The Shoes You Have To Walk In

October 1, 2014


We are making plans for Miss M.’s 9th birthday. It’s on Saturday. There will be cake, and badly wrapped presents, and a small party with a few of her favorite school friends on Sunday.

There will be a birthday morning breakfast of M.’s most beloved breakfast treat, Ebelskiver.

There will be pizza at our neighborhood joint for Saturday dinner.

There will perhaps be a little side trip across town to here:

There will be lunch with grandma and grandpa, and balloons of many colors, and streamers decorating the door in Minecraft Creeper bright green.

But most of all, there will be a 9th birthday for Miss M. with her mother front-and-center. Because last year, when M. turned 8, mommy wasn’t there.  Mommy was in a “facility” with a broken spirit and a wrecked soul and a weary heart. A heart that was also broken, too, because it’s hideous and unforgivable to miss your daughter’s 8th birthday.

I am trying very hard to forgive myself for that, and I’m not doing a very good job of it, to be honest. This week, I’ve cried while buying gift bags and cried tying ribbons on pretty boxes and cried unwrapping a humongous Creeper pinata. Things I didn’t do for her last year, and every gesture I make this week is wracked with regret and remembrance.

I wasn’t there.

I am so, so ashamed and I really want to forgive myself, because I know my sweet girl has already forgiven me a hundred times but forgiving yourself is a much messier and complicated business. It’s really fucking hard.

But I’m trying.

For her.


This year, sweet Hummingbird, your mommy will do better. Your mommy will be there. She wouldn’t miss it for the world.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Arnebya October 1, 2014 at 1:26 pm

What Miss M needs is a mommy who will take care of herself, above all else, above everyONE else. That is what last year was; that is what was needed. And she felt you, I guarantee. I can tell you to stop beating yourself up over it until I’m blue in the face and it won’t make a lick of difference because to be honest it’s easier to continue bashing ourselves for our shortcomings and our perceived failures and so-called failures toward the needs of others, than to forgive ourselves.

Forgive yourself, babe. She already has.


Abby October 1, 2014 at 1:30 pm

I remember that my mom missed Easter one year and my birthday another when I was little because she was in the hospital having spinal surgery. It was normal to have her in braces or casts, but she also did what she could to be the “cool” mom despite her condition. You know what I remember more than the Easter she missed or the birthday she was gone for? All the years that she was there–every single one of them–and how she always did her best and put me front and center.

You were sick. It happens. You can’t go back to last year, but you can make this one a birthday to remember. Trust me, she will, too.


Shannon October 1, 2014 at 1:38 pm

You were where she needed you to be – getting better.
I hope that your Miss M. has a wonderful birthday.
Sending you hugs from here – I hope you can feel them.


Biz October 1, 2014 at 2:08 pm

It only matters that you’ll be with her this weekend. I know its harder to forgive yourself than be forgiven by her. Just smile, enjoy the moments and give Miss M. a ton of hugs! :D


Annie October 1, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Dear friend- be gentle with yourself. You did what was necessary so you could be there for all of her other birthdays to come. That will always be the most important thing of all. Instead of tears for what was missed try to grab hold of what you have gained and don’t look back. Xoxo


Anonymous October 1, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Each moment is a teachable moment. By giving yourself the permission to take care of yourself you teach your daughters the same. That’s not to say that it wasn’t a hard choice because love them so much. Another lesson; sometimes choosing to the right thing for yourself is difficult and unpopular. I hope you will celebrate your choices with them. They watching you and looking for clues.




Alison October 1, 2014 at 9:27 pm

You’re here now, that’s what matters.
She will remember this, more than she will when you weren’t (and you weren’t because you had to take care of yourself, and there’s nothing wrong with that, nothing).
Happy Birthday to your sweet girl.


Shira October 1, 2014 at 11:17 pm

Hello Dana – I found your blog in the last year or so and love your beautiful, heartfelt writing. You’ve made me laugh and cry in equal measure! Thank you for sharing your life so honestly.

I can relate to how hard it is to forgive yourself even when others already have, so I wanted to tell you that Saturday is also Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. We ask forgiveness from those we’ve hurt, intentionally or inadvertently, in the past year and strive to forgive ourselves for our shortcomings while renewing our intentions to do better. (I’m majorly over-simplifying and leaving out the fasting part, but you get the gist!)

I know you’re not Jewish, but if it’s OK I’ll be sending you good thoughts on Saturday in hopes that it helps both of us go a little easier on ourselves and release the associated burdens of guilt. Couldn’t hurt, right? :-)

On a lighter note, that is one kick-ass birthday weekend you have planned for your daughter! Have an absolutely wonderful time!


Dana Talusani October 2, 2014 at 7:56 am


I would love good thoughts from you on Yom Kippur. What a lovely and generous offer. Thank you.


angelina October 2, 2014 at 4:35 am

The best gift you can give her is to be present now and not bring the emotions of when you weren’t there last year. Children, have this amazing ability to live in the moment and it’s a their gift to us.

Enjoy! You’ll be great and eat lots of cake.


Sherri October 2, 2014 at 6:31 am

Enjoy this birthday with your sweetie. That’s it. You took care of yourself so that you can be there for her and the rest of your family. Have a great b-day with her. Enjoy every minute!


