Happy Birthday. Here’s What I Want

You’d hate this post. My whole life you taught me not to get mired in the muck. Man, did we have muck. But, you didn’t allow dwelling there. Instead you pushed me to see the blue skies and silver linings.

Sure my dad, your husband, was gone, but we had each other, this big, chaotic clan. We had each other and our loss made us strong and resilient. Wasn’t that enough?
When you died, a day I had prepared my heart for years before, I went about the business of living like you taught me-dwelling in the positive. And it mostly works.

Except when it doesn’t.

Except right now, when my husband’s out of work again and we’re close to out of money again and I sit here powerless and defeated because I’ve slowly morphed into this full-time domestic  with this part-time fledgling business that doesn’t bring in enough to support us and I’m not sure how to fix it. Did you catch all that?

You would have gotten it. You’ve been here, in this particular kind of muck. Married to a headstrong, passionate, pain in the ass, beautiful man, whose morals and standards are so much higher than many that he sometimes loses jobs because of it.

You’ve been here with a house full of little kids and no paycheck.

You would probably just tell me to quit whining and suck it up and support him, because as modern as you were, this was your answer to every  spat of ours: “Support him, he’s good to you and he’ll be a great father. So, love him and it will all work out.”

You were right of course, but you’re not here, so you can’t yell at me. You can’t frustrate me with your turned head and tsk-tsking my weakness.

Funny, all I want is to be yelled at by you again. Because it made me mad, and motivated. It reminded me I was strong, and resilient and really pretty lucky after all.

You’re not here to push me toward the light and by myself I just want to stay in the dark today. I don’t want to dwell in the positive. I just want to wallow in all that I’ve lost.

I want to think about how you don’t know my boys and you barely met my girl. I want to be sad about how they don’t know you, even though The Baby talks about his Grandma like you two are old friends. I want to scream that it’s unfair you’ll never bring The Chair to any of little league games or see Her sing in all the school plays, like her mom was never brave enough to do. I hate that my Girl and those boys will never feel the absolute inner glow that comes from a rare and hard-won Toni pat on the back.

I want you to see how much better they are than I could have ever been. I want to be proud of the job I’m doing…in front of you.

I want to get stuck in the memory that as soon as things seemed better last time, He got a new job, you were feeling well, we found our new place, just when I relaxed and began to trust that maybe everything would be alright, you died. I want to sit there and coddle myself about how it happened again. No one has died, but  just when I started to move forward, away from the mistakes and the missteps, seeing only our bright future, the rug got ripped out from under me-again.

I don’t want to think about how moving away, to this place that I love, where I have bloomed,  was so much easier because you weren’t there anymore, so it wasn’t home anymore.  Instead, I want to cry over you never getting to meet my friends here and about how I’ll never show you my beach. I want to wallow in my failure to prove to you that I could chase down a dream while you were still here to see it.

I want to cry over all the Broadway plays I’ll never take you to and how you’ll never know people actually read my writing now and I’m trying to do some good in the world, just like you told me I could, if I really wanted.

I want to be mad, that until this (and maybe in spite of) our current situation, we’re doing pretty well and you’ll never get to see that. I want to share that no matter how well we do,  we’re still so damn scared every day that we’re messing it all up. Maybe I wish you’d yell at me about that last part too.

I know it’s your birthday and you would want me to look around and notice all that is good. I swear, mom, I usually do. Really, I do.

But not today.  I don’t want to today.
I’m sorry, but all I seem able to do today, is want my mom.

Blog Updates

Receive FREE updates, tips and “subscriber-only” giveaways and special offers.


  1. says

    Oh sweet woman, I am in tears. This is beautiful and painful and sweet and heart-wrenching all at the same time. I admire your strength to put this out there for all to see.
    It’s perfectly OK to have these days. It’s human. And, after all, that’s what we all are deep down – just human. As much as it sucks to feel this way, it’s probably doing so much good for you, and your kids. They need to see their momma cry and be sad from time to time.
    Praying for you….

    • Cristie says

      Thanks so much Kirsten. Today was a much better day-largely in part to the amazing support I had from people like you.

