25
Oct

Intimate moments of love

There was the time, the Dr. said the words MS and you stood right there and found a way to make me laugh.

There were the years and years of shots, sickening shots that hurt and you just powered through.

There was the moment we met, the smile we shared, the way it felt to become family.

There was the time you were so young and really really sick Belle. Dad held you upright in his arms all night so you could breathe and sleep on his chest.

There was the phase when we would watch "The Office" and Belle, you were "sitting up independently" months old. You would do this adorable dance that had us rolling with laughter. You didn't even do it for our reaction, you honestly couldn't help yourself.

There was the time you got so sick you had to be rushed to the hospital Monkey. You were so small, so teeny tiny, and I held you in my arms and really noticed every little thing about your face. I allowed my finger to outline all of your facial features. I smelled your smell. I looked at your tiny feet. I held you on my chest and refused to let go all night.

There were the nights I held you while you slept.

The days you reached for me...arms extended, reaching for me.

The first few times we gave you a tub. You were so trusting, so warm, so squishy and squirmy.

The nights we dressed you in the dark.

The days we held you because you got hurt and really needed a mom or dad hug.

How in the beginning, you only recognized us. You recognized our smell, our voice, our touch, our heartbeat, our face. We were your everything.

How, before the beginning, you would roll around in my belly, I would feel you roll over and go to bed or even better, the hiccups that would make me laugh. How dad would put his hand on you and we just couldn't believe this chapter was unfolding.

The night we stayed up and watched Syracuse battle in 6 overtimes to finally beat UConn, like two best friends too excited to go to bed.

How, before the beginning, both of our connections began.

Monkey, the first time you looked at me, they held you to my face and we got to kiss noses, for the first time.

Bella, the first time I held you and wished you a happy birthday. And, the day I fell madly, hopelessly, all in sort of in love with you.

There are so many intimate moments of love in our lives. So many little moments that matter, even if they get blown off, they matter.

Intimate moments when only one of us can fix it. Intimate moments when I can't wait to call you and tell you something. Intimate moments when I can't wait to see your reaction. Intimate moments when we are all piled on the couch. Intimate moments when we have little dance parties. Intimate moments when you need to sleep with us and you talk to me from your dreams. Intimate moments when you snuggle me in. Intimate moments when you pick "our next book"...together. Intimate moments when the love is so intense, that only an Olive Juice will do.

Couplehood, parenthood, life, is not glamorous. It is not for the faint-hearted. It is not pretty and most of the time it is damn hard. Couplehood messes with your emotions and challenges you and forces you to be in this together. Parenthood messes with your body, your life, your marriage, your soul. Family is the most intimate thing I have experienced. It is the most sharing, the most lost of control, the most silly, the most memorable, the most cherished, the most part of my life.

There are intimate moments of love that I will remember at the end. When I go to close my eyes, these are the moments that will keep me warm. I will remember when I first saw dad, I will remember his warm and loving smile. I will remember our very first smooch. I will remember how he called the next day and the lightness in his voice. I will remember the time he fell in love with Mia. I will remember the long years he was her legs, her back, she was his shadow. I will remember saying yes to babies and the conversation that I said yes to. I will remember the moment the doctors came to take you Anna, your story. I will remember the fear in dad's eyes that only you were able to bring out. I will remember how you were my love at first sight Cole. I will remember your first words, your first walk. I will remember when two terrified adults had to say goodnight to Mia. I will remember dad saying yes to Pearl Rose! I will remember all of the amazing love and joy she brought back to our home. But mostly, I will remember our days. Our long, boring, nothing days. The days that are filled with hugs, fights, annoyances, screaming matches, love, gentle, harsh, warmth. Intimate moments of love.

18
Oct

Even though

Even though you spent months waking me at 3am for a hug.

Even though you wake up scared and just need to sleep with us.

Even though there are things we do that only a parent can or should do or know about you.

Even though I have held your hair back while you were sick.

