15
Oct

Without the loud, there would be no laughter

I sometimes sit and wonder how I got here.
A woman who was terrified to take on parenthood, marriage, being responsible for raising little faces.
Being responsible for their responsibility in this world, in our community.
And of course I know how.
I met a boy who called me out of my fear and allowed me to feel safe enough to fail,
to cry,
to worry,
to laugh,
to let go,
to hold on,
to not be able to move on.

And there are more moments of hard than there are of easy.
That's the truth.
The truth is that parenting is so hard.
So difficult
So exhausting,
so altering,
so life changing,
so so difficult.
On you,
and your marriage,
and your sanity,
and your body,
and your house,
and your pets,
and your love,
and your patience.

Without the loud, there would be no laughter...

So yes, there are times I want out.
There are times we all want out.
There are times I think how can I dislike someone I love this much.
How is it possible to be this angry at something so small
or someone I have felt like I have always known?
There are times when the loud hurts.
It physically hurts my body
my head
it hurts my hair even.
As you get older, it gets louder.

Without the loud, there would be no laughter...

Parenting, it is heavy.
You are holding people up.
You physically and emotionally carry them.

This week, a member of my framily wrote to remind me that pain and tragedy and heartache happen all day everyday and we are just a victim to it.
They happen out of our control and all around us.
But joy, that can't be an accident that we wait for.
Joy has to be created and on purpose.
Joy has to be brought out.
You have to be reminded of joy and when you are not, you have to be the joy.

Without the loud, there would be no laughter...

I have to be reminded that joy is in the loud.
That without the loud, I wouldn't hear your gut laugh.
Without the loud, I wouldn't hear your childhood.
Without the loud, I wouldn't be surrounded by your joy.
Because joy for you is loud.

Joy for you is running and chasing and being chased.
Joy for you is shrills and screams and tickling fights.
Joy for you is loud.

I fiercely protect childhood
I protect yours
I protect mine
I protect those I serve
I protect childhood at every turn.
And with that, I have to let your childhood unfold
and let the loud in.

Without the loud, there would be no laughter...

8
Oct

Beauty

Dear Anna:

Growing up, I never thought I had an ounce of beauty.
I always judged myself,
my decisions
my looks
my walk
my words
my mind
hard.
I starting running at the age of 8, not because I loved to run,
but because I wanted to lose weight.
I never accepted a compliment.
I always put myself down.
And then, I met you.

There was a day when you and I finally connected and we became mother and daughter.
I remember it so clearly, you were fresh out of a bath, it was just you and I home.
I decided to snap a few pictures of you and put you down on a couch and pulled out an actual camera.
I started saying your name, trying to grab your attention and you recognized my voice.
You melted when you heard it and you looked at me, with such warmth, such love, such beauty.
You looked at me like a daughter should look at her mother, telling me, we've got this mom, you and me, we're in this together.
I felt beautiful because I was loved by you.
I felt beautiful because I was in love with you.

Dear Cole:
I was never a lover of love.
I didn't trust enough.
I didn't think people really cared because there was a lot of letting me down.
I didn't think that love could be so raw, so emotional so naked.
Until I met you.

The moment I held you, you were mine.
There is no way to explain it other than using the cliche of they slipped you into my arms and heart.
You are my one and only love at first sight.
You were full of so much new and wonder and wonderful.
You would look around the room and take it all in because every part was amazing to you.
Including me.
The moment our eyes met, they locked.
You looked at me with instant recognition and you looked at me like you knew we will have each other to count on.
You looked at me like you needed me because you did, but I needed you too.
You looked at me the way a son should look at his mother, telling me, we've got this mom, you and me, we're in this together.
I felt beautiful because I was loved by you.
I felt beautiful because I was in love with you.

My body looks, feels, and acts differently.
I am a shell of who I once was.
Because once upon a time, I was younger and young.
I was new too even though I always felt old.
I was smooth and I didn't have wrinkles and stuff didn't droop.
I was in charge and I was empty.
But I didn't like that girl that much.
I didn't appreciate her, I didn't know she was strong.
And instead, I focused on her anger.
I focused on all that was wrong, all I would change, all I wanted to change.
Until I met you coach.
And you told me she was good, she was worth it, she was able to be happy, it was ok if she was happy.

Now, this woman, I can appreciate.
I appreciate her for carrying two hearts, twice.
I appreciate her for pacing with sick babies.
I appreciate her for giving all of her and then coming back around to self-care.
I appreciate her for finding the room to breathe.
I appreciate her for taking time for her, finding her again in the fog of mothering.
I appreciate her legs for being able to run.
I appreciate her heart for being able to love.
I appreciate her soul for shining light outward.
I appreciate her stomach for stretching and molding.
I appreciate her arms for holding everyone up.
I appreciate her words for she picks them carefully.
I appreciate her beauty because she finally found it.
In the mix of all this confusion and chaos and fog and tired, she was able to find glory and grace.

