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.

7
Sep

A deceptive peace

I cannot begin to explain to the world how much I needed March 2020. I did not need a pandemic and I did not need people getting sick or Americans losing their jobs/lives/livelihood. I did need the world to stop spinning for a while and I needed the time March gave me.

Being huddled up in my home during the cold month of March was like a miracle. Having everyone here with me, all of us safe and sound, it was heaven. I desperately missed our framily connections and I was so sad the grandparents couldn't connect with their babies, but we found really good and nurturing ways to stay connected and feeling loved.

March was long, really really long. But I needed it to go as slowly as it did. I was scared for my new business, I was scared for my family, our community, our country, I was. I was also tired. I was worn out and worn thin. I spent three years hurting myself and I needed it all to slow the hell down. I needed to see my family, I needed to work side by side with my husband, I needed to see him really shine with our kids as he taught them. I really really needed March.

April was lovely but eery. There was a deceptive peace as the magnitude of the virus really hit. We all started to really connect the dots on how long this was going to take us and there was no end in sight. More and more and more things shut down. Phases started to be introduced. The streets were empty. Stores, big and small, were closed. Restaurants really suffered. The deceptive peace really caved our walls in all around us.

As the weather got warmer, we became more hopeful, but longed for people and connection and coming out of hibernation. The deceptive peace had taken hold.

Grandparents drove to talk through the windows. People connected as much as they could in video meetings with friends/family/loved ones. As quickly as we were excited about connecting through video screens, we were also over it. Easter was canceled. Everything was eery, so quiet. Eery and quiet became the norm, a deceptive peace became our norm.

The deceptive peace made me at times feel so grateful for this time, so tired all of the time...I could not get enough sleep. There were moments when the peace filled me with so much joy but the deception of the peace had me so worried and filled with dread. What next? What happens now? How is this ever going to be fixed? Who do we know that's sick, who is lost forever? The deceptive peace had my dreams still filled with anxiety but my eyes continued to be heavy. I would do the littlest thing and the exhaustion was overwhelming. The deceptive peace had taken over my whole body.

Deceptive because...

It should not take a pandemic for me to settle down. It should not take a pandemic and a virus that knocks down the world for me to finally realize enough is enough. But, it did. And, this is who I am and that is a very hard pill to swallow and a lot for me to just accept.

The anxiousness still talked to me in my dreams. It still found me and told me that things were okay but not okay.It still asked me questions I had no idea the answers to. It still "what if"ed me all of the time.

We were expected to do everything, all at once, and everyone knew no one was doing anything well. Not one thing was being done well and with clarity. Instead, we all tried to "make the best of things".

Everyone was guessing, all of the time guessing. Everyone still is.

Deceptive because it snowed in May, riots started soon thereafter. A civil unsettling and reckoning were awakened and we were all called to task. We were all called to do more, listen more, say more, shut up more.

June, July and August all ran into each other. School "ended" and we all tried to make summer work and be summer. In so many ways, it was, in so many ways, it was not. Riots continued, more and more stories hit of the racial injustices of our world, our lives, our nation. We learned more, we were faced with the ugly truth of who we have always been.

June, July, and August all ran into each other. Kids tried to be kids. Vacations were had. Framily came back together. Grandparents got to spend time with their grand-kids again. And before we knew it, our little family had been together for six months. Six months.

In September, my daughter and I were taking of of our many walks and she said, so dad goes back to work in about 2 days...wow, it'll be weird without him home. After all this time, the deceptive peace became our normal, and the real normal now feels strange.

So yes, this week, we will have our ice cream for dinner tradition. We will say goodbye to summer. We will tuck dad in for his early mornings. We will continue to guess the right/wrong way to handle this all and we will figure it out.

For the past six months, you guys have been resilient. Calm. Crazy. Gotten along so well. Hated each other. Laughed together. Screamed at one another. Been on millions of walks. Saw framily. Reconnected with who you are. Gotten ready for a brand new school. Cried. Talked. Drew. Built. Ran. Rode bikes. Swam. Loved on Pearl. Watched a million movies. Read so many books. Spent hours of tablets. Shopped. Watched me work. Watched dad create a home. Hugged. Loved. Found peace.

