I’m planning the baby’s 3rd birthday party. This will be her 3rd year without her daddy; she lost him exactly a week before she turned one. How many of you have celebrated birthdays or other occasions since losing your spouse?
That first year, I made it a point to throw a big party. I reserved a fun kids’ venue, invited everyone to come out, decorated, ordered special cupcakes – the whole nine yards. With all of the trauma surrounding our loss, I was determined to focus on and celebrate the good things.
But as time went on and everything landed on my shoulders, I began to lose that focus. Holidays and special occasions became more chore than celebration. I felt burdened by the weight of celebrating special occasions – another milestone, another memory he won’t be part of – as well as the responsibility of creating the “mom magic.” After all, what good are the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus if Mom doesn’t bring them to life?
My friend Angela taught me that. I was at Barnes and Noble in San Diego, attending my very first book signing when I heard her speak. She was describing the inspiration for writing her book and how moms are the ones who create magic for the kids… from running the household to celebrating the holidays, moms make it happen – like magic.
Except – it suddenly occurred to me – I wasn’t.
I left that evening with her words swirling in the back of my mind. I thought back to Christmas; it used to be my favorite time of the year, but that year I had barely put up a tree. And instead of taking a day to drink hot chocolate, visit with Santa, and pick out a real tree like we normally did, I drug up an old artificial tree from the basement that was only half-lit.
Definitely not magic.
The Tooth Fairy and Leprechauns and Elf on the Shelf all stopped visiting our house. Birthdays were the bare minimum and even weekends weren’t very fun. That’s when I realized that even though I was showing up for my kids, I wasn’t really there. I was missing out on my time with them – this precious time that will be gone so fast. And they were missing out on me and on the magic I create when I’m at my best. It was a wake-up call for me to start making every moment count with my kids, just like I did in that first year after my husband’s passing.
So this year, birthdays are filled with joy, laughter, and celebration! As we plan the little girls’ party, I can see the excitement building in their eyes, and it reminds me of the importance of creating special memories for them, despite the challenges we faced.
Even though life has thrown us some curveballs, I can still be the one to create magic for my kids. I don’t have to carry the burden of grief alone, and I don’t have to let it overshadow the joy of special occasions. I get to be present and fully engaged, making every moment count.
It’s not about trying to replicate what it would have been like if he were here, but about making my own mark as a mom and creating new traditions that my kids will remember and cherish forever.
So, this year, we’re celebrating special occasions BIG and often! We’re planning more family outings, movie nights, picnics in the park, and impromptu dance parties in the living room. We’re baking cookies together, having silly dress-up days, and exploring new adventures. I’ve realized that the best gift I can give to my kids is my presence, my love, and my commitment to making their childhood as magical as possible, even without their daddy by their side.
It’s not always easy, and there are still moments of grief and sadness, but I’m determined to make every birthday, holiday, and special occasion a time filled with joy, laughter, and cherished memories that will last a lifetime. After all, my kids deserve the best of me, and I’m ready to embrace the magic of motherhood and create a beautiful life for us, one moment at a time.