23
Jun

The year

I just read one of the most amazing articles of all time that put this whole school gig into the most amazing perspective. It's on the average kid, the one that doesn't make the team, isn't in every single thing, isn't straight As in all the subjects, isn't killing it since birth in an area of their life, isn't already headed for college at 10, hasn't already created something, invented something.

But the kid with heart, the one that loves to read, the shy kid, or the kid that can be friends with anyone, the kid that loves animals, or loves to color still, the one that still wants to play and just be a kid. That kid, the average kid, the one we all lost sight of, the one we are all trying to push, the one that doesn't need pushing because they are so content. And good, and kind, and smart at their thing, and thinking, and being little.

" School is the only place in the world where you’re expected to excel at everything, and all at the same time. In real life, you’ll excel at what you do best and let others excel at what they do best."

I made a promise that I would protect your childhood. Not a promise to protect you because you've got this, but your childhood. I made a promise you would get to be little, and kids, and not be over scheduled or overdone. I made a promise that it would be about being kids while I had kids because damn does that window close fast.

I don't know when or why it happened. I wasn't part of much when I was in school but I found my own way. Dad, he was part of the team, any team, but he still got to be a kid. He didn't have to start specializing at the age of 6 and somewhere along the way, parents lost their way and started down this really scary path.

And I just want you to know, my 4th and 1st grader, my little tiny faces, I am proud of the year you have had. Because you always tried, because you worked hard, because of your hearts.

Anna, I am so proud of you for knowing that all of your closest friends were all in one classroom together and instead of being upset, or sad, or even bringing it up, you made new friends. Good friend. Friends that you really love and laugh with and have so much fun with. Friends you have story after story after story about. Friends that you write notes to. Friends that you want to be around. Friends that make you feel good. You did something that has always been so hard for mom and you just put yourself out there and you connected. I am most proud that you befriended a new kid, one that you could tell was feeling shy and worried. You made the first connection and you brought her into your heart. I am proud of you for opening your arms and your heart out and as you get older, it will be harder but I hope you always remember how easy and natural it is for you to make friends.

Anna, I am proud of you for always trying, for giving your best. For putting your mind to something. Not because you are perfect at it, not even because school just comes easy to you, not because you don't get any mistakes or do everything right, but because you just keep going. When spelling was hard for you, you worked at it. You found solutions. You listened to tutors, you practiced. When things are hard, you do not give up, you do not get frustrated, you take the help and you learn and you cope and you do.

Anna, I am proud of you for really giving it your all. For leading with your heart, for being a social butterfly and loving to be around people. Anna, I love that you fell even harder for reading this year. I love that I find you all over the house reading. I love that you use the car to read. I love that you are covered in books and always have one near by. I love your love of stories. I love that you are starting to write your own and I love that you are still silly, and little and not at all growing up too fast.

Cole, I, and everyone that comes into contact with you, falls hard and heavy for your heart. I am proud of the person you are Monkey. I love that you make everyone around you feel loved. I love that everyone thinks and feels like you are their friend because you are. I love that there is nothing malicious about you. I love that there is nothing fake. I love that you just love people. I love that all the grownups in your life see that too. I love that you come in, get your homework done and just want to play play play. I love that you spend so many quiet hours with legos. I love that you make people feel loved and cared for. I love that people can always count on you. I love that you have a smile that can melt, and I love love love how funny you are.

Cole, I am proud that you wear your emotions on your sleeve. I love that you are emotional. I love that you put it all out there. I love that although sitting and listening are not your thing, you do it so well for your teachers. I love that you know what is right and what is wrong. I love that you look to them to confirm you have to step back. I love that you get excited, I love that you think most days are the best days of your life. I love that you would move heaven and earth to be with your dad. I love that you love hugs, I love that you love little guy kisses.

Kiddos, I am proud of you because you are good people. And I love you because you both love love. And that does not make you average, that makes you special. You receive what you put out and you always put out love and kindness. You put your best foot forward and you always try. You are not average, you are exceptional because you know and realize what really matters in this world. All of this other stuff, it does not matter, you have the real world figured out. Love, kindness, friendship, caring humans.

21
Jun

Five Minute Friday - question

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 question.

Go.

We all have them. We start pretty early in life trying to figure things out, or why certain things just have to be a certain way. We get in trouble for asking too many and we sometimes don't move forward because we are stuck in a cycle of them.

Although I am not motivated by a why, I am much more motivated by the because this is how "it" is "done", I do question every move I make. I do carry the thought right down to the worst case scenario. I do answer my own why but I still worry and think through, excessively think through, the decisions I make. I question myself more than I question my actions. I sit, I ponder, I think of every possible thing that could go right or wrong, and I reason it all out.

Raising two little faces that I ask to do this or that, or ask not to do this or that, I get asked why a lot. I have tried very hard to not come back with the typical, because I said so now just do it, response. Instead, I try an walk them through it all, I try and be reasonable and compassionate to all of the questions, but that's not always so easy. Patience wears thin, I have already explained it, I have answered and answered and now you're just arguing, and as always, I am tired guys. Gut-wrenching tired, bone tired, hard to stay awake ever tired.

But ask your questions, I will keep trying to answer them all. Ask your questions and dad will tell you how and why things are made. He will tell you where things are and about the history of this and that. I will tell you why I do things a certain way and how to keep yourself sane in an insane world. As you get older, remember it's okay to question yourself and your motives and your motivation and your decisions. Just do not get stuck, do not get trapped in a cycle of questions and talking yourself out of things that make you scared. Jump a little, believe just a little, trust just a little more.

