A short biography of Charlotte: I am married with four sons. I have a BA in English and a JD from UCLA. We live in California with two dogs and two cats, and no actual white picket fence, but two very tall pine trees.
And yet life is not so simple as it might appear. I’ve been pregnant 5 times and given birth twice. Two of the boys have the same birthday, but they’re not twins. Two of the boys have the same first name, but different last names, and I have three mothers-in-law. Confused?
I was widowed in 2007. My sons were 6 and 8, the dog was just over two years old, and I was 39. My now husband was widowed the same year; his boys were 11 and 15, and the cats were about 7. We didn’t know each other. Five years later, we are married and blended, and we have an “ours” puppy. I’m not really sure why I thought I needed more crap to pick up around this place, but the puppy is sweet and house-trained and great company on a run. He does not, however, fit on a lap, but he refuses to acknowledge this fact, and as a result, I will blame all of my typographical and grammatical errors on the dog.
Healing does take time, but time by itself just makes me grayer and more wrinkled, which wasn’t quite the progress I had in mind. For genuine healing, I recommend dogs. The dogs are always happy to see me, and they greet me as enthusiastically when I return from a week-long trip as they do when I return from the mailbox, which is less than 10 yards from my front door. I just barely exit their line of vision before I return with the bills.
The cats, like the dogs, are equally happy to see me when I return from Europe or from the front walk, but they are not exactly… effusive. Occasionally, I believe that they actually notice when I’m gone. Usually when they’re hungry. This is the same time that the children notice my absence.
A dog is just good for a girl’s mental health in general. A pair is better, but in any event you should have at least as many pets as you have mothers-in-law. As I mentioned, I have three mothers-in-law, two dogs and two cats. I’m just barely ahead of the game.
To make some serious healing strides, I also recommend yoga. Long walks. Or just intentional breathing. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat as necessary.
A pedicure every now and again tips the odds in mental health’s favor.
And just a glass or two of pinot noir – the noirer the better.
My healing began in earnest when I initiated my Tuesday rule: Unless you are in fact on fire AND I gave birth to you, it can wait until Wednesday. Tuesdays became my “Charlotte Shabbat.” On Tuesdays, I went to yoga and therapy. I did not pay bills or do laundry or make appointments. I might cook, but only if I felt like it. While I didn’t schedule lunch with anybody – that was too much pressure for my Tuesdays – I would take myself out to lunch. Nobody else in my family will eat sushi. As a result, I often treated myself to sushi for lunch on my Tuesdays.
I ran across this quote on a Tuesday: “Watch your way then, as a cautious traveller; and don’t be gazing at that mountain or river in the distance, and saying, ‘How shall I ever get over them?’ but keep to the present little inch that is before you, and accomplish that in the little moment that belongs to it. The mountain and the river can only be passed in the same way; and, when you come to them, you will come to the light and strength that belong to them.” — M. A. Kelty
As a family, we have traversed a mountain of grief and cried a river of tears, and inch by inch we have found light and strength in the process. I have no formal education or training in theology, psychology, grief or orthopedic surgery, but my M.O.M. designation has taught me far more than my J.D.
About a year and a half after Sam’s death, I gave a presentation to a group of therapists on the subject of children’s grief. The conference happened to fall on a Tuesday. Obviously, they had not consulted with me on this detail. It was the first violation of my Tuesday rule in about … a year and a half. At the time, one of my co-presenters suggested that when I write my book, I should title it “Sushi Tuesdays.” Five years later, I am starting a blog…, Sushi Tuesdays is born.
Wishing you light and strength on your healing path. Because healing takes more than time. Sometimes you need snacks.