two, dos, deux…hooray!

Bear was looking over the calendar this month when I heard her exclaim, “Blogiversary?!  Mom, what’s that?”

That, my dear, is the two year mark for Riddle from the Middle.  And yes, it’s definitely calendar worthy.

It’s been a remarkable ride, y’all.  I know I bitch and moan about laundry and all the crazy (Why can’t Gracie eat the cheap pens?!), but even with all the ups and downs I feel more alive than ever.  Answering the call to build RFTM makes my Top Ten Best Life Decisions list.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned during my time with the blog.

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the Power of Firsts

Life is filled with firsts, and they usually pack a wallop.

First kiss.  Oh, boy, that first kiss is a doozy.  So much uncertainty and confusion wrapped up in an explosion of feelings and fireworks.  So much opportunity for bumping noses and awkward misses.  So much anxiety about bad breath and whether they like you back and if you’re any good at kissing at all.  It’s one of those rites of passage…there’s nothing quite like the first first kiss.

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a year in the life

No one’s ever prepared to lose their mother.  Intellectually I understand nobody lives forever, but it’s one thing to know death is inevitable and another thing entirely to find myself walking the earth without the woman who’s loved me my whole life.  It’s a permanent shift in the universe.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned in 365 days without my mom.

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Forever Family: celebrations and grief

Celebrations are powerful, especially for children.  They don’t understand I’m not really up for Christmas this year or let’s just let this birthday pass quietly.  They understand the inherent joy in special days, and they’re drawn to reveling in them.  They’re children, after all, even after they’ve morphed into bigger bodies, and if we’re lucky they haven’t lost the magic in marking milestones with joy.

Which has made this past year somewhat difficult for me.

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four and a half decades, gone in a flash

Well, son of a gun, guess who has a birthday today.

Both kids are wishing it was them ‘cuz, you know, presents, but no such luck…BrightSide won this particular lottery.  That’s right, 46 years ago today some doctor smacked my fella’s bottom so he’d take his first breath.  (Just kidding.  I don’t really know if they smack baby’s bottoms in delivery rooms anymore, but it made for funny imagery so let’s run with it.)

This is one of those moments that can slip sideways so easily.  What if BrightSide hadn’t been born in Virginia?  Would he still have ended up at UVA?  What if he focused on chess or chemistry or becoming an Olympic athlete?  Would we have found some other way to meet? Does this whole tapestry that’s become our lives begin in that delivery room?

Whoa, step back, mind spinning.

I guess I ought to send that doctor a thank you note for getting BrightSide safely into the world. I know my world sure wouldn’t be the same without him.

Everybody sing along now…

“You’re older than you’ve ever been.
And now you’re even older.
And now you’re even older.
And now you’re even older.

You’re older than you’ve ever been.
And now you’re even older.
And now you’re older still.”

Older – They Might Be Giants

Happy Birthday, BrightSide!

ps – My bad, but I blew it on remembering to get a separate birthday present.  Sorry!!  This is why December babies end up resenting their birthdays, I know, and here I am adding fuel to the fire.  I love you!

to my mom on her birthday

In dedication to anyone whose mother has passed on.

Dear mom,

I love you.  Those three words don’t seem nearly enough to speak what’s in my heart, but they’re all I have so they’ll have to do.

This really has been a hell of a year, if you don’t mind my saying so.  There’ve been days when I’m wrecked, and then there are days when life just keeps on rolling and I almost forget that you’re gone.  People tell me this is normal but it still feels like a betrayal of your memory, like every wisp of you has been carried away on the wind while I stand enjoying the sunshine.  I try to remember that you enjoyed the sunshine, too, and would want my face turned toward the sky.

Sometimes the weeping comes, but it’s all twisted up in too many things to sort out.  I miss holding your hand, but the memory of you fighting the Parkinson’s hurts.  There are things I want to tell you, but then I’m furious because I know even if you were still here we would be struggling to communicate.  I’m heartbroken that you aren’t with me as my kids grow up…that I can’t call for advice or cry on your shoulder…that they aren’t able to tell you about their lives.

But I’m not crying just because you’re gone; I cry because we lost you several years ago, and I miss my mom.  I miss the woman who could have played a game with my kids or listened to their stories.  I miss the woman who would have laughed at Bear’s antics and told me what it was like to raise me through the tween years.  I miss the woman who loved reading as much as I did, who enjoyed discovering new authors and getting books on her birthday.  I miss you.

We’ll be thinking about you a lot today.  It’s no mistake that our first year without you actually falls on Thanksgiving.  I’m thankful for every moment I had with you, mom, and I’m grateful that I’ll be surrounded by family as we mark what would have been your 80th birthday.

Hope you’re having an extra slice of pumpkin pie up there today.

All my love,