Saturday, May 11, 2013

If You Give a Mom a Muffin...

Thank you so much for your loving and supportive comments this week. They meant so much to me! And my sister... And my brother... And... I am grateful for you.

As I write posts, I wonder how much detail to go into. How much is too much for my readers? For me? Each day has its share of good and bad,  and in that small way they remind me of the long, long days of early parenthood. A glimpse of grace here and there, likely in the form of a toothless smile or the bright sunshine. A battle of wills at naptime. Worries and weariness. Up-down. High-low.

In the most ordinary of days, there are moments of hope, delight and despair.

This is also true for grieving families, as much as any day can be considered ordinary any more.

And we come to dread holidays, like Mother's Day, knowing they'll be harder than most. Which they are.

But what of any given Friday in May? What is that like?

When little boys in baseball uniforms spring up all over town like May flowers? And it's field day at the kids' school and siblings are always on the same teams, but I put Margaret, in her yellow t-shirt, into the car alone? When I  pick her up and see Jack's friends, and get my much needed hugs from them, but I realize with shock that they are taller, their voices deeper, and 8th grade graduation is just days away. Eighth grade! When seeing their beautiful moms, my friends, should be a welcome sight, but our relationships are so tinged by loss now that my grief starts to feel like something akin to shame. And I shrink away. And back in the neighborhood, with the bright sun shining down, and the kids playing kickball in the cul de sac, the sounds of laughter bring me no joy? Or a Friday night, spent painting the kitchen, in which I remove our family motto that has guided us all these years, even though it has never been more true than it is today?

And I take down our chalkboard family schedule, preserved on the pantry door, which has been there since the worst week of our lives, a "Thursday" once cheerfully but now ominously blank?


Do I write about these things?

How I thought I was throwing away old plastic bags in the basement and realized, with a sharp intake of breath, that they were Jack's boy scout ponchos? And I marvel at their small size. And remember when rainy days meant fun and joy and celebration. Until they didn't.

And in between all of these things are Margaret's laughter that her team tied for last place. And belting out a new Miranda Lambert song together in the car. And Tim's homemade pizza. And watching "The Middle" on the DVR. And a bird at my office window saying hello.

And going to sleep to the loud booms of thunder and noting it, but not being terrified of it any longer.

If you give a mom a muffin, she can take you through the highs and lows of any "ordinary" day.

*****
Love this video of Jack and Margaret IN the pantry! Less than a minute long, and oh so cute!
video

63 comments:

Sybil@PeaceitallTogether said...

Write it all! Because of posts like this, instead if stepping over my son and his Legos on my way to the back of the house, I stiopped to help him put his creation together. Thanks Anna! Love and prayers to you this Mother's Day.

LauraBeth said...

Sending hugs and love, from the other side of town.

Chad, Sus, Linley and Piper said...

Yes, my friend.

I understand. Each chunk of joy still contains a sadness of what should be...and sometimes mustering on takes so much more than it should.

I do it for those sweet moments with the two I am allowed to hold still. I am not satisfied and I am sad but I have to keep on...I know you know.

Happy mothers day...I hope it is sweet.

Mimi said...

Always praying for you Anna. Today we were at the Vienna farmers market so I could get my first spring intake of the fresh donuts and I just couldn't shake the sadness when we walked past the baseball fields and tween boys getting ready for their games. There is no shame in your grief, it is a part of you just as the love you have for Jack is there. Lots and lots of prayers for you this Mother's Day.

booksandcandy said...

I love, love, love your strength.
I wish I could give you a giant hug right now.

Momza said...

Don't ever apologize for loving your children...not in the way you show your love or the way you grieve your treasured son's absence.
If I only followed one blog, it would be yours. I have learned wisdom from you that I have learned nowhere else.
Thank you for sharing your journey with me. I am privileged, indeed.
Dawn, in Colorado Springs, CO.

Anonymous said...

How did they get up there! And without knocking everything off the shelf they're on?

