Thursday, August 21, 2014

Erika L. Smith, M.O.M.

I'm a medical receptionist by profession.  Today I answered a phone call from a pharmaceutical rep who requested to speak with an MD, or an NP, or a PA, or an LPN.  Of course, because it's my job, all of the above were currently with patients unable to take the call so I offered to take a message or give a fax number that she could send any updated information to.  She asked what my position was.  My reply:  "I am just the receptionist."  She was very kind and said, "You are not JUST the receptionist.  You are the front office point of contact and you are very good at your job."  Unwilling to accept the praise, I laughed and said, "Well, I have no letters behind my name, unless you count M.O.M."  To which she in turn laughed and we went in a totally different direction with our conversation before hanging up.

Later in the day, my 17-year-old daughter texted me from work.  "I've had a bad day.  Wanna bring me supper tonight and eat down here with me?"  Sigh ... I still had to get through the rest of my workday, get groceries, make requested dinner, and a billion and one other things that M.O.M.s have to take care of.  It really would be nice to just go home to a quiet house and just BE for a few hours, especially since no one else would be home.  But for whatever reason, I  didn't make excuses and simply agreed.  I didn't think much of it at the time.

I got through the rest of my workday, went to the grocery store, came home, put the groceries away, made dinner (homemade chocolate chip pancakes as requested), packed the picnic basket, and headed to Daughter's workplace ... in a "raining cats and dogs" "beware of flash floods" thunderstorm, mind you.  Again, still not thinking much of it at the time.

Daughter works at the local old-fashioned soda fountain, less than a mile from home.  There was only one other co-worker there tonight and a family with two young children.  I set up our dinner on a table in the back and we began to eat.  The young mother walked by and said "That is just the cutest thing."  Or something like that.  Me, never being one to come up with a good comment when I need one, said, "Sometimes you just gotta be a mom."

I watched the young family as we were eating, as Daughter filled me in on her teenage drama-filled day.  And later I thought of a thousand ways I could have responded to that young mother.  I should have said:

TREASURE every minute ... they grow up way too fast.  And when your mother or any other mother tells you this, BELIEVE her.

Take the TIME to be with your babies when they ask, because the asking happens less and less with each passing year.

It breaks my heart to tell you that someday your little girl WILL NOT WANT to come here for ice cream with you.  She will not want to play checkers at the table with you and her daddy and her little brother.  She'd rather be with her friends.  ACCEPT the invitation when it is given.  Even if you have a thousand reasons not to.

LISTEN to that little boy of yours ... his crazy tales, his lame jokes, his young fears ... he needs to know that his mama will always listen ... to the little things that will evolve into bigger things as he grows.

And HE WILL GROW.  Until he is taller than you are.  And you cannot wrestle him to the carpet anymore just to prove you can.   Because you can't.

BE with your babies when you are with them.  It is hard.  Inexplicably hard.  Mamas have so much to do, so much to worry about.  But see them. Hear them.  Feel them.  Just for a few minutes ... until they run off to do something else and leave you to clean up the sticky ice cream from the table.

Always say goodbye or tuck them in at night with a KISS and a HUG.  Even if they protest. and always say "I LOVE YOU."  A lot.  Every day.  Even if one of you is angry with the other.  Sticky ice cream on the couch and broken curfews and hurtful words cannot negate your love.  Make sure they know that.  ALWAYS.

TIME IS SHORT, mama.  Trust me on this.  Know that the day will come when you are taking THE LAST FIRST day of school pictures outside the front door and you are wondering where these 13 years went and what next year at this same time is going to bring as you are leaving her at college.

TRUST ME, young mama.  This I know.  

But this I also know is part of being a M.O.M.  It's part of the process, part of the joy and the pain.  But mostly the joy, even when it is joyful sadness.  (Trust me, that's true, too.)

The above-mentioned pharmaceutical rep plans to call the office back tomorrow.  I hope I'm the one to answer her call.  I'm going to re-introduce myself as Erika L. Smith, M.O.M. ... and maybe the front office personnel that is really good at her job.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Flames in the Darkness

The world is saddened today by the death of Robin Williams.  His apparent suicide finds us among a multitude of opinions and emotions.  It is difficult to understand how someone who can portray such profound thinking and bring out so much joy in others can struggle so with the demons of the dark ... the demons that we are just not comfortable speaking of.

I have so many thoughts regarding depression and alcoholism and my heart teters between those who suffer those demons and those left in the wake of either one.  I struggle with my spiritual beliefs and the world's view of right and wrong.

In her blog today, Ann Voskamp described depression as "a room engulfed in flames and you can’t breathe for the sooty smoke smothering you limp — and suicide is deciding there is no way but to jump straight out of the burning building."
(Full article at

In another blog I read tonight, Shawna Morrissey describes this enlightening moment years after her uncle's suicide:  "My family was watching a documentary on the 9/11 terrorist attacks and for the first time, I saw footage of someone jumping from the window of one of the twin towers.  All at once, I understood what Jay’s bishop had meant.  The person was not jumping from the building to die, but rather to escape the intense and consuming flames.  Nobody would accuse that person of being selfish or of giving up on life."
(Full article at

Wow.  To feel that heat ... to feel that fear ... to feel that despair of no hope.  There's my enlightening moment.  It's only by the grace of God that I have only seen those flames from a distance; only felt their slight warmth; and have always been able to escape to safety.

I am NOT advocating that suicide is ever a good choice.  Life is too PRECIOUS.  There is HOPE and HELP no matter how deep into the darkness we lie ... even when the demons convince us otherwise.  I'm just saying that these articles, and others, have given me a different perspective on the pain and loneliness and fear one must feel when making the decision that suicide is the only "good" thing left.

I have no expert opinion on the subject - spiritual, medical, or any otherwise.  I am just another person with a saddened heart at the loss of so many precious lives.  And I am pointing no fingers except at myself.  If there is anything good to come out of this public loss, I would hope that we could all just be more aware.  That we could take off the mask of perfection and know that others are wearing it, too - hiding their darkness from those around them.  That we could be more compassionate to one another.  And that we could endeavor to be LIGHT and HOPE to those that daily face their demons in the wretched darkness.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


It's been a very long time since I've blogged.  My life hasn't been what I thought it should have been at this point in the game.  For the most part, I've been knocked down and feeling defeated and therefore, I haven't been willing to put much of myself out there.  But in this, this eve of my 41st year, I'm beginning to truly feel hopeful again.

My natural personality is that of an optimist.  I tend to want to see the best in people, even the worst of them.  I tend to look for the good that might come from a bad situation.  And I certainly don't worry about the weather report on the evening news.  I'm simply just a "the glass is half full" kind of girl.

Could that be part of the reason I can be so easily hurt?  Maybe.  I don't know.  But I do know during the past few years, my natural optimism has been greatly tested.  Even in my search for the good, the bad just kept rearing its ugly head.  It is so very hard to be hopeful in times of testing.  It is so very hard to hold on to what you believe in when most everyone around you is hinting that you could be wrong.

I don't know why I've made the choice I've made thus far.  But right now, at this moment, I am praying that because I've held on tight to that one small thing ... that tiny shred of hope ... that my "maybe" is finally going to win out over the world's "no".

So listen to that whisper.  Tell the world "no!"  And hold on to HOPE.