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.

25
Apr

Five Minute Friday - Perspective

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 perspective.

Go.

It's all in the way that you look at it, it's all that you see, it's all that you decide to focus on.

This is what we all do, every single day, all day long. I am much more of a see the glass half empty kind of person. I feel the darkness linger way before the sun sets. I think about worst case scenarios, I play them out in my head, I walk through them, I put myself there, I live there for a while, and then I pull back.

So why now, when the entire world stopped spinning, am I seeing things a little differently? Why now am I slowing down and not panicking all day every day? Why I am lingering in bed now? Why I am napping so much? Why are my daughter and I laughing so much, my son and I snuggling? Why am I noticing our puppy so much more? Why am I lingering so much? Why do I feel like I have no time when I have all the time in the world? Why do I feel like not doing so much? Why am I not wanting a routine? Why is this my perspective right now?

Why, as worried as I am about the health and wellness of our entire world, and the economic health of every single person, why am I also worried about when this all goes away? Why, as sad as I am that so many people I have to see behind a window, do I feel so so close to those I really love? Why is my perspective all out of sorts?

I'm just not that important.

Even when the world stops spinning, it still finds a way to go on.

Even if you are not going on all cylinders all of the time, things still get done on their own time.

Most importantly, why did it take a pandemic, why did the world need to stop spinning, for my perspective to finally change?

21
Feb

Five Minute Friday - risk

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 risk.

Walking down that aisle, I took a risk that never felt like one.

Deciding we were trying for that little blue line was the biggest risk we ever took, but we did it anyway.

Leading BBBSCR was risky, I was so green, they had more faith in me than I ever had, but I threw myself into it and did it.

Leaving it all behind, starting new and on my own, yeah, it was and is really risky, but here we are.

Even the things I plan and calculate, even things I try to eliminate the potential for risk from, they all come with risk attached. It's just embedded in all that we do. Getting out of bed each day means you are willing to risk it all and try for this day. Even if the day ebbs and flows with what you think is the "normal and boring every day". It's not, there are risks in all that we do. And I for one, am petrified of risks, but here we are...married, mortgage, kids we are responsible for, and running a company while managing a life.

So, listen to the woman who is always scared when she says, you can plan for it. You can have life-insurance and wills and insurance, and succession plans and backup plans and emergency funds and attrition funds. You can try to drive walk in the dark in groups and keep your doors locked and drive safe. You can walk looking both ways, you can hold hands when you cross the street, you can try to make calculated plans. You can create your lists and tell the world what you want to be done "in case". You can plan for the "in case". And don't get me wrong, it will help, but it won't eliminate the risk.

Because it's kind of how you know you're actually living. You fall in love and it may or may not work. You have kids and all plans go out the window because it all changes. You can invest in a home and anything can happen, go wrong and by the way, there is always something to do or something that's going wrong. You can take really good care of your body and be healthy but still be injured. And even from this terrified fool, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love you dad, I believe in him, I believe in us. I am his biggest fan and no matter what happens tomorrow, I can't change that. I adore that he pushed me to have you, I cannot get enough of my second chance at childhood. I love protecting it and as hard as it is to let you go, I do love seeing what you do with who you are each day. I heart our home and the calm it brings me when I walk in. This is my haven and I love how each corner of it is us.

I'm proud of the chances we took and all the risks that came with them.

Stop.


20
Dec

Five Minute Friday - birth

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 birth.

And here we are again...when the word of the week directly speaks to me. I have been thinking so much about both of your births these past few weeks. I have a potential client that does home births, and I have been sharing your birth story, and I even was talking to dad about both of your stories. And then, this week, here's the word.

Anna, it all started with you and your incredible story. How you made your way to us, how scared I was in the room, how much scarier it got when we had to have surgery, your dad's face that I will never forget as he walked into the O.R. and we immediately switched personalities...he was emotional and worried, I was calm and confident. He was watching his whole world on a table, hanging in the balance of a doctor we barely knew, I was sure it would be great, and begged him to be with you..."there will be a team working on me, don't leave her side, be there for our daughter lovey, I'm going to be okay, it's all going to be okay." And it was. Sweetie, you came into this world at your own time, in your own way and even though there was what could have been chaos and mayhem, it, like you, was very calm. It, like you, had a silent presence, energy and actual force you could feel. And, again, you spoke to me...mom, it's all going to be okay, I'm supposed to come out this way, so just close your eyes and get some rest, I'll see you soon.

