I Had a Dream

I had a dream last night. Ok, so it’s not going to be as profound and inspiring as Dr Martin Luther King’s, but stay with me, it might be worth your time.

In my dream, my son and I were hiking on a beautiful mountain trail. To our right were fields  of  bright, purple and yellow wildflowers dotted with wild horses grazing.  To our left was a steep hill; dense with birch trees.

horse in wildflower larry lamsa

Photo by Larry Lamsa

Birch Trees

Photo by Carter

It was beautiful, and I was with my son.

 I remember thinking this moment was worth all the hard work of parenting. Arriving at a place  of complete contentment and simply enjoying each others’ company was priceless.  It was so freeing not having to parent him in any way, not having to fix a problem, and not having to worry about his health and well being.  It was just me and a person I truly enjoyed spending time with. It was peaceful.

As we walked the trail became smaller with room for only one, maybe two, side by side. We turned a corner and came face to face with a wild horse.  We stopped, marveling at how close she was to us. Assuming the horse would walk to the right and up and around us towards the wildflowers, we backed up a little.

new pick

Photo by Carter

Instead, the horse looked to her left and rolled off the trail down the steep mountain side.  We were shocked and horrified.  Why had she chosen that route?  Why would she risk that outcome when a safer, easier one was to her right?

steep trail

Photo by Carter

Then the worst happened.  We didn’t notice the foal at first, but we quickly saw what was about to happen.  In slow motion the foal followed the mother’s path and began to throw herself off the steep side of the mountain; rolling in slow motion, her long, unsteady colt legs flailing in the air.

And then I woke up.

It doesn’t take a PhD in Psychology or Dream Interpretation to figure this one out.

Our kids are watching us.  

And, as if I needed one more reminder in that lesson, the following conversation happened this morning.

Son:  Making some derogatory comment about himself

Me: Son, you are too hard on yourself. Stop putting yourself down

Son: Gee, where do you think I learned it?

OUCH.  And true.

And I am the horse that keeps throwing myself off the cliff. And my kids are watching.

I wrote about it  years ago.  You can read it here. What Are They Going To Catch?

  But now it seems the stakes are a little higher, and it is “What Are They Going To Catch” 2.0.

I am watching my boy in the middle of big life decisions. I am watching him try to figure out the next right step; and he is a little stuck.

 And so am I.

 My dream was a reminder that my kids are watching how I handle life. 

Am I showing them how to operate out of fear, or faith? (Uhm… fear)

Am I showing them how to take needed risks? (Answer is no, in case you were wondering.)

Am I showing them that you don’t need to have it all figured out right now – just keep taking steps in the right direction? ( I don’t have to answer that, do I? You see the pattern right?)

But today, after my dream hangover has begun to wear off, instead of being down on myself, it has motivated and inspired me.  It was a fresh reminder that even though my kids are technically adults, they are still watching. And how I choose to live  can have an impact on them – for the good and the bad.

When they were younger it was easy to model what I wanted them to see…

Be Kind. Be Honest. Work hard. Don’t pee into the wind.

But now I am asking them to do things that I am not modeling. And my dream was a wake up (pun intended) call to take a right and run through the meadow of wild flowers!

teresa alexander-arab horses wildflowers

Photo by Teresa Alexander-Arab

And maybe take a risk or two

take the risk

Photo by Carter.

So, what are your kids watching?

Also, I would like to point out the real miracle in this story… I was actually sleeping deep enough to have a dream that I remembered.

And also, I am sorry for the shameless use of Carter’s pictures from his hike.

 

 

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I Didn’t Prepare For This

I dragged myself out of bed this morning and, like the walking dead, stumbled and lurched my way to Starbucks.  If I have to give up my wine,(which is another story for another time) I am at least  going to have my caffeine. You may recall I  wrote about my bookstore moment before my oldest went away to college.  Book Store Moment

Today, I had a Starbucks moment.

