One Month as a Widow

Today marks 31 days since my beloved husband died. This is an update on how I and my four year old are managing.

To be honest, I haven’t dealt with the list of things they say you have to deal with. I haven’t taken his name off of anything except the mailbox.

My daughter and I are just trying to survive each next minute. I do my best to not think about my Jason at all, ever. It doesn’t always work, but when I can be so busy I don’t have a single second to let my thoughts wander I can be gloriously numb for large portions of time and it is wonderful. It is so wonderful when I can forget that he won’t be home soon or that I won’t be sleeping beside him tonight. It is wonderful when I am so caught up in a book or a youtube video or work that I don’t have to think about anything else at all, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

When distraction fails I’m pulled deeply in to despair. I cry and am unable to stop. I beg for my Jason to come back to me. I wail and scream that it isn’t fair, that horrible people live to an old age and my amazing, kind, brilliant, loving husband died so horribly at just 42. I hurt more than I would ever have thought I could bear. It hurts to think. It hurts to breathe. I hurts to just keep living and I don’t want to.

If I had my wish I would be dead. I don’t know how to live without my Jason and I don’t want to.

The only reason I am still here is because of Pepper. She needs me to be here. With her. Even if I don’t want to be. I finally told myself that I have to be alive because she needs me to be, but I don’t have to like it. I never have to want to be alive. I don’t have to appreciate that I’m alive. I just have to do it, because Pepper deserves for me to do so. So I’m coping, minute to minute, for her.

A few things that are helping to keep us going are:

  • Not being home all alone for more than one day
  • Giant check lists of things that need to be done, from laundry, to showers, to reading, everything goes on the list
  • To make sure I eat even though it makes me nauseous to even think about it, I have a deal. Every time Pepper asks for food I have to eat something too. Even if it’s a slice of bread. I have to eat something.
  • We keep a gratitude journal together, even when I can’t think of something I have to come up with an answer because Pepper wants to know what I write.
  • Keeping the easiest food possible on hand always, pre-cut fruit and veg, bread, protein shakes when I literally can’t make myself eat a bite.
  • Plastic/paper dishes. I can’t use any of our dishes. The mugs especially have far too many memories of holidays and love and I wasn’t eating or drinking at all when those were my only options. I keep the house stocked with disposable things and it makes it easier for me.
  • Mindless apps on my phone that I can stare at or play until I finally pass out.
  • Talking to an aunt that was also a young widow. I’m 32 and a widow and a single mother with no money. She understands me the best of anyone I’ve ever met. We talk nightly and I can complain about stupid things people said to me or about how worried about money I am, or about how much I miss my Jason and wish I were dead. And she just gets it and loves me no matter what.
  • I’ve also started grief counseling. I had the set up visit last week and have my first actual appointment tomorrow.

It’s so hard. I spend more time wishing I were dead than not wishing. I can’t imagine ever feeling happy or wanting to be alive again. I can’t imagine ever caring about anything ever again either. My entire life goal at this point is to be numb and to be here as long as Pepper needs me.

Pepper is largely as joyful as ever. We had some behavioral issues for the first couple of weeks after Jason’s death, but she is doing wonderfully now. We stay very busy with crafts and school and work. And we’re managing to keep going by holding on to each other as tightly as we can. She asks questions that I answer to the best of my ability and though I never bring up Jason if I can help it, I never stop her from talking about him or asking about him. She misses him, but she is doing well and that is the one thing I am grateful for in this whole horrendous mess.

 

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Entertaining My Four Year Old

My four year old and I  have a lot of down time these days. My husband sleeps until 830am and she is up around 6am most days. He also naps for 4-5 hours in the afternoon. That’s 7 or so hours a day that she needs to be kept relatively quiet and that I need to spend time with her so that she is not feeling the lack of a daddy. And that’s not even considering the time spent in waiting rooms at doctors offices.

The point is, we have an enormous amount of time that we need to be kept from thinking too much about terrible things, or worrying too much, or just having as much fun together as we can without being able to leave the house.