Stop.

17
Jun

The fog

I talk a lot about how for years and years and years, we were in the fog of parenting. But just the other day, I was reading another mom's fog and it reminded me how desperate those times were and how desperate they felt. I can tell right away when two people are in the fog now. I can see it in their faces, I can hear it in how they talk, and I now know how normal it is.

Here's the craziest and scariest part, for us, it didn't happen in the beginning. It did not happen with newborns. No, for us, it came on three years in. Just when I thought we were not only safe, but I thought we were invincible. I found myself elated, telling him things like "we made it, we managed to avoid all of the fog." I was so damn cocky. I was so sure we sidestepped all of the crap, and we came out the other side, strong, loving, partners, leaning on each other, doing this incredible dance, it all just fit. And all of that was true, we were, we did, it was as if we were meant to do this, together. Until we started to walk on each other's toes and we no longer had any rhythm of a dance. Until it leveled me, us, what we had, who we were, what I thought we were, who I thought we were. The fog settled around us and we couldn't see each other anymore. We had lost, we were lost, and I thought we were gone.

The fog, for us it lasted for excruciating years. We did eventually figure out why. It all of a sudden all made sense. And you would think that would have fixed it but hell no. It took more years to fight our way back. I kept allowing the fog to cloud my vision, you kept shining a light in my face to have me see you and find you in the mess.

The fog settles at different times, in different ways, for different reasons for different people. The fog makes you deflated, angry, exhausted, resentful, full of contempt, unable to laugh, unable to see. It doesn't last all day every day but when it settles over, it lingers. And most of the days, you lose. You don't have a fighting chance against it. It changes you, it changes how you see your other, it changes how you see your life. It makes it too dark to see clearly so it's covered in gray. The fog makes you want, it makes you think it's greener someplace else. The fog makes you cry, hard. But, if you all hold on to each other, stumble through the mess together, if you go slowly, become more gentle, remember what is on the other side, all of a sudden, it lifts.

You have days that are clearer, you can finally see. You have days with more sunshine, they just feel warmer. You have days with more color, the green is on your side now. You realize how hard that was and how you somehow managed to make it through. I'm no longer cocky enough to think for even one second that the fog won't settle in again. I will no longer proclaim that we managed to avoid anything. Because for some, it doesn't settle in at all. But that is rare, that is not the norm. See, for others, it takes over for a short while, some others longer. And in the long run, all of it is short when you are staring at forever. But it is one of the many secrets of parenting that no one talks about, everyone is hush hush about. The fog is a real thing, it happens and it does not mean you are broken. It does not mean you are in trouble, it means you have walked through the thick of it, it's murky right now, it will once again lift.

What I have learned is that if you are with family, if you find someone you do not want to walk away from, you manage to hold on. You manage to find ways to laugh, you keep talking, you keep searching for each other, you stumble together, but you never let the other person fall. You lose, and it doesn't matter. You keep showing up for each other because you know how worth it all is. You realize this is a blip in your long long life together. You realize so many others are also walking through the fog and you shine lights in their faces too to remind them that this is all very normal. What I have learned is that you figure it out, the dance becomes more and more of the rhythm you know you have. You look across the table and you just smile because you know this is home, this is where your heart has always been, this is where you belong.

2
Jun

The Monks turns seven

Oh, sweet boy, if only you knew how loved you were. Maybe you do know because it's as much as you love others and life. There are so many times I look at you from across the room and this smile spreads to your face. Or you see me when you are on the baseball field and you will blow a kiss, or shout "I love you", or place your hand on your heart and give a warm and loving smile my way, or run over to give hugs. You, Monks, you are the lover of love and the reminder of all there is that is good.

From the second you came into this world, people fought to hold you, to change you, to be around you. You are a magnet for others, you attract good because you send good out there. Yes, all of this comes with every emotion and comes with wearing them all on your sleeve, and it comes with frustration on your part and ours, but damn, you are a lover of love and the kindness that the entire world needs.

And now, you are seven and nothing has changed. You are still the one loving life, living your best days. I will still find you engulfed in all the Legos, imagination running wild. I still find you not being able to decide between wanting to run and play outside or settle into all of your building inside. I still find you moving in your sleep, because you always move. I still find you dancing when you eat, because you always love your food. I still find you hugging like there is no tomorrow, because you give the best hugs. I still find you drowning in curls, because your hair is the only me you carry. I still find your wide blue eyes wild with love and adventure, because you are every other part dad. I still find you loving her, needing her, making sure she is always okay, because you are the best little brother.

But I also find you taller, needing more privacy, wanting more and more time with dad. I find you are reading better, writing better, learning more, asking more. You are getting bigger, it is happening. And I am enjoying, loving, basking, drunk even, in my front seat view of it all. That little face we brought home, the one in the little "I'm brand new" onesie, he is still in there. He is still all hair and chub and already loving to eat and smile. His eyes were huge, his heart even bigger and all that little nugget in my arms wanted was to be close. All of that, is still right there, it has not gone anywhere at all.

This version of you, this is the real you Monks. This loving, caring, kind, emotional magnet of all people, that is who you really are. Never forget it, never let go of it, don't let the world change it about you. You're the best Cole I know so never ever stop being you.

With all my love and light little monkey, I eat you up I love you so!

Mommy's sweet and low!

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