You know the song. Everyone knows the song. It’s by Lesley Gore. Pretty much the only thing anyone knows her for.
It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to Cry if I want to, cry if I want to You would cry too if it happened to you…
It used to go ’round and ’round in my head when I was a teen and I threw parties that never quite went according to plan. My dad used to claim he’d met her once, that she was a sweet girl. And now that’s all I can think about.
It’s my birthday on Wednesday and for the first time since I can remember, I have no desire whatsoever to celebrate. I don’t want gifts. I don’t want a party. I don’t want a fuss of any kind.
I just want a day like any other.
And maybe I want to cry.
I know that people around me are starting to think that it’s time for me to shake off my grief, to get back to my cheerful, happy, gregarious self. But fact is, I’m not ready. And I don’t know when I will be.
I’d rather spend my evenings working or watching TV while playing dumb games on my iPod than going out with friends. I’d rather spend time with one or two close friends than a whole group of people. And I really don’t want to celebrate my birthday.
I have been on the other side of grief, watching friends suffer. I know exactly where they are, thinking that enough time has passed, that things should be getting back to normal by now. What I didn’t know, didn’t realize, is that sometimes things never get back to normal, that instead, a new normal is formed.
And that too is griefworthy.
Because what if along with grieving for my father and the relationship we should have had, I also have to grieve for who I was? What if I have to do all that work all while trying to figure out who I am now?
It’s all just beyond exhausting.
So, on Wednesday, I’ll bask in gratitude for the friends who are pretending to understand what I’m going through and the spouse who just wants to hold me while I go through it, and I’ll smile through my tears and try not to think about the one call that won’t come in.
Because it’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to.
Lesley said I could and I hear she was a sweet girl.
On Saturday I flew the two kids to the Midwest so I could drop them off at camp. Overnight camp. For two weeks.
I went to camp as a kid and loved it.
M went to camp as a kid and hated it.
Two differing opinions that warred in my head when we first learned of the camp this winter and I asked the kids if they’d want to go.
In my mind there was no doubt that camp would be a fantastic experience for them. Two weeks on a gorgeous lake surrounded by kids, going from one activity to the next…heaven to most kids. Right? I was even hopeful that a little separation would be great for Little L, help her become a little more self-reliant and a little less prone to asking for help before even trying something.
But I worried, because, in so many ways, they’re very much M’s children and taking them to camp halfway across the country didn’t leave many options for middle of the night pick-ups should things not pan out.
That said, the whole halfway across the country no middle of the night thing is also good. Sometimes not having an easy out is a good incentive for pushing yourself through the hard parts so you don’t miss the good parts.
But I still worried.
And then Sunday dawned and I had to load them into the rental to take them to the drop off spot. And then I had to hug them goodbye and leave them behind.
I was fine until that point. Riding my “Camp is a GREAT THING” wagon all the way. Until I realized I left my heart behind with them.
I drove away from the camp, headed into town for a few hours of sightseeing and reminded myself of all the good things camp does for kids.
I reminded myself that my job as a mom isn’t to shield and protect my kids from everything and anything, but to help prepare them for adulthood. Because, after all, we’re raising adults, not children, right?
My heart broke at the thought that I wouldn’t be there to cuddle Little L at night when she felt homesick, but I comforted myself with the thought that any one of her three counselors or the camp mom would be there for her.
My heart squeezed when I wondered who C would discuss her worries with, and then relaxed when I remembered she had her journal and a slew of new-found friends.
My breath hitched when I realized I’d forgotten to ask the director to make sure Little L ate, because she sometimes doesn’t and then she gets cranky, but then I reasoned that it would probably be apparent, very, very quickly.
And then I stopped myself from thinking of any other ways they’d be missing my ministering and doting.
I dropped my kids off at camp and I will not be privy to their day-by-day feedback. They’re going to have experiences I won’t be able to picture and might never hear about. And that’s ok. It’s sad, it’s hard for me, but it’s great for them. I will peruse the camp’s nightly picture uploads to look for smiles and happiness. And I will try not to worry if they look tired or a little sad. Because a nano-second captured on film doesn’t tell the story of a whole day, or a whole week. And I will remember that this is a GOOD thing.
For them, for me, for us.
I won’t always be there to hug them and pick up the pieces. I won’t always be close by for instant feedback or advice. One day they will be spreading their wings and going to college and then off to their own lives, and it’s never too early for them to know that I know they are smart, strong, resilient, and I trust them to stand on their own two feet.
Even if it makes me feel like I’m walking around completely empty when they are away from me.
Looks like she’s not the least bit traumatized by camp.
Please note: this is a sponsored post. But it contains all of my usual wit and wisdom, so, please, read on.
A few weeks ago a friend asked me if I was going to be ok with all the Father’s Day stuff that was starting to hit the airwaves and every other available advertising surface. I blinked at her, totally not getting what she was asking. Then she gently nudged me.
“You know, Father’s Day? Are you worried it’ll be, you know, painful because of your dad?”
