|  Blog Post   |  Never a Consolation Prize: My First Piano Recital

Never a Consolation Prize: My First Piano Recital

After our second failed round of IVF with a gestational surrogate and losing three babies, I had a friend say something to me that will always and forever stay with me. She said if she was honest with herself, she has more impact and influence on the lives of her godchildren, nieces and nephews than her own children. She said that Chad and I will get a lifetime of this but that it isn’t a consolation prize. And she’s right. I will never get the joy of motherhood or that role with a child but I will spend the rest of my life making sure the kids in my life know I love them and that I am here for them. I will also make sure their parents know I always want to at least have the option to be included and invited to the birthday parties, the games and concerts. This weekend I attended my very first piano recital. Our friends’ son Noah had his first piano recital, and Chad and I had the honor of being in the audience. And I loved every second; the nervous excitement coming from all of the kids, the super serious looks of concentration while they played and every single perfectly imperfect note they played. But the best was the proud smirk of accomplishment on Noah’s face when he finished. It is a moment I will never forget.

The night was capped off with a rather chaotic (three young boys will do that) and of course fun dinner with their family, and it included us. Being included in their family, is something words will never be enough to describe or even thank them for. Nothing makes me happier than hearing Noah’s animated storytelling, seeing the sparkle in Lane’s eyes when he asks me question after question or laughing at Evan’s pure loving joy. As I hugged our friends goodbye I thanked them for including us, and frankly, thank you simply is not enough.

Every family looks different. Sadly, my family will never include my own children, only my three furry ones. But my family also includes my friends and their children. I will forever be grateful for this role, and I will always make sure to make it much more than a consolation prize, always working to make it my ever upward.


Justine is a Licensed Professional Counselor with more than 25 years of experience in traditional mental health and personal and professional development. Justine has been certified in the work of Dr. Brené Brown for ten years. Justine is the author of eleven books, including five Amazon bestsellers covering subjects such as infertility, faith, and grief. She has been honored to do two TEDx Talks, The Permission of the And and The Donut Effect. She travels nationally and presents virtually to global audiences delivering keynotes, workshops, retreats, and trainings on topics such as leadership, courage, resilience, mental health, preventing and coping with burnout, and courageous and curious conversation, especially in creating cultures of belonging and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Justine lives in St. Louis with her husband Chad, their three dogs, and for four months of the year hundreds of monarch and swallowtail butterflies.

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