To be happy and great

As I raise two tiny humans and let them go into this world.
As I prepare you for school and friendships and relationships.
As I think about the day that you leave for college and all the worry I will have wondering how it is all going.
As I let go, I want you to know some things...
Not just tomorrow, not just when you are big, but starting right now.

Any story you feel is not a part of your book, is not your ending,
you change course, you write another page, and you get back to your story.
The one you are meant to write, the one you have control over.

Any situation you feel isn't right, doesn't fit into who you are and what you know to be good,
you use your voice to say no
use it to speak up for yourself and others,
and you walk away.

At any point in time, you are allowed to find your light and leave darkness behind.
At any point, you can and should redefine and take notice of who you are, who you are spending your time with, and where you are in this world.
At any point, you can change your mind, and something you thought once sounded like a good idea, might not anymore.
At any point, your life can and probably will change, but that doesn't mean you are changing your core, that means you are just changing direction.

Now, do not confuse this with when things get hard, or boring, or ordinary, you walk away.
Because that is not the same thing.
The goal, the vision, is happiness.
The overall feeling of your life, should be happy and you should be giving that joy out so it lights others' darkness.
However, the goal is also greatness and as I just heard last week from someone giving a speech to new college grads,
sometimes, to be great, means you are unhappy.
Sometimes, to accomplish greatness, you have to walk through unhappy times, moments, days.
See, your day to day, your week to week, your minute to minute, cannot always be happy.
It's just not possible.
It's not.
Because to work and work hard for something, can be at times really hard, really scary, really worrisome and none of that equals happy.
Even in your relationships, the troubles you go through, means there will be times you are struggling
to find your joy and your happy.
And in order to really appreciate the glorious light and love on the other side, you have to sometimes go through that dark
and make it to the other side,
Because all of that is the roller-coaster of every relationship.
All of that is what you do to stay and work on what is right.

So no, I don't think it's always wise for you to always walk away,
I won't always agree when I feel you gave up,
too quickly or too easily.
But for you, you know you.
You know you better than I do which is hard for me to admit
but you do.
And you will know right there in your gut, when this isn't your story to tell, when you aren't in love with who you are in this story,
and when it is your story to keep writing, even when the writing is getting hard.
When the words are struggling to come, but you know you have to keep trying to find them.

And in this world that is trying to make us feel guilty for not being 100% happy with every second of every day
but is also so demanding with perfection and doing everything with all you have
and also wants hard workers with dual income families and perfect parenting and volunteers that have nothing but time and clean homes and dinner together and traditions and quality time and just all of our time
well, it can go to hell.
Because you are allowed to tell it to go to hell.
And tell it, you have to be a little unhappy for a little while so you can work towards your dream
or relationships have ups downs and most awful the steady hum of an engine in which you have to work to find love and commitment and affection again
or life is daunting and exhausting and so tonight, while in my sweats, I am going to cry until I feel better.
And I am going to let those dishes pile up and order take out.
And am going to tell them to put their homework aside for tonight
and we are going to just watch TV.
Yeah, that's what I need tonight world, because perfectly happy doesn't exist.
But you are also allowed to tell someone that isn't loving you enough, I deserve better.
And you are allowed to never feel guilty about loving yourself and taking care of yourself
because dammit putting that mask on yourself first is the best way so let's stop pretending it's not.
And you are allowed to tell the world, I have to live through this time of have tos, to get to me.
And you are allowed to breakdown and mourn a loss
of a job
or a person
or a feeling
or of who you once were and are not anymore
or of children aging.

You are allowed to be happy
you need to make sure happy is the goal
but you need to match it with being great
and I can't imagine anything less than greatness from you.


Five Minute Friday - eat

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 eat.

Just the other day, he said to me,
"when we all go out and we're all together, is that a waste?
Isn't that nice, all of us, like that

Growing up, my best memories involved food.
It was how they showed love, it was how they showed that they cared, it was how they showed that they were needed.
And still today, it is how they show love and affection.
The come over for dinner and they bring boxes of food with them.
They have us over and food is everywhere.
They take us out and so much food is ordered.
Eating around a table, all of us together, it is their definition of happy.

Eating together, and sharing food, food that they worked hard on, or even just being in a restaurant,
"isn't that nice, all of us, like that?"

