Bernadette A. Moyer

Books   P.E.A.C.E.   A Parent Dies   

Author, Writer, Blogger

What Love Does

What Love Does

By Bernadette A. Moyer

Love makes everything better it just does! A loving heart looks for more love and less conflict. Often I have a bird’s eye seat into the “love” that couples share just before they are about to be married. You can sense right away who will have staying power and who is coming into the union full of problems and conflicts.  

I have been blessed with all of the weddings that I have officiated, there was love and it was everywhere. It permeated all around them. No matter what they faced their response was love. It sounds so simple but it is so true.

They had their eyes on the bigger picture; it was all about sealing their union in marriage and much less about where they were getting married, what food and what guests would be there. The overriding sense was happy.

Even conflicts were met with love and genuine happiness. I remember being that way myself when I married my husband Brian. I knew it was right because I had peace in my heart, an open heart and zero interest in conflict. I was in my happy place and he was too. We didn’t need a lot of people or a big ta does, we knew that God had blessed us and we knew that together was better than being alone or with any others.

Today I heard from one of my favorite young people, she sent me a picture of her new ring. Her guy is really special to her. She knows it is right because they have known each other throughout school. Their union and their coming together just makes her beam. I first noticed it over the summer; she just looked thinner and lighter and beamed with happiness. It is amazing when you witness that kind of transformation in another person.  They don’t have to speak yet their aura says so much. They are genuinely happy and in love.

Life is tough! When you find that one person that is willing to walk it with you and they make you better just for being with them, you grab them and you respect them and you appreciate them.

Young love is the best “love” because it is new and clean and carries no baggage; it is free and clear and without an agenda. Real love transforms us all, it is the coming together of two souls that connect and inherently know that life is meant to be shared and shared together.

Some people will never know love because to know what love truly is you must first be able to love and accept yourself. Love starts from within; it grows from within and builds from there. I couldn’t be happier for my young friend; she is a loving, kind and giving person. Her smile lights up the room, she is accomplished in her own rite and yet paired with the right guy, and she is even happier, healthier and better. That’s what love does!

Love just makes everything in life sweeter and everyone in our life better …

— 2 days ago
Adopting a Child and Becoming “Mom”

Adopting a Child and Becoming “Mom”

By Bernadette A. Moyer

In 1992 I met my husband when I was asked to babysit his infant babies so that he could attend the funeral of his 29 year old wife. After delivering twins she died. He literally had all three of his family, his twins and his wife on life support when she passed away.

Everyone in my office knew my daughter and witnessed just how close we were, she was a pre-teen at the time at just 11 years old. I always loved children and worked as a camp counselor for more than 5 summers at two different camps. I was also an older sister to three young siblings. My first “job” was babysitting and when I became CPR trained and a “Candy Striper” at our local hospital, my list of babysitting opportunities grew.

Taking on and “adopting” twins who had a mother pass away absolutely touched my heart. My own daughter had her father die when she was 2. My thoughts were, “Life is tough enough without at least having a mother.”

Kids rule! As they did in our house and I remember the early years with my husband Brian when he would state that, “I am not even on the totem pole; I am the guy at the bottom who holds it up.” He felt that most all my attention went to my daughter and the infant twins who were just 87 days old when I began caring for them.

In being pre-mature they had numerous extra sight and hearing tests and often were below scale on most tests performed by their pediatrician. There were concerns over their developmental delays and when school started so did their many educational challenges. We brought in tutors and often they were in support classes. In third grade the teachers recommended retention.

I recall the concerns about their ability to attach since they went for weeks without being held and surviving in an incubator, their birth mother never held them, fed them or changed their diaper. There are no photos that exist of her holding them or being with them. There was never any bonding time because she passed away so soon.

The female twin was unresponsive for almost a year to any hugs or loving touches. It was on her first birthday where you could hug her and she would finally hug you back. For months with all the tubes and the pricks of being in the hospital and on life support, the early “touches” they experienced had pain associated with it.

Raising my own daughter was easy for the many years she lived at home as she excelled in school and I seldom was called with any concerns or behavior problems. With the twins I was called almost every other day, one child had emotional concerns and one had educational concerns. It was a lot to manage and their father really didn’t know what to do.

