31
Mar

Stepping back

You know how sometimes, I get so angry and my patience is nonexistent and all I can think about is how messy the house is or how loud everyone is? You know how sometimes I get so mad at dad for yelling or you guys for fighting or Pearl for eating something? You know how it feels like I am always asking you to clean up after yourselves or setting up rules for the house? Well, even with all of that, even in all of those times, even when I am my most mad, I want you to know I am not taking any of this for granted.

I always take a step back and I know, I realize, our time together is limited.

That is why I am also the mom that has started an empty nest bucket list of things I want to do when you are gone, because I need direction and things to look forward to. I am also the mom that has set traditions, and foundation, because I want our base to be strong. I am also the mom that can see into the future, the one in which you are off and our time together has come to a close, and I just don't get to anymore.

I don't get to know every detail. I don't get to know what your new facial expressions mean. I don't get to kiss you goodnight, I don't get to sit for hours and read with you. I don't get to mother. And that is why I always take a step back. I know, I realize, our time together is limited.

It is true that in the thick of motherhood, in the middle of actually surviving, every moment is NOT about tomorrow. Most moments are trying to get through without your teeth itching and you losing your shit over nothing. Most days, most parents, are running on actual empty. Most days, most parents, do not have anything left in their tank. Most days, most of us are all together and for one reason or another, we are on each other's nerves. But, this mom who is focusing a year on embracing change, knows that tomorrow always comes and every stage is limited. And that is when I take a step back, and hold on. Because our time together is limited.

It is not hard for me to imagine a day when you are gone. It is not difficult for me to realize that day is coming and I cannot be swallowed by it. I know that I will linger in your bedroom. I will remember why we put this one thing here or there. I will remember how I set up your crib, how carefully we chose your first bedding, your decorations. I will remember the talks and the books we have read, and the tickle fights and the quiet will hit me hard. I know this day is coming. I also know that your dad will do better with it all so he will find me in a puddle, missing you. Which is why I work so hard on stepping back, taking it all in and realizing our time together is limited.

When it does come, the beds will be permanently made. The toys will be long long gone. The carpets will not be landmines of legos. My laundry chores will be easier, my kitchen will never need to be picked up and homework will no longer be a stress. Our four person office will quickly turn to two and your spots will be empty. See, your absence will be everywhere and I will have to be okay. And that is why, I keep stepping back, looking at it all from a future point of view, I take it all in and realize our time together is limited.

When we get to come together again, maybe just us, probably an expanded family, all of that will be a visit, almost like a gift. But I won't be your immediate, I become an extension. That is the actual circle. But know this, I loved you as hard as I could. I lingered in our limited time. Yes, I was annoyed at the stuff and the noise, but I basked in your little. I spent days upon days watching you, listening to you, opening up my heart to all of this. I spent time stepping back, taking it in, realizing our time is limited. And I won't take it for granted.

29
Mar

Five Minute Friday - measure

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. 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 measure.

Go.

I am in a constant battle. A fierce competition and I am always losing. My competitive nature falls squarely on me. I am in constant competition with myself and most times, I don't measure up.

Of course, like all things me, there are times it serves me well. It is why I can do solo races, it is why I can do races at all. It is why I work so hard, I do so much, I expect so much out of me. It is why I am given more responsibilities, it is why people can count on me. It is why I know I won't let people down, it is why I do hard and scary things.

But, again, like all things in my life, there is the hurtful con of being me. Like I never measure up to whatever vision I have in my head. Like I am more disappointed in myself than amazed. Like I am always racing against me. I am racing against all of the things I created, all of the things I made up. Like timetables, and things, and goals and accomplishments, and have tos...all made up in my head. And once they are put there, they feel so real. As real as someone else telling me I have to do this or that. As real as my life depending on getting there. A measure I have to live up to in order to be considered what exactly? What title will I give myself when I never reach the finish line I keep pushing away from myself?

That's what it feels like to be an "upholder", someone who responds to inner and outer accountability. That's what the balance is all about. It serves me and others well, of course it does. It also is harmful to my soul and will if I don't get control over it. Because I will never live up to the me I feel I want to someday be. All I can do is embrace who I am today, and work towards the me of tomorrow. All I can do is set goals and celebrate reaching them sure, but just as important, I have to celebrate making them. I am someone that does not need to be told what to do, I will do it all on my own. That, all by itself, should be celebrated as an achievement. That should be measured too so tell yourself that. Tell yourself that when you feel you are failing at whatever pressure you have hoisted onto your shoulders. Tell yourself that when you don't hit that time in that race, tell yourself that when you're crying, tell yourself that when you feel like nothing you are doing is working. You are working, you are building, you are putting things into play, you are doing, you are walking the path, you measure up.

