30 Days of Truth Challenge – Day 7

Day 7.  Someone who has made your life worth living for.

This is easy.  My little great niece, Brianna.

I even got to help pick out her name, as it is my favorite Irish name ever.  Riley was a close second, I would have been happy with either, as she is the perfect little Irish girl.  Her mother is Shannon, her father was Ryan.

I have seen this child almost every day since she was born.  I remember holding her in my arms when she was a baby, and watching her bright eyes search out everything.  I was holding her when she first discovered her hand.  (She was startled, then delighted!)  I was with her when she took her first steps.

She called me Auntie as a baby, and I loved it.  She is a sweet girl, but also headstrong.  She is girly girl, but also brave and fearless.  And she can belt out a favorite song with the best of them!  (Let it Go, anyone?)  Nowadays it’s Adele, Taylor Swift…all the current pop hits.

As she has grown, I find more and more in common with her.  We have the same color hair, the same color eyes, a love for music, singing and dancing.  We giggle together, we tell stories together, we have sleepovers.  She loves my cats. and my cats actually love her too.  When I was in the nursing home for months, there are pictures of them, especially Izzy the shy one, in her arms.  It amazed me.

I love her more than I could ever possibly imagine.  It makes me feel guilty sometimes, as I did have 3 stepchildren at one time, but Brianna comes without drama and a mother who hated my very existence.  I am allowed to love her fully.  She makes me a better person.

I hope in some way I am a positive influence in her life too.  She is one of my reasons for living.

Childless

children

I was just thinking this morning about children.  More specifically, I was realizing how many of my friends are childless, along with myself.

Contrary to popular belief, I love children. My nieces and nephews have always been so dear to me, and I love them like my own.  I am SO lucky that my brother and sister live so close to me, and I get to see the kids so frequently.  I remember when my great niece Brianna was born, and I rushed home after work every day to just hold her, and feed her, and look into her beautiful eyes.  I remember thinking that as she looked around from the safety of my arms that she was going to be an adventurer.  She was planning just what she was going to do as soon as she was mobile.  I remember holding her as she discovered her hand, and was amazed by it.  I saw her first crawl, her first steps, her first words.  The transformation of kids is truly a miracle.  At almost 6 years old, she is bright and smart and stubborn and strong and going to rule the world!  Her vocabulary alone is unbelievable.  We read, we play games, we play with the Husky…she is on the move all day.  She wants to be a vet or doctor when she grows up, and she is perfect for it.  At the age of 3 and 4 she was changing my bloody bandages from my infected hip multiple times a day, and loving it.  She is now practicing her amputations and tumor removal techniques on me and the animals, thanks to Dr. Pol from Nat Geo Wild, lol.

I have SEVEN great nieces/nephews now, unbelievable.  They are so damn cute and smart and growing up way too fast.

Unfortunately, having my own child just wasn’t in the cards for me.  In my first marriage I had a miscarriage at a very early stage.  I also was very career oriented and had a very high stress job.  In my second marriage, I had 3 stepchildren, and I felt that my choice of having children was taken away from me.  We both had to work to afford the alimony and child support and day care and school and braces and health insurance etc.  If I had a child, I wanted to be able to stay at home for at least a year or two, and that wasn’t going to happen on just my husband’s salary.  About half his income went out the door every month to his ex-wife, which didn’t leave enough to start a second family with me.  I eventually ended up being a horrible stepmom because of horrible circumstances with my ex and his ex-wife.  I never got any of the advantages of being a mom, just all the shit.  I tried so hard, but then I gave up. It is my biggest regret in life that I didn’t overcome all the obstacles put in front of me during that time.  I failed.

If I had to do it all over again, would I have had a child?  I’m still not sure.  How about you?  Would you make the same decision again?  Child or no child?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Kids say and do the darnest thing!

kissing baby

When my niece Shannon was pregnant, I kept campaigning to name her baby Brianna, as that is my favorite name.  Luckily it was on her short list, and Brianna Nicole was born 4 years ago this past June.

When Bri was born, I loved her with all the desperation of an old childless auntie.  Her mother Shannon was also so special to me, and now her daughter was my sun, moon and stars.

I saw Bri almost every day.  I would drive there straight from work, and I would hold her, feed her, read to her.  I was there for her first steps, first words, first spitting contest!  When I came in the door, her face would light up and she would say “auntie!” and I felt so loved.

Then she turned two and everything changed.  No more kisses, no more hugs.  The more I begged, the more she would purposely turn away.  It broke my heart and made me cry.  I tried everything.  I tried too hard.  It became a game for her, I think.

When she was three, I got a new kitten, Izzy.  She was madly in love with Izzy and came over almost every day to see Ozzy and Izzy.  Then I would try to blackmail her and tell her she had to kiss me too, not just Izzy.  Blackmail doesn’t work with a three-year old.  It wasn’t that she didn’t love me.  She was just in that phase where she didn’t want to sit in laps and give out hugs and kisses.  She would rather run down to the lake or chase a kitten.  But still.

And then it happened.  It all changed.  I got more hugs and kisses than I could handle.  What changed her mind?

I think it was her compassion for and worry for sick people.  She loved her Papa so much, my sister’s husband, and when he passed away from a heart attack in December, she was the practical one, who spoke to his star in the sky every night and then comforted my sister and niece and nephew with her messages that she passed on from Papa.  I remember one time shortly after he passed, my sister was making coffee in the morning, and was very sad and sniffling a bit, as her husband had always done that.  Bri gave her a big hug and said “Papa said don’t be sad Grandma, he’s ok”.  Wow, huh?  Out of the mouth of babes…

Then I discovered I needed a hip replacement.  Bri was very worried about me, and checked my leg every day.  I got so many hugs and kisses then.  When I went in the hospital, she came to visit several times and always wanted to see my bandages and my incision and all the blood and guts.  She would pat my leg and say, “Aunt Janet, I LOVE your new leg!”  She would help me get up, and cover me up when I laid down.  She was always in attendance when I came home from the hospital for bandage changes.  She was very good at it!  I think this is her calling in life.

I don’t know if things changed because she was just growing up, or because illness triggered her heart, but whatever it was, it has continued.  She RUNS to see me every day, and hugs and kisses me as much as I want.  I LOVE it.

And I’m not going to think it’s because of all the quad rides I give her that she loves…..