Why Does it Take 26 Shattered Families for Me to Appreciate Mine?


IMG_0855  This was a day my soul has needed for a very long time. It started with endless cuddling, kissing and zero rushing. Haddie and I stayed in our      jammies till noon. Then, a surprise visit from my only sister…one I thought I had lost forever.

Our seven kids laughed and ran and destroyed the house all afternoon. We ate too much and laughed–really laughed—for the first time in years. When everyone had left, and Haddie was squeaky clean, she asked if she could show me her dance moves.

Ordinarily, I grouch “No, it’s time for bed”. Ordinarily, I drag myself through the routine till that moment when everyone is in bed so that I can put my feet up for the first time. Ordinarily, I don’t laugh out loud. Ordinarily, at home, I barely smile.  A few nights ago, Chris and I were watching some show and a commercial for a diamond necklace came on. He was holding my hand and I felt his grip tighten. The commercial depicted images of a beautiful woman, wife, and mother. The man’s voice narrated all the qualities about her that he cherished…things perhaps he may have taken for granted. The pictures were of her laughing, kissing one of her kids, being light and playful. I remember thinking that night, why am I not those things to my family?

Tonight, the dance demonstration turned into a full on dance party in my bedroom with Haddie declaring “Mom, you are supposed to be dancing, not driving a car!” We all belly laughed and then suddenly I was weeping. Weeping at the sight of my beautiful, bouncy, happy little girl. My little girl, who today is alive, safe and sound in my home.

Weeping at the countless opportunities I have every day to be a better mom, better wife, better sister, better aunt. Opportunities I have all but squandered over and over again.

It seems so simple, all my kids really want from me as their Mom is to “be happy”—To not grouch, grumble, yell, scream. seem exacerbated, seem busy.

Why it had to take 20 shattered families for me to realize this is sickening to me. Maybe if other Moms like me resolve to be happier and lighter, to get down on the floor for a game instead of typing one last email, to laugh instead of scold, to hug instead of rush, to be patient and gentle instead of overwhelmed and abrasive, to put down the phone and pick up the dance move, this tragedy will not have been for nothing.



  1. Debi mclaughlin says:

    Not to steal from Oprah,but I would say you had a huge “a-ha moment”. You have articulated the exact sentiments I experienced while on vacation. Instead of being a no-mom, and thinking of the mess something will make instead of how much fun my kids would actually have doing the craft or playing with the toy or yes, even making the mess, I resolved that I would try to be more fun every day, and do something out of the ordinary. I want my kids to remember these silly little things, not the stern talking to I game them for not putting their backpacks away. Once I made that decision, I let go of all of the little stuff and found that it didn’t upset me nearly as much. I let them squeeze every single possible activity into the day today, including staying up wayyy past bedtime….to do a rather messy craft, that at this moment sits on my kitchen table, in complete disarray.

    I danced to the Christmas music with my 8 year old in the middle of Hollywood studios (dipping her and all) while people walked all around us, staring or not. I held my other 8 year old’s hand as we walked through the magic kingdom and I felt giddy that she actually WANTED to be holding my hand ….as if it was a first date or something! And what I learned was that the location does not matter. It’s a state of mind that I, as a mom, bring to our family, and it’s time I was held accountable for being more than just the cooker the baker and candlestick maker. It’s a hard realization to own that, and can feel like a crushing responsibility. But here’s the thing…..the day it is unwittingly and violently ripped away from me, like it was from those poor moms in Connecticut, is a day I hope I never have to face, let alone think about.

    You are a great mom and so am I. We do the best we can and some days are better than others. I have give up on striving for perfection because I am not perfect. My kids will see me for who I am, warts and all. And maybe they will get some warts from me, but that’s ok. You have always appreciated your family, it’s just that seeing others (whether it’s one family or 26) have to so publicly endure something so horrible and ugly at what is supposed to be a magical and beautiful time of year makes it that much more difficult to bear. I pray for all of us to find some peace and to remember all of those newly minted angels who were called early for what I can only believe is some very special and heavenly work.

  2. Christine Meyer, MD says:

    You are one special and amazing woman and Mom Debi- and so right to point out that WE ARE GOOD just not perfect but who is?? I have never regretted a moment of “lletting loose” even at the utter mortification of my kids- I often regret the “not now honey” moments or the distracted “what was that honey?” moments.

    I have always been fanatical about vacations: planning, counting down, packing perfectly– all because I felt the craziness of my life is the reason I am a “no-mom.” and that the answer was in the escape. But as you so beautifully point out, it’s not “the place,” it’s the state of my mind.

    More living in the moment for 2013!
    Thanks for talking to me at 11 pm on a Sunday night!!!

  3. I know just what you mean. I was thinking last week how grumpy and irritable I was with my kids and how I had been like that for weeks. Working at home, and being exceptionally busy, had taken over my normally good natured positive self and I was snappy and short tempered with my family. I realized I had not laughed in weeks. I vowed to pay more attention to my attitude and actions toward my family. I think this happens to all working Mom’s. You get so busy you just lose site of why you are working in the first place. Usually some of those reasons are to help provide and create a good life for the most precious people in your lives.

    • You said it Linda Lee. My twelve year old was bemoaning the fact that her dad and I couldn’t both be at her school concert. I found myself going off about how spoiled she is, how she has no idea how hard we work so that she can have a cello and lessons and all these fabuolous things …how I would rather stay home..etc etc. At the end of my rant, she just looked at me with gigantic sad eyes and said “I just wanted you both to hear me play.” Oh to be able to hold my tongue just a second longer…

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