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.

14
Jul

Five Minute Friday - comfort

Every Friday we unite for five minutes to write on one word. 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 comfort.
Go.

I find comfort in the closeness.
In the love and projection of family.
I find it in the small and in the simple.
I find it in the whispers of love.
And I find it in you, the ones that gave me my second chance.
I find it in our traditions, big and small.
I find it when I can clearly see family time is important to you too.
And so, I created a life that celebrates our family and underlines the importance of us.
I created comfort.

I created second chances
I created little arms around my neck
I created little hands cradled in mine
I created time
I created comfort in us.

I created traditions
and I have so many of them.
Traditions are my parenting strength.
They are so important to me, but even better, they are so important to you.
You have no idea how much you fill my soul when you say "it's Friday...it's our family movie night!"
or as I am kissing you goodnight on a Saturday and you say, "tomorrow is pancake Sunday and we have a reading date!"
The smile and excitement that comes across your face.
The actual joy and comfort it brings you.
How much you look forward to all the small ways that we make you feel that this is important to us.
I created comfort in us.

And that's why I did this.
I wanted something that tied us together, even as you grow and want more and more independence.
I wanted something that made you feel that this time together is important to all of us, because we are important to all of us.
I wanted you to feel that this loved, in the smallest of ways, because you are loved from top to bottom.
I wanted something that reminded all of us how simple parenting is, how all they need is us, the rest is extra.
How little stress there is in this time, how loving it is to just be together.
How my worries melt.
How our childhood comes out.
How close we all get.
I wanted to define family for you,
in its purest form.
I created comfort in us.

I find comfort in the simple
in the love
in the gathering
in the close
in the second chances
in the quiet
in the cozy
I find comfort in us.

Stop.

2
Jun

Five Minute Friday - future

Every Friday we unite for five minutes to write on one word. 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 future.
Go.

No one knows, right?
What tomorrow will bring,
what the future holds?
No one knows if there is a tomorrow, if they have a future.
But for some reason, we all keep making plans
even though nothing is promised
and I see that as hope unfolding each and every day.

I hope that this third date leads to a future with you.
I hope that one day you will be my forever.
I hope that we will build a future together.
I hope that this anniversary isn't our last.
I hope we spend our 40s owning our lives.
I hope we give them the best future possible.
I hope that we are setting them up for a future.
I hope that they see their future as exciting.

Hope is what keeps us making plans.
Hope is why we go to bed angry, hoping we have tomorrow to make up.
Hope is why we think it's a better time another day.
Hope is even why we put things off, I hope to get to that one day.
So hope can be beautiful and calming and peacful
because we are not saying never, we are saying in the future.

The reality is much darker
much more fearful and full of sadness
the never promised tomorrow
the not knowing what the future holds.

So, we make plans.
We make future plans.
And we build today around tomorrow.
We hope to see another day that gets us one day closer to our future.

Stop.

14
May

Simple letter of love

My Mother's Day letter of love...
take 3.

I love how independent you are becoming.
I love watching you pour your own cereal.
I love that we are still needed but just in time and love.
I love seeing you at school, so loving, so caring, so attentive.
I love hearing about your day and the crazy telephone game it becomes.
I love our summers and how many memories we make.
I love that you love our new doggy. I love that she is important to you.
I love that we healed enough to open up our homes to Pearl, I love that we still love and think of Mia.
I love that Cole still comes to plant himself in the middle of us during a hug.
I love that they both get nervous when we fight and want it to end, I love that we end it for them.
I love that small is still important in our house right now.
I love that I am really taking it all in, just how fleeting time is.
I love every single tradition, every single one.
I love that you love them too, every last one.
PJs and out of a bath are still my favorite, that smell, that clean, that cozy.
I love that you are beginning to look like me.
I love watching you be and play and childhood come alive outside.
I love that our goodnights are still magic.
I love love love to watch you both sleep.
I love to grab your hand, push away your hair.
I love the feel, the smell, how time stops as we inhale and exhale together.
I love our DEAR time. I love digging into a good book with you, warm by the fire and watching you love your book too. I love that we aren't distracted, my phone is away. This is our time, our end to the crazy of our day.
I love all of the cards, the letters the pictures.
I love getting ice cream for dinner, I love seeing you be a kid in the best way.
I love every picture we have hanging of you, of us. I love seeing and feeling that moment in time.

I love you both.

You have given me these gifts loves you have filled me so full.

Dear Anna,
This year, you started down a path of maturity.
And you are working hard on finding you.
Even in the middle of all of your friends, staying true to you.
I will continue to drive that message home because you are the best you I know and I cannot have you change.
Not for silly
not for them
not for any one person.
Grow, develop, have fun, laugh out loud, all of it, but always and forever be you, you are the best you I know.
This is your gift to the world sweets, your kind loving heart.
And I need it to shine so everyone can see it, to shine across your face to see the love and light you hold.

This year, you gave me the gift of one on one talks.
You are opening up to me more and we even started a journal together.
This year, your gift has been the gift of getting to know you as you are getting to know yourself.
And I love our time.