Even though on a dime, my whole schedule has to change for you, your needs.

Even though I spend most of my time telling you to separate and stop arguing over nothing.

Even though you spent three solid years crying, for no reason, no reason, and only at home, for no reason.

Even though our marriage went through seven years of fog.

Even though I always thought I was too busy, too important, too scared to become a mother, I did. I became your mom and I would do all of these things time and time and time again. And I wouldn't give it up.

I always remember what it was like before you, I do think of it as easier, because it definitely was, but I would not give up mothering you.

There are so many things I would do differently. I would have so much more kindness and grace. I would tell all mothers and fathers, everywhere and forever, that you are all doing it. It looks differently for all of us but we are all doing it. I will not tell a brand new mother how quickly it goes, because she's heard that before. I would give her some flowers and tell her to go take a shower and let her know it's okay to cry. Cry because you love them too much and because you're too tired and because you smell and because you don't know what happened to your body, and you don't know what is normal or not. I'll hold the baby, you go shower mama.

I would tell a new dad not to "be there", he already is, we have already rounded that corner. I would tell him to take care. Listen to her cry. listen to her needs and just listen. Take care and just listen.

I would remind babies that the first year is the most glorious and the amount of change is precious. I would remind babies that they need to slow down. Slow down little one, there is no rush, just slow down and let us breathe you in.

I would remind puppies that they are still so loved and cherished.

I would remind grandparents to be there and ask what is needed at that time.

I would remind employers to take it easy.

I would remind myself that I too am trying and learning and there is no figuring it out, it all just happens and I have to be there.

Something changed when you went to middle school Belle. I don't know what, I can't explain it. It didn't necessarily change in you, but it changed in me. Coupled with the pandemic and spending all of our time together, we found each other and our talks. This old soul with the youngest of hearts and innocence. I also see how you are trying to find your way and I see you trying to show off and step out of us when you're around friends, and I remind you of who we are, together, and it brings you back. I know that this is part of it, you needing to be bigger and larger and farther away, and the sass is part of it. But something about this time made us both really small too. Really close and a new chapter opened up for us.

This chapter is built on trust. It's built on forgiveness. It's built on talking. It's built on caring. It's built on remembering what really counts. And even though this is hard, and it's scary, and I'm still fumbling through, I would not trade this time. Keep talking Belle, I'm here.

And for you little man, you remind me of young and new, always have, always will. You are your father, you are Ferdinand, and I know Ferdinand. As your dad reminded me, I first met Ferdinand at 21, renting a movie. I met this huge lover of love and kindness. I met joy so innocent and loving that I could not help but melt. I met someone who took off my fighting gloves and warmed my hands. I know Ferdinand because I promised him it would always be us. And then, over a decade later, you came into our lives. Your purpose sweets is to remind the world of love and kindness and a sweet heart and caring and all of the emotions and all of the feels all of the time. Your purpose is joy, just like your bull of a dad. Even though he is puffing out his chest, you remind him to sit down and love and laugh.

I would remind mothers and daughters to talk.

I would remind mothers and sons to laugh.

I would remind fathers and daughters to connect.

I would remind fathers and sons to learn from each other.

Even though my body has changed...

Even though I can pick out the grays you have given me...

Even though my eyes are puffy...

Even though my skin feels different...

Even though our finances are different...

Even though our marriage is different...

Even though it's all different and all changed...

Even though this is the hardest thing we have ever done and ever will do, I would do it all over again.

Because I do love being your mom.

14
Sep

Fall

The leaves are starting to yellow in New York. The nights are cooler, the sun sets earlier, the mornings feel cold. No matter what the calendar says, it's fall in New York.

