Wanting to have children was always a no-brainer for me. It was like a career goal, and I never wavered from it — until my firstborn son passed away unexpectedly at four months old. Having something taken away that I so desperately wanted immediately began fueling doubts about whether I was capable of letting myself love another child again, without any guarantee of their future. To be that vulnerable meant taking a risk with an already broken heart, and I wasn’t sure if it was worth it. However, even with my fears at the forefront, I knew how much purpose that little boy gave my life, even if it was just a short time. Because of that, I took a leap of faith and tried again.

A second chance

Second chances aren’t always easy to come by, but I was blessed with four more children, a full life, and a restored heart. That doesn’t mean my life is easy. There is still yelling, frustration, and lots of lessons being learned. Parenting requires love, hard work, and a lot of patience, but the return is so worth the investment. The loss I faced with my oldest son has made me a better parent. I’ve learned to not sweat the small stuff, and to have a newfound appreciation for what is truly important. All that being said, I’m not even close to being a perfect parent, and I will never be. However, a good parent recognizes the value in putting in the necessary effort, and recognizes that the progress we make is more important than perfection.

Each child, starting with my oldest son, has allowed me to grow as an individual. They have fueled my passion to teach others how to be a survivor, to overcome, and to love amongst heartache. They’ve given me the courage and strength to move forward and take risks, in love and life. Their presence is a true gift, and even though there are no guarantees for tomorrow, my life is, and will continue to be, enriched by each lesson I learn from them, and they from me.

Making the decision to have more children was undoubtedly the best decision I’ve ever made. Embracing life to the fullest by being a parent is the only thing I’ve been sure about in my entire life. I recognize how fortunate I am to have been able to have five children, and I don’t take that for granted. I’ve also learned that the joy and tears that come from being a parent are what it’s all about. Parenting makes me think of the Julia Roberts line in the movie Steel Magnolias. She says that even when she contemplates the risks, “I would rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.”

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