Maybe I'm over-thinking this, but I regret mentioning Jack's happiness for other people's happiness in my Mother's Day well-wishes. I really do find that inspiring, but I belatedly see how being reminded of that particular quality in your wonderful son could come across as subtle pressure to feel only joy on a day that is surely painful...I'm sorry!

It sounds like you're feeling like you "should" be able to share other people's joy, whether the laughter of neighborhood children, or the cameraderie of other moms. It's painful that your grief is so uncomfortable that it feels like shame, when you've done nothing wrong, and have worked so hard to make sense of your loss while keeping up with everything life brings. Your courage is amazing, and what you feel is just that; whatever it is that you truly feel; no need for "shoulds." The last thing I want to do is to add another "should" to your plate, and I'm sorry if that was the case...

Michelle said...

I can only imagine the feeling you have when you see the other mom friends at school that were once so easy to connect with. Now it is a weird disconnect on both sides. I pray for you and for those particular moments that, although not the worst thing in the world, still leave you with that hard to ignore feeling inside.

Cyber hugs and love!

Geri said...

Dear Anna,
What a gift for the written word you have been given.
Please, continue to share, share it all. Everyone can benefit from reading your thoughts and feelings, but especially share it for us other parents who have lost a beloved son or daughter. We need to know that others are out there that experience "any given Friday in May" as we do. We need to read someone who can express what it feels like in words such as "now my grief starts to feel something akin to shame". That when we look at our surviving child, now an only child, and feel like our already broken heart might break into another million pieces, we aren't alone. Please, if you can, keep writing, keep writing it all. Your words truly are a balm to many of us. Thank you.

Erika said...

Thank you for your posts - each and every one means much to me - it helps to know that I am not alone and especially true how mother's day can hurt when you are missing your child or children...

xoxo,
Erika

Gigi said...

Write what gives you comfort - not what makes others comfortable. Sending many hugs and prayers.

And that video? Priceless.

middle child said...

Your thoughts and the way they change are completely normal. And just so you know....the word verification is...
JACShow and coinciding.
I think that's a Happy Mother's day sent for you.

Kathy at kissing the frog said...

Anna, I've been thinking so much lately about how to celebrate Mother's Day with my other boys that I have forgotten about Joey a little bit, and it hurts me even more. It's so hard to find that balance of seeing the joy in what's here right in front of me and remembering what I've lost. I think about Joey so much every day, everything reminds me of him so much that I think when planning my Mother's Day, I just focused entirely on my other boys. There's never a very fair balance, but isn't that the rub of motherhood anyway? Sending you lots of tight hugs for Mother's Day. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Hello from New Zealand. I have been reading your amazing blog for many months but have never commented before. All of your posts are remarkable and heartbreaking and inspiring and beautiful. I love your writing and I love your family and I love your love for Jack. I am so sorry for your enormous loss. Jack would be so proud of you and I am sure that is what he came to say at your window this week, not just hello. Please keep writing and please write whatever you like. Much love, amanda xx

Rach said...

Yes. I get it. All of it.

We can't have a milestone of any sort around here (even braces, for Pete's sake!) without there being a tiny bit of sadness mixed in.

Hugs to you.

Happy Mother's Day

Cynthia said...

OMG we couldn't stop watching!! Such an adorable video! Love the voices. so cute when Jack fell down to the side.... "What fwog?" Beautiful and so painful. Ow. ...Mothers Day...
XO

Jenn Marshall said...

I think you should write it all, Anna. This post was so beautifully descriptive of your pain and your deep love for Jack, but it was also almost poetic. I know it must be hard to know what to put out there on your blog and what to keep for yourself, but think of how many people you are helping by writing it all. I'm sure there are so many other moms who come here every week to read your words and they find such comfort in being able to say "me too" to the feelings you're experiencing week to week. Your writing is incredible, just like you are.

That was such a cute and funny video of the two of them in the pantry! My guess is that climbing up there was Jack's idea, seeing how easily he got himself down. :)

Thinking of you today and always. xo

Heather L. Kopp said...

