Haunted

The chipped asphalt stretches for miles. Miles I’ve walked hundreds of times. Ghosts of my children stand in front of the old grocery store—five-years-old, seven-years-old, ten-years-old—and a pang of sadness wraps around my heart, squeezes. Toddlers turn into children, children turn into teenagers, teenagers turn into young men.

And I can feel them slipping away.

So I cling to the memories. Memories of little, chubby hands wrapping around mine. Of giggles serenading the sunlight. Of wet kisses smacking against my cheeks.

I closed my eyes one day, a mom to two small boys.

I opened them the next, a mom to two young men.

Time slipped away. And no matter how much I want to reach back, to hold onto them being babies, I can’t. Life happened. My babies grew up. And now I stare at empty seats, and I wonder where the time went.

Their heads now tower over me, their hands envelop mine. Men. My boys are young men. And they will take many paths in their lives. Some will even be the wrong paths, but they will learn something valuable from each. And I will be here, waiting and watching, with my arms held open wide to welcome them back home. To hold them when they fail, and I’ll whisper words of encouragement. And when they succeed, I will be here, waiting and watching, with my arms open wide to welcome them back home. To hug them and congratulate them.

As long as I’m alive, I will be the sunlight in their darkest moments. And I will be their biggest cheerleader in their greatest moments.

Because one day, I will be nothing more than a ghost. Nothing more than a memory. And I hope that what I do here on this Earth carries them through the rest of their lives. For there’s been no greater accomplishment in my life than my children.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s a Wee Bit Gremlinly

Raising boys is like raising gremlins—cute and sweet one minute, razor-sharp teeth monsters the next.

In the midst of submitting to Pitch Wars, my gremlins decided to be a wee bit more gremlinly than usual.

As I was spit shining my submission package, my youngest gremlin mentioned he had written an essay in one of his classes, and his teacher was happy the movie Freedom Writers changed his perspective. I stop typing, my head turns sideways, and I ask him to show me. He ran off to grab his Google Chromebook, and I had a million thoughts zigzagging through my mind.

This gremlin is rule-oriented. Everything is black and white. There is no gray area. So what did my gremlin write? Please, please…let it be nice.

He comes back with his laptop and hands it to me.

I wipe my sweaty palms on my pants, grab the gadget, and dive in. The words veer by as I skim to the meat of his essay. And then I see this:

What. The. What?!

I read the last sentence out loud to my husband, and he dips his head to hide his smile.

This isn’t how we roll. My husband and I help people, and we try to instill it into our kids. But, somehow, we missed the mark with the youngest gremlin.

This was me the rest of the evening:

👆🏻Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a brighter note, the eldest gremlin started working this week. Here’s a tidbit from our conversation last night:

Being an adult sounds like fun. Until you go to work.

Welcome to the real world, eldest Gremmy.

<-insert evil laugh here->

I hope everyone else has had a phenomenal week. And if you submitted to Pitch Wars, you, my friend, are a rock star. Go celebrate!

~Tiff~

🧱The Echoes that Built Me 👷🏼‍♀️

Life is a beautiful, messy thing. When I was young, I thought I had life figured out. I blazed through each day, taking whatever path tickled my fancy and hoped for the best. As I became older, I realized I didn’t have a mother lovin’ clue. But through the chaos, the echoes of people, places, and events in my life molded and shaped me. 

Growing up, my grandmother poured her positive spirit into me. If I said I was going to do something—no matter how crazy it was—she believed not only could I do it, but I would excel at it. All the conversations, all the emails, all her words of wisdom and hope echo within me. Even though she’s been gone for over eight years, I hear her voice cheering me on. Through her, because of her, I learned perseverance. I learned that doors would shut, but if you keep at it, others will open.

My father’s leadership echoes within me. Who I am as a person was created through the conversations I had with him. Conversations that I will carry with me always. I learned to listen, respect others’ differences, and stand up for what is right—even if it meant standing alone.

I learned how to be a survivor because of my mom. The horrors she faced as a child and as a young woman could have destroyed her. But, instead, she chose to place one foot in front of the other. She decided to have a family and pour her love into her children instead of letting the hate she grew up in taint her. No matter what I face, because of her, I choose to be a survivor. 

Unconditional love echoes within me. The love I have for my children. Strong, steady, powerful. It is unselfish. It is humbling. It defined me and shaped me into a better person. A person that sees through a different lens. A lens of compassion, hope, understanding, and faith.

No matter how many doors closed, what obstacles I faced, or the heartache I felt, I was prepared for them because I had a strong foundation. Every echo built me into the woman I am today. For that, I am grateful.

Ms. Write Life

🍷Alcoholism’s Collateral Damage❤️‍🩹

One bottle after the next is knocked back. Roaring laughter, wide smiles, glazed eyes. Amber liquid sloshes onto the stained carpet, blending in with urine, vomit, and feces. Feet shuffle toward the kitchen. The room tilts, a shoulder slams into the wall. Fingers claw for something. Anything. But there’s nothing. 

Nothing but darkness as everything else fades away.

The next afternoon, the scrawny man with white stubble on his chin lays splayed out on the dirt-stained floor. Someone knocks on the door. No answer. Someone knocks again. Bottles rattle as they skitter across the floor. 

The door cracks open. 

A naked father, covered in nothing but his bodily fluids, shades his red-rimmed eyes with his hand. A son, with his wife and small children walking up behind him, blocks their view.

A planned barbeque destroyed. Family bonds strained. Disappointment clouds the once bright day.  