Cole, yours was exactly you. Even though it was supposed to be surrounded by the calm of knowing what was to come, well, it wasn't. Something went wrong every step of the way, just little things. You, my little monkey, needed to set your mark from the beginning. You were always telling me how different you would be and get ready mom, your life is about to get loud and crazy, and lots of energy coming your way. And then, all eyes were on you and people were immediately drawn. People fought over changing you, holding you, damn, you immediately won hearts. Your dad, this time, was ready. He knew what was to come. He was just waiting.

Lovies, your dad, he couldn't wait to meet you both. I so wish you could have seen him BEFORE he had you because it was so special and you would instantly know how loved you are. He is the reason you are here because watching him talk about you like you were already here, I just couldn't deny him this. I couldn't take this from him, he was made to be your dad, and he wrote this chapter for us.

Your birth, it was exactly how both of you were to come. One, slow, quiet, methodical. The other, crazy, loud, eyes wide open. Your lives, they are being played out exactly as they should be. Exactly as you, we, the universe is writing them out.

Thank you for finding us loves. Thank you for making this happen. Thank you for being the reason I believe in happily ever after and love at first sight. Thank you for making me a believer in magic and making me kinder and slower and more thoughtful. Thank you for giving dad this chapter that he so desperately wanted. Thank you for making me want it too and thank you for making our lives a page-turner.

Thanks for being born.

Stop.


6
Oct

It's always darkest before the dawn

It's one of life's little secrets. Something that when you are going through it, it's impossible to remember. And having anyone remind you doesn't help, trusting that it's true doesn't help, but eventually seeing the sun on the horizon, you'll always get that.

It was last year when I heard this line in a song that I adore and out of nowhere, I started to cry. 2018 was really hard for your mom lovies. Really really hard and really really trying and really really out there for me. My mind stopped working and I couldn't get a grip and I was drowning. Everything felt dark and then, something happened. Something woke me up and I realized that I can see the sun and the light and I can be okay. But, I had to hit the darkest hour first. It's always darkest before the dawn.

In 2019, I decided to really embrace change. Really lean into all the changes that I was trying to make happen around me and instead, I called changed into every area of my life and I felt like I was going to crumble. Since change feels like a loss to me, and everything was changing, I felt like I was losing it all. My head hurt, my body was aching, my exhaustion really took over. Once again, it all felt so dark and so lonely and so scary. See, as true as this line is and as much as it really represents life, it is so hard to remember it when you are in your darkest hour, or to try and figure out when you have reached it. It's really hard to figure out if you are moments away from sunrise or if the night is just starting to settle in. Because when you are feeling this lost, sullen, alone, scared, empty, exhausted, shaky, unsure, nothing is clear. Expressions like, tomorrow is another day, or you did the best you could, or even it's always darkest before the dawn...they don't help. It's so difficult to imagine the dawn and the sun rising and the light and warmth hitting your face.

Until it does.

Because eventually, the sun does rise again, things start to shake out. Obstacles are overcome, problems are figured out, or they aren't. No matter what, time moves us forward and the world keeps going. And then, out of nowhere, joy finds its way back home to you. And you realize it's morning again, it's time to remember who you are and get back to being you.

So, it happens lovies. There are days that bleed into weeks and sometimes months when it seems so dark. I will hold your hand through it, I will allow you to sit with it and eventually you will see on your own that tomorrow does come. But it's always darkest before the dawn.

27
Sep

Five Minute Friday - success

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 success.

Go.

It has changed for me. What I think has changed the most is success now means I am healthy, I am calmer. I am slower. I am quieter. I am fighting uphill less. I am hurting less. I am softer. I am kinder to myself. I am treating myself like I have always treated others. I am starting to give myself the benefit of the doubt. I am going to give myself permission to pause. I am gentler with my words and my thoughts.

Success is no longer wearing my fighting gloves. It's no longer in the constant battle with me to win a race only I am in. I am no longer competing with myself because I am going to be okay. It's no longer reaching for things I don't want to grab and hold. It's no longer screaming on the top of my lungs in my head and having a pounding headache at the end of the day. It's no longer proving to myself I can do hard things, we all can.

It's now proving to myself that I will be okay. I can more than okay. I can be really successful being me. Quiet, loving, kind, generous, giving, loyal, heartfelt, stubborn, crazy, erratic, emotional, cries all the time for the right reasons me. And that is a successful person who will be okay.

