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.

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.

17
Oct

Five Minute Friday - hold

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on hold.

Go.

Last week, I was saying goodnight. Goodnight to my youngest. Goodnight to my baby. Goodnight to my little man that became Ferdinand in front of my eyes. And I told him a story.

Sweet love, when you were just born, I held you close. You would wake me for a 2am feeding and I would rock you in the corner and I would tickle your ear to keep you awake. I would sing, our song, and your feet would dance. It would make me smile, even in the early early hours, you made me smile. You always knew how to make me smile.

I was to put you down sleepy but awake, that's what all the books said. I needed to put you down, I needed to stop holding you. Were there nights when I did...absolutely. Were there nights I held on longer, knowing you would be the last, the last firsts, the last last, the last...absolutely.

And so, last week, I told you all about it. I reminded you of our song. I reminded you of the ear tickle, I reminded you of how food made your feet dance. And to my little one that cannot stop moving, you held me. You held on and you listened and you gave me a smooch.

I love you monkey. I love you. I love your energy. I love your monkey moves. I love your Ferdinand ways. I love your hair and your smile. I love your tears and your needs. I love how every day is your best day. I love how you think everything is the best, until you don't. I love how all of your emotions are on the outside of your body. I love you monkey.

I love to hold you.

Stop.

21
Sep

Simple on purpose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18
Sep

Five Minute Friday - church

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on church.

Go.

For some, it takes place in a building.

For some, it means praying and rituals and symbols.

For some, it means there is a "Person" involved, a God of sorts.

For all, it is a feeling, a meaning, a peace, and that can happen anywhere.

Church can be pancake Sunday with the kiddos so excited and happy and the coffee warm and loving.

Church can be our happy hearts where we share what we are grateful for, that week, during that time.

Church can be a run, a yoga class, a feeling of letting go and allowing something else to be in control.

Church can be a really hot shower, a warm bath. The sinking in to water that is needed to wash the day away.

Church can be an ocean, a beach, the sound and rhythm of the back and forth that allows you to listen, really listen.

Church can be a bed, calling to you. Asking you to close your eyes and lay your worries down.

Church can be a race, the adrenaline running through your veins as you come together as a community.

Church can be losing yourself in a book, forgetting all about yourself.

Church can be your community service and remembering others need you, this world needs you.

Church can be putting your babies to sleep, looking at those little faces, telling them we did our best today, tomorrow we will do better because we know better.

Church can be telling your family you love them and the feeling that comes from hearing it back, even when they talk to you from their sleep.

Church is not contained in walls, buildings, or by the God we worship. Church is all around us.

Stop.

30
Aug

Ferdinand

Monkey man, well, you have reached that age. The age where the babyface and the baby cheeks and the baby belly have gone away. You are all lanky and thinning out, the baby is washing away. My baby is fading away.

You are eight. With eight, comes a little boy that is very loud, and impulsive, and quick, and doesn't follow through, and stomps (instead of walking), and yells (instead of talking), and is a bull in a china shop. There is a definite transition. You went from Curious George, small and curious in the most amazing way, jumping and climbing and wondering and always looking at things differently...to Ferdinand. But, I know Ferdinand, and I'm in your corner.

I know Ferdinand. I know how much his heart is full. I know how much more he loves to love than fight. I know that he doesn't have a fight in him until he is pushed and his back is up against a wall. Even then, he will sit in love and ask to be spared.

I know Ferdinand. I know that with this love comes energy. And excitement. Energy and excitement that bursts out of you because you love life and the beauty that comes with it and you cannot understand why others are not taking advantage of that. I also understand that energy and excitement can be tough for some. I know Ferdinand.

I know that you have two switches...on or off. I know. I am well aware that the on switch means you are go go go. I know that the off switch means you are asleep. I know that the sleep you have is deep and meaningful, you lived yet another good day.

I know Ferdinand. I know that he is big, all over. His personality, his laugh, his smile, his heart, his love. I know that Ferdinand wants to run and play and I know he wants to be with his family. I know that precise is not his strength, I know that careful is not his priority. I know that he knows life is just too short to be that meticulous. I know that he deeply cares what others think of him and I know he wants others to like him and think he is kind. I know that kindness matters. I know that he is one amazing friend. The kind that would give up everything to have that friend be happy. I know that he would walk through fire for people, he would give all he had to another...I know Ferdinand.

I know that he loves nature and to be outside. I know that he does not care about what he is wearing or even if he has clothes on because he is a hot box. I know that playtime is everything to Ferdinand. It's his job, he plays like it is his job and he is really good at it. I also know that when Ferdinand wants to be creative, he can be, but only when it comes to building a lego set. Something he will sit and do for hours. I know that naps are not his thing, but snuggles are. I know that sitting is hard, so he has to be doing something else. I know Ferdinand.

I know that his dad is his best buddy. I know how much he looks up to his dad, even if his dad is grumpy and being a bull and puffing out his chest and being gruff...I know that his love is so deep that he just sees his best friend, right here living in his house with him - every single day. He wakes up and his best buddy is just there! He goes to bed and his best buddy reads to him! He plays basketball with his best buddy! They play ball together and go on adventures together. He gets to wake up and live with his moon and stars right there with him, that excitement is hard to control. I know Ferdinand.