24
Mar

Darkest hour

It's starting to get warmer now. We have turned a significant corner in our part of the world and although there will still be cold days and a storm here or there, nothing will stay long. We will have more warmth than cold, more rain than snow, more light than darkness. We have passed the darkest hour.

"And I actually need you, in my darkest hour."

There will come a point, a period in your life, when you will lose a tremendous relationship. It may be a breakup, it may be a move, it may be a passing. It may be a friend, or a significant other, or a family member, or a parent. It will be a loss, it may be a season of loss, it will all feel unbearable.

During a season of loss, you cling. You think backward. You cry, you mourn, and you cry more. You only think of the good that was there, you get angry, you think of reasons why you are better off, you think of reasons why you cannot move on, you linger.

I have been in a season of loss. Loss of love and light. Loss of balance and good. Loss of words. It is my year of change, and I am trying to accept and move forward with it. But, as I knew it would be, change, for me, is hard. For me, change, all by itself, already feels like a significant loss. It already feels like I am having to move in directions I and I alone am not ready to go. So I am in need, and without a light to guide my way, I have reached the darkest hour. I do not know if I will weather every storm, I do not know if I will always navigate myself out of darkness, but I do know that you are watching. You are listening. You are taking notes. You are attentive. You are building tools and reworking your notes. You will use this as your compass when you find yourself lost. Alone. Entering your darkest hour.

I know you too will be here. I know you too will feel loss. I know you too will feel lost, and alone, and it will feel like you are the first one to have gone through this. You will feel like no one can or will ever understand. But let this serve as proof that I, and most of us, have been here. You are not alone. I will stand with you, during your darkest hour.

And I promise you this, I will not judge. I will work on holding my tongue. I will not offer up advice. I will not advise. I will try to barely talk. I will ask very few questions. I will not share stories of how or when it happened to me. As hard as it will be, I will not tell you how I would handle it, how you should be handling it. I will just look you in the eye. I will hold you close. I will just be there.

"But what if I need you in my darkest hour?
And what if it turns out there is no other?"

I will just be there.

22
Mar

Five Minute Friday - reward

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. 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 reward.

Go.

Parenthood is hard, and lonely, and difficult, and trying. It ends a life you once had, a life you really enjoyed and it creates a whole new one. Parenthood puts your marriage through every test, every bump, every crash and bush. Parenthood makes you wonder what happened, and why did you, and where did you go, and what family are you living for, and how are you defining love. Parenthood makes you break, shatter, lose, find, gain.

So why do people sign up? What is the actual reward? Is there one? Here is the actual truth about it all. Parenthood is a struggle. Most of the time, you feel lost, unsure, scared, worried, not on top of your game, your patience goes away, you wish you hadn't said that, you wish you had showed up for that, you wish you could have taken that back, you are mad, you are tired, you don't know what to say, what to do, you are in a fog, you come out of a fog, you remember there is a you in there somewhere, you cry...a lot, you lose sleep, you stress. But, the good...

...the good it so good that it carries you through all of that. The good is so good that they are the moments you will think of during your last days. The good is so good that it skews the bad, it makes you remember it differently, it makes you laugh at the things that bothered you yesterday. It makes you wish for the times that while you were sitting in them thought to yourself, when and how will this ever end? The good is so damn good that you would do it all over again. The good is so good that it makes your heart burst open. The good is so good that when you close your eyes, you find yourself actually smiling. The good is so good that when you look back at pictures, you only remember the good. The good is so damn good, it is so so good.

Is it for everyone? No. Is it what every person on earth should do, needs to do, is wasting away if they don't do it? No. Is it what I thought I would be doing? No. Is it how I envisioned my life? No. Is it what I always thought I would be, a mother? No. Do I remember the bad? Yes. Do I remember why I was crying, or worried, or yelling, or stressed, or tired, or scared? Yes. Is there a reward, yes.

It is in their hugs. It is in their smooches. It is in their stories. It is in their playing. It is in the good-nights. It is in the reading dates. It is in the traditions. It is in the fresh out of a bath and pjs on look that melts my heart. It is in the I love yous. It is in the little hands that reach for you. It is in the little shoes that I trip over in my mudroom. It is in all the pictures, all over my house, the ones that make me feel like the rewards are so so great.

