Remember the Layout

that I was working on that was both cathartic and painful? This is it. It appears in the December Scrapbook Trends Issue (2009).

I have been in a funk the last few days, and I cannot seem to shake it. I'm trying, but sometimes I just feel "off" with really no reason. But when I do feel that way sometimes feelings about Joey bubble up to the surface.

I wasn't the best kind of Mom to Joey. That's very hard to say. He was my first. I really had no idea what I was doing. I was impatient. I was unrealistic. And sometimes I was just downright unkind. I'm happy to say that I have come a LONG way from that unhappy person. I think we all learn and our first children seem to suffer most from that learning process. And thankfully I changed long before we knew the path our lives would take.

I learned to enjoy the moments a whole lot more. I learned that spilt milk, accidents, and life in general wasn't quite the big deal that I used to make it out to be. I learned that I could chill out and still be a good Mom. I learned that a hug worked just as well as a spanking. I learned that time was precious and a child's love and affection is the best gift in the universe. I became a lot more happy and a lot better at being a mom.

In my last post I mentioned that looking at pictures of Joey as a little boy was painful. I know we all make mistakes--some big and some little. And thank goodness for second and third and thousand chances to do things better. But you see, I ran out of second chances. And while I was a pretty good Mom to Joey, especially in those last years; I can't take back those times when I wasn't. Maybe I'm being hard on myself, but I can't expect less than my best when it comes to my kids. They really mean everything to me. And so when I see those pictures I can't help wishing I could have another chance to go back and fix all those mistakes (for him and for me).

It's very painful sometimes.

I do have to share that part of my belief as a "Mormon" is that we believe that when Christ comes again those of us that have lost children will have the opportunity to finish raising them until adulthood. It's something I'm hanging on to. And when I'm having those moments now with Kate and Jim where I'm not giving them the best of me, I try to remember that I'm trying to prepare to be the best kind of parent for both them and Joey.

It's a lesson I will always be learning. I hope I'm getting better at it!


  1. Anonymous10:00 PM

    I know you were the best mom to Joey! The ear to ear grins on his face are proof of that! It breaks my heart that you had to go though this- we almost lost my mother to the same cancer two years ago. Hold tight to your faith and that one day you will get to finish what you started in raising Joey.

  2. Jen, I really needed to read this tonight. My 4-year-old is TRYING MY PATIENCE so very much lately and I'm having a really tough time being a good mommy to her. But I owe it to her and to Heavenly Father to try harder, to be more patient and more loving. Because you're right, you never know how much time we have here and I don't want to live with regrets anymore than I have to. Hugs to you--hope you'll feel better soon. Thank you for reminding me what is really important!

  3. Anonymous6:28 AM

    It is the most difficult job on earth to be a mom. And I've come to learn that it doesn't have to be "perfect". I think our kids need to see that we are human and that as long as we try again each and every day, and we do it with love, it's okay. Thank you so much for your honesty...more people need to hear these sentiments. We must be patient and compassionate of ourselves. I think you are probably an amazing mom...a real mom. Hugs Lia L.

  4. As mothers we are all so hard on ourselves, aren't we? The first born gets a rookie parent who wants everything to be perfect-- and we expect too much, and we don't see until later how much better we could've done it. I feel guilty about my three year old, because now with my one year old I know I am a better mom. I know you were a great mom to Joey, and I know that you are being too hard on yourself. Remember what Maya Angelou said-- "We do the best we can with what we know at the time." hugs!

  5. None of us are perfect but we have such high expectations of our first borns. I know that I do. Thanks for the reminder to be more patient and to just BE there. HUGS!

  6. Jen, first I want to say, that layout is absolutely amazing. My heart breaks for what you and your family have gone through and are still going through.

    Secondly, we all make mistakes, I have made more than my share. My comfort it that that is the reason Jesus was sent to Earth. He has taken care of those mistakes for us.

