Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A really tough day

"Mom, can I just relax in the bathtub for a while? I've had a really tough day."

When she said it, my first instinct was to laugh, snort scoff ... what could my very protected and privileged six-year-old possibly know about a tough day? 

But, I didn't laugh. I paused, just long enough to really consider what she had said. I watched her lean back against the side of the tub and close her eyes in an attempt to let the day start to wash away. She looked, well, a lot like I imagine that I look at the end of the day. As I thought more about what she had said, it dawned on me how similar my child's schedule, yes my CHILD, is just like my own. 

She wakes up before 6:00 a.m. Every single day and rarely slows down until 8:00 p.m. Sure, her school day ends mid-afternoon, but she is immediately bussed to her after school program, where they're encouraged to do homework right away. They do have a short snack time, but does that really count as down time? 

When I pick her up, there may be a bit of free time, but the evening routine basically kicks in right away...dinner, bath, homework. It's exhausting for me, as an adult that has the maturity and wisdom to process this busy trap we've woven for ourselves. 

She sighed and opened her eyes, ready for me to wash her hair. It had only been a minute, but I could tell she knew it was a minute too long, a minute we didn't have. It took a lot for me to fight the instinct to hurry her through the process, but I tried to resist. I sat down onto the floor, off of my knees. I rested my chin on the edge of the tub and sighed right back at her. 

"I had a long day, too." I told her. She touched my cheek with her wet, soapy hand and smiled up at me, and we sat in silence for just a few minutes. She swished the water around her, and I watched the calm wash over her face with every moment that passed without me saying, "hurry up."


Monday, October 24, 2016

Christmas Countdown

Another Monday means another week closer to Christmas. 

As the commercials and catalogs and lists ramp up, I found so much joy watching these cousins play this weekend ... with a piece of, well, I'm not sure what exactly. Foamy paper?? It was a protective cover for a new TV. Basically, it was going to be trash. 



But they played with it for a solid 45 minutes. And, I'm talking squealing laughter, big imaginations, loads of fun ...and not a toy in sight. 

So, as I prepare my holiday shopping lists this year, I'm hoping I can reign it in myself and remember that they will probably have more fun with the box than the gift!! 

A little break

We did it. 

We snuck away for a short break to unwind and unplug. 

It wasn't a well planned or well packed trip given that we weren't even sure we'd make it just a few hours before departure. But we did. 

And it was exactly what we needed. 

We woke up hours before the sun, cuddled in front of the fire, watched the kids run and play and explore outside, all day. Without asking for toys once. They chased butterflies, fed horses, collected acorns. 

We stayed hours later than we had planned, most of us falling asleep on the way home, all of us rested and recharged.


Monday, August 22, 2016

First Day

My silly, sweet, bold, patient, loving girl began 1st grade today. Her first day of a school year that I'm sure will bring many, many more firsts. I was awake most of the night, thinking about her, praying for her, both nervous and excited.


We attended Meet the Teacher last week, and I somehow still don't know ...
Where does she hang her backpack?

When will she have recess?

How will she go from 7:00 a.m. until noon without a snack?!

There is so much that is unknown, for today, for this year, and in life.


But I do know that this girl has great things waiting for her on her journey.

Today will be one of many firsts, and I know that she will conquer each and every one that comes her way. I believe in her, possibly more than I have ever believed in anyone or anything thing.

She is fierce. She is brave. She is kind and compassionate, and her ability to love and thrive has no limits. 

