It’s St. Patrick’s day. In 1984, my oldest child was born. I remember checking into the hospital and the nurse saying I would be having a  St. Patrick’s day baby and in honor of that, they would be tattooing a shamrock on the baby’s butt. Whether my serious expression was primarily fear of this whole birthing process or I was so tired I looked as if I were taking her seriously, she quickly assured me she was only joking.

B was probably 6 before she realized that the St. Patrick’s day parade we took her to each year was not actually held in honor of her birthday.

It’s 21 years this month since she left us, and I miss her still.

3/17/2017 – B, Jan-1985; about 10 months.

And her final school picture, taken not long before she passed away.

B – Jan-1996; not quite 12 yet.

March is a challenge every year. Not a day in the last 21 years passes that I do not think about her, and I would not have it any other way. Mostly I smile. Occasionally, I tear up and feel the weight of loss. Mostly, though, I really do smile. So much life and memories packed into 12 years and 5 days. In my heart I cherish all she was to those who knew her and turn away any and all thoughts of what might have been. Our time together was limited. I am glad to be someone who was present with my children, so my regrets about that time are so tiny and insignificant relatively to the balance of my life.

But parenting young adults is still hard.

C called early this morning after a major fight with her husband. Unfortunately this is not the heartbreak drama of teenage angst, but the seriousness of a grown-up married people. Trying to be fair and balanced – out the window. My kid is crying, having a panic attack over the telephone. Forget fair and balanced. A said cruel things and there is blood in my eyes.

Okay, not quite that bad.

Being her mother’s daughter, I cringe at some of C’s decisions and mannerisms that come directly from me. I know that when this kind of dust-up happens, it’s not just because A came home and decided to be a prick that day. Having been in Florida only a few months, there are a billion details that one takes for granted growing and becoming an adult in your own hometown. Finding doctors and dentists and making new friends – it is a process. And when shit hits, the gap between what you had before you moved crossed the country becomes the grand canyon.

I talked her down off the ledge, called and checked in on her more than I have in 20 years, since that first summer that she and her brother stayed home alone while M and I were both working. By the end of the day, she’d calmed down and made significant progress finding healthcare providers and making appropriate appointments … in a few weeks. But she found stop-gap help with a local clinic – a referral from an assistant manager at their apartment complex. And with a little guidance from me, began the outline of The Plan for what she would do if this type of thing should come up again.

As for me, it was a busy day at work with a lot of gratuitous meetings that did little other than frustrate me with stranger’s ability to demonstrate their cluelessness. I am a master at compartmentalizing, though, and chugged along and got through it. By the end of the day, though, I was unrepentantly swigging sugary soda.

Parenting is hard sometimes, something no one really stresses before you take on that role, and I am honest enough, selfish enough, to say I do not really love the responsibility and the job itself. But I love the kids involved, all of them, and my hopes for them hinge on their overall happiness. Even when things are not going so well and they do stupid shit that frustrates and/or irritates me, I have to believe they will learn from the experiences.

Another St. Patrick’s day, another of B’s birthdays in the history books.

I miss her.



14 thoughts on “Parenting is hard

  1. I’m so sorry for the loss of your beautiful daughter. I can’t even imagine. While I don’t have children, I KNOW without a doubt that being a parent has to be one of the hardest jobs on this earth. Sending you a warm (HUG) today.

    1. Thanks Susie. I think every year will be different, but every year is some variation of the sads. I am very glad I never get accustomed to the feeling. 🙂

  2. I can’t think of what’s right to say, but feel I need to acknowledge such a moving post. It sounds like she received 12 years and five days of adoration and love…

    1. Jami, thank you. I don’t know that there are words. I myself struggle when I meet other parents who have been through this type of heartbreak. And in its own strange way, it’s hugely comforting to know we can still be rendered speechless by horror and sorrow we cannot comprehend.

  3. This was a good post for me to read today. My daughter was getting on about my last nerve for most of the day. We’ve entered the tween stages and she routinely thinks it’s okay to say no when I ask her to do things. I spent several hours of my day working on her Girl Scout troop stuff and was feeling grumpy. Thanks for the reminder that this will pass.

    I’m thinking of your girl today. I’m so sorry for the loss you’ve endured.

    1. Ohhh the tween years – remember them well. It will pass, but sometimes it feels like we do so much for so little thanks or appreciation. Stay strong, try to be patient as she tests your mettle.

  4. I’m so sorry. That’s really all there is to say.

    I sympathize with our daughter, trying to find her way now that she’s in unfamiliar territory. I know it well. We moved several times throughout our marriage. Even now that I’m back “home” it is still difficult. I’ve been gone for 20 years. I don’t have doctors, dentists, or eye doctors for us yet. Finding friends is still difficult. I think most of us like to get settled and stay settled. I know I wasn’t prepared to up and move 2 years after moving across the country. It’s all a learning process. I pretty much adapted in each and every location. I’m hopeful she will, as well.

    1. Thanks, Sam. Things are calmer, she’s doing the work of taking care of herself and getting providers for things they need – a benefit of having days off during the week.

  5. Hugs. I’ve been thinking of you the last few days. The timing worked out that a friend and I made a donation to Northern California / northern Nevada transplant association this week. I’m in Canada, she’s in Utah, and we have a dear friend who’s story with her daughter mirrors yours almost exactly. Sending light and support your way.

    1. Andrea, your kindness hits me hard, in the part of my stomach/heart/insides that is touched and overwhelmed with gratitude. It’s not easy – 21 years later and it is easier – and I am still humbled and amazed by the many small kindnesses that come my way.

  6. You my friend are one of the greatest parents I know. I hope things are better and will be glad when March is over. You and Mark and the kids are always in my prayers and thoughts

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