The truth of the matter is, my “why” is so simple I can type it out in one sentence.
“I enjoy caring for others.”
I told you it was simple. However, the depth of those words flows strong and wild and penetrate my soul in places no one can reach. I was a stay-at-home mother for many years. I never denied my purpose, nor did I question it. Keeping those little humans alive and fed daily were the source of my energy and motivation. I loved taking care of all four of them. I loved making sure they had full bellies and daily naps. I enjoyed instilling in them truths and virtues they could carry with them into adulthood. I loved helping them with schoolwork and taking them to soccer practice. I loved watching them grow and learn and develop, knowing that I played an important role in all they would become.
When it was time for me to find a job outside of the home, my heart for taking care of others led me to work in the school system. I worked with special needs children for almost 10 years. Many of the children I worked with were considered “non-verbal”. They may not have used words to communicate but they made their needs very clear in other ways. I spent my day helping these beautiful souls learn the very basic things we take for granted. I assisted them with daily life skills, feeding themselves, brushing their hair and teeth, going to the bathroom. I helped to care for children with autism, down syndrome, learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral issues, spinal bifida, and cerebral palsy. Throughout those 10 years I have been peed on, pooped on, thrown up on, hit, pinched, called names, yelled at, hugged, held, adored as if I was a superhero, told “I love you, Mrs. Cherie” more times than I can count, and most importantly irreversibly changed by their extraordinary love.
I believe God created me with this desire for a reason.
When I resigned from the school system, I found my nest scattered with feathers and piercingly quiet. My children were all now adults filling their own nests with tiny little lives. I often wonder if birds feel as vulnerable and abandoned as I did when my baby flew the coop. Just writing those words cause me to tear up because it reminds me of the depth of sadness I felt. I was a mom my entire life. I had my twins at 17, my 3rd child at 19, and my baby at 23. Being a mom and caring for others was all I knew, and I was satisfied.
Now, there was a huge void in my life, and I felt like I lost my God-given purpose. I’m not going to lie…I sank into a bit of depression. My life was so quiet I couldn’t breathe. One day in that quiet, I began to pray. I asked God to give me a new purpose in this phase of life. Then a few days later I received a call from a dear friend asking me if I would consider becoming an advocate for foster children. My desire to care for others…AND knowing that this was no coincidence, led me to begin volunteering for the C.A.S.A. program. (I’ll write more about this wonderful program in a later post). Volunteering didn’t fill my nest, per se, but it did renew my sense of purpose and I found a wonderful community of people to connect with.
I now have almost 9 grandchildren now (two are in the womb) and I have learned to enjoy the quiet…and as far as my nest goes, it stays a lot cleaner now! However, I still find a feather or two scattered around the house. There are days when I terribly miss the chaos and joy of parenting little ones. But watching my babies raise their babies brings me delight and pride. Knowing that part of who they are as a parent is who I am. And that, my friend, is legacy.
That’s the main reason why I started Hooked by NeeNee. My innate longing to care and love others was never meant strictly for my children and grandchildren. I believe God created me with this desire for a reason. He has gifted me to write and to teach and to crochet and I want to use those gifts to the best of my ability. I want the pieces I design and crochet to be filled with such love that others can tangibly feel it. I want my blog posts to help others learn about life and God and grace. I want my empty nest to be scattered with the friendship and love of those around me, near and far.