Thursday, December 18, 2014

December Again

December. It comes around once a year. Here we are in the thick of it and I seem to be spending more and more time with the ghost of Christmas past. During Christmases in the mid 2000's I would easily be annoyed by Christmas music, hated parking lots, was often grumpy, never had enough money, never had enough time...and never knew just how good I actually had it. Christmas 2009 I was a different kind of monster. I spent entirely too much money on mismatched decorations that made our house look like a Christmas thrift store. Dan and I had done "black Friday" and were super excited to "give" each other our new ipods, computers, and I am pretty sure that's the year we decided that we needed a Tivo in every room. We would spend the day at Mom's smelling and sipping sweet apple cider, eating more than our fill, and (for me) finally taking time to slow down and realize my many gifts. 6 days later, just 6 days.

Skip to 2012. Nick and I didn't put up a tree because we are both a tad obsessed with things being neat and tidy and we didn't feel like rearranging the house to accommodate decorations and such. We did however decide to buy out Party City on New Years decorations for a celebration of the year and our many gifts (now that I know better than to take a single breath for granted). My friends and family were extremely supportive of us having a "celebration" on a day that is perpetually stained. I've looked at the pictures from that night with such fondness. My mom was stunning (as usual) in her black dress and heals. Chris, dapper in his tux. That would be the last time my mom ever stood in my home.

Last Friday I stepped out of the house and had to stop in my tracks. That smell. I know it every December and it never fails to surprise me even though I know it's coming. The smell of New Years Eve 2009. I can't describe the smell, but I can't ever ignore it either. I cried on the way to daycare, talking to Lawson through my tears. "Mommy's not sad about you my sweet, mommy just has memories that are so hard to revisit sometimes that they don't even seem real." "Memories that feel like they were in another life that your mommy lived eons ago." I guess in many ways, they were in another life.

Last Sunday I stepped foot in the home that my mom and Chris so happily shared for the last time. Walking in that empty house sliced me directly through my heart. I turned right and I heard her, "I'm down here bayba". My ears could actually hear those words but anyone else standing there would only have heard my tears hit the hardwood like nails. As I trudged through her seasonal decorations I had to stop periodically to sob. I then had a full blown one way, out loud conversation with her. "I know it's just stuff, mom, but it's your stuff and you loved it."

The tears didn't stop as I climbed into my car to leave. I sat there momentarily pulling it together with deep breaths and a rear view mirror pep talk. A blue jay, wouldn't you know it? He landed on my hood, he looked right at me! I know no one would believe me so I fumbled for my phone to take a picture, away he flew toward the deck my mom and I shared so many cups of coffee on. I laughed out loud and said, "Dan, stop being so vain, I was crying over my mom." His cheeky smile filled my mind and it was okay again. My mom and I had shared a conversation, and he and I just shared a smile.

It's December 2014. 7 days until Christmas 2014. Nick and I have a daughter! A beautiful, sweet, inspiring, barrel of laughs, joyful, precious, treasured, my mother's namesake, 11 month old daughter!! My amazing husband decorated our house and I get to watch white tree lights sparkle in both of their eyes every evening. I love my little family. I love them so much it actually hurts at times. L.O.V.E. what a tiny little word to encompass such great emotion.

Even though I have allowed the ghost of past Decembers place a tear or two in my eyes, that ghost shall not haunt me.

This December, this year, this life, I am thankful for my angels. The ones here on Earth and the ones cheering me on from their castles on a cloud.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


So many things are new. I should start by coming up with a new name for my blog. Maybe: The Winding Road of a (NOT SO) Young Motherless Mother, Loving Wife, Daughter, Sister, and Friend, Who used to be a Widow. Too much? Well, it would be nearly impossible to encompass my life in a title, maybe I should just call it, Me.
Here are some of the things that are new with ME:

The passing of time: In my teens I would lie about being older. In my early twenties I stayed the same age for years. That age was 21 and I drank like it was birthday every weekend. In my late twenties I counted the days until happily ever after. At 29, time was referred to as "When Dan was alive, and after Dan died." At 31, it was, "Since I've met Nick." And after May 7, 2012 it's been, "Since Mom's been gone." I'd like to capture the events that have taken place, Since Mom's been gone:
  • January 26, 2013: Nick and I get married!!!
  • February 8th: I turn 33 without my Mom's voice singing, "Hey Tiffin, It's your birthday, I'm in charge of the stars and I'm here to say, Hey Tiffin...It's your birthday....Today."
  • March: Living in honeymoon bliss, so happy in love.
  • April: I complete my Capstone Project for Loyola. I'm finished with grad school!!
  • May 7th: I can't believe it's been a year.
  • May 18th: Wake up in the morning, FIND OUT WE ARE PREGNANT AND walked across the stage with a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. These all take place without Mom.
  • June: Roman has his 2nd birthday, his first birthday without GiGi. Bud endures a birthday without the love of his life.
  • July 8th: No birthday song for Jaim either.
  • August, September, October: Pregnancy misery. Mom was probably celebrating the fact she wasn't around for that, lololol. My poor friends and family.
  • November: A baby shower for the ages!!! Once Again my sister assumes her role as mom, best friend, and sister. I was so emotional this day. I missed mom so much, I was nostalgic remembering the days, weeks, and months after Dan died grieving the fact my life was over, I'd never fall in love again, and I would never have kids. Boy was I wrong. A princess birthday for sweet Lilly, her GiGi watching from the stars. Thanksgiving: Our time to give thanks for the legacy left behind.
  • December: Celebrating the birth of Christ and all in which we base our faith. Mom is eating with the angels this year.
  • January 16, 2014 9:01 pm: Lawson Kay Smith makes her appearance into this world!!
This brings us to my new

