As a middle-aged mother, with struggling children, it was hard to believe in anything but the dissolution of my family. I felt like a failure. My family didn’t look anything like I planned. Where were the calm and peaceful nights sitting around the fireplace popping corn? Where were the bedside chats filled with laughter and love? Where were the days of working and playing together?
These are the things that I envisioned as a young woman. But to have these impossible things I needed to understand that they didn’t just happen because we were a family. They would happen as I connected to my children multiple times a day; as I spent time and was present as we ate together, played together, worked together; as I listened.
I lacked many of those skills. Worse, I didn’t even know I needed them. I assumed that getting married, having kids and taking care of them and my home was all I needed to do. It was a shock when the whole thing was harder than I anticipated; when I realized I didn’t know what I was doing; when I understood that connection required touching, being together and listening. None of this came naturally to me.
I share the fact that I contemplated suicide
because I know I’m not the only one who has felt despair, who has believed that the impossible couldn’t happen.
But I, like the queen, kept believing in the impossible. I got up day after day determined to hold it together; determined to hold on to my family. I searched for what would make a difference. I found resources and support along the way. I worked to change. I practiced when it was darn hard. Even though I occasionally checked out, I always checked back in and hung on. I kept believing that if I didn’t give up, if I changed, learned, and grew, my family was possible.
Interestingly, the mistakes we make, and the trials of our parenting are sometimes the very things that, in the end, bind our family together. That’s what happened to us. Because none of us gave up, because we kept believing in impossible things, impossible things happened. Impossible things are still happening in our family. My 45-year-old son just graduated from college. His story is one of believing in the impossible.
All seven of my children are wonderful, growing adults. They’re loyal, generous, kind and connected to each other and to Don and me. They all have challenges because that is life. In their families they deal with sexual identity issues, blindness of a spouse, not finding a spouse, unable to have children, special needs kids, divorce, faith crisis, depression, learning difficulties, getting more schooling, etc.
Each day as I kneel to pray, I talk with God about all the impossible things our family needs and I believe they can happen. On my bedroom wall are pictures of the impossible things I long and work for. I believe in the impossible because I have seen the impossible become reality.
My youngest daughter’s childhood icon was Audrey Hepburn. Maybe it’s because she looks like her. Audrey Hepburn was a wonderful actress but her true greatness came later in life as she tackled impossible things as a humanitarian. She worked in some of the poorest communities of Africa, South America, and Asia. She said,
I know it can be hard as you build your family. I know that sometimes it feels like a failure, you feel like a failure. I know that you don’t always have what you need, but if you hang on, give up blame and victimhood, and work to grow and change, then nothing is impossible. In the words of Robert Schuller, “The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking.”
Be like the Queen, start every day thinking about the impossible as if it is possible.