Write about five people that have most affected your life.
There are so many people that have affected my life over the past 38 years. I found it difficult to choose only five to write about. I feel blessed and lucky to have that problem. So in the end I chose six, because I didn’t want to leave any of them out. I wrote about them in the order in which they came into my life. To those reading this who I did not write about, I hope you understand and know how much I love and care about you too.
My Parents (Jacquie & Kevin)
My parents and I have a very close relationship. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t feel comfortable being open and honest with them about my life, my feelings, my hopes, my fears and my dreams. As an adult I feel blessed that I consider them to be two of my best friends, which I realize is not the case for many adult child and parent relationships. In addition to always being there for me and loving me unconditionally, my mom and my dad have both also given me some “game-changing” advice at pivotal moments in my life.
When I was in high school and struggling to find where I fit in, my mom encouraged me to identify a classmate who I admired and respected. Then she suggested I intentionally try to befriend that person. There was a girl I knew who always stood up for what she believed in, something I didn’t always have the courage and self-confidence to do. At first I thought my mom’s advice was a bit silly, as I had never made a conscious effort to become someone’s friend like that. But I did it anyway and it wasn’t long before the girl and I became the best of friends! We ended up being locker partners for most of our high school years and I was so grateful to find someone who had similar interests and values during such a critical time in my adolescence. Many years later I told my good friend about my mom’s advice and she too was thankful to have benefitted from her wise counsel.
My mom also relayed some advice to me many years ago that a priest friend of hers had given her. The gist of it is to live your life in answer to the question, “What did you do with what God gave you?” My mom would often remind me of this when I would get caught up (and sometimes still do) in allowing myself to compare my life and the gifts and talents I had been given with those that others seemed to have. Remembering this advice always helps me to gain and/or keep perspective.
Finally, another valuable piece of advice my mom gave me was when I have struggled to accept that certain people in my life weren’t living up to the expectations I had for them, or at least how I thought they could be. She would encourage me to try to “get over the dream” that I had for those loved ones and do my best to accept them for who they are and where they are in their lives. This helped me to be more realistic about my relationships with others, as opposed to resenting some of them for not being who I hoped or dreamed they would be.
The best advice my dad ever gave me, as I wrote about here before, was after three years in my first “real world” I was let go. I didn’t see it coming. I was given the “choice to resign” or be fired. I “chose” to resign, instead of being officially let go and fighting what I believed was an unjust release, after my father encouraged me to look forward and not make my life about what had “happened to me,” but rather learn what I could from my experience and move on. I believe that my dad gave me incredibly wise counsel that day and my “choice” to resign is a decision that I do not regret.
My Husband (Bob)
When I met Bob he was nothing like the guy I imagined that I would spend the rest of my life with. Bob was conservative and I was liberal. He had a tendency to be shy and more reserved, where as I was very outgoing and talkative. I am not sure exactly what it was that drew me to him, as I had never dated anyone like him. But as our relationship grew it became clear to us that we brought out the best in each other, though it took awhile for some of our family and friends to appreciate. There is a quote in the movie “Good Willing Hunting” where Robin Williams’s character defines your “soul mate” as someone that challenges you. I have always loved that explanation, as I believe that Bob and I do that for each other. We have found over the years (we have been together for 16 and married for 12) that our personalities really complement each other well, though we have had and still do have our moments when we clash.
Bob is also a wonderful father to our children. My dad has been a huge influence on me throughout my life and I am so glad to see that Bob and our kids get to spend a lot of quality time together. I wrote more extensively about Bob and my relationship here in this post. Finally, one of the things that I love most about Bob is that though he is a man of few words, his actions speak very loudly. Bob’s work ethic and loyalty to loved ones is an awesome example for our children and me.
My Son (Sean)
Sean is our first-born and our only son. Growing up in a small family with three women and one man, I was happily surprised when we found out he was a boy after being deliver in October 2003. I didn’t know what to expect raising a son and Sean has been a great teacher. Our son is very intelligent, inquisitive, sensitive, expressive, creative, fun and quirky. He really cares about his loved ones and is also passionate about learning, reading, performing on stage (acting, singing and dancing) and the imaginary world in his video games, among other things.
Bob and I had hoped and dreamed of having a big family with children close in age. Over the six years that it took for us to bring home another baby I felt sorry for Sean that he didn’t have a living sibling to grow up with. But Sean has always had really good friends and cousins to play and learn about life with. Now that Sean is a big brother, it is a joy to watch how kind, patient and silly he can be with his sister Abby. I am also grateful for the ways that Sean helps our family to remember his sister Molly and honor her short life and legacy.
My Daughters (Molly & Abby)
Molly is our second-born and our first daughter. Though she was not with our family in this lifetime for very long, her little footprints have left an immeasurable imprint on our hearts and in our minds. I believe that Bob, Sean, Abby and I are more sensitive and compassionate people for having Molly in our family. So much of who I am today is because of our journey with Molly. She helped inspire me to write and eventually to realize how much I love to express myself this way. Molly also continues to move me to be a wounded healer, reaching out to and connecting others whose lives have not gone as they hoped, dreamed or planned (whether due to infertility, loss, illness and/or other circumstances).
Abby is our third-born and our second daughter. She is truly our family’s rainbow after years of weathering the storms of secondary infertility, pregnancy loss and especially the death of her sister Molly. Abby brings so much love and joy to our lives. She adores her older brother Sean, her Daddy and many other family members and friends. Though our journey to Abby was not an easy one, it is so awesome to have another child to love and care for in our home.
Every day I learn so much from all three of our children about love and life. They challenge me, they inspire me, they make me so happy, they love me unconditionally and they help me to become a better woman, mother and human being every day.
I would not be who I am today if it weren’t for each of these six people being a part of my life. I feel so blessed and grateful for all the ways that they have affected me and hope that I make them happy and proud as their daughter, wife and mother.
Tell me about one or more people that have most affected your life.
Kathy Benson is a bereaved and blessed mom, writer and group fitness instructor trying to live mindfully and find joy in the journey after dealing with secondary infertility and loss for five years. She lives in Chicago, Illinois with her husband and two living children.