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Please Don’t Hold Back in Sharing the Joys of Motherhood With Me

There we all are, having lunch together. Although it had been well over a year since my daughter was born, it had been a while since I’d gotten together with this group of girlfriends. One is expecting her first child, two others had their first babies and another one had her second, like me. We’re all busy women.

The majority of these friends are social workers; there’s a lot of compassion, nurturing, care-taking and kindness. They’re all wonderful people. So as one new mom says to the other, “Isn’t it amazing when they first smile at you?” there was a pause, a feeling, some glances. One even said, “but Julia…” and looked at me. I just nodded and said it’s OK.

See, my daughter can’t smile. She can only open and close her mouth. She has facial paresis, one of the symptoms due to being born with Moebius syndrome.

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At that moment, I didn’t feel envious or have that heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach I’d felt before when we were first given the diagnosis and would see other babies smiling. I was happy for my friends. Becoming a mother is a joyous time. I’ve another child without any special needs. I know that feeling — when your baby smiles at you. It’s an indescribable emotion. I grieve the loss of that for my daughter all the time. We’re working with lots of therapists and doctors to get her the most out of what movement she has. But there are many things she does do that give me that same feeling: putting her arms around me, the excitement in her eyes, her open mouth kisses, her guttural laugh, the way she shakes her booty when she’s excited. I feel the same way! I’ve wanted to be a mom since I was 6 years old. The joys and unconditional love is something I’m so grateful to experience.  I also believe that a part of enjoying motherhood is to have good girlfriends to share it with. I love my children and I love my friends and their children.

So, although I appreciate the awareness that something may hurt my feelings, I don’t want my friends to hold back in sharing their experiences of motherhood. I love being a part of it, hearing their stories and sharing my children’s stories too.

I’ve reflected on this day a lot because I was surprised how talking about another child’s smile didn’t make me feel sad. We’ve overcome a lot and adapted to our daughter’s differences. I feel like I’ve finally come to a place of acceptance and can see the joys of her life and can celebrate those of others around us. It was this lunch date that helped me realize that.

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