30
Mar

The difference

Sweet girl, there is something I have to tell you.
There is something you need to know and something you really need to hear from me.
And it's hard to hear, it's hard to understand, and it's so hard to come to grips with.

But, the truth is, it's different.
There isn't equal footing.
Being a girl and making decisions as a woman, it is different.

Not better, not worse, but different and at times, yes, it's harder.

Relationships matter more.
Girlfriends mean more.
Family is defined by friends who know your story, and the world created for you, and the world you choose to create for yourself.

We feel things differently, deeper.
We cry harder.
We hurt more.
We carry more weight, it's heavier.

We are stronger, I can see it already.
We have more to balance.
We give things more meaning.

And decisions, we make some tough ones. And they come down to us, and down on us.
They are about what we want and what we need, at the time.
They carry so much weight, they make us crumble into puddles and they build who we become.

We say goodbye differently too.
Our hearts hurt...more.
We give more and we give up more.

Our bodies, they are incredible and they too are difficult.
Some have felt a child grow, some have carried heart beats.
Some can't, even though they want to.
Some won't, even though they can.
Some, all, will be judged by whatever they decide.
Some have run marathons.
Some hold disease.
Some, most, worry too much about what others think.
All are judged.
All are held to unrealistic expectations.
All, are judged.

We love, with all of us.
We protect what and who we love.
We hold the ones we love in this special place and just because they are out of sight, they are never out of mind.
Some love what and who they have never met, you'll understand some day.
We cry when those we love cry because it hurts us just as much when they hurt.

We are talked about more.
We are held to expectations that we can't meet.
We hurt each other, we talk too much about each other.
But, the stronger we are, the more confidence we hold, the more we build each other up, not tear each other down.

We carry secrets.
They belong to us.
They belong to others.
If we are doing this right, we are trusted by those that matter.
We hold their weight sometimes too.

I am not telling you any of this because I believe that being a woman is awful.
Actually, quite the opposite.
I am telling you this because I believe in us.
I believe in our differences.
I believe that we are strong.
I believe we are defined by our hearts.
And I believe that in our bodies, that are defined by numbers, and magazines, and makeup and outfits...
Lies a woman.
A strong and positive force.
I am telling you this because there is a difference.
And the difference is profound.
I believe that we are more than a number sweet girl.
I believe we are more than sugar and spice.
I believe that we should be defined as more than sweet.
I believe that we carry so much strength in us.
I believe in us.
I believe in all of us.
Just know, it's different.

28
Mar

Five Minute Friday - Mighty

Every Friday we unite for five minutes to write on one word. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on mighty.
Go.

I think of strength.
I think of courage and strong body and mind.
I think of a woman who is brave and confident and oh so comfortable in her own skin.
I think of a woman that can walk into a room and knows what she needs that day, what she has to accomplish, and then...gets it done.
I think of a woman that does not have fear, every day fear of failure because she knows how good she is at what she does and what she touches.
This woman still does fail but her courageous strength realizes that every stumble isn't a fall and realizes the lesson and moves past.
She doesn't shake.
She doesn't have a problem sleeping at night.
She stands up for what she believes in, she knows how to confront and state clearly and isn't afraid to back down.
I don't know if I will ever be her.
I don't know if my fears will ever stop paralyzing me, but you, you have this incredible chance.
You're so new.
You have this fearless opportunity and when you're in trouble, and your head is down and you feel bad about a choice you made, I think to myself, am I squashing her?
Am I squashing her opportunity?
Am I building her mighty or am I building her fear?
You know how I am.
You know how scared I am of my own shadow and that strength and confidence don't come easily to me.
But you, you have this opportunity...
to be...mighty.

Stop.

23
Mar

If

What if I'm not enough?
What if we're not enough for each other?
What if you're not enough?
What if at the end of this journey, we're all strangers, trying to find the people that started this all.

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What if and what then?

What if all of the struggles and sacrifices make us resent who we have become?
What if we sit in silence for days trying to make the screaming and yelling and toddler frustration and 4 year old attention go away.
What if they kill your natural joy and what if it drives me to my knees too many times?

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What if and what then?

What if we are always running from them, from each other.
What if we close too many doors behind us?
What if they feel our loss of youth and freedom and carefree days?
What if they feel loss?
What if they feel unwanted or unloved?
What if they see us running from love?

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What if and what then?

What if it's always this loud?
What if he's always screaming?
What if she's always testing?
What if they are always fighting?
What if the crying won't stop?

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What if and what then?

What if you don't find me yours anymore?
What if my beauty fades with every tired "stop!"?
What if my scars are too much?
What if my wrinkles and grayness make you feel just as old?
What if having them tears up apart?

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What if and what then?

