Monday, April 21, 2008

Fun Monday: the best thing I've ever done edition

Ah, it's Fun Monday again. Time for some fun and frivolity, as Southern Doll hosts us today.

Here is what she has challenged us to do:

What have you done in your life that was worth doing? I want to know the moments in your life that you hope will be the ones to pass through your mind when your time comes. ... I want to know all the moments, big and small, that make life sweet!
I could be obvious and tell you all that my list consists of the births of my four children. Because what else could be more worth doing than to welcome a new life into the world. A new life that changes everything about you forever.

And so for a moment, let's BE obvious, and let's enjoy the current result of that labor (heh heh heh). Here they are (plus me, of course), from the Roo-girl's bat mitzvah last August:



Other than the obvious? Well, that required me to think a little harder.

In fact, I spent most of the week trying to figure it out.

There is stuff like this, for sure.

But that also seemed too easy.

So I picked a more difficult direction.

I picked J-bear.

J-bear, for those of you who are new to my planet, is Wonderhubby's daughter. She is 17 -- almost 18, in fact.

She also has lived exclusively with us since she was 13, when she was halfway through the eighth grade. Her choice. A decision made after an earthquake in the city where she lived with her mother fuh-reaked her out beyond all reason.

Now you have to understand about J-bear. She was -- in my unprofessional opinion -- clinically shy and monstrously introverted. The first time I saw her -- not MET her, mind you, but SAW her -- she was about 10 and hiding behind her father at a chorus function.

That position turned out to be commonplace. She couldn't look anyone in the eye -- not grownups, not kids. She reminded me of a frightened bunny, never really able to step too far away from the comforting aura of her dad.

Much of her story I am saving for May 14, her 18th birthday, for a proper post. But the things that I can tell you now are these:

When she first came to live with us, she was a frightened loner. Roo-girl, four years her junior, was really her only friend. In fact, she would follow Roo-girl to play with HER friends.

She would wear hoodie sweatshirts -- with the hood up around her head and her face pulled back into its recesses as far as it would go. It became a trademark look that made her highly recognizable on campus. Her father and I refused to buy sweatshirts with hoods at one point.

She was behind in her social skills. She was behind in her emotional growth. She was behind in her academics.

Before she came to live with us, I exacted a promise from her father AND from her mother -- that I would have their permission to do what I saw fit to help this child recover from the trauma of the earthquake AND get her on track socially, emotionally and academically.

I felt uniquely qualified to take J-bear on as a project since I had fought the school system successfully for a variety services for my two older boys and had some valuable experience and knowledge to offer.

I required therapy, which had not been offered to her to this point. I offered tutoring. In fact, that first summer before she started high school, I worked with her a minimum of three hours a night on her daily summer school homework. I took her shopping for her first bra. I, along with Wonderhubby, provided a noisy, family-filled environment where she had to learn to share her father and cope with four insta-siblings and the tumult that comes with.

Four years later, J-bear has turned into a lovely young lady, with friends, an upcoming high school diploma, reasonable grades, an almost-black belt in karate, a responsible job and the ability to walk into a room and -- while not completely comfortable -- fake it so that you might not see her fear.

She stands tall, my J-bear does. And I truly do believe that her father and I have done an amazing job of guiding the little scared bunny through some tough times and out the other side.

I stepped in as "the best thing that ever happened to that kid," according to friends who know and have seen. It was a mitzvah.


And I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Now go see what others have done that make them proud.

33 comments:

Janet said...

Wish that could've happened to me as a child...I was always a shy loner...still am mostly a loner and kind of shy.

Huckdoll said...

Just beautiful, all of it. Your girl, family and post.

I think it's just amazing all of the opportunity you gave her and how well she took to it. You're an amazing woman and mother :)

Hootin' Anni said...

I like the fact after the turmoil and the strife of helping her, you say: "I'd do it again in a heartbeat"...


My F M is posted, I hope you can stop by and read my entry. Have a super-duper day.

ChrisB said...

That is such a wonderful story and I look forward to reading more in May.
Sound like you have nurtured and helped a flower to bloom.

anglophilefootballfanatic said...

Could you be anymore the opposite of the wicked stepmother? How wonderful for you to be able to transform a struggling child into a responsible adult. Way to parent...yet again!

The Laundress~JJ! said...

As I've said before, you are a most amazing mom...Biological, step, stair, elevator....whatever....You raise your children to be the best they can be and I love that about you.

Sadie said...

What a wonderful story!! I look forward to reading even more on her birthday!!

nikki said...

1. Aaron's birthday is May 14th too!
2. You have a gorgeous family.
3. You are beautiful!

Kaytabug said...

You never cease to amaze me!
What a wonderful story! You are an inspiration not only to your children but to me as well, and I'm sure to countless others!

You rock!! Looking fwd to more in May! You have such a beautiful family!!

Karen Sugarpants said...

"I'd do it again in a heartbeat"
How sweet. :)

cate said...

what an amazing story, Janet! but it doesn't surprise me that you were able to help her out of her shell...you're on of the most loving and generous women i know! well....know in the cyber sense of the word! ;-)

maggie's mind said...

You just ooze awesomeness, and I'm thrilled that J-Bear has you in her life.

storyteller said...

What a heart-warming post! I’m looking forward to learning even more in your May 14th post on her birthday! Thanks for sharing today and have a Marvelous Monday! I’m playing for the 3rd time this week at Small Reflections.
Hugs and blessings,

Beckie said...

You have a beautiful family! This was a great post - thanks for sharing. I look forward to more in May.

Burfica said...

she just needed a good mom to push and guide her. And know that no matter what she did she couldn't push you away.

Your a great mom that way!!!!

Wonderhubby said...

"An amazing story by an amazing woman" Wonderhubby the luckiest man on the planet of Janet

Sauntering Soul said...

Wow. You must be so proud of her and be proud of yourself for what you've done for her. What a beautiful family you have.

Heather said...

A wonderful story! Every child should be so lucky to have someone who cares so much for them.

Tink said...

You know I'm a sucker for pictures... and stories that make me go "awwww!" Well done you!

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

Once again, I totally want to be like you when I grow up. You are a rockin' good stepmom, mother, and friend.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Wow that was just so brilliant, and what a sweetie she is. It's so good that she had someone to help her grow into herself.

Aoj & The Lurchers said...

Janet, that is such a lovely post. You have every right to be so proud!

David said...

What a wonderful read! Thank you

ellen b said...

Now that's amazing and well worth it for sure!! Beautiful...

IamwhoIam said...

Well congrates on all five of your success

Sayre said...

Your own children are just beautiful - but your love and affection for the one who isn't your own just shines out. J-Bear was lucky to have a step like you to help her up.

Melissa said...

What a great story! You've done such a wonderful thing!

Faye said...

You have a very handsome family Janet. Lucky teen that you had the desire and determination, as well as knowledge, to bring her out of her painful shyness and into the world. Kudos to you and other family members for this.

Rose said...

I lover everithig about your post, and you have a very nice family.

Southern Doll said...

What a cool story! She is lucky to have you. :o)

No host for next week....was I supposed to recruit one?? I didn't know!

lisa marie said...

All five of your kids are beautiful! I can't wait for Jbear's birthday post. :)

mama speak said...

that was just lovely. brought tears to my eyes.

Pamela said...

It could be that menopause thing... but, I really think I got chills reading about your love for your step daughter.
Yes, it was that. I'm sure.

Loves and hugs and blessings on both ya!

 
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