We have heard it all. Since opening up about our story over 3 years ago, there have been a plethora of responses. People tend to be fascinated by stories of human suffering, yet they can have a strong reaction toward the pain of others. Since we have 2 medically fragile children that have had dozens of surgeries, hospital stays and rare complications, our story is particularly unique. At times I can barely believe it’s real when I say it out loud.

I created a private Facebook community a few years ago to update friends and family on the status of my sons. It became overwhelming and emotional to update each person individually and something very special grew out of that community. We met other special needs families that have guided us through the medical processes, we have received thousands of prayers, we have been supported with meals and tangible help, but the best part was having a safe place to be vulnerable and real about the extreme highs and lows of living in a state of constant crisis. It also chronicled a story and timeline so I could look back and remember that emotions are fleeting and when I’m in the pit of despair, it will soon pass. That community has turned in to so much more than I could have ever imagined.

Of course we have learned some hard lessons. While most of our community has been loving, supportive, prayerful and completely empathetic, there have been negative responses. It’s part of life and part of exposing vulnerability. I recently received a hateful message from a former teacher that I admired so much as a child. She accused me of having Munchhausen, a rare mental illness where mothers fabricate illnesses and intentionally make their children sick for attention. At times they even kill their own kids. The message said many horribly hurtful things and despite knowing how off base it was; words still hurt. No matter how much it may seem that our life is a made up soap opera drama—for us, it is our everyday reality.

The judgement trickles in and we are good at letting it roll off our backs. Yet there is always a theme we hear. An underlying word that seems to really bother people.


“They are just talking about all of this for attention.”
“Why do they keep having kids? They can barely take care of their own.”
“If they really loved their kids they wouldn’t be keeping them alive.”
“This is a burden to your life.”
“If it were my kids in the hospital, I would take it seriously and not be going out to dinners.”
“Other people have problems too and they don’t try to get so much attention for it.”

Can we all do something right now? Let’s stop making ATTENTION a dirty word. I remember a counselor told us once that the best way to prevent PTSD is to openly talk about our experiences. Bottling it up is detrimental to our health. Seeking attention means reaching out to your community and allowing them to go past the surface. Every time you share a photo of your children, shed a tear at your moms group, yell at your spouse that you feel lonely, write a post on social media, raise awareness for a cause you care about; you are seeking the direct focus of love and support. That is an incredibly beautiful thing.

I have experienced some of the hardest things a mother can, yet I desperately try to maintain happiness. I can only do this with constant attention. I need attention when my husband wraps his loving arms around me. I need my friends to come along side me and feel each triumph and pitfall as they come. I need a virtual community to hear and encourage me as I share so many difficulties. I need the attention and focus of others to recognize when I need space, or a play date, or coffee, or a prayer, visit, meal, call to a congressman. I need attention when I would rather be alone because spending too much time in solitude while combating depressing and traumatic experiences is dangerous.

And friends. Fellow moms. Special needs families. Grieving parents. I need you to know…


My eyes are on you. My heart is with you. I feel what you feel. You will never feel shamed by me.

And by the way, if you need a new friend—I’m all yours. If you need to dance on tables and need a cheering crowd—my voice will be the loudest. If you need to fight your insurance company—my momma bear claws are out. If you need to get stuff off your chest—vent away. Ask for my attention and you shall receive.

For those that look for attention to celebrate your joys and embrace your sorrows, you are doing it the right way. Life wasn’t meant to be done alone. Attention is a good word. I’m proud to bring attention to my beautiful life and feel honored that people have chosen to consider us.

Yes I am doing this for attention. Yes my sons deserve to have their lives shared because they remind us to come alive and appreciate, giggle and find beauty in differences. 

Originally published on the author’s blog 

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Allison Lefebvre

Allison Lefebvre is the author of An Upward Reckoning and mommy to 3 beautiful boys. Her 2 youngest sons have the most severe form of Spina Bifida and live with life limiting complications. Allison uses her faith, humor and writing to choose joy through difficult circumstances. 

Your Youngest Child Will Always Be Your Baby

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood

The baby of our family is no longer a baby.  She turned five this year. She talks a mile a minute, rides her scooter on one leg with no hands, and is learning to read. She’s sweet and creative and has the best sense of humor that makes me belly laugh daily. She has long, strong legs, and her round toddler cheeks have morphed into something more mature. All remnants of babyhood and toddlerhood have long since gone from her. She is all little girl—a kid with the world at her fingertips, ready to explore everything life has to offer. I watch in wonder...

Keep Reading

I’m a Helicopter Mom Learning to Become the Place They Can Land

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Mother and child

My daughter places a paper in front of me on the kitchen counter, looking up at me expectedly. My eyebrows lift in question before reaching down to pick up the wrinkled sheet. Next to an empty line awaiting my check mark reads: My child has my permission to attend the field trip. The child is my kindergartener. The field trip is on a school bus. The school bus will travel into the city. Over an hour away. Without me. Two steps to my left sits a pink and yellow backpack. Next to it, a sequined lunchbox. The lunchbox is making...

