I don't want this to be a sad post, primarily because Mattie would not want it that way. Instead, she would be so proud that her legacy has absolutely impacted who I am not only as a person, but most importantly, as a parent.
Today, my friend sent me this text: "You better love them. You better spend time with them. You better tell them EVERY day in some way, shape or form that you love them." She wasn't telling me this to make me feel guilty that I still have my child in this physical world. She was telling me because it's important to hear. As parents, we can get so caught up in the world that exists every day, that we forget about what's most important. And, to me, that's my daughter.
Mattie's parents fought this battle with her - every moment of every day. If they could have taken her pain away and amplified its strength onto them, they would have - in a heart beat. They were the pillar of strength and love that this little girl needed to know that, even once she left this earth, she has a Mom and a Dad that love her fully and unconditionally - for the rest of their lives.
Although I respect and love her parents, it was Mattie herself who taught me a lot about what it means to be a Momma. So, here you have it. My little six-year-old friend "learned" me:
1. There is no greater gift than to be a parent.
When you're a parent, you have a little person that thinks you hang the moon. This little person waits with bated breath for every word you say, every move you make, every smile you give. Wow. What a responsibility. But, also an incredible earthly gift. I hurt Baba's feelings not long ago. It was completely unintentional and done only out of exhaustion. But, the look on her face and the downward slope of her shoulders reminded me that my impact runs much deeper than I may ever imagine. I much prefer the toothy smiles and belly laughs!
2. The little stuff matters. A lot.
Speaking of those toothy smiles. Kids don't need a lot to know they're loved. It's a moment given to treasure the texture of a rock found right outside the front door, instead of rushing to the next place and the next moment. It's allowing the sidewalk chalk to track all the way up the outside front stairs - just because it makes her happy (and, who cares, I tell husband - the rain will wash it away. But, her happiness will remain). It's the smile during the last moments of the day - reminding her that my love runs deeper than any river in the world.
3. Parents are the best friends a child will ever have.
Think about it. Children don't typically develop true friendships for several years. Which means we get to be their best friend. And, what do you do with your best friend? You love them unconditionally. You laugh with them until your cheeks hurt. You make them feel good about themselves. And you cherish them. As a full-time working Mom, my moments with Baba each day are small. But, we make them big!
4. At the end of this world, all that matters is love.
We don't get to choose how long we live in this world. But, we do get to choose how we live it. And, we do get to choose how we respond to those most important to us. So, my dear friend, thank you for the reminder. Because, try as I might, I forget sometimes. I am human and I am imperfect. Really imperfect. All I have is today. Today is the day to be the best parent I can be to someone who deserves my very best.
And, because I love this dear little girl who taught me more life lessons in parenting than she'll ever know, allow me to get on my soap box for a moment. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. In the US, almost 13,000 children under the age of 21 are diagnosed with cancer each year. This month, we remember the young lives taken too soon, stand with the families facing childhood cancer today, and rededicate ourselves to combating this terrible illness.
To donate to an organization started in Mattie's name and dedicated to funding research for this disease, please visit: www.mattiesmission.org.
|An inspiration like none other.|