What I’ve Learned From the Strong Women in My Life

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by Jackie Babiarz |

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It’s no wonder that Cammy, my 13-year-old daughter with Rett syndrome, is a superhero. She comes from a long line of strong women.

The superpower of Kim, my oldest sister, stems from her love of learning. She is the most incredible early childhood teacher I’ve ever known. Her ability to connect with children and pull out the best in them is beautiful to witness. Kids light up around her, and she loves and finds goodness in all of them. When Kim is talking to us, Cammy beams at her, trying to soak up all her knowledge and wisdom. Kim’s children are always teaching, too, and watching them interact with my kids makes my heart happy.

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My second oldest sister, Jenni, gives her children everything they need to be successful on their own, but is always there when they fall. I didn’t understand the importance of equipping your child with every tool available until I had children of my own, especially Cammy. The way Jenni advocates to get her children the resources they need has propelled me to do the same.

My third sister, Joanne, has an unbelievable ability to compartmentalize and remain objective. She doesn’t let emotions factor into the equation. She was the true all-star during the years we cared for our mom, especially when she was in hospice. Joanne was able to make executive decisions, which my mom wanted, without second-guessing them. She is always strong until she doesn’t have to be, which is a beautiful trait. From Joanne, I’ve learned to take a deep breath and not let my emotions take over during challenging meetings for Cammy’s individualized education program.

The superpowers of my fourth sister, Kristin, are her inclusiveness and compassion. She wants everything to be fair and everyone to get along. She never takes sides and instead tries to get everyone to see things from others’ points of view. It’s practically impossible to ever be upset with her because everything she does comes from her huge heart. I see my dad, who passed away in 2018, in Kristin often, especially when it comes to her fierce protectiveness and loyalty to her family. Her kids are made in her likeness, including Cammy in everything they do by making adaptations.

My sister-in-law, Erin, is the angel our family never knew we needed. How she deals with us five sisters-in-law is beyond me. Her superpowers are her grace and her ability to handle tough situations eloquently and diplomatically. She never complains and is mentally, physically, and emotionally tough, so it’s no wonder her two girls are as well. I try to be more like Erin whenever we are having a “Rett day” — a day when Cammy’s condition wears her down, causing all of us pain and sadness. I try to take these days in stride and handle our situation with grace.

Meet the strong women in my life on May 21 in Chicago at our annual Cammy Can’s Cinderella Story fundraiser. Our family is raising money for the International Rett Syndrome Foundation to help fund a cure.

“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” — unknown

Note: Rett Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Rett Syndrome News or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Rett syndrome.


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