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.

29
Sep

Five Minute Friday - depend

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 depend.
Go.

You depending on me is part of the job.
It's in the definition of parenting.
I am your rock and your constant everything.
I am the one you trust, I hold all of you with me.
I carry all of you with me, everywhere I go.
I am the strong one you can count on, you can depend on me.

And although that is true,
I don't feel strong most of the time.
I don't feel like I confidently have a handle on this, on us.
I don't feel like anyone should have to depend on me because I don't have the answers, I don't have it together.
Each day I feel less and less able to be your constant everything because the new challenges have nothing to do with nap schedules and feeding times and everything to do with raising humans.

Raising humans, I am responsible for raising humans.
What in the world made me think I could do that well?
Looking back, it was my person.
Telling me that love always fixes the broken.
That we were love and therefore needed to put love out there.
And so we did.

And now, you depend on me because I did this with purpose and on purpose.
I created two people who I wanted and wished for.
And now, I am the constant in their world.
I am the one you depend on.

And truth be told, in every other aspect of my world, I am dependable.
I am responsible.
I am the one most people can rely on
turn to
come to
ask of.
So why is this so different?
And why is it so much harder?
Being the constant is my jam.

It's because there is so much more riding on this relationship.
There are so many difficult twists and turns.
There are so many challenges that I should know what to do as they are presented.
I am the dependable one.
I am the grownup and even more, I am mom.

Moms know things
moms always have the right way, the right response, the right comfort built in.
My friends tell me that even as adults, it is their mom they turn to for help and guidance and what do I do now?
That's me now,
I am the dependable one.

Even when I feel out of sorts, I am the dependable one.
Because all you really need, back then, now and tomorrow is me.
Just being there, for you.

Stop.

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.

22
Sep

Five Minute Friday - accept

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 accept.
Go.

My daughter and I are reading a new book together, Wonder.
It's been all over every bookstore and elementary school but it's about a strong and dedicated family who has two children, one was born with many obstacles.
August was born with genes and gene mutations that caused his face to look deformed.
He has undergone so many surgeries, so many life-saving procedures and was for a very long time just living in a hospital.
He has been homeschooled for most of his life and in middle school, his family decided that it was time they stop.
Stop treating him as delicate.
Stop treating him differently.
Stop treating him as breakable.
And start him on the path to normal.

He has an older sister, she is in high school and she too has grown up quick.
Not because the home isn't loving and supportive and full of grace
but because so much attention has been focused on sick.

It's a story of acceptance.

As I read to my eight-year-old, there so many questions and topics we have to cover.
That's the point of the book.
She's 8 so she doesn't yet comprehend that not everyone is a friend.
She doesn't realize that friendly doesn't equal friend.
She doesn't know that you create a circle and who you choose to spend time with.
She doesn't know that circle is a reflection of who you are.
She doesn't know about mean.
She doesn't know about looks and how important they are because she's right, they're not.
She doesn't know about clicks and hurt.
She doesn't know about singling out, talking behind backs, making people feel bad...on purpose.
She doesn't know that accepting yourself will one day be hard.
She doesn't know that there will be a time she will question everything good about her.
She doesn't know that there will be a time she will have to decide if she is accepting of this behavior, this outcome, this person.
She doesn't know.

And as we dive deeper and deeper, there are moments I feel I am taking away her innocence.
I am taking away some sweet parts of the world this child holds.
The parts she sees through the eyes of a child.
Because even though she has an old soul, she doesn't believe in darkness.
Not yet.

And so, sweet Anna...
it starts with accepting who you are.
Your good, your bad, your limitations, your point of no return, yourself.

It then means bringing people into your fold that accept you, all of you, as you are.
They laugh at your crazy with you.
They help you to see the humor in life.
They too accept your good, your bad, your limitations, your point of no return, they accept you.

That also means you accept them.
You surround yourself with people that talk about ideas, not people.
You hold each other to standards of kindness and affection.
You realize that none of this matters.
That beauty has nothing to do with how you look.

But the start of all of this, is you.
I have always surrounded myself with those that accept me.
Not because I am enlightened, because as an introvert, big and popular are never important.
Small circles of connection matter most.
I have always accepted them, because I have loved them and what they have meant to me down to my toes.
But, it took me over 30 years to accept me.
It took looking into the eyes of a daughter I put here and saying
acceptance starts with me.

Stop.

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.

15
Sep

Five Minute Friday - support

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 support.
Go.

It actually means to bear the weight of something, to hold it up and enable it to function.
That's the actual definition of the word.
And that's our role, this entire time with you.
That's why the weight of family is so heavy because we are bearing your weight, we are holding you up.
We are your support.

It starts from day one, we can feel how heavy something, someone, so small is.
We felt it when you were pressed up against us, kicking your way into the world.
We felt it when you were here, and you would lay on our chest.
We felt it when we fed you, realizing how delicate you were, but at the same time, full of force.
We felt it with each milestone you had, the ones that made you more independent but still caused us work.
We felt it when you would propel forward, and we had to follow.
We are your support, here to bear your weight and hold you up.
We are your foundation, your rock.
We are your home-base.

Which is why, we too need support, now more than ever.
Because while we hold you up, we too need others to lean on.
We need comfort and someone that enables us to function.
We need support too.
Because we feel weighted down when we don't.
We no longer feel graceful, instead, we feel the heavy pressed on our chest.
Unable to breathe, unable to think, unable to function.
We need people who love and accept and propel us too.
We need comfort and the ability to unleash our crazy and someone that gets us.

