A List of Regrets, and Non-Regrets

I wrote this post at Mother’s Day this year and I didn’t post it, like a lot of posts I suppose. So pardon me where it’s dated.


It’s been almost a year since my mom passed away.  Some people are referred to as things like “saints” or described with overzealous use of the word “amazing”, but my mom was more deserving of words like these than anyone else I know.

I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but she died right after some of the notable holidays we’d celebrate her – her birthday, which was May 5th, Mother’s Day which happens in just a couple of days, and her anniversary to my dad which is at the end of this month.  It’s good because we had this conglomerate of holidays to unknowingly appreciate her one last time last year.  Bad because right before the one-year anniversary, they all come traipsing through our lives one right after the other.

When she first died, I spent a lot of time being thankful that we didn’t have a lot of regrets in our family.  There were no harsh words, or unaddressed issues.  Nobody was out of touch, no arguments or lingering negativity.  Mom was my all time best friend, and I know how awesome that is to have that relationship.  And yet, time still has a way of reminding us of all the things we didn’t do.

I remember last Christmas, I got a selfie stick.  Mom was holding baby Nora at our house Christmas morning and I was playing with it.  I barely got her in but maybe 2-3 pictures because I knew she just didn’t care for being in pictures.  I noticed that several of our get together’s have been this way, devoid of sufficient pictures of her, and it makes me so mad.  I should’ve just taken the picture.  What I wouldn’t give to take in all of her last holidays.  Or to have more of her holding Nora that I could give to Nora when she gets older.  Or to have captured more moments of her sleepovers with the kids, or visits to the house.

I regret that I didn’t frame her master’s degree like I said that I would to celebrate her graduation.  I didn’t find the time to take it to get measured, and it ended up living in it’s own ill-fitting frame in her office.  I didn’t want to take it down, but I wish that I had because she deserved it.  She earned her master’s, along with her associates and bachelor’s degrees, well after an established career when she wasn’t even sure school could teach her anything new.  She taught me that you can always learn something new, and you should.  No matter how long it takes.

I regret the year that I didn’t ask her to come to the Extraordinary Women’s conference with me to volunteer.  I thought her knees would hurt and it would be hard, but I think she wanted to come anyway.  I wish that I would have made it happen; that was our thing.

I regret that I didn’t tell her I was pregnant with Nora secretly before anyone else knew.  I still remember when Robbie and I told her and my dad and she was in disbelief because she didn’t already know and, “Tanya tells me everything!” so how could she not already know?  I was so happy she felt that way, because it was true, and then instantly so sad that she would be disappointed by me waiting to tell her.  I would love to give her that one last big secret before anyone else.  She wasn’t disappointed, but I’ve always wished that I’d affirmed how much I share with her by sharing that sooner.

I regret that with all the times I called her, I didn’t call her twice as much, or three times as much, or even more.  She hated talking on the phone, but she didn’t mind my rambling every week.  I’d like to hear her voice again, saying anything at all.

I regret that I didn’t post on her Facebook wall for her birthday last year.  It wasn’t in my memories.  I called her and told her happy birthday, and of course we celebrated together.  But I don’t have that last message.  I know it’s not where well-wishes are most important, but I also know how much I would love to see her “thank you, I love you” replies on my birthday post for the last time.

I regret that I killed the plant she gave me promptly after she died – I’m really bad at plants.

I regret that I didn’t throw her any surprise birthday parties, or a surprise anniversary party.  I thought about it a million times and we could never seem to make it happen, or the days would approach us so quickly we’d run out of time.  I remember always thinking we had plenty of time and we’d get the next one, and that there was no rush.  I used to think that all the time about all kinds of plans.

But for all the things I regret, I try to remember all of the things I am so thankful that I don’t have to.

We didn’t have any unresolved arguments, there was nothing we needed to forgive, and nothing we needed to change.  We played each other competitively and loved it, and she was always there to help with the kids, or to just spend precious one-on-one time with them, giving them memories of creativity and joy that they will remember as long as they live.

I’m so glad I went on one of her work trips with her, and that before most people knew, mom knew about my tattoos on that very trip.  They’re such a small thing, but I know she loved that I told her.

I’m glad I knew the ways that she was proud of me, and that she left me with a lot of insight into making key decisions in life.  I’m glad we still played cards or sat at the kitchen table just chatting about whatever current events were going on every time I would go up to her house to see her.  I’m glad I still took time to visit her at work, even though I tried to keep the visits short.

I’m glad I always hugged and kissed her goodbye, and that we always said “I love you” every time we spoke.

I’ll always, always, be thankful that she developed her own special relationship with Luke, Natalie, Nora, and Robbie.  I’m so glad I get to share my love for her with my family.

I wish I could get her advice now, and that I could complain about things, laugh about things, invite her to things, lament over things.  Tell her about my work and my book and send her copies of report cards and honor rolls, school pictures, new baby words, and milestones.  I wish I could throw her a birthday party with all her family to fly in and see her as a surprise, or tell her a secret, or finally beat her in the Spades app (which I still can’t seem to do).

