Over the past week as I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about who I am and how this trial has changed me. One of my big epiphanies was that I'm not taking full advantage of one the special “gifts” that Hailey has given me. I realized that I wasn’t enjoying my children, or my life for that matter. When Hailey first passed away I remember suddenly becoming so aware of the little things and how important they are. By little things I mean hearing my children laugh, seeing a beautiful butterfly, eating a yummy ice cream sundae, etc. I really started to appreciate and savor those moments and it was wonderful. Unfortunately, that appreciation didn’t last as long as I would have liked and I quickly fell back into being easily annoyed by the little things. In this case, by little things, I mean a spilled drink on the table, a messy playroom, a fussy child, some traffic on the freeway, and so on. Those “little things” that I once so appreciated were now overshadowed by the “little things” I began to find so darn annoying.
I've finally gotten sick of being annoyed and miserable all the time and decided to really pray about it. I mean, a real prayer. Like the get on my knees, pour my heart out, and beg the Lord for help kind of prayer. So I did just that and I’ve done just that every single day now for over a week. I told Him how much I just want to be happy. How badly I want to enjoy my husband and children. How I want to hear my children laugh and feel joy. How I want to see the sun shine and feel joy. How I just want to wake up in the morning and feel joy. And how willing I was to do whatever it would take to develop that feeling of joy.
The day after my first prayer I already started to feel it. One of the impressions that came upon me was to stop voicing all my complaints aloud but instead keep them to myself. And when those negative thoughts do creep in, argue with them, play devil’s advocate and see how true they really are (or aren’t!). Okay, WAY easier said than done!!! But I truly feel that as I work on this and speak positively my thoughts will eventually follow suit. My prayers aren’t usually answered this quickly or profoundly, but I think that God knows my desperation and pure intent.
Then, sure enough, on Sunday in church one of the lessons we had was completely on JOY!! I mean, could that have been any more perfect? It so inspired me! I know that God wants us so badly to be happy and feel joy, just as we want that for our own children. Of course it may not be possible every single day, but I think overall when we look back upon our life, He would want us to say we lived a happy, joyful life. So that has become my mission. And let me just say, it is a work in progress.
So, what does this all have to do with the two-year “anniversary” of Hailey’s death?
Well, another impression I had while praying was that one of the “gifts” Hailey gave me when she passed away was the freedom to enjoy her siblings. When she was here, almost all my time, efforts, and worries were focused on her, which they should have been. But that also left me little time to focus on her sisters. Luckily, they are both healthy, very happy, well adjusted kids so it didn’t seem to bother them much. But now I no longer have to worry about Hailey. I know where she is and that she is much better off than she ever was here. Does that make everything okay? Of course not! However, it should give me the peace of mind to be able to focus on my other girls and my new baby boy. I realized that I owe that to her. I owe it to her to take care of her siblings and enjoy them to the fullest. Yet I have done nothing of the sort.
I realized that I’m have become such a ridiculous control freak because losing Hailey made me feel so out of control. I waste so much time being stressed and anxious over trying to control every aspect of my life and everything around me. To be quite honest, it is so exhausting and extremely overwhelming. The ironic thing is that losing Hailey really should have taught me that I truly have no control over anything or anyone but myself and the way I behave. That’s a tough thing for me to swallow, but I’ve finally gotten to where I’m ready to give it up. I literally cannot do it anymore. I have wasted so much time stressing over everything being exactly as I think it should be that I’ve completely missed out on the pure joy of those little things.
So the past few days I have seriously worked really hard at letting go of that false sense of control and just enjoying what is. I am constantly reminding myself that those little things that I think are so annoying and frustrating will pass tomorrow and be completely forgotten. So why waste one second on them now? Not to mention that my little kiddos are not going to be so little for long. I don’t want to look back on their childhood wondering why I wasted it all away trying to be in control rather than just loving what is and enjoying who they are.
Today was the perfect test. I had all planned out in my mind how it would go, yet it went completely different and I totally embraced it. Ava wasn’t feeling well and actually slept until 11:30…yes, 11:30! That is completely unheard of and the “old” me would have been so annoyed that she missed preschool and I didn’t get to do the errands I was planning on. Instead, I reminded myself that my sweet little girl needed her rest and if my errands didn’t get done that morning, the world was not going to end. (Although, I’d probably be cool if it did!) I embraced the peace and quiet and actually relaxed. When she woke up, I took the girls out front on the driveway and pulled out this huge cardboard house Sean and I bought, a bunch of paints, paintbrushes, and markers and just let them go at it. (So not my style…too messy!) We had so much fun together!!! The three of us sat out there and painted, chatted, and giggled for several hours. And when Lexi asked me if she could paint her face (It was washable…I’m not that relaxed yet!) my initial reaction was to say “No way,” but instead I looked at her and said, “Absolutely!” So, of course, Ava followed along and they had a blast! And you know what? When we were all finished, I put them in the bath and washed it all away…and yes, the world was still spinning!
To some of you this may sound so trivial because you do things like this all the time with your kids, but for me, that would normally be very overwhelming due to the lack of control I would have felt over the mess. Today I learned that messes can be cleaned up, but precious moments lost cannot be retrieved. I think Hailey would have been very proud of the fun I had with her sisters!!!
So, in honor of Hailey’s 2nd Heavenly birthday, my gift to her is to truly enjoy her siblings and the “worry free” life she left me. Of course, I would take all those worries she brought with her back in a heartbeat if it meant she were here, but since that’s not an option I’m going to do my very best to feel a little bit of JOY, in her honor, each and every day!
Here are some pictures to prove it!!!
(Seeing the joy in my girls' faces made it all worth it!)