Normal: My new normal for time is how long it's been since feedings and diaper changes. My new normal is daily panic attacks worrying that she will stop breathing, I will drop her, I'm not a good enough mommy. Googling little symptoms and convincing myself Lawson has all things that could be wrong. Nick talking sense into me. Jaims being my biggest cheerleader. Normal is clapping and whooping in celebration because Lawson just cut the biggest toot after screaming in gas pain for 25 minutes. Normal is 2 pots of coffee before noon. Normal is driving like a school zone on the highway. Sucking boogers is not only normal but a daily highlight. Peeing with a baby on your lap, every other day showers, pajamas, slippers, bad breath, one handed cooking, cleaning, and eating are also all normal. Dr. Seuss, peek-a-boo, baby Einstein, and maybe catching Jeopardy are the daily mental exercises. Laying down at night in bed and having the feeling of being on a boat because you've rocked baby Plucking dog hair out of Lawson's mouth, a permanent white smelly stream down my back, the over use of, "shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh", catching up with friends via text because you wouldn't be able to hear them over the crying are the new normal. Over sharing Lawson updates on FB. Calling my sister or texting Sputty, Cara, and Kymmy with random baby questions, appreciating their patience with me. Playing games like "brush the cradle cap out of Lawson's hair before she cries" and Lawson always winning is normal. One sided conversations with completely normal sentences such as: "Does baby waby need a diapy change?, "Momma lovies her little caterpillar",  "Little lovey needs to go snoozies", and "Push those poopies out bayba" as well as singing all other sentences to any tune you can think of just to keep their attention. Insert any Adele melody: "Mommy's making coffee, yes she is, if you let me set you down I might eat some cereal tooooooo, if you don't I will just stick to the granola bars for the tenth time this weeeek, my sweeeeeeet..." Saying (in your head) as your pits are sweating and your nerves are shot from sustained decibel level 10 crying, "Where did I set that mother f*cking pacifier!!??!!" Getting out of the house in less than an hour = NOT normal...  A MIRACLE!!! Getting pleasure from sniffing her head, judging if it's bath time by sniffing the folds in her neck, and bath time being as exciting as going out used to be is all very normal. Choosing sleep over a shower, an errand, exercise or a meal EVERY time. Cagle exercises and Lawson lifts are the daily workout.  Marking the 16th of every month on my calendar and saying, "I can't believe she'll be a month!! And today saying, "I can't believe she'll be 2 months old on Sunday!!"  is the best normal. Falling in love with Nick all over again every day as I watch him cuddle, kiss, and melt in our daughter's hands. The feeling that my heart might actually burst with love for my family is my favorite normal of all.

And now for a little comedic relief, my new:

BODY: So my body was far from perfect pre-pregnancy but it wasn't awful. I liked my butt, my legs were muscular enough from running and my stomach was nothing a good pair of Spanx couldn't hide. During pregnancy things happened to my body that I never even knew were possible. There was actually a quote from the doctor during one of my exams that said, "I've seen worse", I won't elaborate. Today, my ass falls into the category of mom butt. My linear negra neva got the memo that I'm not pregnant anymore. My right boob is considerably larger than the left because it produces, as Nick calls it, way more super juice. Lawson has sucked the color off my nipples and all my moles have grown (wtf?). My bunions have doubled in size and tripled in pain. My eyelashes are thinner and shorter as my pit and leg hair is longer and thicker. My skin is whiter as the bags under my eyes are blacker. My crows feet and laugh lines are in constant competition. The skin on my stomach....enough said. My roots are so long and dark it's almost like I am reverse "block coloring" as a new style...maybe it will catch on. With all the things that are wrong with my body, I look at it in pride. This body bore a tiny human, this body provides nourishment for my child, and this body holds my family tight every night. I'm in awe at what this body did and I thank God every day for giving me that miracle.

My new time, my new normal, my new body are all my new reality. Besides doing all of this without my mom, I wouldn't have it any other way. In Lilly's words as she laid eyes on Lawson for the first time, "It's a dream come true."

Disclaimer- It has taken weeks write this between naps, Mike, you inspired me to finish and I highly recommend doing it! 75% of this was typed with one baby free hand so no punctual or grammatical judging. And as always, thanks for traveling with me.