26
Jul

Easier

2020, for me, started gently. I had set my intention...all is calm, all is bright. After years and years of hurting myself and breaking my brain, 2020 was when I was going to be gentle...on me. I went into 2020 with ways to make my life easier. I started my relationship with the year by wanting a better relationship with myself.

The things I wanted accomplished all had to do with slowing down, making life a little easier.

  • At least one year off of all races. That means no triathlon, no half marathon, no pushing myself to the point of pain to prove I can do hard things. I have already proved that to myself. I can do hard things. Now, I would run for the love of running. I would ride my bike because I like to ride. I would work out, I would still work my body, and I would be tired after, but I would feel good about that.
  • More intentional time with my family. Dinner, together. No more me sitting at dinner worrying about all I have to get back to. I just wanted to sit and enjoy dinner with my family. Breakfast together. I wanted to sit and take you in during the morning and I wanted our mornings to be lighter, full of love and kindness.
  • A slower start to my day. Me able to put them on a bus. Big hugs and a mom there, with you.
  • Walks with Pearl, multiple times a day. Me and my girl able to take breaks and take in the cold, watch the seasons change together.
  • More yoga. I wanted to stretch and do the one thing that makes me quiet and still.
  • Save more money because I was in a position to start making more money.

We are halfway through now. 2020 threw us all for a loop. And although there are many things on my list that are weird now, most of my intentions have been met.

When the pandemic first started, it was so obvious what instantly became easier in our lives.

  • A husband whose busy season was canceled. Just canceled. Me having to be a full-time parent all by myself ended. It was the first spring we have ever had him home with us.
  • All of the kiddos springtime activities were canceled. Because on top of him being gone, their activities are nonstop in the spring and all of those came to a halt.
  • Even if I wanted to do a race, there was no way to get tempted, they all ended. Canceled for the year.
  • Me working hard for one job works for me. It works really really well for me. Now, I no longer start at 4am and go until I collapse at 10 at night. Now, I get up later, (most times I am no longer setting an alarm,) and I work out, I have some coffee and I start. I still have early morning meetings, I still have things to work around, I still am falling into old patterns of making myself too busy, but I am immediately recognizing it and making changes to get back on the right track. Working one job and focusing on that one job, that works for me.
  • Pearl is living her best life with slow car rides, trips, so many walks, time with us, she is one happy little puppy.
  • Time with my kids is plentiful...almost too much and we need to find some time apart but all in all, we are making it work well.
  • So many naps, and is there anything more gentle on your body than a big old nap?

As time continued to slowly crawl by, it also became glaringly obvious what was now harder.

  • Kids have been out of school since mid-March. They may (YIKES) go back to school this September. They may (YIKES) not go back to school this September. They may (YIKES) go back to school part-time this September. By the time September hits, children will be home 6 solid months. Six solid months. If they don't go back, if they do go back, all of it will be hard.
  • Alone time. I miss being in my home for a full workday alone. I miss my Mondays (only conference call meetings) and Fridays (no meetings so only accomplish work) and I miss my time.
  • Seeing people we love. My kids miss friends, a lot. Like all kids, they just want to be around other kids. They really really really want to be around other kids.
  • We spent almost four months not seeing a soul and that was really tough. I definitely need my people. We are slowly opening up to others, but nothing is the same.
  • Worry, we all have no idea what any of this will look like. What the long term effects of this will be. How this will all end or when it will end. We are all guessing about the right things to do for our family. For our kids. For our jobs. For our futures. For our health. Everything is a total guess.

We have all really gone through all of the emotions of this. We have all gotten on this roller coaster and are up and down and up and down. We are all surviving and we are all doing the best we can. We are all making the best out of it. We are all enjoying it and not. We are all out of our minds and the calmest we have ever been. We all taken stock in what is important but I don't think we have all learned our lesson yet. I see us going back to our "old ways" as soon as we possibly can and that makes me so sad.

