Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday Reflections

Arlo turned 2 last week, and  I can hardly believe it. Seems like yesterday I was up every 2.5 hours, praying for sleep, daylight, and sanity. It's funny, most of our friends told us we'd *forget* those difficult times, and while I haven't forgotten, I don't cringe as much when I reflect back on those nights/days. .. as a matter of fact, I have fond memories of exploring the wonders that are On Demand television and the art of adjusting his boppy appropriately so I could finish whatever show I was into at the moment. At 3AM, it was just he and I, and there was a sort of bond we built because of that. As mom would say, " that's neat, Laura."

Arlo is a bright, lively force in my life. Everyday he reveals a new parts of his personality that keep me astonished, humbled and curious. He loves Thomas the Train, singing his ABC's, and music in general. Gramma and Paw-Paw bought him a music kit for his birthday, and watching him rock the snare drum is pretty damn awesome. Truly, my family is blessed. Geoff and I have the unconditional support of his parents and our friends, and there isn't a day that goes by that I am not utterly in awe of the kindness and love that our family and friends give to us.

In some ways, though, observing and experiencing Arlo's milestones without mom is like a nasty scratch in your favorite record. Just as soon as I think normalcy is settling in and I am truly enjoying things , something happens to remind me that things are indeed different now. I miss daily phone call updates from her. I miss the weekly packages of toys and clothes. I started wrapping presents today and was reminded I wouldn't be recieving any of her goofy novelty gifts or even see her handwriting on gift tags. I'm trying very hard not to be negative , but I can't help but wish mom and dad were here and present to be able to enjoy Arlo as much as the rest of us. Trying to channel that frustration into something proactive and meaningful is exhausting at times. If I'm being honest, it takes a quiet yet upsetting toll, regardless of support. No one can truly fill that void of my folks not being present, not even me.

Torn and Frayed by the Stones is one of my " I can listen to this song on repeat for days and never get tired of it" songs. Lately it's been on repeat everyhwere in my life-- in my car, computer, head, etc...that and " The Obvious Child" by Paul Simon. Sometimes I measure out my life in songs, and these two seem to be hitting the mark lately. Freudian? Perhaps. Therapeutic? Of course. But overall, I am thankful for what I have now, presently. I have wonderful memories from mom, a dad who is working to get better and stronger, and an amazing son, husband, family and friends. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I figured the holidays would be rough this year without mom. The stress of school has kept me busy, but I still can't shake the feeling that something is missing this year. Even with my finals, term papers, Geoff's job, planning of Arlo's birthday and Christmas extravaganza and other miscellanous issues, I know inherently she isn't here, and won't be again. I hear a lot of " she's here in spirit" or " she's within you and what you do", but even as a therapist and a daughter of two therapiststs, I call bullshit on those sentiments at this time in my grieving process. I don't care about spirits and memories. I want her here, now. I wanted to see her at Thanksgiving, laughing and rolling her eyes at my neuroticism in parenting. I wanted to lay my head on her shoulder and hear her say " I love you, but stop laying on me. It's hot in here, you're 33, and too old to lay on your mama". Most importantly, I wanted her to enjoy watching her grandson as he ran around, played, threw tantrums, and just enjoyed his family and being himself. 

We went ahead and went with the usual Thanksgiving traditions this year, and although there was an observable hole my heart and head, but I am glad we did. The look of delight on my son's face as he entered my Aunt's house with new Thomas the Train toys she had waiting for him was beyond amazing. My Aunt truly made Thanksgiving this year easier to digest even though mom was not present.

Unfortunately, the holidays look like they might be a bit more rough than previously expected this year. My father was placed in the ICU of the hospital this week, and is in serious but stable condition. His nurse was very kind this evening and attempted to help me talk to him over the phone. The only thing I could make out was " Laura Beth" and " I love you and your mother".  I can't fathom life without both of them, but sadly it seems I must. I hope that he makes it through this hospital stay enough to be able to have a little more meaningful time with not only myself, but more importantly, with Arlo and my grandfather(his father).

I just finished up my first quarter of my MSW studies, and I'm hoping to get a 4.0, but we'll see. I truly feel like I have worked hard enough for a 4.0, but tests and finals are tricky so I'll be happy with whatever I get. I've met some awesome folks in my classes and am really thankful for their friendship and support.

I wanted to take the opportunity in this blog entry to thank my best friend, Erin, for not only being just generally awesome, but for taking care of my dad when I couldn't and being there for my family throughout everything. I love you, ED. Thanks also to all the friends and family who continue to be so supportive to Geoff and I, we greatly appreciate it. I also want to thank my mother and father-in-law for being so wonderful in helping to raise Arlo. We are so lucky to have such an awesome support group.

 Arlo turns 2 a week from tomorrow... my, how time flies! He's still obsessed with Thomas the Train and loooooves singing his ABC's song. Everyday he does something absolutely amazing, and I am so lucky to have him as my son. Being a mom has really helped me define who I am as a person, and I have my son to thank for that. His sense of humor and general love of others is astounding.

I hope to update more as the holiday season rolls along. Thanks again for all the support.