Confessions of a “Girl Mom” (whose daughters don’t fit in a box)

I have two boys and two girls. I see a lot of articles about boy moms vs. girl moms and I gotta be honest…I don’t relate to any of them. I am just wondering; what happened to the clean and quiet daughters I’m supposed to have? I currently feel that a blow torch would be the best option for cleaning their room and I need a hazmat suit just to get their laundry. If this is easier then I hope there is some sort of manufacturer’s warranty, because I have yet to experience this peaceful bliss of which they speak. Clean rooms? Soft voices? Less ER trips?

Come again?

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Dear Daughter, When I get it wrong…

Dear Daughter,

We butted heads this morning and I saw that look in your eyes, the one that says she doesn’t get it, she doesn’t understand me. You got mad and I got mad too. It took me ten minutes and a mocha before I started to calm down.

Sometimes we are all tangled up on the couch picking out your dream dress on Say Yes. Sometimes our emotions seem to simultaneously combust into flames.

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Dear Teenagers, Be patient while I let go…

To my teenagers,

Be patient with me as I learn to let you go.

I know it’s time. I know you’re growing and becoming and that sometimes it’s uncomfortable. Be patient with me because it’s not just you who is adjusting, my love. It’s me too.

I know it’s hard to understand, but hear me out.

I dreamed about you before you were a whisper or a reality. I dreamed of you when you were so tiny in my belly no one could see you, but me. I dreamed of you when I was bent over a toilet until there was nothing left. I dreamed of you while I laid on the couch telling Dad that yes, I was sure I needed fries ASAP and another episode of Lost. I dreamed of you and I treasured you as my belly made my pants tight and uncomfortable, as my legs swelled, and as my cheeks grew full and my dimples deeper. I dreamed of you on the sleepless nights holding my belly and counting contractions like the midwives told me I should. I dreamed of you as I gave my body over to something that was completely beyond my control.

I’d never felt such purpose and anticipation, my love.

I dreamed of you when the contractions radiated through my body and I knew this was it. I dreamed of you as I labored through a pain I didn’t know existed. In my heart I knew you were worth every breath, every pain, every push. I knew, because I was the one who carried you. I carried you in my womb, in my heart, and in my soul.

You were my dream before the world even knew you existed.

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I dreamed of you as the hospital room became a war zone and I fought with all my strength for your entrance into the world.

And then you were on my chest, there you were, my dream; my reason, my heart. You were all my purpose in one tiny body, pressed against my soul.  Every second was worth it, every single second.

I never wanted to feel that pain again, but I also knew I’d do it a thousand times just to hold you in my arms. A mother’s love is unexplainable; it’s unreasonable; it’s undone. A mother’s love completely belongs to her children. There are no corridors of her heart that are off limits.

Every door is wide open for you; I am all yours.

And then you grew.

Every day I doubted myself. I struggled to become the woman who I felt you deserved. I wanted to give you the world, but my actions seemed to fall short.

I dreamed of your future as I spent sleepless nights with milk soaked sheets. I dreamed of you as you sat screaming at me from your timeout chair in the thick of your toddler years. I dreamed of you when I cried myself to sleep because I was sure I was doing it all wrong and I so badly wanted to get it all right. I dreamed of you when I snuggled your warm body after a bad dream. I dreamed of you when I held your hand and walked you to your first day of kindergarten. I dreamed of you as I watched you run onto the football field for the very first time.

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Someday maybe you’ll see. Maybe you’ll hold your own baby on your chest for the very first time. Maybe your heart will shatter into a million pieces and be built again from scratch. A love like this is impossible to explain until you’ve had the chance to touch it.

These baby, these are the days I dreamed of. I dreamed of the person you’d become; I dreamed of seeing you fly. Please be patient with me my love, as I learn to let go and let you stretch your legs and use your voice. Be patient with me as I go through yet another transition and becoming.

You’re growing, and I am too.