It dawned on me tonight that for the first time since I became a mama, I did not make a summer wish list. I just kind of let it happen. If I really sit down to think about why, I think that someone that lives and dies by lists, can't make a list and not check it off. And with 2020, everything is too up in the air to make a list and stick to it, so I didn't want to bother at all. So, I didn't. And like I have learned in the crazy year, the earth didn't explode, nothing stopped working, I just didn't make a list and that was ok. Do I love my summer and fall lists, god I do. Do I miss them, oh hell yes. Will I go back to them, I will I will, but NOT having a list did not mean our summer was awful.

In fact, we squeezed every bit out of this summer. We watch the sun go down, we stayed up talking, we laughed, we walked, we rode bikes, we watched so many movies, we swam in the ocean, we looked at the stars, we ate ice cream, we walked some more, we did so so many house projects, we hung around our puppy, we danced, we cried, we cleaned, we made so many messes, we did a ton of trips, we were tourists in our own town, we ate and ate and ate, we had so many s'mores, we fought, we slept, we napped, we worked, we worked out, we walked and walked lots more, we vacationed, we surprised each other, we celebrated birthdays, we talked a lot, we made fires and roasted marshmallows. We squeezed the hell out of this summer.

Last week, we talked about some of our favorite parts. I forgot that summer was when we came out of quarantine and started to see friends again. I talked about our little weekend getaway to the Brightfuls. We talked about the 4th of July, the Cape, mom and dad talked about our track day with the Berrys. We talked about our upcoming Lake weekend and how much we all really needed it.

We talked about how much fun the 4th was, even though it was certainly not our usual and how it was still full of magic. We talked about the Cape and how even in 2020, being so careful and with the masks, it was exactly what it has always been...8 fools madly in love and basking in the warmth. We talked about the water and the beach and our house there. At the peak of summer, it is hot and perfect. It was the time that I needed. The vacation and time away that was necessary. The normal in the crazy of 2020.

As we drove to the Lake, you could clearly see the start of fall. New York has a way of really setting fire to the trees and it's starting to happen. The yellow is happening at the tip of the leaf, some are showing signs of red, but there is still enough green to help you remember summer was only two weeks ago.

As we looked out our huge window onto the Lake, all I could feel was calm. We were surrounded by older kids who were able to be and do. We didn't have to keep such a cautious eye. But, still little and having fun playing in the water and acting like fools. We got to watch our boys snuggle in bed and say goodnight to each other, somehow like brothers. Our girls stay up talking too late like teenagers, all of us too tired to tell them to knock it off, maybe because it was too cute to stop.

It was the end that I needed. The goodbye that was necessary. The normal in the crazy of 2020.

Tomorrow, for the first time, my babies head to separate schools. My daughter, fully immersed in the in-between, is headed to middle school. Middle school. My baby girl is in middle school. I cried so so hard the day she started kindergarten. I could not believe that little face was climbing a bus and I lost it for weeks. By the time it was Cole's turn, I was a disaster at the reality that I would be working home alone for the first time since I was a mom. And tomorrow, this milestone hits. She is ready because she did not like being out of school for six months. She is ready because she likes teachers and misses friends. She is ready because she wants to have her routine and structure and separate life. She is ready because, she is. She is always more ready than me, why would this be any different.

My son will start grade 3. Ferdinand in all his glory. "Will you be kind"..."yeah". "Will you remember to listen and show respect..."yeah". "I love you..."I love you too". As we talked about all of the reasons we love each other...reasons like "you're smart mom, you have a big heart Cole, you're always up for playing with me buddy...I always have my playmate..." we said good-bye to our second grader. One more year, one more leap.

Like most in this country, this week marks us leaving each other for the first time in 6 months. I have no idea how we all did this. I have no idea what tomorrow will feel like. I have needed quiet for a very long time. I have needed time alone. But, I'm also me and walking away from them after six months is going to hit me. I'm going to feel weirdly alone and like it will be too quiet for a while. Six months is a fascinating amount of time. Day in and day out of each other and we all just kept going.

The leaves are starting to yellow in New York. The nights are cooler, the sun sets earlier, the mornings feel cold. No matter what the calendar says, it's fall in New York.

