My New Year starts tomorrow. Not because I’m procrastinating (OK, maybe a little...), but because tomorrow it’s back to school routines, work travel for weeks on end for the hubs and a new twist to my daily 20-minute work commute with one major road closing for the next ten months. Yay, 2019. 😫😭
Seriously. What was wrong with last year? 2018 was a pretty amazing year in my opinion. Do we really need a new year... again?!?
I vote we bring back 2018.
I'm usually pretty stressed out at Christmas. Anyone else with me?!?
We have this self-inflicted and society-perpetuated pressure to completely redecorate our homes, buy the perfect gifts and then wrap those perfect gifts with perfect bows, make cute homemade goodies for our kids' class parties, give lavish teacher gifts, attend a bazillion events between work and personal parties, church, school and community events, wrap our houses and yards with lights and greenery, and all while smiling beautifully for the camera to send the most amazing Christmas card to (or post the most amazing Instagram photo for) people we hardly ever see.
You hockey parents... you know who you are! But just in case you are wondering, my incredibly funny, hockey-loving, even-broke-his-leg-playing husband, Marc Minish, wrote this "Top 30" list. It's pretty spot on for the youngest hockey league in Huntsville (aka The Termites), though I'm pretty sure these ring true in hockey cities all over the country.
I couldn’t bring myself to put “Grief is a Bi+*#” in the post title since this pertains to my mom... it just doesn’t seem right. But man, it really, really is. I made it through the work day, made dinner for my family, indulged in 2.5 glasses of wine (so far - probably more to come) and am just glad to say this day is almost done.
December 1, I hate you.
I ran across this draft post from last year’s football season. I thought it was too funny - and too fitting - as we are literally driving south right now for our annual Auburn trek.
Here’s what I started to write more than a year ago:
You see those two sleeping in their strollers behind me? Yes this is my spot for the Auburn homecoming game we drove down for. They both fell asleep on the stroll to the stadium from the tailgate, and now we're hanging out in the breezeway while they sleep it off. I'm sitting on the floor.
Where in the world is my shot of rum when I need it?
Guest post by Dadda (aka Marc Minish)
I borrowed the title of this article from 1 Peter, Chapter 3. Oh, be ye not afraid that I’ll go off on some metaphysical discussion about the meaning of the Bible or what Peter really meant when he spoke these words two thousand years ago. Peter, you understand, had a much deeper meaning to his message than I do today. Still, I have some important observations about modern suburban middle class life that you might find interesting. My observation might be particularly important to anyone with kids. I’m going to talk to you today about… pizza.
We didn't go anywhere exotic or even far away for Spring Break. In fact, we only took one day off from work. (I'm hording vacation time for when we move into the house we're building.) But here's the kicker - none of that mattered. We had the best family trip ever. And here's why...
It was all because of me.
I know that sounds a tad bit (or A WHOLE LOT) self absorbed, but hear me out.
I am a cautious mom. A hold-tight-to-the-rail-when-on-the-stairs-reminding mom. I have a hard time "being chill" when my kids aren't quietly tucked in their beds. I'm also a scheduling mom and one that follows the rules. Needless to say, when kids are just being kids, it goes against every grain in my body. My first reaction is always to stop [insert whatever less than desired behavior]. In my kids' eyes, I'm pretty sure this makes me a drag to be around.
For whatever reason, unbeknownst to me, something in me changed on this trip.
I didn't set out to be the fun mom on this trip. I didn't give myself a pep talk beforehand or mentally decide to take chill pill. I started off just like I tackle everything else - making detailed lists of what to pack and where to go, researching which days would be less crowded at which locations. Trying to figure out where the St. Patty's Day traffic would be and take my family the opposite way to avoid unruly crowd behavior.
But somewhere between Thursday night packing and stepping out of the car to go to the aquarium on Friday, my mentality changed. And it made all the difference. For me. For all of us.
I didn't even freak out when my husband, Marc, decided to take the two oldest across the swinging bridge.
I didn't even scream across the way for them to hold tight!
I would venture out to even call this family time away a vacation. Normally I'm of the mindset of going out of town with your kids is a trip - not a vacation. But this time was so different. It didn't fell like work at all!
Here are some more photo highlights.
I pray this vacation-mode Chantel will last beyond Spring Break... It sure felt good. Life is crazy busy enough to not add another layer of worry into it.
P.S. Just to keep it authentic - we did have some whiny times and a few hiccups along the way. When you have a 2-year-old, 4-year-old and (almost) 6-year-old, there will be some meltdowns. But they were few and far between - and a relaxed mama is way more equipped to handle those than a stressed out one!
