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.

31
May

Five Minute Friday - name

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 name.

Mine fits me, is important to me, it's one of the things given to me that I am so proud of, in love with even. Dad's too, not only does his fit perfectly, even the spelling is him. Simple, not complex, nothing added as a buffer, just there, the real him. And together, our names now fit like they are supposed to. Not in a blended way, but just balance each other, compliment one another.

So, when it came time, we thought and thought and thought about the perfect names for you both. One, after so many women in our family, the other deeply attached to the family too. One, important to me, the other important to dad, both, fitting you. One meaning grace, the other a short name that embodies a lot of richness and depth. Names that needed to sound right together, apart, with our last name, without it. Names that felt like the right extension, addition to us. Both timeless.

And once settled, we felt so good, so right about our decisions. You didn't grow into them, you were them. You were born feeling like them and you continue to live right up to them. You embody them. I love calling you by your names, I love that this is what we picked for you. I love knowing that you too love your name. I love that you too realize it makes you special, to us, to you. I love knowing you are in love with all the nicknames that come with them, I just love you.

Until this reminder, I had almost forgotten how important naming you was to me. I had almost forgotten how much thought and emphasis I put on it. I had forgotten how much I loved mine, how much I wanted you to feel that way about yours. I almost forgot that I really wanted to get this right and I love that we did.


17
May

Five Minute Friday - promise

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 promise.

Dear Cory, when I met you, I made a promise to my heart. You would be a part of my family. You would be in my life, no matter what, we became connected, instant and immediate. I found home.

Dear Mia, when I met your furry little face, I was at the end of a life goal I had set. I was so young, so old, so ready for love and snuggles. And I met a little old soul puppy that had so much life and love to give. We made a promise to each other, we would raise one another, and we did.

Dear Anna, when I met you, I became a mom. I held this intense responsibility and for the first time in my life, believed in happily ever after. I met a little face that was so serious, so trusting, reaching for us, and so observant. I realized that little is so big and you were my dream. I realized that I now carry a heart in a very real way and I promised to love and hold and let go. I promised to forever carry your heart with me, I carry it in my heart.

Dear Cole, when I met you, I knew what love at first sight meant. I learned that people are so attracted to you, I learned that they are drawn to you. I learned that love is attractive and that kindness is something that doesn't always need to be taught. I learned that people are loving and I made a promise, to be more like you. To learn from your natural love and light. To fall in love with love.

Dear Pearl, when I met you, I was ready. I had mourned the loss of my first puppy and I was ready for my home to be filled with puppy kisses and snuggles. What I quickly learned is that if you ask for things, they come and what I got was a lover of love. I got hugs, actual hugs and smooches and a puppy that needs to be held, needs to be noticed. I got love and I made a promise to always and forever embrace. I made a promise to stop and hug and pay attention and slow down and remember that if you live life without these connections, it's just not worth it.

I made a promise to take advantage of this second chance. I made a promise to love you as hard as I can and not regret out time together. I made a promise to not look back and wish I did it differently. Even though I mess up, I promise that I am always trying. I made a promise to you, to me, to all of us.

12
May

This year - 2019 Moms Day

This year, I am more and more appreciative of our time together. I am more thoughtful of our words, our exchanges. I am more fragile because time seems to be fleeting. I am more attentive, more purposeful and softer. I am more present, I am more giving of myself, and that is huge when time is more and more out of my control.

This year, I have spent watching you, listening to you, loving on you. I have once again had to change my ways. I have slowed down with you, I have stopped talking and just paid more attention. This year, you have opened up more, you have done more and more of the talking. And most times, it is about silly things, times you think you are hysterical. Sometimes, they are about more important things, and no matter what, they are all important to you.

This year, I have quieted my voice with you, I have yelled less, I have tried to stop criticizing and judging and putting you in a box, labeled and sent off for eternity. This year, you have proved you are still the best you I know. You have melted into me, you have shown your heart, like you always do.

This year, I have made change my word and I have tried to change for you. I have taken this on so I can have more and more time with you. So we can see each other in the morning, so I can be here for all the big and little things, because to you they are all big and important. I want to be the one you continue to turn to and talk to and I have to keep reminding myself how much my reactions matter.

