14
Mar

Partners

There was a long stretch of time in which our house was a lot more yelling than it was love. There was a long stretch of time I felt I was reliving my childhood in the worst way and I could see in your eyes the worry and concern and worst of all, I felt like you were both responding so poorly. You could feel the pressure and we were teaching you the opposite of a supportive team. Bella, we almost lost you during this time. You were full of rage and anger yourself and we could not just talk to you. Monkey, your emotions could not handle it. You were too young to say anything but you made sure we knew how uncomfortable this was for you.

And then I remembered why and how we work. How and why we need each other and the one thing we never let go of, and that is being partners.

Lovies, this...life, doing, being, adulting, it is all really really hard. And, neither I nor dad could do any of the things that we do unless we had each other to lean on and lean on hard. We don't only need each other, we rely on one another in a really special way. I hope you see and recognize that.

I do hope that you remember for the first ten years of parenting, Dad was your morning jam because mom was already at work. And for so many years, mom started her day at 4am so she can be with you starting at 4 or 5 pm. Whenever I dropped a ball, dad picked it up.

I hope you remember that Dad's coaching schedule kept him away at night for 6 months out of the year. Where ever you needed to be, whatever classes you were in, dinner, homework, activities, that was all me. Whenever he dropped a ball, I picked it up.

But, it took me a very long time to get here. See, for the first few years of our marriage, I was so determined to not be "the housewife". The only one that knew where things existed in our home, the only one that cleaned or cleaned up. Because of my fear of recreating where I came from, it took me WAY longer than dad to realize what our partnership looks like. It took me way longer to realize that it's okay that we each have our place and our groove and if I do something better or if it means more to me, I should just do it. It took me years to realize that I needed to put my resentment of my past away and not put that on him. And then, there's the concept of 50/50.

There is no such thing loves and never has that defined a partnership. The reason this works is because I drop and he picks up and vise versa. And most times, that means we are looking more like 90/10. Even though we each have our "areas" that does not mean we let them fall down when the other just can't pick them up.

Partnership means having really hard conversations. I don't like how we are parenting here, I need this part of our life to change, this part isn't working. Really listening to each other and knowing we each are carrying baggage to our trip as a family. Some bags are way heavier than others but even the light ones need to be unpacked.

Partnership means arguments, anger, sticking it out, coming back, realizing what's important, moving forward, taking steps back, being uncomfortable and comfortable and safe. Being a good person to each other.

Partnership means sticking by the other when they are diagnosed forever sick. Partnership means not judging each other when you are trying to figure something out and it's taking too long. Partnership means doing what needs to be done for your team...your family.

Okay, it took mom longer. I was terrified of the fog years. I was so worried about all of us. But I got there. Because a true partner doesn't run when things are tough, they show up.

21
Feb

Chapters

Maybe she looks at chapter one too harshly, maybe she looks at chapter three with rose-colored glasses. Maybe her memory plays tricks on her as she builds her chapters and remembers them the way she wants to. Maybe there is a different version of the story out there. Regardless, this is her story, the one she remembers, the one that shaped her, made her. This story is her why...why are you like this? It's because of this story.

Chapter 1: she is too young to be this old.

She spent this time really worried, scared, and surrounded by a lot of anger, yelling, and slamming. There was a lot of crying and although she was and still can be so immature with her feelings and reactions, she always knew she was too young to be so old.

She likes to really focus on all of the hard during this time. She lingers in it sometimes and is brought back to it too quickly. To this day, they still act similarly, and therefore, it's easy for her to remember the hard. So, she pushes herself to remember that there were also moments of gentle and sweet moments of family too.

Moments like walking with her mother and sister, because the family had only one car, so they walked everywhere. Her mother in the middle, each child by her side. She would hold their hands and to keep her little girls warm, she would place them in her pockets.

Moments like Christmas Eve when it was so loud and they were surrounded by so much of her father's family. They had cousins and family, and midnight mass, and opening presents at 1am and too much food.

Moments like really late nights with her mother's side of the family. The men all playing cards. The cousins scheming for ways to have a sleepover. The woman drinking espresso and talking the whole night away. Falling asleep in the car bc it was always too late when we left.

But, there was a lot of hard too. And she knew, she had to find a way to move on. She was too young to be this old.

Chapter two: where she wanted to be.

Having spent high school really creating strong and loving friendships, the kind she knew saved her and would carry her, she left. Some call it running away, they are not wrong. Some call it moving away, they are not wrong. Some call it leaving, they are not wrong. Some call it selfish, they are not wrong. Some call it strong, they are not wrong. Some call it scary, they are not wrong. Some call it liberating, they are not wrong. Some call it necessary, they are not wrong. Most call it going to college, they, are not wrong.

