There are a significant number of people who have profoundly contributed to my life in many ways. I have been nurtured, cared for, and loved by some of the most wonderful people in the world. I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoyed having them as a part of my life.
First and foremost, this is my mom and my best friend. I don’t even know where to begin to tell you how wonderful my mother is. Despite my efforts to truly tell you how incredible of a mother she is I simply cannot put into words all the things I really want to say and I don’t believe that what I am about to write will even begin to do her justice. The most important thing that I can tell you about my mother as it relates to my childhood is that I loved her and I knew without a doubt that I was loved back. There was never a day when my mother didn’t tell me numerous times, for no reason at all, that she loved me. That is one of the most important things you can do for your child, and my mom did it, without fail, since as far back as I can remember. I knew that no matter what I did, whether she approved of it or not, it wouldn’t make my mother love me any less. My mother was always encouraging, caring, and reliable. Those seem like such simple words, but they are important nonetheless. My mother has always encouraged me to be who I wanted and to do what I wanted. She always told me, “You can do it, Kristen”. She nurtured me to believe in myself like she believed in me. My mom has always been very caring. I remember feeling like I could talk to my mom about anything and that she would be there for me. I trusted her and I knew that I could count on her. And to this day she has never failed me. She has always had my best interest at heart, despite my arguments when I was young that she was ‘being mean’, now as an adult, I see what she was really doing. She was protecting me. As I got older, I watched as my mother picked up her three children, ages 12, 10, and 8 and walked away from a marriage that was not healthy for her or her children. She always taught me to be strong and she was the perfect example of that. She taught to me to take care of myself and be independent. She encouraged me through high school and college to strive for excellence and I clearly remember her telling me that she wanted me to have an education so that I could provide for myself because she didn’t want me to be stuck in a situation (relationship, marriage, etc) that I couldn’t get out of because I was financially or otherwise dependent on someone else. My mother has been an example to me since I was a child and to this day she continues to be all of things I have told you about and more. I hope that I can be half the mother to my amazing little boy that she was, is, and will continue to be to me.
* This is my step father. He came into my life when I was about 12 years old. When I first met him, I was instantly comfortable around him. I liked him as a person, I liked him for a father figure, and most importantly I liked him for my mother. He took an interest in me, my brother, and my sister. It was nice to feel that he wanted us around and enjoyed spending time with us. It was obvious that he cared about us. Not many men would take on a woman’s 3 children. I recall never feeling like we were loosing our mom to some guy, but rather gaining another father. He was everything a father should be. He was very hardworking, working both as a firefighter and in the Air National Guard. Although he never taught me through conversation, his hard work and ambition encouraged me to be the same way. Like my mother, he was right there beside me when I needed something, be it advice, a shoulder to cry on, or encouragement. He has always been the perfect example of a father through his nurturing, his affection, and his reliability. I have always felt like I could count on him for anything I needed. The same holds true today as I am an adult with my own child and family. He is the first person I call when I need something. I am a very lucky girl to have had the chance to have two fathers.
Click on the link to hear a song that has always reminded me of my step father… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjO1F6oCab8&feature=youtu.be
The following link is the song we danced to at my wedding in the picture above… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awNqLO6auQA&feature=youtu.be
This is my Aunt Linda. She is also my Godmother and truly like a second mom. As a child, my Aunt taught me the importance of family. She would often pick me (and my brother and sister) up to go shopping, to do something fun, or just to spend time with her at her home. She always knew how to make us each feel special. I had fallen off my bike and broke my wrist, so my aunt picked me up and took me shopping for something special I wanted. I loved the times when I would just hang out with her and enjoy her company. I was a flower girl at her wedding and I remember thinking how lucky I was to have her in my life. I now know as an adult that many people do not have the relationship with their aunts as I was lucky enough to have with mine, but when I was young, I didn’t know any different, assuming that everyone had this relationship with their extended family. My aunt continues to be a treasured part of my life. I turn to her often when I need a second opinion or just a bit of conversation and a hug. She has always encouraged me to stand up for myself and not let people take advantage of me. She is a strong independent woman and I believe that I learned some of that from her, just as I did my own mom. I was blessed with such wonderful family and she is just the beginning.
I wish I had a picture to share with you of this wonderful woman… When I was a baby and my mom went back to work, our neighbor offered to babysit me. Her name was Mary Ellen but I called her Mimi. Although I was not old enough to recall this myself, my mom told me of how much she loved me and how she took care of me with such love. I would play with her sons, who were a good bit older than me. I do remember a few things from being with her, one of which was how I couldn’t have felt more comfortable with her, as if she were my own grandmother. I say grandmother because although she was not quite as old as my grandmother, she was older than my mom. She had children and grandchildren of her own and I remember feeling as though I fit right in with them. She enjoyed taking care of me because I am the only girl she had experienced until that point. She was a mother of boys and my mother tells me how much fun she had with me and likewise. As a teenager/early adult, my mom and I went and visited her and on her coffee table was a flower that I had given her many years before as a Christmas present. I mentioned it to her and she said, “Oh yes. My grandkids know not to touch the flower that my Kristen gave me. ” Even as an adult she had a special way of making me feel important. She passed away before I really had the chance to know her as an adult but I have fond memories of her.
I wish I had some childhood pictures to share, but this is one of my oldest and dearest friends. Her name is Lara and she and I have been friends since pre-school. Our fathers were friends growing up and still lived in the same area when they both started having children. My earliest memories of Lara and I were in elementary school. I would spend the night at her house often. At that young age, children like to feel accepted and I was no exception. I felt very accepted by Lara. She defended me, she cared about me, and the most important thing at that age, she was nice to me. My students often say that about their friends at school. “I like him/her because he/she is nice to me.” As a child, you are very fickle when it comes to friends. On Monday one person is your best friend and on Thursday it is someone new. But with Lara, I remember real friendship. A friendship where you knew without a doubt that you would be friends forever. And so far we are heading into year 26. Lara and I would spend our time together, playing, dancing, and laughing. I can recall weekends that I spent at her house, bugging her older sister, gossiping about elementary school girl stuff, and attending church on Sundays in matching dresses. She always made me feel important in our friendship. No child likes to feel unimportant or pushed aside by his/her friends. I knew that she cared about me and I am positive that she knew I cared about her. Friends build your confidence. When someone wants to be your friend, it makes you feel good about yourself and not afraid to make friends with other people. Having someone to experience ‘life’ with at such a young age makes life a little less scary. Friends help create memories that you won’t forget. As time went on, through me moving across the county when my parents divorced, going to different high schools, and her joining the Coast Guard as opposed to my enrolling in college, we have stayed close. Lara continues to be a blessing in my life. She supports me and my decisions and is here for me when I need her. I feel very lucky to have a friend who was a part of my earliest childhood memories and now our children will have the same with each other. Click on the link for a video that pretty much sums up our childhood friendship(and our adult friendship if you really want to know the truth. Ha!)… particularly at 1:26. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5MAYw_77_o&feature=related