16
Sep

Lovey

When you were both born, I gave you each a little present, a lovey. They look a little different, but their size, their use, and their shape are the same. It was my first present to you, it was my first decision as a mom as to what to hand you, and it was the first time I made such a good decision that when I see them today, I am overcome by memories. And joy. And love. And remembering how little you were. And what they meant to you. And what they mean to you. And finally, what they mean to me.

When you are first starting out as a parent, there are so many "cute" things about shopping. There are so many aws and ohs at little clothes and socks, and blankets and stuffed animals, and ways to decorate your room. But, I remember really wanting to get you a lovey. I remember how important it was in my mind, I became a little me about it. I didn't research them or look over every single one. I walked into a store with something in mind and I walked out with it in my hand. And, when I met you, I remember placing it in your little tiny arms, I remember wrapping your arms around it, and I remember telling you how important this will be to you. And then, I let you fall in love, all on your own.

Every time you cried, I placed lovey in your arms as I too held you. Every time you slept, I put it right by you, reachable and close to you. Every time you were sick, I made sure you had it on you. Whenever you were anywhere snuggled, I made sure it was by your side. And now, all these years later, for one of you over a decade later, I really strongly feel, it's not only one of my first decisions as a parent, but it was also one of my best. Because as time went by, lovey became a part of you and what you turned to. As time went by, lovey was what you needed to fall asleep and even though Cole, you have outgrown it for needing sleep, you still need it in your life. You still need to know we have it. You still need to know it's yours. Anna, you need it...plain and simple end of story need it. And for both of you, no matter how important it is to you, it means so so much to me.

When I first heard what they were called, lovies, well, how could they NOT be made for this mamma? Lovey is what I call dad, and those I adore, and those in my circle. Lovey is my little nickname for those that matter, and this, this was going to matter a lot in your life. I remember watching you sleep and search for it in the middle of the night, I remember hearing you stir as an infant and realizing it was close to you and that's all you needed, I remember it being so positive for you and for your growing little mind. So no, it's not just a little something I gave you. It's the first something I gave you. It's the first thing I bought for you and said "happy birthday little one" with. It's what reminds me of babies and little, and snuggles, and love, and parenting, and warmth, and family, and motherhood.

So, no, it's not something that I can ever replace. No, I don't have a "spare". No, I don't want you to lose sight of it and yes, I do worry I may lose it which is why I keep a mamma eye on it. Because it was the start of us lovies, it was the start of you and the very first thing I ever gave you.

9
Sep

Unfamiliar Road

For the first time since you could talk, you said you didn't need a story read to you, you were fine reading all on your own. I pretended to cry and say, "I guess that's okay, it's your first day of 5th grade and you just want to read your book". I was hugging you and said, "it's fine, you can grow up". As I pulled away, I saw your eyes glisten. You were actually starting to cry.

We are headed down some unfamiliar roads you and me. But isn't that the way we kind of have always been? Being our first, you are the first everything. The first experience of everything and so even though time goes on and we fall into grooves, there are always surprising firsts. Like how it dawned on me you don't need help in the shower anymore and I couldn't remember the last time you did. Or how soon, our reading dates will look a little different. You reading your book in your room, and maybe I will be beside you...maybe I will be in a different room, maybe it will all change.

You have taught me that that's okay. Because as unfamiliar as these roads are, I trust you. I know you will ask for what you need and for what you want. I know you are loving to walk slow so you won't push it. And, as unfamiliar as it continues to get, we're still us and you still have a lot of me in there. Like when you cry at the thought of mom not needing to read to you, or like how you cry because sometimes, you and I just need a good cry. As I held you, I told you it's okay to cry. People like us, we need to let it out sometimes. It's also okay to want to get so into a book you don't want to stop. It's also okay to be held like the little girl you will always be in my heart, even when you're 25 or 45...because sometimes, you just need your mom. All of that is okay sweet girl.

As you held on to me, you said, you can read to me mom. I know sweetie, but I also know you're really into what you're reading. No, please read to me, our book...just stay. That's the other reason these unfamiliar roads will be just fine. Because we can count on each other to stay and hold each other. Because you still want me to. Because when you are living a childhood you don't have to recover from, a #happychildhood, it's all going to be okay, even unfamiliar roads can lead us to home.

So, I stayed, we read our book together, we snuggled. You stopped crying, you put your head on my shoulder and I stayed. When I was done with the chapter, you went back your book, we did our goodnight ritual, and I left.