You were my dream before the world got to share you. You were my dream before your very first breath.

Be patient with me as I unclench these fingers and loosen these hands that have held you. Be patient with me as I relax these arms that have carried you since the first day you breathed life. Be patient with me as I recognize that the time has come to do less protecting and holding and more listening and cheering.

I dreamed of you and here you are.

And still I dream.

I love you more than you will ever know.

Love,

Mama

***

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Dear Kids, When I mess up…

Dear Kids,

Yesterday I snapped at you about something silly. I was tired and overwhelmed and I took it out on you. You looked at me with your deep blue eyes and I knew I was messing up, but somehow I couldn’t stop the freight train of words that were already spilling out of my mouth. Every time I tried to backpedal and change directions I’d ruin it with another lecture; “BUT,” I said, “I just really need you to…”

I knew I was missing it. The whole time I knew I wasn’t being the kind of mom I want to be.

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Dear White Moms, What I need you to know…

Dear White Moms,

You are my friends. You are my sisters.

We are the same in more ways than we are different, but there are a few things that I need you to know.

I have three black boys. They are the sweetest and most amazing humans I’ve ever met. They are incredibly intelligent, creative, artistic, caring, thoughtful, compassionate, friendly, and respectful. These aren’t just the characteristics of my three black boys, but of black boys all over America.

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Dear Husband, When you can’t find your purpose…

Dear Husband,

I see the tension in your eyes and your shoulders when you walk through the door from a job you don’t enjoy.  You grab the kids and wrestle them as they gather around you like a gang of seagulls hungry for your attention. “Dad, dad, dad!” the little one says while the big one tells you a story neither of us can follow.

“Hey babe” I say, and we exchange an understanding glance. You are tired; you are discouraged; and you are wondering why you can’t seem to find “the thing” that makes you come alive. Since you were a boy you’ve dreamed of “the thing”; when you were in high school you were full of hope for “the thing”; in your twenties you wondered why you hadn’t found “the thing”. Now you’re in your thirties and you’re tired.

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Dear Daughter, When I fail at being your role model…

Dear Daughter,

I always wanted a daughter. After two babies never made it earth-side, I ached and longed and prayed and cried for you. Every dream I had paled in comparison to my dream of you; and then you came. You came quickly like a tornado on a wild night that I will remember for the rest of my life.

What I felt for you was something I’d never felt before. I became a mother to a daughter, and I was born all over again.

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Dear Son, You’ll always be my little boy,

Dear Son,

Today I wish I could go back. I wish I could go back and hold you as an infant. I wish I could smell your skin and rock you just a little longer. I wish I could be still and feel that moment just one more time.

When I look at pictures of you in your toddler years with your round cheeks and pudgy hands, I smile. Inside my heart breaks a little bit because I wish I could squeeze you as you ask me a billion questions in your tiny voice, just one more time.

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Dear Kids, I wish you knew…

I wish you knew that sometimes when the house is dark and quiet, I come in and watch you breathe for a minute. I wonder there in the stillness if you know how much I love you. I think about the things I could have said differently, and I wonder if you let my mistakes roll off of you or if they stuck.  I hope and pray there in the stillness that you would know how deeply and widely I love you.

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Dear Mama, When you’re running on empty…

Dear Mama,

When you’re running on empty and all you can smell are the fumes of your former self, I see you.

You’re not alone. There are women all around you who get it, even if you’ve never met. They’re rocking their babies to sleep, they’re tending sick kids, they’re trying to manage their frazzled tempers, they’re telling their partners “I can’t even explain today to you, it was just chaos”, they’re dealing with a teenager’s hormones, they are laughing, and they are crying. Whatever it is you’re feeling, there is a 1000% chance another mama is feeling it too.

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To my “anytime” friends:

To my “anytime” friends:

You know who you are. You are the ones I can text in the middle of an anxiety or depression spiral to let you know what’s going on, and you text back to remind me of who I am and that it’s going to be okay.