And so now, my relationship with food is very Italian.
And although I believe in moderation and taking care of your body,
I very much live to eat, not eat to live.
Food and eating, yes is a fuel for having your body work for you,
but it also brings people together.
It is also how you show love and affection, all sitting around and food and eating.
There are times I fall so madly in love with a meal that soon after my first bite I am already sad that it will be over because each bite gets me closer to the end.
There are times that I fall so madly in love with a place, a meal, that I want to hit pause on the night.
Grownups talking, everyone letting their guard down, no one being perfect, food and eating together makes everyone come back to life.

And that is why, my little faces, eating together means so much to me.
There isn't much I look back on and think, that was nice, when it comes to me being little.
There are so many times I have to fight back frustration with them, but food, and eating together, I get it.
It's the one part of me I will bring to you.
It's the one piece from my past that I can happily share and pass down.
Because eating together brings about laughter, and falling in love and enjoying a meal, not rushing through to our next "thing".

"Isn't it nice, all of us, like that?"



This is my vow

It's the end of the day, and the exhaustion has hit us both.
For me, that turns into rage and zero patience.
For both of you, that turns into unraveling and becoming a nightmare version of yourself.
Everything that is asked is "too hard"
you need "help" with every little task
everything is a "no!"
or being ignored.
And I spin out and out and out of control as the anger washes over me.

And most times, your tears make your whole face so wet that your hair gets stuck to you,
your body is drained
and your anger is what is pushing you through.
You scream, you rant, sometimes you run,
and all of it continues to build and hurt me.

I can see no out, until I am reminded that you are small and on the nights that it does hit me,
I finally take a step back, breathe and go to you.
I start by holding you,
lifting you close to me,
saying I am so sorry for my part,
explaining how the frustration was just too much for both of us.
I wipe away the tears, but allow you to keep crying.
I rock with you, and say nothing at all until you are done.
I hold you close and push back your hair, untangle it from your wet face,
and I tell you that we both need a do over, we both need to start again.

And my to do list grows in this time
I can't be anywhere else that I need to be
because I am needed here.
The list that now has to wait is probably what started all of this to begin with so to hell with it.
I am needed here, I am needed with you.

Because I will always pick you.
Over work
over the house
over my to dos
over my type A personality
over cleaning and dinner and backpacks and your homework.
I will always pick you
and I will always be there, for you.

Even when that boy breaks up with you
or that girl said something mean
or that friend doesn't want to play with you this week
or someone made fun of something you are wearing
something you are into
I will always pick you,
and I will always be there, for you.

Even when you no longer need us, but just want us there.
Even if and when you decide to go through this parenting journey and you need someone to cry to,
to hold you and tell you that you are doing it right,
I will always pick you,
and I will always be there, for you.

Because the crazy part about this journey is, we are never done.
We are forever and always connected.
And my vow is that I will just be the one you can turn to
I will always pick you,
and I will always be there, for you.


Five Minute Friday - park

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 park.

It's happening less and less, our time in parks.
At one point in our lives, it was our weekend get away.
We could grab our puppy, head out the door and no matter the weather, you could find us outside, together, in nature.
Winter was our favorite with snow shoeing, probably because it was Mia's favorite too.
And there is something about a puppy smiling and clearly happy and then sleeping from exhaustion that makes you feel too warm.

But, seasons change
and time becomes more limited.
And with two little ones, our time in parks, it's happening less and less.
But the times we do get there, I always think, why are we not doing this more?
And a couple of weeks ago, when we said goodnight to Mia, we headed out.
And the kids ran, and played and found a play ground.
They ran too far ahead of us and they were shouting with joy and laughter.
And as I dragged my body through that very sad weekend, it was all of their smiles and laughter that reminded me how much life there is left to live.
How much happiness there is.
How many seasons we are spending inside and how much more we need of this.
Time outside again, breathing a different air.
Walking around, finding a mountain to climb,
finding more to do in winter when our part of the world is covered in a glorious white.

Our season is changing once again,
we have reached a time in our lives when the kids are a little older,
a little easier since they don't need to be carried
and a little harder because they need to be guided
but we always said we've got this as long as we're together.
And more and more, I am feeling this pull to the old us.
I understand there are parts we will never get back,
the days of feeling free and careless are forever gone.
But the days of silly and goofy and fun,
they are what should fill our time.
Because we will get back to those parks, hand in hand
and find our joy.



Five Minute Friday - mail

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 mail.