23
Mar

Shhh.

Lovies, this is a time we will all remember. Always and forever. The time the entire world went black and dark and quiet. The time we were all hunkered down and living each day minute by minute. The time we were inundated with information and closed off, all at the same time. The time when everything was closed and we all just watched. The time it all hit, all at once and everywhere.

So, in a time of worry and concern and just not knowing what the hell is going to happen next, and not knowing who is going to make it out ok, and not knowing what will happen to our entire town and just plain not knowing anything, here are some things we do know....

Right before this all happened, you two could not be in the same room. You were both at each other, all of the time. You could not have one single conversation without anger and disdain dripping from you. And we had had enough. We would be 3 minutes into our day and both of you would be sent to rooms and asked to separate. I would cringe with how you acted around each other. And then, overnight, you had to become each other's only friend, only person, only source of entertainment and it all changed.

You both worked together, you both compromised, you both play silly games, you both take turns, no one is in charge anymore. You both work side by side, all day long, in one office doing work and helping each other. You both read and play and snuggle on Pearl. You eat together, take turns watching things you both enjoy, you are all you have. As much time as we have to be spending together, it's made it so much better. You are getting closer and Anna, Cole is living his best life because he has you back.

Our house is getting messy but organized and projects we were going to get to, they are getting done. And extrovert dad is on fire with all of his projects and finding ways to run to Lowes for everything and anything. And introvert mom is loving being cooped up and staying put.

Laundry is getting done.

Dinner isn't rushed.

Saturday mornings are really lazy, so are Sundays.

Dad is still working out...at home!

My business is still turning, for now.

We are watching cute movies.

We are snuggling a lot.

I am sleeping a lot and less and then a lot again.

My lists are getting shorter.

We are walking Pearl all of the time, and she could not be happier, having us all here.

She too is loving her crate and alone time.

I am watching so many shows, and I know that sounds like a weird positive but it really really is.

Dad and I are holding hands all of the time.

Hugs are plenty around here, out of nowhere hugs, I really love you hugs, thanks for doing this with me hugs.

Cole is a Lego builder master and got us hooked to a new Lego Master show that is adorable and hysterical and fun. Anna is watching and really into it.

We're all sleeping in!

I'm not addicted to my phone anymore, I actually have it on silent so I can really take advantage of the quiet.

There is a lot to worry about, a lot to stress over, a lot to wonder how it's all going to look on the other side, who will be impacted the most, who isn't able to count a single blessing because their world is falling apart. So, for those of us who can, who are able to find the good, it's important we remember that and let go of little things that just don't matter.

When this is all over, I'm going to hug my friends hard. I'm going to go to the gym and do a dance of glee. I'm going to yoga and cry. I'm going to remember sleeping until I naturally wake up. I'm going to try and do more of that. I'm going to be ok.

3
Nov

It's simple to find little things

This week, I read a beautiful post from a wonderful woman who spoke on how it can be so simple to find little things in this world to make you smile. Make you happy. Make you slow down a little, appreciate a little more. She set out a challenge...find what makes you keep going. Write that shit down. Make yourself remember the things that make you feel like you are living, actually living. Things that breathe life back into you, make you so content, comfortable, and at home. So, I made a list. And not my regular "get this done" list but instead, a make yourself remember there are so many things to be happy and appreciative of list. This is my list of love.