Dear Cole,
This year, you started down a path of amazing.
You hit four and it all fell into place.
Your crying, your screaming, your tantrums all gave way and in their place became my little man.
The one I knew was in there.
The happy little boy.
The gentle soul.
The calm, the storm, the loud, the crazy, the happy wonderful you.

This year, your gave me the gift of you.
Wonderful, amazing loving you.
This year, you reminded me how important it is to love love.
How important it is to be a good and wonderful friend.
How important it is to go on a goodbye tour when you leave friends and leave them feeling wonderful.
This year, you gifted me your heart.

Thank you both for all 365 days of the past year.
The wonderful, the awful, the beautiful and the ugly.
Thank you for your patience as I cried and cried over Mia.
Thank you for your hugs of understanding.
Thank you for do overs and starting again.
Thank you for words instead of tears.
Thank you for still holding my hand.
Thank you for still kissing noses.
Thank you for allowing me to carry your heart and eat you up.

Thank you for the best parts of you, thank you for finding me to mother you.
You have given me a life I never knew I always needed and wanted.
You have given me a title I will hold close and protect.
You have given me my smile.
You have given me family.

And as always...
to the little girl that made me believe in happily ever after
and the little boy that was my one and only love at first sight
I love and adore you
.

12
May

Five Minute Friday - mom

Every Friday we unite for five minutes to write on one word. 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 mom.
Go.

Each year, I write a letter.
A thank you.
A mother's day love.
Because I don't need ribbons and bows.
I don't need breakfast in bed and cards.
I need you to know that I already got a gift, the day I met you.

But last year, it occurred to me how all in you are.
How much this day means to you
and how hurtful it was that I was shutting it down.
And so, this year, I too am all in.
I will wait in bed for you to come get me.
I will hear you and dad making something special for me downstairs.
I will be all in with you.

And just the other day you were beaming with excitement...
I just can't wait until Mother's Day this year!
And when I asked why the answer was so simple, so kind...
because I want to celebrate you mom.

I am all in with you.
Because how do you ever say no to that?

This seasoned mother who is velveteen real still feels brand new to it all.
And it is because each day, something changes.
You change, you are always and forever changing and nothing is ever the same.
And so I have to change with you.

Moms are full of love
grace
humor
patience.

Moms are full of strength and power.
They are strong and determined.
They are tired and full of energy to keep going
for you.

You are here because I asked you to be.
I hoped you would be, I tried for you.
And each day, I continue to try because now I am here for you.
Moms are here for you.

Stop.

8
May

Too much like me

It's late and the exhaustion is strong.
We are both at the end, of our day, of our patience, of our tempers.
And the quick transition from happy day to stubborn tears starts.
And just like me, you're not giving up, you're digging in.
But also like me, you're not willing to give up on who we actually are.
And just like me, you want a do over.

The older you get, the more and more I see me.
The more and more I see the person that won't be walked on.
The more and more I see the person that won't let someone else tell her story.
The more and more I see the person that stands up for herself, but only to her parents.
The more and more I see the person that is timid around others, unsure if this is something she has to take a stand on.
The more and more I see the person that is afraid to speak up, but has it in her.
The more ad more I see the person that will do almost anything for friendship.
The more and more I see me.

I see me when you are wrapped in a cozy sweatshirt, because I am always wrapped in warmth.
I see me when you are mad and all you can do in that anger is cry.
I see me when you are so happy that it shines from your face.
I see me when you look to me for approval, because I always wanted it too.
I see me when you are filled with pride, because I always wanted it too.

I see me when all you want is a hug, because you want to melt into someone.
I see me in your smile, because you always had my mouth.
I see me when you are thinking, processing.
I see me when you are old, because we were both born old.
I see me when you are trying, because we always try.
And I see me when you are tired and everything is therefore wrong.
I see me when you put on your fighting gloves, because I own a pair too.
I see me when you are making things too hard, because that is what I do best.
I see me when you ask to go for that run, because I always push too.
I see me when you want to work hard, because that is my go to.
I see me when you laugh, because I at one time found it so easy to laugh.

But, I see you too.
The parts of you that are always and forever yours.
I see you when you are social, because I never was.
I see you when you are brave, because I never was.
I see you when you are walking into an event all by yourself, ready to see what friends you are going to make.
I see you when you find it so easy to make a friend.
I see you when you see only the good in people, and don't even recognize anything else.
I see you when you so easily find joy, because I am still on the hunt.
And I see your dad in all of that too.
Each reason listed being what made me fall head over heels in love with a person filled with that much joy.
And the reason I fall harder and harder for you, because I see so much of us wrapped in this little body of you.

For a little while, I would think to myself, you are too much like me, and that will mean butting heads.
And running into who is more right.
And stubborn everything.
And anxious hearts.
And worry.
Yeah, I see all of that in you...and it makes me a better me.
It makes me want to develop into a better me,
because that's what good people in your life do, they make you a better version of you.
And you are one of the best people I know so of course this would be what you did, for me.

