Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Forgotten loves

I think that the most surprising part of new motherhood, for me, was the realization that I’d love my son no matter what. I’d love him because of and in spite of any of the whats and all of the whats.

Which got me thinking. Over the years, I’ve loved many things.  Some, I’ve thrown into the literal or proverbial garbage after having my fill. Others, I’ve wrapped lovingly in a box with tissue paper and ribbons and tucked them away on a protected closet shelf. Still others have been left behind with no particular ceremony or reason other than the moving on that happens.  Other than the life that happens.

Here’s a glimpse of some of my loves over the years. Forgotten loves. None of them are beyond the realm of the regular, but all of them are, or have been, mine.

Toddler-me loved sucking her thumb and she loved Big Dolly. Big Dolly was not necessarily big, impressive, or really even a dolly by today’s standards. Her skin was more matched to a salmon’s flesh than to my own, and her awkward plastic arms, head and legs were somehow sewn to a body that was crafted using the model of a small pillow. Her hair, before it was all loved off, was clumped in sections, sprouting from her head.

I used to love horses, troll dolls, mood rings and rocks.  They held power and goodness and warm-fuzziness and magic and secrets.

Later, it was boys. But, only secretly, and from afar, because I was too shy and too worried to talk to them.

And then, later than that, it was boys. Although, no longer secretly or from afar because I somehow accidentally learned that they were mostly even more scared of me than I was of them.

I used to love staying up all night laughing and drinking and playing card games with friends. I used to love going out for breakfast at 3am. I used to love loud clubs and fancy drinks and the thrill of meeting strangers. The what-ifs and the wondering.

I used to love the right man for then but not the right man for forever.

Adrenaline and risks and dares and scares. Yup, them, too.

Other things that I’ve loved will never have a “used to” in front of them.  Scuba diving, snuggling, and the friends that I have shared moments so wonderful and amazing that they’ve served as inspirations and dreams and confirmation of the where in which I belong. My family and my husband and every dog that I’ve been lucky enough to call my own.  Those are the things that will never have a “used to” in front of the love. They will be for-always love, and for all the way.

While I used to love the idea of being a mom, I love the realness of being a mom even more. Some of the Tucker-things that, prior to being a mom, I had no idea how much I’d love include:

His stinky gorilla feet. Because they are his and they work and allow him to run and to jump and to play. The fact that we have to special-order gorilla-wides for him and the fact that they are occasionally mostly stinky doesn’t matter. Usually.

The spot on the back of his neck where his hair comes to a little point that always sticks up a bit.

His giggles, his demands, his smiles, his struggles (I do not love the fact that he struggles, but they, in themselves, are worthy of a mention because he works so hard, friends…so hard), his waves, his glee and his wonder.

His age and all of the ages before now and after now.

His voice. That he’s learned to say “Eye-you, Mommy” at night. That he loves me back. And is trying to tell me. I can wait for the day that he says it correctly. I’ll wait.

While I can’t say that I love all of the hims, all of the time, I love most of the hims enough of the time to realize how important it is to nurture him, and myself, in the best ways that I know how. Sometimes I do an acceptable job. Sometimes, less than. But when sitting in a rocking chair, looking back on all of the things that I used to love about my little boy, mostly, I know that I’ll remember that even the used-tos are still nows, and that his Tuckerness is my gift. Wholly and for always.

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. Today’s sentence is “I used to love…” Come join us and play! Next week’s sentence is “I wasn’t really myself when I…”
JanineJanine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic
KateCan I get another bottle of whine?
StephanieMommy, for Real
Me: Finding Ninee


  • Janine Huldie - I was crying reading this and really I joke, but I too just love being a mom (the good, the bad and the ugly). My girls are my world, just like Tucker is yours. Wonderful Kristi and seriously you really never cease to amaze me with how you do indeed finish the sentence!! 🙂August 15, 2013 – 10:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Rachel - It’s so funny that I, too, remember loving every single thing that you mentioned. Great memories, yet I’m so glad to be making new and different ones with my daughter each day. Change is good!August 15, 2013 – 10:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah | LeftBrainBuddha - What a lovely lovely tribute! It is truly the little things that make us love them so, and all the changes they go through. A friend once told me that she would always think, “this is the best stage!” and then they’d hit another one and she’d think “no, THIS is the best stage!” Beautiful post, mama.August 15, 2013 – 10:15 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Campbell - Janine,
    While I’m sorry that I made you cry, I totally understand what you mean. Our kids ARE our worlds. Sometimes good. Sometimes bad. But mostly and forever beautiful.

    Rachel,
    Change is good indeed!

