they can't handle it themselves.  We get them up to meet the bus in the morning, we make sure they get their meals, get their sleep, and get the knowledge they need to make it in the grown-up world.  

  For Julie, and for other mothers I know, though, that basic need to actively seek the best for their children does not end when the child becomes an adult.  April will always need her parents to advocate for her, almost as much as she needed them to do it when she was little.  That job, for Julie, will not end.  But that's ok, because Julie does not want to be in a world without April's joyful face.  The love Julie has for April keeps her from being bitter about her own sacrifice, and she doesn't see it as sacrifice in the first place!  She'll keep on advocating for her daughter, and she'll keep on becoming more and more beautiful because of it.  

  I know other mothers like Julie.  Mothers who have children with autism, cancer, severe food allergies, ADHD, the list goes on.  These 'mama bears' look after their 'cubs' with ferocity!  Don't mess with them!

  Really, though, isn't that what being a Beautiful Mother is all about?  

  My son is grown, technically.  He's 18.  He's in college.  I don't need to make sure he gets his meals or make sure a teacher is treating him right.  He's old enough to take care of himself, mostly.  I've raised him, I'm done.  He's smart, he's resourceful, he's able.  In fact, he gets mad at me if I do try to help him.  But I still try.  

  I think that our children are part of us, and when we advocate for them, we're advocating for ourselves, too.  Is that selfishness?  I don't think so.  I think it's love.  

  Even though I still choose to help my son, as unwilling to accept the help as he is, it's still a choice.  I can stop whenever I want.  I can decide, (maybe when he's 40 and my daughter is 37!) that I've done enough and they'll have to do without me, that they don't need me any more.  And they'll be fine.  

  Moms like Julie will never decide that, because their children will never stop needing them.  

  Women who advocate for their children, special needs children or not, are beautiful.  Women who commit to advocating for their children even though there is no end in that is a special kind of Beautiful Girl.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Beautiful Joy

This post is a two-day, two-fold post because I want to talk about two kinds of beauty.  I've been having a bit of writer's block lately, so I put out some feelers today to get a little inspiration.  I got it, and it came in the face of my beautiful, fun-loving cousin, April.  

Look at that smile!  It's there all the time.  April loves to joke and she really loves to laugh.  She finds joy everywhere, can you see the joy in her eyes? Her mom says, "Our girl is not the typical beauty, and her mind is lacking some of what society deems important.  But she is a joy to so many and her sense of delight is so wonderful.  She loves people so much, and that is beautiful!"
  Beautiful girls like April are often overlooked.  We are sometimes uncomfortable around them, we don't know how to act.  We ignore them, either because we don't know what else to do or we just don't consider the value in every person.  But ignoring isn't even the worst thing we do.

  We hurt them, and we think they don't get hurt.  They do.  We use words like 'retarded' to our friends to be funny and think they won't hear, won't care, won't get the joke.  They do.  

  Ugh, I don't even like what I just wrote....the 'We'?  The 'They'?  We're not on two different sides.  'They' are not a subset of 'We', 'They' are not a different team, a different group, a different species.  

'They'  ARE  'We'.  

WE are Beautiful Girls.  WE are made more beautiful when we support one another, bond with one another, have fun with one another, and bring JOY to one April does.  She's doing her Beautiful Girl part...are you?  

  Here's where Santa stops first to get his Christmas Cheer!  He gets that magical joy from April before he sets out.  

  Tomorrow I'm going to write about the person April gets the most love and support from, her mom, Julie.  Stay tuned!