NaBloPoMo Parenting

Sorting Through Papers, Sorting Through Grief

On Saturday mornings, I sort through the pile of papers that made their way home from elementary school in the backpacks of my two sons. The pile is always gigantic; it makes the tree-hugger in me twitch every day, every week. But how do you learn to write your letters without writing them? Once you learn to write them, how do you get better at handwriting without actually writing? And so the pile of papers with their handiwork sits on the breakfast bar every weekend, awaiting a thorough sort and toss. I’ve usually already made note of official notes and newsletters from teachers and principals and filed them accordingly.

But this sorting of the work of each of these boys always pulls at my heartstrings.

I’m not overly sentimental. I don’t save ticket stubs from dates to movies, concerts, sporting events, or plays. I think the artwork the kids bring home is really great, and I often take a picture of it—and toss it. I save a few pieces of great artwork—the one eyed spider, the Mother’s Day handprints, the pumpkin with nothing quite where it’s supposed to go—but I throw away the rest.


I struggle with journals, either individual pages or full notebooks. Journals are the best. I love seeing what the boys come up with as an important story to tell. One recently wrote about the race they ran together. One recently wrote that firefighters are “speshul” because they save people. I love seeing their world through their pencils and crayons.

And so today I came to a page with a drawing. It showed a very large building of some sort with a window sitting high atop the structure. In the window was a smiling person. I simply smiled at the drawing, because I like seeing how their drawing skills progress over time.

Then I noticed an erased word and arrow.

I looked closer.

It read “heaven” with an arrow pointing upward.


I called LittleBrother into the room.

“Hey Booey, what’s this word say?”
“Oh. So who is the person in the window?”
“It’s Big Mamaw.”


And then big, fat tears welled up in his eyes and ran down his cheeks. I put the paper down and rushed to his side, pulling him close for a big hug. He explained how much he missed her in between little hiccup sobs. I told him it was okay to miss her, that I missed her too; I told him it was okay to cry.

After we dried up his tears together, he went back to play with his brother and I retreated to my office to cry tears of my own. It’s been a very difficult year. My other grandma, my maternal grandmother, just entered hospice yesterday. We don’t know how much time she has left. My mom drove her mother’s mother—yes, my great-grandma—to visit her own daughter in hospice today. Thinking of all of the loss we’ve endured, of all the going and coming and living and dying and breathing and quitting and hurting and rejoicing still left to be done this year, I just feel a bit discouraged. A bit empty. A lot fearful. So very tired.

I filed the drawing in the “keep” folder. For as much as I want to forget the hurt and pain of this year, I want to remember a little boy who felt safe enough with his feelings to draw them, erase them, and still tell his mom and cry into her arms.


blogging NaBloPoMo

NaBloPoMo: Blogging Every Day in November

NaBloPoMo November 2014I haven’t participated in National Blog Posting Month, NaBloPoMo, in years. November is difficult and full. The boys’ birthdays fall in that week right before and sometimes of Thanksgiving. I find myself busy planning out their large, joint birthday party while simultaneously planning the Christmas extravaganza that follows shortly behind. The holidays start their snowball effect and suddenly the month is over, the season is over, and its a new year.

I’ve both completed and failed NaBloPoMo in the past. I also have regularly blogged every day for longer periods than one month… and not written a word for weeks on end. I come into the challenge this year writing a decent amount, here in this space, in other venues, and in my many, many journals.

I decided to go ahead and commit to blogging once every day during the month of November for many reasons. On top of wanting to be challenged, blogging remains a source of self for me. Life has been pretty difficult for the past few months, and I acknowledge that I’m struggling to make heads or tails of everything. While I don’t know if I’ll use the prompts or just continue the blogging of our life as I do, I know I’ll make a valiant effort to post something here daily.

I also hesitate to share that I’m participating in the challenge because, well, what if I fail? Yeah, I still struggle with that whole perfectionism problem. If I didn’t tell you about it and I didn’t succeed, then you wouldn’t know I failed. But I have told you. So now if I miss a day, you’ll know. Of course, I’ll know either way, so I thought I’d invite you along for the journey. Because… what if I don’t fail? What if we all soar together?

What If I Fail?

Now that I’ve invited you along for the journey, you should consider joining the fun as well. There are some prizes involved, daily prompts, a BlogHer PRO School (for which I wrote one of the lessons!), and a great community of other bloggers doing the same thing: blogging their hearts out.

I can assure you I’ll share a lot of words here, some photos, some birthday events, some thankful moments, some struggles, and whatever else I want, need, or feel inclined to share. I hope to see you along the way.