Mary O’Donohue and her husband Jim live with their son Connor, a teen, and their daughter, Grace, a ‘tween, in suburban Chicago. Mary is author of When You Say “Thank You,” Mean It, a month-by-month guide that provides parents with practical tools to raise children with extraordinary character. Her career in television production has included work on The Today Show, Meet The Press, and The Oprah Winfrey Show, among other programs. She donates a portion of her income to charities benefitting families and education, and can be reached at www.maryodonohue.com
When I first became a mom, some friends of mine asked me how my life had changed. All I could say was that before I had you, I breathed air. Once you came along, I breathed joy.
I loved the way you used to look at me when you were a baby, and I checked on you in the middle of the night, accidentally waking you. You would look up with those blue eyes and smile at me and then go right back to sleep. And I would stand there for a long time just looking at you and feeling so blessed and overwhelmed with love. Corny, I know. But true.
One of the things I love about you is that you love to learn. Dad and I have been reading to you since you were about three months old. By the time you were two, you would insist I read the same book over and over again. Seven times was usually my limit! I remember the day you sat on the floor with Dr. Seuss’ “Hop on Pop” and said out loud, “Hop. Pop. We like to hop. We like to hop on top of Pop.” You were 2 ½ at the time, so I rationalized that you couldn’t be reading. You must have memorized it! Well, by the time you were three, there was no doubt. You were reading. And through the years I’ve lost count of the nights I’ve gone in your room to make sure your lights are off, only to find you asleep with an open book in your arms.
Connor, I love your sense of humor, and your kindness, honesty, and courage. Everyone has challenges and strengths in life, and you have faced your challenges with determination, and embraced your strengths with passion. I admire your talent and creativity and I look forward to seeing you blossom as a filmmaker. I respect the wonderful child you have been and the extraordinary young man you are becoming. I’m so deeply proud of you.
I love you always, always, always.
P.S. – Please see part 2 tomorrow.