A decade passes. A decade filled with driving a father to and from work since he can’t drive himself thanks to a DUI. A decade filled with trying to cook for a father who’d only show up drunk. A decade filled with a father asking for money. A decade filled with a father trying to light up a cigarette in his daughter’s car with his grandchild in the backseat. A decade filled with reaching out, with trying to save him, with offering help. But no one can save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.

Time goes on. A grandfather can’t spell his grandson’s name. A grandfather who doesn’t know what his granddaughter likes or dislikes. The grandchildren don’t know him, either. They call him by his given name, because he’s nothing more than a stranger.

A father who calls his grown children – not to see how they’re doing. Not to tell them he loves them. Simply because he needs something.

Alcoholism isn’t victimless. Its dark web entangles its victim as it promises nothing more than a good time. Alcoholism is a jealous mistress who doesn’t like to share. She doesn’t just destroy the poor soul who lives and breathes for the next sip of her nectar. She destroys families.

It’s easy to judge from the outside. To judge the kids for not calling their parent. To judge the kids for not visiting their parent. But when you fight to save a parent who doesn’t want to be saved, there’s collateral damage. Good, kind hearts are hurt over and over again to the point they become numb.

This is what comes with alcoholism. It’s ugly, cold, hurtful. The family members caught in the path deserve compassion and kindness, not judgement and hate.

This is reality.

Ms. Write Life

Bearded Man-Child 🧔

Green-blue eyes sparkle with mischievousness as freckled arms wrap around me, a wiry tawny beard jabs my hair, and my body stiffens. 

“Hug me,” he demands.

 I pat his arm with one hand. 

“That’s not a hug,” he scoffs. “Both hands.”

My arms hang loosely around him as he declares, “You suck at giving hugs.”

I snorted. “I’d give better hugs if you didn’t shit yourself every time you hugged me.”

That’s just a snippet of one of the conversations my eighteen-year-old son and I have. He hugs at home, leaving silent-but-deadly presents that linger like a dead carcass on the side of the road on a mid-July afternoon. He thinks it’s hilarious. I don’t. 

But to be fair – he gets it honest.

My dad’s the epitome of professionalism when he’s at work. The man is a hazard with any tools, can’t change a tire, struggles tying on a fishing lure. He can, however, leave a trail of deadly fumes in his wake. Something he enjoys doing in his own home as he passes by an unexpecting victim. 

My son learned from the expert crop duster, dropping gas like farmers drop pesticides. But when you fight your way out of the fumes, the bearded man-child has a softer side.

Professional Crop Dusters

He called me yesterday morning asking if I wanted anything to eat. I wasn’t even hungry, but I ordered a sausage biscuit. If my kid offers to pick me up something to eat, and he’s paying for it, I’m ordering something. I don’t care if I vomit afterward. He doesn’t usually buy me breakfast.

Maybe it’s because he walks across the stage this week. Maybe the spokes are turning in his brain, and he’s realizing life’s about to change. He’s no longer a toddler who can hold my hand as he stumbles through life. It’s his life. His choices. There will be mistakes. There will be failures. There will be disappointment. There will be tears. There will be storms. But in the midst of all that, he has an anchor. He has his family.

One thing I’ve tried to instill in my son is that family is forever. There will be people who walk into his life that he thinks will always be there, and they’ll eventually fade out of his life. But… he will always have a home to go to. He will always have an ear to listen to his woes. He will always have his family. When chaos ensues, we will be his anchor.

Today, I’ve been rambling around my house, straightening up, cleaning anything that catches my eye. Pictures hang on my walls. Pictures of my son as a toddler, as a child, as a teenager, as a bearded man-child. Tears prick the back of my eyelids. I scrub the granite countertop, avoiding his face smiling at me through the years.

He’ll walk across the stage tonight, grab the diploma held out to him, and he’ll slide the green-gold tassel dangling from his cap from one side to the other. I’ll paint my face, adding a dash of blush, eyeliner, mascara, knowing that I’ll not make it through the ceremony without crying.

I’ve barely avoided crying as I’ve walked around my home. The ghost of memories cling to every corner, hang from every wall.

Today… I’m a wreck. Tonight… I’ll still be a wreck.

Part of my heart, part of my hopes and dreams, part of my soul is venturing into the world. May he spread his wings and soar. May he fight for the impossible and make it possible. May he stand for what he believes in, even if it means standing alone. May he find joy, love, and peace as he branches off on his own.

More than anything, may he always find his way home.

~Tiff~

To My Son on Graduation Day

It’s hard to believe it’s here already. Graduation. When I first held you, eighteen years seemed so far away. Then, I blinked and my baby boy turned into a full-bearded young man.

Parenting doesn’t mean perfect. I didn’t always get everything right. But one thing I did get right was you. Even at nineteen-years-old and scared out of my mind, I never regretted having you. I regretted my choices that would negatively impact you. My boy. My innocent child. I was young, dumb, and didn’t have a clue. Until you were placed into my arms.

I am the woman I am today because of you. One look into your eyes lit a fire inside my soul. I wanted more for you than I wanted for myself. I stopped walking down deadend streets. I reflected on my actions. On my life. And I changed. For you. Because of you.

 Love doesn’t mean perfect, baby. It’s a flawed, beautiful thing wrapped in emotional highs and lows. But family is everything. When it feels like everything you’ve worked for is crashing down around you, your family will be there to hold you up. They will be your rock. Your encouragement. Family first. Always.

Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams. Don’t be afraid to fail. But most of all, don’t be afraid to love. If I fail at everything else in life, I will take my last breath knowing that I never failed at loving you or your brother.

 I have so many hopes for you. But no matter what path you take, no matter how many times you stumble, I will be here to cheer you on or pick you up. Love you. Always and forever.

Baby Blues (J’s Song)

            ~❤️ Mama~

 

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