As a young girl, I often found myself daydreaming about the future, envisioning a family with three sons.
The reasons behind this dream were a puzzle to me—perhaps a reflection of a lack of close female friends during my youth. Strangely, the math worked out perfectly, with the other significant man in my life making it four men in the household, leaving me as the lone girl. The symmetry with my favorite number, 8 divided in half, played a role, making the dream feel even more compelling. Regardless of its origin, I knew what I desired: a marriage to a wonderful, supportive, and loving man with three sons.
My childhood home was a place where emotions struggled to find expression, stifling the natural spectrum meant to be felt and shared. Emotions, intricately designed by God for various beautiful reasons, were tools unknown in our household for showing love, processing difficult feelings, and learning to regulate emotions during prickly circumstances. Sadly, many women share similar stories of growing up in emotionally stifled homes, likely influenced by their parents' own upbringing during challenging times like wartime, where emotional expression wasn't a priority.
Transitioning into parenthood, my ambition was clear: to provide something better for my own children. However, the road to becoming the parent I dreamt of being was a challenging one, encompassing the entire span of their upbringing. I fervently hoped that my efforts to break the cycle of fear, anxiety, and emotional neglect wouldn't inadvertently harm them. Despite the occasional stumbles, I continue to learn and evolve, drawing wisdom from the very sons who bring joy to my life.
My sons, with their humor, intelligence, kindness, and openness about their feelings, have been both a source of frustration and my fiercest champions. Their tough love approach, while sometimes difficult to appreciate, has been instrumental in propelling me forward on the journey to becoming the mother and woman I always aspired to be.
Cullen, my eldest, possesses a remarkable ability to forgive. His forgiveness extended to my husband and me, forgiving our early parenting missteps during his tumultuous teenage years. In those early days, we were navigating uncharted waters, struggling to connect with a generation we seemed to have skipped over in our own upbringing. Cullen's journey, including time spent in a cult, taught me the art of unconditional love and prompted me to embrace the role of a different, better mother.
Ian, my middle-born, shares my stubbornness, and his emotional resilience is channeled into humor. He is my quiet, observant funny man with a keen mind. His patience, often mistaken for indecision, unveils itself in perfectly timed decisions, such as the meticulous planning of his beautiful backyard that he and his wife, Elexus labored in love to create—a setting filled with memories of his wedding reception and moments of love and laughter.
Noah, my youngest, carried his own challenges from first grade clinginess to teenage reluctance. Yet, through love and logic, we found ways to navigate these moments together. He and his wife, Taylor, have gifted us a beautiful granddaughter, Addy, a testament to redemption and the chance to love better in the next generation.
Our family isn't complete without John, the father and glue holding us together. Despite his upbringing lacking in love and affection, he evolved into the biggest champion of love and commitment for our family. John's faith, forgiveness, and grace shaped our family, fostering respect and acceptance for all who entered our home.
As the DammGirl, I've learned to trust men through the kindness and forgiveness of my sons. They've taught me the value of time, the importance of laughter, the tough love of truthfulness, and how to view the world with new eyes, wisdom, and understanding. Their generosity, patience, and individual strengths inspire me daily, and I look forward to sharing a thousand stories about each one as they continue to amaze me.
For years, I grappled with feelings of inadequacy and depression, stemming from childhood issues that surfaced during my lowest moments. I continue to seek forgiveness from my sons, who, in turn, teach me the art of self-forgiveness. Their ability to accept and forgive fuels my own journey towards healing and growth.
Proudly, I can say I climbed out of a pit fueled by the desire for my family to experience a better emotional upbringing than I did. My family has become my support, holding me up during moments of despair. Through their encouragement and love, I've overcome shame and am grateful for the resilience that has emerged.
As I playfully introduce myself as a life coach, jokingly declaring I'm the only DammGirl in a house filled with DammSons, I can now add a few new DammGirls to the mix. Elexus, Taylor and Addy.
It's an honor to be part of this incredible road to healing, guided by my amazing men. God heard the prayers of a lonely little girl, longing for a family that loves, forgives, and desires connection. Not everyone experiences such a relationship with their children, making it a great honor to continually work on how I show up for my family, understanding the importance of unconditional love and grace.
Copyright: © Shel Dammann 2023