The world should not have had to stop spinning for me to slow down. But it did so I am going to really listen. I am going to take a look at what is actually important and although there may be times I will be "more busy" than I want to be, I will no longer make "busy" my badge of honor. This year has certainly been hard and I am very privileged in that I know only one person who got very ill and he has turned the corner, both of us have had an income, everyone in our four walls have been healthy. We have been so lucky. So the least I can do is say that I am going to take all the lessons I learned in 2020 and continue to make my life easier.

12
Jul

At 80

She will sit in silence. Her hair will be long, and silver, and if not curly, there will be a wave. It will be rougher, harder, the softness will be a thing of the past. Her hands will be old looking. The years of water on them will have taken their toll. They too will be rougher, she will be using hand cream all the time to try and recapture her youth. Her skin will have wrinkles, her face will look unrecognizable, especially to her. Her eyes will be grandmotherly, even if she isn't one.

Her home will be large, too big, full of memories in every corner, every spot. She will place her hands on a wall and remember that room being so full...of stuff and toys and kids and noise and love. Her home will have been filled with love and that love will carry her through, it is what keeps her warm.

She will walk out of the front of her house, look out into her front yard and remember the family games played, the kids running around. She will remember her son just walking back and forth, playing alone but still full of sunshine, even when it rained.

She will walk out of the back of her home, sit on her deck, warm coffee in her hand, and she will remember the screams of joy, laughter, the look on her husband's face when his backyard became what he always dreamed. She will look at the lights and remember the warmth of summer days, and not just because the temperature was warmer.

She will be in her kitchen, making dinner and realize that more than dinner was made in this room. Traditions were created and protected there. The island was a gathering of more than dishes and food. She protected their childhood around that island. She protected her family there.

She will take a walk and remember the long talks with her daughter. First, talks about nothing but everything. Then, talks about everything and everything. She will remember holding hands with her, laughing with her. Hearing her describe books and stories in such detail, she will remember how hard that daughter of hers held on to little, how that was so important to her. She will remember how it was important to both of them.

She will think of the puppies she loved and still loves, even though they have fulfilled their purpose and moved on. She will remember how soft and loving they were. How patient and playful. She will remember their tails wagging and the love they provided. She will remember how they made her home feel lived in and how they completed family. She will look down at the puppy she has now and thank her for continuing that love and support and comfort and company.

She will go and wake up her husband. They will take a walk together, hand in hand, puppy by their side, just like they started, all those years ago. He will talk about his day, she will talk about her memories, they both will remember the past too lovingly, painted with too many colors because the gray of the years no longer matter. The years of fog have been lifted, they did get to the other side, and they are happy, content. They have made mistakes, but they do not have regrets. They raised and they built and they loved and they continue to love and they created and they continue to create. They did not survive, they really enjoyed.

They will make plans that seem to take up the whole day. They will wonder where they found all that energy, where they found all that strength. They will worry their children are going at a speed that is much too fast, but they don't speak of this to them, they only offer support.

She will nap, she still loves a good nap, now more than ever. He will golf, he found the time and the passion. They will go out to dinner that night, they do that a lot now. As she dresses, she looks hard at her body. The one she fought hard for so long. She no longer does that. Time does that to you, it makes you realize all you have to be thankful for. Especially the body that carried you through so much. The body that carried two babies. The body that fought MS and her demons. The body that hurt. The body she hurt. She has healed all the pain and as she feels the wrinkles and skin and remembers the muscles she built, she knows how hard this body worked for her.

Later that night, they will enjoy a glass of wine outside and listen to the quiet. She enjoys it more than he does, she always has. But, she still gets misty at the thought of what was once there, just as she always has. Milestones still hurt her heart, but she knows this is what they were always going to get to. He deals with it so much better, he always has. He always realized the end goal and moved through phases with such ease, she always admired that about him.

