Five Years

I didn't know it at the time but five years ago today my life changed. My son had been dead for four months and I hadn't found a way to put the pieces of my life back together just yet. I was rudderless in a vast sea of pain and I was completely lost. Grief had swallowed me whole and it was completely reasonable to question my sanity.

My husband had bought me our very first family computer a few months earlier and I spent every day searching online for something. For someone. For a single person who knew exactly what it was like to have their almost five year old child drop dead suddenly with absolutely no warning and no explanations.

I never did find that person. My search for someone to guide me through my pain was fruitless. But it was in my persistent search to find a beacon that I discovered the world of blogging. After googling the words mom and grief, I found a blog. It was a bad blog. Boring. Ugly. Poorly written. The lady who wrote it was grieving the death of a marriage not a child like I was. But on the pukey pink sidebar of her blog, she had a blog roll.

This woman, who ever she may be, I don't remember, couldn't write worth beans but she had great reading tastes. It was from this blog that I stumbled my way into the world of mommy bloggers and the blogging community. Like Alice falling through the rabbit hole, I followed one link to another, discovering blog after blog after blog. Suddenly I was in a world filled with real voices and while these writers may not shared the same pain as I was burdened with, their stories resonated with me. Reading their words allowed me to feel something, anything, for the first time in months.

What I looked like five years ago. Also known as the awkward growing out stage.

For the next 8 weeks I read. Every day, all day, as Fric and Frac went off to school and abandoned me to my silence and my grief, I sat at the computer and poured through one blog to the next. I was captivated. I may not have found what I was looking for, but I found something else, something weighty and important. I found a chorus of voices that rang true in my head and cut through the fog that clung to me.

I found bloggers.

So on Feb 28, 2006, I sat down in front of my computer and opened blogspot for the very first time and gave birth to Redneck Mommy.

I didn't know it then, but I had finally found a way to heal. I found a new identity, one that didn't rely on me being the mother to a dead child, or had ties to a disabled community I was no longer part of. For the first time since my youngest son's birth and subsequent death I was just Tanis. It has been completely freeing.

What I look like now. Also known as photographic evidence of my dorktasticness.

A lot of things have changed in the five years I've been blogging. I've made new friends, I've lost old ones. My children have grown up and I've picked up another kid along the way. My arse has gotten bigger and then smaller, my boobs have been pierced and then unpierced. Bushes have been blue and pits have been unshaven. Through it all, I've managed to avoid learning how to filter. My mother is so proud.

But one thing hasn't changed at all since the inception of this blog. The gratitude I feel for each of you who take the time to read my stories, and for every one who has ever taken the time to email me, comment on the blog or tweet at me. I'll never forget feeling the thrill and the awe of getting my very first comment on my blog. (Thanks Liz from Mom101!) Somehow, during the worst time of my life, I managed to find and build a community around me that continually inspires and amazes me and I'm profoundly grateful.

I write because my sanity demands it but I remain forever awestruck that someone out there is reading it.

So thank you. Thank you for making these past five years some of the most important years in determining who I really am, and helping me discover who I want to be.

Twas the nicest way to ring in five years, ever.

And thank you for once again voting Attack of the Redneck Mommy as the Best Canadian Blog in the 2011 Weblog Awards and earning me a place in the Bloggie's hall of fame. I really couldn't have done any of this without you. Nor would I have wanted it to.

Imaginary iPads for everyone are on me. Maybe one day I'll actually earn some damn money doing this thing called blogging so I can actually buy you the real deal.