24
Sep

Blankets

...being a parent feels like you are a small blanket, you just can't cover it all.

Blankets are my security.
They are my go-to for snuggles and comfort and warmth and feeling secure.
Bad day? I wrap a blanket around myself and settle in.
Having a crisis? The warmth of a blanket can make it all feel ok.
Bad breakup? The comfort of a blanket feels like loving arms.
Feeling sick? Blankets make you feel instantly warmer, getting better.
I have blankets all over my house.
Extra ones hiding in all sorts of places.
At night, I need to feel the weight of a blanket on me, keeping me tucked in.
Blankets have always been important to me.
They are significant, they have meaning in my world.

...being a parent feels like you are a small blanket, you just can't cover it all.

When I went away to college, my experience wasn't "normal".
I left home and went to college.
I left behind a family
a house
a familiar surrounding
a situation
and a life.
A life I knew, even if I wasn't in love with it, even if it wasn't the one I wanted, it was all that I knew.
And I landed in a college that felt like a warm blanket around me.
It's how I always describe my college, my experience there.
I felt taken care of and comforted, it felt familiar, homey.
And for a girl that was stepping into fear, she needed this comfort.
And for a woman that would continue to walk through fear, I continue to use blankets for protection.

...being a parent feels like you are a small blanket, you just can't cover it all.

When I met my person, it was so easy between us.
I instantly felt safe, I felt his joy, and that too covered me in warmth and comfort.
He felt like the most amazing blanket, keeping me protected from the darkness.
He was my light, my warmth, my security.
And I knew, right away, he was it.
He always kept me warm, always kept safe, always kept me feeling perfectly covered.
He was my blanket.

Because wrapped up in a blanket, I feel loved, I feel calm, I feel good about my life.
I feel taken care of, I feel nurtured.
I feel like I can concentrate on the moment.
I am here, not rushing off to a million places, I am here.

And then last week a friend told me about a book he was reading and how a quote hit him hard...
...being a parent feels like you are a small blanket, you just can't cover it all.

Because now, I am that blanket for others.
I am the one who is covering you up in love, in security, in safe.
But, no parent can cover it all.
Even though I work so hard on intentionality with my kids.
Especially since they have hit school years and I feel like important memories and words are sticking, it's more and more important that I am not reacting to them.
That I am not white on rice with them.
That I am listening more than speaking.
That I am answering questions honestly.
That I am there, really present with them.

...being a parent feels like you are a small blanket, you just can't cover it all.

But, days get long.
Patience runs out.
It feels like nothing is getting done
and you just can't cover it all.

You can't be everywhere.
You can't be everything.
You can't do everything.
You can't always be kind.
You can't always speak with intention.
The blanket is too small and something, someone, is being left out in the cold.

But, not to them.
They don't think that I am stretched too thin.
Because even if I'm too small for me, I am still the biggest most comforting blanket for you.
I am who you want when you are cold
sad
lonely
bored
scarred
worried
sick.
I am your warmth and comfort and protection from the cold.

No matter how small I feel, you see me as able, enough.
You see me as heavy and sturdy and strong enough to continue to stretch from corner to corner.
You never feel I am not covering every corner.
I am the one now wrapping you in comfort.
I have become a blanket for your life.

And just like dad is for me, I always will be the warmth and comfort you need.

17
Sep

You're the best thing I did

From the outside looking in, or even from the inside looking right at us, it seems as though there are times I question my decision.
I know I get stressed too easily.
I know I am distracted and my lists take over.
I know that I'm not the parent that plays, I don't have an imagination to tap into.
But you, both of you, you were wanted.
You were planned for and desired and needed.
You are the best decision we made, I made.
And you're the best thing I did.

I question most of what I do.
Most of my decisions I play back and forth in my mind.
Most of my final decisions I worry about.
And I worry about you both too, of course I do.
I worry I am making the right decisions for you.
I worry that I am crushing happy.
I worry about your happiness.
But, I don't question for even one second that this is what I am supposed to be doing.
I question my parenting, yes.
I don't question my decision to have you both.
Because you're the best thing I did.

