After losing her husband in Afghanistan in 2011 she moved to Colorado to be closer to family. She and the “helpers” as she calls her children enjoy hiking, crafting and doing online school so they can travel the country in their RV.
In between unclogging sinks, laundry and dishes, Tasha works from home in an essential oils business.
She believes in living life to the fullest and teaching her helpers to laugh and find joy everyday.
During this journey she found that everyone “widows” a different way. See more of how she does it at her new blog.
When someone dies and leaves behind children I think it’s natural for everyone (including the widow) to point out all the wonderful things about those children that came from the dearly departed.
What starts off as a way to honor him or her can take a turn. That’s what happened to me and it was so slight I didn’t see it coming until I was headed in a completely different direction.
When I lost my husband, Nick, I was 8 months pregnant with our second child. Our first-born was a sweet little girl, she was 14 months old the day the men in uniform knocked on my door.
As the children grew I found myself attributing every cute, smart, wonderful thing they did to Nick. I allowed other people to do that as well because why wouldn’t I? After all, he had died and these characteristics and features were all the children had left of him.
It HAD to be good.
So I let it go on and on and I truly enjoyed every minute of it until something shifted and I didn’t anymore. I can’t put my finger on exactly when that happened.
At 18 months my son could count to ten. Yep, smart like his daddy.
Good looking kids? Great big smiles? They get that from their handsome dad!
Oh look, she eats vegetables! She gets her healthy appetite from her dad.
She loves to sing, turns everything into a song, doesn’t always know the words but pretends to anyway. Just like daddy.
Confident? Smart? Caring? Healthy? Beautiful? Fearless? Dad. Dad. Dad. Dad. Dad.
The flip side to the wonderfulness is the not-so-wonderfulness (aren’t bloggers supposed to make up words?). If all the great stuff came from Nick, then does all the not great stuff come from me? If I died tomorrow would sweet, funny and healthy finally get to be something I had something to do with?
For too long here is what it felt like:
Not potty trained yet? That’s the lazy mother.
The kids threw a fit in the grocery store? Bad mom.
He’s looking a little skinny. Are you sure you’re feeding him enough?
They need glasses? Came from the mom’s side.
Struggling to learn to read? Dumb mom.
Wrong. Bad. Incapable. Dumb. These are the things they get from their mother. In some way all the praise of Nick, all the wonderful in the children, became me never being enough. I didn’t even realize it until it was sunk in.
Somewhere in my heart it hurt for someone to say, “Oh, she’s so funny like her daddy was” as if they were saying I could never be funny. Of course they weren’t. These thoughts had just chipped away at my confidence, one tiny unnoticeable bit at a time, until there was a massive undeniable hole.
I am the one left here to raise them and I am the second best choice.
Then one day I made up some words to a country song by Lady Antebellum “Need you now.”
“It’s a quarter after one, I’m all alone and I need some sleep.
Said I wouldn’t cry but I’m so tired and I need you to sleep.
And I don’t know how I can do without a full night’s sleep.”
Another day came that I was dancing around the kitchen making up a song about what we were doing. And then, by golly, yet another time I caught myself singing.
That’s when it hit me. I SING! I remember this moment clearly because it surprised me. Nick sure did love to sing, and he definitely made up words to songs. This is one of my favorite memories of him.
But in that moment I stopped in my tracks and thought about all the times I sing and I smiled. Maybe my daughter sings because she hears me doing it. Not because it’s something in her DNA that only her father could have passed on.
Maybe boy helper could count to ten because he has an older sister that could count to ten (because I taught her!).
Maybe they eat well because I cook well.
Maybe, just maybe, they have great smiles from ME smiling at them.
Maybe my son, now 4, dances the way he does (epic pointed fingers, amazing jump spins) because… well that is just DNA, straight from the father.
It’s shocking, but since Nick died he hasn’t been much help in child rearing.
I don’t have to give him all the credit because he died.
I don’t have to take on all the blame because I am the only one raising our kids, the lowly mother.
I can be the good parts too.
In fact if I am going to take all the responsibility for the “bad” stuff, then I have to take credit for at least some of the good stuff. It just doesn’t work any other way.
It may seem I am speaking ill of the dead, quite the opposite actually. Nick was a respected, decorated Marine. Do I think he would have chosen a dumb, incapable bad woman to be the mother of his children?
What would I be saying about him if I thought that about me? I don’t think anyone else was saying that about me either, no one meant to put me down by praising Nick. It was just my internal monologue on my journey into this new life without him.
Since my realization I have become more confident in being the solo parent. I am the mother. I make the decisions. I lead our two children into whatever comes next.
There are days I feel like a failure, every mother has those days even with a supportive husband right beside her.
There are days I feel like I can conquer the world.
There are days when my children are undeniably, wonderfully their father.
Now that I can recognize some of their goodness comes from me I can much more fully enjoy the good stuff that REALLY came from their dad.
It doesn’t chip away at my heart; it makes my heart swell with love for all of them. He doesn’t get to be every good, smart, funny thing just because he’s no longer here and I don’t have to be the bad guy just because I’m alive.
Having this knowledge allows me be closer to the mother Nick’s children deserve.