I found myself giving way and yielding to his decisions since he was their biological parent. Sometimes his decisions conflicted with what I would have done if it was my biological child.

We raised our kids understanding they had “parents in heaven.” Raising children is work; it is a ton of work. Trying to make a difference in another person’s life is a meaningful and selfless commitment.  

As with any child you never know what you are getting until they arrive and you never find out how you have done until they are grown up and raised.

Recently I asked a friend who wants a baby, “Why don’t you consider adoption?” Her response was swift; “I am not going to invest 18 years into a child so that they can turn around and at 18 say; “you are not my mother!” 

It happens often, kids are raised up by parents and then seek out their “real mom” or their “birth mom” and often disrespect the mom that actually was there for them. They minimize what “mom” did and they make her out to be much less than what she truly was so that they can justify their own actions.

Taking in another woman’s child and loving that child like they are your very own isn’t an act of an unloving person; it is an act of selfless giving and an open and loving heart.

When the twins were growing up, there was no other mother, she died. I was the mother, period. I always knew they would want to know about their birth mother and even though I never met her it was me who would try and share what I knew about her and ask their father to contribute to the dialogue too.

One day while in high school our daughter rushed in and said, “Mom guess what, when you were driving behind the school bus, my friend asked,  “is that your “stepmother” and I told her, “no that is my “only” mother, the only one I have ever known.” I was stunned but appreciated it.

Recently I have been reading case studies on adoptive kids that have an attachment issue and have all kinds of personality and adjustments issues. As parents we think we can overcome the many voids some children will have. But there is much discussion about “attachment disorder” from doctors who have studied the adoptive child. We know how important “bonding” is when a baby is born, what happens when a baby is born and never has the chance to attach to “mom” but for weeks after they are born?

Most teenage girls go through a rebellious phase and often that is directed at “mom” an adopted child has an extra weapon in her arsenal the one that says, “you aren’t my mother!” and worse.

At the end of the growing up years, parents look back at all the memories and all the experiences they shared with their children. All the places they went to all the family dinners shared and know that they gave it their all and only wanted the very best for their children. And biological child or adopted child, there is a tremendous amount of love and care that goes into raising children.  

     

— 6 days ago
Appreciating Our Parents

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Appreciating Our Parents

By Bernadette A. Moyer

Our parents are everything to us when we are kids. They are our first “teachers” and our first significant relationships. They are our first family. Many kids grow up and have a deep love and respect for their parents. They appreciate them. They get along and they are family.

And many adult children leave home and never fully appreciate their parents. Maybe some never really “get it” until they are parents themselves. I’ve often thought of those that criticize their own mother and father, how about holding off on that critique or criticism until you, yourself have invested 18, 20, 25 or more plus years in the life of a child.

Parenting can be so rewarding but it also can be a thankless and never ending relationship. A relationship where you may know the highest levels of pride along with the most stunning disappointments. There are never any guarantees.

Parents often take it on the chin, they become a target for their children when life throws these adult children a curve and when things don’t go their way. Kids get into trouble and need mom and dad to help them out.

When we hurt people, any people, including family members and yes that means “mom” and “dad” too, we have to be grown up enough to own what we have done and ask for forgiveness. When we grow up we own our actions instead of blaming others. At some point in our lives, we take responsibility for who we are and everything that we have done.

We don’t get to disrespect our parents, lie to them and lie about them and then sit back and wonder why they don’t rush in and offer us a hand when we are struggling. Relationships just don’t work that way.    

In my support group of estranged parents I hear all kinds of stories. Some kids don’t just grow up and leave home but want to burn the house down upon their exit. Often the stories shared are beyond what any parent ever imagined with they were raising little “Johnnie” who knew that all that love they had for their sons and daughters could one day be turned into such heart break.

Family fights that result in parents and grandparents that will never see their children or their grandchildren again. Kids that decide to punish mom and dad by their estrangement and then taking the grandchildren with them.

I wasn’t surprised when my mother “disowned” me, not really. I came to her and told her that her husband was a child abuser. She had two choices 1) believe me and leave him or 2) discredit me so that she could stay married to him. She chose the latter. It wasn’t about me. Her desire to stay with him superseded all else.