I am of a generation that is the one that started their formative years in one way, and by the time I hit my 20s, the whole game had changed.
I at one time, sent mail.
Letters to friends and family far away by sitting down and writing to them.
Calls were too expensive,
everyone didn't have a computer,
email was just starting to become a thing when I went to college and most of my friends only had a college address and could only check it at school.
So, we wrote to each other.
And since I am always better with the written word, I do miss it.
Now, every form of mail annoys me.
If my mailbox has things in it, that means the junk mail it out of control.
If I have an email, that means I have work to do
and I find myself spending actual time clearing my mail out of one form of my life or another.

But as I thought about the prompt today, I thought about this box that I have.
In my closet, front and center.
It's a pretty shoe box that is full of cards, messages and letters from you love.
The ones you would write to me just because.
The little notes you would leave me here and there.
And over our 16 years, the box is pretty full.
And even though I only now add to it for special occasions, birthdays and anniversaries,
the words you personally write, always move me.
They are words of our history, all that we have stormed together.
They are words of tomorrow and all we both look forward to.
They are words of appreciation of how much we are there for one another,
they are words you struggle to find while we talk,
but flow a little more freely on paper.

And as we know, words matter to me.
Appreciation matters to me.
That little box, full to the top, filled with your mail to me
matters to my heart.



Goodnight Mia

It ended like it started
face to face and nose to nose.
In a cold room, sterile and not homey.
But knowing, we were always going to be together.

Whenever I imagined saying goodbye to you,
I would swear up and down I would come home and just find you.
I had this overwhelming feeling you would not make me, make us, have to decide.
That you would go.
Because everything with you was so easy, you were so easy.

But that's not what happened.
We did have to decide, and you did make it as easy as you could.
You told us it was time,
you asked us to let go
you had the expert tell us to say goodbye now.
You made sure we didn't have any doubts, that your time with us had come to a close.
But I couldn't help but wonder why?
What were you trying to teach me, why did you want this left to us?
And then it really hit me that you think I wouldn't have been able to handle not saying goodbye.
That you knew I needed to hold you, I needed to be talking to you,
I needed closure and I needed this final goodbye.

It's been two days and I am heartbroken.
Everyone is telling me that time will slow down the pain and the tears,
that I will find a way out of what feels like crushing sadness right now.
I know they are right, I know time always heals,
but peanut, I miss you and I know I will always and forever miss you.


I keep looking for you peanut.
I keep reaching down expecting you to come up to me and pet you.
I keep seeing glimpses of you in the door to let you in.
I keep doing our routine and thinking I need to bring you downstairs.
And if only for a second, I walk into the house expecting to see you right there.
And then it all hits me, how gone you are.
I keep looking at your food bowls and not knowing how to put them away.
I keep expecting to hear your paws and see your face.
I keep looking for you.
And everything feels so strange right now,
quiet but deafening
sad and crushing
and the only thing that will make any of it ok, is to hug you, and have your little face pressed against mine.

And he sweetie, well, he struggled with this Mia.
He was less ready than I was.
He stood there and asked me to bring you home,
he kept thinking if we just got you feeling better, this would all go away.
Because he is a fixer, and he just wanted to fix this for you.
The idea of not being able to, was crushing.
He really struggled because he always loved you and he knew you brought him to us.
You brought him to us, you knew he was what we needed, you two were just as connected, as loving.
And the last few years, he was your legs, your back, you were his shadow.
And like he said to me that awful night, I just wanted to give her every single second she deserved.

Anna would catch you and I snuggled and she would say
Mia really loves you mom.
And as smart as that little mind is, she will never understand how right she was.
Because I will never feel that level of love again,
there was something so amazing with what we had
there was just something incredible about what you being present did.
What you symbolized for me, how much was wrapped up in your tiny face.


I can't even imagine going through the list of things I will miss peanut,
there are too many to list
and so I will leave it as I will miss every last thing about you.
You raised me sweetie.
You were my reason.

There is so much emptiness right now
and crushing sadness.
There are so many tears and so much pain
so much racing through my mind
so much I keep feeling.
I know it is time that I need
I know you knew how much and what you meant
I know you felt our love
I know you knew how important you were and still are
I know you loved us
I know you knew we knew how much.