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future." Proverbs 31:25 }

Monday, August 15, 2016

Rest for the weary

As I sit in the airport, carrying with me only my purse and a laptop bag, I see you, Momma. I see you see me, too, and I recognize that look in your eye as you push your stroller past. You think I have it easy, even that you wish you could be in my shoes, if only for a moment. 
You'd love to trade that stroller, diaper bag, the three character backpacks your kids lovingly asked you to hold in addition to your own. You'd love to trade places with me, just long enough to catch your breath, to be able to brush your hair out of your eyes (you haven't been able to reach it since your oldest tossed another bag over your already full arm fifteen minutes ago).
I see you look longingly at my light load and wish for a break that will likely not come for years, not until long after you've forgotten what it's like to only carry along a purse. I get it. I have those days too. In fact, before I left for the airport today, I was enthusiastically looking forward to my break. 
Yes, it's a business trip, and I will have to work quite a bit, but it's amazing how freeing it feels when you can hear yourself think. Compared to the constant demands of our precious children, I often find myself comparing work to vacation.
And, I really was all set. Set to relax on the plane, read a book, and enjoy the peace and quiet. I was good. Until I saw you.
And I saw you see me. But I don't think you saw me see you. Or your beautiful family. I noticed your heavy arms and that your clan took up half the walkway and that it must have felt chaotic for you. But I also saw your ability to move 3 people under the age of 5 through a crowded airport. They listened to you, trusted your guidance, and we're at complete ease in a strange place simply because they were with you.
I am waiting for a flight that will take me away from my kids for a week, and yours will never know that separation, at least not until they're old enough to better understand.
And, while I trust my family's plan for work and life balance, I also had a moment today, seeing you, when I would have loved to trade places, to be able to provide that consistency and familiarity for my kids, the quiet sense of calm amidst a busy, strange, new place (or even at home).
So while you may have wanted to trade places, if only for a moment, please know that you weren't the only one. Perhaps the proverbial grass is always greener. Or perhaps, every now and then, we just need a break, time to reflect, reassure, and rest ourselves in this busy life that takes the decisions we consciously make and runs away with them so fast and so furiously that we often times find ourselves looking up with doubt. 
And it is hard not to doubt sometimes, when life seems to offer so many options, so many other solutions, and so many judgments. Please know, though, that I did not look at you with judgement today, and I did not doubt your choices or the option that you have chosen. I looked at you with awe. I looked at you as an inspiration and with a little hope that you could see in yourself what I was seeing with my own eyes … that you are more than enough. That you are amazing.
That when our load is heavy, whether the weight is emotional or spiritual or literally the 4 extra backpacks our kids could not possibly carry for themselves, that we remind ourselves that we can carry this load because we have a strength inside of ourselves that is unique to mothers. As mothers, we carry the love and heartache, the joy and sorrow, and the highs and lows along with the bags, blankets, and teddy bears.
The weight of this load is often so heavy that we are tricked into feeling weak, that we are not doing a good job, even that we are failing. We worry that we have not done enough yet, so we couldn’t possibly deserve a break. There is still too much to be done.
We use so much energy just trying to hold everyone up around us, that we forget how much strength we already possess in order to do so in the first place. We look in the mirror and wonder what we could have done better or what we should have done differently.
Please know that the answer is nothing. Nothing.
You are already more than enough. You are stronger than you know, and searching for a break does not make you weak. We all need time to restore ourselves. Our physical bodies literally need time for muscle recover after intense activity, and we know that the heart is the hardest working muscle in the human body. 
Take the time you need to recover. You deserve it. You need it. 
And you will return with an even greater strength.



He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:29-31

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The best job ever

As I drove her to camp, I said simply, “Babe, I’m sorry we had to rush so much this morning.”

The Boy had woken up in a mood, something that has become more commonplace in our morning routines since he turned three a few months ago. On this particular morning, he was a little stubborn, a little clingy, and completely preventing me from doing anything that I needed to be doing. We were running late.

So we rushed. I packed lunch boxes in record time, squeezed in a little summer reading (thank you iPad app), and I’m only mildly sure we all left the house with brushed teeth and hair. I hate mornings like this. I hate having to rush the kids, to rush myself, and I especially hate when we go our separate ways after such a rushed morning.

I took a deep breath and tried to smooth things over with a heartfelt apology.