This year, you have struggled and shined in your different ways, which is and will be every year, always and forever. You have grown, you have stayed little, you have matured and you have taken a couple of steps back too. This year, you have made your circle bigger, you have gotten along, you have fought, you have fallen harder for Pearl. This year, you have played more games, gotten into a groove and are still trying to figure out you.


Motherhood, parenthood, life is ever-changing. It is a crazy and at times sickening ride. It is scary and there are too many directions to go in. Motherhood, parenthood, life is hard and somehow worth it. It is loving and sacrifice and hoping you are getting any of it right.

This year, I wanted to thank you for this really important title you have given me. This responsibility you have laid at my feet. I know I mess up more than I win, I know I learn more than I know, I know that you are trying to raise me as much as I am trying to raise you. But damn, I do love you and I work hard on providing that love. And damn, you love me too and when you do fold into me, I am reminded of the babies I brought home, the incredible weight of something so small and how lucky I am that I get to mother and love you.

28
Apr

Dear joy

It's been a while for you and I. I think I finally figured out that in my chase to secure happiness, I forgot about our relationship and how important we are to each other. I forgot that you creep in, that you live in a moment, not in an idea, or a lifetime, or in the future. You are right here, you spring up now and again and it is just as much up to me to keep our relationship going, to keep it strong, to keep it fed. I forgot to keep our relationship flourishing and to keep us connected. I forgot how much I need you.

Happiness is what we desire, it's what we tell our kids to be, but I am starting to realize that happiness brings with it a lot of anxiety and a hunt. I am also realizing if you make happiness the ultimate goal that means you are looking for a life void of other feelings. Like feeling blue, down, sad, pained, mournful. All of those emotions are just as important, they allow you to grow, they allow you to move on, the allow you to feel, they allow all of life in. But if all you care about is being happy, you then feel like a failure when life inevitably happens and the other emotions have to come through. I think I always knew that of course, you would feel other things, but overall, you want to lead a happy life. That's what I always believed, you want to lead an overall happy life.

Unfortunately, you will go through days, weeks, months, years of just not being happy. You will go through stretches of things being hard. You will go through stretches of not loving your job, or not being on the same page as your person, or not seeing eye to eye with your kids, or trying to figure things out. If you continue to search and hunt for happiness, you are likely to think you have to just walk away. And sometimes, you do, but sometimes, you have to realize you might be in a season in your life where happiness is more difficult than you though.

But joy, joy can enter at any time. Joy can be found at a funeral when telling a funny story, joy can be found in your darkest hour, joy can be found while folded into yourself. Joy comes and goes, it dances with you. Joy is something you can actually bring into your world. You can surround yourself with reminders of joy. You can do it in the littlest ways. You can find joy in a song, or a quick dance party, you can find it in cleaning up and getting your house decluttered, you can find it by painting something fun, you can find it by going for a walk, petting your dog, you can find it in a smile, you can find it, I promise you that. You can always find it and you can be the joy for others too.

But, here's the funny thing about joy. Even if you're not looking for her, even if you're not ready to let her light shine, she finds you, she can't help it. She won't let you sit and wallow for too long, she finds her way in and she makes your heart lighter, she makes you feel better, even if it's for a moment. Here's the other thing about joy, you do need her so when she pokes her way back in, you have to remember that feeling and you have to remember that you need more reminders of her. You have to remember to welcome her in more, it's too heavy otherwise. You can't carry all the weight forever and ever, you need to lighten the load, and that is her job. She lightens the load and makes you feel like you can take on this minute, this hour, this day.

Dear joy, I am sorry I forgot about you. I'm sorry I neglected you. Thank you for reminding me that you are never far away. Thank you for calling my name and asking me if you can come over to play. I'm so sorry my door was closed for so long. I'm sorry I allowed my darkest hour to take completely over and I'm sorry that I forgot that I have the ability to make room for you. I can give you a call and ask you for a quick cup of coffee because I need you today, I need you and I will allow you in.

14
Apr

Goo

Then I asked her "what am I going to do without you?"? and she responded, "you're going to realize it was always in you".