I realize there are days when you question my loyalty.
You question if I am on your side.
There are so many moments of exhaustion and deflated emotions from both of us, ones I am so not proud of.
but you, you are what I am most proud of.
You are my pride you are the best people that I know.
And even when you think I am not being fair, when you don't quite understand the why,
I promise my only intention is to keep you being you.
My only thought is building you, supporting you.
But to support something, someone else, it's a heavy load to carry.
But none of that matters, because you're here.
And not only did we decide to burst open our heart to have you here but, you're the best thing I did.

It won't always be this way.
We won't always be together like this.
Success is measured by you being on your own.
I promise I know that and I know that one day all too soon, you do just you.
And then I go back to me, us, without you.
It's hard to imagine for all of us right now.
It's hard to picture this time, but it's coming.
I don't know how I will be, I don't know how to explain how it will feel.
I can remember life without you, I peak inside that different world from time to time.
I miss that world too so the thought of going back to it has perks.
Because there was a time when a boy and a girl met and life was too easy.
And I don't know if we can ever get back there or if creating this experience means nothing will ever be the same.
But, how to stop being around you like this, I don't know how yet.
They say we will grow into it together and I have to trust that.
I have to trust that I will feel good about no longer seeing the day in and out of the best thing I did.

So on the days that the lists don't get completed.
On the days the laundry piles up for both of us.
On the days that the house projects have to take a back seat.
On the days that a deadline has to be rearranged.
On the days that we bail on life and spend it together
know that this overworked, overstressed and tired mother is spending time doing what she loves the most.
Being embraced by love from the very best thing she did.

10
Sep

These two

There are relationships that stop you in your tracks.
They make you stop breathing for a moment.
They reawaken something in you.
But they also level you, they make you worry, they cause you heartbreak.
They define love.
Like these two...

There are relationships that make you realize this is how it should always be.
They make you cry by looking at them.
They make you swoon.
They make you focus on what is important because they make you focus on only what is important.
They are filled with heroes and feeling secure.
They make you strong by taking away all of your powers.
They bring light back into dark days.
Like these two...

There are relationships that start of easy, comfortable.
They are how you would define family.
They are filled with joy and ease and comfort.
They are cozy and joyous.
They grow, they change, they face challenges, they suffer, they struggle, they evolve, they find each other again.
Like these two...

There are relationships that start off new.
They are so new you don't know what to do.
They are so fresh, they have so many possibilities.
They are filled with "I wonders".
They are loaded with questions.
They start you on a journey, one you will never be ready for.
Like these two...

And they evolve and change too.
They become roller coasters.
They are scary at times, they are comfort most times, they are wonderful.
They become song and dances, there is a familiar rhythm to their flow.
They are real.
Like these two...

And then there are ones that explode.
They have so many emotions you cannot contain them.
They are tantrums and gushes.
They are sweet and gentle, they are chaos, they are crazed.
They are erupting with feelings.
They burst you open.
Like these two...

There are relationships you wait for.
Ones you never realized you needed.
They are the ones that know all of you, your whole story.
They are the ones you will fall back on
they are the relationships you count on.
Like these two

There are relationships that are filled with history.
They have traditions and important meaning.
They are what you call home, what you look forward to.
All relationships serve a purpose.
All come with meaning.
All walk on your heart, all leave their mark.
Some are deep and leave scars.
Like us...

4
Sep

All you want...

...is us.

Play with me.
Color with me.
Read to me.
I want to go with you.
Snuggle me.
Stay with me.
Can you just be here?
Can we have a date?
Can I go running with you?

All you want...is us.

This summer, we took a once in a lifetime family vacation.
Your favorite parts: being in the pool as a family.
Sleeping in the hotel, because you each got to sleep with us.
Just time with us is all you need to fill your bucket.
You would whisper things to me like
"I love talking to you and I promise I always will"
"I love you mommy, I love being with you"
"this is the best vacation ever, we're all together!"

Since we have been home, all you want, is us.
Playing with us.
Snuggles with us.
Board games with us.
Reading dates.
All you want...is us.
Time with us
all of us with you all of you.
Us.
Just us.

Our trips to the Cape, you love the togetherness of it all.
You love how crammed and cramped we all are, because we are all together.
You love sharing the space.
You love how cozy it is.
You love how you all pile up on a coach.
You love being, with us.
All you want, is us.

And yes, there are moments when the attention and time are almost too much.
I get tired
days are long
but this needed time
this need for just me
take me as I am me
it's incredible.
It's what I will miss the most of this small window we all have.
That out of anyone out there, you have always accepted me.
As I am
crazy and all
tired
never put together
forever wanting pjs
forever wanting cozy
the woman that doesn't know how to dress
the woman that doesn't do her hair
the one that doesn't know how to apply makeup
the one that needs peace and calm
the one that finds that calm in routine and clean
stressed and crazed
hurried and impatient
me.