Lovey, all we are trying to do here is to remind you that you are home, you are where you need to be. You are where you belong. And we can walk these unfamiliar roads together sweet girl. We will figure it all out together.

2
Sep

One hell of a summer in 2019

It was one hell of a ride this summer. We got so much in, we lingered, we were lazy, we did, we accomplished, we traveled, we stayed, we built, we did nothing. We swam, we read, we beached, we (I) napped and napped and napped. We loved, we spent time around love, with love, with loved ones. We ate great food, we got alone time, we got family time, we got framily time, we got us time.

I surrendered, I changed, I laughed, I cried, I got worried, I slept and slept and slept and slept. I trained, I went for really long runs, I am getting ready to hang up my training shoes, I made some really hard decisions, I shared those decisions. I drank so much coffee, and so many bloody marys, I danced, I planned, I did and I did nothing.

We had ice cream and long talks. We had snuggles and movie time. We had so many people here, we opened our arms. We watched the sun come up and go down. We spent time with those we love and some time alone. We read, the kids read, they built, they played, the did camps, they saw friends, they saw us, they got time, they were busy, it was all-consuming.

We got every last drop of summer out of this summer. We really put our arms around it and squeezed and we hugged and hugged it tighter and tighter. We love summer, all of us. But, after all this time, we are also all ready for structure and routine and a little more clarity on the days. We are ready for time tables and the flow we all fall into. As this year progresses, I need to remind myself that your foundation continues to build, the stakes are so low right now and you can make millions of mistakes because that is how you learn, become independent and how you stand on your own two feet. There are some major shifts coming our way this fall. You will have more responsibility, I will do much less reminding, natural consequences will take place. I have to embrace the crazy that is about to hit me and prepare for it being just me in a few short months.

But in the meantime, I want us all to remember, we had a summer. One hell of a summer. We are lucky, we are privileged, we are beyond. We won't always spend summer like this, it won't always embody childhood like this one did, but that's going to be okay too. I promise I will walk with you because you are choosing to walk slow. I can't promise I will be ready and happy about how we change and mold and grow, but I promise to walk with you.

One hell of a summer is the only way to describe this one guys. We really loved the hell out of it!

30
Aug

Five Minute Friday - back

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 back.
Go.

At the end of a summer, it feels like we have to now get back into the swing of things. Back into routines and schedules. Back into packing lunches and emptying backpacks. Back into papers filling our home...back to structure.

There is a love/hate relationship with this time of year. I push/pull that I so often feel in parenting. A feeling of I can't wait to have you go back and yet another feeling of one more summer of childhood behind us and another transition to say goodbye to. This summer was filled with childhood, love, warmth, travel, busy, camps, weeks of time at home, projects, our house becoming a home, messes, sticky counters, crunchy floors, toys everywhere, messy rooms, laundry piling high, our house filled with people, our house filled with laughter, TV and movies, rainy days, lots of painting, reading dates, framily time, just us five, walks, runs, swims, sand, family on top of family, and childhood.

And now, we are back. Back to the grind, back to school for hubby, kids and back to me feeling like I'm not the only one back at it.

With all our love summer, you filled us full.

Stop.

23
Aug

Five Minute Friday - pace

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 pace.

Go.

Since I can remember, I have set my pace to "full speed ahead". Everything that I do, I do with all of me. I give it all that I have, and then I find some more to give, and I give that too. And when I can't find anymore, I double down and search and search and search and then I just pour more and more out of me.

I do it with how I work, I do it with my workouts, I do it with my work ethic, I do it with our home, I do it with my writing, I do it with our plans, I do it with how I love. Full speed ahead is the only pace I have.

So, when this born 40-year-old finally turned the age she was always meant to be, I'm starting to play with a different pace, a slower one, a quieter one. A pace that allows me to function a bit more, sleep a little harder, and be. Not always do and be doing, but be.

Be with you, be around you, be present, be loving, be me, be happy, be proud, be kind, be kind to me...be.

I don't know what pace it is yet, I don't know what any of it looks or feels like, not yet. I haven't found the right rhythm. I just know I'm tired of always feeling like I'm about to have a heart attack and like "it" can't stop or else all of "it" will come crashing down...whatever "it" is for this week anyway. I'm tired of feeling like I can't stop or else all that I hold will collapse, I'm just not that important.

