I hugged my mom today 

My shoulders have been aching for days. I know why and yet I still can’t get the tension to release.

Back to school time always builds a ball of anxiety within me that I cannot suppress or find a way to properly release. I pray, I run, I lie on the floor and try to relax each muscle in my body by tensing it and letting go in a systematic fashion- nothing works.  I sadly resort to heating packs and pain relievers to get me through the days. 

After 13 years of taking kids to school I think I’ve finally pinpointed the cause of the anxiety.   Yes, I worry about my kids. I worry about Ellie and her repeat of 4 year old preschool and whether I am scarring her for life as I’ve been told similar decisions have impacted other loved ones in my life. I worry about Lewis and his 8th grade year.  Will he find peace within himself and friends he truly connects with? Will he realize how smart he really is? And I worry about Charlie, who in many ways has left the nest – living in a different town during the week while taking on the challenge of a new high school at the University – alone. So brave. So determined. Have I prepared him enough for this great adventure? 

All these things stir in my mind while the to-do lists  are miles long.  And yet I have a great sense of peace and trust – I just know these lambs of mine will be tended to, will find their way. I just know it. 

So why am I wound up so tight?

I live blocks from my girlhood home where my Dad still resides. And between my home and my childhood abode is the school I went to for my elementary years. I pass by this building nearly every day. You see… I believe this light brick building is the epicenter of my back to school anxiety. From Kindergaren through 6th grade the halls of this building were the stage of so much sadness and torment for me. I was that girl. The girl who was a little chunky, just different enough to catch the attention of all the cool kids – but not in a great way. So I lived for summer. I played outside all day, made mud pies, swam in a pool all day and night, had friends who accepted me and didn’t know I was the wierdo chunky girl. Summer was bliss. Which made the thought of going “back to school” make knots churn in my belly, my head ache and my eyes well with fear and dread. Although I know that the struggles of my elementary years helped shape me into a more strong and compassionate person, I now understand that this is the source of the knot in my right shoulder this week. 

It’s not so much my anxiety over losing my kids to another year of milestones and chaos;  it’s my fear that they might  face the same crap I did.  It was bad for me – but in this day and age of instachat and snap gram, I know it can be so much worse now. 

So tonight,  2 days after the official “back to school photo brigade” on Facebook, we settled around the dining table  at my childhood  home with my dad and enjoyed a wonderful dinner prepared by the nearly 82 year-old chef.  (Remember I told you about him).  We laughed, we relaxed, the kids made too much noise in the next room and we loved it all. 

And as we were leaving, I went to the back hall where my mom had her room for the last years of her life. I tidied up Ellie’s mess and made a pit stop into Mom’s  room. I knelt on the edge of her bed and curled my aching shoulders over the pillows that still have her smell over two years later –  and I hugged my mom. It was as though I could feel her saying all the comforting words she used to say to me during my school years. “Oh Kathy, you’re doing a great job.  I am so proud of you.”

And I wept. I mean really cried. And I don’t cry often. But with every tear I could feel the knot in my shoulder start to release just a little. No matter how many days pass without her here- she will always find a way to make me feel better. I can only hope I can do the same for my kiddos.  
Thanks momma.

Welcome back to school everybody. Deep breath. We got this.  😉

14 thoughts on “I hugged my mom today 

  1. Kathy you are so beautiful and I had no idea you struggled so in grade school! Kathy go on line and buy a $19.95 vibrator for your shoulders and the stress goes away! It is light weight and easy to handle you don’t get tired holding it! I am going to check with you in a couple of wks and if you don’t get one I am going to order you one!


  2. Lots of hugs and love to you, Katherine. Same goes for each one of your family. When I sleep in the bedroom in Florida, and see the seashell wastebasket, I reach out and touch the shells. Grandma reaches out and touches me back.


  3. I worry that my children will be teased for being overweight, like I was, (which they aren’t at the moment) and that’s one of my big motivators for trying to lose weight, to imbue in them healthy living habits from a young age do that they stay slim and healthy. Thanks for your post. I’m sorry for your loss.


    1. Thanks for transferring that Mamma hug to me when you came out. I know exactly what you mean. I feel her back there, too. You are a piece of Mom to me, Kath. And, you’re right; every time we are around that table telling stories and laughing and crying, she’s right there with us. It’s awesome and yet, bittersweet.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Katherine,
    I read this post earlier this morning and had to walk away as tears came to my eyes. I am so incredibly ashamed to have been a part of what you went through in elementary school. For me, I selfishly wanted to be part of the “cool crowd” and apparently was not strong enough to stand up for what is right. This is something I teach my daughter every day and looking back, I have to acknowledge that I failed at the exact thing I’m teaching her to do in these situations. And I hurt you….terribly. I am so sorry. I don’t know if I ever said that to you but I am truly sorry. By the grace of God (and some amazing parenting from Bev & Larry) you chose the high road and offered forgiveness. And from there, a beautiful friendship developed. Thank you for that. Thank you for the friendship you offered on the bus rides to TJ. I am a better person having you in my life! I know that you will get your kids through any tough times they may face with the dignity that you already had as a little girl. Love you!



    1. Oh Dear Amanda.
      Thank you for your sweet words Although I really appreciate it, there is no reason to apologize. You apologized a long time ago by opening your heart to me on the bus to TJ and many,many, many days thereafter. I do not harbor any anger or regret about elementary school. You and I would not be the people we are today and be able to teach our kids the lessons we learned if we hadn’t walked that exact path. It’s all in His plan. We are not promised a life without tests or strife or pain. Gold is strengthened by fire.
      I hope I didn’t hurt you by writing this. That’s not my intent and definitely not my desire.
      I cherish your friendship as well.
      I hope our girls find a friendship like ours along the way – one that passes the test and last through the ages.


  5. Katherine, this was a wonderful memory to share with us, your readers and friends. I imagine many of us can connect to the honesty of your words from our own school memories. I too was a chubby girl and then I was blessed with amazing buck teeth, so the hurtful words from other kids cut through me. I recall giving my lunch money to one boy to stop badgering me in the lunch line. Over time, I got my lunch money back because my brothers spoke to the bully – man to man (I guess that is what they would prefer to be called.) Yes, you are a most beautiful young woman!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You are such a beautiful woman. I know your momma is wrapping her arms around you as my momma is wrapping her arms around me. Tears streaming down my face. Love ya oodles.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I did not know you as a child but the woman I know and love is nothing less than beautiful, compassionate and inspiring. My world is better because you’re in it. love you!


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About Katherine MP Smith

40ish wife, mother, sister, cousin, friend, Christian, Catholic, sinner, writer and singer. Bringing faith to a virtual world