    Sarah,
    I love the idea of “this is the best stage!” because you’re right. They all are the best stages.
    —-August 15, 2013 – 10:19 pmReplyCancel

  • Considerer - I can always count on you to be another person who offers hope, that somewhere, parents are doing right by their kids and loving them as much as possible. You’re such a wonderful Mama, and thank you so much for sharing all the gorgeous, scrumptious, Tucker-ness, and your dear heart, with us.August 15, 2013 – 10:22 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa - This is incredibly beautiful, Kristi. Your son is blessed with love, handsomeness and probably a whole host of other awesome things I have yet to learn about!August 15, 2013 – 10:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. - I LOVE that he says “eye-you Mommy!” Isn’t that the best thing ever? Being told by our kids that they love us, and that they understand what love is? And it makes you wonder what they will grow up loving, doesn’t it? I am still so freakin’ excited that you are hosting this thing with us! And I love learning more about you…August 15, 2013 – 10:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Campbell - Considerer,
    I hope so. Didn’t feel like that tonight when I went upstairs and he was watching TV with the hubs….but thank you….

    Lisa,
    I can’t wait to learn about the other things!
    —-
    Stephanie,
    I love that he says “eye-you mommy” too. So much. And whoop I’m still excited I’m hosting too!!!August 15, 2013 – 11:21 pmReplyCancel

  • Jessica - So beautiful! There are so many good things to love in this world. Especially our children. 🙂August 16, 2013 – 12:29 amReplyCancel

  • Kristi Campbell - Jessica,
    Yes to the children. Still, sometimes life and love and life and living – are so much harder than we’d imagined they would be, yes?August 16, 2013 – 1:16 amReplyCancel

  • Cathy Harlow - “…his Tuckerness is my gift. Wholly and for always.” Thanks for showing us your heart so often. <3August 16, 2013 – 2:13 amReplyCancel

  • Considerer - Ha! ‘feeling like’ and ‘doing it anyway’ are two different things. I know you know that 😉August 16, 2013 – 3:22 amReplyCancel

  • Out One Ear - Sweet! Your son is adorable. He is a lucky, lucky boy. And you? You are so gifted. I keep wanting to play along with these finish the sentence and Thankful posts, but I seem to be distracted lately but summer, by travel-planning, by almost anything. But soon. I’ll come back and play. In the meantime, I sure enjoy reading yours.August 16, 2013 – 5:21 amReplyCancel

  • karen - oh man…I can’t stop crying…sniffles…that was beautiful…more sniffles. Kristi you captured how Tucker is the world to you…and that is the same as Dino is to me…all those little moments and more to come…okay more sniffles.August 16, 2013 – 5:52 amReplyCancel

  • Tina Morley - You’re an awesome writer. My favorite line was when you mentioned the “used-to” be loves and the “for-always” loves. I hope you will link on my Make My Saturday Sweet. P.S. Your very first sentence has a typo: “must” should be most. I thought you might like to know, since you write so well.August 16, 2013 – 6:05 amReplyCancel

  • Dana - I knew you’d hit this one out of the park, Kristi. I’ve been thinking about the used-to loves a lot this month since both my kids have August birthdays. All the little things I used to love about them being small, and all the little things that I love about them now. And as you so eloquently said, the fact that I will love them wholly and for always.August 16, 2013 – 9:01 amReplyCancel

  • Tamara - “His age and all of the ages before now and after now.” I love that so much. I used to love troll dolls and mood rocks and rocks too! And my Donald Duck – I actually still have him so maybe he’s not so forgotten. I won’t even let Scarlet touch him!

    This is beautiful.August 16, 2013 – 9:29 amReplyCancel

  • Jessica Smock - Oh, Kristi, such a thoughtful piece. It made me remember too. When I’m sitting with my son in the rocking chair, reading to him before a nap or at bedtime, that’s what takes me back too to all of those wonderful little “used to”s that I remember.August 16, 2013 – 9:47 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - I love your take on this, Kristi! I love that you went form your on childhood to Tucker’s! It was really beautiful!August 16, 2013 – 11:04 amReplyCancel

  • Chris at Hye Thyme Cafe - Beautifully written as always. Love the photos too. Had to laugh at the last one – wondering if it was intentional to cool down, or by mistake. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve inadvertently sprayed myself in the face with furniture polish or something by not checking the nozzle first!August 16, 2013 – 11:04 amReplyCancel

  • clark - …those forgotten things are (still) somewhere with us, and the wrapped up and put away things especially.

    Tucker-things lol I can identify with the emotional element captured in your words, the world that you experience, which is a way of saying how much I enjoy this blog Post.

    Nice.August 16, 2013 – 11:10 amReplyCancel

  • Erica - So sweet! I used to love mood rings and all the wrong boys, too. Thanks to the magic that is Facebook, I can see all the wrong boys are tragic- living at home with their parents at age 37, working in fast food, and mixing up “their” and “there.” Great post!August 16, 2013 – 11:48 amReplyCancel

