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Friday, May 11

Thoughts on parenthood…

The last few weeks have been a little bananas around here. You see, I have this job that I never talk about on the blog {for privacy reasons and because it’s boring} in addition to maintaining my blog, editing DailyBuzz Moms and being a stay-at-home mom. The job I don’t talk about has been eating up a LOT of time lately, all while the rest of my responsibilities have remained the same or been more demanding than usual. I’m not telling you this to garner sympathy. I’m just setting the stage. I’ve basically been a crazy person, unable to get dinner on the table most days and feeling stressed and exhausted all of the time.

While all of this has been going on, our dear friends Rachel and Will lost their sweet baby boy Charlie due to complications from a rare genetic disorder. After 16 months of challenges, his little body finally decided it was time to rest.

While I was sitting at Charlie’s funeral two weeks ago, so many thoughts flooded my mind. First and foremost was just how short and precious life is and what amazing parents Rachel and Will have been to Charlie. I also couldn’t help but think of my grandmother.

She was herself a baby born into this world with complications. It was 1929. Her mother was older and ended up with an infection, necessitating early induction of labor, with the ultimate goal most likely being that of saving the mother’s life. Instead, my grandmother, the premature 3-pound baby, survived. The story goes that my great-grandmother held my grandma in her arms and laughed that she could have had a baby so late in life. She passed away just a few short hours after the birth, leaving my grandmother without a mother. That has forever shaped my grandma and who she has become, a loving mother and grandmother devoted to her family and the well-being of everyone she knows.

Left: My great-grandparents’ wedding photo. Right: My grandma’s high school graduation photo.

Here is the crazy part of the story. Will is a doctor. His father was a doctor. His father before him was a doctor, the same doctor who attended to my grandmother’s birth.

And so, sitting at the funeral of a baby who should have been dealt a better hand, I couldn’t help but think of my grandmother. I am beyond grateful that that tiny premature baby from long-ago rural Idaho survived and that Will’s grandfather was a part of that. And I can’t help but wonder why beautiful, red-headed Charlie had to leave this life so soon. Life is not fair, but it is beautiful. Even though one baby’s life was cut short and another’s grew into adulthood, both lives touched others and made the world a better place. And watching Rachel and Will go through this experience, while beyond heartbreaking, has also been truly beautiful and inspiring. They are choice parents.

I’ll never forget when Rachel first had Charlie. She and Will are both ivy league-educated, go-getter types doing amazing things. Rachel has a quick mind and a kind heart and I just love everything about her. But when she had Charlie, I gained insight into a whole different aspect of who Rachel is. On one night in particular, Rachel was sitting in my kitchen, cradling newborn Charlie in her arms. She was completely enraptured by him, oblivious to any of us, a smile spread across her face. It was a quiet, beautiful moment that has forever been imprinted in my mind. Motherhood brought out a side of Rachel that I had not seen…at least not at that level. Words can’t truly explain what that ‘side’ is or how it changes a person. It just is.

So how does this all link back to my over-worked, now seemingly-frivolous schedule? When I am overwhelmed by work, the thing I get most frustrated with is that I don’t get to be the mom I want to be. I simply don’t have time to do all the things with my sweet children that I wish I could. I know in the back of my mind they are fine and happy and that “this too shall pass,” but it doesn’t change the “bummed-outness” that I feel. But then I think of Rachel, Will and Charlie and remind myself I need to savor every moment as much as I can and not let the stress get the better of me because, in the grand scheme of things, none of that stressful stuff really matters.

As all of these thoughts have been tumbling about in my crazed brain, I’ve been feeling like I want to write them down, but not really knowing what the thoughts were entirely or how they all connected. Then today my friend Natalee sent a link to a a really lovely blog post about motherhood, our expectations and the things that our children are truly needing from us. It made me laugh, it made me think, and it made me tear up a little, too. It was just what I needed right now.

Here’s the thing. None of us is perfect. Things rarely go as planned and sometimes go where we would never wish them to go. And life is always too short. All we can do is embrace the moments, big and small, that come into our lives, the moments that connect us with others and make it all worthwhile. And if that means we have to eat out again, so be it. At least we’re here, eating together, and that’s all that matters in the end.


46 Comments »

  1. 1
    Sadie

    It is terribly sad that your friends lost their baby. Tragic. There is a group called Compastionate Friends who are a support system for people who have lost children. It really helped my
    Mom when my brother died. Let them know.