She looks over at him, his gentle eyes. His smile. His hand in hers. She remembers the two young kids who smiled through so much. The ease of their love in the beginning. The work they put into it during the years of fog and exhaustion. But, this man, this person, well, he's special. Even at 80, you can still see the boy in him. The excitement in his voice when they call. The excitement he can't hind on his way to see them. He always loved them, even before he met them. Now that they are these people, he respects them, he admires them, he adores who they are, it's so much more than love.

She fell in love with this boy, she cannot explain her love of this man. He has stood by her through so much and she knows how lucky she got, he is her person.

They built a life. Things are slower, they are slower. Days are longer, time is moving too quickly. She takes such incredible comfort knowing that they did the best they could until they knew better and then they did better. She takes such incredible comfort in the long days and the memories of that home, that life. Of course, she is sad, but she is also content. She lived one incredible life, and she still is. She is still living, she is still here, she is still surrounded by love and comfort. It is what she dreams of every time she closes her eyes.

She is 80 and at peace.

5
Jul

It's my honor

As milestones pile on and time starts really speeding up, this introverted mother has really gotten sad. So sad that you will find me folded into myself. So sad that I feel very heavy, unable to breathe, and like someone might be standing on my chest. So sad that I call framily huddled by garbage cans hysterical and unable to be understood. So sad, that I message framily and can't get through my thoughts because the tears won't stop coming. So sad that I need to make sure my littles don't see me so I hide.

And then, my wise loving friend reminded me...we get to watch our babies grow up. That is a privilege, it's actually an honor. And I never ever thought of it this way. We get to watch them grow and figure it out. We get to be a part of every single milestone so far. We get to experience this, we get to watch them figure it out, we get to do all of this.

When a mother has to do the unthinkable and put their babies to rest, I have heard them cry out for what I get to do. I won't ever see them...I won't ever watch them...I won't be able to be there when...that was all I needed to hear.

My sweet girl, my Anna James, the one I named after a strong woman that doesn't realize her strength, the one that started my path. From the moment I met you, I knew you would be teaching me. I knew that I would be following your lead and I knew that you would be in charge of our dance. There are times when I cannot believe I am the mom you are turning to because you have taught me way more than you will ever realize. I will continue to learn from you, I will continue to be the one you will lean on and I thank you for your gift of motherhood. Your smile, your personality, your sense of humor, your love of reading, your consumption of books as if they are food, your love of Nutella, your love of silly, your love of friends, your need for framily, your desire to stay little because you too love childhood. I promise I will listen more than I talk. I promise I will never make your feelings less than. I promise that I will remind you that a good night's sleep will cure most things. I promise I will laugh with you when things are funny. I promise to be silly. I promise to also be your mom, the one that sets your limits and boundaries, I promise to be your structure. Most importantly, I promise to be your foundation and the one you can always come home to. I promise to remind you how strong we are, how much we can do, how much we can overcome and I promise to fill you with the hope of a better tomorrow.

To my loving son, the one we named after a dad who you resemble in all of the best ways. The one that taught me, love, at first sight, was possible. The one that made me fall in love with joy again. The one that reminds me of how incredible it is to love love. The one that reminds me of why and how hard I fell for dad because you embody all the good that he also carries. The one that is just happy because life is good. The one that believes, always, that every day is the best day...just because it's a new one. The one that taught me to fall in love with Lego messes and building and who reminds me...connection brings peace. All you want is time with us and you will demand it no matter what. Your energy, your heart, your imagination, your creativity, your love of love, your little guys. I promise to play with you, I promise to really connect with you. I promise to always let you build. I promise to trust you. I promise to build you into a man that will be accountable for his actions and realize that every action has a consequence, you pick if it's good or bad. I promise to always love your love for your dad and remind him how special that is. I promise to always try and keep up with you. I promise to try and see things the way you do, and I promise to teach you to do the same.

My littles, there are so many things this mama does that needs a redo. So much I feel like I am messing up and so much I keep trying. But, there are also things that are being done right.

