May 13, 2012 was one of the happiest most treasured days of my life. It was my first Mother’s Day and you made it possible. I was 34 years old and felt like the luckiest mom on the planet. I celebrated my day with you, Daddy, Great Uncle Ed and Uncle Chaddy. It was everything I had ever hoped for. We had a picnic in the backyard, took lots of photos, (of course), and I soaked in the love of being your Mom.
At your celebration of life I shared a very small piece of how meaningful your life made my life. Sharing that small glimpse of happiness with family and friends in a public way made me feel more vulnerable then ever before. I’m not the person you typically see crying in public and I’ve always struggled to separate my work life from my personal life. It’s just impossible for me. Instead, I’ve taken pride in sharing how proud I am of you and Sage, but it’s rare that I ever talk at length about what it feels like to be a disabled mom raising disabled children. I tend to skip those details for many reasons. I believe that Motherhood is a privilege and not many disabled people are empowered or supported to become parents when they want to be. In my case, it was a secret that I kept inside me and I couldn’t share with hardly anyone while growing up. Especially not my family.
Many people and I mean many people love you and love our family. We are so fortunate to have the support we have around us. Not everyone who loves us as able to attend your Celebration of Life. It’s been five years since my first Mother’s Day and I continue to be your thankful Mom. The feeling is the same as that very first morning when Nurse Mandy laid you on my chest and your Dad and I cried tears of happiness. The tears have taken on a new meaning, but I’m still grateful to me your Mom. I know you were with me in spirit when I shared at your services. It was your strength that got me through it. I thought I’d share those words again today as a reminder of how important and loved my girl still is and will always be to me.
I will always be your Momma.
“You were born on a Friday, left on a Friday and are now being celebrated on a Friday. It must have been your favorite day of the week… I didn’t realize it.
I imagine that when you got to where you were going your grandma Donna was there to greet you and your great grandma Eve wasn’t far behind. I imagine both ladies argued over who was going to hug and kiss you first. The three of you are known for strength and stubbornness. I loved that.
Olivia, I dreamed of the day I would become a mother. Hardly anyone knew that about me, before you were born. I never shared those dreams with hardly anyone because no one ever thought or encouraged me to become a parent. I can’t explain how excited I was when I found out you were growing inside me. I was happy beyond belief, but when we found out we were having a baby girl I was ecstatic. I always wanted to have a daughter. Thank you, Olivia, for being you and picking me to be your Momma.
You made me the proudest parent there could be. You have been my pride and joy. I showed you off to everyone and was always up for every challenge you gave me. Nothing made me feel more accomplished then watching you enjoy life and just smile. You were the sweetest little girl.
You were my little beauty, my Livy-Lou, my Miss Hollywood, my nature girl. You let me do your hair however I wanted and let me dress you in almost anything, as long as it didn’t include itchy stuff. As long as you were able to spend time outside in our backyard, eat the snacks of your choice, take long car rides and daily baths, you were happy as could be. You let us take you across the country almost a dozen times without any fuss and marched in a number of disability parades and advocacy events. People from all over got to know you and referred to you as our disability community baby. That was our Liv! Always willing to be surrounded by people who loved her, but also needed her space.
I want to believe that I loved you the most, but your Dad, Brother, Great Aunt D, Grandma Sal and so many other people here today also loved you as much as me. We loved you so much.
Thank you, Olivia, for teaching me how to be patient, work hard, love harder and advocate for everything we’ve ever believed in. I will forever make sure that people with intellectual/developmental disabilities are included like everyone else and that everyone I meet knows that I had a daughter and that she meant the world to me. She changed my life and many other people’s lives for the better.
I love you, Olivia, my Olivia tree, my beautiful peace.”
Celebrating anything this year has been difficult for me, especially Mother’s Day. I have to constantly tell myself that you’re with me, even if I can’t see and pysical feel you. You and your brother mean the world to me. Thank goodness I found your Daddy.