Happy birthday, mom

Today is the birthday that you didn’t make it to.

It’s hard to imagine, still, that your body gave out before you were done with it. Your soul. Your being. Your presence. They never gave up. They continue to wrap us with joy and laughter and learning.

Today is March 17, 2015. You would have been 63.

In the seven months since your body left us, we’ve continued to grow. We now know grief. We now know love and bonding and what strength really means. We’re starting to know what it’s like to not have you laughing in the next room. Or this room. We’re starting to let the gaping void heal. The wet wound is drying.

Nothing is getting easier and it’s best for the people around us to ignore our pain. None of us want them to see it because it’s not their burden. Our emotions range from freedom to happiness to soul-crushing desperation. But there’s acceptance. Acceptance keeps us moving forward and our daily lives are just as simple as they ever were. Family comes first. Then work. Then play.

The kids have grown to the point where you might not recognize them. I’m overwhelmed with pride at each corner. Each turn is better than the next. There’s thoughtfulness and tenderness and a wit that is amazingly disarming. These kids are everything that you would have ever wanted them to be. They’re my kids. They are kids that you would have raised. They are who they are because of you.

I’m proud of you, mom. You built an amazing community, incredible family, and a life worth living. You fill me with hope, daily. You remind me about the important things and allow me to step back from the ones that can wait. You’ve taught me to cherish my moments and the people around me. You’ve taught me to live and to enjoy this life. You’ve done well. Your best was the best. I can only hope to be like you one day.

Happy birthday, mom.

May this day be filled with overflowing martinis, damn-good Chinese food, rowdy dancing, abundant laughter, and a few tears. May this day be filled with your eternal light. May this day be filled with your presence and all of the joy that it brings us.

Today is a celebration. Today is the day that you were born. Today, we celebrate your life.

Happy birthday, mom.

I yelled at my daughter. . . because she’s two.

It can happen to anyone; the feeling of being overwhelmed with work or technology or responsibility. All of us are prone to it, given the right circumstances. Sometimes it just sneaks up on us without warning and sometimes it builds up over time. Regardless of how you land there, it’s your duty to deal with your emotions in a way that doesn’t hurt those around you.

Last night I yelled at my daughter. I yelled at her because she’s two.

After a long day of staring at a screen I came home to daddy duty. My wife was headed out for the evening and my lot was to feed and bathe and snuggle the kiddos before putting them to bed for the night. This isn’t a rare thing, but for some reason, last night it felt insurmountable. Even the thought of rowdiness gave me stress. Dinner was rough, getting their PJs on was rougher, and bed time was a nightmare. And I lost it. I snapped.

After 2 hours of trying to get the little one to just lay down in bed, I let her have it. I threatened a time out. I walked out of the room. I raised my voice to a totally innocent two-year-old because I was overwhelmed.

Being a parent doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect. Raising your voice happens. Discipline is important. But it’s also important to recognize when you’re at your wits end; if it’s their fault or yours. Last night it was my fault.

I don’t ever plan on being the perfect father. I think that having parents that mess up is an important part of childhood and an important part of becoming a well-rounded adult. I also think that it’s important to be honest with yourself when you do cross the line and appreciate that being overwhelmed happens.

Given the opportunity for a do-over, though, I wouldn’t accept it, because this was an important lesson for me. I’ve recognizing that my wee one didn’t deserve what I dished out. She still loves me (she’s sitting on my lap at the moment playing with my hair and trying to type this for me.) She doesn’t remember my raised voice. She’s as happy as can be.

All of this is to say that it’s important to think about your actions. It’s important to feel their repercussions and to grow yourself in their wake. Try not to yell at your kids for being kids. If it happens, think about why and try and learn from it.