24
Jan

Peace

Hi 2021, bring peace.

It's a big ask. I asked 2020 to make things calm and bright. Although you can argue that we did not get either, I can also argue that I got a little bit of both.

So why peace?

Because it was a year of unrest. A year of chaos. A year that was needed, the chaos, unrest, unpeaceful year was needed. We had been living in privilege for too long and the entire world needed to hear the roar. A year that needed anger and uprising. It was a year that was needed.

And although we are not stopping, and the work, the hard work, will continue, we are also going to find a way to allow peace in. It is time for a little bit of peace.

I spent a lifetime proving and doing. I spent a lifetime making this really hard on myself. Some think it has been a way to continue to punish, they may be right. Some think it is how I have always been wired, they may be right. I think it was to prove that I could. When you are told all of your life that you can't, there are many ways to react to that, I picked fighting and fighting hard.

And then 2020 came. As I was wrapping up three of the most difficult years, 2020 came. As I was ready to put down my fighting gloves and stop proving, 2020 came. As I was ready to slow down, 2020 came. As I was ready to catch my breath, find myself again, 2020 came. As I was ready to find my mind, remember and see things more clearly, 2020 came. As I was ready, 2020 came.

I found balance in a year where everything stopped. I found a way to work, a way to stop when I needed to, a way to nap, a way to allow the calm. I fought through imposter syndrome, I fought through "why am I doing this and who do I think I am?" I fought through all the negativity I was throwing my way. I let go of a lot of my past. I stood up for myself in ways that made me uncomfortable and proud. Uncomfortable because when a mouse finally says enough, it feels like a storm destroying the earth. When all I really did was say, I deserve better and you can no longer make me feel this way.

I stopped crying. I used to cry a lot. In the shower, on my way to work, in my dreams. I stopped crying. I stopped worrying all of the time. I stopped dreaming about work. I stopped having nightmares. I stopped having moments of insane panic. I stopped feeling like someone was standing on my chest, taking away my breath. I stopped feeling bad all of the time. I stopped.

I was able to no longer say "I'm not ok" I used to say that a lot. "I'm not ok", because I wasn't. I was not ok. And once I found my way to this place, it all came rushing back. My time with my kids started really feeling differently. I was no longer checking off boxes, I was really with them. Watching TV feels different. Isn't that insane? Watching TV feels more present and less brutal. How did watching TV ever feel brutal?

I found my laugh, I found joy. That's a big big one. Joy. There are so many moments through my day, day in and out, that joy now sneaks in. During a walk, I will get a shot of it. Driving in my car, I feel it. I am no longer rushed to one place or another, I no longer feel like I'm always late and running into trouble. I drive the speed limit. It's these incredibly small and stupid things that bring this rush of joy and this stupid smile to my face.

And so 2021, I need to remember that peace is necessary. Yes, there is a lot of work to do and a lot of wrong to right. There is a lot to do. I am running a business, there is a lot to do. I am a mom to two littles, there is a lot to do. But, I no longer want to move through life and just know I need to be somewhere based on a schedule. I want to see where I am. I want to feel my days. I want to feel when I need to stop and stop. No, I am not all woo-woo. No, I am not all-knowing, really couldn't be farther from either. No, I am not regretful. I know that if I had to do it all over again, I would. Just the way I did. Only because I know no other way and every step, decision, every moment of exhaustion allowed this to happen. I honestly do not think I would love, embrace, and really appreciate this time if it were not for the previous years. So, no, I do not regret any decision.

But I am happy, I am ok again.

Hi 2021, please bring peace.

18
Jan

#46

Dear Joe, may I call you Joe? I understand that Joe is how you went through campaigning, but it feels so casual, considering. I want you to know there are so many reasons I voted for you, and when the time comes, I need my babies to know why too. I also wanted to ask some things of you, and wish you all the best for what is about to come your way.

First, let me start with the reasons.

