OK, so I've been wanting to jump back on the blog band wagon for a while now, but I've been out of it for so long I was waiting for the "right time" to post my first entry. I have had several instances that probably would have been a good time but I never seemed to be able to find the time to sit down and, as Nike says, "Just Do It!" I don't know what came over me today (maybe being awake at 4 am at my in-laws house and I'm trying desperately to be quiet so as not to wake everybody) but I feel like today is the day, so here goes....
Holidays have become difficult for me. This one is probably the worst. But, let me back up...
When I was growing up my family made a HUGE deal over holidays. It was always a time to dress up, eat lots of good food, spend time together, eat some more, give gifts, eat again, and, oh yeah, pretend like we were one big happy normal family. The truth is, we were far from normal. And, most days, far from happy. But, on holidays, we turned into the family that you saw on the 50's TV shows. So much time and energy was put into preparing for these special occasions. Everything had to be "perfect".
Fast forward from childhood to adulthood....I graduated nursing school, married my best friend, bought a house, and continued on the journey of my "perfect" life. In reality, my inner self was in constant turmoil. My "perfect" life had been interrupted by an unforeseen circumstance....infertility! Not exactly dinner time conversation for most people...uncomfortable to say the least, misunderstood at best. It is one of those issues that nobody knows how to talk about so it remains the elephant in the room. Everybody knows it's there but nobody talks about it. Holidays became completely miserable. I would sit quietly and watch while everyone else around me celebrated life and happiness when I felt neither. I tried to pretend that life was "perfect" despite something missing but it all just felt very fake. I began to resent holidays. To resent people. I did anything in my power to avoid both at all costs.
Mother's Day was the WORST! They just don't market a Hallmark card for the "mom who has everything....except a baby"! I avoided church with it's carnations being handed out to all of the smiling moms wearing corsarges and fruit loop necklaces made with love by little hands. Churches that present a Mother's Day message for mothers only. As if the rest of the female race isn't able to participate in this sacred day. It is a secret club and I didn't have the club fees to "get in". So, I stayed home and curled myself up into a ball in my bedroom and cried. And cried. And cried some more. YEAR. AFTER. YEAR. AFTER. YEAR!!!!!
I was finally able to celebrate my very first Mother's Day as a Mom in 2003. We had become the parents to the three most terrific girls anyone could ever ask for. My life was now "perfect". Again, go back to my childhood where any good holiday could wash away all of the dirt and scum of every day family life. We cleaned up pretty good on any given holiday. Soap, shampoo, trimmed finger nails, new dresses, matching shoes and purses can make the worst of sinners look clean enough. We became the "perfect" little family. I'm not saying that our life was horrible, but we are real people with real problems. Life with a 2, 3 and 4 year old was difficult, to say the least. Any mom of little ones knows the drudgery of every day life in the trenches. IT. IS HARD! And anyone who says it isn't is a LIAR and you should run far and fast from that "friend". But, we "looked" good on the outside so life must have been grand! And, it wasn't too far from that for 5 wonderful years.
Then, one fateful day in June 2008, our "perfect" world was shattered into a million pieces. We lost a piece of our family puzzle. God called our oldest daughter home with Him at the tender age of 9. Life became surreal. Nobody shows you how to live out this. This was not part of my "perfect" family plan. We could try to dress it up, like on holidays, but how do you dress up a family member who is no longer there? We were again faced with a difficult life path. One that not many people felt comfortable joining us on. Once again, we had become "that poor couple" that nobody knew how to talk to, so they either avoided us, or awkwardly tried to make conversation because they just didn't know what to say. Once again, I retreated back into my shell. I couldn't completely pull away as I still had two other girls to take care of, but I barely kept my head above water for their sakes.
In the months and years after Grace's death we have found that holidays have a very different meaning now. Our every day lives have a different meaning for that matter. We no longer take anything for granted on a day to day basis. We don't wait for holidays to show each other how much we care. I am experiencing a complete paradigm shift from the way I was raised to the way that we now live life. It is difficult. Because we still live in a society that places so much importance on certain "days" of the year. I still battle with wanting everything to be "perfect" on special days, but I realize now that that was just a show. I don't want to live a show anymore. It isn't real. It is fake. I am not fake. Anyone who knows me knows that what you see is what you get...the real, raw, unedited version of me.
So, as I sit here at 5 am alone in a dark house I am thinking....this isn't how Mother's Day is supposed to look. And I could very easily let my mind deceive me into thinking that the day is lost. We aren't going to church. We aren't going to get dressed up. We aren't going to have a "perfect" day. We are away from home, visiting Bill's family and we are going to a science museum for goodness sake! Not exactly how this day is "supposed" to be. But, I am thankful that I have learned over the years that this is EXACTLY what I need for today. My husband and children around me. We will celebrate life. I will cry a little that Grace isn't here with me. I will probably bicker with my in-laws for a bit. I will most likely have to avert a crisis with one of my pre-teen girls. No fancy dresses with matching shoes. No perfectly home cooked meal. No carnation being handed to me as I enter church. But I wouldn't trade it for the world because it is just what we do now...we celebrate life and happiness together as a family. Not because it is what you are supposed to do, but because this is what we now try to do every day of our lives.