Today I found the tears overtake me, without warning, as I stood beside a young father cradling his one year old boy. The boy’s chubby arms and puffy hands were tangled around his father’s neck. The flawless  skin of his fragile, sweet face brought a well of emotion I did not see coming. I couldn’t help myself from staring; long enough to make the dad uncomfortable enough to take a step back and away from me. Though I was close enough to touch that sweet boy’s face – that face with those tiny, perfect lips that one year olds have- I couldn’t reach out and touch the memories of my own boys at that age. I tried desperately to see their own fresh, innocent faces. To hold the memory of their perfectly shaped lips and cheeks. To feel their  chubby arms and puffy little fingers around my neck.

cameron baby

Those Cheeks. Those lips.

Now I am the one with the chubby arms and puffy hands.

And  I am three weeks away from sending my last, once fresh faced one year old, to college. It will be the first time in 19 years that I won’t see his now scruffy, handsome face and muscular arms every day.

I  have spent the last 26 years in the trenches of parenting. The whole of my days were spent preparing them to one day be independent of me.  And now that I am about to be alone and the weight of daily parenting is done, I realize I may  have prepared them but I have not properly prepared myself.

cameron asleep with back pack

This will most likely be me in three weeks

I have raised them to be independent of me; but I am quickly realizing I have not raised myself to be independent of them.

Not only will I have to spend the next three weeks getting a crash course on how to reset the modem when the internet goes out, learn how to work the remote to get to Netflix and Amazon Prime, and figure out how to get the wireless printer to work; I am painfully aware that I now must figure out how to be something other than the person responsible for the dailyness of raising three boys to men.

I know I will relish the quiet for a while.  When they were young, as a single mom, I would have given anything to have a moment alone to escape the weight of my responsibilities.  Now I will have what I always longed for.  But then what?

What does independent of my boys look and feel like? I still have years before they all are financially independent of me, and I know I will never stop worrying about their well being, but the days of being involved in every area of their life are done. The daily grind of parenting is done.

But this is not the part of the story when I tell you moms of young ones to savor every moment because one day they will leave you. I won’t ever say that.  Those days of young ones are hard! And exhausting. And did I mention hard?

Nope this is the part of the story where I tell you to hang in there because they grow to be amazing adults. Their squishy, messy hands and faces will become strong and independent. The things you love about your little ones will be the things you savor about them as adults.  The things that frustrate the heck out of you now will one day become their strengths.  I am not going to lie though.  I have learned the hard truth of  “little people, little problems; big people, big problems” So keep it all in perspective.

cameron grown

I love my grown up people.

No, This is the part of the story where I say burn those memories of their precious faces in your mind.

Stare at them now; not longingly at someone else’s kid 20 years from now.

cameron hipster

Not much has changed in regards to his style of choice

And begin to prepare yourself for independence – yours, as well as theirs.

I’ve read the articles that tell me to get a hobby. To Travel. To find a worthy cause to give to. To find my passion.

But none of them tell me how to stop the ache in my heart.

None of them tell me how to be me without them.

I am confident I will figure it out sooner or later.  And I am sure that between cussing  because I can’t get the printer to work, and complaining that no one is here to take the trash out, and feeling sorry for myself that I am alone,   I will eventually find my new independent me.

But, I still reserve the right to stare too long at your babies and toddlers.

camerond grown glasses

He’s ready

 

 

Posted in choosing to be happy, comments on life, empty nest, leaving for college, parenting, single parenting | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

WHAT WILL THEY SAY?

 

Legacy Letterpress

 I went to a funeral today.

Recently I read a book entitled Living Forward.  And I have just spent an hour looking through my stacks of books to write a quote from it.  Apparently I am not living forward enough to be organized enough to find it. Regardless, one of the exercises in the book was to write your own eulogy – to think about what you wanted people to say about you at your funeral.  What did you want your life to stand for? What was going to be your legacy?