My life was NOT easier without my mother in my life. It just wasn’t! I don’t know any child, young or old whose life is easier without mom and dad. At what age does our life get easier without the love and support of our parents?

I always wanted my parents to be proud of me. I never wanted to hurt them or to disappoint them and in many ways I know that I exceeded their expectations. Maybe it wasn’t initially when I first left home but soon after. I remember my mother as an Administrator working at University of Maryland hospital. She wanted to play “matchmaker” and fix me up with a doctor. I don’t think she would have done that if she didn’t have a high opinion of me. And when I was a Realtor and just 26 years old I saved $8,000 to purchase my first home. I needed $5,000 more to close the deal and she loaned it to me. I paid her back early in just 10 months of the 1-year that I had promised.

Keeping that relationship respect worthy was important to me. Yet I know that I also caused them grief when at just 19 years of age I proclaimed, “I am getting married!” and married a man that was 15 years older. It wasn’t their choice but they stood by me. And less than 5 years later they would “stand by me” as I put him to rest and buried him.

I always appreciated my parents and I never did anything to outwardly hurt them. My mother was so hard working I never wanted to burden her so I took care of myself. My parents divorced and my dad went on to create a whole new family adding three more children to the five that he already had with my mom. He didn’t have much to give me but every time I visited him I left with money for gas and food. Often he gave me fruits and vegetables that he grew in his own garden. I appreciated it all.

In his death, he would leave me with two of his paintings.  They are cherished possessions. Just like the two slate top antique coffee tables that I own, they were gifts decades ago from my mother. I have a Fannie Farmer Cook Book that she gave to me in 1979 as a wedding anniversary gift for my first year of my marriage. These items wouldn’t really hold any value to most people but they do for me. They are gifts from my parents, parents who have died and I never stopped appreciating them and all the things they gave to me and tried to do to love and support me.

We mourn when they die, we grieve our loss. But what did we do when we had them in our lives? Did we appreciate them? And did we appreciate them … enough?

Many of my friends have lost their parents as they have passed away. They grieve the loss and feel the void. Others still have their parents and they continue to love them and support them. As we get older we have a greater sense on just how precious life is and how all our days here are numbered.

Parents aren’t perfect and neither are their children. My father was many things and many things that he did were hurtful to our family, and yet I never hated him, I tried to understand him. I never hated my mother either, I didn’t like the choice she made in staying married to a man, her second husband who was known to me as a child abuser. Her choice left me no choice and it wasn’t ideal.

Soon I will be celebrating my 55th birthday. I have been a parent since I was 21 years of age. That means that for 34 years I have been “mom” and in that time I did many things right, from breastfeeding to graduation from a highly respected private prep school to an Eagle Scout, our kids had numerous opportunities and many accomplishments. They were well supported. And when I fell short or was less than perfect, I still had peace in my heart knowing that most everything was done from my heart.

One day our parents will die and we will be left knowing that we either loved them and appreciated them and can feel good about that or we will be sorrowful for all the days, weeks, month and years when we chose not to embrace them.

 

— 1 week ago
Laughter and Tears

Laughter and Tears

By Bernadette A. Moyer

Like so many others, I am saddened to learn of the apparent suicide of actor Robin Williams. I had that same sad feeling over the untimely deaths of actors like Philip Seymour Hoffman and Heath Ledger. We hear these stories and we are shocked and think what a waste. They have so much to live for, how could they commit suicide or use drugs that ultimately resulted in a premature death. We have that same feeling when a 17 year old teen takes their life. All we can think to say is “why?” and they “have so much to live for?”

Yet everyday people both ordinary and extraordinary decide that life is no longer worth living. More than 38,000 American’s died of suicide in 2010. That same year suicide was the third leading cause of death for adolescents.    

Although I blog about most things, suicide has been one where for the most part I have stayed away from except in 1998 when I had a poetry book published with a poem titled “For David” that reads;

Why, you made us cry

Why, you did not have to die

You took your life

Now it is all our strife

We miss you so bad

We are so sad

Your daughter so beautiful

Your daughter so you

Why David why

What did you do?

His daughter is a grown woman now who yearns for the father that she will never know. We try and make sense of the senseless. We can’t comprehend it. But the reality of life is that it is not always easy. Things happen that can and do break our spirit.

