The Hardest Thing

{By Tanis from Attack of the Redneck Mommy}

My child recently had to write an essay about the hardest thing he ever had to do. For him, it seems to be trying to keep his damn room clean. It’s mission impossible for a twelve year old sloth I tell you.

But this essay inspired a conversation between us that I have long since been thinking about. He asked me what the hardest thing I ever had to do was.

I didn’t know how to answer him.

What does hard really mean? Gestating and giving birth to three rabid badgers who tore my insides out was hard.

Coming home with a disabled baby no one expected or prepared for was hard.

Trying to explain to people why my beautiful son never smiled was hard.

Spending endless nights, months on end, staring at a boy in a crib in a hospital and wondering if my family would ever be whole and under one roof together was hard. Dealing with one doctor after another in a never ending series of medical emergencies was hard.

Missing field trips and precious moments with my older two children because I had to be with their younger sibling was hard.

Driving alone, in the middle of the night, with a dying child in the back seat of my car was hard.

Looking into my husband’s eyes when he arrived at the hospital and having to find the words to tell him I failed him and our son, was hard. Phoning our family to tell them our boy had died, was hard.

Walking out of the emergency room with nothing but a plastic bag of a dead boy’s belongings was hard.

Mustering up the courage to walk into my childrens rooms, sit them down as their father stood behind me weeping, to tell them their brother died in the middle of the night and they would never have another opportunity to hug him was hard.

Seeing the mound of dirt heaped upon where my boy’s body lie and having to walk away from that boy for the last time, was hard.

Hard doesn’t seem adequate enough.

Facing every holiday and birthday and anniversary knowing my family is forever fractured, is hard.

Watching our friends and family’s be able to celebrate together as a family with all of their children, is hard.

Opening the box of Christmas decorations and hanging a stocking for a boy who only exists in dusty picture frames and our hearts is hard.

None of this gets any easier. It seems to get harder as time ticks past and stretches out in front of us.

How does I choose what was the hardest when all of it is equally devastating and soul shattering?

Trying to adopt a baby boy, only to lose him and be accused of being a bad parent was hard. Fighting to clear our names and bring home another boy, our Jumby, was hard.

Fighting to get our family’s to accept and love Jumby has been hard.

Keeping my marriage together in the face of all this adversity has been hard.

All of these thoughts swirled around me as my son looked at me with patient innocent eyes. It was then I realized what the meaning of hard was to me, what my answer is, what it will always be.

“The hardest thing I have ever had to do, will ever have to do, is to remember to live, Frac,” I answered thoughtfully. “The hardest thing in the world is to choose joy. To remind myself that the scars we bear on our souls are just reminders of what we have been through, what we have lost. They shape us into the people we are today but they shouldn’t determine what comes tomorrow, Frac. For me, setting the example for you and your siblings that no matter how hard life gets, it should always go on because where one joy disappears another will appear.”

Frac fell silent while he stared at his lost brother’s ornament glinting off the Christmas tree as he processed what I had just said. I sat quietly beside him, staring off into the ether of my own memories as I waited for him to respond.

“I wish life wasn’t so hard for us. I wish we could just be regular people.”

“Me too buddy. Me too.”

“Thanks Mom,” he looked at me, the twinkle of the lights on the tree reflecting off his glasses. “I love you.”

“I love you too kidlet,” I smiled as I ruffled his unruly hair.

“I was totally wrong, by the way.”

“Wrong?” I asked, confused.

“Ya, I told Fric that you’d probably say the hardest thing you have ever done was get your nipples pierced. Boy was I wayyy off base,” he snickered.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him, so I just bit my tongue as he walked away and thought to myself, “Nope, dying the muff bright blue all by myself was waaaay harder than stringing ornaments through my boobs.”

Sometimes staying quiet is the hardest thing to do.

Tanis Miller has been blogging her life’s story since 2006 at Attack of the Redneck Mommy. The original post is here.
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Comments Closed

26 Comments to “The Hardest Thing”

  1. Gina says:

    first I sniffled
    then I sent virtual hugs your way
    then…. LOL!

    then a silent thank you Heavenward for people like you

  2. Mr Lady

    Sometimes I love your kids so much it kills me, and then I remember that they are who they are because of you. And then I love you that much more. Thanks for letting us share this, Tanis.