Like I will forever protect your childhood, it's how we approach everyday.

Like I never ever take advantage of the time we have, I know that it is fleeting and I know how small our window is so I see it every day...I see our family every day and I take us in and hold us close.

Like although I mess up, I have very little that I regret.

Like I didn't just introduce you to the concept of framily, I helped create and structure your first framily ties and connections. And, I picked right. I always have. From the framily that reminded me that this is my privilege, this is my honor, I get to watch you become...to the framily that got to work and filled my Amazon cart with things to put some love and connection and control in the uncontrollable...the ones I call crying when nothing makes sense and they listen and guide me...the ones that teach me that "what makes adults adults and kids kids is that even if we haven't been through THIS, we've been through STUFF. And, we can (even unconsciously) know that things can work out and things can get better and feelings and situations aren't forever. Kids haven't been through STUFF so they don't actually know any of that". The ones I call hiding near garbage cans. The ones I call locked in my room and freaking out and they bring their mama knowledge like the bosses they are. The ones that make me laugh by saying, "none of this is happening, so let's stop talking about it" because they too are scared. A hubby that reads about what and how to do this all. This is our circle of love. The trust we have built. The courage and needing of each other and the leaning and knowing we are always there. I didn't just introduce you to the concept of framily, no, I helped create and structure your first framily ties and connections.

Like how I apologize when I am wrong and ask for your forgiveness.

Like how I dance with you.

Like how I sing on the top of my lungs in the car and make you feel music and how it can move you and help work out your feelings.

Like how I taught you to love reading.

Like how I gave us the best puppies and taught us how important furry babies are.

Like how I love you spills from us in words, in touch, in actions.

Like how I taught you how important traditions are for building family and love and knowing what is coming and knowing how to make it special, even in the ordinary.

Like how I taught us to do happy hearts each Sunday.

So now, this is the next thing I will do for us. I cannot even pretend to say that I will not continue to fall apart at each and every single milestone. Of course I will. Watching you grow up does bring about a loss for me and I will forever lean on my framily for the support I will need. But, I swear to you, I will remember that it is my job to teach you that this is "stuff" and we all go through "stuff" and we all get through it. I will remember that although you are walking through your next chapter, you're always and forever the kids I love. I swear that I will remember that this is my honor that I get to watch you grow.

28
Jun

Hindsight

2020 is the year that we are living.

2020 is also what people call hindsight.

2020 has been one hell of a year and there is no way to remember it all so this is my very small attempt at gathering any sort of information and trying my hardest to remember it all.

The year started with me being full-time in my business. After 20 years, I said good-bye to my agency and I started on my own. For three years, I worked both, and I broke things. My feelings, my brain, my joy, my heart. I broke really really important things.

So I started with a few words, guides, phrases, and priorities that I needed. The year started with things like:

  • Calm and bright
  • Balance
  • Time
  • Connection
  • I wanted us to have breakfast together
  • I wanted to take family walks, walks alone, walks with just one of you at a time
  • More time spent on my body and care
  • Family games, puzzles, happy hearts
  • A little girl that was now in-between

January started with me still working as an interim CEO and needing to figure that out. It started with some enlightening things that my business needed, some structure. January was the start of my body starting to let go and release. Better sleep, deeper, more baths, calmer heart. A weekly schedule the way I wanted it to look. BUT, it was also when I wasn't able to be protective of my time and I was being pulled into doing "too much".

January was also a month that in our county, our President was under impeachment. When someone reminded me of that, I thought they were lying because that felt so long ago but they were right. It was all we could talk about and learn about. It was huge news.

