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"Mommy, do people die?"

We were on our way to dance class, mid afternoon after a busy morning of farmer's market, playing in the backyard, and not to mention the spring forward time change. We moms know that tends to bring extra sleepies, the feeling of chaos, and sometimes more emotions. Usually those things are happening with the kiddos, but let's face it, we grownups go through our shifts as well.

We still had about another 10 minutes until we reached the dance studio when Amara asks, "Mommy...." and you know just from the beginning with a curious tone in the voice, there's going to be a serious question attached to it. "Mommy, do people die?" I had tackled this one several months ago when our beloved sheltie passed away at the age of 15. I knew back at that time Amara wasn't quite grasping that Rani our dog wasn't coming back, but figured the question would get answered at a deeper level another time. Well, guess today was that day. "You mean people get dead?" she added on to her first question. Then it turned into, "You mean we don't ever see them again?" I went on to explain that when my dad passed, I knew I wouldn't be seeing him again, at least not in this lifetime. I reminded her that we haven't seen Rani again since she's passed; that's just part of what happens when someone's time comes to an end.

I could tell from her series of questions that she had more thoughts this round. It's always difficult because I want to assure her they are still with us, but going into that explanation is so tricky because I know it's going to lead to where did they go, how do I know they are still with us, will we join them some day? I wasn't ready for the next question, even though time and time again, you see these things shown in movies and television shows with youngsters and their parents. Of course, now I get why those actors make light of the situation, because Mom and Dad are probably sweating bullets.

"Mommy...are you going to die someday?" Bam! Foot stops gunning it on the freeway, heart begins to drop a little. "Well...yes one day, hopefully not until I am really really really old, my time will come too," I reply.

"What will I do without a mommy? Who's going to be my mommy?" Followed by, " I don't want you to go." I hear the voice beginning to change a bit, and when I look back real quick to glance at her precious face, I see the tears welling up. Now my heart starts to sink deeper into my stomach because I can tell the random questions seem to be slowly gearing into fearful questions.

As I sit back and think about all that Amara is asking me, I start to have my head begin questioning what will happen if such a major shift takes place. We always have a plan for the long-run, but let's face it, we don't always get a say. I didn't get a say when I was losing my dad, I didn't get a say when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I definitely didn't get a say when my son was induced early because of my BP shooting up sky high. These are all situations out of my control. As much as I'd like to be able to push the pause button on life in those sucky situations, someone else had a different plan.

Do you know what I do have control over? The things we sometimes take for granted and later in life wish we had taken a moment more to...

  • take better care of ourselves

  • eat wholesome foods

  • get a little more movement in to keep our heart healthy

  • get a physical or mammogram when due

  • turn the screen off and go play outside

  • read 1 extra book before bedtime

  • bake a cake for the hell of it

  • get your pants wet in the local stream

  • stain your favorite shirt with marinara sauce

These are the things we can control & should be lapping up more of! As soon as that little voice said to me, "I don't want you to go," I was holding back tears and thinking damn it who cares if she's the fastest horse galloping in ballet when it's clearly an adagio song....let her be the sparkly unicorn she is meant to be! The cliche saying of "life's too short" really just gets tossed around, but holds some nitty-gritty truth.

We have these youngsters to consider and as much as they make our hair turn even more grey, they are counting on every move we make. We are their world, despite what you think Cocomelon or Blippi have over their heads. If we don't start grabbing the bull by the horns, we are not only letting ourselves down, but these sweet faces as well.

So I encourage you to take a moment and ask yourself how can you make these moments count? Do you need a "yes" day? An excuse to just book it to the zoo for the last hour they are open (who'd do such a thing?) Maybe letting one kiddo have a little extra playtime with Mom and Dad before bed so they know there is unique love there.

And start taking care of you- whether that means an extra hour of sleep, throwing in a few more veggies on the plate, or starting your morning with closed eyes and positive affirmations; fill your bucket so that bucket continues overflowing into your tribe's.

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