  2. What a lovely post, Jane, and a remdinder to us all to cherish the moments we have. And to not sweat the small stuff. My thoughts are with your friend and her family, how heartbreaking.

  3. 3
    Nicole

    Thank you for this, Jane. I’m one of those guilt-laden moms. Great reminder to embrace and savor each moment and challenge we get.

  4. 4
    Wendy

    Jane, this is so beautifully written. I am so touched by your words.

  5. 5
    Rachel

    Thank you, Jane. I know I told you this before, but I think this is beautifully written and it touches me that you think so highly of me and Will and that you took time to remember our Charlie. Love you so much!

  6. 6
    Aunt Sue

    Thanks, Jane. Loved it.

  7. Such a sweet post. Perfect for Mother’s Day. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Oh Jane, how much I needed this today…

    Thank you for pouring your heart out.

  9. Sending you a virtual hug. My thoughts and prayers are with your friends.

  10. 10
    Janet

    I’m an aunt to Will & Rachel and was at the funeral. So good to know their close friends recognize their goodness and are there to support them as they move forward. Your piece is lovely. I too was born in Preston at the little hospital where my father, the doctor you wrote about, worked.

  11. 11
    Inger

    Thanks for making me cry at work Jane!!! What a good reminder of the true perspective we need to have on being a mother.

  12. 12
    Susan

    That is quite an appropriate post for Mother’s Day. As I read your blog, I felt like I was reading my own feelings. I have been trying not to be stressed out so that I can appreciate every minute with my kids.
    I hope that your friends can share their love with another child when they are ready.

  13. 13
    Sherri

    What a beautiful story, so sorry for your friends baby. My prayers go out to them, I know that pain all to well. Thanks for putting things in perpective and sending you hugs! We can’t control everything in our lives, but we can control how we react to what life has dealt us. Sometimes we just have to stop and look at what really matters.

  14. You look so much like your grandmother! 🙂 I hope you have a nice Mother’s Day.

  15. 15
    Amanda L

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  16. 16
    Sarah

    Wow – this post was so beautifully written Jane. Thank you for reminding us all what is truly important in life. My thoughts and prayers go out to Will, Rachel and precious Charlie.

  17. 17
    Becky

    Jane, Thank you for posting. I’m so sorry for what Will, Rachel and Charlie have gone through, but so grateful for life and the opportunities it gives us to love and support each other – and learn what really matters.

  18. 18
    Deena McClain

    Thanks, Jane, for honoring my amazing daughter, Rachel.

    • Jane Maynard

      oh my goodness, you’re welcome, deena. I am so grateful your truly amazing daughter is a part of my life. much love to you all…

  19. 19
    Ali

    Oh my, I have tears in my eyes. What a beautiful reminder of just how precious life is, and to take a moment each day in the midst of our crazy lives to appreciate the little things. Thanks for sharing Jane! And I am so sorry to hear of your friends’ loss, I can’t even imagine their pain.

  20. 20
    Katt Santistvan

    Such a beautiful post, Jane! Thanks so much. It’s just what I needed to read today. Will and Rachel never stray far from our thoughts.

  21. 21
    Leanne Peterson

    Well said! Thank you.

  22. 22
    Malerie

    Thank you for this beautiful post. Charlie is a precious reminder of what really matters most. Your grandmother is stunning. I see a lot of you in her.

  23. a beautiful post. thank you for sharing. a good friend of mine just suffered a miscarriage, so I can definitely relate to feeling for your friends who have suffered such a loss.

  24. 24
    Nancy

    sending a hug for you!

  25. 25
    carolina

    Very, very well-written. Thanks for getting your thoughts out – I enjoyed reading them. Many hugs and prayers to your friends. Always a blessing to have such wonderful people in our lives. 🙂

  26. 26
    Brittney

    Thanks Jane for the post! I didn’t even know about little Charlie?! My heart goes out to Rachel and Will.

  27. Beautiful, really beautiful. I’m going to stop reading and go play w/ my boys

  28. 28
    Maren

    Thank you for this post. I am reading it through streaming tears. I am a cousin to Rachel and know just a little of the wonderful mother she was to Charlie. I wish I had been there in your kitchen that evening, sounds like a moment from heaven. I also live in San Diego, and apparently I am in your old ward because your blog is famous around these parts. Just thought you should know :). Beautiful beautiful tribute.