February was even more quiet, more calm. It was cold and slow. I was still walking and my words became:

  • Slow down
  • Keep walking
  • Love
  • Valentine's Day
  • My littles, my little faces, their little big hearts
  • Snow days
  • Childhood
  • Giggles
  • The Coronavirus was starting to become a buzz word

By March, COVID-19 was a thing everywhere and to everyone. I was still walking, I was doing yoga three times a week, I was in a routine and still really really struggling with letting go. I was fighting with demons and my past. The words and phrases were now:

  • COVID-19
  • Dreams and heavy nightmares
  • Anxiety and struggles
  • Remembering who I am, what I accomplished, remembering my good
  • Yoga
  • Walks
  • Calming puppy time
  • Happy kiddos loving their new lifestyle
  • Easier days and nights
  • Gearing up for a busy spring and getting ready for a coaching season

In March is when schools closed for 5 weeks and we were floored. In March was the first time we did "panic shopping" and quickly realized we were not made for end of the world purchases. In March is when we felt our coziest...everyone was home, everyone was together. Hibernating in March feels so natural and wonderful. Things were hopeful, I thought by May we would all be normal again, we just needed to get through March, rebuild in April, and welcome May with open arms.

  • School closure
  • Distance learning
  • Flatten the curve
  • The world stopped spinning
  • Everything is closed
  • Sports stopped, all sports, everywhere, stopped.
  • Restaurants are take out only and we did Friday night take out every week
  • Everyone needs support
  • Lay-offs and unemployment at an all-time high
  • Tax deadline was extended
  • Concern over my business
  • Concern over our communities
  • The environment started to heal...immediately
  • Stay home, stay safe
  • NY Strong
  • Empty highways
  • Empty roads
  • Empty downtown
  • Closed up restaurants
  • Posted signs everywhere about safety
  • Work from home
  • House projects galore!
  • Sold out toilet paper
  • Sold out paper towels
  • Sold out hand sanitizer
  • Free resources
  • Gyms closed and online workouts
  • Time actually stood still...how is it still March was trending

Come April, we started to realize we were in this for a very long time. This was a long long haul and we had a lot of learning to do and things started to change daily.

  • Cancelation of Anna's birthday part
  • New normal
  • We're in this together
  • Front line workers
  • Overburdened hospitals
  • Finding out who we know is ill
  • Praying for strangers
  • Supporting family from afar
  • Friday night takeout continued
  • Zoom calls
  • Zoom meetings
  • Reconnecting differently
  • Really really missing people
  • Visits through windows
  • More and more house projects!
  • Murder hornets started to become a thing.
  • Running with kiddos by my side
  • More at-home workouts
  • Introverts and extroverts both struggled

May, May was the beginning of exhaustion. May started to feel warmer and people wanted to stop hibernating. In May, people wanted to see people and be around people again and started to really struggle with isolation.

  • It snowed in May
  • Then we had a tornado
  • Distance learning was implemented for the rest of the academic year
  • My daughter really struggled with not being able to say good-bye to her elementary years.
  • House projects were still coming and coming
  • Friday night takeout continued
  • More and more and more and more walks
  • Really big and important talks
  • Figuring out what to do during the weekends was really a struggle.
  • Figuring out what day it is was a struggle
  • All the cozy clothes all of the time for months and months and months
  • My business started to introduce webinar training
  • Social distancing and wearing masks started to become law.
  • Six-feet apart
  • Running with kiddos by my side
  • More at-home workouts
  • Can we, should we, how do we see people?
  • Hibernation was over and we were tired.
  • George Floyd
  • Say his name
  • Black lives matter
  • BLM
  • Protests
  • Systematic racism
  • Anti-racist
  • Passive racist

The end of May and beginning of June, June was the start of another civil rights movement. Another black man was murdered and America responded.

Talks became even more important. It was time our family of four also learned how we were contributing to the problem and in no way being part of the solution. We all dug deeper and did more. June was important.