    Finally, it is so obvious to me that you did a wonderful job with Joey and all of your kids. He was obviously a very happy boy and that doesn't happen when you don't have an wonderful mom.

    Hang in there, no one ever said being a mom was easy, but it sure is worth it isn't it?

  7. You are AMAZING!!! Thank you for sharing your heart.

  8. "Children and mothers never truly part - Bound in the beating of each other's heart.
    -- Charlotte Gray"

    That layout is beautiful and your comments as well. I think we all think and do those things you mentioned but I truely believe that our children know that we love them more than anything and that we are trying out best. That no one is perfect. God Bless! I will pray for him to put his hand on your shoulder today.

  9. Sandra A6:45 PM

    Jennifer, thank you so much for pouring your heart out, and then sharing it with all of us. No mother is perfect, nor are we expected to be. You can't possibly question your children's love for you; it's evident in so many of Joey's pictures. We can all strive to do better, but try not to torture yourself. Love yourself as you love your family.

  10. ((HUG)) Jen...this post really choked me up. As mothers, we always seem to be so hard on ourselves when we are simply doing the best we can at the time. And losing someone you love SO much, makes you question every little thing you've every said and done to them. Someone once told me that Guilt was the gift that kept on giving. How true it is. The Holidays can be a very difficult time so please remember to be gentle with yourself and always remember you gave Joey the most precious gift of all...LOVE. peace and blessings!!!

  11. We all do the best we can as mothers on a daily basis. The best we can. No-one is perfect and as women we all expect ourselves to be. Joey loved you no matter how you mothered him. He loved you. Sending you the biggest bear hug as you get through this sad time.

    A xx

  12. Your post touched me. My kids are grown and I only have one left at home. There are so many times I wish I could have a do over on lots of things. The reality is are kids still love us and are very forgiving and we learn from our mistakes. We become better parents. He knows you love him. Families are forever.

  13. Jen,
    This is the first time I've come across your blog and I must say... I've been crying (hard) over the past 30 mins. You my brave friend, have touched my soul. I am also a member of the church and I have a strong testimony for our Fathers plan, however... I pray to him each and ever night in fear that someday... I might loose one of my babys. I beg for their health and that our family will be safe as we are apart!

    About 4 years ago, a dear friend lost her baby to major heart issues. I walked with this friend as she over came such a hard life challenge. From that moment to now, I try and take each day as a beautiful gift.

    I have two sweet boys and I love them so much. I'm not sure I could be as brave as you. I'm not sure I would be able to over come this and I pray that it will never be my test in life.

    I'm sorry this is so long. I just wanted you to know... that I think you are amazing. I'm so proud of you for sharing these thoughts with the world.

    Thank you for shaing this!
    I know and believe that you will be with him again :) He is a beautiful boy.

  14. Your words are the most beautiful I read, they touched me deep inside myself... they made me cry.
    Just thank you for opening your heart like this and reminding us what is really important.

  15. I so want to give you a BIG hug! You are so truthful....I'm not that brave to voice my thoughts like are very brave and a brilliant mom...I can see that in your children's eyes!

  16. Jen, I was reading this early this morning when I could not sleep. I have 3 children, 2 with special needs. As you know, many days are filled with emotional struggles and busy times of therapy and treatments. Your journaling spoke directly to my heart. You gave me the Grace to keep my focus on the many blessings God has brought to my life, especially those He delivers through my children. Thank you from every place in my heart for sharing your thoughts and experiences so warmly and gracefully.

  17. That's exactly how I feel about Broc. I was way to hard and just didn't understand kids and raising kids. Love is almost always better than spankings, I totally agree. But it's hard to change your emotions in the moment, unless you prepare yourself! I totally feel like I am a better mom to my younger ones than the older ones when they were little. Glad to know I'm not the only mom who feels this way! Thanks for sharing...even though it's hard.

  18. ((hugs)) I KNOW you're an amazing mom. Joey knows that too--we can never be perfect, and I truly believe that we don't become "patient" until we are grandparents! :)


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