I know it sounds sad – a post full of regrets.  I think in loss, no matter what we do, there will always be some.  For me, it’s been hard to be so suddenly surprised by her death that I couldn’t have been expecting any less.  I don’t want to regret these kinds of things again, not with the people that are still here.  I want to plan the party, take the picture, share the secret, give the gift, take the leap.  I want to appreciate the numerous things I don’t regret missing with my mom, and to fill in the blanks where I comfortably live in the assumption that there is “no rush”. And only hope that God doesn’t mind passing on messages to the people we love and miss so much, because I sure would like to tell her that we’re okay, and she left us all happy and strong.


Plans and Purpose

It is SO strange to see how life continues without all the plans my mom made for it.  Big things and little things.  My mom just graduated with her masters degree about a year ago.  She had these plans to put in a few more years where she worked and then retire and move on to a whole new adventure since she was so young, writing policies and what not.  It’s frustrating to me that she did all of this work and didn’t get to use it beyond the last year or two.

She was supposed to watch baby Nora when I went out of town for training on two different nights.  I was planning to stop by on my way out of town and leave far past when I was supposed to because I was going to catch her up on my week and hear about hers.

She had accepted invitations to events on Facebook, planning to support my little brother’s fundraiser for the fire station.

It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that we live our life expecting to see the next day every single day, and then one day we don’t have any more opportunities to fulfill our plans or our obligations.

It leaves me asking myself what the point of a lot of things is.  Not that I think life is pointless, but more that I don’t want to waste my time on frivolous things.  It makes me want to pursue and achieve my dreams as soon as I can, and fulfill the purpose that I believe I’ve been designed especially for.

More than ever, it makes me want to make each day count, and to constantly strive for that which is greater than me.

Two Weeks

It’s been two weeks tonight that my mom died quietly, painlessly, and very suddenly at home.  I got the call from my dad at approximately 11:09 p.m.  I thought I was being sleep dialed accidentally, and when I heard my dad struggle to find words, I thought maybe he’d woken from a dream and was being very sentimental.

Earlier that night, he had texted me to tell me how much he loved me, something sweet that happens occasionally.  But then he delivered the incredibly unexpected news and began a chain of events that have already begun redefining who I identify myself to be.

I had my moment to freak out, called my husband so I could center myself, called my best friend to watch our baby so I could go figure out what to do.  It was very interesting that with everything mom taught me how to do, she never taught me how to deal with the death of any of our family members, because there hasn’t been a lot of death around us.

I think it’s very interesting how calm you can become when it feels like it’s your responsibility to do so.  Being the oldest of the three of us, my role definitely felt more like the protector and the person who needed to not only have it together, but keep it together.  Somebody needed to take notes, make decisions, remember facts from the coroner and the funeral home and whatever else there was to do.  It automatically felt like my responsibility, which is not a complaint, just how it felt.

I wasn’t sure if I could handle seeing mom.  I had this terrible vision of her in pain, sad looking, hunched over or hurt.  I didn’t have any details about how she died, and we still only speculate that it was a brain aneurysm.  I was very afraid that my mind would picture her correctly and I’d never be able to un-see a tragic, terrible, scene.  But, how thankful I was that I did see her.  I was distraught, and I’ll never forget my husband holding on to me as we knelt down beside her, but I was so at peace.  She looked beautiful, peaceful, relaxed.  She looked like she just laid down and fell asleep, and I was so thankful for that reassurance.  Instead of being something I was scared I couldn’t un-see, it is something I hope I will never forget.

I’ve learned, observed, and realized a lot of things since then.  Many things I’d like to share here, but for this post, I will leave these memories here and build from them.

If you’re a guest and you found this post in a search, I don’t know how much help I can offer you by way of one on one discussion, but I hope over the next several weeks, months, and years, I can provide you some words of encouragement.


Welcome Baby Nora!

It’s been 7.5 weeks since baby Nora was born, and I have to admit, newborn life is a lot busier than I remember! Let’s see if I can get mostly caught up on the last few weeks to pave the way for more timely updates!

I began my maternity leave here in southwest VA from Fairfax with what I thought was a nice, comfy, 10 day cushion before baby Nora’s due date. Yeah. No such luck. I got in Thursday night/Friday morning and Robbie and I joked that it was our last night NOT having the family together. Luke, Natalie and I spent the weekend packing things up at my parents house and I prepared to have a little R&R before baby Nora came at a date I felt would surely be later. Saturday night strange feeling contractions started and then my water broke while I was staring at myself in the mirror.

Side note: I highly recommend the experience of having to look yourself in the eyes when your water breaks. It’s really…something.

So one 2:30 a.m. shower and a quickly chauffeured trip to the hospital later, we were prepping to meet the newest little princess! Labor was exhausting. And it hurt. I always forget about that part. I always think that I haven’t, but I totally do forget until I’m there in it. I have a few little moments that I will forever remember. One of which is holding perfectly still in terrible pain getting my epidural situated for probably 7 straight hours. I don’t know, some people say that’s an exaggeration but I’m just telling you what I remember. Anyway, the only thing in my vision with my head resting down on my arms was Robbie’s Mr. Rogers “You Are Special” shirt. Now every time he wears it I have this horrible urge to yell “You did this to me!” while immobile.