Take it all in sweet face.
Take in what I do well, what I need work on, what I am trying hard to change.
Take in what works for you
what you wish you didn't pick up
what you know you can't live without
and develop into the best version of you
even if it means looking somewhat like me.

5
May

Five Minute Friday - should

Every Friday we unite for five minutes to write on one word. 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 should.
Go.

I, like too many of us, am filled with "should".
I should be in a different place in my career by now.
I should have a little more of me figured out.
Parenting, this seasoned and yet all too new mother should know what she is doing.
I should have a grasp on joy, my joy...I should be providing more joy.
I should be more organized, I should be less stressed.
I should have found a much better balance.
I should eat this, I shouldn't eat that.
I should look, feel, react a certain way.
I should be doing more yoga, I should do this race and this one.
Our puppy should be potty trained.
Our kids should be better mannered.
I should yell less.
I should listen more.
I should be sleeping way more hours.
I should be putting on my oxygen mask first.
I should start that class.
I should go get that massage.
I should be making more time for everything.
I should be managing this all better.

Our lives, full of shoulds.

What happens when you put the shoulds and have tos away?
Glorious, gorgeous life...

I have come to some sort of peace that who I am, at my core, is someone that does find comfort and actual peace in the organized and the checked off list.
At my core, I am the list maker and the one that remembers all of the have tos.
And all of that is ok, it's who I am, it's what makes me tick, it's what makes our lives hum.

But, when I sit in only shoulds and have tos, I lose my hum.
I become overworked
over committed
overwhelmed
because it all spills over.

And this type A, crazed woman needs a reminder that pausing, breathing, and slowing way down is magic.
It's joy and chaos and laughter and happy lovable kids.
It's smiles and safety and childhood.
It's love.

This mother needs a reminder that when you throw the shoulds away, even for a brief moment,
the world still goes on.
Nothing shatters
everything is still ok
and almost always, better than ok...

Stop.

19
Mar

Our journey continues

It's true, I do remember everything. I am the crazy one that remembers not only my entire childhood, but my sister's. I remember our entire relationship Cory. I remember every smile, every fight, every emotion, I remember where we were standing, what we were wearing, how we looked, if we were angry or sad or happy or excited. I remember it all.

And although this drives your father crazy mad because I remember every conversation, every argument, every moment and that leads to a lot of "no, I'm right and you're wrong" kind of conversations, with this crazy comes something beautiful. I also remember everything about your stories. I remember everything, about both of you. Every moment, every milestone, every memory. I remember how you looked, how it felt, how your dad looked. Our stories are linked, you came from us so you are a part of us.

I remember every single day of our nine months together, with both of you.
Most importantly, I remember how much I loved being pregnant with you both and how I didn't want to let you go and share either of you with the world.

Anna, it took you 24 very long and painful hours to enter this world, and I remember every minute of it.
Your first babble was Dada.
It would take you a year and a half before you said mama, you liked to torture me.
Your first word was woof woof (for Mia).
You hold a special place in my heart because you are my first.
Your fine motor skills were really advanced and so you took your sweet time with gross motor.
Your first crawl came at 11 months, it was March 2010 and just you and I were home. I remember it so clearly.
You first walked at 15 months and it was THE day I was calling early intervention.
You first smiled on my first mother's day, that was special.
You slept through the night (7-8 hours) 3-4 weeks in. You loved to sleep and by the time you were six weeks old, you were sleeping 12 hours a night.
Lovey was the first present we gave you in the hospital, you still love her to this day.
Your first day of preschool was 9.11.12 and you looked so big. I let go of your hand that day and realized I was now in for a lifetime of letting you go, over and over again.

Cole, your birth-day was scheduled for Wednesday May 30th.
Your birth took 15 minutes and I remember seeing your amazing face and I couldn't keep my eyes off of you. All of our pictures, I am staring at you only, you were glorious.
I was having contractions for months with you and our last week together was painful. You wanted out and I fought to keep you in.
You hold a special place in my heart because you completed us, even though we didn't know we weren't whole.
Lovey was your first present we gave you in the hospital and you reach for her at night.
Your first babble was Mama (and I have loved you so much for this!)
Your first words were "hi there".
You learned language very quickly.
You slept through the night at 8 weeks...12 hours straight. Before then, you were starving and we had no idea.
Your first day of school, you were magic...

You first smiled at my office and I couldn't wait to get it on film.
You struggled with gross motor skills and you worried us a lot.
You had to be rushed to Albany Med in an ambulance and it is a night I will never forget.
You didn't walk until you were 17 months old, but you were actually giddy when you got it.
You love your big sister.
You love getting hugs.
You, my sweet boy, you love love.

I remember it all sweets, all of us, here.
I remember the walk into the house from the hospital.
I remember introducing you both to Mia.
I remember you chasing after her.
I remember the look on both of your faces when we had to say goodbye.
I remember us, I remember our journey.
And as our journey continues, I am forever your home base.


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