She absolutely plays by herself for a lot of that time most days. I’m not an entertainment machine 24 hours a day. She plays pretend with her barbies or her baby dolls or her stuffed animals. She cooks food in her toy kitchen, she reads books, she watches Youtube or plays games on her Kindle or her her laptop. She does a lot of things on her own, but some days she’s not up to it and as full time caregiver to both her and my dying husband that’s where I have to step in and keep her happy and quiet so my husband can get the sleep he needs.

My first goal was to turn my husband’s afternoon nap in to a fun event for Pepper and I. The first few weeks she was just sad every afternoon when he went to sleep and she was left with no daddy to play with for hours and hours. I finally figured out a solution that works and is still working several weeks later.

I turned his nap time in to an event for the two girls. Pepper tucks her daddy in to for his nap and kisses him goodnight. We close the bedroom door to try and keep as much noise as possible away from him so he can rest. Then we open the window to let the sunshine in. And she gets to choose an activity from the craft box I’ve been curating. Many crafts from Dollar Tree, Michael’s, and Hollar. We do one craft every afternoon if it’s just me and her for nap time.

We give the budget a little bit of a break on days she has grandparents over to play with her.

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These are a small selection of the crafts we’ve done so far!

A craft fills perhaps 20-45 minuets in the afternoon. Sometimes far longer. Often that is enough focused mom time to get her in to the afternoon routine of quiet playing.

If it doesn’t though, we might pull out the crafty stuff box, an assortment of art supplies, pom poms, paints, pipe cleaners, construction paper, stickers, Popsicle sticks, etc. Just things that don’t go with a specific craft that she can use to be creative.

We might also read books, do some homeschooling bookwork, write stories, play board games, make up new games, or break out the play doh.

Waiting in doctors office we have to be more creative and even more quiet. That is mostly reserved for kindle games, sticker books, and coloring.

We’re making it work so far, but it can be exhausting.

 

Where do you buy assembled craft kits? We’re on a very tight  budget and I don’t have the mental energy left after caring for these two 24 hours a day to seek out or assemble activities. Grab and go is the name of the game here. We really like the Melissa and Doug or Alex craft kits because you can open the box and have everything you need to complete a project, or several. She gets to do one project a day so kits often span several days for us. We’re still always looking for a great deal to make the budget stretch farther.

What do you use to entertain your children when you need to keep them calm and quiet for long stretches?

Our 4 Year Old’s Easter Basket

I am overcompensating with Easter Gifts this year. I am fully aware that this is quite a few gifts for the kiddo, but I’m okay with that. I am making up for how fast she is needing to grow up right now. I’m making up for a sick daddy that sleeps a ton and is getting grumpier as the cancer takes over his brain. I am making up for a stressed out and grumpy mommy that is pulled in too many directions and is sad and scared and angry at the world. I’m making up for the possibility that this could be the last Easter we have daddy for. I’m doing everything I can to give that girl a great day with her family. As stress free and magical as we can make it, because she is four and she deserves it.

I know this doesn’t make up for not having a mommy as calm as I would like the rest of the time, but for right now this is what I have in me to handle. And I’m doing the best I can to be calm and fun and loving the rest of the days. Some days I just don’t meet my expectations no matter how hard I try.

In previous years Pepper would get a handful of small gifts and a bit of candy and she was ecstatic. We’re Atheists and really just celebrate Easter as another day to give our kiddo gifts. Gifts are my love language. This year I’m guilt shopping and her Easter basket is overflowing. She is going to absolutely love everything though and I’m excited for a fun day with my happy kiddo.