  29. 29
    Kari

    Thank you for such a beautiful post. A needed reminder on the joys and opportunities of parenthood. Sending loving thoughts to your friends.

  30. 30
    Mawa

    I love you Jane!

  31. 31
    collette

    Lovely words! My cousin and her husband lost their little boy to cancer a few months ago and I went through the same emotions. I’m on another side of this parenting challenge right now as my oldest son is finishing his junior year of high school. I find myself constantly berating myself for all that I HAVEN’T done with him and for him and wondering how I can possibly make it up to him in this last year I have him home. Then reality hits and I know that what I have done has to be enough and I have to spend this year helping him prepare for his life, not making up for my past deficiencies. And really, he is so busy HE won’t have time for smothering even if I could do it! He is kind and good and strong and capable and competent but I’m still his mom. Lots of parenting and mothering thoughts going on here too.

  32. 32
    Maureen

    Jane,

    What an amazing friend you are to your friends during this horrible time of loss and grief over the passing of their son Charlie. This is such an important message, and you stated it so eloquently. Thanks for making us all remember that life is made up of more important things than the daily stresses we all get caught up in. May God grant peace and comfort to your friends and to all who knew and loved little Charlie. My prayers are with you all.

  33. 33
    Alison Poirier

    Wow, this was very moving. Thanks Jane for reminding us of what is important and how we should cherish even the moments when we want to pull our hair out. Prayers for Rachel and Will.

  34. 34
    Happy =)

    Wow… thank you for such a eye opening post. We all need reminders that we are enough & that just being with our children & family in anyway is important. I read the link & it was like it was me writing it! I am truly sorry for your loss. And, that of your friends… I could not even imagine having to go through that.

    Today, my daughter had a Mother’s Day program at her school… (My hubby, I & our 2 other children attended. And, she got up to read an essay she wrote about me… In it she talked about how much she loved me & why. She mentioned how I try so hard to make her & her siblings happy. And, that even with work I still make them happy, because I love them. And, then she gets to the last sentence ” And, even though my mom gets so stressed she shows us how much she loves us”. And, it was me to a “T”. But, just the fact that she still see’s me in that light of a wonderful person & “The Best”. It is awful heart warming. I look over at her dad & even he has tears in his eyes. It may have been short, and written by a 10 year old… But, it was the most beautiful thing ever written about me =).

    Although, I am recently new to the site… it has become one of my faves!

  35. 35
    Leia

    Jane, My heart goes out to your friends for their loss. Your post is so beautiful and so interesting too. Life goes by too fast and so much of it is out of our control. Your friends sound so amazing and how you described your friend looking at her baby . . . Sounds like the purest form of a mother’s love, she soaked up that moment and gave him all the love he could ever need. Just beautiful. Thank you. Happy Mother’s Day to you and to your friend Rachel.

  36. Jane, this is such a beautifully written post, and shows no signs whatsoever of your own stress. I’m so sorry for Will and Rachel’s loss. They’re lucky to have you for a friend. And you’re right — life is always too short. My family ate out tonight (and last night) and that’s totally fine by me. Thanks for this lovely reminder.

  37. 37
    Jane Maynard

    everyone, your comments are beautiful and kind and thoughtful and sweet…and I am certain that rachel and will appreciate all your support and kind words…xoxo

  38. 38
    Natalee

    Jane, I am so embarrassed that, in my crazy rushed 5-year-old birthday week, it has taken me this long to read this beautiful post. I love it. I love Rachel and Will and Charlie and I LOVE you–my most famous friend. Seriously, this was beautiful!

  39. I thank my daughter, friend of Rachel’s, for forwarding this to me. I can so understand your feelings about not being able to be the mom you’d like to be. As a single mom, I was flooded with such feelings. As an ‘elder mother’, may I contribute this: what our children need MOST is our mirroring of them, via eye contact, body contact, smiles. Their nervous systems are actually hard wired to pick up on that stuff. And to feel useful: whatever you’re doing, find a way to include them, to have them help: the foundation of self-esteem.
    Some children are ‘almost done’ with their soul journey, and come for just a short while. But so hard for the surviving parents, that grief. Nature’s ability to attach us to our children is off the charts of wonderful, ferocious, permanent, and … and effective!!!! Blessings on all moms (and dads) on this terrifying, transformative journey.

  40. 40
    Nikki CB

    Beautiful post, Jane.

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