So, little faces, I'll figure this out with you. I have a few more months of holding on and then we will play with a differently paced mamma. One that has time to look at you the whole time you're telling me a story, the one that knows the names of the kids in your class and takes walks with you and holds on to the pace you have always tried to set for us.

Stop.

18
Aug

Surrender

Morning lovies, this morning, I took another yoga class, and this one really focused on the word surrender, something your mamma does not do well. When you are always trying to fight and resist, surrendering is almost impossible. And so, I set it as my intention for the morning and really focused what it would mean to surrender to the rest of my year.

It would mean that I just lean into the hard. I start to get excited about the new. I get sad about the loss of a part of me, I get upset that I am saying goodbye to 20 years of something I worked so hard to build, something I believe in so very much. It means that I surrender my body to the stress and I surrender my bones to the tired. It means I go to bed when I am exhausted. It means I surrender to when I can't sleep. It means I surrender to when you two fighting brings me an annoyance that is so irritating that I can't function. It means I surrender to the chaos the next 4+ months will be, because they just will. Resist all I want, they just will.

It means I also surrender to the plans of my future. It means I surrender to the building of what is to come. It means I get to dream and hope and map out how different things will be for me. It means I get to surrender to you planning too...how different our summer will be, how different our time will be.

It means I surrender to a lot of what I thought I was, what I thought I needed to define me and I just am. I come out as something new, something completely new. It means I surrender to the times I make big mistakes, like being obedient when I should be strong-minded. It means I surrender to the times that my interactions haunt me, they should, it's how I learn. It means that I surrender to the feelings of blue, because the next four months will be filled with so much change, so much going on, so much I have to do, so much of what I need to keep doing, and I surrender to the madness of it all.

It means when I am in class, I surrender to that time...just me and my breath and I remember to exhale. I remember to melt into the floor, not just on it, but into it. It means I am grounded in my feet and from my root, I will rise.

It means when my feet hit the pavement I surrender to the different breath I have to find in order to find my rhythm in that day's run. It means as I start what might be my last half marathon training, I realize I can do hard things. And hanging up my training shoes is not giving up, it's finding a new me, putting aside the hard and finding what else I can do.

It means when I am taking a bath, I have to surrender to the warm water on me, I have to settle into the bath, close my eyes for just five minutes and be. And then it means I leave the full day right there in the tub and wash it down. It means I have to physically watch as it throws itself down the drain, today is behind me, honestly washed away.

It means during our reading dates, I surrender myself to our family time, to our connection, to what is important. It means when you ask for me to read to you, I put whatever I am working on down to be with you, you won't call for me much longer. It means when you want little guys I joyfully say, of course. It means when you fold into me, I allow you to and I rub your back and tell you how much you still look like the baby girl I brought home.

It means I surrender to what is coming. I have called for it and we are all ready.

Mom doesn't surrender all that well lovies. But today I took my first step and I know you will feel the struggle that is coming. But, we will hold hands and I will be reminded of your faces, your smiles, and your softness. I surrender to you.

5
Jul

Five Minute Friday - take

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 take.

Go.

As a parent, sometimes it feels that all we do is give give give to little takers. Little faces that say, can I have, can you give me, can you get me, can you do this, can you carry that, can you drive me, can I go to, can I do this, can you bring me, can you make this happen, will be you there, can you read to me, what's for dinner, can I have dessert, can you get carry me?

Can you and will you to little takers. And we give and give and give and teach and teach and teach and at the end of each day, we wonder why our bones are tired. We wonder why we feel so empty. We wonder why our minds can't shut off and we wonder why we are so foggy.

It all starts at birth, however you birthed a person. Whether that was in a hospital, clinic, home, court room, it all starts with giving up of yourself to make room for a new one to enter your soul. You take over our hearts, our bodies, our being. You start on the inside and it pours out into the outer limits of our fingers and toes. You hold on to our hands and take our love, our devotion, or attention, and at times, our actual mind.

You, you're not to blame. You didn't ask to be here, we asked for you to find us. And part of the exhausting task of this exhausting part of parenting is teaching you to do for yourself. It is teaching you to get your own thing, to contribute to the family, to do it on your own little by little, part by part.

But in the meantime, yes, I can help you reach that snack. Yes, I can pour you something to drink. Yes, I can help you make your bed. Yes, I can take you to see your friend. Yes lovies, I can help. You can take and I will give because in the end, although I am empty, there is a fullness to my world, my heart that you give that replenishes my love, my ability and me. You give too.

