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When I Grow Up


Childhood Cancer Awareness month has come and gone and now its October and you didn't really hear from me last month. All I can say is that our lives changed a lot last month and I could/can barely keep up. (Some of you may laugh or scoff at me, because I know there are lots of busier, both-parent-working-families out there.) I felt terribly about it all month as I saw many around me post reminders about how cancer affects children. I certainly felt how it still affects us, but I just didn't have it in me to shout it out to the world. I feel awful that I didn't, not sure if it was right or wrong, but it was. As with anything, all we have is today, so here I am, writing today.

As I said last month (and August, really) brought on a lot of changes for us. Amelia started preschool 3 days a week, I went back to work, I started a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training course, and we went to work on trying to finish up the paperwork for starting a foundation in Wayland's honor (The Wayland Villars DIPG Foundation). For me, who has taken the last few years as a stay-at-home mom, its been an adjustment, Ben and Amelia included. Anyway, there are a few reasons that I bring all of that up: one is to apologize for neglecting my friendships. I am sorry that I haven't been there for many of you that I call friend. Two, I have so much admiration for the families that have working parents. I don't know how you do it. Also, I wanted to bring up this picture that I posted above. So many of you out there take such creative pictures of your kids on their first days of school. I copied your idea and did it with Amelia this year (I wish I would have done it with Wayland). My favorite part is her answer to "when I grow up I want to be" - "like WAYLAND." She made me so proud when she said that. I didn't que her, I asked her what she wanted to be, for example, a ballerina or a doctor. And she answered, "like Wayland." So I smiled, I cried and wrote it in for her. I was struck all week by that answer. It seemed so profound for Amelia to think of that answer. In truth I think that all the time. Starting yoga, a foundation, and relearning my job as a labor and delivery nurse, I feel overwhelmed and scared a lot. Everytime I have those feelings I think of Wayland and how often he must have been scared to get poked or go under anasthesia for scans or radiation or how it must have felt to die. But he was always brave enough to do it willingly in the end. Therefore, if my 4 year old Wayland was brave enough to overcome his fear, I believe that I can too.

I've continued to think of this idea of "when I grow up" often since then. We were all asked that question as children. I know I wanted to be a doctor, a veteranarian, an astronaut, and a ballerina all at different points in my childhood. And now, I continue to think that some day I still want to aspire to dreams that I still have. I think, when I grow up, I'd love to go to culinary school or be an author or start my own business or move to a tropical island. But then it occured to me, maybe we're answering the question wrong. Its great to have goals and we should have them, but maybe we should be answering the question like Amelia answered, what do I want to be "like" first. We should be thinking of the qualities or virtues we want, not the success or recognition. For example, do you notice that most of the time we define ourselves primarily by what we do or even our roles in society. And those definitions are all true, but are they the most important? Should we not first have the goals of being loving and truthful and as I said above, brave? The last few months Wayland was alive, he loved the movie Pinocchio (as well as Baby E.). There is a line in that movie that I love, when the fairy says to Pinocchio, "to become a real boy, you have to prove yourself to be brave, truthful, and unselfish..." Doesn't that say it all? Those three qualities sum it up for me and how we should act as adults. We can go even deeper and say, some day I want to go to heaven, so not only am I going to strive to be brave, truthful and unselfish, I'm going to believe and trust that God is a loving Father and I know he will take care of me and give me everything that I need even though it is hard to accept. I fail in my attempt at these virtues all the time, but at least it brings me back to center, to what is really important. Maybe its good for all of us to step back from time to time to think, what is it that I really want to be like when I grow up. From the mouths of babes! We never stop learning from children do we?

Before I close, I want to mention a few things. I think we're all aware that October is Breast Cancer awareness month. I know several women affected by breast cancer and it is so important to remember our screenings as women and to support those around us diagnosed with this disease. But I also want to mention that October is Down Syndrome Awareness month as well. This is an important one for us as my nephew, Alex, has Down Syndrome. I see the daily challenges he faces and the struggle my sister goes through to offer him everything he needs socially, mentally and physically. I know its hard for us to wrap our minds around all the needs and struggles out there, but its good sometimes to remember some of the daily challenges others have to go through and support them if we have the opportunity. Maybe this month it can be your way of being unselfish. Just a thought. ...Lots of love to you sweet and mischievious, Alex!

sending love from Indy,

Amber, always Wayland's Mommy

PS. Jutella stands for a Jelly and Nutella sandwich. Its Amelia language:)

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My original endeavor was to share our story of losing a child to a brain tumor and our journey to help find a cure for pediatric brain cancer. That is not changing, but our journey is. Let me take you along. 

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