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timToday, our youngest son flips the birthday page and a decade, turning 20. Hard to believe that 20 years have passed in what seems like the blink of an eye. I remember the day he was born like it was merely yesterday. I couldn’t be prouder of the amazing young man he has grown to be, with his feet firmly rooted in his heritage and his family and a soul that loves to explore– always inquisitive, searching, learning, growing. The scope of who Tim is clearly reflected in what he is doing  now and where he has been this summer. He started his summer exploring his Italian heritage in Sicily, working hard to secure himself a coveted spot on the National Italian American Foundation’s Voyage of Discovery where he spent two weeks learning about his Italian roots, practicing his Italian and enjoying all the history that Sicily had to offer him. As I write this, he is exploring this country, from coast to coast, and will spend his birthday today hiking and exploring one of our country’s national parks. This picture taken on his journey this summer, it is so “Tim” I couldn’t help but “borrow” it for this post.

I admire and respect his tenacity, his thirst for knowledge and the breadth and depth of what he already has learned and his beautiful voice. He is a kind soul, always ready to lend a hand and a hard worker as anyone who is familiar with his work last summer could definitely attest to in a heartbeat.

I know that he will do great things in this new decade and those decades going forward.

One night a while back, when we had ordered some take-out Chinese, we sat around and opened our fortune cookies as we normally do, laughing at what each said. Tim’s fortune that night summed up him perfectly ~ “You are a traveler at heart. There will be many journeys.”  

Happy 20th Birthday my (not so little anymore) traveler! Love you!

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dad and tjRemembering the first guy to steal my heart and wishing that he was still here to see how this grandson and the other two grandsons have thrived and grown to be men he would be proud of, especially considering how glowing he was in this picture with TJ.

IMG_5938this guy who I am so lucky to call my best friend and I can’t imagine life without him in it. He’s a great dad to our boys and I love sharing the parenting journey with him.

12308198_989180081121162_5920617141299348996_oMy brother, Bill whose smile reminds me of my dad and is a wonderful dad himself.

Damian, my brother through marriage, who has a generous heart, raised three men who are sweethearts with my sister and I am lucky to have him as part of our family._DSC0757

and my dad through marriage, Poppy, who, among other things is responsible for being the dad to my husband and raising him to be the man that I love.

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Happy Father’s Day to these wonderful men and to all our friends who are dads. You all hold a special place in my heart.

pictures-093_2Through a mother’s eyes, this is how they will always look to me. No matter how many years the calendar says they are, how tall they become, how adult they are to the rest of the world. When I look at them, I can see what the rest of the world sees, the handsome, smart, amazing young men they have become, but I also see these faces. These people who somewhere in the recesses of their subconscious minds, know what my heart sounds like from the inside.

Today, two of them headed back to school. The oldest left a week ago. The time always goes way too fast. There doesn’t seem like there are enough seconds in a day when they are around. I want to sit and talk with them, stare at them, drink it all in like some intoxicating, addictive drug.

I was pretty good earlier today when my friend and I dropped off our youngest two, that is until she pointed out, with mom tears in her eyes, that this was really the last time they  would be ours, truly ours. In a few short months, those two, our respective babies, will join their siblings with their own apartments. Next summer, there will be another place they will call home. That thought just did me in. So when my middle son took off for his home away from home tonight, there was a little extra poignancy to the goodbyes.

“We’re only a couple hours away, you know” he said “don’t be sad.” Yes, I know. But through my mother eyes and in my heart I want to scream – you are too young, too little, too much mine to share with the rest of the world.

But… share I will, because they are also too wonderful, amazing, smart and funny to keep all to myself. And so begins the empty nest all over again….

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Sledding.

At night.

During a snowstorm.

In a cemetery.

On cardboard boxes.

With flashlights.

First date.

36 years ago.

Today.

He will always argue it was actually tomorrow since it carried on past midnight…..

He is wrong.

But I still love him.  🙂

 

Today is the day to celebrate your siblings.

It is National Siblings Day. The day was picked by the founder of the Siblings Day Foundation to honor her late siblings and is in fact, the birthday of her sister. For more information about National Siblings Day look here.

I love my brother and my sister, they are a big part of my life and for that I will be always grateful for their love, friendship and support, to them I send my love on this day and always.

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Today, I also want to celebrate the siblings that we created. They are three amazing young men and I love them more than words can say. They are the best part of my life. While each of them is amazing individually, together they are so much more. I am happy that they will always have each other as they journey through life and will always share the common bond of family that is unique just to the three of them. While others will come and go in their lives, they will always have each other. By birth, they are stuck together and labeled as siblings. My wish for them, now and always, is that they remember that they are the best part of our family, in fact they are what makes the five of us a family. As the ties that bind all of us together loosen with their independence, my hope is that they have learned and will remember until their last breath, that they will always have each other. As different as each of them are, they share a common and unbreakable tie that is part of their very soul. They know each other better than anyone, even better in some respects than their father and I know them. If we have done our job well as their parents, that is the lesson that they will take with them as they go do great things in this world.

