I’m sure every expectant parent has at least some degree of angst, wondering if they are qualified for the job and hoping they will make the best decisions for their children. George and I have had probably more than our fair share of those feelings while awaiting our quadruplets. Of course we are very organized people and have prepared to the maximum extent possible, which helps minimize some of the worries. We also know that raising quadruplets will be the most amazing journey, privilege, and experience of our lives. It is also a great responsibility so our angst is multiplied by four. Just imagine!
Back when I was a senior in high school I landed the most incredible job, caring for two children, Hayley and Brennen. At the time they were only six and eight years old. I ended up staying with them for five years, seeing them mature from children to a pre-teen and teenager. I will be honest, taking care of them wasn’t always a cake walk as all children can be challenging at times, but was always a joy and privilege. By the time I headed to graduate school, it was time to leave my little charges behind, and that was heartbreaking. I remember dropping Hayley off at gymnastics for the last time and Brennan at his golf lesson and fighting back tears as I bid them farewell. It wasn’t goodbye forever, just our relationship as caretaker-children was ending.
I still keep in touch with their family and love updates. Hayley is now about to enter her junior year of college and tackles endless extracurricular activities with gusto as well as maintaining academic success. She is currently spending her entire summer in working the Ozark mountains as a department head at a camp. There she is disconnected from all technology, which shows her dedication to her work and impacting the lives of others. I mean, how many of us, let alone 20 year olds could go just a day without our smartphones? Way to go, Hayley! I am always so proud of her! Brennan attended The University of Alabama with a full scholarship and achieved many honors. We tragically lost Brennan in December of 2009, and I will always miss him. He left a hole in my heart that will never be replaced. Not a day goes by that I don’t pause at least a moment to think of him and am still proud of what he accomplished in a short lifetime. I hope his family knows that.
Shortly after we announced our quadruplet pregnancy, Hayley sent me an amazing gift. She was applying for admission to a student organization, which required her to write an essay about how she obtained her standards for living. Surprisingly, she chose to write about me, and she was willing to share it! It meant so much to me that she felt I impacted her life. I always hoped I had, but it was beautiful to be affirmed by her own words. It literally brought me to tears and still does. With her permission, I am sharing her essay below:
“Hey Amber! I applied for an organization on campus and wrote one of my essays about you! Mom thought that you might want to read it:) I hope you are doing well, I know you must be stressed, but I can just feel it – y’all will be AMAZING parents! Even to four at once!
Prompt: How do you obtain the standards by which you live?
Answer: Because our parents had to go back to work soon after I was born, my brother and I had countless nannies. Well you could count them, but you’d get lost somewhere in the twenties. We encountered the surprising: finding one to have a warrant out for her arrest. The crazy: a woman who would steal birthday money from a four and six year old. And the girl who didn’t understand the standard flip on and off light switch. Then we found the great: Amber. By no means do I have an anything but amazing mother, but I owe a lot of who I am today to Amber and the lessons she taught me while driving me to and from school, gymnastics practice, and friends’ houses. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that Amber was only seventeen when she was hired by my mom; she seemed to have life so figured out, and happiness and success in her grasp. Amber taught me the importance of character, hard work, and of being the type of person that I would want to meet. She is the embodiment of the standards that I set and hope to live by.
Amber did not come from an extremely wealthy family, she had to work for what she wanted, and she did. She is the reason that I refuse to go only halfway into anything, and she taught me that excuses are only in the mind. Amber is the purest and kindest person in any crowd. Kindness is not a trait easily learned, and I know that any kindness I shaped into my personality came straight from her example. I recently read that we should “live in such a way that if anyone should speak badly of [us], no one would believe it.” I know that I have my faults, but this explains perfectly the standard by which I hope to live, a quote which Amber completely exudes. Today, Amber radiates as she walks into a room, and even ten years ago my brother’s and my friends probably cared more to know if Amber would be at our house than if we would! As I have gotten older, I realize how long it has been since Amber was in my life, and I remind myself of the standards in character, hard work, and kindness that she taught me. Not only does Amber still radiate, but she is now actually “glowing” as she has been blessed to be pregnant with quadruplets. Yes, that’s four children… at once! I know that she is worried about where this will take her, but I have no doubt that she was taken down this road because God knows that she is the best to travel down it. Those four babies have no idea how lucky they will be, and I am so happy to know that four more lives can have the privilege that I had.”
So, I owe Hayley a BIG THANKS for sharing this with me! While we still have our moments of doubt in our future parenting abilities, Hayley has affirmed that I CAN and WILL do a good job.
I try to remember this when I am doubtful.