Stop.

15
Mar

Five Minute Friday - place

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. 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 place.

Go.

I have a place that I call home. The home in which my little faces are making memories, the one in which I am setting strong traditions, the one in which I found with you when we still dreaming of tomorrow but so excited for where we stood.

I have a place that I call home. The home in which I can be cozy and comfy. The home in which I live in pjs. The home in which I can peal off the day and sink in. The home in which I do the majority of my work, the home in which I am raising them in, the home in which they are teaching me in.

I have a place that I call home. The home that reminds me of who I am when I am feeling too much like me. The home that reminds me of where I am when I am feeling lost. The home that supports me when I am feeling very much alone and extra lonely. The home I feel loved when I am feeling attacked.

I have a place that I call home. The one we built, created and warmed up together. The one that is a constant work in progress. The one that is always changing, adding, and taking away. The one that has evolved and grew in every direction. The home that you knew you wanted and I could not say no to your face when you saw it. The one you pour yourself into and your hands have touched every surface.

I have a place that I call home. And right now, I am feeling like I don't belong anywhere and I have lost my place, and I have lost and lost and lost. But not here, not home. Not where we live, not in our place.

10
Mar

I'm having a moment

It's no surprise that the first year with both of you are some of my favorite memories. There is a peace with newborns that can't be explained, there is a comfort in the "dream phase" of parenting in which there is no actual parenting, only love.

It's easier now, sure, less reliant, absolutely. And watching you play Legos for hours while I do work is incredible. Having reading dates where we can all read our own thing is wonderful. Having you get yourself snacks, play with the dog, use equipment, go up/down stairs without a worry makes life so much easier on the constant need that comes with little ones. But the ease doesn't equate to calm.

There is a calm that comes with that first year. There is this outpouring of love for the little one on your chest, your person swaddling them, and the sibling that loves on them. The newborn bath smell that makes you feel like you are doing parenting right. The little noises that only you know what they mean, the facial expressions that tell you something else, the rhythm you establish together, a really special song only your little family knows the words to. A dance that you do that only your special group know the steps to.

When we had our last, and went through all the last firsts, I spent so much time loving reclaiming my home. Getting rid of highchairs and bumbos and newborn clothes and toys and reclaiming our bank accounts with no more diapers and no more preschool tuition and less and less daycare needed. But, the house gets refilled with other things, and the money goes to other places and I am having a moment of ache.

I am dreaming of babies, I can physically feel myself being so careful, so gentle. I can feel the weight as I hold them, as I walk them, as I smell them. I am meeting moms with twins and having thoughts like, what if we just adopted a set of twins, that would instantly give me the four I actually desire. I find myself in newborn baby aisles and picturing how and what I would do differently.

Even though I know (sort of) that this family is complete, I never had "the moment" of done and so I am having a different moment now. One in which the sadness hits me hard. Because I would be lying if I said I knew and I felt it and it was done and the stillness and calm of that decision makes me feel good. Instead, I know intellectually that we are done, I know that more would be more, I know that we are good, they are good, but damn, a girl can dream and so this one is.

For the mom who wanted none, but decided to give it a go, I'm having a moment for her. For the mom that had to be talked into it, and put all of her fears aside, I am having a moment for her. For the mom who held her daughter, claimed her motherhood and thought one and done, I am having a moment for her. And for the mom that held her son and three minutes into his life exclaimed I want 2 more...I am having a moment for her too.

I am having a moment in which I want it all back, I want my time with them back. I want the little back. I of course love where they are. I know how much my husband grows so easily with them. But this mamma struggles a little more with each and every passing that. I miss my babies and I miss newborn clothes and newborn detergent, and my husband looking like a gentle giant holding them. I miss the stillness that comes with that first year and I miss the quiet. It's a blip, I will feel better again soon, but for now I can admit, I'm having a moment.

3
Mar

What happened?

Do you ever look around and think, how did we get here? What decisions did we make along the way that got us to this spot? I think about it a lot because I remember it being exactly what we always wanted.

Remember when you knew exactly what you wanted to do, exactly what you wanted to be when you grew up? And then, all be damned, you went and did it. You knew when you were nine and then you became the thing you always wanted. Every day, you're doing it, you're getting to go in and be all you ever wanted to be...remember?