23
Sep

Done

It's been a strange week. A week of a lot of lasts for mom. A week that has me so tired I can't seem to get myself out of bed no matter how early I go to sleep and no matter how many hours of sleep I get. A week that has me feeling weird and a little off. Not feeling like me, kind of overwhelmed and not motivated. Lovies, mom is at a stage in her life in which she is feeling very done and is grappling with the emotional ride of feeling like a quitter. I am taking a break from my triathlons and the training that goes along with them. I am taking a break from my half marathons and the training that goes along with them. I gave my notice to a career I have built and an agency that has defined who I am. And I am just so bone tired.

I am watching my to-do lists just pile up and run one day into the other. I am watching my home just come undone. I am watching my emails collect in all of my different inboxes. I am turning off alarms instead of getting up to work out. I am turning off alarms instead of getting up to work. Every once in awhile, I get a surge of energy and plow through something, even a tiny thing. But then the exhaustion becomes so overwhelming that I just feel like I am done. Period and end of story I am done.

Maybe my MS is in overdrive and the exhaustion that I feel is because I have this disease. Maybe my emotions are in overdrive and I cannot climb these mountains anymore. Maybe my lists are so long I can't imagine how to get it all done so I am shutting down. Maybe I am sick and I can't seem to get better no matter how much I rest my body. Maybe the disease has something to do with that too. Maybe I need more than a break, maybe I need more than a rest. Maybe I am so scared I am getting paralyzed. Maybe I am so sad I am being swallowed. Maybe.

So, I am giving it attention and calling it out. Yes, I am done with proving I can do hard things. But, part of what makes me tick and part of what makes me proud is that I can do. I have to find the right middle between doing and not leaning into the hard. So, instead of running as hard as I can in a half marathon, I go for an 8 mile run with my puppy by my side, both of us smiling and loving our route and taking in the scenery of how gorgeous it is to live here. Instead of working until my head hurts and it's taking me three times as long to do things, I get up when it's still dark and I plug away and I check off my boxes. Instead of doing it all, I set up systems for the kids to remind them that they are people and they too are ready for the responsibility. And instead of fighting, loving. Loving our time together, loving what we are grateful for. Loving all that we have worked hard for and have been lucky with. Loving how we are building a family of trust and openness. Loving our little family walks. Loving some time together. Loving our snuggles. Instead of being the mom that says no, or reminds you of to-do lists, being the one that reminds you I trust you.

And then, this morning, I set my alarm early again. My brain and body felt rested. I got up in the dark, I kissed my hubby on the arm and squeezed his hand as I whispered "I love you." I worked for hours and hours in the dark. I drank warm coffee, I wrote, I got things checked off my list. I sat in the amazing quiet. I got to hear my little puppers sleeping. I knew my little family was all snuggled. And I started again.

There are some things I am done with. My body, mind, patience, acceptance, they have met their limit. There are a lot of things I have left to do and creating a new normal is very much one of them. I knew how hard this transition would be on me. When you spend half your life being defined and feeling valued in one specific area, it's hard to say I am no longer that. But, it is time. For a change, for a bit slower of a pace, for a middle ground, for me to find out who this person is about to become. And one thing she will never be is completely done.

13
Sep

Five Minute Friday - start

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 start.

Go.

This Sunday, I start what might be my last race for a while (see how committed I am there??). I have been feeling like it is time to hang my training shoes up, maybe not forever, but for a while. I have been feeling like I have spent an entire life proving that I can do hard things, and now, I need life to be a little more kind, to me. I have been feeling like I just want to take things a little easier on myself, and like I just need some peace. Hanging up training shoes means I am also putting down my fighting gloves and it's time to start this new chapter.

And so, on Sunday, I will stand at the start of my half marathon, I will wave to my family and I will run. I hope it will clear my mind and I hope it will be healing for my soul. I hope that it will feel like I might need a few years off to regroup, recalibrate, and figure out how to make this new world I am creating just a little bit easier. It is time for me to take a little break, a little breather, and to start a brand new day.

The words that keep flooding my mind are "easier" "lighter" "calmer" "kind" "gentle" "grateful". Because after a heavy storm, the clouds part, the earth is washed, the groud is full, the plants have been fed, sometimes, leaves fall off and branches break, but there is a necessary calm. Sometimes, you have to clean up a little from the debris left behind but that's okay. It's the start of a new day and for me, it's the start of a whole new life.

Stop.

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.

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