Stop.


23
Jun

The year

I just read one of the most amazing articles of all time that put this whole school gig into the most amazing perspective. It's on the average kid, the one that doesn't make the team, isn't in every single thing, isn't straight As in all the subjects, isn't killing it since birth in an area of their life, isn't already headed for college at 10, hasn't already created something, invented something.

But the kid with heart, the one that loves to read, the shy kid, or the kid that can be friends with anyone, the kid that loves animals, or loves to color still, the one that still wants to play and just be a kid. That kid, the average kid, the one we all lost sight of, the one we are all trying to push, the one that doesn't need pushing because they are so content. And good, and kind, and smart at their thing, and thinking, and being little.

" School is the only place in the world where you’re expected to excel at everything, and all at the same time. In real life, you’ll excel at what you do best and let others excel at what they do best."

I made a promise that I would protect your childhood. Not a promise to protect you because you've got this, but your childhood. I made a promise you would get to be little, and kids, and not be over scheduled or overdone. I made a promise that it would be about being kids while I had kids because damn does that window close fast.

I don't know when or why it happened. I wasn't part of much when I was in school but I found my own way. Dad, he was part of the team, any team, but he still got to be a kid. He didn't have to start specializing at the age of 6 and somewhere along the way, parents lost their way and started down this really scary path.

And I just want you to know, my 4th and 1st grader, my little tiny faces, I am proud of the year you have had. Because you always tried, because you worked hard, because of your hearts.

Anna, I am so proud of you for knowing that all of your closest friends were all in one classroom together and instead of being upset, or sad, or even bringing it up, you made new friends. Good friend. Friends that you really love and laugh with and have so much fun with. Friends you have story after story after story about. Friends that you write notes to. Friends that you want to be around. Friends that make you feel good. You did something that has always been so hard for mom and you just put yourself out there and you connected. I am most proud that you befriended a new kid, one that you could tell was feeling shy and worried. You made the first connection and you brought her into your heart. I am proud of you for opening your arms and your heart out and as you get older, it will be harder but I hope you always remember how easy and natural it is for you to make friends.

Anna, I am proud of you for always trying, for giving your best. For putting your mind to something. Not because you are perfect at it, not even because school just comes easy to you, not because you don't get any mistakes or do everything right, but because you just keep going. When spelling was hard for you, you worked at it. You found solutions. You listened to tutors, you practiced. When things are hard, you do not give up, you do not get frustrated, you take the help and you learn and you cope and you do.

Anna, I am proud of you for really giving it your all. For leading with your heart, for being a social butterfly and loving to be around people. Anna, I love that you fell even harder for reading this year. I love that I find you all over the house reading. I love that you use the car to read. I love that you are covered in books and always have one near by. I love your love of stories. I love that you are starting to write your own and I love that you are still silly, and little and not at all growing up too fast.

Cole, I, and everyone that comes into contact with you, falls hard and heavy for your heart. I am proud of the person you are Monkey. I love that you make everyone around you feel loved. I love that everyone thinks and feels like you are their friend because you are. I love that there is nothing malicious about you. I love that there is nothing fake. I love that you just love people. I love that all the grownups in your life see that too. I love that you come in, get your homework done and just want to play play play. I love that you spend so many quiet hours with legos. I love that you make people feel loved and cared for. I love that people can always count on you. I love that you have a smile that can melt, and I love love love how funny you are.

Cole, I am proud that you wear your emotions on your sleeve. I love that you are emotional. I love that you put it all out there. I love that although sitting and listening are not your thing, you do it so well for your teachers. I love that you know what is right and what is wrong. I love that you look to them to confirm you have to step back. I love that you get excited, I love that you think most days are the best days of your life. I love that you would move heaven and earth to be with your dad. I love that you love hugs, I love that you love little guy kisses.

Kiddos, I am proud of you because you are good people. And I love you because you both love love. And that does not make you average, that makes you special. You receive what you put out and you always put out love and kindness. You put your best foot forward and you always try. You are not average, you are exceptional because you know and realize what really matters in this world. All of this other stuff, it does not matter, you have the real world figured out. Love, kindness, friendship, caring humans.

21
Jun

Five Minute Friday - question

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 question.

Go.

We all have them. We start pretty early in life trying to figure things out, or why certain things just have to be a certain way. We get in trouble for asking too many and we sometimes don't move forward because we are stuck in a cycle of them.