  1. It's true, you NOT being #45 was a major reason. I promise it was not my only, but yeah, it played a very big role in the decision. I am not even going to try and pretend it did not play a role. I spent years saying, anyone but, but the truth is, you are not anyone.
  2. I can see, clearly, that you are going to take this role very seriously. You come to it humbly and with caution, but with a plan. Strong plans, plans I can get behind, plans that make me feel like we are moving the country in the right direction. You take the title seriously, the role, the honor of what has been bestowed upon you. You are serious about this. You are not doing it for any other reason other than to serve and you take that service seriously.
  3. Your VP choice. She is bright, she too has plans. They will not always align with yours and for that, you specifically picked her. Your foundation was here, you both felt sold in the foundation and I am excited to see what you are going to build together. Thank you for making women's rights matter. Thank you for showing the whole world how important this decision was. Thank you for making POC matter. Thank you for showing the whole world how important this decision was. Thank you for realizing that the only way to break cycles is to not repeat them.
  4. You are a leader. My definition of a leader, you are my definition of a leader. A true leader, in my humble and inexperienced opinion, is someone that puts "it" above them. You will be making extremely difficult decisions. Decisions that half of this country will be 100% against you. Decisions that even those that believe in you, those that voted for you, they too will not agree with each and every decision you make. But, even if I do not agree, I know that every decision will be made with America in your heart. I know that every decision will be made with where we want America to be 4 years from now and how do we want to get there? In that, I trust, so I trust you.

The mess that you are both walking into is truly overwhelming. For me anyway. There are times I feel so small and so insignificant and most of what you are about to face is not my day in and day out. We are divided, we are broken. We are battling a pandemic. We are battling a civil rights movement. We have too many citizens that have lost...lives, jobs, loved ones, money, connection, trust, faith. There are enemies afar and those within and through it all, you want to be America's President. So, January 20th you will be sworn in. You will stand proud. You will take a deep breath in, I can see it now. You will most likely get emotional. You will have us pulling for you.

Continue to be you, the person we put our trust into. Be the man you stated you were, the leader you promised you would be. Your country needs you now more than ever.

20
Dec

Time matters

If there is one thing we all learned this year, it is that time matters. Well, I don't know if we all learned it, but I certainly did. Coming off of three extremely tough years...years that hurt me physically, mentally, hurt relationships, hurt my mind, tore me apart some...years I spent more time crying than doing anything else at all...I did that all because I knew that time matters. Time with you, time with those I love, time to read, time to nap, time matters.

And then, coming to a full and complete stop...time matters.

When this first hit, and we all thought it would be over in a few weeks...maybe even a month or two...I really stopped. I snuggled into the quiet and the calm that I was privileged enough to have. I snuggled into naps, long runs, watching time go by. To some, time no longer mattered, to me, it mattered.

My lists became what did not matter. My have tos no longer important and everyone was just trying to figure this new life out, thinking it would all be temporary. Once things lingered, no one was doing anything well, we all knew it, we were all just hanging on. I still held up most of my routines, I still did "me", but I really relished the fact that time was what I was afforded and I took advantage of it all.

I took long walks with my daughter. I ran far but not for distance and time anymore, but for time alone and time with them. I walked my dog all of the time, I still do. It's our amazing time together, and if she doesn't get it now, she gets furious with me. After all, I took something from her, I took away her time and time matters.

I read, some. But I didn't make it a task or a goal, I just read when the time was right, when my daughter asked me for a reading date, when I decided the screens were too much and demanded a reading date. I found time to read again, and time matters.

I drank so much coffee I should probably start cutting back but just do not want to. I drank wine and I "gathered" with friends, squads that leaned on each other, even on videos and walks. I drank with my husband, we would have a "we made it through another day" toast. I relished all of the time I had found because time matters.

I worked hard on my business, it flourished. I finally had time to dedicate to it and it really showed. I was so fortunate to hold on to our business, our income. I sit back and think hard about where I was five years ago when I started to feel like it was time to move on. I sit back and think hard about where I was one year ago, how hard it all seemed but things slowly falling into place. And as I sit here today, I do not for one second take for granted the fact that it worked out. I found something that I am good at, enjoy, can make a living off of, and gives me back my time. I no longer work from 4am till 10 or 11pm. I no longer work in my sleep. I no longer work while I'm driving. I no longer dream and have nightmares about work. I no longer sit in the shower and think about it all and rush out because I have 5 minutes before it all starts. I have a life back. I have time in my life now. I have my own calendar. I have time and time matters.

So, just as I asked for calm in my life. The world stopped spinning. Just as I desperately needed time, the universe showed up and made time meaningless and the most meaningful things in life.

Time matters kiddos. How you spend it, what you do with it, who you spend it with. It matters on the days you sit around doing nothing. It matters on the days you are crushing goals. It matters when you are exhausted and finally rest your bones. It matters when you are cold and decide to put your body into warm water. It matters, time matters. And in a year when it was exhausting to be alive, time showed up and reminded us that we are at a fork in the road now. We can go back to speeding through life, we can go back to everything being too important all of the time. I know we will not continue to stand still, most cannot and will not even if they could. But, we can also decide that time matters and make choices that are simple and on purpose. We can stop having life happen to us and around us and we can once and for all decide that time is important.