College was as warm as a heavy blanket. Surrounded by trees and fall leaves and snow and wind and cold. College was an incredible four years. The start of framily. Forever relationships that would never leave her heart. College was everything she worked so so hard for. College was the end of the road. College was all her goals and her final destination. College was fun and loving. It was hard and a ton of work. It was late nights, early mornings, little sleep, lots of sleep. College was figuring a lot out for her. It was also knowing a lot about herself. College was everything she wanted, exactly where she wanted to be. But still, there was this little dark, heavy, and angry cloud that did not allow her to fully let go.

Chapter three: it's so easy.

From the moment she met him and saw that smile, it was just so easy. Being in his tight hug, seeing him across a room, hearing his laugh, it was all so easy. It was just the two of them and their little reason of a puppy, the one that made sure they were together. Even when things were harder or stressful, chapter three was just so incredibly easy.

She got sick in chapter three, really sick, forever sick. But since life was easier, she also knew what she needed to do to get better. And, there was nothing that was complicating that. She was terrified, she thought she needed to walk away from him, but he just pulled her in tighter.

He was family, she didn't realize how much she needed him until she found him. She needed his easy. She needed one thing to feel this easy. She didn't realize he was missing.

Taking walks together, staying up all night talking, going to grab a coffee, city living, holding hands, watching TV, it was all so easy. He blended right in to her family, the one she had now created for herself. He was the last and incredibly important piece to the puzzle. They were so different, but in a good way, they were each other's balance. They had so much in common, but in important ways. They had a really solid foundation. They liked to be together, they liked to be with other people, they really liked each other and it was all so easy.

Chapter four: the family grows.

With a move and marriage and the puppy, they added and added again. He always knew children needed to be a part of his story, she needed to be talked into it more. But, once they were here, she fell in love with being a mama and protecting their little. She looks at them, all of the time. While they are eating, or sleeping, or playing, she cannot take her eyes off of them. They look so much like him and it makes her fall for him even harder, they are the two of them combined becoming their own little person. They are so different, one a book nerd, the other a Lego master. One a sitter, the other anything but.

Although the first three years of parenting were incredible, really incredible. So incredible it felt like this was what they were made to do. They fell in love with falling in love with their girl. There was an incredible dance during those first few years.

But, right around year three, the fog finally set in and settled all around them. It was no longer easy to find each other. It was so hard to see one another and the foundation didn't seem as strong. She was filled with so much worry during this time but he knew it was all just a blip and kept pulling her close. She made a lot of threats during these years, and he kept trying to remind her that the fog would lift. There were so many emotions but they rounded one important corner after another until it was clear again.

Their first puppy had her final days, and they said one very difficult goodbye. Without her, it felt really lifeless and dark. So, a new puppy brought life and love, and light back into their home. She was the lover of love that every single member of the family needed and clung to.

Chapter four was hard and wonderful. It was the definition of life, couplehood and parenthood.

Chapter five: the job that was always too much.

She spent 20 years being raised by an agency. She fell so hard for the mission and the hope they created. She loved the way they too protected childhood and understood how important that was to communities. It was never ever a job for her, it was always a way of life, something she needed to breathe. Until the day came when she truly loved it to death, not only was it no longer her breath, it was choking her and it all became too much. Only because she made it too much, because that is who she is and what she does, she is an all in girl and loves things too much.

For the longest time, she relished in the hours and hard hard work. For the longest time, she felt like she was home an in a groove. Until she realized that she was no longer riding a wave, she was getting soaked and the water was starting to take her under. She was drowning. And even more heartbreaking, she lost her hum.

There was a constant headache brewing, a tightness around her chest, an anger that was rising. She was the only one that could stop it but she didn't know how. It was then that she realized her time there was up, they all needed something different. And it wasn't just her or her family that needed her to walk away, it was the agency. They too needed something different and she had to go now.

So she spent three years planning and building and figuring out...what next? This had been such a deep and rooted part of her for so so long, where to next? When the answer came she knew it would be a hard three years, but she also didn't see any other way to make it work. So, she got to work and poured hours on top of hours and worked harder and longer. And it broke her. It broke her brain, her heart, her spirit, her...it broke her.

It was always too much but only because she made it so.

Chapter six: all is calm, all is bright.

She struggled in the beginning. It took time for her to sleep well. It took time for her to stop crying, shaking. It took time before the nightmares stopped and it took time before she didn't feel like someone was standing on her chest. It took time to figure out her days. It took time for her mind to come back and her memory, it took time for her memory to improve.

But slowly, it started to happen. She found and caught her breath. She no longer felt like every decision was the wrong one. She started to really enjoy her days again. Slowly, she started finding herself.

Chapter seven: peace and joy.