  • Phases
  • Phase 1-3 were implemented
  • Phase four was discussed but no gyms
  • Running with kiddos by my side
  • More at-home workouts
  • Friday night takeout
  • Elementary graduation was tough and mama cried
  • Summer vacation?
  • Say Her name - Breonna Taylor
  • Social media Blackout
  • Black Lives Matter streets
  • Marches/protests/kneeling
  • Elijah McClain
  • #518 Mamas for BLM
  • Opening up slowly and carefully to friends and family.
  • Stores and restaurants slowly starting to reopen.
  • One way signs in stores
  • Social distancing
  • 6-feet apart
  • Masks mandatory
  • 2 weeks quarantine if you leave the state
  • How to spend our days?
  • Track will race, no spectators

It's only been three months. When we look back what will we remember? What will stand out, what will be an "oh yeah" moment? What will be good about this, what will be hard? What will heal because we stopped moving and what will change because we refused to compromise? Hindsight is 2020.

14
Jun

Better

To my gorgeous blond hair, blue eyes, porcelain skin beauties...it is time you learn how we all need to do better. It is time that we have long and difficult conversations about the fact that you were born white, to a middle-class family, you are afforded more. More opportunities, more open doors, more safety. Not for any reason, not because you worked for it, not because deserve it and others don't. But, because of how you were born vs how someone else was born. We will do better.

You have heard us talk about this a lot recently. You have heard voices get raised and conversations get heated and you have heard us all ask ourselves what we carry, how we can do better, what part we have played in this. You have heard mom admit all of the ways she has messed up, you have heard dad call people out, himself out, you have heard us call each other out. We will do better, we will not just try, we will.

You have seen the news, you have seen the protests and you have seen what this country is, how this country was built and how we will decide how it moves forward and we will decide what side of history we will be on. We will be on the right side of history because we will do better.

You have been asked to research MLK, you have been asked to research Frederick Douglas, and you will continue to do more research on our actual history. We took this land away from people and then took people from their land to build it for us. You will be asked to research what protests were like and will continue to be like, until we all do better.

You will learn how this country was built on the backs of people of color, of slaves that we took and dragged here. We took people away from their homes and we turned them into animals, we as a country need to reconcile that unbelievable black mark on our souls. You will learn how people of color are still treated less than, are still seen as beneath us and how we, as a country, continue to make sure that is where they stay. But we will do better.

We will do better in small and big ways. We will look deeper, we will ask ourselves why we did or did not do this or that. We will look first at ourselves, what have I done/not done...why? What have I let go and why? What does racism look like for me and how do I change that within me? We will call each other out on things, we will not take any of this lightly and we will not let this go, a few days, weeks, months from now. We will not look at it like a mountain we cannot figure out how to climb. We will climb it step by step and we will do better.

We will not judge how others decide to protest. We will not tell them how or when or what it can/can't look like. Mamma would burn a city down too if you were taken from me by a system that took away my family. We will not tell them to be quiet, no, instead, we will be quiet and we will just listen and do better.

We will not receive a gold star for doing better. You will not be told, "good job" for being a decent human. Because that is not a thing. We will do better anyway.

We will shop with intent. We have researched black businesses that we will support. In all areas...from home to jewelry to art to cooking. We will support them.

We will eat with intent. We will no longer go to a city and "see where to eat" we will look at black owned restaurants and we will support them.

We will read with intent. We will continue to read books like "The Front Desk" and we will look into black authors and read books on their view of our America. We will read them, we will learn, we will discuss them, we will do better.

We will listen. We will shut up and listen and we will believe people of color when they tell us of their experiences. We will not say things like "if that is true then" or "did that really happen?" No, we will listen, we will believe, and we will apologize because this is not our America if we decide it won't be. We will do better.

We will vote. We will tell our "leader" you are not a leader. A title does not make you one. You have failed us, you have failed all of us and you do not represent who we want to be. You represent what we once were and no longer want to be. Do you hear me, this is not the America we want. We will vote locally and tell our current representatives, do better. We will tell the man in the big white house that was built by slaves, get out. You don't belong there, you refuse to do better but we will.

We will lose people, not to murder, like too many black people have had to do, but to their unwillingness to go deeper and look at what they have. We will ask them to dig and we may have to walk away if they cannot see it because we will no longer say "I understand where they are coming from" not on this issue. Not on this. We will demand better.