14
Dec

It's not working

Listening to a podcast this week, the host asked her interviewee, how do you know when to keep going and be persistent, and when do you know it's time to walk away, take a break, or realize it's not working.

If you don't know this already, you will for sure find out...Mom has no idea how to do this. This specific question has kept me up too many nights. Last Friday, I joined my Five Minute Friday group to write on the word "beyond" and all I could write about was when things are beyond our control and how heavily I lean into above and beyond.

I realized in these past few weeks how I have always felt almost born wrong because I don't know when or how to stop. I only know how to add, never ever take away.

And then weeks later, the podcast host was talking about how she too piles on and why she does so. As an upholder, I feel so comfortable and way better when I do more and more. Control of the things in my life, schedules, doing my routine, that is all freedom for me. So although I can pat myself on the back for a job well done, the truth is, I just feel better doing it all.

And there you have it. That explains all of me all of the time. That is why I am the way that I am.

Why do I keep going and going?

Why to I choose to kill myself over this too?

Why do I not know when it's time to stop?

Why can't I realize I need to stop or walk away?

Why don't I feel like I can or should stop?

Because, walking away from goals, dreams, relationships, love, all of it, feels out of control. Giving up, and I can't just give up.

But, just because this feels right and in control and weirdly comforting, it does actually at times cause honest harm. So, how does anyone know and really understand that their tactics are not working, and it's time to do the opposite?

Sweeties, I do not know. I do not know how to teach you this because I do not know any of these answers. It is one of my many faults and I cannot ever seem to figure it out. I'm an all-in girl and whenever things spin out of control or get out of hand or I'm in over my head...I don't just keep going, I add. I double down. Hard. I give more, I do more, I push harder, and I never ever know how to walk away. Even if it is not healthy.

I don't know for sure but I do not think that either of you are all in. I think you might go the other way and drop more balls than you pick up. I'm going to work hard at understanding this, allowing you to find your groove and also reminding you that it may not be the healthiest if you go too far in any one direction. Don't let everything drop, it'll be too hard to pick back up again.

How did the woman being interviewed answer the question about being persistent vs letting it go? She said she looks for the long game. The over all goal she will not give up on. A healthy relationship with her partner, even if it means a divorce. Writing that book, no matter how many years it takes. Getting her body healthy, maybe with many baby steps that will take a year or more to figure out. She looks at the long road ahead and figures out how to keep that goal there, be persistent about that, but set your expectations for a healthy way to get there.

In the meantime, I don't know if I will ever be able to do that. I struggle with the concept of accept yourself and challenge yourself. Is this all in girl someone I just accept or do I challenge her to knock it off? When things are so daunting, will I go into auto drive and not even realize it or will I ever be able to take a step back and realize I need to walk away from whatever "this" is?

There are so many times the all in girl serves me and the people I love very, very well. There are other times that it is so clear that too much is too much. If I were to ask myself, honestly, would I go back and do it all over again...just as I did the first time? Most of the time I answer a loud yes so for now, that is my answer. I just need to accept the truth of it all.

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.

2
Nov

I loved them first

To the love of their lives, the ones that will make them feel family and feel like they are home.

To the ones that will make them the best version of themselves and will challenge them.

To the ones that will bring them joy and heartache.

To the ones that they will grow with, move through this life with, grow together with.

To the ones that will make them smile from across a room, allow them to be silly, allow them to be them, but a different kind of them.

To the ones that will make their heart burst open...

I'm so happy you are here.

I am so happy you too saw what we see.

I am so happy you too realize how much love and joy they carry.

I am so happy you too can see their heart right on their sleeve.

I am so happy you too get frustrated at what I do.

I am so happy you get to be the biggest part of them.

I am so happy I have my hubby reminding me this is all normal and that I have to let go and let you all be.

I promise to call but not often.

I promise to ask how I can help.

I promise to be helpful.

I promise to have a relationship with you.

I promise to let you have your own relationship.

I promise to never judge (even if I am biting my judgemental tongue to the point of blood).

And, I promise to remind myself that me loving them first only means I taught them healthy love.

I taught them respect, to give it to show it to demand it of themselves.

I taught them to be kind, even when you are setting boundaries.

I taught them to talk and ask questions.

I taught them to listen.

I taught them to care about those you love.

I taught them to treat people kindly.

