Tuesday, October 30, 2018

In the trenches...featuring Kelly

Today I am featuring my good friend Kelly.  She has an incredible story to motherhood and is an incredible woman and mother.  She has several special needs kids and had a difficult childhood herself.  In spite of all her challenges she has risen above it and is so strong.  She is constantly gathering clothing for the homeless and others less fortunate, she and her kids go to the teen shelter and feed the kids there on a regular basis. She has taught me much about advocating for my kids and letting mama bear come out when needed.  I wish you could have been sitting in the same room when we were chatting, I only captured a portion of our conversation, I hope you get a glimpse of how amazing Kelly is.

Tell me about your journey to Motherhood:

I always wanted to be a mom, it was all I ever wanted to be.  It happened much sooner than planned however...lol.  I got pregnant at 16, and then again at 17.  I had two kids before I graduated high school and 3 kids by the age of 21.   It was definitely a challenge, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I found the love of my life when I had three children and told him, "My kids will always come before you."  He replied, "I wouldn't date you if you didn't put them first."  That's how I knew he was a keeper.  He has loved my three oldest as my own from the beginning.

I always knew I wanted to adopt special needs kids, I've always felt drawn to kids with special needs.  Then my 5th child Corey was born.  I could tell something was different about him from infancy.   He didn't talk, didn't make eye contact and didn't display typical behaviors.  He was diagnosed as classically autistic at 22 months.  We were told he would never talk or be able to function in normal society.  I am so proud of him, he will graduate from high school this spring and has a job at a movie theater and is functioning quite well thank you.

My 6th daughter was born at 32 weeks, she was 2 lb 6 oz and  was born blue and had to be resuscitated.  She is considered medically fragile and we have had many scares with her over the years.  She has epilepsy and hypertonia.

Our family didn't feel complete after Paige was born (yah we're crazy after 6 kids we felt like we needed more!).   Ten years ago I got a call from my grandma who lives in the south asking if I would be willing to be a temporary guardian for my cousin's three children.  Naively I said yes and brought three more children home.  Due to trauma during her infancy and early childhood one of those children had to be removed from our home because she was dangerous to all of us.  However the other two have been with us ever since that phone call and are such an important part of our family.  They also both have some trauma and effects from their childhood, my son Bradley has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and many other special needs.

What advice do you have for other moms?
Trust your instincts!  If you feel something is off, trust it!  Nobody knows your child better than you do no matter the letters behind their name or how much college they have had.  Be their advocates, speak up for them and learn how to access services for them if needed.
Being a mom is amazing and awesome, but they do grow up and leave home.  If you don't nurture your relationship with your spouse, you will be left with a dying relationship when the kids leave.  Nurture your marriage!

How do you take care of yourself with all of these challenges you have in motherhood?

I love the subject of self care, it's something I'm super passionate about.  You can't take care of anyone else if you don't care for yourself.  Don't be a martyr, that doesn't benefit anyone.  Be the heroine of your own life and make the choice not to be a victim.  Take time to yourself when you need it. The simple things really do add up to be so important.   Communicate with you spouse what you need.  Get up in the morning, get ready and wear real clothes!

What brings you joy?

Seeing my kids succeed and be happy.  Watching them be kind, good human beings and standing up for what is right.  Editors note:  Kelly does a phenomenal job teaching her kids to be kind, service oriented human....she does this through her actions and involving them in regular service.

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