And I had to laugh, because my dad loathed Father’s Day. With a passion. We were never allowed to even wish him a Happy Father’s Day. Which is good, in many ways, because for us, Father’s Day has always, and will always, be about M as a dad and it won’t have any negative connotations this year or ever.
And boy does M deserve to be celebrated.
He comes home, exhausted, after a long day of wrangling challenging clients and difficult cases, and he dives right in. He tidies, deals with kid demands, makes dinner, plays endless board games, teaches the kids to play the Ukulele and the piano. He sings to them and talks to them, and sometimes just cuddles. He’s quick to take up the slack when I need him to step in and never, ever complains when I duck out for a much needed Girl’s Night Out to catch my breath.
If ever a dad deserved to be celebrated it’s him. If ever a dad deserved to have a day all to himself, not haunted by specters of other dads, it’s him.
So I asked him what he wanted to do for Father’s Day. His reply?
“Whatever you want.”
And I asked what he wanted as gifts for Father’s Day? His reply?
No, seriously. That’s what he always wants. New. Socks. The gift that keeps on giving.
Lucky him, I already got him new socks last week. This week we’re going for something a tad more fun.
Now, clearly I can’t tell you exactly what I’m getting him, because he reads this and that would totes ruin the surprise, but I can tell you some other things he’d love…things you can find on eBay if you’re still looking for great ideas for the dads in your own life.
So, M’s a tad obsessed with Ukes. Which is great. But maybe I shouldn’t let him see just how many are available on eBay. Though I have to say, I’m rather tempted to expand his collection myself. Some of the options are truly unique and exceptional.
M dabbles in art. He colors, he paints, he sketches. It works out nicely, because I have a bit of a thing when it comes to purchasing art supplies. As in, I like to buy them. Lots of them. eBay has pretty much everything you could ever want to buy when it comes to art supplies. It makes my little heart go pitter patter.
Ok, I admit, I know exactly nothing about recording studios, what they require, what’s good, what’s worthwhile, or anything. But M does. He also knows what he already has and what he might need or want. So, basically, this would be the ideal opportunity for an eBay gift card.
Apparently you can never have too many candles, guided meditations, or other meditation inspired things. If it helps you create a nice, safe, inspiring space, I say go for it. Which is probably why we have more candles in our bedroom than the average candle store. Not sure where to get started? Check out some of the collections put together by eBay users.
Nothing ever feels more lame than handing someone a gift card and saying “Have a Happy Whatever, Man.” And yet, when you’re dealing with someone like my husband, who finds it almost physically painful to spend money on himself, sometimes a gift card is truly the best gift in the world. It’s like giving him permission to go shop. Which he loves, especially if he feels it’s with “free money.”
At eBay? You can get pretty much any gift card you could possibly imagine. Seriously. Go look. Best part? It’s not too late to score the perfect gift card. You can shop for them all the way until Saturday.
I barely scratched the surface of everything that can be found on eBay. It really is the ideal place to shop if you’re looking for something a little eclectic or something totally run of the mill. More than 70% of what’s sold on the site comes new-in-box and shipping tends to be fast.
eBay Father’s Day Sweepstakes!
Want to win some handy shopping cash this Father’s Day?
You can enter to win $1,000 for Dad this Father’s Day by tweeting at @eBay and including #eBayCelebratesDads and #Sweeps in the tweet. Share something a dad in your life would love this Father’s Day from their Father’s Day Gift Guide or just tweet why Dad is awesome!
Please note: In case you hadn’t guessed yet, this was a sponsored post written on behalf of eBay. My passion for all things eBay is 100% genuine and all the thoughts contained here are all mine.
One of the things grief seems to have stolen from me, aside from my usual sense of humor and desire to hang out with tons of people whenever I can, is time. Or really the sense of time passing.
I woke up this morning to the excited chatter of kids about to be freed from the yoke of public education for a brief 9 weeks and I couldn’t really comprehend what I was hearing.
How is it possible that they are out for the summer? That they’re home for the foreseeable future? That I haven’t purchased their plane tickets yet for camp? That I have nothing planned for them to do until then?
How is it June?
Where did the last three months go?
Heck, where did the last 9 months go?
Didn’t school just start?
The school year often feels like it flies by in a blur, but this year? It’s like someone hit fast forward.
I lost most of November and December to post anesthesia fog,* the start of the year to frantic trips to Canada to see my dad, and the spring reeling from his death.
It’s a good thing the girls had a good year and that they had fantastic teachers to support them so that I could bob along in my fog of grief and work, but I’m bummed that I feel like I missed their 2nd and 4th grades.
I was here. I helped with homework. I read in the classroom. I had deep and not so deep conversations with them in the car. I hugged. I laughed. I packed lunches and checked test papers. But it really feels like I was going through the motions, waiting for my everything to click back into place and start feeling engaged again.
Guess it didn’t happen in time for the end of the year.
Here’s hoping it happens before the next year starts.
First and last day of school 2014-2015
*Don’t bother searching, I didn’t blog about the surgery I had back then. I might soon. Not sure. Just know it was elective and that I’m a-ok.