My Greatest Regret, On Mother’s Day

Even though I am a mother of three and am thankful for my blessings every single day, Mother’s Day isn’t a special day for me. Hearing and seeing the words are like a tiny punch in the gut, every single time. To me, Mother’s Day is a day when I should celebrate my mother. And she isn’t here for me to be able to do that.

I lost my mom when I was 18. Right smack dab in the middle of the “I am a jerk and treat you horribly” stage. I held on to that regret for a very long time. However, now that I am a mother myself I know that she recognized it for what it was- a stage. A natural right of passage,  a college freshman exercising her independence. She knew that I wouldn’t have talked to her like that if I didn’t love her more than anyone else in the world. I was just beginning to come around and then she passed away suddenly. We were robbed of the stage where I get to apologize and grow to become best friends. However, that isn’t my greatest regret.

I marvel at all that I have been through without her here on Earth. Graduating college, working a job I didn’t love (hearing her say “I told you so” every step of the way), getting married, getting pregnant, raising my first child, raising twins, navigating adult life, relationships, and every other little thing along the way. I missed her every single day, but I also accepted that it is what it is and held my head high.

And now, here I am, a mother of three with the greatest regret of all.

While there is nothing I can do to change it, and nothing I could have done differently, my greatest regret is that she isn’t here with her grandchildren. I never would have imagined that now, in my adult life with my own family unit established, I would miss her more than ever. My mother was a woman who lived for family. When my father was dying, the first thing she said to me was “who is going to walk you down the aisle?” She would have adored these children. I can’t give her the gratification of calling her for motherly advice or leaning on her when I need her most. I can’t return the love by letting her love on her grandchildren. My heart shatters whenever I think about how much she would have loved these children. They would have been her world, and she theirs.

I know I am living the life she would have wanted for me, and the best gift I can give her now is to do my darnedest to teach my kids about her and my dad, to shower them with love as they taught me to do, and to embrace every second of my fragile time with them. She wouldn’t want me to be sad today; she would want me to celebrate what she taught me was of utmost importance- family.

I used to just block this day out, treating it as just another day.  However, now I am a mom too and I can’t ignore it. I usually take things in stride, but now it hits me harder than I ever would have imagined. Perhaps I am just overly sentimental because I’m so darn sleep-deprived, but I know that’s not it. As happy and grateful as I am, no matter where I go or what I do, I will always have this mother-sized hole. She will always have been robbed of meeting her grandchildren and they will always wonder why they can’t see her.

This year I will celebrate Mother’s Day. I don’t really like attention; I haven’t celebrated my birthday in years. However, I have three kids who, like me, will want to celebrate their mother. I owe it to them, and I owe it to my mom. We will buy a beautiful hanging plant, the one gift she requested every year, and I will tell my children all about why our “Grandma Wilma plant” is so special. I will remind them of how much she loves them and I will smile, because I know that she would have wanted nothing more than for me to be able to experience the precious gift of motherhood myself.

This Mother’s Day, please do me and everyone else who misses their beloved mothers a favor and take a moment to celebrate the most important mother- your mother.

Mom, I love you. You truly are “the wind beneath my wings.”

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The #1 Way to Turn Your Luck Around

In this picture you see the joy, the smiles, the love.

What you don’t see is the job loss, the financial troubles, the marital stress, the difficult decisions, the  grief, the day to day exhaustion, the anxiety, the guilt.

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It is so easy to judge others, to make assumptions. You wouldn’t know it from meeting me, but if we were in a “when bad things happen to good people” contest, I would be right up there on the podium. Suffice it to say that  I have been unlucky enough that at my Grandma’s funeral the man of God delivering the eulogy literally said “no offense, but if there is lightning outside at the burial, I will not stand next to you”. Awesome, right?

That negative man would be hard-pressed to believe that the smiling people in the picture are legitimately happy. We don’t hide our realities from anyone; we just don’t let them define us. Here’s the reality: Life is tough. Everyone has their burdens. But if you are blinded by the negativity, it is nearly impossible to see all of the incredible things that life really does have to offer.

Yes, last year was a very challenging year for us, but we were HAPPY!  How couldn’t we be? It was an amazing year!

Hubby’s company folded right after the twins were born…  and together we were able to witness all of the incredible stages the first year brings- first smiles, foods, rolling, crawling, walking, first words, bonding, wonder, amazement.

We struggled financially…but the kids didn’t know it! They loved spending time with us, they loved each other. They showed us what was most important. We tightened our already frugal budget and anytime we felt “too cramped” in our house all we had to do was look around and see how happy they were.

We were exhausted and stressed…  and our exuberant 3-year-old made us laugh every single day. He amazed us with his budding reading and math skills, his tender heart, and his relentless joy for life.

We mourned the loss of three close family members… we stepped back to soak in the positive memories, thankful that we at least had those. We were able to see many of our out-of-state relatives. We remembered to cherish the short time we have on earth.

We learned some harsh realities about who our true friends and family are… and we embraced those that mattered. Together we celebrated marriages and baby announcements and knew who we could count on.

Our marriage took a toll… and we pushed each other to seek out the good, recognize that it was a challenging time, and fight for our relationship.

We felt stuck and had wanted to move for years… and we accepted the challenge to move across the country ready for a fresh start and a blank slate.

We sold our house, we bought a new one.

It is easy to see how we could have thrown a pity party much of last year, but look at all that we would have missed out on!  Rather than feel sorry for ourselves or let it consume us, we chose to see the positives.  With the right mindset, we were able to keep faith that everything would work out how it was meant to.

Trust me, positivity didn’t always come easily to me. I used to be overly critical, judgmental, and downright negative. I envied people who let things slide off their backs and had faith that things would work out. I thought everyone else’s life was so much easier than mine.  One day I made the conscious decision to change that, and with practice it has now become who I am.

I am not going to get all “Law of Attraction” or “The Secret” on you, but I will say this: Once Hubby and I made the effort to seek out the positives, more and more good things shone through (we even won a trip!). Having a positive attitude gives you faith in life, in others, in yourself. It helps you see there is light at the end of the tunnel and to recognize that setbacks are just that- setbacks.

Having a positive attitude gives  you faith in life, in others, in yourself.

The #1 strategy that helped me turn my negative thinking around was this simple practice:

Each night, before going to sleep, name 5 things that you are thankful for. 

Initially, it may start out totally forced. You may be grasping for straws-  thankful for air to breathe, food to eat, a roof over your head. Soon it becomes second nature and you will find that you are able to see the positives in any situation.

You will gravitate towards other positive people and your whole outlook will change.

You will be motivated to chase your dreams and seek out what makes you happy.

You will quickly see how lucky you really are!

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