I had very clear ideas of the kind of family I wanted to help create, my husband and I were close and on the same page, we really wanted children, and we were conscious loving people who had had full lives before kids. Seriously - how hard could this be?
Well, it turns out, it wound up being pretty hard, actually. My first son had major medical issues we did not expect, and needed open heart surgery at birth. That picture above was about a month or so after we had finally been released from the hospital to go home. You can see the shock on my face.
And then my second son had different medical issues.
But really, I found the regular day to day of parenting just as beautiful and difficult as the major medical challenges we were facing. I had no idea how lonely parenting would feel. I couldn't understand why my children whom I loved so much could be so difficult. It never occurred to me that sometimes they would fight that love. That they would need something other than my love. And who knew that sometimes I wouldn't feel that love? That sometimes I would feel rage or grief or frustration or disappointment.
I looked everywhere and tried every parenting methodology I could. A year later, I was still frustrated. The things they told me to do weren't working with my kids, which either led me to believe my kids were just super difficult or I was an awful mom who had done irreparable damage somehow and none of us would ever be happy. That was how dark it felt, the day someone casually mentioned I should check out Hand in Hand Parenting.
I did. And that was the last day I wondered if I could do this parenting thing. That was the first day I knew we would all make it through, and thrive TOGETHER.
After that, I started absorbing everything I could. From Patty Wipfler at Hand in Hand Parenting. And then from Dan Seigel. From Gordon Neufeld. And many others who also made sense to me.
And as I cobbled together all these new truths, what I learned is this:
With my mentors by my side, I was lucky enough to heal my own family. But I couldn't stop there. I started teaching other families - not as a job, but rather as a passion. I was just so determined that everyone should have the right to this kind of information and support. Five years after that, I went back to Hand In Hand to become an instructor because it was clear that this was not just my passion - this was my life's work. Three years later, I am now a fully certified Hand in Hand consultant, and have already taught hundreds and hundreds of families.
(We kids just think they're fun, but she says they make us nicer to be around.)