The joy you might be missing

by Kelli Smith

Let me paint a picture of one of my recent joys I could’ve missed. It’s 1 pm and I put Pierce down for a nap. I quickly stain the basement stairs, Pierce wakes up from her very short nap, I let our beagle Lilly out to potty. As I’m changing Pierce’s diaper, the Amazon delivery man is dropping off my DAILY order all while being chased by Lilly. I am yelling for Lilly to back off, Pierce is now running around with no diaper on and the delivery man shakes his head and laughs and wishes me luck! OMG, is it time for wine?! 

All of this chaos is nothing less than everything I could ever ask for.

Some of you may have read my last essay about miscarriage and child loss. Our beautiful, healthy daughter Finley passed away on September 29, 2017, from Group B Strep-Sepsis. When Finley was born on September 28, 2017, at 8:16 pm, I was in awe of her. When the nurses put her on my chest, she began scratching my neck with her itty bitty fingernails. I had scratch marks for days. What I wouldn’t give to always have these scratch marks. The smell of her was intoxicating. So many days I struggle to relive her smell. 

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Immediately after this, time stood still, my world froze, nothing mattered. I grew increasingly frustrated that the world seemed to keep on moving. Three years later, my world is beginning to move once again. I still pause and freeze in moments of remembrance and mindfulness. On one hand, I’m frozen in remembrance of the daughter I’ve lost. On the other hand, I’m granted the gift to see the joy of what is right in front of me. 

While I can’t change the past, I can use this perspective to make the most of the present: to find the beautiful moments of everyday parenting to our 17-month-old and 11-year-old daughters.

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Let’s be honest: 2020 has been a shitshow of a year for everyone. As a parent, we get lost in the BS, from virtual learning to remote working from home to spending an inordinate amount of time with the people that you share a home with (your family). Because of what happened to me, to us as a family, I choose to focus on what’s right in front of me: my 11-year-old Savannah experiencing her first real crush and the innocence that comes with it. My 17-month-old daughter Pierce experiencing her fingers grasping crisp fall leaves, wind in her face where she takes a gasp because she’s never experienced this sensation, tasting frosting from a Halloween cookie and that sly smile like “mmm, that’s good mama, I may sneak another later,” when I come home from an errand and she runs to me with her little chubby arms wide open yelling “mama mama mama,” like I’ve been gone for days! 

You have the option every day to focus on all the other things like bills, virtual learning, working remotely, possibly canceling holiday dinners due to COVID. All of these things are important, don’t get me wrong, I worry about these as well. However, you have the choice to focus your thoughts where you want. The choice is always yours.

Kelli Smith, MBA, is a proud mother to four girls, wife to my best friend Kevin Smith, program director for local nonprofit cancer charity Life Is Good No Matter What, and lastly, she’s been a human resources professional for over 12 years.

Photos: Kelly Smith