We are always and will always be there for you.
We will keep you upright, we will ground you to rise.
And we thank and love our support systems for their comfort, their calm, their ability to carry us.

Stop.

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.

1
Sep

Five Minute Friday - neighbor

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 neighbor.
Go.

How are we taking care of one another?
How are we lending a hand, an ear, a shoulder?
How are we listening?
How are we coming together?
How are we taking care of each other?
What do we do for our neighbor?

We build homes with fences to protect privacy.
We move into neighborhoods and hardly know those around us.
We build walls instead of welcoming those we live with in.
We wave across yards instead of opening doors.
We put up barricades instead of welcome signs.
How are we taking care of each other?
What do we do for our neighbor?

We look inward, careful to take care of those close to us.
We are untrusting, looking for motives.
We are ending gatherings, always too busy.
How are we taking care of each other?
What do we do for our neighbor?

We are quick to look away if it doesn't concern us.
We are quick to turn around, not look in the direction of someone in need.
We justify with statements like, that's not my concern, not my problem, not my decisions.
We forget all the help we received along the way, the priveledges we were afforded.
We forget that most parents make it because of community, and circles of trust.
How are we taking care of each other?
What do we do for our neighbor?

But the ripple effect is real.
And just as much as it can turn us in, the ripple effect can also create closeness and kindness.
Like how one person pays for another in a drive through line and the chain continues.
Like how one person helps a stranger and that love is carried on.
Like how we create love is contagious and so is community.
How are we taking care of each other?
What do we do for our neighbor?

If we want to build kindness and love and generosity in our kids, lead by example.
Let them catch you helping a stranger.
Let them see you feed someone in need.
Let them watch you talk someone up, not down.
Let them be a part of their community.
Teach them the importance of framily.
Show them love, not just for them, but for people.

It is time, we are at a pivotal point in our history and when you look back at this time of need and crisis, what will your story be?
Did you retrieve inward or did you open your heart?
Did you write a book of love or of fear and hate?
Now is our time, we are raising a generation, we are setting their path.
Remind them that it is up to all of us to take care of one another.
Be a good neighbor.

Stop.

25
Aug

Five Minute Friday - guide

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 guide.
Go.

Eyes wide open, that's how I explain to people that I went into parenting.
I did not have misconceptions about the diaper commercials and thinking it would calm and full of nothing but love.
I knew parenting would be hard.
I knew it would be messy.
I knew it would change me, I knew it would hurt me.
I knew that I wouldn't recognize myself.
I knew that it would make me lose sleep, and money and patience.
So, you would think someone that is that aware, would have a guide.
You would think she knew a thing or two about what to do, how to handle a situation, how to not buckle under pressure, how to measure up, how to stay calm during the chaos, how to not yell, how to only love, how to keep her marriage unrattled by the changes parenting brings, how to keep up with it all, how to balance it all, how to live the life I want, how to accept the challenges, how to handle the breakdowns, how to motivate, how to ask, how to raise you, how to not be upset, how to not shatter, how to build, how to guide.
You would think she would know how to guide, she would have the book in her back pocket and she would pull it out whenever needed.
Because my eyes were wide open and I didn't for one second think it would be easy, I knew better.

But someone who knows better knows there is no guide.
There is no book.
There is no one size fits all.
There is no way of knowing what is ahead, what challenges will come.
There is no way of knowing how to answer all of the questions.
There is no way of knowing what is the right way to handle every situation.
There is no way of replicating the situation.
There is no way of seeing what tomorrow brings.
Someone who knows better realizes how frustrating parenting is.
Realizes that is is all so much hard work.
Someone who knows better is not confident.
She is shaky because parenting rattles you.
She realizes there are no answers.
There is no right vs wrong.
There is no making up for time lost.
Someone who knows better knows that it's not just you that changes, everything changes.
And at times, that can feel so humbling, so out of control.
Everything is changing all of the time.
Someone who knows better knows it's not just money and sleep and patience you lose, you also lose control.
You lose yourself.
You lose who you were, your identity, how you define you
and so does your partner and so do your kids, everyone and everything is changing all of the time.
Someone who knows better knows that rough patches come and laughter and time heal.
Someone who knows better knows that all you can do is hold on
and come out the other side someone different and a bit weathered, but you are still there.
Someone who knows better knows you can't just become their mom and lose all of you.
Someone who knows better knows there is no guide.
And so she takes it day by day.

Stop.

4
Aug

Five Minute Friday - try take 2

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 try.
Go.

The last time I wrote about this word, I wrote all about our fire.
I wrote about how you need to keep going, keep trying, keep giving it your all.
This week, I want to tell you that what I love most about you Anna is that you are willing to try anything.
You always try.

Anything we throw your way, you give it your all.
You really put your best foot forward, you never say no to a new challenge or option.
Actually, it excites you.
And so when I hear you say "yes!" to something new, it warms me up because you always try.

As you get older, I don't know if this will stay with you.
I don't know when the world will grab hold of you and tell you that you aren't good enough for something.
I don't know when fear will stop you.
I don't know if those two things will ever happen
because right now, in front of me, is a girl that accepts challenges and new.
A girl that always tries.

I wasn't like that until I was much older.
When I was a kid, I always scared to try.
Until I got older and realized that I needed to try new things to open up new opportunities for me
and now? Now I try to prove to just me that I can.
Most times, I am trying too hard.
At proving myself
at my job
at my health
at my everything.
You? You try because you just always try.
There is no question, there is no fear, there is just you and your willingness
to try.

Stop.

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