We have no regrets.
We loved you as much as we could
as hard as we possibly could.
You were amazing, you were so flexible and easy.
You were so patient with the kids and the house and the renovations and with us.
You were the best start to us and you watched us grow up.
You were there for our first date staying up until 4am
you were there for every "argument" as we grew and loved
you were there when he asked
you were there when we became Housers
you were there for every move
you were there for the house
you were there when a little blue line changed everything
you were there the day we brought them both home
you were a puppy to them too, even though you had to try a little harder.
And so we knew we now had to be there for you,
it was our turn to take care of you
and tell you that you lived the longest life, because you knew how much and for how long I needed you.
And to thank you.
Thank you for making sure I was in bed before you snuggled in
thank you for all the snow shoe adventures
for the nights of thunder storms that had you in our bed in a heartbeat
for the games of hide and go seek with dad
for the chases around the yard
for the chases on the beach
thank you for being my running buddy
and all of the walks
and kisses
and warm puppy love.

It ended just like it started
face to face and nose to nose.
And as I pulled myself away from you I whispered in your ear
the thing I loved most about you is everything.
Goodnight peanut, you did really good.



Five Minute Friday - test

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 test.

It started when you were really young, testing me.
Figuring out what your limits were, what you could get away with.
It started at 18 months with how loud can I yell and scream, how much can I show how unhappy I am, will she bend, will she give in?
And as you get older, the tests get more difficult, and the stakes are much higher.
Because that baby toddler will not remember if I failed, or if I passed with flying colors.
But at four you are already showing a strong memory
and little Ms. Me, at seven you have an elephant memory and I see you filing this test away, in the back of your mind.
I see you labeling it,
and I see your grade of me in big red letters.

I view these tests as pass/fail
but I don't think that's fair to either of us.
One wrong does not mean that we failed
even if most of the answers are wrong, maybe it just means we have to go back and relearn the material.
Really get a handle on the information and relearn the meaning of those words.

Last night, we both had an evening that I would have given us a big fail.
You tested, I failed.
I expected you to know the answers, you failed.
And once we are in that spot, the spiral writes itself.
My anger leads to you digging in your feet.
My ignoring the behavior makes you so crazy that you don't know what to do with yourself.
And, like clockwork our stubborn ways go to battle, hard.
And in the end, we both feel like huge failures.

As always, we come home, and get away from the noise, you are immediately ready to try again,
and I continue to fail...
you and us.
Because my anger spills over and I can't stop looking at the black and white test with the big red F on the top
and you just want to remind me that we don't always have all the right answers at the right time.
And you both remind me, maybe we need to go back and review this material together,
give it another shot and try a different way?
Maybe we need a little longer on this lesson, but don't give up mom.
Because if you give up now, we can't move on to the next lesson, it won't make sense to any of us.
And you remind me that it isn't always pass/fail.
That in life, tests no longer work like that.
If we didn't get it right the first time, that's not a fail, it's a reminder that the way we are learning right now isn't working
and we need more time.

Will we continue to test each other?
Of course we will.
But it is time we put away the red pen
and use a highlighter to point out all we did well
and use an eraser on what we need to go back and work out together.




It's the one thing we all don't have enough of.
The one thing we all pay attention to.
The one thing we all lose track of.

As I look at you both, I always wonder, where did the time go?
What happened to the new mom?
When did I become so seasoned?
And since when does being more seasoned mean you know less?
You are more afraid,
you are more tired,
you feel more clueless,
you feel so lost?

Where did the time go?
Because I swear, it was yesterday I was taking pictures of my belly while you grew.
It was yesterday that I was so worried about labor and delivery.
It was yesterday that I had parenting figured out,
until I didn't.


It was all just yesterday.
But I let time slip right by,
right through my fingers.
And my biggest heartache is that I didn't enjoy it all more.
I didn't fall hard for both of you, everyday.
My biggest regret is how I allowed the hard to take me down,
how I got lost in the fog.
My biggest fear, is that it's too late to start over.
And that I will lose you in a very damaging way.
And I won't be your rock, your home base.


Because time won,
and time will always win.
It does not matter how not ready I am
or how crazy ready you are
time dictates all that is coming and when.

And I guess that's why I am also so mad at time,
for taking my babies away
for making me feel this old
for making me have to make all of these really big decisions
because time always wins.

unnamed (10)

There is no way to stop it
there is no way to slow it down
but I, we, can slow down.
I, we, can enjoy more.
I, we, can linger.
I, we, can have days of all day movies and snuggles.
I, we, can put our to dos away and just be together
just be, period.

unnamed (5)

To me, you will always and forever be babies,
even if time made you four and seven.
To me, you will always and forever be stuck with that little face we brought home.
To me, we will always and forever be just us four, even when time says we are expanding.
To me, I wish time could stand still, that we could hit pause and be like this forever.
But time will win again and we will move on and grow.
Time always wins.

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