Anna, Anna. Love this post SO much. Love you so much. You capture life in all its pain and glory and sadness and hope so well. I needed this today. To ground me. To make me grateful. To remind me that God simply has to have some bigger plan and all these hints of it--including kids in the pantry--are signs of heaven someday and yet already here right now. Love and hugs sweet friend.

Deb said...

Praying for you this morning, along with all the other moms who are facing today with a piece of their heart missing. May God's love surround you.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Precious video....((((BIG HUG)))
Thinking of you today and everyday.
Your posts always inspire me, make me cry and give me hope. Always write, I will always be here....Love, Debby

Lady Jennie said...

Oh how I love your posts.

I do, I do.

I don't know what else to say.

Anonymous said...

I think that if you are able to connect any particular moment to a larger idea, a larger observation, something universal (or perhaps not that grand) then you can successfully mention really any moment, no matter how small. And the larger idea doesn't even have to be explicit. Subtext.

Just a thought.

I remember when my father died when I was 20 it was his shoes that really got me. Seeing his shoes around. They vibrated with life still. Shoes are so intimate, forming so closely to one's foot, but not losing that form once removed like clothes do. And leather shoes are actual skin. A second skin for your peds. I felt he couldn't be gone as long as his shoes were on the stair. If he was gone, his funny shoes would surely not be there, waiting quietly for Dad to come take them for a walk.

Happy mother's day.

Anonymous said...

Happy Mother's day Anna. Thinking about you and your family today.

Loved the video and their little voices.

Theresa

Jennifer Swedlund said...

Oh so beautiful.

heather blair said...

Said a special prayer for you today. I hope some peace has held you. hugs, most especially, on this day.

Mel said...

Sweetest friend, you are allowed to feel it all. You are allowed to share whatever heals you. We are here, we can accept whatever the brute force or the gentle truth of grief brings you. We can't take it away, but accept, listen, hold in our hearts - that much, we can do.

Princess Kate said...

Thinking of you today and hoping you are surrounded by love.

Ellen aka Ellie said...

Write about whatever you want. It's that simple.

Sara said...

You share straight from your heart, and that's why those of us who don't even know you feel like we already do.

With every word you write, there are so very many of us who are sending love straight back to you. It doesn't matter what the words are. They are real. And that's what we connect to.

Sending you much Love.

mollysmith222 said...

Happy Mother's Day, Jack and Margaret's mom. You are amazing. Keep sharing. love the video, precious precious children.

Stefanie said...

Wishing you a peaceful Mother's Day, Anna :)

Adrienne Kerman said...

You write it and we'll read it all and share in your joy, your grief, your pain and your pantry! I know it's a tough day, tomorrow is a new day, freshly painted and brimming with hope ... xoxo Adrienne
PS, my "I'm not a robot" code word below this box is "peace"!!!!!! How's that for hope :-)

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I had been sort of joking/being real to some friends about how on Mother's Day, I sort of prefer to not see my kiddos. For it to be a day off from mothering. And then in the middle of the night, I woke up with a racing heart, wanting to take back those words, to undo that sentiment, and to not have that insincere energy out there anymore. I felt shameful for wanting just me time even a little bit, especially since you, Jack and Margaret are close to my heart, and since you were all so much on my mind this weekend especially, with the holiday/milestone on the calendar. I felt like a jerk, and learned my lesson.

love,
jbhat

PS--precious video. my goodness they played well together.



Unknown said...

More of those very powerful words. More of those very beautiful words. More of those very real words. If you give a mom a moment... she will fill it with words. Oft times I fee l like I have too many for him, he only hears one or two and then tunes me out. Sometimes I feel like no one is really listening. But as with most things they reach when and where they are needed. Your words are truthful, and powerful, healing and real. Don't ever stop. I love to have a muffin with you one day and let you tell me about Jack and what you think and feel - for hours without wondering if there are too many words - not even once.

macmac24 said...

This video is the cutest thing I've ever seen (and heard)...EVER.
Happy Mother's Day to you...