Keep Reading

Six Feels So Much Bigger

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Little girl with horse, color photo

Six . . . Six is only one number more than five,  one grade, one year . . . but it feels so different. Five is baby teeth and new beginnings. Five is venturing out into the world, maybe making a friend. Meeting a teacher. Learning to ride a bike. Six took my breath away. Six looks like a loose front tooth—tiny and wiggly, soon to be replaced by a big tooth, one that will stay forever. Six looks like a bright purple bike zooming down the driveway. RELATED: When There Are No More Little Girls’ Clothes Six looks like playing...

Keep Reading

You Were Meant to Be Our Oldest

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Brother holding little sister on back

Dear oldest child, Thanks for taking one for the team. You’ve probably thought by now that Dad and I really have no idea what we are doing. You’re not wrong. Please don’t misunderstand, we have goals and ambitions as parents. We’re trying to raise you to be a healthy, positive, and contributing part of society. But you are—and have always been—our guinea pig. You are the test subject to this whole parenting thing. Each new phase you encounter brings another new phase of learning and growth. Unfortunately, with that comes growing pains, and you often take the brunt of those....

Keep Reading

The Bittersweet Reality of Your Baby Turning 5 Years Old

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Little girl lying on living room floor, color photo

Those first five. Those precious first five years have flown by. I blinked and here we are. I look back and think about all the times I wanted these days to go by faster. The times I couldn’t wait to get to bedtime. The days I wasted being irritable and angry because sometimes being a mom is just too hard. But now? Now, I wish I could have slowed it all down. Savored it a little longer. A little harder. That beautiful wild child who fought like hell from the moment she was born has been burning that fire ever...

Keep Reading

The Petrified-Squished-Spider Stage of Motherhood

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Bug squashed on windshield, color photo

There is a squished spider corpse dangling from the inside of my car windshield. I don’t know how long it has been there. Not because I don’t know when the time of death took place, but because I’ve lost track of the number of days it’s been a fellow passenger of ours. The burial service is past due. And a cleaning of my vehicle is so long overdue, if it were a library book I’d be banned from the library by now. When my husband removed his hat one evening while driving and used it as a spider swatter, he...

Keep Reading

Listen to Their Endless Chatter Now So They’ll Talk to You as Tweens and Teens

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mother and young daughter talking on the couch

I’m a talker. I’m a spill-the-beans, over-sharing, rambling on about my latest fascination chatterbox. I love words, and so do my kids. I’ve spent over a decade listening to my kids share—often, as they all talk at once. They go on and on about their day, rambling about how their sibling has been driving them nuts, their shenanigans with their friends, and never-ending factoids about video games. So many words, so many significant and yet simple thoughts brought to life in our bustling conversations.  Sometimes I love all the chatter, and sometimes the sheer volume of it drives me to...

Keep Reading

Dear Kindergarten Graduate, My Hand Will Always Be Yours to Hold

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood

Tomorrow you’ll graduate kindergarten. You chose the perfect shirt for the occasion. It’s a blue and white button-up. “Get one with big checkers, Mom, not little ones,” was your request. I know it’ll make your eyes pop from under your too-big red graduation hat. It’s going to be adorable. You’re going to be adorable.  You’ve been counting down the days. You’re ready and, truthfully, I am too—even though I’m so often in denial about how quickly this time with you is passing. Didn’t you just start crawling? How is it possible you’ll already be in first grade next year? RELATED:...

Keep Reading

You Were Made to Be My Oldest

In: Child
Mom and three kids

You are my firstborn. My big. The one who made me a mama. The one who started this whole crazy, beautiful roller coaster ride the day I found out you were on your way. I remember tip-toeing to the bathroom before the sun rose and taking a pregnancy test. The flutter of excitement in my heart turned into a flutter in my growing tummy within just a few short months. And now here you are, seven years old and more incredible than I imagined in all my wildest dreams. You amaze me every single day with your humor, kindness, and...

Keep Reading

I’m a Kindergarten Mom at the Bottom of the Hill

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Boy holding hands with his mother, color photo

The local elementary school is perched atop an obnoxious hill. It is customary for kindergarten parents to walk their children to the top of the hill as the rest of the grades, first through fifth, having earned their badge of capability and courage, walk alone. Car line is off-limits for kindergartners, which means it’s a walk in whatever weather, whenever school is in session type of vibe. My oldest misses car line. I miss it as well. It’s so simple, convenient, and most importantly, warm and waterproof. But my youngest is a kindergartner, so for the last several months we’ve...

Keep Reading