21
Mar

Hello again

New York is starting to wake up again. The days are much longer, there is still light at 7pm, the sun is a little brighter. Even on the really cold cold days, we know that spring is trying to make her way back.

Today, I watched you both play outside like little little kids. I heard the laughter and shouts. God, monkey, you could spend forever outside no matter the weather but when you get to be outside with your big sister, you are in heaven.

Today, you asked and begged for play time with both of us outside. You and dad played hockey and basketball and you could not get enough.

Today, I took the puppy for our first really long run. We ran by the track, and I saw our little town wake up. I saw people walking, hand in hand. I saw dogs smiling and pulling owners. I saw cars with their windows down and people grinning from ear to ear, we all woke up again.

Today, I cleaned out my car and threw away all of gunk that comes with winter. All the salt, rocks, the garbage that is too cold to throw away when it's winter, isn't that weird, that winter makes it all feel a little too hard. But, not today. Today, it felt invigorating to throw things away and gather up all the old and start again.

Today, I drank really cold water, and it felt refreshing. I didn't turn my fireplace on and that felt like a good start. It hit 61 degrees in our little part of NY and that's warm enough for kids in short sleeves playing by a pile of old ice and snow.

Today, my daughter wore flip flops, my son a tank top. My dog was panting during our run, got tired even. During my run, I started to sweat a little.

Hello and good morning to us all as we wake up from the long winter slumber. This winter was a little colder, a little harder. The snow hit us hard, we lost some trees, but nature is really trying to heal now...sound familiar?

Next week, I get my second shot of the vaccine. I never in my life thought that I would be living through a movie like scenario in which a country has to figure out how to roll out a vaccine after we have lost half a million people. But, we are healing. Last week, hate struck again as 8 people were gunned down by a white hateful 21 year-old. Their families are living a nightmare, our country is trying to figure this out, and no one has any answer that will make the pain ever end. But somehow, faith carries us through to the other side and we heal.

Faith in each other. Faith in good over evil. Faith in love over hate. Faith in tomorrow being another day as we open our eyes and stretch. Faith in starting over. Faith in science. Faith in healing.

Hello again spring.

21
Feb

Chapters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter two: where she wanted to be.

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

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

Chapter three: it's so easy.

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

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

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

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

Chapter four: the family grows.

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter five: the job that was always too much.

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter six: all is calm, all is bright.

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

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

Chapter seven: peace and joy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

?

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.

25
Oct

Intimate moments of love

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were the nights I held you while you slept.

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

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

The nights we dressed you in the dark.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18
Oct

Even though

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even though our marriage went through seven years of fog.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would remind employers to take it easy.

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

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

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

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

I would remind mothers and daughters to talk.

I would remind mothers and sons to laugh.

I would remind fathers and daughters to connect.

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

Even though my body has changed...

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

Even though my eyes are puffy...

Even though my skin feels different...

Even though our finances are different...

Even though our marriage is different...

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

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

Because I do love being your mom.

14
Sep

Fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

29
Mar

I see

We play I spy in the car a lot. It always starts out kind of cute and time makes it drag on too much. Now, I'm playing my own kind of I spy and you guys aren't really all that aware.

I see a lot of families going for walks together.

A lot of siblings playing together.

A whole bunch of family games being played in backyards.

I see families gathered outside by a fire.

I see them cooking together.

I see friends finding each other and supporting each other and sending smiles any way they can.

I see communities coming together.

I see the world getting smaller.

I see real leaders stepping up.

I see love, a lot of it.

I see worry lines and tired faces.

I see loved ones leaning on each other.

I see priorities getting clearer.

I see A LOT of family time.

I see introverts living their best lives.

I see introverts hiding under covers.

I see people trying to do anything they can to help.

I see love, a lot of it.

I see books being devoured.

I see binge-watching at its finest.

I see liquor stores doing quite well.

I see house projects being completed.

I see workouts getting a new routine.

I see happy pets.

I see love, a lot of it.

I see kiddos reading to each other.

I see siblings going from a loving moment to screaming matches in seconds.

I see forts being built.

I see a ton of Legos...everywhere I turn.

I see family puzzles.

I see family dinners.

I see BBQs in March.

I see couples working together.

I see love, a lot of it.

15
Dec

Full circle

Lovies, things are starting to come full circle. It's the end of a very long year, the end of three very long years, the end of 20 incredible but forever long years. And, I tried really hard to embrace change this year. But, what ended up happening instead, is I got stuck a lot.

I have no idea how you guys will deal with change. Part of me thinks you will struggle because I raised you to love a tradition and love the consistency of knowing what is ahead. Part of me thinks you will be fine because it never hits you as hard...you rebound pretty well. But for me, change is so brutal I had to actually make it my word for an entire year to remind myself that it is also inevitable. I can never ever think it just won't happen and hide. It always finds all of us.

And just this week, there were three reminders of why I have to embrace the change that will always come our way.

First, I made a decision to stop long races for a while and enjoy running for the love of running. I started a new route, one by the lake right by our house. I never went this way before because it was a little scary, the road can be a little desolate and I was always worried. But, I started to go this way with our Pearl girl with me...and she loves it. And turns out, I love it too. I changed my mind and now really look forward to this little route. And this fall, this stretch really brought me back, made me stop and stare. It made me really ground my feet and take a deep breath and take it all in. I don't know if we had an incredible fall or if I was finally embracing the change that comes with the season but running this road full of falling gorgeous color with a puppy who was actually smiling because she was so happy made me appreciate the change.

Then, last week, the lake was just gorgeous water, as it has been all fall. I run around it and really try to see it for what it is, this incredible view I get right by my house. One I always shied away from, until I made a change. And then, one week later, the temps dropped and the lake turned to solid ice and it was a gorgeous mirror. It looked exactly like glass. It actually made me stop in my tracks because I was blown away by how in only one week, it could change that much.

Well, the very next day, the temps went way up, and the lake became marble. The cracks in the ice made it look like someone's beautifully hand-picked marble, but for as far as your eye can see. And since it was so warm, there was this layer of water sitting on top of it...all in one days time.

Change can be beautiful guys. I'm sure most normal people know this, realize it, move forward with it. I'm sure most normal people, especially grownups, don't throw actual tantrums over it, don't try and desperately hold on to things. I'm sure most people realize growing up that everything changes and you have to be really flexible. That's all part of maturing. All part of what your mom never really dipped her toe into.

As small as this was, or may seem, for me, this was a moment. This was me going with it, appreciating it, and loving the changes. Maybe I always would have, maybe I would have gotten there without dedicating a solid year to the word, maybe I would have seen it for the beauty it really is...maybe not. Maybe I needed a year of hardship, at times torture, loss of control, loss of myself, finding myself again, losing things I really cared about, finding my way back to them too...to finally get to this place. Change can be really beautiful. And your mamma has come full circle.

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