I’ve always been a bleeding heart. Sad stories can gut punch me so severely that I have a hard time coping for days. Ever since I had my child, stories about children with terminal illnesses or children who suffer abuse at the hands of their parents and/or friends/family have really struck a chord with me. Don’t get me wrong, I always hurt for these children before I had Anna, but having my own child has taken this to a whole new level for me. I often avoid reading sad stories now because I know they will affect me greatly, sometimes to the point of sobbing and feeling physically ill.
Each time I read or hear about something sad, my first response is to go pick up my child and hug her. This usually results in a major side-eye from her, and I’m sure if she could talk in full sentences, she would say, “What the heck, mom? Get away from me!” It doesn’t matter, though, I want to take the time to let her know how loved she is and how important she is to me, and that I will do everything within my power to make sure she has a wonderful life.
So, when I read stories like the one I'm about to share with you, I spend an extra amount of time with my child. Like last night, for example. After reading about Layla Grace, I went into Anna's room where she was asleep, picked her up from her crib and rocked her in the chair. Of course she woke up within a minute and then wanted to play like a wild child, but I didn’t regret it for one second. For those few hours she was awake, I was able to show her how much I love her, and I was able to spend more precious time with my child who is growing at rapid rates right now.
I think back to the times when I get frustrated when Anna spills milk dots on the floor I just steam mopped or drops sticky pancakes off of her high chair tray. I think back to the times where I just want to sleep for 10 more minutes or lay down for a nap – JUST A 30 MINUTE NAP. I think back to the times where I want to just take off on a whim and go to exotic locations like Graceland. I think about all of the moments of frustration I’ve had with all of the above and want to slap myself for ever feeling this way. Sometimes you need a good dose of perspective to slap you back into reality and make you grateful for the many blessings you have in life.
That hot new car or beautiful house on the water – none of that matters in life. Being late on a bill or not having enough money to buy a candy bar at the store – who cares? When you read stories of people whose lives have been flipped upside down by a diagnosis that is too reprehensible to imagine, none of that matters. None of it. All that matters in life is life. The lives of your children. The lives of your family and friends. Strip away everything else, and that’s what you’re left with. Life. That’s the important stuff. The stuff that makes the world go ‘round. Let this be your focus. No matter what you’re going through, no matter how many hard times you’re dealing with, if you have your health, you’re wealthy. If your children are healthy, you’re wealthy.
I dedicate this post to every mom and dad out there. Please go home today and hug and kiss your child. Tell them how special they are to you and how nothing else matters as long as they are happy. This is the good stuff, folks, don’t ever forget it.
I further dedicate this post to Layla Grace and her wonderful family. I pray that God gives them strength through this and the love and support of the thousands of people who have been touched by their story. If you want to read more, please go to Layla’s website or follow this family on Twitter.
Photo of Layla from her public Flickr account. I claim no ownership of this image.