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Her Easter usually consists of a bit of candy and some surprise toys. I don’t think they are worth the money, but she loves them so much. She gets a basket with blind bags and other random surprise toys and she loves it. This year she is getting:

  • A USA puzzle
  • Part Pop Teenies with 10 surprises
  • Mini Fingerlings bracelet
  • Soft Spot Puppies 5 pack
  • 5 surprise
  • Bananas Peel to Reveal Squishy Animal
  • Pikmi Pops Surprise
  • 5pk Hatchimals
  • Lost Kitties Blind Box
  • An Easter themed sticker and pencil set
  • two Melty Bead kits
  • Easter Connect 4 game
  • An I Love Lucy nightlight, change purse, and mini tin
  • A Lego Friends Mission Vehicle play set

The Lego set is what her egg hunt eggs are filled with. She gets to find the eggs and then build the set.

This may or not seem like a lot of toys compared to what you do for your children, but it’s at least double what we have done any other year for our daughter.

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I have also added last minute some Dungeons and Dragons gaming dice because she wants to play with us and a hand crocheted dice bag that is very similar to mine.

Do you go all out for Easter or keep it simple?

My Birthday Interview

It’s almost the end of birthday month and somehow I’ve managed to keep up with a post every day even with the craziness that is my life right now. I’ll be very glad to be back to only three posts a week though.

Today I thought it would be fun to see what my answers are to the birthday interview sheet I had my daughter fill out for her birthday this year. I’ll tell you her answers at the end too if you are interested.

Name: Lori

Age: 32

Favorite food: Pizza

Favorite color: Blue

Favorite show: Golden Girls

When I grow up I want to be: Someone that gets paid to read books and drink coffee.

I like to play: Cards against humanity. We haven’t been able to play since the baby started talking

My favorite book: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

My favorite restaurant: Red Lobster. I totally copied the kiddo on this one. I don’t have a favorite.

My best friend: My hubby

My favorite cartoon: Sid the Science Kid

My favorite place to go: a book store, but there should also be coffee and an unlimited budget.

 

My four year old’s answers-

Name: Pepper

Age: 4

Favorite food: happy face fries

Favorite color: yellow

Favorite show: My Little Pony

When I grow up I want to be: A doctor

I like to play: Paw Patrol

My favorite book: The Princess in Black

My favorite restaurant: Red Lobster

My best friend: Jayla and Baby Ty Ty

My favorite cartoon: My Little Pony

My favorite place to go: the library

 

Do you have a favorite restaurant? Favorite book? What do you want to be when you grow up? These are a lot harder to answer now then they were when I was a kid.

 

Q & A A Day For Moms

Image from Amazon.

I received this journal for Christmas 2016. It has one question for every day of the year and you answer that same question on that same date each year for five years. I began it on January 1, 2017. The beginning of the book now has three years worth of answers. I wanted to share some of the questions and how the answers have changed over 2017, 2018, and 2019.

The question for January 3rd is a fill in the blank sentence. I love seeing my child____________.

2017: Laugh. Giggle. Be happy. Be sweet. Get excited. Succeed.

2018: Learn

2019: Read. Sleep. Listen. Take care of other children.

January 5th. What’s something you’ve done for your child that you never imagined you’d do?

2017: Get hit when she tantrums and still love her and snuggle her when she is finished.

2018: Make separate dinners.

2019: Spend hours cleaning up the messes she makes.

January 7th. What’s a smell you associate with your child?

2017: Johnsons and Johnsons nighttime bath soap

2018: Salt and Vinegar

2019: Chocolate

January 9th. I was in awe of when my child___________.

2017: Ate lunch out two days in a row with no complaint or drama.

2018: Said her name!

2019: Read The Princess in Black all by herself.

January 12th. I’ll be honest: ___________drives me crazy.

2017: Whining and hitting

2018: Whining and tantrums

2019: Whining and not being listened to.

Clearly whining is still an issue in our house.

January 23rd. Tomorrow I will ________ because I know it will make _________ happy.

2017: color, Pepper

2018: Sing, Pepper

2019: Act silly, Pepper

I love to make that girl happy.

January 31st. What are your three most recent kid-related purchases?

2017: Stickers, waterproof matress pad, toy flowers.

2018: Mommy and me tutus, books, shopkins.

2019: chocolate, Madlibs Junior, burritos.

February 2nd. What’s a favorite book right now?