We will volunteer our time, our services, our talents, our everything. We will do better.

I admit, I have rarely ever had "my America feeling". I struggle with how we all got here. What we took, who we destroyed to live how we do. I struggle with what we continue to do to those that are also Americans. I struggle with what we have stood for, what we continue to stand for. But, these past few weeks, I cannot imagine a more beautiful America. Everywhere, on every corner, people have risen to say, we are with you. We believe you and we are with you. That is the America we want and there are more of us that want change and we cannot lose sight of that. Look at the women's march in 2017, look at the #MeToo movement, look the highschoolers that changed gun laws, look at the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we can be a force to be reckoned with. We can be bigger than life, we can be powerful and THAT is how I get my "America feeling."

We can make this happen, we can affect how this continues to look. There was a line in The Front Desk that made me cry and for the fourth time in my life get "an America feeling." An immigrant telling his daughter "America is not perfect, but this is why we moved here, because she's always changing for the better." That makes her beautiful.

7
Jun

The elements

I started a class. A course to change my thoughts, my patterns. To change the constant motion I am in and slow the hell down. Last week, we talked through the elements and it became so clear to me how each one lives in our home.

Fire provides heat and light, warmth. We are warmth. We are passionate and our natural intensity compels others to take notice that makes us natural-born leaders. We follow our gut instinct and become fully committed to what we believe. Our passion turns to anger quickly and blinds us when hurting those close. When not contained, Fire spreads to anything nearby we need other elements to survive. Anna and I are part Fire. We are passionate and focused and decisive. We are warm and bright. We are prone to anger and rage, we are easily irritated and fight hard to not be vindictive.

The Earth is stable and reliable, yet constantly working and moving. We are practical and logical and stand firm in our convictions. We learn through experience and believe in setting achievable goals that are attained through hard work. Our home is welcoming and warm and always open to friends and family, which is fitting considering we are a bit of a homebody. While we are always friendly, we do not let people into the inner circle easily. However, once we do, we are loyal to a fault. On the opposite side of this, we can be overprotective. As it is impossible to stop the world from turning, it is also impossible to change our mind once it has been made up. We. Are. Stubborn. and bull-headed and will often stick to our position for no other reason than it is your position. In relationships, we are empathetic and nurturing and don’t mind waiting out a few rough patches. I am part Earth. I am stable and consistent, I am hard-working and loyal and nurturing and empathetic. I am stubborn and rigid as hell!

Water is constantly flowing, it is flexible and goes with the flow. It is the balance to fire, it is my balance. Cory, you have always been and will always be my balance. On the outside, you may seem calm and collected but inside, your feelings are boiling. You are compassionate and caring and can relate easily to others. You connect with people whole-heartedly, which can sometimes make you overly trusting. When spread too thin you are ineffectual, but when collected and focused you are a force to be reckoned with. You see life as a journey and every movement you make is part of a definite path (though sometimes an unexpected one).

However, your ability to connect so deeply also makes you prone to carrying other people’s burdens, my burdens lovey. This compassion for others leaves your own needs neglected. Your emotions ebb and flow, making you sometimes volatile and irrational. You must find balance in learning to help others and learning to help yourself in order to find harmony. You sweet love, you are water. You are understanding, and trusting and devoted, and forgiving. You are flexible and gullible and want harmony and everyone to go with the flow. You help me put out my fire and you water my earth.

Air is constantly in motion, even when you can’t see it. This is the same for sweet incredible Cole. You find clever solutions to difficult problems, you see the big picture and the details. You are outgoing, rational, and clever, you are scattered, eccentric, and everywhere. You are easily distracted and strongest when focused on one problem at a time. Cole, you are thoughtful and witty, charming, and carefree. You flow and are everywhere in constant motion. You are air.

Anna, you are my fuel, you keep me warm. Cole, you are the air we breathe, you keep us in motion and inhaling. Cor, you keep our flames tamed, you water my earth, you keep me alive.

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