Sunday, October 10, 2010

Words of Wisdom and Wishes for my Children

Earlier this week I was digging through my files looking for my medical power of attorney to take with me to my pre-op appointment and I came across our wills. A year ago Rich and I met with a lawyer to have our wills updated to include Kiel and also to make some revisions to the guardianship portion for the boys, since we weren't comfortable with our original decision for Noah.

It turns out we never had them notarized. 

Yeah me and my incredible talent to stay organized and up to date on things. *sigh*

So I'm just going to put it out there to the fates right now. Don't fuck with me this week. Rich promised me he would take care of it.

This week I also finished reading The Kids Are All Right by Diana, Liz, Amanda and Dan Welch, for the From Left to Write book club.

About the book:
Excerpted from Publishers Weekly
In a memoir rendered eerily dry and scattered by emotional distance, the four Welch children, orphaned in their youth in the mid-1980s, recount by turns their memories and impressions of that painful time. Amanda, Liz, Dan and Diana were devastated first by the sudden death of their father in a car accident in 1983, followed by their mother three and a half years later. The two eldest girls, teenagers at the time and initiated into the drug and rock and roll scene, remember most vividly the details of that era. After their mother died, the children were put in the care of others, mostly with disastrous consequences, especially for Diana, farmed out to a controlling neighbor family who initially hoped to adopt her, but decide otherwise after she hit her awkward teens. Each struggled to forge an identity within harrowing circumstances, with numbing results. (Sept.)

Told in the alternating voices of the four siblings, this memoir tells their poignant, harrowing story of growing up as lost souls, taking disastrous turns along the way, but eventually coming out right side up. The kids are not only all right; they’re back together.

Between the story of the Welch kids and my upcoming surgery it gave me another thing to stay awake at night thinking about.

The thought of something happening to me and Rich that leaves Kiel and Noah without either one of us makes me reach for my bottle of Xanax with one hand and the tissues with the other. It's such a horrifying thought for me it's almost to the point I can't let myself go there.

Of course we have gone there, as Rich and I put a lot of thought into our original choice of guardians for Noah, and then again when we made the revisions a year ago.

I can't think of anything more devastating to a child than losing their parents. And for Noah, I think it would be beyond devastating.

Of course it would be horrible for Kiel as well, but at least he knows how to love and be loved, and his development and experiences have all been typical and "normal." In a stable, loving family he would be all right. (Oh crap, even writing that makes me tear up. The thought of not being around to see Kiel grow up is overwhelming.) Truly, my worst fear would be that they raise him to be a Republican.*shiver* (I kid, really.)

For Noah we've had to consider more than just love. We need to know he's with a family that is willing to take on his challenges, that they have patience and an open mind to be able to give him what he needs, and that they will love him without conditions and judgment.

I spoke with a special needs lawyer a couple months ago at a conference and he encouraged me to write a letter (I know there is an official name for it, but it escapes me right now) clearly explaining what I would want for my children if I couldn't be there for them. 

I've thought about it, and I've started the letter, but I've become too emotional to ever get beyond the first couple sentences.

Reading The Kids Are All Right made me look at this a bit differently. I owe it to my boys to make sure everything is put in place just in case. With the hope that it will never be needed. Ever!

Just in case something happens before I get all the I's dotted and T's crossed, here are some words of wisdom I would want to leave them with. The things that hopefully I'll teach them myself in the next ten plus years. Besides making sure they know I love them with every fiber of my being.

What I want you to know:
You will always be brothers; blood has nothing to do with it. Look out for each other. Love each other. Be there for each other. You might not always agree, but that's OK. Don't judge, accept.

Education is more important than you will know until it is too late. Never stop learning. But also know that education doesn't just happen in school.

Travel the globe while you are young. It will help you understand the world in a different way.  Don't just travel to the "nice" places, either.

Surround yourself with good people. Learn from them. Always have someone in your life that you look up to.

Listen more than you talk. But never be afraid to speak up.

Lead more than you follow.

Stand up for what you believe in, but educate yourself on all sides of the issue. Ask questions. Think critically. Don't be one of the "sheople."

Treat all people with respect. (Even the idiots.)

Take good care of your body. Don't use your mom as an example.

You will probably be wrong more than you want to admit. Learn to accept it and acknowledge it.Don't be afraid to admit it and say you are sorry.

Never underestimate the power of a sincere apology, good manors, a genuine smile, a comforting hug, or a good book.
Be a nice person. Don't be one of the idiots.

Learn how to do at least the basics of home repair.

Laugh every day.

Sometimes failure is good, but you might not realize it until later. There is always something to learn from it.

If you are going to complain about something, have an idea for a solution.

Earn your black belt. 
There is more than one right way to love.
There is more than one right way to pray, or not pray as the case may be.
Give back. Volunteer. Help others.

Things I wish for you:
At least one great love affair, with all the passion and drama that entails, even if it doesn't last.

The lasting love of a spouse who is also your best friend; someone you still want to hold hands with when you are 90.

Children as wonderful as the two of you.

A job you love.

A passion for something other than your job or another person.

The ability to enjoy a quiet day with only yourself for company.
Common sense.
I love you more than you will ever comprehend. Please know I would never leave you on purpose.

This is an inspired post written for the "From Left to Write" Book Club. A copy of The Kids Are All Right was provided to me by the publishers. I am not being compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.



  1. I had very similar thoughts about this book. My son has autism, and the guardianship issue is especially challenging. This book really brought all of that up for me as well. I love these lessons for your kids, and am a little teary eyed reading this.

  2. Oh man! I'm more than a little teary-eyed reading this.

    It would have been amazing if my parent had had the foresight to leave a list like this for us, Kristine.

    You know, when Liz and I were researching The Kids are All Right, we came across a magazine article (which we actually included in our foreword) in which our mother describes her kids: Amanda, Liz and Dan. I wasn't born yet.

    The first thing I though when I read the piece was: I wish I knew how Mom would have described me. I would love to know what words she'd choose, what funny little kiddie behaviors of mine stood out to her, and what she loved most about me.

    It makes me so glad that our book is getting people thinking about what will happen to their kids should anything happen to them. It's a hard thing to think about -- in fact, when I printed up the legal papers for guardianship for my son Harvey and asked his father who he'd like Harvey to live with if something happened to us, do you know what he said? "Oh, nothing's gonna happen to us."


    He knows my life story, obvs. But it just goes to show: Nobody wants to think about something like that. Its just too hard So THANK YOU for being brave and thinking about something so awful, for Kiel and Noah's sakes. They sure are lucky to have you as a mom.

    thanks for reading, and writing.


  3. Yes, teary eyed here as well!

    What a great list. I have a friend who died a couple of years ago from lung cancer. She had 2 months from diagnosis to her death. She spent the time writing to her kids - 2 year old twins at the time. It was very important to her to pass on these things.

    A group of her friends made a scrapbook to keep her writings in. As we cut corners and glued on ribbon, all of us thought....we should really all be doing this too. No, we don't have a diagnosis of almost certain death in a month or six or whatever, but anything is possible.

    And what if? What if it did?

  4. Raising your boys to be a Republican would definitely be the worst! Don't let it happen. Tragically, they may grow up to be Republicans on their own! Mine did. My tongue is placed firmly in cheek for this post but only somewhat!