There is a universal need to connect to other people who are in the same season of life. The more I hear the stories of others, the more it helps me make sense of my own.
Loving You Big is now accepting nominations for the new Spotlight Series, an interview celebrating the joys and struggles of parenthood. If you have a story to share or would like to nominate a special parent you know, please click the link below.
Parenting Spotlight: Jason Ganns
A story to teach the bond between parent and child has nothing to do with birth
When you become a parent, you expect to set limits, manage complex emotions, and provide unconditional love. You cannot prepare for your child smuggling a live scorpion past TSA on a family trip home from Tucson, Arizona. Yet, this was the very scenario Jason Ganns found himself in with his teenage son, Harley.
Jason, and his husband, Robb, first accepted Harley into his home as an emergency foster placement. At the time, Harley was fourteen years old. Through many acts of faith and love, Harley became their adopted son through mutual agreement. The family invited their loved ones to attend a “forever family” celebration, unifying the bond between Harley and his fathers. These devoted parents have embraced a non-traditional journey of family, and continue to navigate co-parenting, even through divorce.
Harley lovingly calls Jason, “Daddy Bro,” as a result of the sixteen year age difference between them. While both father and son learned to navigate their new family dynamics, Jason, a determined and devoted father, served as Harley’s advocate to ensure his educational needs were met. Harley proudly graduated from high school with training in auto-mechanics.
Jason has been nominated by his mother, Cathy. Her son and grandson have taught her, “love is love is love and the bond of parent and child sometimes has nothing to do with birth.”
Parenting Spotlight: Julianna Swanson
A story of love and chaos: raising three boisterous boys and a coy cat
With each addition of their beautiful family, Julianna has learned something new about parenthood. When her oldest son Callahan was born, she assumed as a first time mother that his challenging behaviors were typical. The sleep issues he faced, the extreme clinginess, and the avoidance of several foods, toys, and activities were just the behavior of a finicky baby. Even the pediatrician agreed, stating that every baby would develop in their own time and there was no need to worry. However, Julianna began to notice the extreme tantrums, head banging, and floor licking were not the behaviors of a boy his age. Again, Julianna was practically laughed out of the doctor’s office when she addressed these concerns. The baby is meeting milestones. Stop worrying so much.
Determined to learn the best ways to support her son, Julianna was not deterred by this flippant response. She received another opinion who encouraged her to seek an evaluation with Early Intervention. Callahan’s sensory issues were recognized and he began weekly sessions with both occupation and physical therapists. Now, at age six, Callahan’s behaviors have improved and he is learning to navigate his space. However, the pandemic has caused his routine to shift, exacerbating his anxiety, and causing several meltdowns or arguments daily. Julianna has become a master of listening to his frustration and absorbing his tears.
While working to meet Callahan’s needs, Julianna is also caring for her two younger children, Braden and Conor. She is continually working to remember she is a person despite her role as a caregiver. “Even though it is a simple concept, remembering we are people outside of being parents, it feels impossible to act on.”
Despite her experience as a mother, Julianna recognizes parenting does not in fact get easier, despite any advice she may have received. “You will get to know your child better and be able to adapt to whatever challenges they’re going through but I wouldn’t say it gets easier.” And to those parents navigating a home with young children, Julia wasn’t to dispel a common parenting adage. “Oh, and nap when the baby naps. That is a terrible one. Come on – when would I get my dishes done?”
Coming Soon: A new Memoir!
I am finishing up working on my memoir, Loving You Big. I am excited to be working with The SJ Literary group and Jennifer Frank to find the book a good home.
You can reach Jen at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will keep you posted.
Look here for more upcoming information.
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