  • Rain…the sound, the smell, the clouds, the gray, the dark.
  • Waking up before anyone especially if it’s still dark out.
  • But also, sleeping and napping at all hours, any time of day.
  • The heaviest of blankets.
  • The smell on my hubby’s chest, it smells like home.
  • My kids’ actual belly laugh.
  • My puppers kisses and hugs…because I have a dog that gives actual hugs.
  • Seeing my husband love on our dog.
  • Seeing my husband belly laugh at our kids.
  • Pop-tarts…for real though.
  • Looking through old pics of the kids.
  • My fireplace and how much my puppy loves the fireplace.
  • How much my puppy loves her crate.
  • How much my puppy loves her family and you can physically see it!
  • The glow of soft lights.
  • Coffee, I have such a deep-rooted love for coffee.
  • A lit candle.
  • My bathtub.
  • A good robe.
  • The sound of a bat as it hits a ball, that crack gets me.
  • The look of a grown man’s face when he is so happy you can actually see the little boy in him.
  • Watching basketball, especially college, most especially with my family.
  • Long runs when I have 0 training scheduled, because I'm just running for the love of running.
  • The very end of yoga because laying down is my favorite.
  • Waking up and realizing I have so many more hours of sleep ahead of me but I’m not struggling to fall back to sleep. Because again, I love to sleep!
  • A really good kiss, because you are a really good kisser, even decades after our first. 
  • This fall, I don't know if I was just ready to really watch it all happen this year or if this fall has been especially exceptional but we really do live in an amazing area. I feel like we are living in a movie about a place that has a beautiful fall. There are leaves everywhere, the air is crisp but still warm, the colors are gorgeous…it has been magic.
  • Family bike rides and family walks with the puppy.
  • Playing a game together as a fam, I just love spending time with you guys. 
  • A gray day.
  • A new snowfall.
  • Snowshoeing!
  • Watching the kids sleep.
  • Holding hands.
  • Quiet.

I have so much to love on every single day. I need to remember how lucky I am and how much good I can find in my days. It is not always easy, I focus a lot on what I can be doing, should be doing, could do differently, need to work on and lists that look so different. But this list, this is a list we can all make and all take in. And slow the hell down and remember that life gives you reasons to smile. Life gives you reasons to slow down, you just have to take a breath and remember that your own list is there for you.

20
Oct

Left Neglected

"I have had my head down, barreling a thousand miles an hour, wearing the flesh of each day down to the bone, pointed down one road toward a single goal."

In NY, the seasons have changed. Everyone is writing about how fall is a reminder of how beautiful it can be to let things go. How shedding your weight and letting a part of you go doesn't mean an end, but a different phase of life. But when left-neglected, you don't see it as clearly. You don't see the entire picture and you roll your eyes at people stopping to take it all in. Until you too enter this phase, until you too start to take in all that is happening and start to put the full picture together. As a family, we are all entering this new phase and it is with great beauty that we are stipping what has always been there. All that we have ever ever known. All that we have ever shared, all of it is about to change and be stripped away.

And the truth is, although I am tired and done, I really do love my life. I love my current life. I love what I have done, what I have been able to do, what I have been given the opportunity to do. I really do love the work I have been doing. I really do love the mission I was working for. I really do love my office and the environment. I have loved the pace. I have loved the commitment, my commitment. I love big ideas and the capacity. I have loved the amount I have had to dig down. I have loved those that I have met, those that get it, those that understand why. I was good at it, I was comfortable there, and I will miss this. I will miss this part of me, this work. I will miss this life.

"I walk down the long hallway, slower than I ever have, and feel like I've come home. The predictable order of offices as I pass by, the framed aerial photographs of major world cities on the walls, the lighting, the carpeting, all feel inviting and comfortable in their familiarity."

Not only am I scared of what this will all mean for us and our future, but I am also scared of what this will all mean to me. To who I am. To who I want to become, to what I stand for. To what I now believe in. To letting go and finding beauty. Because when left neglected, I didn't see things so fully. I didn't see me fully. It was as if I was seeing just half of the full picture. And now I have to find myself in you and the life we can create without all of this. All of this busy. Time-consuming busy. Busy to be busy kind of busy. Who will I now be without all of this weighing me down? What kind of mother will that make me? What kind of life will we now lead? What will we do and what will it mean for us from this day on? How much of my old life will I miss? How much will I rely on my old ways and keep leaning into them but it feels so comforting to live there? So familiar, so logical and productive.