“It’s okay mom. But maybe you should just quit your job.”

I explained that quitting my job would mean that we would not have money to do all of the fun things she like to do, like the camp we were driving to at that very moment. I didn’t see this as a time to explain health insurance to a six-year old, but I think she understood that life would change drastically if my employment status changed.

“Well,” she continued. “Why don’t you just get a different job?”

So, I explained that a different job might mean that I wouldn’t have time to take her to all of the fun things she likes to do, like her camp or dance class. And, a new job would almost certainly not give her the opportunity to occasionally stay with me on days when I worked from home.

“Well, why don’t you get a new job … like be a pop star or gymnastics teacher? They don’t have to go allll the time like other jobs make you.”

Sweet girl, I thought. She really thinks I could be a pop star. It doesn’t matter to her that she has heard me sing tone deaf note after tone deaf note. It doesn’t matter to her that I have exactly zero dance moves. (Is it possible to have a negative number of dance moves? If so, I do.) She doesn’t see my inadequacies. Or, if she does, she accepts them, accepts me, and keeps going.


She doesn’t consider, even for a second, that I couldn’t do this if I wanted to.  She believes in me, not just with the young, naïve mind of a child who has yet to get to know the ways of the world, but with the all-encompassing love that a child has for her mother.

I explained to her that I don’t exactly have the skill set one needs to be a pop star or gymnastics teacher. I laughed a little. She laughed, “Well, Mom. I guess you should just keep your job. For now, there’s nothing we can do about it. But one day, when I’m a pop star, I will just pay you all of my money to hang out with me.”

“That would be the best job ever,” I replied. 

The best job ever

As I drove her to camp, I said simply, “Babe, I’m sorry we had to rush so much this morning.”

The Boy had woken up in a mood, something that has become more commonplace in our morning routines since he turned three a few months ago. On this particular morning, he was a little stubborn, a little clingy, and completely preventing me from doing anything that I needed to be doing. We were running late.

So we rushed. I packed lunch boxes in record time, squeezed in a little summer reading (thank you iPad app), and I’m only mildly sure we all left the house with brushed teeth and hair. I hate mornings like this. I hate having to rush the kids, to rush myself, and I especially hate when we go our separate ways after such a rushed morning.

I took a deep breath and tried to smooth things over with a heartfelt apology.

“It’s okay mom. But maybe you should just quit your job.”

I explained that quitting my job would mean that we would not have money to do all of the fun things she like to do, like the camp we were driving to at that very moment. I didn’t see this as a time to explain health insurance to a six-year old, but I think she understood that life would change drastically if my employment status changed.

“Well,” she continued. “Why don’t you just get a different job?”

So, I explained that a different job might mean that I wouldn’t have time to take her to all of the fun things she likes to do, like her camp or dance class. And, a new job would almost certainly not give her the opportunity to occasionally stay with me on days when I worked from home.

“Well, why don’t you get a new job … like be a pop star or gymnastics teacher? They don’t have to go allll the time like other jobs make you.”

Sweet girl, I thought. She really thinks I could be a pop star. It doesn’t matter to her that she has heard me sing tone deaf note after tone deaf note. It doesn’t matter to her that I have exactly zero dance moves. (Is it possible to have a negative number of dance moves? If so, I do.) She doesn’t see my inadequacies. Or, if she does, she accepts them, accepts me, and keeps going.


She doesn’t consider, even for a second, that I couldn’t do this if I wanted to.  She believes in me, not just with the young, naïve mind of a child who has yet to get to know the ways of the world, but with the all-encompassing love that a child has for her mother.

I explained to her that I don’t exactly have the skill set one needs to be a pop star or gymnastics teacher. I laughed a little. She laughed, “Well, Mom. I guess you should just keep your job. For now, there’s nothing we can do about it. But one day, when I’m a pop star, I will just pay you all of my money to hang out with me.”

“That would be the best job ever,” I replied.