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.

?

24
Jan

Peace

Hi 2021, bring peace.

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

So why peace?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I am happy, I am ok again.

Hi 2021, please bring peace.

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.

29
Nov

Trim the tree

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

It was always always bad. Always.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2
Nov

I loved them first

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

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

To the ones that will bring them joy and heartache.

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

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

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

I'm so happy you are here.

I am so happy you too saw what we see.

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

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

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

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

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

I promise to call but not often.

I promise to ask how I can help.

I promise to be helpful.

I promise to have a relationship with you.

I promise to let you have your own relationship.

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

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

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

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

I taught them to talk and ask questions.

I taught them to listen.

I taught them to care about those you love.

I taught them to treat people kindly.

I taught them that the littlest things mean the most.

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

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

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

I thank you.

I thank you for your love.

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

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

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

25
Oct

Intimate moments of love

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were the nights I held you while you slept.

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

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

The nights we dressed you in the dark.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18
Oct

Even though

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even though our marriage went through seven years of fog.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would remind employers to take it easy.

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

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

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

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

I would remind mothers and daughters to talk.

I would remind mothers and sons to laugh.

I would remind fathers and daughters to connect.

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

Even though my body has changed...

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

Even though my eyes are puffy...

Even though my skin feels different...

Even though our finances are different...

Even though our marriage is different...

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

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

Because I do love being your mom.

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
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.

10
May

Mother's Day 2020

This year, I asked for all to be calm and bright.

I asked for time with you, time to regroup, time to calm my nerves, time to do one job only, and take on a new career, time to find the strength to walk away from a 20-year project. Time to linger and sleep, god, I really really needed so much sleep. I asked for time.

I asked for quiet, I asked for sleep. I asked for darkness and rain and sunny days and walks with Pearl. I asked for days off. I asked for time off during the day. I asked for more and for less. I asked for quiet moments to read, and look at you, and listen. I asked for it to be quiet.

I asked for you, I asked for you to talk to me. I asked for you to want and need this time as much as I did. I asked for your heart, I asked for your stories, I asked for your ramblings, I asked you to lean on me. I asked you to trust me, I asked the universe to give me the courage to not react, but to really listen and build on our already strong foundation. I asked for you lovies.

I asked for perspective, to get a grip on reality. I asked for fewer distractions, I asked for me to find out what I now am. I asked for my heart to grow and let go, I asked for a change to not make me feel like everything was ending but I also asked for grace to be sad. I asked for perspective on moving on, forward, and remember that love is what I do best. I needed perspective to get a firmer grip but a losen the hold I always need.

I asked for grace. Grace for me from me. I asked myself to remember how hard I worked, how much I care, how much I always do the best I can, how I am the first to admit that I could have done it better, but the grace that I did all I could, gave it all I had and did so only with love. I will always give it all I have. This all in girl needed grace.

So, here we are. I got all I wanted, all I needed. I have so much time. I have all of you, all of the time. I sleep and nap and then sleep more. I have given myself permission to sleep all I want when I want. That's grace for you. I read here and there. I work out. I eat so much and it feels so good. I binge-watch everything and I love it. I drink and that too feels so right. I have a new perspective and so many less distractions. I have all of you. I have everything I asked for.

It looks different than when I asked...it always does. It comes with the rest of life and the world tied to it...it always does. It comes with worry and concern and stir crazy emotions and tears...it always does. But, we are here. All of us, under one roof. We are safe, we have all we need, most of what we want, we have each other.

This mother's day, I am forever grateful that you talk my ear off Anna. I am forever grateful that our walks mean so much to you. I am so sorry how much we all miss our friends, so much that it is painful. I am so sorry that there are days we all just need a good cry...that unfortunately will never change.

I am grateful that you come with me on my runs monkey. Even on the days I so badly need just an hour alone, you're all in with me and you're ready to tackle that challenge. I am grateful that you love to work out with us. I am grateful that you love our reading dates and time with us, it is all you want...all of the time.

I am grateful that Pearl hugs us all and gets really upset if we're not all together. I am grateful for her sloppy kisses and playful heart. I am grateful for ball games in the backyard and a deck we are all enjoying.

I am grateful that during a normal spring we wouldn't even see dad but he is home, working with you on all of the school work, working on house projects. I am grateful he is so good at this, and even if he grumbles, he really loves it because he's so proud of himself and he should be, everything he does he does with only love for us in his heart.

I am grateful for the time, perspective, grace, quiet, you.

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