  3. Eddie C says:

    I like to leave snarky (is too a word) comments but how can I… I mean you pull us back up off the floor at the end, but Wow. I like the little box I live in… and tip my hat your experiences, even when it seems life has worked hard to remove joy and love from you, somehow we see happy Christmas songs and 3 beautiful kids all the time. Anyway, thanks for sharing and just being an amazing person in general.
    Eddie C recently posted..Sad Year- good times 01-09

  4. Sunday says:

    This post is nothing short of brilliant. It had me crying, laughing, and then snorting my coffee across the living room all in the span of 2 minutes.

    This piece is just evidence of why so many love and support Tanis!
    Sunday recently posted..Life is a risk

  5. Ann's Rants

    Incredible. The writing and especially the parenting. Thank you Tanis.

  6. Damn. That was just awesome.
    The Domestic Goddess recently posted..Where Appliances Go to Die

  7. Tracie

    I’m crying, I’m laughing…you took me on an emotional journey.

    But I am reminded to live. That is big stuff right there.
    Tracie recently posted..Dont Mess With Me or Ill Cut You

  8. Jennifer says:

    Wow. This is… Just wow.
    Jennifer recently posted..What are you afraid of

  9. kellyjean9 says:

    A great post Tanis. Thanks for making me cry and smile simultaneously. I truly enjoy your writings .

  10. That was a beautifully written post and I think many people can identify with it in many ways…that is until I got to the nipples and muff part. Very little identifying going on there…at least for me.
    Lynn MacDonald recently posted..In which i discuss stairstep friendships

  11. Mr Lady says:

    @redneckmommy Well, you ARE on @StoryBleed today….

  12. Tanis Miller says:

    I'm on StoryBleed today! This THRILLS me. Whoot! RT @mrlady: @redneckmommy Well, you ARE on @StoryBleed today….

  13. Mr Lady says:

    It might be a post from 2009, but it;s a goddamn fine ass post from 2009. Thanks @redneckmommy! {@StoryBleed}

  14. enderFP says:

    RT @mrlady: @redneckmommy Well, you ARE on @StoryBleed today….

  15. @redneckmommy wrote a very touching piece on @StoryBleed today….

  16. Scary Mommy says:

    Loved this. RT @redneckmommy: I'm on StoryBleed today! This THRILLS me. @StoryBleed today….

  17. RT @ScaryMommy: Loved this. RT @redneckmommy: I'm on StoryBleed today! This THRILLS me. @StoryBleed today….

  18. RT @ScaryMommy: Loved this. RT @redneckmommy: I'm on StoryBleed today! This THRILLS me. @StoryBleed today….

  19. Lana W says:

    Deeply moving post Tanis. It’s amazing how much of our life can flash past us at the simple questions of our children. You are lovely and amazing…and apparently, occasionally bright blue :-)
    Lana W recently posted..Arizona…and Giving Children the World

  20. La Jolla Mom says:

    Brilliantly written, moving and inspirational.
    La Jolla Mom recently posted..A Virgin Chardonnay

  21. Thank you everyone. Just, thanks. You all float my boat.
    Redneck Mommy recently posted..Do I or Don’t I

  22. JennaFarelyn says:

    RT @StoryBleed: Amazing words frm @redneckmommy,I wish life wasn’t so hard for us. I wish we could just be regular people

  23. Wow. This is awesome. I followed every link and read every story. Wow. Y’all have been through it!

    Just so you know…we are driving down Interstate 20 and I read the burning bush story out loud to my husband. I thought he was going to wreck several times.

  24. Frelle

    Achingly hard to read, Tanis. Baring your soul for us, telling us the hard stuff. thank you so much for sharing your heart. I love the way you write, and I love your perspective. And of course your humor. :) Reminding all of us to choose joy, and to choose to accept that what we hve been through has made us who we are, it’s great validation.

    Have missed you,been away from blogs and twitter for most of a year. If you remember me, follow me as @jennafarelyn now.

  25. Melody Harrell says:

    Damn. Just, thanks.
    Melody Harrell recently posted..Cancer Tips