So much gratitude. . .

My girl turned 18 last month. No one is having a harder time than me believing that fact, but it's true! For her birthday she wanted a tattoo. I know, I know. What can I say? I didn't want to be a hypocrite, so her Dad and I said yes with certain caveats attached related to size, cost, and cover-ability. I did some research and found a reputable local shop and talented artist (here and here) to complete the task. My regular shop was too far away for the simplicity of this first adventure. (Read my Top Ten Tattoo Tips here.)

A couple of days beforehand I asked Olivia what design she'd decided on and was thrilled when she announced she wanted her dad's initials and birthday above one ankle and mine above the other ankle. (Now you'll always know how old I am. Please don't tell.)

Olivia hopped onto the table, and Wyatt got down to business. She wanted her dad's done first. Tattooing 3 letters and a birthday's worth of numbers doesn't take long, and soon she flipped to the other side. "Ouch," she said to me with a smile. "Your eights hurt."

"You think that's bad?" I asked. "Try giving birth." I laughed and added, "Sweet revenge."  

Wyatt finished up, and I snapped the photo. I told Olivia how honored I was to have permanent residence on her skin. She asked if I was kidding. "Heck no," I declared. "I would never kid about that."

I paid, and we headed off to the movie theater because everyone needs a dose of Disney's Moana after getting inked. And crying hysterically in public is one of my favorite things to do. Plus, who knew that the Rock's cartoon character would be covered in tattoos–that move! It was an all around inky fun-filled teary-eyed sort of day.

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Here's the best part. About a week later, a friend of mine was talking to Olivia about her tattoos and said that her kids would probably tattoo "666" on their skin rather than a tribute to her (I do not think this is true, but it was funny).

Olivia said, "Well, I probably wouldn't be here without my mom and dad." Then she realized that her comment could be misconstrued to be about birth when she'd meant that we helped save her life. She was going to explain, but I told her we totally understood her point.

That was the start to the end of my year, which slid from her birthday into Christmas and the New Year without strife or fear or hyper-vigilance. Or incident. The word gratitude pales in comparison to the feeling, the lightness in my chest. Four years ago, on New Year's Day, we were calling the paramedics. This year, we watched football as I doggedly cleaned up the holiday mess–determined to piggy-back clean and clear on the calm we'd just enjoyed. In the midst of the political and social tumult of the last few months, I remember my priorities. I remember before and after. (Read here.) I remember what I can control and what I cannot control. I will carry these lessons forward, in whatever ways I can, to support the causes in which I believe and engage in meaningful conversation and (hopefully) positive change in my community.  

Thank you, so very much, to all of you who joined me here, who took the time to read and maybe to leave a comment. I appreciate the generosity more than you know. Your willingness to share this journey with me is humbling. I hope we can continue to work together, to learn from one another and to grow, to support and encourage each other rather than the alternatives. 

Speaking of gratitude. . .I wanted to share my two most popular posts of the year. 

Here's a link to the gratitude post, dated February 10, 2016, about how I've been that type of sports mom. I'm not proud to admit it, but I will and this post explains why. I wrote about questionable behavior because I want people to remember that things aren't always as they appear.

Here's a link to the regular blog post, dated July 4, 2016. Thank you again Dani Shapiro and Jayne Anne Phillips. It's about our need to insist that sorrow not be meaningless and how, by remembering, I can assure that the sorrows we've experienced over the last several years never will be meaningless. (This post also appeared on iPinion Syndicate, where I sometimes contribute.) 

I'm glad they meant as much to you as they did to me. I look forward to seeing you here for an adventurous 2017!


  1. I admire your ability to write about your journey. I understand you very well when you speak of mental illness. Last year we almost lost our Daughter twice due to meningitis, then to Hyperemesis. Depression is enhanced with struggles. Seeking help & researching self help, exercise & God is essential for me to cope in my journey. God continue to bless you & your Family ❤️

  2. I love this post! Life gets messy, and cycles back to "normal" or greater than ever. We sure can appreciate the better times after living through the tough times.

    Olivia's tattoos are awesome. What a tribute to the 3 of you! ♡♡♡

  3. I could not love this post and the gratitude and love behind it more. That Olivia chose these particular tattoos as her first says so much–everything–about her and about you and Tom as her parents. I'm so grateful to have you a few steps ahead of me on this parenting journey so I can learn from your experience and wisdom.

  4. Thank you Ali, very much. I'm so glad everyone in your family is doing so well now. And thank you for bringing up self-care…it is the foundation of being able to take good care of ourselves, or course, but also our loved ones. So easy to forget sometimes…

  5. Thank you so much, Sue. Yes! I appreciate so much more of the "little" stuff now, which is not little at all. The little stuff is the stuff, but it sometimes takes bigger badder stuff to appreciate the smaller quieter stuff!

  6. Oh my, Jess. Thank you so very much! Thank you. Yeah. I was pretty surprised and happy and honored and tickled and all that jazz…Xo

  7. As are you, Faithe, for your family. A true heroine who has and will do everything she can for her family. Thank you for reading and responding!

  8. I also loved reading this post. At first I thought "Oh no, a tattoo!" and then as you went on to tell the story, the fear I had of Olivia possibly making a regrettable choice melted away. What a beautiful way for everything to come full circle. Thank you and your family for sharing and inspiring!

  9. To be honest, Crystal. I had mixed emotions and an Oh no sort of feeling too. Even though I have many tattoos, I didn't get my first one until I was about 22. Which is still young, of course, but it's older than 18! But truly, with a story line like ours…at this point…it's tip-toeing through the tulips. With tattoos…Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment!

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