There tends to be two kinds of quotes about the past: those that tell you to forget it, and those that tell you to learn from it.
The saying, ?When the past calls, don?t answer. It has nothing new to say,? can be found all over social media. The implication of the quote is pretty clear. Forget the past. All it can do is harm you. Nothing good can come from it.
But that?s just not true.
Sure, the past can have some painful memories, and I definitely don?t want to live in a shadow of shame and regret. But if I choose to pretend my past doesn?t exist, I do a disservice to myself and those around me.
History is full of lessons to learn and examples to follow (or not). C.S. Lewis once said, ?Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.?
I like his take better.
That said, every year when April rolls around, I hear the past call, and I answer. I will never forget the call I received from our family pediatrician five years ago, informing me that our daughter?s routine 1-year-old labwork came back and indicated a problem. Within an hour, my husband, daughter and I were anxiously heading to a hospital in Wichita for further tests.
I will never forget the ongoing labs that continued daily, then weekly, to monitor her blood counts. I will never forget the trips to specialist after specialist, each running multiple tests, then telling us there was nothing they could do. I will never forget a doctor finally suggesting a bone marrow test for leukemia.
I will never forget the day we heard an official diagnosis. Not cancer, but a blood disease called hereditary spherocytosis. I will never forget choosing to put my 2-year-old through surgery and worrying over possible outcomes. I will never forget the relief I felt after the surgeon informed us of the surgery?s success, nor of watching my baby recover in the NICU.
I will never forget her past, MY past. And I don?t want to.
I want to remember the details. I want to tell the story. Because it was a hardship that transformed me in ways I never dreamed of when I first became a parent.
I changed in those moments. Within minutes of a phone call, I went from being a mom to being a mom with a sick child.
I learned to do research and to ask questions. I learned to be prepared. I learned to fight for my child. I learned to be an advocate.
Parents, it seems, are often maimed by societal pressures. This happens any time a parent is told (and believes) that someone else knows what?s best for his or her child. These pressures come in various forms, and are often subtle:
?If you don?t enroll your child in every activity available, you are depriving your child of future success.?
?If you want to protect your child, you are smothering them.?
?If you homeschool your child, you are disrupting social interaction.?
?If you address concerns regarding your child, you are complaining.?
All these pressures chip away at parental confidence until parents relent and believe that others are better-suited to determine what?s right for his or her child.
I?ve been there. And it was tough to take a stand. It was intimidating to look at credentials on the wall and dare to disagree with what had been determined. It was difficult to walk away from specialists who truly wanted to figure it out, but couldn?t.
But it was also freeing.
Because in those moments of intense trial, I became an advocate for a precious girl who wasn?t old enough to help herself. Since then, we?ve added two more children to advocate for. That?s my job as a parent.
Someday that job will transfer to my children. They will have to stand on their own, but not yet. First they have to learn how. And if I don?t teach them, who will? I want them to know that no matter the hardship, they are worth it.
I?m sure I will make mistakes, but I?m willing to learn. And it?s in those challenging moments that I will choose to be an ordinary person being prepared for an extraordinary destiny