Mom: Molly Dixon, Overland Park, Kan.
Nominated by: Erin Miller, cousin
Having young kids in general is a constantly challenging (though amazing and rewarding) job, even without extra hurdles to leap over. My cousin, Molly, has had innumerable hoops to jump through during her 5 and a half years as a young mom, and watching her continue to walk forward with grace, patience and honesty has been a beautiful thing to witness.
Any mom of multiples could tell you that life moves at an entirely different pace when you have more than one baby at the same time. Molly gave birth to two energetic twin boys in January 2010. After a stay in the NICU and some other early complications, she decided it was too much to try to balance working as a genetic counselor and stayed home with her boys. Molly’s mom, my Aunt Mary, essentially moved in with Molly, her husband, Adam, and the boys to help with middle of the night feedings, going to doctor appointments, changing diapers, and afternoon snuggles. Motherhood was something that Molly experienced with her own mom by her side. Because my Aunt Mary was kind of superwoman, she made the transition to parenthood much more fun and smooth for Molly. Aunt Mary got so much joy from her role in helping raise the boys, and it was such sweet bonding time for her and Molly.
In fall of 2012, Molly found out she was pregnant again, this time with a little girl. It was a rough pregnancy with a lot of sickness of every kind, and even a cancer scare. But with help from her mom, somehow life was still pretty smooth. Late in March, my aunt went to a specialist because she had been feeling weak. Molly was only a couple of weeks away from her due date and trying to think positive. But symptoms were progressing, and the faces on doctors were becoming more sobering. Molly gave birth to Nora on April 7. I remember sitting in the hospital room with her, while she was trying to enjoy the new life in her hands and simultaneously deal with deep fear of losing her mom. Only two days later, my aunt was officially diagnosed with ALS. I remember Molly saying to me that she didn’t know if she could be a mom without her own mom. I reassured her in that moment that every quality that her mom had that made her a super mom was also in Molly.
My aunt’s symptoms progressed incredibly rapidly. That January, I had traveled with her to watch K-State play in the Fiesta Bowl. Everything was 100% fine. By mid-April, she was walking with a walker. Then came the wheelchair. And soon after, the power chair showed up in their home. The whole time, Molly was split between recovering from having a baby, caring for a newborn, being the mom of her three-year-old twins, and trying to spend as much time as possible with her mom as her weakness progressed daily, and she began to lose the ability to speak clearly, walk, and even eat. It was so sudden and shocking for our whole family, and because of the closeness of their relationship and the fact that my aunt was with her every single day, being a mom with her, Molly was hit as hard as anyone. On June 6, just under two months after officially being diagnosed, my aunt passed away suddenly from a pulmonary embolism. It’s hard to describe the grief that I still feel thinking about my aunt, but the way it has so devastatingly impacted Molly’s life, and the life of her kids, is challenging and painful to understand.
I still think about what I told Molly that day in the hospital and how much more deeply I believe it now. She has gone through deep grief in the midst of raising three really little kids, and she still manages to be a creative, fun, incredibly loving and gracious mom. She’s not afraid to show her imperfections and to be vulnerable and honest about grieving and struggling — she has never swept that under the rug. And she has done such a good job of communicating with her boys about losing their sweet grandma. It’s hard to answer questions about death to anyone, but especially three-year-old boys who loved their grandma so much.
In the middle of it all, she has lived with joy – the real kind that runs deeper than surface happiness. As I await the arrival of my own first baby, I think even more about the grace that Molly walks in to live well in the middle of so much life chaos, and I am so grateful for her example.
Voting for the KCMB Mother of the Year award begins at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 2 and closes at 10 p.m. Tuesday, May 5. The mom with the most votes will be awarded our Mother of the Year prize package. Congratulations to all our finalists.