A couple of months ago, I talked about the evolution of Monday Mornings and Wednesday Evenings, a series that has been near and dear to my heart for the past two years, made possible by a sponsorship from Allstate.
We weren’t sure what we were going to call the series yet but we knew we were on a mission to find families with unique challenges who were willing to let us document an entire day in the life, some through video and some through photos.
Since then, we have been combing through the entries, interviewing prospects and selecting our final eight families which will be featured every other Friday starting on September 23rd.
We also finalized our name for the series. Due to the inspiring stories you all submitted, we decided to call the series “Extraordinary Families.” As soon as I explain a little about each family’s story, I think you will understand why.
Of course, every family is extraordinary in their own way but we tried our best to pick a variety of life events and circumstances to bring to life. Ultimately, we picked parents who had something they wanted to say about their particular situation— some who wanted to explain how their struggle is harder than other people realize and others who want people to know that their family is more typical than what outsiders might perceive.
Rather than explain to you what makes each of these families so extraordinary, I thought I would let them tell you in their own words.
The following are quotes lifted from the comments submitted by each mother:
“I am a single mother in a small town with two kids, a two-year-old girl who is currently nonverbal and and a five-year-old boy with high functioning autism. My family owns a dog grooming shop and I take the kids with me to work every day to avoid paying for childcare. We stick to a routine (a fun chaotic one) and hope for the best right now.”
“Being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer (bile duct cancer) at my age has made every aspect of my life challenging, but especially being a parent to a very active toddler. We have very little routine at this point because I have to be flexible with treatment, tests and procedures. As a family, we’ve been dealing with this for almost 2 years. There are days I don’t feel well enough to get out of bed but I force myself too. I put on a happy face for my three-year-old son. Ultimately, I want to give other people hope. I want other parents dealing with cancer or a terminal illness to know they aren’t alone.”
“We live on a 1.1 million acre ranch where my husband is cowboss. Our daughter, Sam, and I ride horseback with him 3-5 days a week. Sam has her own horse named Nacho and she is quite a skilled cowhand, for a four year-old. Some days are tough. When a four year-old is DONE with the day, it’s hard to say ‘tough luck: we still have another three mile ride back to the horse trailer’ but sometimes that’s the way it goes.”
“We have two boys (ages 5 and 2) and 1-month-old twin girls. In addition to the new arrival of baby twins, our 5-year-old has cerebral palsy as well as many other medical needs. He uses a wheelchair and and other medical equipment. Unusual pieces of our daily rhythm include assembling and blending his special tube-fed “smoothies”, welcoming the nurse who rides the wheelchair-accessible bus with him to school, and practicing with his ipad communication system. The twins are so little that we are still very much in the process of figuring out a sustainable schedule for our little tribe, but they are a sweet, happy bunch!”
“We have four boys and my husband is in the Air Force, currently deployed to Korea for a year. We homeschool our oldest so that he can participate in additional practices offered for his gymnastics team. We’ll be adding in our second son this August. Our 6 year-old will continue at the elementary school on base, and our youngest will start preschool. I also run my own custom sewing business from home and take martial arts in addition to teaching a class for kids once a week. Keeping extremely busy helps us pass the time while he’s gone.”
“I have three-year-old triplets! Two boys and one girl. They are very different from each other but go through ‘growing pains’ at about the same time. Think new phases and challenges x3, like potty training and transitioning to big beds all at once. My husband and I both worked full-time, but I quit my accounting job after the kids were born because it made more sense to stay home with them than daycare for three!”
“We have very flexible work situations, which means each day can look slightly different. My husband works in government consulting and I am currently taking a break from work as a professor and professional counselor, trying to start my own private practice. Our boys (five and one) were both adopted domestically and the bond they share is amazing. A unique challenge our family has is incorporating our children’s birth cultures into our lives.”
“We have two girls, Rosalie (3 years old) and Madeleine (2 months old). Rosalie has Down Syndrome which a lot of people think makes us different than them, but Rosie goes to dance class, swimming lessons, loves to play outside in the garden, etc. Her communication is delayed, so we do a lot of signing, but that’s probably the biggest difference. People are often surprised to find that we are delightfully ordinary.”
I hope you are as excited as I am to start rolling out these stories in the coming weeks. Cooper Miller, our videographer and photographer has already started traveling to the hometowns of the families to capture their day to day and I have been floored with what I have seen so far.
As always, a huge thank you must be extended to Allstate for wanting to give families a platform to talk about the triumphs and trials of their daily lives. As an insurance company dedicated to keeping families in good hands, I can tell you that they value this series greatly within their company. It is our third year working together and I could not be more trusting of their intentions and our alignment. They are an excellent partner and know how much my readers value this series as well.
I certainly hope that these stories come together in a way that all the families featured are proud to be a part of. I feel a great responsibility for getting this right.
This post is part of the “Extraordinary Families” series sponsored by Allstate. “Extraordinary Families” aims to show what life is like, sun up to sun down, for families facing (and overcoming!) unique and challenging circumstances. As the nation’s largest publicly held insurance company, Allstate is dedicated to protecting what matters most.