Grown and Flown had a wonderful article on siblings which I encourage you to read. Perhaps it struck a special chord with me because the author speaks to their three boys and their family of five.

My favorite part of that post is the following:

They hold each other’s childhood and with a word or a phrase the five of us are back together again, and we are all young with so much of our lives still unknown.  I told them that I wanted them to be close forever because in the end they would always have each other, because it is truly a blessing in life if there is someone who can be counted on at any time.  But I now realize I was being far more selfish, because as long as they are there for each other, they will always have us.

 

tj

Dearest TJ,

It is so very hard to believe that 21 years have gone by since the day I first held you in my arms. You were the one that made me understand that the heart is a truly amazing thing, that it can expand way beyond the physical limits of the body. The day you were born, my heart grew a hundred times over and filled with love. A love that you will not really grasp yourself until you also stand in the role of parent looking down for the first time on your own child.

While I sometimes wish for another chance to get one of your little boy hugs or spend another day holding your little hand, I realize that is just plain selfish of me. You are everything that I would wish for you and so much more than I could every have imagined on that evening 21 years ago when I held you for the first time.

My wish for you as you embark on adulthood is that you see what your father and I see in you – a smart, handsome, funny, loving and kind young man who makes his parents very, very proud. While you step your feet further and further away from our home and into the world, remember that you are loved beyond the mere words I can write on this page. I know that you will do great things and you will do them with that wonderful smile and kindness that I have seen in your heart throughout the past 21 years. Those that are fortunate enough to cross paths with you as you walk through this journey called life will come to know you like I know you and they will be all the better for that.

Be kind to those you come upon in this life and share your smile, your laughter and your talents. Even at 21 years of age, an adult to all the world, you are and always will be my baby.

I love you forever. Happy Birthday!

(The woman who has the privilege to call herself your)

Mom

 

 

 

Today starts the cycle of birthdays here in the Heffernan house. Two of our boys celebrate birthdays 10 days apart. For many years when they were younger, we celebrated their birthdays together with family and friends. I have yet to adjust to the whole college life where birthdays are often spent apart and celebrated together when we can. I do miss hanging the “Happy Birthday” banner and setting up their place at the table with presents for when they woke up.

Twenty years ago this afternoon, we welcomed Tyler to the world. He came bouncing into this world at 5 p.m. and has held my heart ever since. He has the unique spot in the family to be both a big brother and a little brother, something neither of his siblings can claim.

It has been amazing to watch him grow into the young man that he has become and I know that the world is, and will continue to be, a better place with him in it. He has such a  big heart and is probably the most empathetic person that I know. He is the strong silent type, soft spoken, quiet and very observant.  If you are able to have him flash you one of his smiles, you are lucky indeed because his entire soul lights up with that smile.

Tyler:

It is a privilege to be your mom. I wish I could be there to give you a birthday hug but instead I send a heart full of wishes for lots of love, laughter, happiness and success as you embark on a new decade in your life. You will do great things. I am very, very proud of you and love you with all my heart. Happy Birthday!

Love you,

Mom

IMG_4989These two. These two are amazing people (and I’m not saying that just because I am related to them.) I complain when my day becomes a bit overwhelming, yet their every day is filled with many things that I can only try to wrap my head around and understand. Every day these two deal with the challenges that having autism in your family brings and they do it with such strength and love.  Even though their plates are already very full, they always, always find the time to fit in something for someone else who needs it. They are the first to offer help and they are sincere in their offer. They don’t complain and they always manage to bring laughter and good cheer along with them. I have seen them do things for others with such selflessness and love.   These two people always have a smile on their faces.  I am proud to call them my family.

Today these two celebrate their wedding anniversary. They have raised three wonderful boys who I am proud to call my nephews. They are an inspiration to all of us that have the privilege of being related to them or having them as a part of our lives.

They deserve a little love and a big Happy Anniversary! from us.

Happy Anniversary to my little sister and her wonderful husband. May you be blessed with many, many more!

Love you!

 

A year ago for my birthday, Tim gave me a beautiful orange Kalanchoe plant. The flowers died and the plant thrived, but I was uncertain if it would in fact flower again for me. I have that kind of luck, we are talking about the girl whose dad saved, rooted and nurtured the ivy from my wedding bouquet and planted it for me, only for it to slowly die on me.

