‘We would take them no matter what.’: Mother of special needs children tries to relinquish Godmother duties from best friend, she refuses, ‘It doesn’t need to be discussed’

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“There’s a thirteen-year age gap between me and my brother, but what really exists within that space is a lot of differences. I was an angsty middle schooler when he was born—more concerned with friendships than formula feeding—and by the time he started Kindergarten, I was off to college.

So, for many years I held the status of being an only child and the personality traits that accompany that still exist within me. I like organization and independence and can turn on my extroversion just long enough before I retreat to my bed and binge watch Bravo.

But I always envied the deep relationships I saw women form, especially when it came to sisterhood. There was something so comforting in knowing another human being not only had your back but understood you in your entirety.

I didn’t have enough gusto to join a sorority during my college years (again, recovering only child), but what I did do was stumble upon a co-worker—while slinging baby back ribs at a BBQ restaurant—who seemed familiar and safe and became a good friend.

Fast forward fifteen years later and we are sisters.

Courtesy Stephanie Hanrahan

I use the term sisters because ‘friends’ feels inadequate at this point. Over the last decade and a half, we’ve gone from football games and crowded bars to wedding vows and births. She was there when I found my husband unconscious on the floor and when my children were diagnosed with autism. We’ve supported each other through deaths and infertility, and also laughed so hard we’ve leaked. We live states away, but we always manage to get on a plane at least twice year—even during our children’s infancy years. She arguably knows more about me than even my own spouse.

We are sisters. Not by blood, but by bond.

Courtesy Stephanie Hanrahan

It took me awhile to realize that we’re not just born into families; we can create them too. We can search for the people that feel precious and whole and make them a priority. We can share holidays with them and secrets no one else knows. This level of friendship requires a great deal of vulnerability and it isn’t immediate. It starts with a seed of trust and blooms into an indivisibility. Before you know it, you have shared history and she’s the godmother of your children.

Courtesy Stephanie Hanrahan

Before my children were born, we agreed that my best friend, my sister of the soul, would be their godmother. But after they were both diagnosed with autism, I felt the overwhelming urge to free her from that responsibility. Taking on two children is a lot. Taking on two children with special needs even more. She didn’t agree to autism—none of us did.

So, I messaged my sister and told her that although I thought she was highly capable, and there was nowhere else my children should go, she didn’t have to bear the responsibility of being their godmother anymore.

I could barely get my text out before she responded with so much certainty it brought me to tears.

‘It doesn’t need to be discussed. We would take them no matter what.’

We are sisters. Not by blood, but by bond.

Courtesy Stephanie Hanrahan

I often think about what will happen when I’m gone. What kind of legacy am I leaving behind to my children? Will they even remember their mother and all of her intricacies? My husband is an incredible man, but he isn’t the most observant. He can barely remember my Taco Bell order, let alone pass down all my stories and scars. But, that’s the benefit of having a sister: They are a witness to your life.

People call their husbands their soul mates, but I like to reserve that right for my sissy. She was the first one to see my real self (and my mushy, postpartum body) and say, ‘So what? I love you anyhow.’ She taught me that even as alone as we feel sometimes, at any second someone can appear, ready and willing to relate.

Ready and willing to become family.

Courtesy Stephanie Hanrahan

There is nothing like a sister. Someone who makes you laugh uncontrollably and feel understood with no words at all. Someone who you can do nothing with and have it feel like everything. A woman who will stand with you in the storm, or sit on the floor with your children, taking them as her own.

If you don’t have a sister, it’s never too late to create one.

Because some are by blood.

And some are by bond.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Stephanie Hanrahan. Follow Stephanie on Facebook here, Instagram here and visit her website here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Stephanie here: 

‘My Son’s teacher recently friended me on social media. I came upon a picture of her holding a chalkboard sign that read, ‘I said YES!’ She’s already married, so it struck me as odd.’

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