Years ago, I met someone. Every Sunday, I would show up to her class. I would rush in late, head down, never talking to anyone. And I would see her, hear her, follow her. I sat close to her for years and years, never looking up, never talking, but I felt a pull. She didn't know my name, she doesn't know my story, but she is so important to my life. And several weeks ago, she started hinting of a move and then finally announced her intentions of not just a move but a cross country move, and I slowly fell apart.

Little faces, it is mom's year of change. And a year of realizing there is so much I just have to roll with because I don't roll easily. I don't let go easily, I mourn every change. But it is starting to really feel like a season of loss and like I asked for this, I called it to me. I told the universe that this is my year to embrace change and how hard it is for me so the universe responded with moves, and people leaving in dramatic ways, and people slipping through my fingers, and the parts in my life that made me okay all of a sudden not being there and me having to rebalance and shift and dammit, I don't balance well so to rebalance is hard and how am I going to keep shifting?

Then I asked her "what am I going to do without you?"? and she responded, "you're going to realize it was always in you".

Just last month, I finally introduced myself. I finally spoke directly to her, I laughed with her a bit, we connected. Little does she know I was already connected. I am the girl that fully listens to her on Sundays, open-hearted, open-minded. My stubborn fades when I am sitting by her side. My hardness melts and I am not only softer, I am kinder. And mostly, I am kind to me, and I am rarely kind to me. I have cried with her several times. I have laughed from my toes with her. I feel differently when I leave her each week, better, I just feel better.

There are other things too. She has taught me what my body can do, she has taught me how to breathe, and more importantly, how to exhale. She has taught me not only can I do a hand-stand, but she changed my whole perspective on it, she took away my doubt. She has taught me how to keep what I learned with me all week. She has taught me about allowing joy and good in. She has taught me how good it feels to be part of a community that comes together each week, she has taught me how to meditate, she has taught me to put the lists away and be here for just this hour and a half. All from a woman that didn't even know my name.

Then I asked her "what am I going to do without you?"? and she responded, "you're going to realize it was always in you".

Little faces, these are the words she spoke to me just last week. And the tears started to roll down your mom's face, they didn't stop for a solid 15 minutes. Because I am in a season of such fear and not believing in myself and doubting my decisions and fearful that I am going to lead us into the dark, the unknown. Having to just let go and believe and how does a planner, a type A, an upholder, one that controls all aspects of her life her world do that? How do I let go and believe I have it in me and it will just come? And, god, what if I fail? What does that mean for our security, our future, what does it mean about our survival? How am I to believe that it was in me all along? How am I to realize that I have to now call this part forward, I have to affirm it in my soul. This is the actual change I seek.

She began her talk about "the goo". How when you are in the middle of a transition, whether it is sad or joyous, whether it is scary or exciting, whether it is a new beginning or the very end, every transition has what she referred to as the "goo" phase. A phase in which everything unravels and there is destruction and you have to mourn the old to get to the other side of the transition. She said it's similar to how a caterpillar has to become this butterfly. It slithers along, it goes deep into itself, it then destroys all that it is and knows, it becomes a pile of goo, only to re-emerge. Brighter, faster, able to fly.

And that is exactly what I do and exactly what change feels like for mom. Unlike dad and the two of you who all deal with change so so well, mom rarely stops to look and admire the butterfly. She is so stuck mourning the damn caterpillar. I am always looking at the caterpillar and sad for the loss, I am wanting it to come back to us, I am screaming at it to breathe, I just want it to stay the same.

She talked about how she, her family, and her entire community are in this goo phase and all I could think was, when am I not there? That is the reason I had to make change my word this year. I needed to force myself out of the goo phase. But instead, I have found myself stuck in goo, mournful of my year, mostly sad. And watching this woman fly like a butterfly has me on my knees giving CPR to the caterpillar and wondering, what next?

Then I asked her "what am I going to do without you?"? and she responded, "you're going to realize it was always in you".

As the tears continued to fall throughout her entire speech, I wanted to tell her I am part of the goo phase too and her leaving is leaving a huge hole in my heart. But, here's the thing. She's right. You have to go through the goo. It is an essential part of the process. Where things get difficult is when you linger there or when you stop moving forward because you are there. It's when you let fear take over and you refuse to move. Or when you think it's easier to stay where you are. Or it's when the sadness is so much you cannot see the beauty of the butterfly. That's what I do. I forget to see how gorgeous the butterfly is because I am so sad for the caterpillar.