I know that others find it hard to keep up. I know that some will even make fun of how gentle you are. I know that others will really struggle that gentle does not mean or look like careful, I know that. I know that Ferdinand can really wear you out and down. I know that it is really really hard to be around that level of energy all of the time. I know that he needs to be reminded to quiet down. I know that he needs to be reminded that people are sleeping so stop talking to them. I know that he needs to be reminded to find something quieter to do. I know that things break around Ferdinand, things fall. I know how clumsy he is. I know that spills are inevitable, I know that he feels so badly about it but also doesn't know how to make it better.

I know that some will try and just "do it" because it's going to all fall apart so why bother with the cleanup. But I also know that he and I have a different approach and language. Spill it, Ferdinand, we can clean it up together. It's okay if it breaks, let's learn to be more careful. Don't just leave a mess, you're not entitled to have a fulltime cleaner on your side, you have to learn to take care of the messes you create. It's okay if your clothes get dirty Ferdinand, they didn't have a fighting chance so go...go play outside. You and I have a different approach because I know Ferdinand.

I know his smile, I know his wonderment. I know his love of life. I know how hard he goes. I know he is a bull in a china shop. I know he has one volume, one speed. I know his big blue eyes see things differently than most. I know he is just a really good person. I know Ferdinand and I'm not just in your corner, I am all in on you and your love of this life.

26
Jul

Easier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24
Jul

Five Minute Friday - young

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on young.

Go.

When I was young, I was scared.

When I was young, I was scared of my own shadow.

When I was young, I was scared of myself.

When I was young, I was scared of family.

When I was young, I was scared of love and needing it.

When I was young, I was scared of motherhood and couple-hood and I was scared.

When I met family, I got less scared. I got lighter. I became more free. The more I leaned, the more I gave up control, the more free I became.

When I was young, I met you, I fell hard. I embraced what you had to offer. You made me a better me. You made me better.

When I was young, I found family in places because even though I was afraid, I was needing it, I was craving it, so I created it.

When I was young, I had you. I held your little in my arms and I am just so happy I did. You were exactly what I never knew I always wanted.

Now, I have a front row seat to you being young and I get to watch this amazing person become. She is funny, and kind, and loving, and angry, and stubborn, and feisty, and has a need for connection...sound familiar?

When I was young, I was scared. Scared of myself, my shadow, the world. I'm still that scared little girl, but as the years have ticked away, I too am becoming.

Stop.

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.

22
Jun

To our rising girl

For six years, more than half your life, you have walked through those doors, walked down each hallway, learned your way, and loved your days. You have stayed in touch with the teachers you have met, you have opened your heart to new friends, you have loved being a part of this school.

Anna James, you loved your elementary school and the years you grew and developed there. You loved the activities, the before and after school "things", you loved their events, you loved the bus, you loved walking into the school, you loved the people you met, you loved loved loved your elementary years.

Yes, your last year was so hard on your heart. Yes, many months were taken from you and yes, you do not feel that there was closure and a real good-bye. But, you did do it. You worked, you learned, you connected, you found ways to make people feel connected to you, you were resilient, even if you were sad and lonely and a little heartbroken and unstable. All of those feelings are ok Bella. This is why I didn't allow us to ignore them or make them feel "small" because to you, this is the biggest thing that has happened to you. In a lot of ways, I too feel as though we didn't get to close the door on this incredible milestone. You are becoming a middle schooler, you are a rising sixth grader.

When the pandemic first hit in March, and we thought this was life for the next five weeks, it felt so cozy and family-centered. We really regrouped and found a great rhythm. We missed our framily and connections but damn, we found so many ways to still feel connected and close. We also found this gorgeous dance in our house. As mom started to slow down and find her new balance, you guys did your work, and we all snuggled into the office or in front of the fireplace. We would huddle around the island and even found times for walks, we were so warm and snuggled.

As the reality of the pandemic settled in, we all quickly realized, this is it... this is the new way we do school, life is all different, our days are way different and we went through the roller-coaster of emotions. You, sweet girl, you took it the hardest.

You missed the most. You missed friends and teachers and classrooms and activities and connection and important field trips and little special moments and all of it was ripped from you. You had to say good-bye from afar and you were hurting. I was hurting. We would talk about it on our walks, we would talk about it at nighttime, we would talk about it so you didn't feel like it was nothing or you needed to keep it from us. We would also talk about the good things that came out of this. We would talk about some of the really important positives and no matter what, you made it, we made it.

I know that these last few months were important to you. I know that being in that building, saying goodbye to important people in your life was important to you. I know that it was going to make you feel more ready for your next chapter, not less sad, but more ready. I know none of that happened. I know.

So to you sweet girl I say this. This is the year that will make history. It will be written and talked about and your experience will always matter. You will forever remember this. Whatever comes our way this fall, we will deal and do. We will figure it out together and we will make sure you are ready and feel like you will also appreciate and love this next experience.

There is one thing that is always true about you, you always try. You also make friends, you always connect, and you always do your best. It's all you can do and you definitely do so you've got this. Now, go be you.

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