She had forgotten pure joy. Not just a glimpse of funny here or there, but moments of actual pure joy. She found them in the smallest of places. Walks with her dog, watching TV at night, reading with her girl, all of the naps. She found joy.

And she loves her job and loves to work. She no longer sits down heavy, but really has the ability to find solutions and think through the best way to handle something new. She still panics here and there, has to be pulled back down, and talk through some trouble spots, but she once again loves her work.

She also realizes she, and only she, can keep finding the balance, or she can keep up her old ways and love it to death, again. She has a chance here to love what she does but not only do work. She has a chance to keep herself open to new possibilities, but only if she is open. She has the chance to problem-solve, but only if she is not overwhelmed. It's up to her what direction this all goes in.

She has found time with her kiddos, games and reading dates, and so many walks and walks. Walks with her new puppy. Walks with her kiddos. So many talks with the kiddos. Making sure she is the mama she needs them to be, a mama that is there for them. She loves being their mama and she needs them to see how much.

She found her laugh again, she can't give that up again. She found her way but it is up to her to make sure this is how she keeps going. She can't go back to her old ways, she needs this peace.

Chapter eight: the one that isn't written yet.

?

29
Nov

Trim the tree

When mom was young, trimming our tree was never a good day. It was never ever pleasant, or warm, or caring. I have so many memories from those years and I will spare you the details, mainly because I can't bear to recount them. But, I will at least tell you things like it was only me, zia, and nonna. Nonno was always working and I cannot recall even one time that he was there with us. We didn't start early to decorate. Nonna was not into it, she didn't love her home dressed up like that. But, she had kids and she did love the religious part of Christmas so of course she went with it.

It was always always bad. Always.

So, I wanted to make sure ours was different. And I took all of that bad and I bundled it up into a ball. I filled it with pressure and expectations that cannot be met, and I just handed the enormous ball over to our family. And you all, tossed the ball back to me because it's my stupid ball after all. I hold it tight and I keep inflating it as we go.

So decorating our home for the holidays is never bad. Ever. I have actually tried and managed to make it sweet and many a year, you will catch me smiling and laughing at a movie we have on. We stay in jammies, we trim and watch, dad sometimes makes hot chocolate. There are very tender moments. Eventually, dad gets frustrated with how much time it's taking. And then I panic that for a second anyone is not blissful and the pressure mounts as I inflate the ball.

You guys watch a ton of movies, you're in and out of helping. Someone ends up crying, there's a small fight somewhere, and I am turning the ball around in my hand, and the pressure mounts, as I inflate the ball.

Something breaks, I try really hard to make it not a big deal, but someone is upset. Patience starts to become this thin delicate fragile line, and the ball gets bigger as the pressure mounts, as I inflate it a little more. Eventually, the ball I'm trying hard to hold pops and so do my emotions. I either go silent, cry, or throw the pieces of the ball in someone's direction. And all the memories come flooding back, I am now covered in fragments, and it's all my fault.

So, for this one year, I just didn't. I didn't put expectations on any of it. I just let it unfold, I let it all be. You are getting older and older. One of you is sitting in the in-between and the other is full of little, and our time together is starting to slip away from me. So, I changed the day.

With one-hundred percent honesty, all of the pressure and expectations come from me. That's the only reason the ball gets too big. I am the only person that can change the day, the memories. It is only up to me and no one else is to blame. So, this year, no expectations. Just get the house done. If there's a fight, that's life. If something breaks, I'll let anyone be upset about that and tell them that I honestly don't care, because I never did. If tempers get out of control, I'll walk away and realize we are all human. I won't make it about me or my past or what was. I'm way too old for that and we are not that, so I will stop pretending like I need to prove we are not.

And of course, it worked. The day was so pleasant I didn't even have to pretend that it was "going fine". The ball, I did not inflate it and it never ever blew up in my face, it didn't even show up. You guys did your ornaments, anywhere you wanted. You really did do one amazing job. Dad put up the trees, did some trimming, made sure the lights worked, moved things up and down the stairs for us, praised me for how nice the house looks, set up our outside stuff. And when all was said and done, Anna, you hugged me hard, told me that the trees are so pretty, took a late-night walk with me, and really fell in love with the feel of our home. I was slow. I walked slow. I placed things with purpose. I didn't argue any part of it.

When it's your home, your traditions, your decorating, your tree trimming...it will all be as is. Cole, you will most likely go cut down a tree and decorate your house with "real" trees. Anna, you will most likely stick to the fake (it's just easier you'll say). You may use some of our traditions, you may throw them out the window. You may or may not remember that for the first few years, mom was tightly wound and on edge and really had dad all wound up too. You may or may not remember when I stopped. I just let it all happen and I didn't put any pressure, no expectations. I didn't inflate the ball.

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.

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