I doubt he had read the book I cannot find, but based on his funeral he didn’t need to.  He was too busy creating a life and a legacy.

It wasn’t a legacy created from lavish  financial donations

It wasn’t a legacy created from discovering some medical breakthrough

It wasn’t a legacy created by a heroic deed.

It was a legacy greater than any of those.

His legacy was that He loved his family well.

His children spoke of their relationship with their dad.  They didn’t speak of his career or his material wealth, or awards that he had won. They spoke of cherished times on the ball field, of weekly breakfast dates and of memories simply riding in the car together. They spoke of what he taught them.

And of his laughter.

It was obvious that he was present. And sacrificial. And kind.

 His legacy was made up of a million little choices he made for his family. Not one big sweeping gesture; but a thousand little ones. 

I know I wasn’t the only one that left the funeral wanting to be a better person, mother and friend; hoping my children will one day say the same things about me.

But what choices am I making today that will create the legacy I want? What are my priorities? What consumes my time?

What about you?

I am so sad for my friend that she has lost her husband and I am heartbroken that her children are now without their dad, I, too, know the pain and ache of that grief. But I hope it brings them a little comfort to know that his life has inspired me to choose wisely how I invest my time. To prioritize the things that really matter, to be present for my children

…and to laugh!

 

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BEAUTY FOR ASHES; AS TOLD BY MOANA

 

Let me start by saying that the only things I have successfully kept alive are my three children.

You may have heard that I guilted myself into getting two cats for my youngest.  I am truly afraid that when he goes away to college in the fall, they will die from my neglect.

I have never kept a plant alive for more than three months. I have even killed a cactus. A cactus that did not need anything from me; yet I managed to kill it.

Here is what happened to the garden, that my middle son so lovingly planted and tended to, when he left it in my care

Look, we all cannot be Martha Stewart.

I’ve had a few other things on my to do list.

So when I came home to find this flower blooming out of the graveyard that is my lawn, I was convinced it was a botanous miracle.(not that that is even a word)

daffodil

In my defense this part of my yard had a fence on it until recently; so save your landscaping judgement for another day please.

Rest assured  I have never, not once, planted a flower of any genus or species in my yard. As you can see, nothing but a weed or two is growing in my side yard where this flora sprang up out of nowhere.

And isn’t that a bit like life; Beauty from Ashes

I watched Moana last night.  Yes, I was watching a children’s movie on a Saturday night. Alone. (Again, please hold your lonely on a Saturday night judgement for later) And it was AMAZING!

Bear with me.  I’m going somewhere with this whole flower out of a dead yard and Moana thing…

Alcoholism stole my heart.   My divorce left me wounded and took whatever self esteem I had and buried it deep; so deep. Hurt and failure slowly removed my heart a piece at a time and left me unsure of who I was. I believed I was my failures.  I believed what the alcoholism told me about myself. That I was second place. That I wasn’t worth fighting for. That I was the cause of it. That if I was just more loving, giving, and kind I could fix it. If I was more than…  If I was stronger…If I had a deeper faith… If. If . If.

Years later, I know in my head that the lies I believed were not true; yet my self esteem was still buried deep. The years of single parenting left me little time and energy for any real emotional recovery.  It was survival mode at its finest.

But now I find myself in a season of healing; uncovering the wounds that were scarred over and beginning to replace my heart piece by piece. (Hang on the Moana tie in is coming)

Recently I started back to therapy and my very astute therapist quickly realized my self esteem was in shambles. It was obvious that I had many wounds that had not been properly cared for. Though my lousy self esteem was not why I went back to therapy, it was where we started the work. The first assignment my therapist gave me was to make a list of all the things I had accomplished since becoming a single parent. I was to give myself validation. I was to declare the positives. She couldn’t have asked for a more difficult assignment. I am way more comfortable dwelling on how I need to improve.  Focusing on my weaknesses is my strength.  I don’t know why it is difficult for me to give myself credit, but it is.