Tere' Maher said...

So precious! This video and your comments confirm all that your sister said we should learn from Jack...and you. Although I think I would just flip if I found my two littles up in my pantry with THE DOOR CLOSED!!! You are and were such a good momma! Hugs and a prayer.

Kerry S. said...

Anna,
You have been in my thoughts and prayers today and leading up to today. (technically it's after midnight but I'm up late so it's still Mother's Day to me)

I've prayed that you could get a message from Jack or some sign to bring you comfort. It's late and I'm searching for words.
Just know you are in my heart and I think that is true for so many. (many many more that the number of comments here - I'm sure you know that but just wanted to point that out)

Lorenne said...

I love your posts, and I am so grateful you are willing to share. You express yourself so well. It is such a comfort to me to hear your thoughts and know that I am not alone.

Thank you so much for your comments on my blog. I feel your warm heart coming through and appreciate you so much!

Kara said...

I read everything you write. I read, even when I feel uncomfortable, because it's that discomfort that helps me grow in compassion for others, love my children, and contentment for where I am here and now. I love this video! "It's just a frog." "What frog?" LOL

Hope yesterday was blessed for you.xo

Digital Autonomy said...

You help me be a better parent (although I still fail on a regular basis).. I have Jack's magnet taped to a black & white 8x10 of my kids that I look directly at throughout the day from my desk.. It serves as a reminder to cherish every minute and it helps me not sell them on the black market, like yesterday when they whined throughout Mothers Day dinner.

Stay strong "Little Sister"... Thoughts Prayers and bear hugs for you and Liz.

DMK

Anonymous said...

This afternoon is 'muffins with mom' in my son's first grade class so I smiled at your title. My mom lost her mother at the age of 6 so mind always goes to the poor children that have to go through Mother's or Father's day without a parent. I forgot about the poor mothers and fathers on the other side of the equation.

Such a poignant and beautiful post. You have a gift with words--for making the reader feel so deeply. The chalkboard choked me up. The idea of changing anything and moving on chokes me up.

When reading about grief, you always read 'the holidays/birthdays are the hardest'. After reading your post, I can see that is not true. I think it is easier for those of us who haven't experienced it to confine grief to a few days a year because we can't imagine the alternative. I am so sorry that your grief feels like shame. I understand that completely though. It makes you feel like a party-pooper. My friend's child was found to have a horribly, rare genetic disease that is ultimately terminal and she told me she just wants to be treated normally. She wants people to continue to be themselves. The elephant is in the room. It's not you, it's not my friend--it's the rest of us. We are reminded how fragile life is and it scares the hell out of us. Please don't for a minute think nobody wants to be reminded or that they don't want you around. We are all saddened and scared and afraid to hurt your feelings by living. We feel guilty. It's not you--it's us. It's something I am working on to be a better friend.

Thank you for pooring your heart out and making me a better mother, a better friend. Hugs, NoVa mom Jen

Lisa C said...

As always, you manage to capture so much in so few words.

I hope your Mother's Day contained more joy than bittersweet moments.

Much love.

Meg said...

Your words express so completely and lovingly what your life is now: the sweet of your wonderful daughter and the bitter of losing Jack. I keep you all in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

Reading you say that the feeling of loss has turned into shame brought tears to my eyes. I bet alot of other moms who are in your situation feel that too. And that breaks my heart. Praying for you not to feel that way-may God heal that for you. I love you Anna! Karen from Memphis

P.S. Read the previous post where someone lashed out at you-makes me want to claw their eyes out!

Momobug said...

I love that video! So cute. And I love your words! So pure, so true. And, Anna, I send my love to you. You are a blessing.
-Ann S.

Deenie said...

Posts like this are some of the best ones. They are honest and beautiful and painful. I think we need to share it all and in so doing, know that none of us are alone in our hurts or shames or joys.

Kyra B said...

You are so often in my thoughts and prayers...Especially during brutally difficult days such as Mother's Day.