Baby Nora needed to be born quickly because she was ALL KINDS of wrapped up in her cord. Watching her sleep now that she’s on this side of my stomach, I can totally see why. They said we needed to have the baby, so I delivered! Quickly. Like, three-ish pushes and done quickly. I would’ve dropped my IV bag and walked away, but I worked so hard to be still for my epidural and it insisted I stay in bed.

Photo Oct 09, 2 28 06 AM

Baby Nora arrived a ~1:30ish p.m. on August 16, just in time to meet her overwhelming proud brother and sister, and all of our wonderful family.

I’ll never forget the wonderful feeling of seeing Robbie hold our daughter for the first time. I’ll never forget Luke and Natalie freaking OUT over how cute she was and how tiny her feet were when they saw her for the first time since they’d met her on her birthday.

Photo Aug 16, 5 53 27 PM

A lot of people worry when they have one kid, how they will ever love two, but it always works out. For the record, it’s the same going from two to three. It’s less like splitting a finite amount of love, and more like obtaining a brand new helping of love. And it’s even more awesome because bonus love and affection from everyone that’s here already.

It’s amazing and we’re so happy to have her here. Our family is so full of love. It’s happier and more fulfilling than anything I could have dreamed up for myself. It’s complete.

Five stars.

Would birth again.


Welcome Back

Remember that time about a year ago when I posted I was committed to staying on top of my blogging? I should’ve clarified I meant 2015 was the beginning of the commitment I was referring to!

Since I’m heading off to meet baby Nora a few hours away from many friends I’ve made both at work, at Church and around in northern VA, and since we have all of the BIG life changes coming up (new baby and all!), I figured it would be a good time to reinvigorate the blog.  Even though I’ve missed a good number of huge updates already…

Our wedding collage!

Our wedding collage!

This week, I’ll be leaving to prep for Nora’s arrival down in Southwest VA. It will be incredible to deliver her so close to our family and friends there, but it will be hard not to share with everyone in Northern VA!  Luckily, social media makes it easy for us to keep everyone updated, and we’re so looking forward to sharing her first pictures with you 🙂


Summer is here!

I’ve basically been failing, like, hardcore failing, on updating the blog but I am committed to making time for this beginning this summer!

The kids and I kicked off the weekend watching Maleficent at our local theater which turns movies into experiences!  We didn’t have time to dress up for it before meeting up with other mom/kid friends but it definitely wasn’t the “Sleeping Beauty” I grew up to!  Oddly enough, I reflected on my old experiences watching that movie and did begin to wonder what exactly made her so angry at the royal fam…I suppose it’s just like anything…depends on who’s telling the story!

As expected, the kids ended up on stage at the first opportunity to participate in a magic trick that blew their minds!

Luke and Nat Stage

We spent a lot of time at the lake beach getting gorgeously burned with most of the other hermits in southwest Virginia who dared to brave the summer sun with us.  Five hours.  FIVE HOURS we were out there and we had an awesome time, ran into friends, built castles and Luke once again braved the diving board.  A lot.  Natalie was absolutely determined to jump off of it this year and I told her if she could swim the distance to the dock I’d let her.  She wasn’t quite sure, but after watching Luke successfully jump several times she was off.  It did take a few trials, but she finally did it and was great!  I would’ve captured a picture, but I was standing by, you know, just in case little arms got tired!

One of my favorite things…notes from the kids! Luke wrote the top one on a snack bag of crackers labeled for all of us at the beach. 🙂


Plus there was all of the actual beach fun…

Beach Fun Summer 2014

And then there was this note as the kids vicariously learned an important lesson about using sunscreen just in time for their beach trip next week with their dad, “I hope your sun burn feels better soon mommey Signed by Nat to Mom”

Nat Note

And since we missed the trampoline campout because of my pitiful sunburn (and the thought of being chilled to get goosebumps which are NOT FUN with all over sunburn) we made s’mores inside instead!

Smores Luke and Nat

Summer, I am quite confident when I say that THIS family is happy to have you back again!

My family at the lake :)




My Kids Are so My Kids

This weekend, I took Luke and Natalie to the Color Run in Roanoke – a 5K where they throw colored corn starch at you and nobody actually races to win. The point is probably to spend as much time as possible tip-toeing through your favorite colors to look the loveliest at the finish line, but mostly everyone is hot and sweaty and the colors eventually just become caked in your hair. And I’m still gonna do it again in September when Color Me Rad comes to town 😉

The kids started out a little chilly, but as soon as Natalie could, she was up on stage rockin out! Luke was right behind her and although he had some reservation about dancing upon arrival, that quickly went away as we were standing in line waiting to start our wave and he decided to bust out his sweet break dance moves. He literally had a circle of women around him cheering him on. In the START line.

My kids love to dance!

If that wasn’t enough, Luke and Natalie hopped back on stage to pump a crowd of HUNDREDS finishing the race without missing a beat!

The also participated in one heck of a hula-hoop contest before the race!



My daughter complained about being exhausted. It must be so tough to be carried at least one mile out of three. At one point, I was lugging them both towards the finish line…but only for fun 🙂 My turn next time!