Last week, while visiting a neighbor with three kids of her own, the topic turned to motherhood and how every woman is a superhero in her family, but some women are superheroes for us all. We decided that there ought to be an award for those moms who inspire us with their strength of both body and character. So, I went home and I decided that here at Connected Mom, we needed to recognize these bastions of motherhood and so, with your help, I'd like to honor one of these mothers a month.
My first honoree is Alicia Harper. Growing up, I attended the same school as Alicia, but, while we did play softball together one year and were in band together, we didn't know each other very well. She always seemed like a sweet person and I would have liked to have known her better, but we were in different grades and had different circles of friends. However, years later, when I saw her on a mutual acquaintance's facebook friend list, I decided to friend her and see where her life had led her. Little did I know how much that action would inspire me.
It turns out that Alicia is the proud wife of a soldier and is a mother of three beautiful, perfect children. The oldest two are little girls whose pictures reveal sunny dispositions as well as natural, effortless beauty that is reminiscent of what I remember of their mother in school. The youngest, a boy, has enormous brown eyes, adorable little glasses, and a smile that you can't help but return even when all you've ever seen are pictures of it. He also has some profound special needs and was diagnosed before he was even born with hydranencephaly. It is, unfortunately, a terminal condition that occurs during pregnancy in which "part of the child's brain matter is replaced by fluid" (that is a quote from the hydranencephaly awareness facebook page.) However, Alicia, being the strong, inspiring woman that she is, has taken what many would see as a prognosis for the end, and has turned it into just the beginning. She has revealed how much life there is for someone who sees beyond a life threatening diagnosis.
To say that the Harper family faces many challenges that most of us are lucky enough not to face is an understatement, however, what is most profound about their family is not that their youngest member has special needs. Instead, it is the way in which they (especially Alicia) have turned a terminal medical condition into motivation for a life affirming celebration of everything that is precious and wonderful. You can read in Alicia's own words their journey as a family and I think that you will know within a paragraph just how awe-inspiring, strong and encouraging she is as a person and as a mother.
Not only has she succeeded in creating a beautiful, full life for all of her children while negotiating each child's individual needs even though her son's needs are profound and many, but she also engenders inspiration and support for anyone who gets to know her. Her love for life, her boundless exhortation of hope in any situation, her seemingly limitless ability to really grasp the joy in the art of day to day is the very definition of uplifting. Rather than defining her son by his limitations, she is consistently in awe of his capabilities. She teaches you to do the same.
And that's not all! Not only does she provide all the support and love her own family needs as well as inspire those who know her, she also provides support for other parents whose children share diagnoses (and prognoses) similar to her son's. She has even created a non-profit group The Global Hydranencephaly Foundation to help educate and support parents who also face hydranencephaly and also to educate the medical community on the ways in which the lives of children with this diagnosis can be enriched and can thrive. Her adjoining blog "Journey of the Bees" often brings me to tears with its inspiriting stories of tenacity, tenderness, and the insatiable truth of how life perseveres even when it is faced with the greatest of challenges. "Like" the foundation on facebook and you will know what it is to be inspired to be a better mom, a better friend, and a better supporter of all those in need.
Now, what about you? What inspiring moms do you know? Who do you know who makes a difference in the lives of her children, her community, her friends, or her world? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and she could be our next "Inspiring Mom."
Thanks for reading!