Remember when my work and the mission and the agency and the mission and the work and the agency and the work were all that I could ever dream about? Remember when I left the first time, how sad I was to walk away from something that I believed in so much, with all my heart so much. Remember how when I got back I felt like I was home, exactly where I belonged. And then as I got more and more involved and more and more into it, remember how much more I loved it...remember?

Remember when you told me we were going to be parents? You knew, you always and forever knew they were a part of our story? Remember how you said it...we're having kids, it will be fine, you will love them, we are going to be parents. Remember when before they got here how we would talk about them? Their names, what they would look like, how we would handle this scenario or that, who would do what, when we would do this all? I remember, I would stare at you and wonder if they would get your eyes, or your smile? I would hope for my hair and green eyes are pretty too. Remember the few months it didn't work how heartbroken we were? Remember how much it physically hurt? Like they were somehow taken from us. That, by the way, that was how I knew you were right, I did want this. I wanted them before they came. You always wanted them...remember?

Remember how we could not imagine life without Mia? Remember how we would talk about it, we knew it would happen and we would wonder how and who and reactions and life after and timing? Remember how we thought you would be the strong one, I didn't even know if I could be there? Remember how she was our one and only for so so so so long? She was our reason, what we came home to, what we worried about, what we poured love into. Remember how I would joke that she would hate our kids, how mad she would be? Remember how everyone told me I would love her less once they got here, except I knew it would only make me love her more...remember?

Remember the promises we made...better or worse, sickness and health, together, strong...touching toes and holding hands kind of strong? Remember how eyes wide open I thought we went into parenting? Remember how easy it was to love each other, how silly the fights were, how walking away didn't seem ever possible? Remember how we always felt like family...remember?

So, we did it. You know, we really did it. All the big and little dreams. The ones like homes and careers and kids and moves. The ones like easy mornings with coffee and traditions that bind and movies that still define who we are. The ones like everyday living and big life planning. The ones like saying goodbye to our one and only and welcoming in a puppy that is a lover of love. The ones like adding kids and even more love and hearts growing. The ones like heartache and fights that shake us and how it takes actual effort and holding on to not walk away now. The ones like how your nook is still my spot, the ones like how we expanded our arms to fit them all in. The ones like hearts exploding and breaking and how love and time continue to put all the pieces back together again.

We did it, all we ever wanted, all we ever wished and dreamed for so we can look around and just be so thankful. Thankful that they are healthy. Thankful that we have space to fight over a parental decision or reaction. Thankful that it's messy. Thankful that it's loud. Thankful that they are good kids. Thankful that we do somethings with them right. Thankful that saying goodbye to Mia was so painful and we knew that pain only because we did love her as hard as we could. Thankful that we allowed Pearl in. Thankful that you convinced me this was our story to tell, thankful that you convinced me to have not just one but two little faces. Thankful that I convinced you to add another puppy and thankful that you said yes. Thankful for the work we wanted being our lives. Thankful for growing into bigger dreams for us. Thankful for the house turned home, the one we built together. Thankful for your ability to do anything, thankful for mine to want to tackle everything. Thankful for laughter, thankful for the tears, thankful for the fits of anger that crumble, and the hugs that heal. Thankful for all the smooches to end our day, thankful because we did it.

What happened was that we made it. We got our wish, so although that doesn't mean we stop, we can at least take a beat and say, we landed in the place we always wanted to be.

1
Mar

Five Minute Friday - search

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. 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 search.

Go.

Some of us search for family, some search for freedom, some search for love, some search for homes, some search for fulfillment, some search for comfort, some search for dream jobs or homes, some search for companions, some search for meaning...all search for connection. A connection is one of the many ways we are all the same. Even for those of us who are introverts, even for those of us who need the quiet and the alone, all of us search for those to connect with, love on, smooch, laugh with, squeeze tight, and bring into our circle.

The need and desire to not feel lonely anymore. Because parenting, and couplehood, and adulting, and routines, and life can all be so lonely. And it is the connection, the true, the meaningful and deep connections that make us whole. Because the truth is, your person isn't enough. You can't expect to get it all from them. And your little faces grow and find their circle too. It is the connections that keep us sane, and laughing, and happy, remember happy?

Just last month, I watched my daughter meet up with a group of girls and I saw it unfold. I saw why she is so happy, I saw how much they hysterically laughed just by being in the same space. I saw it burst out of them. I see her recognize a friend she hadn't seen in a while and throw her arms around the person like they were long lost friends that haven't seen each other in years. And I see me. Who I have always been. The one that searches for connection and framily.

The search is one of the many things that makes us the same.

Stop.

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