The List

As the 5 year anniversary of my Mom’s passing approaches, my mind goes back to the months following that day. As many of you understand, the first year after the loss of a loved one is full of firsts — firsts days, first weeks, first months and so on. In the midst of this comes the first holidays, birthdays and anniversaries and no clearcut guidelines as to how to approach and deal with these events. Looking back, the first few months are a blur and I really don’t know just how I processed those first few months, especially that first Mothers’ Day — I just know I did. As the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approached, I found it to be more difficult than I though it would be — you know what I mean. It had been several months and I was “supposed to” be getting on with my life and starting to heal, but that wasn’t the case. Because of this I knew that I would have to make a concerted effort to bring my focus back to where it needed to be. My Mom would not want me moping around feeling sorry for myself and missing out on the true purpose of these holidays, so I made a plan and, thankfully, I stuck to it. Sometime in October I made my mind up that on November 1st, I would start a list of things I am thankful for and post it to Facebook each and every day the month of November. Looking back, it really did allow me to search for things that were a positive in my life and there were many. I also chose to stop posting them after November 30th; that doesn’t mean that I stopped being thankful, it simply means that I make it a more private endeavor — and the things became more and more personal as Christmas approached, but the habit was in place. For that I am very thankful because I needed the focus for a while longer. For some reason, I kept that paper with my list — I guess it was a symbol of how strong I could be when necessary; then I lost track of that list, or so I thought…

While going through some papers the other day, that list reappeared and at that moment I remembered why I had put it in that place. It was one of those days that I needed a pick-me-up and I was not disappointed. In honor of April 23, 2009, I want to share this list with you. Please keep in mind that the list you are reading is a much condensed version of what I posted each day to Facebook in November of 2009, but I am still thankful for each and every one of them. I hope this list brings positive things to your mind.

I am thankful for:  You, yes you…God is… True Friends… Music… Family… Forgiveness… Freedom… Today… Military… Veterans & their Families… Inspired Writers… Justin… Change of Seasons… Laughter… Andy… Andy’s continued employment… Memories… Random Acts of Kindness… Conversation and Dialogue… Andy’s Contest Entry & win… Another Day… Time with Mom… In-laws… Joy… Thanksgiving… Relationships… Love… Anniversaries… Simple Pleasures…

When originally posted, I expanded on some of these a little, others a great deal and still others were simply left alone — it all depended upon how much I chose to share at  the time. At first sight of this list the other day a smile immediately came to my face and a lot of emotions followed — yes some sad, but mainly happy. While it is true I am a fairly private person, I needed to share this list 5 years ago, but I also need to share this now. Looking back, my list is in no way complete — it doesn’t even come close to covering all that came to my mind while I was doing it. This list helped me through a tough time, but more importantly, it taught me that I could and would make it through a very rough time in my life. I hope those of you that are going through something will be inspired to find your strength to persevere and push forward.

My Mom is no longer here with us, but her spirit, her memories and her energy will always be a part of my life. Was my relationship with my Mom perfect? Absolutely not, but there are plenty of good things and pleasant memories I have to keep her alive in my heart. Maybe one day I will write a blog on her, but we will have to see about that.

 

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

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The little Things

Well, I am back and hopefully I will be better about the regularity of my posts. As I type this, Justin is less than a month into his second semester at the University of Tennessee at Martin and doing very well! He is now the Assistant Sports Editor at UTM’s paper — not too shabby for a Freshman!  In addition to this, he is set to join the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society in February! Yes, I am more than a little proud of my boy, but I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. There is just something so satisfying about having a son doing so well AND enjoying himself in the process! Yes, I said it — satisfying. Some of you know what I am trying to say, while others of you do not — and that is OK! I am learning that it is all about recognizing and acknowledging the little things — the little things that build the foundation for the bigger and better things yet to come.