You are the ones that will never judge me or be shocked by my struggle. You are my anytime friends who love me when I’m happy, when I’m falling apart, and everything in between.

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Giving My Strong-Willed Child Space and Time

I’ll be honest with you, I’ve read a lot of advice about strong-willed kids and none of it has “worked” for me. I’ve tried talking to them and matching their emotions (this was like adding vinegar to baking soda), I’ve tried whispering and it went as well as I expected (they were unable to hear me #theywerescreaming), I’ve tried validating their feelings, listening, comforting, and all kinds of discipline techniques…etc.

My most recent “method” has been pretty advanced, it’s called: surviving.

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Dear Kids, I am yours for keeps.

Dear Kids,

My heart is yours. You can’t earn it and you don’t ever need to deserve it. I’ve already given it, and I never want it back.

You can push me away, you can roll your eyes, you can slam the door when you walk into your room. I will always be here, right here; I’m not going anywhere.

There are days when we don’t see eye to eye. Everything I say drives you crazy, and every thing you do makes me want to scream. But even on our very worst days, I am here, and I will always be here. There are no words you can say and no ways you can unravel that will push me away from you.

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Embracing a “Boring” Summer

To be honest, the upcoming summer has brought me a little anxiety. I usually love the long, lazy days with nowhere to be unless we feel like it, but this year I’ve been feeling some pressure to “make it epic”.

We aren’t traveling this year or sending the kids to any camps, we aren’t really doing anything monumental except (hopefully) sleeping in. I’ll take them to the beach, and we will eat popsicles like it’s our job, but there will also be days when I work with my headphones on and I’ll need them to play on their own.

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To all the Mamas: Sister, I am with you

I might not “know” you; we may never have spoken; but sister, I am with you.

Maybe I walked past you in the store and our shoulders touched. Maybe we smiled and said “hi” in a coffee line. Maybe I complimented you on your purse or your jeans or your hair. Maybe we brushed against each other for three seconds out of the 2,207,520,000 seconds in an average lifetime. We do not know each other, but that’s beside the point. Sister, I am with you. This life is too hard and complicated and beautiful and painful to be anything other than with each other.

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Motherhood is Messy

I took this picture today because I want to remember the messy, hard, falling apart days of mothering.

This is me after one of my kids had a giant public meltdown. The kind where I carried her flailing and kicking past teachers and students, and then put on a little show in the corner of the school yard for all who enjoy watching a mom try and tame a wildcat.

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It’s not selfish to take care of yourself.

Sometimes between babies, and school drop off, and long nights followed by longer days…we lose ourselves. We lose ourselves in the beautiful messy process that is motherhood. We are willing to let ourselves go (mostly). We’re willing to stumble around in sweat pants, sipping luke warm coffee while we pick toys up off the floor. We are willing to give up half (85%) of our blankets for a middle of the night intruder. WE ARE WILLING because never have we ever loved like this, but sometimes, we miss ourselves, and that’s okay too.

It’s okay to look in the mirror and wonder what happened to the woman you knew.

It’s okay to miss her and to want her back.

I’ve been there.

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Dear Kids, You don’t ever have to pretend…

Dear Kids,

The world has gotten more full of pressure to pretend than ever. Social media is overflowing with perfectly poised photos and empty invitations into an idealistic life. Listen to me dear ones; it is EMPTY. No one, ever, in the history of all the world has had a perfect life. Everyone has pain, everyone struggles with loneliness, everyone wrestles with anger, everyone feels insecure sometimes. EVERY ONE. There is no ticket out of the messiness. We can try and control it until our knuckles are white and cramped, but we will lose our joy in the process.

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Don’t drink the Mom-Koolaid

I had a few moms over for coffee the other day and one of them was telling me about the “imposter syndrome” among moms. I’d never heard of it before, but I’ve definitely experienced it. The imposter syndrome, she said, is a term for moms trying to appear to have it all together, probably because they feel less-than.