The clip of J and M in the pantry is just priceless. Brutiful as Glennon would say. (A word I have come to find so fitting in so many situations.)

While I am sure it brings you very little peace at all, please know you and your family are being thought of, held up, sent love and prayed for by so many people all over the country. Sending you a little sunshine, a warm hug and a whole bunch of positive thoughts for peace from Boston.

Salvimom said...

Happy Mother's Day, Love.

Ury

Meredith Self said...

so looooovvveee that video. what buddies.

The Empress said...

Please keep writing, because it helps me to understand how to help my sister, who lost her son in January. YOU are the hold who holds up the lamp for me. THANK YOU. xo

Kristin said...

YES, post what's in your heart, Anna. Because it's honest and real and just as valid as anyone posting the tiny details of a newborn. And there are people reading this who NEED to hear it too - those who love you and those who don't know you at all.
A photo I took of my son the other day reminded me of Jack; something in his eyes reminded me of the photos you have posted even though I have never met him, or you. It reminded me to be strong and it reminded me to love every moment. It's definitely worth sharing.

Hillary said...

It's a beautiful thing to share. You never know when it is going to make another feel less alone. I bet you bolster up so many women and families with your words. And though many of us don't know at all, you give us understanding, and it makes us better friends, I think.

Anna, I said too much, and I don't know what I'm talking about, but I send love from one mom to another.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,
Just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you on Mother's Day.

You are right - the "special" days are hard, but any random day can be 10 times as hard sometimes!

I hope Margaret is still enjoying playing soccer(and love to see that she's keeping the wins and losses in perspective!). I hope you guys will come kick the ball with us at the park sometime!
Love, Coach Jess

Susan said...

We never know how grief will effect us until we are in the throws of it. Write what is on your heart and you will never go wrong. The rest of us will just have to understand. Sending prayers your way.

Anonymous said...

You need to know you rock! I appreciate your authenticity You are the voice that speaks for many of us. After 12 years I just had my first Mother's Day without tears. There is no magic potion only time.

Japolina said...

So well written. I'm certain that you are helping others who are hurting.

Julie said...

Thinking of you and your beautiful family today. Keep writing, whatever else you do - keep writing.

Anonymous said...

So true - how many of our days hold both joy and pain! We love our kids and the happiness of family life; we work with the not-so-great moments that go along with being moms. Of course, grieving adds a whole new dimension to this complexity. Thanks for putting your heart out there again.

Anonymous said...

Please, don't wait so long between posts. Don't worry so much about the words or the post subject. Or, if you have something we want to read. We want to read it or we wouldn't come here.

Second, my heart hurts for you and your family. Jack should be here. I said it... Its true.. Everyday without him is something it shouldn't be be. That said, just remember this time is just a moment, a brief second in the ultimate timeline. Eternal awaits. And Jack is there. He is with the Great I Am. And that is awesome.

jennyd said...

Wish there were a way to "Like" comments on your blog. I would have "liked" every last one of all the loving statements from friends and strangers. I can't imagine what a person would have posted here that would be anything but love, but you know there always has to be at least one in the bunch. Let the naysayers post! It only brings the love in greater force. You are surrounded. Hope you feel it.

Vickie Ingle said...

I love love love to read your blogs. They hit so close to home. Everything you write is exactly how I feel. Reading your blogs is more therapeutic for me than anything on this earth.

Headless Mom said...



You know, a fresh coat of paint is sometimes just what the dr. ordered. Whether it be on the wall, or on the figurative walls of our hearts and minds.

xo

Jenny Robbins said...

Just yesterday, enjoying a take-out lunch with my toddler after an enjoyable morning at a local working farm with a girlfriend, I burst into tears because I miss my first son who died at 19 one year ago. The day was going fine and then... the tears just came. So often my toddler hears from me: "Sometimes Mommy needs to cry. I miss Big Brother, Kade. Does Asher cry sometimes, too?" and hope that these bouts don't eventually scar him. I get that our normal is so not normal and I appreciate your honest sharing.