Motherhood

I walked in the door to tears. It’s hard enough to understand anyone when they are crying, but Tiffanni is extra hard. She was inconsolable so I begged her to stop crying long enough to tell me what was wrong. “Stacey got a Mother’s Day dress and I don’t have a Mother’s Day dress.”

Tiffanni had just returned from going out with her parents. Their greatest gift to me might be taking her to the mall several times a month. I don’t think that I’ve been inside a mall in three years. I can live the rest of my life outside of malls and never miss out on fun, contentedness, satisfaction, or sanity. In fact, I’ll stockpile them.

There was a time that Tiffanni and I “discussed” what we would do on our off-day together. About every other one, Tiff had some house project, piece of furniture to buy, pair of shoes to scout, something that resided outside of the wheelhouse of what I would consider an off-day. Every other off-day was the exact opposite- a day of work and grief and pain and toil. My offers were walks in the state park, bowling, road trips, long dinners, and movies. Hers- torture.

Even her movie choices were painful. I dreaded the movies because every other trip was a ladies’ choice and her pick epitomized the over-worked, baby-drained, mindless, popcornfest chick-flick. “I just don’t wanna think today.” So instead she cried. Not like eyes-welled-up cry, boo-hoo please stop people are staring waterworks mascara-stained somebody died cry. I’m not sure how she constantly wanted those kind of movies, I was always willing to give her the somebody died movies- just not from cancer- I offered war, sacrifice, and revenge. Nope, she wanted the rich guy that falls for the prostitute kind of persecution.

Avoiding the mall for the last several years has extended my life by years, but not that particular day. Tiffanni wanted a Mother’s Day dress and didn’t have one. I couldn’t tell if she was mad or sad, “We’ll get you a dress. You always have a Mother’s Day dress and we’ve got a few weeks anyway.”

Maybe I’m reading too far into it, but sometimes it seems that she is holding onto as much of what used to be as she can. There are ways that even in her diminished capacity, it’s obvious that her motherhood-ness has lessened. The way that she would have mothered, she just isn’t able to do now and maybe she holds on to any semblance of that.

So, she was inconsolable. For hours. This is a fairly new change for us. Once she begins to cry over something, that is usually irrational, she can’t stop. I couldn’t distract her, couldn’t entertain her, couldn’t get her to eat. Despair was all that she could feel. We both felt helpless.

Over the last six months, these irrational moments of despondency either happen during the day with a reprieve at bedtime, or they happen at night- lasting the entire night and breaking by the next morning. However, the last couple of instances haven’t obeyed those borders. Encroaching on both halves of the day, they senselessly drain all lucidity from our lives. For hours.

When 9:30pm rolled around, seven hours later, and nothing had changed, I began to prepare myself for the long night ahead. Looking at the next morning’s schedule, what would I have to cancel, what would I have to move around? What was mundane enough to function through on no sleep? In college, I remember powering through days and nights with very little sleep and loving every minute of it. But that was a tired caused by FOMO- fear of missing out. This is a tired caused by physical and mental exhaustion.

I won’t pretend that I protect the kids from all of this. I try, my parents try, but it’s impossible to hide. At 9:30pm the girls asked me, “Dad, are you coming to pray for us or what?!” Thirty minutes late, I lumbered into their rooms for the nightly routine. “What’s wrong dad? Why is mom upset?”

“It’s nothing, let’s pray so that you two can get some sleep. You’ve got school in the morning and we’re already 30 minutes late.”

“What is it?” they insisted.

“It’s nothing. Mom just wanted a Mother’s Day dress and has been upset that she doesn’t have one.” And before I knew it, they were out of the bed and in my closet. With Tiffanni maintaining a low-wail, the girls were on a mission.

“Momma, you have a Mother’s Day dress in the closet,” Addyson exclaimed.

“I do?” she said.

“Yes, look right here. It’s still got the tags on it. Oh, and it’s so pretty.”

Carsyn joined in as if they had rehearsed the one-act play, “Look at the pretty neckline. And the colors. This will look so good on you momma.”

“And you can wear these ear rings,” she pulled open Tiffanni’s sparse jewelry drawer. “And this necklace.”

“Do you want to wear these khaki pants or tights.” It wasn’t a question, just an onslaught of bait-and-switch, a barrage of sensory overload.

“Yeah momma, you’ll look so pretty. Dad will get you flowers and we’ll go to breakfast like we always do.”

“You’ll be the prettiest one in the whole building.” Tiffanni’s eyes widened, the corners of her mouth loosened. And I watched, dumbfounded, as my girls rescued my already-lost evening. Holding up a dress in one hand, earrings and a necklace in the other, they looked like a bridal team on wedding day as they surrounded their mom with love and excitement at 9:30pm. It took ten minutes. What I tried to do for seven hours, distract and refocus, they did intuitively. A choreographed dance, peddling anticipation and beauty with hand-me-down jewelry and closeted-fashion, “We’ve got you dad,” they said.

We got Tiff settled and I escorted the girls to their rooms. Back in the bed I couldn’t stop my head from spinning, “Do you have any idea what you just did?” They smiled. Prayers and hugs and kisses I returned to my room to see Tiffanni lying on her side, eyes closed, sound asleep, where we slept all night.

42 Comments for “Motherhood”

Carrington

says:

I LOVE THIS ❤️ and just so you know the rich guy falling for the prostitute is the BEST MOVIE EVER MADE right along with the child created specifically to donate cells, organs and whatever else her older cancer ridden sister needed until she fought for medical emancipation at that same sister’s insistence. Chick flicks give you a reason to just let the built up tears flow without question. It’s an old girl trick 😊 Continued blessings

Robin

says:

Never under estimate the power of a woman (of any age). It’s a God given instinct especially between mothers and daughters.
Your girls are building special memories that will stay with them forever.
God bless you, and continued prayers for you, Tiffany and your children.

Ruth Biller

says:

So wonderful is the love between daughters and their Mother! Sometimes they just click and dads just don’t seem to understand… God just made us that way! Praise the Lord He did for this special night you witnessed!
Prayers continue!

Susan Bethea

says:

This is a real good one. What an amazing family. I still don’t know how you do this, God is surely right there with you. God bless you Jeremy. Sending love and prayers from the Bethea’s.

Lindy Culver

says:

Jeremy, you hit the nail on the head. Tiff is definitely mourning the loss of what she imagined her life to be and what it has become. Even someone like me, who has a long life ahead of me most likely has had to take the time to mourn the loss of what I dreamed my life to be. How I could interact physically with my family, my limitations that I have now, have had for 12 years and will continue to have my entire life without a miracle. And unfortunately I have mourned more than once and will probably continue to mourn. Because circumstances certainly bring up those emotions tied to expectations. I’m sure you already knew all this, but I am glad you understand that this is going to happen and allowed your girls the opportunity to console their mother. Mercy had been my saving grace at times. And I know Eve will undoubtedly do the same. I miss being there and pray for all of you. You are an amazing man – God has blessed those of us who burden our spouses and families with amazing men to love and care for us. You are her greatest blessing and an inspiration to so many. Don’t give up! All my love and prayers!

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