So that night, huddled under my comforter (appropriately named, by the way) I began to meekly write out my list of validations – my list of I ams and I dids.

And for the first time, I affirmed myself.

And it was powerful.

And this is where Moana  comes in.

It wasn’t until she is affirmed by her Grandmother and sings about who she is that she gains the confidence and strength to go after her calling.

Sometimes the world seems against you
The journey may leave a scar
But scars can heal and reveal just
Where you are

The people you love will change you
The things you have learned will guide you
And nothing on earth can silence
The quiet voice still inside you
And when that voice starts to whisper
“Moana, you’ve come so far”
Moana listen, do you know who you are?

Who am I?

And then she belts out who she is!

[youtube

And then, like the badass she is, she mends her sails and repairs her boat and sails on.

My therapy assignment was my Moana moment; reminding me of who I am and what I am capable of. 

 The end of Moana slayed me. Totally slayed me. Leave it to  Disney to have me alone on a Saturday night sobbing at a cartoon.

I was that lava monster. I had let the alcoholism and divorce steal my heart and harden me. For years I let it define me.

 In the end, Moana sings to the lava monster and restores her heart.

I know your name

They have stolen the heart from inside you

But this does not define you

This is not who you are
You know who you are

SPOILER ALERT

And  then she turns her lava ashes into beauty

moana-2

And my dead yard produced a flower.

And my wounded heart can be restored.

It is so hard to understand how good and beauty can possibly come from our wounds, our grief, and our hard. But somehow God promises it will; that He will exchange our ashes for beauty.  And it starts with restoring our heart and declaring who we are.

So who are you? Declare it. It will give you strength and courage to go on; to keep fighting through your hard things. It will exchange  beauty for your ashes.

But now for the real question regarding Moana.  How did she keep her tube top up the entire movie? I mean seriously, the one time I tried to wear a strapless shirt I was pulling at that thing the entire night. Oh, the magic of Disney!

“The Ocean told you you were special and you believed it”

-Maui

 

 

Posted in alcoholhism, choosing to be happy, comments on life, divorce, getting back up, gratitude, happiness, Life's challenges, self esteem | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The 5 stages of A Snow Day

By now you have heard the news that, once again, school has been cancelled. Though I don’t have kids at home anymore, I feel your pain. Please know, my thoughts and prayers are with you.   I thought it might help you work through some of your anxt if we walked through the 5 stages of a snow day together. After all, everyone needs a little validation.

Stage 1: ANTICIPATION

bread4

The warnings start. It’s coming.  We are actually going to get SNOW! Real snow, with actual accumulation. It’s going to be so great!  You can’t wait to get snowed in with your family! Everything will be cancelled and you won’t have to go anywhere! But first  you’ve got to survive  go to the grocery store…OH MY LORD WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? IT’S JUST A LITTLE SNOW, NOT ARMAGEDDON! HOW MANY LOAVES OF BREAD DO YOU NEED?  But now You’ve got your bread and milk and wine.  You are ready. Bring it on!  “I just Love Snow !”, you shout, as you twirl around in your kitchen while you make all your savory soups. This is going to be so great!!!

Stage 2 : UNBRIDLED JOY

snow-day-joy

You  wake up early to see that, yes, it did snow as predicted.  There is almost as much excitement as on  Christmas morning. It’s  like a scene from Elf.

“I planned out our whole day. First we’ll make snow angels for a two hours, then we’ll go  ice skating, then we’ll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookie Dough as fast as we can, and then we’ll snuggle.”

