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Challenge: What makes a family?

BEING A MOTHER

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This past Mother's Day, I asked myself what it truly means to be a mom? And nearly six months later, as I celebrated my 41st birthday, I found myself contemplating this same question once again. A few months ago, I might have said being a mother means to make your children laugh and to teach them what's important in life. But now, having faced both the joy and the pain of being a mother, I answer differently. It is to make today a happy day - as if there were no tomorrow. To radiate love to your children every day. To give every bit of yourself for the life of your child.

While my two beautiful children and my one-of-a-kind husband took the time to shower me with lots and lots of love this past week, I couldn't help but think about how amazing my own mother is. After all, she is the reason why my family and I are able to celebrate this special day together. My mother is an incredible woman. She has allowed me the space to grow into the person I am today, giving me the necessary guidance to direct me when I was lost. She encourages me in whatever I do and makes me feel strong and confident. She always gives me hope in even the darkest moments. And most importantly, she has shown me through her actions that her love for me is constant and nothing comes before your child. Nothing. When I have really needed someone, my mom has shown up. Not a month later, not a week later, not even a day later. Right then, when I've needed it most she is there. Always. And the times I've needed someone were often the times that were most inconvenient for her. That's just how it goes. But each time she's managed to put everything aside to be there for me. And the list isn't short.

When I shattered my ankle and went through excruciatingly painful surgeries, she fed me and bathed me for weeks. When my water broke 3 months before my due date she was in Colorado by my side within hours distracting me with stories and giving me reasons to have hope. When I went into labor with both Mila and Azlan, she was there before leaving for the hospital and there to watch my babies come into this world. And when Mila was admitted to the hospital in December, my mom was in the room with us that same day. She stayed for two months to hold together our family and help me put one foot in front of the other, showing Mila and Azlan my love every day. All of this while holding a full-time job and putting her money toward the care we need for Mila.

So when people ask me how I find the courage and energy and drive to put together a clinical trial to save my daughter's life, to attempt to raise millions of dollars in one year and to try my best to be in the moment with my kids and my family - it's because of my mom.

So thank you, mommy, for giving me life and so much more. Thank you for instilling in me the love, strength, courage, and hope I never knew I would need to rely on so greatly. Thank you for being my mom. Thank you for being my family.

Julia - Mila and Azlan's mommy, and my mommy's daughter

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