This I Believe

Stacie - Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Entered on January 25, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Stores will sell out of chocolates, roses will spike in price, and restaurants will be full of lovey-dovey couples. Yep, Valentine’s Day is a-coming and at our house we will do, drum roll please, nothing.

Don’t get me wrong. My husband is a great guy who likes to spring for the occasional rose bouquet. It’s just that we have kids now and, strange as it sounds, they are our Valentine to each other.

Our daughter was born eight years ago with what is medically termed as a wide, unilateral cleft of the lip and palate.

When she was born, my husband and I were immediately thrust into a scary world of doctors, specialists, and hospitals. We worried together through her first surgery and rejoiced when it was over. Our hearts ached for those families we saw on our hospital floor. We saw them huddled together in dark corners of their child’s room, their cheeks often stained with tears. And we cried with them. We witnessed the child who didn’t have a parent with them, because treatments were expensive and they had to work. And our hearts ached for them, sitting somewhere far away at a desk trying to do their job but focused solely on their child.

I have learned that it never gets easier when you are entrusting your child to someone else. I have experienced my heart growing outside of my body through this tiny child given to us to love.

When our son was born, I experienced a feeling of love that I did not think possible. I know now that love truly is endless when it comes to your children. Because of them, I have become a stronger person.

I cannot watch a program on Discovery health about someone’s sick child without holding mine closer. I cannot see a program asking me to sponsor a child without being horrified at how other children are living. I cannot walk by a homeless person on the street without realizing that somewhere, there is a parent who loved this person that society has thrown away. I cannot help but experience an intense rage when someone’s child has gone missing and cannot help aching for that parent who longs to hold their child once more and whisper I love you into their ear. I cannot not applaud our veterans or salute our flag when I hear of the sacrifice a family has made. As a mother, my heart weeps for the parent who will never hear their child’s laughter again. Because, truth be told, even when my children are grown, they will always be my child. I am my own Peter Pan, one who will forever remember Halloween costumes, birthday parties, and all those firsts….first word, first tooth lost, first day of school.

If Valentine’s Day is supposed to be the day of love, then to me, every day is Valentine’s Day. My children are the best gift my husband could ever get me. They are all that is good in our life. Through their eyes, I see the beauty in a dandelion. I savor the taste of a snowflake on my tongue. I wonder at a sunrise and marvel at the stars at night. They are sweeter than any chocolate, more beautiful than any flower, and remind me daily how truly blessed I am.