One thing I am trying to do is step back and let him take over the reins of his life — not an easy thing for this Mom to do. If you know me at all, you know this to be true. I know this is a learning process for all of us, but it is a necessary thing that must happen. As a Mom, I have always believed my main job is to teach, mold and direct my son in such a way that he is ready to step out into the real world and start down his own path. The thing is — somewhere in the process I forgot to prepare MYSELF for the transition and had to play catch-up. The one question I came up with early into his first semester away at school was this:  Who thought it was a good idea  to take a group of recent high school graduates and put them in a dorm  hours away from home with limited supervision? I mean REALLY?! Some of you really grasp that, others of you have no clue, but many of you WILL!  🙂  When those thoughts creep into my head, I have to take a moment and chuckle and then just take a deep breath to regroup. Then and only then can I take a step forward and remind myself that it is just one more step to his independence. For some of you this is old hat and you have much more experience than I do, but for me it is all a little fresh and new. All I can say is that I too am going through a growing process.

Throughout this process I am learning that tiny steps of progress pave the way for more little steps forward that will lead to full strides. All in all I am doing well — most days. There are still days that I wonder who thought this whole college thing away from home is a good idea, but most days I really do see how it aids maturity. For the first time in his life he has to make day-to-day decisions without his Dad or I there to guide him. Yes, there are always phone calls, emails and other modes of communication, but it is different. Gone are the days that I make all of his meals to make sure he eats his veggies or keep track of his schedule so nothing is forgotten — we are full into the days where he has to learn self-sufficiency. Gone are the days that I control exactly how he spends his money — he must now figure out a budget, priorities and balance. Gone are the days that I  vet his friends and protect him –now he must navigate roommate relationships and all that entails.

I am remiss if I simply dwell on what is no more; I am unfair if I concentrate on what “used to be.” and I fail if I neglect to focus on the good, the positive and the growth that I see. Since moving into his dorm, I see evidence of the flashes of brilliance I longed for as the Mom of a middle schooler — those moments when I can actually say “He gets it!” I see evidence of little things that give me hope. You know what I am talking about, I know you do! After years and years of preaching to Justin about planning ahead and not waiting until the last moment, I actually see evidence that he is starting to do just that. Not only did he plan his classes well, but he did so with forethought into future semesters. Granted, he has the help of the advisors, but he asks the questions and makes the plan! And it goes beyond that — thankfully!

In addition to that, he is dealing with some very real situations involving peer pressure. Yes, I know there are always things in high school, but somehow college roommates up the ante. Thankfully, Justin has been open with both his Dad and me about things he is facing, and that is good. We have told him all of his life that we are here for him — not just for teaching, but also for listening. Without going into detail, I will just say that he as faced some pretty tempting things in his dorm room and has made some good choices. I am not by any means saying ALL his choices have been perfect since moving into his dorm, but I am pretty pleased. There is hope — and I cannot express just HOW thankful I am for that.

In all of this I do keep reminding myself to stay focussed on the big picture. My newborn infant is no more; he is growing and developing into a smart, independent and capable young man. That being said, he will ALWAYS by my baby, and he has resigned himself to this — much to his chagrin!  As his Mom, it is up to me to set the example, and I am trying. I would be doing him, and me a disservice to neglect to see the progress he is making. I have found that when I look for the good or positive, I usually find it, or the opportunity for it to blossom. I can spend my time lamenting the fact that my son is not a baby any more or I can just be overjoyed that he is growing physically, mentally and emotionally enough to be away at school. I can dwell on the fact that he is no longer under my roof and my protection or I can celebrate the fact that he is no longer under my roof and protection.  Think about that one for a moment. 🙂

On that note, and with a very happy heart, I will leave you for now. I will keep trying to look for the positive and I hope that you can too. If that sound familiar, I hope that means that you have read some of my previous posts. I can only share with you my experiences — and I hope that I can at least encourage you to try to take one step at a time into the world of looking for the good and positive. Don’t worry — I am right there with you. We can take the steps together and as always…

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!