But the three of you, you always see the butterfly. Yes, you love the foundation and Anna James, my little me, you long for the known and the traditions because you ache for it to stay the same. But you, like your dad, always see how gorgeous that butterfly is. See, your dad says things like, I'm sorry your instructor is moving. I know this will be hard for you and how much you loved her class. But, there might be someone else that takes over and you might like them too? That is looking at the butterfly.

So universe, I am trying. I really am. I am trying to embrace the beauty of the butterfly but at the same time, I need you to back off a tiny bit. The change I have called forward, I could use a small break. I get it, you are trying really hard to get me to keep flying through change but I am a puddle these days. I need a hint of stability because what I want is to walk away from a 20-year relationship and project that I have believed in down to my toes. A relationship I will always and forever believe in. A relationship that taught me more than anything the power of childhood. Because the change I want is to grow and fly. Please, let me become the butterfly and give me the stability I need to be grounded in the other.

Dear girl in my life, the one that just learned my name. Yours was not just a class, it was my church. Yours was not just where I went to learn a new pose, it was where I learned to get stronger, to believe in me. I know you are going home and I am looking at your butterfly with all its beauty. Dear universe, please allow me to keep believing in her words

"you're going to realize it was always in you"

and allow me to become my own butterfly.

8
Apr

Double-digit girl

Dear double-digit girl, I have been thinking about this day for a long time. Heading into a whole new chapter. One in which friends and time away and circles are of high importance. One in which feelings are getting tougher to navigate. One in which your mom who struggles with change can only see the little we brought home. I remember the day so clearly, the sun shining, being in the car with you. Checking out which little nickname sounded more fitting. I remember what I was wearing, I remember what you were wearing. I remember the car seat feeling so far away. I remember pulling into the driveway with our orange car, taking you into our house turned home and introducing you to Mia. I remember bringing you to your room, taking you out of the seat, placing you on the carpet, and I remember the day I fell madly in love with you.

I remember so much of our ten years together, I remember the wonderful, the scary, the awful, the trials, the horrible, and the boring every day. I remember every fever, most appointments, the things you always try (because you are good at always trying anything), and the hugs along the way. I know that we raised a ten year-old that loves and honors traditions. I know that we raised one that thinks a lot, that observes, that listens, that looks to us. I know that the bookworm lives strong in you and I know that you love music. I see how much family time means to you, and I realize how important your friends are becoming.

Ten. Double-digit girl, I have been thinking about this day for a very long time. On the day you turned five, I was taking your picture and said "look here baby girl" and you said, "mom, I'm not a baby anymore, I'm five now." So what do you think ten means? Gosh, ten means a lot of chatter, all of the feelings, filling me in on so much of your day to day, letting me see what you think is so so funny. Ten means I keep listening, because you love telling me things and I have to keep that going. Ten still means snuggles and whispering, "I love you mom". Ten still means holding hands a lot and kissing noses and telling each other we carry our hearts with us so we're never alone. Ten means you asking me questions about work, and why so many hours and tell me more about how it's going to slow down soon, ten means you ask how our days were and you laugh with your whole body.

Double-digit girl, I have spent the past ten years learning how to mother. You have given me a gift sweet girl. The gift of all of my firsts, because all of your firsts are my firsts. You have handed me this gift of learning and growing with you. And holy hell have I learned. I have learned that losing patience makes you more mad than calm. I have learned that you can scream just as loud as I can so why bother. I have learned that you have moments of anger, frustration and boredom that makes you make poor decisions. But I have also learned that you beam when we are proud. I have learned that kindness goes a long way with you. I have learned that you adore time, time with us, time one-to-one, time. I have learned that you are easy, you bend, you are flexible, you keep going with us. I have learned that you just do, you navigate, you pivot well. I have learned that you try, oh sweet girl do you always always try. No matter what, you give it a try and see how it goes and that makes you fearless and limitless. You do it with such confidence, you are my hero.

Double-digit girl, I have a lot more to learn, you have a lot more to do. I promise to hold on as you take me through this ride and the next ten years will be drastically different than the firs ten. Double-digit girl, I have spent along time thinking about this day.

Happy birthday sweet Anna James.

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.

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