  • The Pink Roller Coaster - So much truth and beauty in this one little post. Thank you.
    -BrigidAugust 16, 2013 – 12:32 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Awwwww, I love “his Tuckerness” and “eye-you” is adorable. Love that last picture of him too, did you catch that or was he doing it on purpose? And stinky feet that only a mother could love. 😉August 16, 2013 – 2:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Donofalltrades - I didn’t laugh very much when I read this, but it didn’t totally suck either, so that’s good, right? Lol. Cute kid by the way. You sound like you used to be a lot of fun in the before time. 3am was prime time to meet strangers back in the day!August 16, 2013 – 4:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Kathy Radigan - This was just the kind of “feel good” post I needed to read today, thank you!! I love all the pictures of your beautiful son!!!! I love the part where you say that although you always loved the idea of being a mom, actually being a mom is what you love most!! I feel the same way!August 16, 2013 – 4:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Life, Unexpectedly - What a sweet post, Kristi! Whether special needs or not, they all do drive us insane at times, but no matter what, they will never be a “used to love”! Your “used-to”s sound so much like mine 😉August 16, 2013 – 5:31 pmReplyCancel

  • Sara - Another great post.
    “Used-to loves” and “for-always loves.” I’m right there with ya.

    I can’t help but think that when you’re saying “I love you, Tucker,” he’s replying, “And I you, Mommy.” He’s a little English lord, trapped in an American’s body (the son of a Tennessee redneck, no less!! –haha, jk, hubby).

    🙂 Huge hugsAugust 16, 2013 – 6:33 pmReplyCancel

  • [email protected] - What a cutie. I remember thinking the same way when I was cleaning up a child’s mess. Never had done anything like that — willingly — for any soul on earth before.August 16, 2013 – 7:23 pmReplyCancel

  • Deb @ Urban Moo Cow - I mean, is it possible that you can find a new way to make me bawl every single time?! That first paragraph is pure magic. I’m sharing this everywhere, but not tonight at one in the morning when no one will see it…August 17, 2013 – 1:04 amReplyCancel

  • Shay - Ah, troll dolls! I used to love them, too. And the card games and drinking with friends and the meeting new people and the hope that comes along with it…I loved all that, too. And now I love the little things and the big things that make up my daily life, like reading, writing, working out, working, time off, even the daily nuances like cleaning. But most of all–I love my boys. The hubs and our two little guys. Thanks for this post, Kristi.August 17, 2013 – 7:37 amReplyCancel

  • Jen - You are such an awesome mama. And really an awesome person, because you are so right about all the looking back stuff. It’s so strange when you realize you lived a lifetime before this awesome person came into your life. ( i mean tucker, not me) I just love Isaiah so much. I couldn’t ever have known.
    Beautiful post my friend!August 17, 2013 – 11:39 amReplyCancel

  • a happier girl - So sweet. Becoming a mother reminds me of the part of The Grinch where his heart grows three sizes. Never knew I could love something as much as my children.August 17, 2013 – 1:55 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - I just love the thinking you put into these finish-the-sentence posts and how you so eloquently express yourself. I probably would have written something like, “I used to love hot tea and now I only drink iced tea…” Real deep, right?! I’m going to blame my lack of focus lately and convince myself that under different circumstances, I’d come up with a decent post for this one…until then, I’ll just keep reading yours! (and actually I’ll read them anyway no matter what as you know)August 17, 2013 – 3:21 pmReplyCancel

  • Maria Feekes - Kristi! So beautiful. thank you Miss you ton and sending lots of love and hugs to you and your family.August 17, 2013 – 4:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Louise - Such a beautiful and well written post that I’m not sure what to speak to as I comment. Um – yay trolls! Another groups of toys I saved from my childhood and passed on to my kids. And I think I still sort of love meeting and talking to strangers from time to time – the freeing anonymity those few odd times I go out to pubs with friends.

    And beautiful writing about loving most of your sons hims. Such a parenting truth.August 17, 2013 – 10:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Michelle Liew - Beautiful, Kristi…and you will have so much more because of your ability to give!August 18, 2013 – 11:20 amReplyCancel

  • Jean - You know I’m loving a post when I have to copy and paste parts of it in my response…

    “While I can’t say that I love all of the hims, all of the time, I love most of the hims enough of the time”

    You find that true for Tucker and I find that so true for my 3 year old tornado.

    This post is full of love and I respect how you can convey that through your words and still remember that you are expressing love for your son with his not so perfect days and stinky feet.August 18, 2013 – 1:55 pmReplyCancel

  • Ruchira Khanna - Aww…you are such a sweet heart, Kristi Rieger Campbell.

    Hugs!August 18, 2013 – 4:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Kate Evans Hall - Beautiful. That last picture cracked me up!

    I had a doll that was really just a small rectangular pillow with a face toward the top and yarn pigtails. My grandma made it. Her name was Miss Cindy. I have no idea where she is, but I loved her to death. I sucked on her ears (pillow corners) every night. Yummy.

    I also enjoyed partying and loud music and staying up and eating at Denny’s at 3am – we ate at the one in Fairfax on…I think, Lee Highway. I would always get fries because I couldn’t afford a full meal. I think they hated us.August 18, 2013 – 5:25 pmReplyCancel

  • Sylvia - This is so sweet, though I must say your doll sounds hideous! I used to love trolls too and I was fascinated by mood rings!August 21, 2013 – 12:25 amReplyCancel

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