Although I am not motivated by a why, I am much more motivated by the because this is how "it" is "done", I do question every move I make. I do carry the thought right down to the worst case scenario. I do answer my own why but I still worry and think through, excessively think through, the decisions I make. I question myself more than I question my actions. I sit, I ponder, I think of every possible thing that could go right or wrong, and I reason it all out.

Raising two little faces that I ask to do this or that, or ask not to do this or that, I get asked why a lot. I have tried very hard to not come back with the typical, because I said so now just do it, response. Instead, I try an walk them through it all, I try and be reasonable and compassionate to all of the questions, but that's not always so easy. Patience wears thin, I have already explained it, I have answered and answered and now you're just arguing, and as always, I am tired guys. Gut-wrenching tired, bone tired, hard to stay awake ever tired.

But ask your questions, I will keep trying to answer them all. Ask your questions and dad will tell you how and why things are made. He will tell you where things are and about the history of this and that. I will tell you why I do things a certain way and how to keep yourself sane in an insane world. As you get older, remember it's okay to question yourself and your motives and your motivation and your decisions. Just do not get stuck, do not get trapped in a cycle of questions and talking yourself out of things that make you scared. Jump a little, believe just a little, trust just a little more.

Stop.

17
Jun

The fog

I talk a lot about how for years and years and years, we were in the fog of parenting. But just the other day, I was reading another mom's fog and it reminded me how desperate those times were and how desperate they felt. I can tell right away when two people are in the fog now. I can see it in their faces, I can hear it in how they talk, and I now know how normal it is.

Here's the craziest and scariest part, for us, it didn't happen in the beginning. It did not happen with newborns. No, for us, it came on three years in. Just when I thought we were not only safe, but I thought we were invincible. I found myself elated, telling him things like "we made it, we managed to avoid all of the fog." I was so damn cocky. I was so sure we sidestepped all of the crap, and we came out the other side, strong, loving, partners, leaning on each other, doing this incredible dance, it all just fit. And all of that was true, we were, we did, it was as if we were meant to do this, together. Until we started to walk on each other's toes and we no longer had any rhythm of a dance. Until it leveled me, us, what we had, who we were, what I thought we were, who I thought we were. The fog settled around us and we couldn't see each other anymore. We had lost, we were lost, and I thought we were gone.

The fog, for us it lasted for excruciating years. We did eventually figure out why. It all of a sudden all made sense. And you would think that would have fixed it but hell no. It took more years to fight our way back. I kept allowing the fog to cloud my vision, you kept shining a light in my face to have me see you and find you in the mess.

The fog settles at different times, in different ways, for different reasons for different people. The fog makes you deflated, angry, exhausted, resentful, full of contempt, unable to laugh, unable to see. It doesn't last all day every day but when it settles over, it lingers. And most of the days, you lose. You don't have a fighting chance against it. It changes you, it changes how you see your other, it changes how you see your life. It makes it too dark to see clearly so it's covered in gray. The fog makes you want, it makes you think it's greener someplace else. The fog makes you cry, hard. But, if you all hold on to each other, stumble through the mess together, if you go slowly, become more gentle, remember what is on the other side, all of a sudden, it lifts.

You have days that are clearer, you can finally see. You have days with more sunshine, they just feel warmer. You have days with more color, the green is on your side now. You realize how hard that was and how you somehow managed to make it through. I'm no longer cocky enough to think for even one second that the fog won't settle in again. I will no longer proclaim that we managed to avoid anything. Because for some, it doesn't settle in at all. But that is rare, that is not the norm. See, for others, it takes over for a short while, some others longer. And in the long run, all of it is short when you are staring at forever. But it is one of the many secrets of parenting that no one talks about, everyone is hush hush about. The fog is a real thing, it happens and it does not mean you are broken. It does not mean you are in trouble, it means you have walked through the thick of it, it's murky right now, it will once again lift.

What I have learned is that if you are with family, if you find someone you do not want to walk away from, you manage to hold on. You manage to find ways to laugh, you keep talking, you keep searching for each other, you stumble together, but you never let the other person fall. You lose, and it doesn't matter. You keep showing up for each other because you know how worth it all is. You realize this is a blip in your long long life together. You realize so many others are also walking through the fog and you shine lights in their faces too to remind them that this is all very normal. What I have learned is that you figure it out, the dance becomes more and more of the rhythm you know you have. You look across the table and you just smile because you know this is home, this is where your heart has always been, this is where you belong.

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