You cheerfully find the hats and mittens and snow pants, then patiently bundle your little angels. The snapchats are posted and Instagram is updated with pictures of your precious snowbirds enjoying the snow.  There are snowmen to be built, hills to sled, perfect snowballs to be made with cool snowball makers that were not even in the early stages of a patent when my kids were making snowballs. ( not that I am bitter or anything.) And the hot chocolate! Marshmallows and sprinkles and fancy whipped cream; it’s a Pinterest win! And then it’s movie time, all snuggled up together with all your family togetherness. The dryer is running so round two of the snow paradise can happen after the movie.  IT’S SO MUCH FUN!  The kids are happy and joyful! And did I mention, IT’S SO MUCH FUN!  Later you sip your wine by the fire and beam with pride at your cozy family. And NO SCHOOL!  You get to sleep in.  In the morning you will  leisurely make waffles to go with your fancy hot chocolate and you will  get to linger over your second cup of coffee. It’s so peaceful.

Stage 3: EXHAUSTION

snow-day-exhaustion

Day three and you are beginning to get a little weary. Your back hurts from the shoveling and from pulling every kid in the neighborhood down the street on a boogie board. Your patience is beginning to wear a little thin…”I don’t know where your other glove is! If you didn’t leave your stuff strewn around the house like Hansel and Gretel you would be able to find it”  ” OMG if I have to run the dryer one more time, I’m going to hurt someone”  And by now your parenting boundaries are all but gone.  “Mom, Billy is sledding off the roof”  “It’s fine”, you say.  “Mom, Can I get out the glitter? “I don’t care”,you mumble. “And paint my room purple?” “Purple” you whisper under your breath to no one but yourself; like Brick on The Middle. “Mom, what is there to eat? I’m starving!” “Snow, you can eat snow.” you sob. By now you and your kids have gone three, maybe four, days without showering. Like Michael Keaton in Mr Mom, some of you have been in the same flannel shirt for days.  And, you cannot confirm nor deny if any teeth have been brushed since the first snow flake has fallen. “What’s the point”, you say.  “I can’t escape. I’m trapped here forever with these people who keep demanding that I feed them” This is so exhausting!

Stage 4: PANIC

jonshow

OMG! You realize you are down to your last three K cups.  You’re not going to make it. “I can’t be with these people 24 hours a day without coffee!” Calm down, you still have–wait–NOOOO you thought you had another bottle of wine. This can’t be right.  You distinctly remember buying a case of wine. This is bad. Really bad.   Your neighborhood is a skating rink.  You can’t go out there for reinforcements.  And, another day of no school. Seriously? You feel you can’t do this another minute. Someone – anyone, help!

Stage 5: DESPERATION

snow-day-panic

Schools closed again. Again. You debate whether you can convince each family in Hampton Roads  to shovel a path from their  house to the front  door of their school. Your soul is as dark and  black as the snow along the side of Virginia Beach Blvd. There is no hope.  If we all survive one more day together trapped in this house it will be a miracle. You plead. Beg. Please God let there be school tomorrow. You contemplate  sending them out to the bus stop anyway so you can have a moment alone in the house; they will come back eventually, right?

Hang in there. There is light at the end of the igloo.  Temps are rising and by Thursday we will be in short sleeves again. So tonight, beg borrow or steel one more glass of wine and banish your kids to their rooms–This Is Us is back! See, even in our darkest hour, there is always hope.

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The End Becomes the Beginning

end-is-begining-blog

photo by noberson

My son wanted to drive so we took his fathers car. No 16 year old wants to be driving in his mothers mini van. I kept thinking, “Why the hell were we the ones going to a meeting when he was the one with the problem.” Neither of us wanted to go; him to Alateen, and me to Alanon

But when your life has been turned upside down by the disease of alcoholism, you grasp at anything; like reaching for a secure limb to grab hold of that will give you enough leverage to pull you up  and out of the dark place you have fallen into.

So we went.  I felt ok about leaving the younger two with their dad as we had his car and keys and, seriously, how would he possibly get alcohol without any transportation?

It’s a humbling experience sitting in a meeting like that.  You want to scream “I’m not like them” ” I have a masters degree, and did you know I have 3 gifted children?”  “We live in a nice house” (well, the bathrooms were stuck in the eighties, but still)  “My kids don’t have tattoos and piercing, and I’ll have you know this one here is in the Math and Science academy” I wanted to believe that all of our outward appearances of success made us different from those in the meeting that didn’t “look” like us.