You love the real me
you see me as I see the real you.
You look beyond all of the flaws and you find the me you love.
And you don't really want anything from me,
you just want me.
Not distracted
not angry
not always tired
but happy to be with you too
me.

You slow me down.
You make me realize what is important.
Because how do I say no to being with you?
How do I look at a little face and say no, I can't help you.
No, I can't be with you.
No, what I am doing is more important, than you.
You are my reminder that time is fleeting.
You are my reminder that time is precious.
You are my reminder that all we will ever need, is us.

21
Aug

I promise.

In less than three weeks, you start on this great big adventure,
and I get to watch and cheer from my sidelines.
And so sweet boy...

I promise to take my proper place
I promise to cry in private
I promise to beam and take pictures and have a smile as big as yours in each and every one
I promise to make it all about you and not at all about me
I promise I am really proud, I swear I am not faking it at all
I promise I am in love with how ready you are
I promise I am just as excited for you
I promise to love your teacher as much as you do and I promise that too is not fake
I promise to watch you climb that bus
I promise to hold it all together until you pull away
I promise to count the minutes
I promise you will be great
I promise you are so ready
I promise to be on your side
I promise you will make all of the friends
I promise you will laugh and smile so much
I promise this is your time
I promise to be ready because you are ready
I promise to follow your lead

I have watched and cared for and carried you, sweet boy.
I have loved every second of our time together, five amazing years.
I have loved how we found a quiet moment of us, especially because you're my number two.
I thank you for your flexibility
and your patience
and your ability to quietly play.
I thank you for always being so creative
and for your excitement to just be with your toys, in your own world.
I will miss you
I will miss our time
I will miss these days
the ones you gave me.

See, I am not ready, not really, but you are and therefore I promise to be too.
Your dad is all a flutter, like always, just happy for you.
Your sister, she is excited to take good care of you on that bus and to be the leader she is.
She already has it all planned, how she will sit with you, how she will walk in with you.
I know how ready you are.
I know how much this makes you beam with excitement.
I know you want to meet all of the kids and your teacher
I promise to follow your lead and have you feel only the light of love from me.

But, in this safe place I hold,
the one I want you to read one day,
know that your mom had to be brave.
She was so sad to let you go even more than she has.
She is in love with your face and wanted more time.
She just wants more time with her little ones.
Because this is only the beginning.
This is only the start
and for her, it feels like the end of a very special moment of parenting.
And endings are always so tough for her.
So, she was brave lovey
and you were strong for her.
She wanted to cry and hold you and tell you it's not time
instead, she remembered her promise, the one she has to make over and over and over again
and she let go.

I promise I will always love you, even from the sidelines.

Now, you go do you because you're the best you I know.

30
Jul

When you're not looking

It is when we are paying the most attention.
We sneak into rooms to see you play.
We creep up to watch you interact with friends, each other, watch your imagination.
We quietly enter classrooms and get a glimpse of you in your world.
We sneak into your room to watch you sleep.
When you're not looking, we have so much attention on you.

And this is one of the many secrets that parents keep.
It is that we spend so much time just gazing at you.
From the moment you were born, we could not keep our eyes off of you.
So many months of holding you and looking at you with wonder.
So many months of chest to chest contact, that closeness that is so new, so amazing.
Watching you in the tub as the relaxation spread through your body.
Watch you as you fed
and mostly as you slept.
How I still brush your hair away
how I still snuggle in and breathe your air
how I still whisper to you and how you now whisper back.
You won't remember the first few years that changed us forever
they are all my memories that I get to share with you.
And even now, you have no idea how much time I spend in awe of you, just watching.
How I can't look away because when you're not looking is when you are being you.
Not for attention
not for admiration
you are being you.

There are so many moments that the sight of you takes my breath away.
Because overnight you grew.
Because I still think of you as babies
because I remember all too well the feeling of you resting in my belly
because that first year of wondrous you was yesterday not years and years ago.
because the day you were born was another way that my heart walked around outside of my body
and now, when you're not looking, I can't turn away.
That's my heart and I can't look away.

So, when you're not looking is when I am.
When you are deep in a moment, caught up in you, that's when I get a glance into your life as you define it.
We love these moments, this precious door you open, when you're not looking.

12
Jun

Graduation for him

Next week
you are all done.
Next week, you will no longer be in preschool.
Next week, you will graduate.

Here is the most remarkable part of this whole thing monkey...
you and school really hit it off.
You are the perfect mix.
Watching you develop into this kid...
the listener
the curious one
the one that raises his hand
the one that shows respect and as always love
love
and so much love
well, it has made me fall in love with you
all over again.

