Sometimes I don’t even realize it’s there until I notice my cheeks are sore. It starts with a glimpse of something–a person, a picture, words on a page, a text message.
It starts with an upturning of lips, then a thump of the heart as the grin widens to a full-on smile–the kind that puts a twinkle in the eye and makes the heart feel larger in the chest.
That’s a Momma-can’t-stop-smiling moment, and as I reflect on the year that is nearing its end, I’d like to share those moments that have made my top ten.
1. The Older One Realizes His Dream. Watching your child’s dream come true is a humbling experience. Years ago, I treated the Older One to dinner at the local Chinese restaurant. I watched his face light up when he cracked his fortune cookie open at the end of the meal. I wanted to know what could cause such joy in a 14-year-old, so I asked what his fortune was. “‘Your greatest dream will come true,'” he read.
“What’s your greatest dream?” I asked.
“To play Division I football.”
I wasn’t surprised. Since he won his first city championship at age six, football had been his passion, and in October, his dream came true when he took to the field and played his first downs for the Army Black Knights.
I cheered from the stands and smiled through the whole five minutes of game-play. My cheeks still hurt 30 minutes later.
2. The Young One Finds Her Sport. After the Hubs and I started the paperwork to adopt a girl from Russia, I began planning her after-school activities. She wasn’t even born yet, but I knew she would be an athlete–at least that’s what I hoped for her.
Playing a sport is a source of self-confidence, and above all else, I want my daughter to believe in herself, to feel strong and capable, and to be confident. She found all those things this year on the soccer field.
She out-ran the boys with an effortless stride. She stole the ball from the opposing team with a relentless desire to win, and she beamed like an angle with each goal.
I captured sheer joy on my camera, and I now know we have many more soccer games in our future.
3. Twenty Years and Counting. In September, the Hubs and I celebrated twenty years of marriage. I’ve been able to spend half my life with my best friend by my side. We’ve watched our son grow into a remarkable young man, and we’ve survived the painful reality of infertility when we found our daughter on the other side of the world. We’ve grown, and we’ve changed. But we have done it together. I can’t help but smile about that.
4. Fifty Years and Counting. In 1962, a blizzard roared through western Pennsylvania on the eve of my parents’ wedding. Although my grandmother had to put chains on her tires before she could take my mom to the church, and my dad had to shovel more than a foot of snow from the church’s sidewalk, they still said “I do”.
Two weeks ago, they said those words for the second time as they renewed their vows on their fiftieth wedding anniversary. I smiled through my tears as my dad recited a poem about growing old together, and I understood that my 20 years of togetherness is nothing compared to the love these two amazing people share.
5. Adopting a Fluffy One. When I first saw the Fluffy One at the shelter, I knew she was meant to be a part of our family. After quizzing me on the type of canine we were looking for, the shelter attendant took me into the room reserved for small dogs and puppies. “I have the perfect dog for you,” she declared. “She just came in last week. I’ll warn you though…she’s a diva.”
I wanted to tell her another diva would fit right in at my house, but I refrained.
“We named her Audrey after Audrey Hepburn.” Seriously? You named her after one of my fashion icons!
“Oh, no,” she said as she opened the crate door. “Her papers need changed. Here,” she said, thrusting the ball of fluff into my hands, “Hold her while I clean this up.”
That’s all it took. I filled out the application before I left, then called the Hubs from the car to tell him I’d found our doggie.
6. Furry Plays Again. The dog toy box had remained untouched for almost two years before we brought the Fluffy One home. The Furry One had stopped playing when he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.
All that changed when Fluffy joined the family. Little by little we saw Furry change. He went from setting his boundaries with a gruff growl to watching with cautionary interest as Fluffy threw what used to be his toys in the air.
Almost three months later, he finally gave in. He pulled himself from the sofa and rolled on the floor with his new sister. His growls are playful. His tail is wagging, and Momma is happy to have two puppies in the house again.
7. Stiletto Momma Wears Out a Pair of Gym Shoes. Normally, the pumps give out before the trainers, but this year, I decided to not let my daily Crohn’s Disease symptoms keep me down. I got back in the gym. Three cardio sessions and at least two weightlifting classes each week since mid-January, and I have bi’s, tri’s and traps again!
8. Baking for Soldiers. I have sent 13 packages to Afghanistan and Iraq. Thirteen soldiers who are strangers to me have tasted my snickerdoodles. They have shared my care packages with their battle buddies and read my words of appreciation when I thanked them for their service. West Point Moms Bake is the organization that provides me the names of the men and women protecting our freedom, and participating in this effort has been the most fulfilling experience of my life.
9. Capturing Life Through a Lens. For our anniversary this year (the big two-oh mentioned above), the Hubs and I scrapped our plans for a weekend getaway, and opted instead to splurge on a digital SLR camera. Many of my can’t-stop-smiling moments have come from reviewing the hundreds of pictures I’ve snapped since September.
10. A Blogger is Born. I’ve been a writer since the sixth grade when I started to pen my first novel. I didn’t get much further than the first chapter, but it was the first of many attempts to record my imaginings. I’ve written short stories, essays, and a few poems. I’ve held internships that afforded me my first official byline and a portfolio of published pieces.
Life, however, sometimes gets in the way of dreams, and I put my journalism degree in a drawer when marketing jobs were easier to come by. This year, however, I returned to my own passion when Stiletto Momma was born.
I have recaptured the joy of writing…that amazing feeling of losing myself for a few hours and the immense feeling of accomplishment that comes from seeing my words in print.
I smile with each click of the “Publish” button, and I smile with each “like”, each follow notification and each comment from a reader.
Thank you, dear reader, for encouraging me on this journey and for making me smile on a regular basis.
This is what has made me smile in 2012, and I’m looking forward to sharing many more with you in 2013. What’s your favorite can’t-stop-smiling moment of the year?
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
* This post was written for the WordPress Daily Post Weekly Challenge which tasked bloggers with writing a post to wrap up the year.