I taught them that the littlest things mean the most.

I taught them all about the importance of traditions and how they make a foundation strong.

And I taught them to look for you, look for family. Wrap your arms around it and hang on tight, do not let go.

I taught them it will be hard and easy and most importantly, I taught them that it will be really boring most of the time.

I thank you.

I thank you for your love.

I thank you for your patience, with them and me.

I thank you for joining our lives and being a part of this family and I thank you for creating the start of your family.

I loved them first and I hope you can see and feel how love is all that we know and have.

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.

21
Sep

Simple on purpose

So lovies, one amazing mama in our lives turned me on to this other amazing mama that focuses on being Simple. On purpose. It's what her lifestyle with her kids is called. Simple. On purpose. She makes clear and intentional decisions. She is intentional with her words, she connects with her kids, she is silly, she is a leader, she is a teacher, she is a mama.

My biggest lesson in following her....connection leads to cooperation. Cooperation does not mean following orders, do as you are told, or be complacent, or be seen not heard. Coorperation means we respect each other. It means we talk to one another like it matters.

If you want your kids to be on the same team, you have to connect with your kids. You have to make them feel a part of the team. You have to work at being a good parent. You have to see things at their level. Your job is to deescalate, your job is to bring them out of chaos. You have a job.

She focuses on team and calmness. She focuses on restearing and redirecting and getting them out of bad moods. Everyone deserves to be in a bad mood, and everyone deserves to have someone make them feel better about that. She lets them have a voice, she asks them to. She gives them a chance to explain and allows them to be people. She sets up structure and discipline and she allows them to feel heard. She gives them freedom, even if it is within boundaries. She lets them figure things out and she allows them to be wholesome, loving kids.

She lets them fight it out and figure it out. She lets them earn money by earning their keep. She sets up family rules, dynamics, functions. She makes them feel like they are all part of this family, so we all have a stake, and we all own this house, so we all have a stake.

She lets them be messy, she helps them figure out how to clean it up. They trust each other, you can see it. They lean on each other. They have connected.

She doesn't get exhausted by the whining, god do I get exhausted and immediately trigged by the whining. She doesn't get short tempered by the arguing, god I get so short tempered when they fight, she finds solutions, I just break it up and separate. She sets them up with routines, ones that work for them and their family, she is big on that.

She breaks it all down to being simple. Be a family. Be kind. Connect. Love. Trust. Talk. Get down to their level. Hug. Hold their hand. Smooch them. Fix their hair. Praise their effort. Laugh with them. Throw dance parties. Stop yelling, seriously, stop doing it. Know that you are the adult. You are the one dictating the course of their memories, their childhood. Take three deep breaths, start again. Start over. Teach them to apologize. Show them the way and then get out of the way. She makes it all seem so simple.

One day, I watched her no yell challenge and I listened to how she reacts instead. I took notes on the steps to take while observing your child.

Do they "always" do someone, or do they do it and you as the adult are so triggered it feels like all of the time?

Does the "thing" they do really last "forever"? Or, is it moments and if you stop fueling the fire it's even less time?

Is it really "all day everyday" or is there a moment that brings on a behavior and if you stopped the moment, the behavior would go away?

Have you really tried "everything" or have you tried the same thing over and over hoping that it brings about a different result?

I started with my Ferdinand. The one that gets a bad wrap around here. He doesn't always spill things, he does it once, maybe twice a day. He isn't always leaving his things everywhere, all of the time. He gets lost in playing and I don't give him enough warning to leave. He isn't always screaming, he's just excited and needs to be reminded we are all inside. But when you connect with this child...when you play with him, when you read with him, when you go on adventures with him...he is a puddle and the sun is beaming out of his heart. Connection, he is craving us.

I moved on to Bella. She isn't always on a screen, she loves to take walks with us. She isn't always complaining, she just needs reminders of what to be grateful for. She isn't always sitting, or eats just sugar, she needs to be reminded that her body is what allows her to feel good and strong and able. But when you connect with this child...when you set up a reading date, when you go for a family bike ride, when you allow her to talk and talk on a walk, when you let her get her puppy ready...she is a puddle and the sun is beaming out of her heart. Connection, she is craving us.

All of this is to say lovies, it is simple. We make it more complicated and harder than it needs. But, if there is one thing that 2020 has taught us well is that you can take everything away from us and we still need each other. It's all we have ever needed. A puppy pulling out outside for a walk. A little girl begging us to read with her. A little boy begging us to build. It's as simple as connection.

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.

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