Motherhood :: Day 358

I've been reading this book lately, and honestly, it has made all the difference. It's incredible the difference it makes knowing you aren't the only one going through this. Reading these stories has allowed me to not only relax with my kids while reading, but also relax in my fears as a mother. I would recommend this book, if you're a mother at all, even though the focus is on sons.

I've found myself caught up in a whirlwind of my business and all too busy life of a temporarily single mother of two. Mostly though, caught up in the need to give myself time. I found myself desperate for quiet time - to enjoy a glass or two of wine, to let go of thoughts of my mother, to stop dreaming of warmer climate, to be a better friend, to ensure people had good thoughts of me, to let go of the pain of going to bed alone once more, to stop thinking of the struggles I face as a mother - that I completely overlooked the times in between. I lost the daylight hours with my children, as I focused on just surviving until I got there. Just surviving is, in my opinion, the absolute worst way to live.

I set myself back into my childhood shoes, looking up to my mother and grandmother (the two strong female role models in my young life), and remembering what I thought of them, how I saw them from that stage of my life. Thinking that way, I see a little of what Alyx and Kate might see of me now. It's the craziest feeling.. To look back at yourself like that, knowing what you do now; knowing what you didn't know then.

As this four day weekend entailed rainy, typical Washington weather, we were utterly restless by day four. Today. Jeremy suggest going to Cabela's. At first, all I could think was, "what the heck for?!" We don't need anything (especially without him here). But there is a little aquarium and the stuffed animals are neat, so we went there with lunch in mind.

Kate - always taking the path less traveled.

As we next went on to the book store, we saw that Clover Park HS had painstakingly spent the time to set up a memorial display. It was beautiful. I slowly drove by at first, then debated whether or not I should stop by, then I asked Alyx and he responded with, "Sure." So I did. And I was amazed. High school students spent (what I assume was painstaking) hours writing out twelve years worth of soldiers names who had given the ultimate sacrifice during the Iraq war.

I felt so proud to see my son kneel down where there were medal of honor place cards with a photo and details of their service, as well, as find the occasional marker and try to pronounce each name and rank. It was clear his heart was heavy, and I choked back the lump in my throat, I was so happy we stopped. SFC Leroy Petry is a Medal of Honor recipient we know face-to-face. Our sons go to school together, played football together. Once I told Alyx what the Medal of Honor was all about, he excitedly told me his story of familiarity, knowing his friend in school whose dad has one. I told him his story too.

I made sure to explain what everything meant. Each rank, the correct pronunciation of each name, the explanation of POW-MIA, etc..

Kate caught on to the moment, although it will be sometime before she learns these valuable lessons.

I was even more surprised to see people stop by and use this sight as a genuine memorial. Flower, balloons, flags, and tears from soldiers/loved ones/comrades were left in place.

We watched as the gentleman who left this bouquet of flowers, and one red rose standing upright, leave with a red face swollen from tears and a woman diligently by his side. Once they cleared the area, Alyx rushed over to examine it and somberly say, "Mom, this is where that guy was. That's so sad. I wish dad was here. I want him home now. I wish he never had to leave. I hope he never leaves again."

There was quite a bit of this... I almost lost it at this moment. This man shamelessly cried and cried. His wife clearly wasn't sure how to react (is there a way?), and moments later, his daughter hugged him. I had my camera, I couldn't help but capture such raw emotion. We left, giving them peace. At this point, I was too close to sobbing uncontrollably as I recalled the names that I knew.. the families who are left behind.. recalling the stories from Jeremy. It hurts my heart how real these stories are. But I couldn't have more pride in these soldiers, their sacrifices, their families, and our country. I only pray everyone has a moment of such clarity and understanding. These soldiers are men, women, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers.

We finally found our way to the bookstore. Alyx quickly brought me a book and we read it together while Kate browsed through everything that caught her interest and then brought to me. 

Pardon the rain-soaked hair ;).

After a walk in what ended up being quite a bit of rain (the sun came out when we first left) to let our pup stretch his legs, we spent time cooking together and then reading before bed. Of course, not without these two goofing off. They are so funny. I love how they connect with one another, and seemingly find pure unabashed bliss with nothing and no one else but each other.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend, your spouses, and oour country. It's not just today, but every day. Some have to live the reality every single day of their lives. Rarely does a day go by that I don't think about that. I am so aware of our mortality, of our privilege. I had actually watched Rosa Parks' story that aired on tv the other day, and found myself in tears when they showed her with President Clinton at the end, recognizing her courage, and awarding her with a Gold Medal in 1999. I was 12.

It doesn't take much these days, to show me the mortality we face daily, the influence we have on our children, and the impacting decisions we make daily. May all this lead me to a full life well lived, with nothing but warm memories in my children's minds.