I honestly thought school would be your challenge.
The sitting
the listening
the slow beat of it
the sharing
the taking turns
but you found your rhythm
you found your speed.
And each and every time I saw you there
you were the best version of you there is.
You were kind
you were gentle
you were caring
you were loving
you were respectful
you were joy
you were always trying
you were learning
you were always curious
you were happy
you were a good friend
you were amazing.
And I watched this amazing little boy
I watched him beam
I watched him just do
I watched him in his routine
I watched him.

Next week is your last day of school there.
And no other child of mine will be going to that preschool.
I will never ride in the car and hear, that's my school! when I pass that adorable little building.
The teacher,
the one I fell in love with,
the one who has patience and grace and care and is smart and overwhelmingly loving, I will never see her now.
I have already cried hugging her goodbye.
I have already thanked her for being the greatest person to them.
I have already reminded her she is the reason I came back to the school, because I couldn't wait for my son to be taught by her.
And she lived up to all of my memories of her.
She was even more amazing than I remembered
and she too fell in love with a little boy that became five before my eyes.

So I went back and read the story of Anna's graduation.
Reading back on the words, seeing the pictures, well the heaviness of your graduation hit hard.
And the tears came.
Because, this, once again, if my last.
And you know how mom deals with milestones and change.

Monkey, I am so proud of you.
I am so overwhelmed by your love and good heart.
You are the best Cole I know, so always always always be you.

Put on that little cap.
Sit up on that stage.
Sing your songs, the ones you have been practicing.
Sing the songs for dad too, the ones you are keeping a surprise.
We think you're the greatest and Kindergarten is so lucky to have you!
Go get them monkey!

28
May

#ThisIsFive!

You came into this world ready to make your mark.
Ready to show every single person, you are not your sister.
You are different in every way.
And I adore every last difference.
Every single one.
Because the second kid fights to make themselves stand out, and I get that.

Sweets, from the day you were born, you fought for you.
You will never need a rescue, even though you want to be, you never need to be.
But your want, your desire for help, I think that's just about spending time together.
And you love to be with people,
you love love love to be with us.

Because you my sweet boy, and this is my favorite part of all of you, you love love.
You love it.
You love hugs
and smooches
and more hugs
and I love yous
and I love you mores
and touching
and hand holding
and hand kissing
and little guy smooches
and closeness
and snuggles.
You love love.
You have made me fall in love with love, all over again.
And your love of love is getting stronger and stronger as you grow and I will cherish and protect it always.

You are joy
even in the raw emotional tantrums
even in the cries and screams
you are joy.
You are a reason to be lighter
happier
your smile is a reason to smile.
You are laughter
and fun
and more laughter
and adventures.
You define joy.

You are childhood.
You, you are childhood.
With its excitement
and its newness
and its raw
and all of the feelings every single day
and every emotion felt from the top of your head down to your toes...
you are the childhood I always imagined.
And I will protect this too.

You are big.
Big emotions
big appetite
big feelings
big tears
big tantrums
big cries
big screams
big talking
You can't be contained in little because you are always ready for more big.

You are always and forever all in.
With food
with fun
with games
with sports
with laughter
with shouts
with tantrums
with happy
with hugs
with kisses
you never sit one out.
Your whole body is in, no matter what we do.
You do not hesitate, you are the definition of all in.

And now, you are five.
Five.
You are ready for kindergarten
you are ready for bikes without training wheels
you are ready for responsibilities
you are ready for teams
you are ready to be five.
Five.
You are five.

See, I didn't realize that love at first sight existed.
I didn't realize that childhood could be so carefree.
I didn't realize that our family needed another piece of its puzzle.
I didn't realize we were incomplete.
I didn't realize there could be this much joy in one little person.
I didn't realize such a little body could hold so much of everything.
I didn't realize you turning five would be this meaningful to me.

But here we are.
Because I didn't blink and you turned five.
I knew that my baby, the one I rocked, the one I got up with, the one I started an amazing journey with...
would be my last firsts.
And so, I took you in.

Like how I watch you sleep.
I know you know this but recently, I haven't been able to pull myself away from you.
I haven't been able to stop brushing your hair and touching your face.
I haven't been able to stop smooching the tip of your nose.
I take and continue to take you all in.
And lately, I haven't been able to get enough of you.
Because as ready as you are, I am always one step behind but that means I am also your back.
You although you never need a push, who couldn't use a backup?

Happy fifth birthday monkey man.
I eat you up I love you so...
mommy's sweet and low.

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