What if it gets worse and not better?
What if time continues to fly like this and we're not enjoying any part of them?
What if all parents don't talk about their fears and their frustrations and their tired days?
What if we all continue to pretend we live in a diaper commercial and we don't show each other the day they played with their poop?
What if we continue to put on this face of happy and wonderful?

Houser056

What if and what then?

Will we snap?
Will love not fix the broken?
Will we resent the long days and nights and whines and cries?
What if we all told each other the awful truth?
What if we admitted how hard each and every day is?
What if we admitted that 95% of the time, we struggle and it's the wonderful 5% that gets us through?
What if we all supported each other through these times?
Those times when you sneak in to find them asleep and they look perfect.
Those times when you whisper "I love you" in their ear and they say "I carry your heart mom".
Those times when they scream "mom, look!" because they are so proud and want to share it with you.
Those times when they run up to you after not seeing you all day and wrap themselves up in you.
Those times when we touch toes at night.
Those times when we hold hands when sleeping.
Those times when we fit, just perfect while snuggling.
Those times when they are in bed and we turn on our favorite shows and all we can do it sip some wine, sit in the quiet and remember that there were good parts today.

There are good parts.

What if I never found you?
What if you didn't ask me to be yours?
What if we didn't have these careers?
What if we didn't create them?
What if we lost Mia all those years ago in her accident?
What if we lost Cole because I got sick?
What if we lost Anna that day in the store?
What if we didn't tuck them in at night?
What if they...

There are good parts and love will always fix the broken.

I love you all, and I always will. Our love will always fix the broken.

Houser029

21
Mar

Five Minute Friday - Joy

Every Friday we unite for five minutes to write on one word. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on joy.
Go.

I never thought I would have it.
I didn't realize it was something I could claim.
And then, I met you and it all sort of changed.

I don't know why it's different with you.
I don't know why happily ever after is possible with you.
Maybe it's because I've changed what happily ever after looks like and stopped thinking about movie theater love.
Or maybe it's because you've allowed me to let go of so much anger and resentment and find a way to put my past to rest.
Or maybe it's because love fixes all.

But, I have found it.
Joy.

I feel it enter and beam out of me.
I look at the two little faces we have put on this earth and although there are moments of insane hell, they fill me with joy.
They fill me full.
And, because of you, because of all of you, I have this glorious life, full of joy and happy.

And, I want you all to know, I have you to thank for it.

Stop.

16
Mar

The compass

He just ran out to get Chinese.
I was having a bad day...a really bad day and I didn't want to make dinner.
The day was so bad that I had been crying most of it and my head hurt and was in this crying fog.
And he walks in, Chinese food in hand, just trying to make this day go away.
And I started to unpack the food.
That's when I saw the weird box, and thought it was so fancy to put in condiments.
And in he walks.
Shaking, smiling and crying.

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Two kids were living in Rochester, getting ready for our move to Saratoga.
Two kids were trying to figure out their next chapter.
Jobs, and where to live, and how to leave family and friends that meant so much.
Two kids were ready to start on us and you, you asked me to be yours.

And, just like every part of us, this moment wasn't a romantic gesture that swept me off my feet.
It, like all of our moments, never had movie theater love.
It wasn't filled with plans or flowers.
It was filled with a kid who was nervous and a little shaky.
A kid who had just wanted to get the words out.

And after confusion of what was happening, yelling, and lots of crying...

You got down on one knee.
You told me how much you loved me.
And you asked me to be yours.

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Our love is a compass Cory. It's the only thing that leads us home. It's the only thing that makes sure we come back to each other.

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I have come to understand how it isn't dramatic and each and every day isn't perfect, or even wonderful.
It's filled with too many have-tos and too many schedules and so many balls in the air.
But it's our perfect.
It's our home.
It's our wonderful.

Our love allows us to figure out parenting, together.
It allows us to hold on to the kids we were and transform into the people we are.
Our love holds so much time, so many memories.
It allows us to laugh and at the end of the day, make sure we are touching toes.
Our love is a compass.
And our compass will lead us home.

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And each year, on this day, we order Chinese.
I get a little misty eyed.
I ask you so many questions about what you were thinking and feeling all those years ago.
You always ask the same question, would you say yes again?

And our compass will lead us home.

Houser006

14
Mar

Five Minute Friday - crowd

Every Friday we unite for five minutes to write on one word. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on crowd.

Go.

There are times, there are so many times, these walls feels crowded. I am trying to make dinner, and finish up work, and get tomorrow ready, and be there for you...and you, you're just screaming at our feet for attention, or to "help" or to play, or you want a snack, or you need a drink and Mia is barking because the crowding and noise is too much for 14 year old puppy ears. And in my head, I am screaming that the crowding feels suffocating. It's all too much, and for the love of god GO ANYWHERE ELSE.

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And then, I remember.

I remember how little your face is. I remember how little your voice is.

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I remember that in a heart beat, the crowd will be gone.