2017: Daddies do it Different

2018: Feminist Baby

2019: The Princess in Black

February 11th. What makes your kid, your kid?

2017: Her brilliance, her sweetness, and her temper.

2018: Her sass and her kindness.

2019: Her amazing kindness and thoughtfulness.

I am loving reading these questions each day. It gives me a minute to reflect on something about my or my daughter’s life that I might not otherwise have given any thought to. It’s also fun to look back on my answers from previous years. I often think “that was only a year ago” or “I had forgotten about that entirely.”

Do you use any question a day type journals? I’ve had others in the past, but this is the only one I’ve stuck with for this long. Though to be honest I sometimes find myself filling in a couple weeks at a time.

 

Our Four Year Old’s Birthday Gifts

Today my crazy, sweet, brilliant, brave, thoughtful, amazing little red head turns four! That’s insane to think about. The day has arrived none the less. This is the final day of birthday week this year. And today she will receive her final gift from my husband and I.

All week long she has had a gift each day. So far she has received books 2-6 of The Princess in Black series and she has been excited every day that she received another installment in her favorite series that she can keep forever.

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Thursday’s gift was a little different because it was Valentine’s Day so all three of us celebrated together. Pepper’s gifts were a 3x3x3 rubiks cube (just like daddy), a set of light up thumb chucks (a bigger version of daddy’s begleri), and a moodle book that went along with the series we all got for Valentine’s Day.

Today is the big day though and her request for her birthday was big girl Legos. I may have helped her along in that idea because I have been purchasing her a mini Lego set here and there since before she was born. So we’re getting rid of her Duplo, or at least putting them in to storage for now, and today she gets to upgrade to big girl legos.

Collecting what I’ve picked up for her over the years we have a full Pull Ups box of loose Legos and small Lego kits for her to open.

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This is a set of miscellaneous Lego pieces and trays that I found for $1 in a Facebook yardsale group years ago and we still had them in the closet. There are enough to fill the bulk of the box with just these. IMG_20181229_163710

I also have 12 mini sets of Legos for her to open as well. These are wrapped and placed on top of the loose Legos inside the wrapped box. I’ve also convinced her that one of those small kits with the puppies is exactly the kit she wants to open for her birthday. The rest will be a huge bonus. Using points, coupons, and other offers, I estimate I spent less than $5 on all of the Legos she is getting IMG_20181229_163637

So five chapter books, a giant box of Legos, and a yellow birthday cake made by grandma and my girl is all set for a great birthday today. And she has also been saying for weeks that once she is four she will be ready to use the potty. Cross your fingers for us.

 

 

 

Birthday Week Traditions

This week is birthday week at our house. My birthday is on the 13th, Valentine’s day is on the 14th, and my daughter turns four on the 16th.

This year birthday week will involve a gift for my daughter and I each day of the week leading up to her birthday and small birthday party on Saturday.

Our gifts will be books on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Thursday is Valentines Day and we’ll be getting something else and my husband gets a small surprise too.

Saturday my daughter will get her big gift from my husband and I for the year and we’ll have her cake with her grandparents who will also bring her gifts.

My daughter’s big wishlist this year was for big girl legos (not duplo) and barbie gear for her barbies she got for Christmas.

My wishlist was all books and planner stickers.

Luckily I shop way in advance for everything so I already had all of the gifts for the week ordered before my husband’s hospital stay and diagnosis. The only thing I don’t have is a ‘big’ gift for me. I don’t really need anything though and we can’t afford anything at this point so I may or may not pick something up.

I do all of the shopping for all holidays. I wrap all the gifts too, even my own. I love the shopping and wrapping though so it’s not a big deal to me.

Besides a gift each day the birthday girl gets to choose all the meals for her big day. Currently my daughter only happily eats plain white toast and chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs. I don’t think my parents or in laws will happily eat those for lunch on Saturday though.

The big thing right now is to make as many memories and to take as many photos as we can and to just enjoy our time as a family for as long as we can.

How do you celebrate birthdays? Is your birthday close to anyone else in your family?