  2. Cat says

    I hope it helps to know that you inspire the rest off us.
    Now go spend a day (or 8) throwing things and crying a bit. Sometimes you just need to

  3. Nicole Bayer says

    You have such a way with words. Thinking of you! It’s OK to be sad today, but celebrate her with your family! Much love to you!

  4. Catherine Hutchison says

    Christie- What a beautifully written and heart wrenching piece. I lost my parents when I was too young. I was 31 when my Dad died and 39 when my Mom died. My daughter was 5 and my son was almost 2 when Mom died. It really hurt and has taken along time to get where the ache isn’t raw every day. It gets better. Some stages of life have brought back an intense yearning for their physical presence. I feel compelled at those times to touch or talk to those who knew them, my sister, my brother, their friends, my cousins. No one mourns equally, but being together helped get me over some hard spots.
    I am 60 now, much older than you. My heart is with you.

    • Cristie says

      Thank you. I agree,it takes a while and I thought I was there, but you’re right some days and some things just make it all very fresh again. I’m sure this will pass. It always does and the kind words help.

  5. Sharon says

    Wow! What a post – incredibly moving. Oh, your mom was amazing (but you know that)!! She was part of St. C’s old crew, part of my childhood & Wendy’s. Sending huge hugs…

    • Cristie says

      Thanks Amy. I know you know the membership to this particular club is one I wish we didn’t share.

  6. says

    Ok, this is where I’m gonna get all roommate on you. It’s her birthday. You guys are going through some shit right now. You got a raw deal in the losing your parents too soon department. If anyone is allowed to dwell today, it’s you. Wallow, cry, mourn, punch mattresses, stomp your cute boots and get pissed. Maybe then you will feel that old flash of her head turn that might just be impetus for your next step. It will come. I hate that you can’t see or touch her but this roommie of yours is quite sure your mom hasn’t left your side.

    And neither will I.


  7. Beth says

    This past Thursday was the day I lost my mom 4 years ago. I know exactly how you feel. I don’t care how old you are, how successful you are or not, how great things are going or not — you never stop needing your mommy. My heart goes out to you.

    • Cristie says

      I say almost that very same thing to people all the time. I’m sorry for you-we never are old enough to lose our mommies.

  8. says

    Cristie…I truly love the honesty in this post…the emotion is palpable. Hugs to you-it’s not much, but it’s honest. I can relate to some of what you say-money & work woes & luckily part of it hasn’t touched me yet, but I dread the day it does. Be good to yourself today, and know that your friends are here to support you. xox

    • Cristie says

      Thank you Hilary. It wouldn’t be life if it weren’t full of roller coaster hills right? I’ll just try to enjoy the ride…after today.

  9. Ashley says

    I wish I could hug you right now…I have felt everything you have so beautifully expressed. Hang in there and try to be gentle with yourself. Love to you, Cristie

  10. says

    Sending you so much love today and every day. You are certainly your mother’s daughter. I always think of you as someone who sees the bright side of everything, who always has a smile even when things get tough.

  11. says

    What an absolutely incredible and moving post Christie. You are amazing and things will turn around for you. Great things happen to good people and you and your family are so deserving of all that is great and good.

    You are in my thoughts!


    • Cristie says

      Thanks so much Beth. Being surrounded by people like you is what makes it easy to see my life is mostly great.

  12. says

    Oooh Cristie, what a sad but lovely post about your Mom. It’s okay to be sad. Of course your Mom wanted you to continue to be positive and not dwell on the “muck,” as you said. But I am sure she also knew in her heart that her passing would never be something you could just hold your head high after forever and in every moment!

    Not the same but it was actually just my grandmother’s birthday on Jan 15. I think of her every Jan 15 and I get sad every Jan 15th because my kids never knew her. She would have been over 100! She lived a long life and the reality is we all can’t be together for ever.

    Missing her, loving her and remembering her (even if it’s with sadness) is what makes you human. Big hugs to you. I am sure she was and is so proud of you. xo.

    • Cristie says

      Thanks Whitney. Of course I miss her, but you got it when you say the kids not knowing her-that’s the hardest part. You’re kind to send hugs. I’ll take them today.;)