To young people contemplating suicide what I would say is that whatever angst you are feeling it will pass, the beauty of life is that everything changes. Today’s sadness may well be tomorrow’s treasured happiness.

“We live in hope and we die in despair” Richard Scott Harris.  It seems that suicide is when hope has been replaced with despair. We may never fully understand it; it seems like a really bold move in killing oneself.

We have learned as a society to take suicide claims seriously and to support and get help anyone that is talking about suicide. I’ve heard it said that many of the funniest of comediennes are also some of the saddest individuals.

What we know for sure is that life isn’t always easy, that asking for what you need and speaking out when you come up short might make all the difference. It has been said that “suicide” is a “mental illness” I think we can group many things into the “mental illness” bin if we so desire but the bigger question is why would anyone from a hugely successful actor to a young teen just starting out ever believe that ending life prematurely is ever better than living life fully?

Through the years I have worked with many teens and been exposed to hopelessness and helplessness of people of all ages. We can treat for mental illness or depression but perhaps we should also use these deaths to look at how we act and how we react and how we treat our fellow brothers and sisters.

In a world that is full of darkness and fighting both externally and internally I still want to believe that love and care cure much that ails us.

Life is so fragile and we are all so vulnerable, love and acceptance over hurts, judgments and denial. If you know of anyone that is thinking about suicide please help them to help themselves. I’ve heard it said that if someone wants to die, to truly commit suicide there really is very little that can be done to stop them. I guess the question we all have as we face our mirror image is “what are we doing to care for ourselves? What are we feeding our hearts and our souls?”

Our “why” anyone would commit suicide may never be answered but we do live in hope. We must believe in better days and a better world and know that individually and collectively we have the power to bring in the light. When someone is weak and can’t see the light perhaps it is our job to help light their way. We are our brother’s keeper, we all feel the loss in actor Robin Williams deciding that his life was no longer worth living. The greater sadness knows that we don’t feel that way about him and yet he felt that way about himself.

“Laughter and tears are meant to turn the wheels of the same machinery of sensibility; one is wind-power; and the other water-power.” Oliver Wendall Holmes

To honor Robin Williams for all the laughter he fueled we pray that he rests in peace and that his family and friends find comfort in knowing that he leaves behind a body of work that is far greater than any single act that resulted in his death.  

Imagine if we focused more and more on love and hope and helped to light the way for those living in the darkness just how great this world  and could be …

— 1 month ago
Along the Way

Along the Way

By Bernadette A. Moyer

How many people will we meet along the way? How many experiences will be having along the way?

We hear the old phrase, “one door closes and another door opens.” Many times we must close out one endeavor so that we are afforded the opportunity of engaging in another. Simply put we must give up something to be in a position to accept something new.

I watched a woman fight back tears today and I heard her say, “I am doing my best to accept this.” Her Pastor was reassigned to another parish and will be leaving. I immediately could feel for her. Just four years earlier it was me who was fighting back the tears. That same Priest was leaving his assignment with me to move on to the parish that this woman attends. She has grown fond of him.

Today I watched him in action; he was different from how I remembered him. He was more mature, more embracing and much more open.   He wouldn’t have changed if not for moving about and going in a new direction. He closed one door and opened another; soon he will close his current door as he takes on a whole new challenge.

The same can be said for me, these past four years I have opened doors and I have closed doors. I have experienced much “along the way.”  

One of my favorite quotes is, “You will always miss 100 percent of the shots that you do not take.” Wayne Gretzky

Every life has a beginning and middle and an ending and in the final analysis our life will be about all that we encountered along the way. Letting go used to be so hard for me, like the classic Italian Momma I wanted to hang on and hang on tightly with much love and passion. And yet today there is very little that I am interested in hanging on to.

We hang on at the expense of NOT letting go and therefore we are closed off when what we truly need to do is be open and receptive to what is next. Life is a living and a moving thing; it is about the journey and not the destination.

People choose the path in their lives and often fall into either a victor or a victim. We claim our role by the choices we make along the way. Each choice has its own consequences and each choice opens up something often at the closing of something else.

And my new favorite quote about change is “May the bridges I burn light the way!” Dylan McKay

“20 years from now you will be disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the one’s you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

Here is to heading out and getting about and all that we experience “along the way.”

— 1 month ago