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The quiet will be suffocating and the quiet will drive me to my knees.

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I remember that you just want to be around me, and that too is fleeting.

So, I'll scoop you up. I'll bring over two chairs and we can make dinner together. Let's crowd in and be a family. Let's create a crowd and memories that we will all hold on to.

Let's be crowded...together.

Stop.

9
Mar

Twelve years

I was 23 years old when my life changed but truth be told, I knew at 22 that things were going to be different for me. I started to have MS symptoms in the summer of 2001 and Cory and I had been together for only a short year. I had no idea what was going on and it wasn't until the symptoms became too much to ignore and so odd that I felt like I knew something was really wrong. The second my incredible PC said MS, I knew that's what it was. I knew everything would change and after days, maybe even weeks of feeling so sorry for myself, I got to work on my plan.

I tried to let him go. I tried to end us right away. I knew that he had not signed on for this. I sat him down and told him that I don't know what any of this means for my future, but it's my future and it doesn't have to be his. He could go, I wouldn't tell anyone why. He didn't have to feel guilty or ashamed about any of it. He wanted a family, he wanted normal, and he was the definition of normal and drama free so why take any of this on? But, he wouldn't. He wouldn't even hear me out...he just came to all of my appointments and held my hand through all of the pain.

I didn't want to tell a single person in my family. I didn't have it in me to support them through it, but my sister, I had to tell my sister. I could hear how scared she was, but she came. She drove all the way to Rochester to hold my hand through a spinal tap, she came with me to tell my family, she was there to hear the second opinion. There she was.

I started taking my health so seriously. I stopped eating meat and worked hard on healthy. I started running lots more and found some sort of peace in the long runs. I tried to make sure I was drinking enough water and getting enough sleep and I really struggle with the fatigue that MS causes but...

It's 12 years later and here we stand. And it's been us all along.

Let me be clear, only love will carry you through this time. Only love will allow you to do some of the things we have had to do for each other. Only love will consider what this all means for you and only love will help you.

But, most days, it's not even on our minds. Especially now with all of the advances. Most days.

Some days are hard. Some days the fatigue is too much. Some days I have to remind myself that it's a diagnosis and not a definition, it's not a sentence. Some days I have to tell it to go to hell because it won't win.

And it won't. I'll be here for my kids. I will run in my races. I will have a career that challenges and drains, and I will be alive. I will live our life, I will show them what strength means, I will show them what a strong body can do, what it can mean for you. I will live.

It's been 12 years since everything changed.

7
Mar

Five Minute Friday - Willing

Every Friday we unite for five minutes to write on one word. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on willing.

Go.

What am I willing to do? That was the one question I asked myself when we started this journey of family. What am I willing to do?

Am I willing to fail, am I willing to admit that I am failing at times? Failing them, myself, my career, my friends?

Would failure look like my daughter asking me why I am playing with her before dinner because I am normally working and telling me that I work too much? Would I be failing her? Or would I be willing to take the punch to my heart and sit her down to tell her that I do work a lot, and I love my work, but I love her and all of us more. Everyday, I love us all more.

What would this place, this new journey, what would I be willing to do for us?

Would I be willing to lose myself, who I am, who I wanted to be, who I still want to be? Or am I willing to become a new person, a new version of myself?

And the answer, I am willing to love. I am willing to let go of the past and revisit a happy childhood. I am willing to admit that not all moments are wonderful, but the good always manages to carry me through to the other side. I am willing to admit that this is a balancing act that I was never prepared for and I am willing to admit that I am learning as I go. I am willing to love and I am hoping that love is always enough. Love always fixes the broken and the tired. I am willing to love.

Stop.

2
Mar

It's raw

There is a place, on my body that holds my scar.

And just like motherhood, it is raw.

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It is damaged, it is bright, it is a constant reminder of mother, and motherhood, and a 35 year old body with a mortgage, and bills to pay, and laundry to do, and an agency to run, and two children.

It is a constant reminder of you and it is raw.

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It is a reminder of our start, and how I got to rock you to sleep just by my movement, how for the smallest moment in time, it was just you and me.

It is a reminder of one door closing and the beginning of me sharing you with the world.

And it, like all of mother, is raw.

Raw love, passion, and fear. All of motherhood is raw.

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There was a time when I could not look at my scar without anger of my body giving up. Anger of how I welcomed you into the world. Anger that I felt like I had given up. Anger in the pain, in the recovery, in the constant scar.

And now, because you too have asked me what it is, what it means, I look at it differently. I look at it like I do all of mothering, a reminder of how painful the process is, how many scars it leaves you with, but how in the end, it brought me to you, to all of us, to all of this.

Houser056

Motherhood leaves you scarred, permanently scarred. And all of the raw emotions and scars of mother, they stay with you.

No matter when you let go of us, you have left me forever raw.

Houser075

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