"I miss my life here - the fast pace, the high intensity, contributing to something important...being effective."

But, I broke up with myself once before. I faced a fear that was bigger and more of a commitment than I have ever in my life made. I became your mom. And I had to change. I had to become something brand new. And for a few years, I had to get lost in the fog of you until I came out the other side...me but different. I'm still in here though. I'm just different and different things are important to me now. But my foundation, my me-ness is still right there. It's time to once again be lost but found in a new me, a new us, a new life, a new phase.

It's time to linger, to really really be there for you. To really find new joy. To find new meaning, new purpose. "You're still a good person, even if you don't run a life-changing agency, you're still a good person." But it's time to find out what good I can continue to bring to this world. It's time to find out what being committed to this new life means for me.

"For the first time in almost a decade, I stopped barreling a thousand miles an hour down that road. Everything stopped. And although much of the past four months have been a painful and terrifying experience, it has given me a chance to lift my head up and have a look around."

And when I looked up, I saw all of you. I saw a little girl reaching for me and wanting to be close. I saw an active boy that wants to play and then play some more. I saw a smiling puppy who loves to cuddle and run and feel loved. I saw a husband that doesn't need my stress, doesn't need my tension, just needs to be reminded of how hard we are all trying and how good it feels to be together. I saw a family we created. One I most likely have left neglected, one I didn't see as clearly as I needed to. One I didn't smile at as much I should have. I didn't see the full picture yet, I didn't stop to see how it was all changing.

So last night, you slept in my bed, a little scared from a bad dream. I looked at your long lashes and eyes as big as dad's. I saw my mouth, I saw you calm and I felt your breathing. No matter how old you both get, there is something so soothing, calming and loving about watching your children sleep. And I was overwhelmed by the gratitude for the life we picked.

"And I'm starting to wonder. What else is there? Maybe success can be something else, and maybe there's another way to get there. Maybe there's a different road for me with a more reasonable speed limit. Whether it's because I can't, I'm too afraid, something inside me has changed and wants something different, or a complex blend of all three. I can't say but I don't want to go back. I don't want to go back to that life. The same intuition that led me to you, is leading me somewhere else. And I trust it. I'm not going back."

I said a quiet prayer of thank you and a louder apology. In these years of little, there were moments I almost lost all of this. There were moments of busy that could have made us a statistic. There are countless times I have been careless with the responsibility I have in your safety and protection...too busy to do one thing at a time. So I said I was sorry for being so rushed. I said I was sorry for not taking this as seriously as I should and taking stupid parts too seriously. I said sorry to you feeling like you were left neglected. I said sorry to myself for being left neglected. I said thank you for babies I was so scared to have. I said thank you for a husband that believed we should. I said thank you for a husband that made me feel that I could with him leading this part. I said thank you for a family that never gives up and always comes back to us. I said thank you for Cole's energy and heart and even his ability to cry as easily as he does. I said thank you for Anna's mind, how deliberate she is, and even her ability to be stubborn.

I am going to trust my instinct on this new life in front of us and I am not going back. I won't leave us neglected.

23
Sep

Done

It's been a strange week. A week of a lot of lasts for mom. A week that has me so tired I can't seem to get myself out of bed no matter how early I go to sleep and no matter how many hours of sleep I get. A week that has me feeling weird and a little off. Not feeling like me, kind of overwhelmed and not motivated. Lovies, mom is at a stage in her life in which she is feeling very done and is grappling with the emotional ride of feeling like a quitter. I am taking a break from my triathlons and the training that goes along with them. I am taking a break from my half marathons and the training that goes along with them. I gave my notice to a career I have built and an agency that has defined who I am. And I am just so bone tired.

I am watching my to-do lists just pile up and run one day into the other. I am watching my home just come undone. I am watching my emails collect in all of my different inboxes. I am turning off alarms instead of getting up to work out. I am turning off alarms instead of getting up to work. Every once in awhile, I get a surge of energy and plow through something, even a tiny thing. But then the exhaustion becomes so overwhelming that I just feel like I am done. Period and end of story I am done.