But we were all the same.  Broken, scared, confused, angry; our lives careening out of control like a train that had jumped the track.

We said our steps, held back tears, and the second the meeting was done we raced out of there as fast as we could. We went through a drive thru cuz everyone knows that a milk shake will solve everything. Our life had become unmanageable. So unbelievably unmanageable. I had been desperately trying to hold it all together for years. I enabled, I prayed, I cried and pleaded. I read books, went to therapy, gave ultimatums; and toward the end actually followed through on them.  But nothing was bringing the alcoholic any closer to sobriety.

Life with an alcoholic is a little like trying to balance on a high wire.

Picture  holding the balancing pole with the children on one side and the alcoholic on the other. Everyday the drinking would cause that pole to dip, causing me to desperately find a way to get us back in balance; all the while trying to show mercy and care for the one whose disease was threatening to cause us all to plummet to the ground.  It was a balancing act I was weary of.  My arms could no longer hold that pole. So when we arrived back home from our meeting to find him drunk, it was the moment that I finally laid it down .

It wasn’t till the next morning that I realized I had the courage to do it. I had gone to work early in the morning and when I was done with work, I called the house.  “Let me speak to your dad”  “He isn’t here. He went to play ping pong at church” And that was it.  That was the moment I knew I was done.  I knew that I knew that I knew that I couldn’t hold that pole a minute longer. I knew the disease would eventually cause us all to fall, and my fear was that there would be irreparable damage–it’s what I have always feared; and frankly still do

And that was the end. And the beginning.  New Years Eve will always be a reminder of the moment I had the courage to get my kids and myself out of the destructive environment of a life with an alcoholic.

A dear friend took my kids for the day and night so I could have a proper breakdown and so the kids could have a fun memory; as they spent it with their best friends unaware of the loss that was ahead of them in the new year.

I spent the day cleaning, not just a dusting here or a vacuum there.  I scrubbed baseboards, and wiped down every inch of every venetian blind in my house. I organized closets, and took a magic easer to every fingerprint and smudge on every surface in my house. ( and remember I was raising three young boys at the time;  this alone could have taken the whole day) To this day I don’t know why that was my reaction — to clean.  I think it was less of a metaphor for getting rid of all the yuck that had been my marriage for all those years and more about control. For so many years and moments the alcoholism had stolen my sense of security and control. But on that day, for the first time in a long time, I at least had control of my environment.

Later that night, he came back to get some things. He was contrite, as he usually was  after a drunken tirade, but this time I knew in my heart that the disease had progressed far past the I’m sorrys, and it won’t happen agains, and the I’ll get helps and the just give me one more chances. I don’t know why I asked, but in hindsight I’m thankful I did.  “Not that it matters, but how did you get alcohol last night?” For the sake of privacy I won’t tell you the details, but hearing how was  confirmation that I was making the right decision. It was the assurance I needed to know that his disease was not anything I could fix and now I needed to concentrate on providing a safe and secure space for my kids.

I always wake up on New Years Eve remembering those events that led to my decision to end my marriage; but this year has a little different feel to it.  There is always sadness, like remembering the anniversary of the death of a loved one.  But this New Years Eve, instead of seeing those events as the end, I am starting  to see it was the beginning.   Though it didn’t feel like it for so long, it was the beginning of healing for the kids and me.  This past year I have been doing some hard work as I assess those years of living with an alcoholic and how they impacted my self esteem, my confidence, and even my personality. It’s not fun, but it’s so healing. This New Years Eve, as I am emerging out of years of survival mode, I am waking up with a grateful heart. I don’t know what 2017 will bring, but I can look back on all the past New Years Eves and see how far we have come. Time really is the ultimate healer.