I'm writing because today is a hard day. Or let me correct myself - today should be a hard day.
November 28 stands out in my mind like a sore thumb. There are three other days (November 30, December 1 and December 4) that hold the same significance in my life and they all follow one another. Which usually makes this a hard week (plus a day if you want to get technical).
Three years ago November 28 was Thanksgiving Day. Do you remember how awkwardly close to December it was?? I don't recall it ever falling so close to the end of the month before. It helps it stand out (as if I needed any more help on that one).
Three years ago on Thanksgiving, we took our last family photo with my Mama.
For the past two years, November 28 has brought a crushing wave of emotion. However, this year grief has looked a little different for me than before. The picture above popped up in my Facebook feed this morning and it reminded me that I hadn't yet cried for my Mama. In fact, I can't quite remember the last time I have cried over my Mama.
The only sign of emotion I showed at all today (until now when I forced myself to think about the subject in detail) was in quick passing with a friend while I dropped off some clothes for her daughter on an early lunch break. Even then, remembering my Mama was on a long list of things I rattled off as making my day a "bad day." I choked up for a minute, composed myself and kept on talking.
Maybe I should feel good about the fact that the sting is a little less... relieved that the thought of my Mama's passing isn't debilitating? Wrong. Feeling that way had turned into something completely different that I never expected - guilt.
I'm not talking about the guilt you expect someone to feel after someone's passing. I've been through the "should-coulda-woulda" stage of grief before. I've thought many a long night about how I could've been closer to my mom, why I didn't visit more, why I picked so many needless fights with her, how sorry I felt that I grew up closer to my Dad than I did to her, asking myself why I let her little idiosyncrasies embarrass me... Those feelings of grief are in check. The grief feeling I'm talking about looks more like this picture:
Yes, me too. The guilt I feel is because quite honestly, right now my Mama's absence isn't consuming. I feel guilty because I should be sad. I should still cry. I should have a hard time celebrating my son's 2nd birthday because I should be so upset that my Mama isn't there to see it.
This feeling is confusing. Conflicting even. I know she would be happy that I'm happy in this picture above. But then why do I feel so dern guilty about being happy just like she would want? This is not how a daughter is suppose to act three years after her mom is gone - or at least, not how the picture I have in my mind about grief should look...
As any normal human I took to Google to see if anyone else had my same problem. This is the pre-populated search at the bottom of the search page:
Those searches don't even seem related to how I'm feeling. I do feel something very real - I feel guilty for not being sad. Does anyone else on the planet not feel this way? Am I the only completely heartless and selfish daughter out there?
I've heard the old saying life must go on. She would want me to be happy. She would want me to make the most of every day in her loving memory. And OK, I see the good in those sayings, but it's not changing the fact that I want to be sad over this.
It's comforting in some strange way to burst in to tears because I miss her so. I feel much more comfortable with crying because the anniversary of her death is later this week than knowing the day is coming and not crying over it.
Have you ever watched a sad movie on purpose because you wanted to cry? My go-tos are "The Notebook" or "Beaches" or "Hope Floats." And I'm sure I could buy one of those on Amazon right now and have myself a good cry but I think that would make me feel even more guilty - that a movie can make me sob, but remembering November 28, 2013, can't even conjure up an ugly-cry face.
To reference a quote from one of those tear-jerking movies, my cup does not runneth over. My cup seems empty.
Yesterday as we drove by to check the progress of the house we're building, I started thinking... We're building this lovely house in a lovely neighborhood, but how long will it take for it to feel like home? In all honesty, I've been thinking about this post for a while (and solicited feedback from friends several weeks ago), but driving by our future home reminded me of it again. And prompted me to go ahead and get my feelings about the subject "down on paper."
As dissatisfied and fed up as I am with our current place, it definitely fits my definition of "home." We bought this place when my oldest was just 6 months old. He is now 5-and-a-half. All three of my kiddos have learned to crawl and walk in this place. They learned to talk here and have decorated many windows and pieces of furniture with stickers here. The days are long but the years are short, eh?
Holy moly, we are building a house. A home! The place we believe could be our final move. Well, maybe not our final - we're still debating on how to spend retirement - living in a big ol' house without our kids waiting on grandchildren, or renting a place in Tuscany and traveling all over. But I digress...
Wife, mom and full-time marketing pro. Diet coke addict. Auburn fan (and alumn). Christian - striving to comprehend grace.