Maybe my MS is in overdrive and the exhaustion that I feel is because I have this disease. Maybe my emotions are in overdrive and I cannot climb these mountains anymore. Maybe my lists are so long I can't imagine how to get it all done so I am shutting down. Maybe I am sick and I can't seem to get better no matter how much I rest my body. Maybe the disease has something to do with that too. Maybe I need more than a break, maybe I need more than a rest. Maybe I am so scared I am getting paralyzed. Maybe I am so sad I am being swallowed. Maybe.

So, I am giving it attention and calling it out. Yes, I am done with proving I can do hard things. But, part of what makes me tick and part of what makes me proud is that I can do. I have to find the right middle between doing and not leaning into the hard. So, instead of running as hard as I can in a half marathon, I go for an 8 mile run with my puppy by my side, both of us smiling and loving our route and taking in the scenery of how gorgeous it is to live here. Instead of working until my head hurts and it's taking me three times as long to do things, I get up when it's still dark and I plug away and I check off my boxes. Instead of doing it all, I set up systems for the kids to remind them that they are people and they too are ready for the responsibility. And instead of fighting, loving. Loving our time together, loving what we are grateful for. Loving all that we have worked hard for and have been lucky with. Loving how we are building a family of trust and openness. Loving our little family walks. Loving some time together. Loving our snuggles. Instead of being the mom that says no, or reminds you of to-do lists, being the one that reminds you I trust you.

And then, this morning, I set my alarm early again. My brain and body felt rested. I got up in the dark, I kissed my hubby on the arm and squeezed his hand as I whispered "I love you." I worked for hours and hours in the dark. I drank warm coffee, I wrote, I got things checked off my list. I sat in the amazing quiet. I got to hear my little puppers sleeping. I knew my little family was all snuggled. And I started again.

There are some things I am done with. My body, mind, patience, acceptance, they have met their limit. There are a lot of things I have left to do and creating a new normal is very much one of them. I knew how hard this transition would be on me. When you spend half your life being defined and feeling valued in one specific area, it's hard to say I am no longer that. But, it is time. For a change, for a bit slower of a pace, for a middle ground, for me to find out who this person is about to become. And one thing she will never be is completely done.

22
Jul

Smile

For both of you, it started about six or so weeks into your life. You were both laying down, and out of nowhere, this amazing precious smile came across your face and once again, you lit up our lives. Anna, you on our bed at home and Cole, you were in my office. You both looked up, eye to eye, and you smiled. Anna, dad got tears in his eyes. His little girl saw him, really saw him and melted. His little sweets knew it was her dad and she couldn't help but smile at his loving face. Dad called for me, Brin...she's smiling, oh my god, she just smiled at me! Cole, for you, it was just us two. You and me kiddo. I immediately took a picture and sent it to dad, who called me, and again, catching his breath, he smiled! That's really a smile!

That's what kids do to us parents. They just smile and we melt into them, into who they are, who they were, who they are going to be. We see it all right there, in that little smile.

To this day, it happens to both of us. Just the other night dad remarked at how gorgeous of a smile you guys had, how loving your smiles are. Anna, how when you really get laughing, that belly laugh, a real laugh, damn, it rocks me to my toes. Cole, even from across the way, your smile pierces right to my heart. It grabs my attention, and there are times, it brings actual tears to my eyes.

I see it when we are in really crowded areas at school, during some sort of performance. Anna, you search and look and make sure you can find us. And when you do, there's that smile. The one that says you've found us, you see who you were determined to make out. Your whole face lights up and you beam. You can see the pride and excitement in my face too and you can sense just how much we adore you. This moment, it's held in time a little bit, because that smile is just for us.

