Thursday, February 19, 2015

This is 13

D turned 13 yesterday.  We celebrated with his friends on Monday (no school) with pizza, tag games outside, ping pong and lots of Fifa on the wiiu.  He said it was the best party ever and didn't want it to end.

Yesterday we had another day off of school due to the snow and frigid temperatures.  Nothing like a snow day on your birthday.  I got up and grabbed him a bagel from Panera, made him chocolate chip cookies, got stuff for s'mores in the fireplace for after dinner (he doesn't like cake), and we went out to dinner as a family instead of eating the meatless dinner I had bought (Ash Wednesday).  After dinner, we gave him our presents which I thought were pretty good.  His big request was a North Face jacket.  Unfortunately the style he wants was no where to be found in local stores.  K and I both had gone out and gotten him two other options to choose from OR we told him we'd order the one he really wants online and it will be here in a few days.  For some reason, my normally chill dude, started spiralling out of control into a self-pity tornado that by 10:30pm I was getting texts from him upstairs that his "life was awful, nobody loves me and all everybody cares about is E and M!!"

First, I told (texted) him that his itouch was supposed to be downstairs, but we did love him and I thought we had given him a pretty good birthday including both family party and a friend party.  I calmly pointed out all the things I had done all day for him and gently told him he was being a bit silly.  After a few "whatevers" and "you don't understands," he apologized for being ungrateful and admitted he had had a good day and did like his presents.

He finally unloaded that he's really stressed out.  He listed all the things adding to the, science fair (happening at school today), sports (currently playing soccer and basketball at the same time), social pressures (his words), everybody in the family just cares about E and M (a pretty astute observation that I couldn't deny), and not having enough time to just chill.  The social part is really getting to him since he's "the only one without an instagram account or email" and he just got a girlfriends (as of 5 days) and he is still confused about what that really means.

Wow.  Just listening to him stressed me out.  I told him we'd talk about the instagram (ummm not going to happen but we can explain why).  I empathized with his workload and pointed out that basketball was almost over and it was something that he loved to do and was his choice.  We talked a bit about how he has really high standards for himself academically (which is good), but that we could work on ways to not make it so stressful.  Once I pointed out that he had spent the last 5 days doing NOTHING but chilling out, he started to hit a more even keel.  I also agreed to let him wear my jacket (the kind he wants) till his comes AND bring cookies to school today for the 7th grade to celebrate his birthday, both of which helped with the "nobody loves me" feelings.

I have to say this reaction kinda threw me for a loop.  I'm used to the drama with the girls, especially M.  A is such a level headed dude (with the sporadic meltdown) and he never really hit the "tween" or "teen" angst level.  D, on the other hand, is a very sensitive kid.  We know that.  I guess I wasn't ready for the teenager drama to hit on day one.

He seemed okay this morning, although pretty tired after staying up too late stressing.  We both actually had assumed a two hour delay which didn't come to fruition.  He walked confidently into school (in my jacket) with his science fair board and homemade weather station (his experiment was really cool and tapped into his love of all that is meteorology).  I ran to the store, purchased the cookies and dropped them off at school before heading to the office.  I've already bowed him out of basketball practice and the second half of soccer practice so he can go to the science fair awards tonight.  I hope he at least places in his category only because he takes things so seriously and is very competitive with his high achieving buddies.

I guess the best thing I can do for him is continue to remind him how much I love him and what a great kid he really is.  He is a sensitive person with his own feelings, but on the flip side he is a very empathetic kid for someone his age.  He is kind and patient with his cousins (those that live with him and those that don't).  He is polite to adults and ridiculously smart and funny.  He works hard at all that he does, especially his sports. I worry sometimes about how many deep things he's had to deal with at a young age.  I wince when people say all the kids will be better off in the long run with what they've had to handle.  While I am so proud of who he is and how he has dealt with this grief ridden life, I still wish it wasn't so.

I love this kid and always want him to remember this...and yes, I am wearing the above-mentioned North Face jacket in this picture...the fact that it fits him already is a post in itself about how they are getting soooo big!!  At least I have a few more years till L turns 13...until then "batten down the hatches!!"

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


M turns 15 today.

She is funny.
She is fun to be around.
She works hard to have a positive attitude and do her best despite all her life challenges.

She is very loved by her cousins (brothers).
We are having a pretty low key celebration tonight since they all have school and practices tonight.  Her big sister has asked us to facetime her when we open presents since this will be the first birthday in which E won't be there.
It's her 6th birthday without her parents.  I've been thinking of Jeanne throughout the day.  I had a good cry about an hour ago and it felt good.  I remember sitting in the hospital with her while she persevered through labor and I sat there with my belly swollen with A.  I remember how scared she was when the doctor said she had to have a c-section and I hugged her telling her everything was going to be okay.  It is still mind boggling to me that I'm raising that cute little baby now and regularly have to reassure her that everything IS going to be okay despite car accidents, ADHD and anxiety disorder.
It's strange that it's starting to feel like I can't imagine our life without her, while at the same time being disbelief that I am mothering her now.  Her mommy loved her so much.  I hope I'm doing right by both of them.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Not Letting Go

There are a few things in my life that I hold on to that remind me regularly that my grief journey is slow and my feet are still plodding along steadily on that path.

I have Jeanne and Mike's emails still listed in my evite contacts and when I pause to think about deleting them if feels like if I do that I'm "deleting" them.  Regardless, they are still dead.

I have a blanket on our bed that I sleep with every night regardless of the weather because it was a blanket they used to keep on their couch in their family room, and it makes me think of Jeanne. I imagine the blanket is her giving me a hug.

For the last Christmas we had with them I had Mike as my Secret Santa.  I got him a Purdue shirt (his alma mater) that I ordered online.  I still get emails from and I can't bring myself to unsubscribe.  Every few days when the emails come I think of Mike.

I still can't listen to Mary Chapin Carpenter's song "Down at the Twist and Shout" when it comes on my ipod during a song shuffle because it was one of her favorite songs and I remember dancing to it with her at their wedding.  I've tried a few times, but it just makes me cry and I have to stop.

My dad called this morning and brought up possibly selling their house this summer (we are currently renting it) and my stomach dropped and the thought ramped up my anxiety big time.  It's the last big thing we have of them.  The kitchen Jeanne cooked in and entertained.  The backyard and deck.  The hardwood floors Mike installed.

Grief is a complicated thing.  Timing for everyone seems to be a very unique experience.  I am just not ready.  I don't know if I ever will and I'm okay with that.  I think I still try to ignore my own grief in order to focus on the kids.  That feels safer and easier to handle. 

Again, I'm okay with that.  Probably because I know that my reminders at bedtime, on my ipod or sitting in my inbox keep me from venturing too far off this road I'm on.