Erica October 2, 2014 at 8:17 am

You know what? I’m very proud of you for getting treatment last year! Yes, you missed your little girl’s birthday last year. But because of your treatment you are here this year and many more to come!!! My heart is bursting for you. Enjoy the wonderful birthday weekend!


Dana October 2, 2014 at 9:50 am

I had no idea you had such a hard time last year until I read the Fuck You Linda post. I’m so sorry you missed your girl’s birthday, and easier said than done re forgiving yourself, but really, you are clearly a devoted mom, clearly you adore and love your children, but you know how you have to put your oxygen mask on first in emergencies? Well, sounds like you did that last year by seeking help. Your gift to yourself, and to her, was some vital self care. I think it’s ok to cry and grieve for it as you prepare for this year, but don’t let the grief and guilt overshadow your love and this year’s celebration.


Virginia October 2, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I don’t know what a Minecraft Creeper is, but I’m totally going to have to look it up because my imagination is all “Eek! Slimy green creatures with rows of razor sharp teeth! And she bought it as a banner!!”.

My dad spent some time off and on in a facility when I was a kiddo. He spent most of my childhood battling depression, anxiety, and a whole lot of stress. As a kid who grew up with that, I always appreciated my dad’s honesty about his demons, his persistence in seeking the help, counseling, and medication needed to take the next step to the best state of mental health he could achieve. Now, as an adult with my own set of kiddos, with my own demons that I fight, more than anything else he has taught me, I am thankful that my dad led by example in how to strive to be the best, healthiest you possible.

Your kiddos are watching you in the good and the bad. It totally sucks you missed her birthday last year, but she’s going to always remember that you got the help you needed to help be there for her ninth birthday. Lots of hugs to you, Dana. Your blog is one of my favorite places to be. I always feel like I’m visiting a friend’s house. Your honestly, humor, and recipes are definitely making a huge positive impact in this world.


Dana Talusani October 2, 2014 at 1:29 pm


Not many people really “get” my sense of humor, so I’m so happy and honored that you do!


elizabeth October 2, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Take it easy on yourself (of course that’s easier said than done)–as others here have mentioned before me, self-care goes far beyond just going to the doctor or dentist X times a year, and showing that to your daughters and that mental health is important too, you’re setting a far more positive example than you probably think. It’s better to address the problem than let it fester and get far worse. Knowing it’s OK to ask for help is so, so important.

Happy happy (early) birthday to Miss M, and hugs to all of you. :)


Abbe@This is How I Cook October 2, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Being in the moment is the best place to be. Enjoy it and look toward the future. The past is just that. And brave you for confronting it, but now it is time to let it go. Your daughter won’t be thinking about last year. She’s going to be thinking about cake and presents and NOW!


C. Troubadour October 3, 2014 at 1:37 pm

I can’t find better words than all of the above. I get the guilt too. I question my choices in situations where I feel like I’m putting myself first over O. for my own survival and wonder if I could just get my crap together in my head, could I be a more resilient, more fun, more _________ parent (never mind spouse). But ignoring whatever I need to practice good self-care — and everybody’s different — ultimately leads to dark places for me. I still resist the me-choices anyway. We can’t help it when we’re hard wired to see our children’s needs first.



Lisa @ The Meaning of Me October 3, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Anything I say here is going to be basically the same sentiment as the others before me. So I’ll start with “what they said – all of it.”
The best gift you can give your girls is showing them that when you needed to, you took care of yourself. Rather than spiraling further downward, you got the help you needed. Only once we care for ourselves can we care for those we love. They will know that – on some level, they probably already do.
You are a lovely person. You are in my thoughts and prayers always.


Barbara October 4, 2014 at 4:04 am

You were taking care of yourself, Kitch. So important…and your daughter knows it and loves you no matter what. You’ll be there this year. please forgive yourself and live every second of her birthday with joy and love. You’ll both be so proud.
(Are you going to one of those corn maze things? They weren’t around when my kids were growing up in the 60’s.)


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri October 4, 2014 at 8:54 am

Happy Birthday, Miss M! Hope it is great celebration for all. xo


pamela October 4, 2014 at 11:58 am

It’s absolutely NOT hideous and unforgivable to miss your daughter’s birthday party. You had a pretty legitimate reason. I wonder why we excuse ourselves when we are physically ill, but not if we are emotionally or spiritually suffering. No shame dear girl. I know you were sad as hell to miss it but it certainly wasn’t your fault. Enjoy this 9th birthday! Oliver’s is coming up too:)



Tiffany October 8, 2014 at 2:57 am

Please forgive yourself. Please. You couldn’t help it.


Kel October 8, 2014 at 9:38 am

That’s the hardest thing ever – to forgive yourself.

We wouldn’t even think of treating our friends or our beloved families with such harsh judgments or critical words, but somehow we have no compunctions about doing so to ourselves.

Know that the Divine Miss M loves her mama, and that she would rather miss one birthday with you than to have missed all of the rest of the birthdays that she might’ve missed without your having missed this one.


Naptimewriting October 8, 2014 at 11:32 pm

Oh, honey.

Love you.


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