Cole, there are times you will be in the middle of a game, in the middle of something make-believe or in the middle of a ball game in which you're actually playing. And for a second, you'll look up, eye to eye, and there is a smile that spreads. Not one of recognition as much as one of love. You start to smile from your heart and the love you carry it bursts out of you, you just can't help it. This moment, it's held in time a little bit, because that smile is just for us.

Dad says you both carry my smile, but all I see is dad's. It's his smile that I first noticed, it's his smile that made me want to follow him around. It's his smile that made me fall, it's his smile that made me feel like I had found family. The smile that bursts hearts open. The smile that makes even strangers fall in love. The smile that makes you trust that you are good people. The smile that makes you realize this person's heart is alive and well. This person's heart is for real. They can't even pretend, just look at that smile that radiates actual light.

17
Jun

The fog

I talk a lot about how for years and years and years, we were in the fog of parenting. But just the other day, I was reading another mom's fog and it reminded me how desperate those times were and how desperate they felt. I can tell right away when two people are in the fog now. I can see it in their faces, I can hear it in how they talk, and I now know how normal it is.

Here's the craziest and scariest part, for us, it didn't happen in the beginning. It did not happen with newborns. No, for us, it came on three years in. Just when I thought we were not only safe, but I thought we were invincible. I found myself elated, telling him things like "we made it, we managed to avoid all of the fog." I was so damn cocky. I was so sure we sidestepped all of the crap, and we came out the other side, strong, loving, partners, leaning on each other, doing this incredible dance, it all just fit. And all of that was true, we were, we did, it was as if we were meant to do this, together. Until we started to walk on each other's toes and we no longer had any rhythm of a dance. Until it leveled me, us, what we had, who we were, what I thought we were, who I thought we were. The fog settled around us and we couldn't see each other anymore. We had lost, we were lost, and I thought we were gone.

The fog, for us it lasted for excruciating years. We did eventually figure out why. It all of a sudden all made sense. And you would think that would have fixed it but hell no. It took more years to fight our way back. I kept allowing the fog to cloud my vision, you kept shining a light in my face to have me see you and find you in the mess.

The fog settles at different times, in different ways, for different reasons for different people. The fog makes you deflated, angry, exhausted, resentful, full of contempt, unable to laugh, unable to see. It doesn't last all day every day but when it settles over, it lingers. And most of the days, you lose. You don't have a fighting chance against it. It changes you, it changes how you see your other, it changes how you see your life. It makes it too dark to see clearly so it's covered in gray. The fog makes you want, it makes you think it's greener someplace else. The fog makes you cry, hard. But, if you all hold on to each other, stumble through the mess together, if you go slowly, become more gentle, remember what is on the other side, all of a sudden, it lifts.

You have days that are clearer, you can finally see. You have days with more sunshine, they just feel warmer. You have days with more color, the green is on your side now. You realize how hard that was and how you somehow managed to make it through. I'm no longer cocky enough to think for even one second that the fog won't settle in again. I will no longer proclaim that we managed to avoid anything. Because for some, it doesn't settle in at all. But that is rare, that is not the norm. See, for others, it takes over for a short while, some others longer. And in the long run, all of it is short when you are staring at forever. But it is one of the many secrets of parenting that no one talks about, everyone is hush hush about. The fog is a real thing, it happens and it does not mean you are broken. It does not mean you are in trouble, it means you have walked through the thick of it, it's murky right now, it will once again lift.

What I have learned is that if you are with family, if you find someone you do not want to walk away from, you manage to hold on. You manage to find ways to laugh, you keep talking, you keep searching for each other, you stumble together, but you never let the other person fall. You lose, and it doesn't matter. You keep showing up for each other because you know how worth it all is. You realize this is a blip in your long long life together. You realize so many others are also walking through the fog and you shine lights in their faces too to remind them that this is all very normal. What I have learned is that you figure it out, the dance becomes more and more of the rhythm you know you have. You look across the table and you just smile because you know this is home, this is where your heart has always been, this is where you belong.

17
May

Five Minute Friday - promise

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on promise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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