Surprisingly, just recently, there were buds as it sat on the kitchen windowsill. The flowers came again, beautiful orange flowers. As I wash the dishes, it is right there, on the windowsill, making me smile, reminding me of my boys. Today, the sun was just perfect this afternoon.

I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do. Tim, thanks again for the beautiful plant, it makes me smile and think of you when I see it everyday.

usSiblings. A lot of us have them. They are our link to our parents and the only ones that know what it was really like growing up in our house. They are our biggest fans and can be our worst enemies since they know everything about us, they know our kryptonite and sometimes aren’t afraid to use it, especially when we are young and gullible. Siblings-you gotta love them, you’re bound by blood.

I am the oldest in my family and I have one of each type of sibling, a brother and a sister. The years that separate us in age diminished as we grew into adulthood as spouses and parents. I love my siblings and cannot imagine life without them. When things go bad or are really good, it is my siblings that I want to share it with. We’ve laughed together more than I can recall and cried and held each other when that was what one of us needed.

We have instilled in our boys the idea that they are all they’ve got. They will have each other long after my husband and I have been reabsorbed by the world around us (sounds a lot nicer doesn’t it than saying when we’re wormfood). We are lucky because our boys never really had those knock-down, drag out fights that we’ve heard about from some of our friends. (Oh don’t get me wrong, there was the infamous Tonka truck episode when the older two ticked the youngest off). They were each other’s first friends and probably best friends for a number of years before their worlds expanded. Today, I am proud that they revel in each other’s accomplishments and empathize in each other’s disappointments. It is with a proud mama heart that I watch this and know that I had something to do with it. I hope that as with my own siblings, these bonds grow deeper and stronger as the years pile on.

To those of you with siblings, enjoy them. Laugh, cry, joke and tease – it is what we know and what makes our sibling relationships so very special.

To my own siblings, Happy Sibling Day, I cannot imagine a world without you in it.

Love,

Me, your older (and wiser) sister 🙂

Here are some pictures of the other siblings in my life and my siblings’ lives — a great group don’t you agree?_DSC0037 _DSC0079 girls

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Just before Tyler was born, I was wondering how mothers could say that they love all their children equally. Our oldest was our world and I couldn’t imagine loving another little baby as much I loved him and it scared me. How could I do this?. Then along came Tyler. He was very different in a lot of ways from his brother. He was a different build, he had the most beautiful blue eyes that you could lose yourself in and he was nothing like his older brother. My heart melted and expanded many times over just like that and suddenly, within hours of bringing this (not so) little guy into the world, I couldn’t imagine my world without him in it. He has the best smile, he’s thoughtful, caring and wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s grown into a wonderful man that I am very proud to call my son. He is handsome, smart, witty and reminds me a lot of his dad. Although I won’t ever get used to this “not always seeing them on their birthday” thing, there will be plenty of birthday pictures when he comes home in a few weeks for Easter. We did get a chance to spend some pre-birthday one-on-one time in the past few days and it made my heart melt all over again.

So…. until those pictures, here are some other pictures from birthdays past that are just going to have to do.

Happy Birthday Tyler – I love you!

IMG_2590  IMG_1111 My beautiful picture

Yesterday was considerably colder and windier than the same day 23 years ago when a certain someone got married. I remember how much I fretted over the fact that I was sure that our big day was going to be snowed out due to some horrific, world ending blizzard. If I asked the banquet manager once, I probably asked the poor guy at least a dozen times how things would be handled if the weather was less than cooperative. I know, several of you probably ask, ‘then why the hell did you decide to get married in January?’ Good question. We decided after 11 years of dating that our wedding day should be close to the date of our first date. Since Friday and Saturday evenings were considerably more expensive than a Sunday evening and we were paying for our own wedding, January 5th was the date we decided upon. Turns out in the end, all that worrying was for naught, since the day was beautiful and sunny. Not particularly cold considering January.

We had a great wedding, at least that’s what everyone has told me. Most of that day for me is a blur of pictures, hugs, laughter and that smile that I was sure would have to be surgically removed from my face. Today, 23 years ago, we were in beautiful British Columbia embarking on a winter wonderland honeymoon skiing at Whistler Blackcomb. Here are some pictures from so long ago.

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The whole wedding gang

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Whistler Blackcomb

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Honeymoon selfie in our condo

Hard to believe that 23 years have passed. So much has happened in that time, littering the road that we call life. Good and bad, happy and sad. I have three great sons that make my heart swell a hundred times larger than its normal size with pride. I have great friends and family who were so kind to extend such heartfelt and wonderful anniversary wishes. I have an adorable little puppy who can make me smile. I have a good guy by my side -he’s pretty okay.

Hope the turning of the calendar page finds you and yours well. Remember to be thankful for what you have and celebrate it always, not just with a special day on the calendar.

 

Evilwife on the move

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