Statistics tell us that approximately 16.3 million adults have an Alcohol use Disorder. Chances are you have been effected by the disease, just as my family was/is.  This New Years Eve I want to tell you there is hope of getting some control and peace and balance back into your life.  I don’t know what that looks like for you and your family, but I hope 2017 is the year for your beginning. If I can be a source of help and encouragement, please feel free to reach out to me.  I know how living with the disease can be a lonely, isolated place.

Happy New Year and here’s to beginnings; no matter how long they take to realize

Posted in choosing to be happy, comments on life, family, gratitude, New Years Eve, Real world, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Something’s Missing

boysI woke up early this Christmas morning to the sound of silence.  No whispers among brothers wondering if Santa came last night.  No scrambling of little boy feet at the top of the landing; impatiently waiting  for the grown ups to drag themselves out of bed so they could race down the stairs and get to their stockings. No feeling of excitement and anticipation in the air. No Santa Magic. I wasn’t sad.  Ok, I lied.  I was. This Christmas, more than any, I have missed my little boys. It’s the first Christmas we haven’t all woken up together and frankly the changes that having adult kids brings is sometimes hard to swallow; even more so than the stale cookies  your neighbor brought you.  ( sorry if I was that neighbor)

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve experienced some not so Holly Jolly Christmases when my kids were little. Brutal 24 hour car rides with toddlers and babies before the traveling savior of DVD’s and gameboys and headphones; and the only word one could say was cracker and he said it no less than 100 times in the first hour of the drive. And did I mention this was before headphones? And the Christmas Eve one kid had a raging ear infection and screamed non stop so I found myself driving in circles around Va Beach for hours in the middle of the night because that was the only way to get him to stop screaming. It was far from a Silent Night. There’s lots more not so merry Christmas stories, but I’ll spare you the details.

And let’s face it.  Christmas is A LOT of work.  The cooking and the baking and  the shopping and the wrapping. And so many times the expectations of the holiday can wreck you.  

But the joy of little ones on Christmas morning makes it all worth it.  That’s what I miss. I miss the dressing them up in Santa suits and christmas pjs. I mean how many pairs of plaid sleep pants can you get excited about opening on Christmas Eve? I miss finding that perfect toy that you keep telling them you couldn’t find so don’t get your hopes up. (anybody score a Hatchimal?) I miss seeing their faces light up as they peel back the first corner of wrapping paper,suddenly realizing what it is, then pausing to give you that gigantic smile before ripping the rest off in a frenzy; tossing paper like confetti behind them. I miss brothers in Christmas sweaters and matching plaid shirts. And I miss sitting back with my coffee and watching them play with hopes fulfilled in a sea of torn wrapping paper.

 

carter-present

tyler-santa-suit

 

But I think what I am missing most is my boys  all being together. I thought it was the traditions and cookies and presents and trappings of Christmas that made the day  so special all those years, but now I realize it was them. Just them.

Christmas is really all about your people.

And when they are not with you at Christmas, it’s not really Christmas.  But as sad and nostalgic as I am this morning, I am one of the lucky ones. I may not be waking up to all my people, but I will get to be with some of them later. It won’t be our usual Christmas, but at least I will get to be with  most of my people.  For many though, this Christmas will be sad and lonely all day as they miss the people they have lost this year.  I know so many that will spend this Christmas for the first time without their person. And the loss they have already been feeling is multiplied as they wake up on Christmas morning knowing they will never share another christmas with the person that made their Christmas, Christmas.

So if you are with all your people today, rejoice and savor the moments. The presents and traditions and magic of christmas are really just about being with your people. And if you are weary this Christmas morning from raising kids and from all the work that goes into making Christmas memories, pause and soak it all in. Because this is what you will miss one Christmas morning in the not so distant future!

So from  my people and me, I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas. And even if we are missing our people, we can still celebrate the one person who came to earth as a little baby to  show us what love is and to be the one person we will never have to miss.

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