Parenting,  Personal Writing

The wisdom in his eyes

When I was working on my talk with Jess Buchanan, we realized together that the sections of Mazz’s fall into alcoholism and our climb back out didn’t fit the overall story arc, so I removed it. I was, frankly, a bit relieved, because that’s not only my story to tell, and we want to continue to find more ways to tell it together.

Jess said, “This is your and Quinn’s story.”

And she said it in such a simple way that it brought tears to my eyes.

When I think about my early years as a mom, this picture is most often what springs to mind. My big smile, both sharing my pride and joy and trying to mask all the fear of failure, the stress of single parenting, being back in school and financially insecure, the disappointment over not being a movie star. And Quinn’s serious, confident gaze at the camera.

No matter how up and down I was, Quinn never wavered. He’s been steady as a rock since his first breath. This picture sums up my frantic energy and his quiet understanding that he, too, would carry some of the weight. That we would truly be partners in this adventure we embarked upon together.

Sometimes I feel guilty that I leaned on him so heavily, but I couldn’t have done all that I did without him and his independence and sense of duty to our little household. The fact that he safely arrived 4 1/2 weeks early tells me he knew I needed him long before I did.

Of all the things I’m grateful for, and that list is lengthy!, the fact that I was so distraught I never made a concrete decision about the arrival of this little unplanned person ranks right up there. That decision was made for me when Quinn arrived and there was no alternative plan in place.

I certainly don’t pretend that I didn’t parent Quinn, or that I didn’t have a significant role to play in his development and life, but I can honestly say he brought as much or more to my own development and life at every single turn, and I’m grateful for who I am today because of this bright, serious, steady little boy and the incredible man he’s become.

December 1997. Quinn is 23 months, and I am nearly 25.

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.

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