Look, I know that’s tempting. I dropped the F-bomb at the kiddy park today when my dog pulled over my stroller and later mom-handled a isntshetoooldforthis tantrum from my four-year-old. In that moment, I remembered how my friend used to use a fake name at the bar, and considered that that might be a good idea for me at the park. Hello, I’m Veronica and these are my kids Kevin, Stuart, Jenny, and Britney. You will not find us on Facebook. Please forget we ever met, kthanksbye.

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Dear Kids, I am with you no matter what

Dear Kids,

I am with you.

I was with you when you were in my belly. I was swollen, heavy, tired, and I felt like a moose, but I was with you.

I was with you in the seconds, the minutes, and the hours of labor, when I truly didn’t think I could go on.

I was with you when I held you, and nursed you, and smelled your perfect skin for the very first time.

I was with you at 3am and again at 3:45. I was with you when I stumbled in the dark to get you from your crib. I was with you when I bargained with God for you to sleep.

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7 Things to look for in a Friend

Friendship is the wine and the coffee for my soul. Doing motherhood without them is like watching a comedy alone (weird, gross, and not all that funny).

I don’t need the same kind of friends as I once did. I’m a lot less patient with barelyscratchthesurface small talk . I have enough mind-numbing conversations with my children (God love em). I need real in my life. I need friends that are real, and friends that I can be real around.

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To My Mom: I get it now.

Dear Mom,

I’m laying on my bed hiding right now. I can hear the kids bickering as they get ready for bed, and a little voice calling for water and a song. I’m tired and weary to my bones. I will get up anyway. I will go kiss little foreheads and pray a prayer. I will get the extra sip of water and I will listen while they tell me about their toe with the sliver. I will say, “Okay sweetie, no more talking. It’s time to sleep now, ” but then I will still say “uh-huh” a couple more times as I sneak out the door.

Now that I’m a mom, I’ve learned that motherhood is a lot more about showing up than it is about anything else.

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Dear Hot Mess Mom: To me you are perfect.

It’s tempting to pretend that there aren’t ritz crackers hidden deep inside my shag carpet, along with some other things I probably don’t want to know about. It’s tempting to pretend my four-year-old doesn’t rock the same “favorite” dress three days in a row, and that I don’t currently smell like men’s Old Spice deodorant. Sometimes I’d rather my life looked like a Instagram feed of awesome. I’d also rather my butt looked like a bubble instead of a wide pancake, but we all have to live our truth.

The thing I’ve noticed is that when I don’t pretend, I find my people (the ones who don’t pretend either), and to me that reward is everything. Literally everything.

So to the women, the moms, the people, who don’t pretend…

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Dear Husband, I am with you in good times and bad…

Dear Husband,

I am with you when the bills are built up and unpaid and when our shoulders are tense with stress and worry.

I am with you when the kids are up sick in the middle of the night, and we brush shoulders as we grab towels and bowls and stroke little warm foreheads.

I am with you in seasons of wealth and seasons of scraping by. I am with you whether we drive a 97 Honda Accord or a 2018 Suburban. I AM WITH YOU.

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Confession: Anxiety is Exausting

I was reminded today that when suffering from depression or anxiety it is important to set achievable goals. WELL THAT IS ME. SO, I have taken it upon myself to make some meaningful, achievable, goals for 2018. Feel free to steal.

3-4 glasses of wine a week at least (BECAUSE I AM NOT LAZY).

One day a week where I am still braless and pants-less when I pick up my kids from school. This is so I can keep expectations low and so I can make it easier for my mom tribe to find me. ***YOU WILL RECOGNIZE ME BY MY DIRTY HAIR AND H & M SWEAT PANTS. I WILL BE HOLDING A CRYING 4YO. INTRODUCE YOURSELF IF YOU LIKE COFFEE, WINE, AND DECORATIVE LAUNDRY PILES.

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Please stop telling Moms to enjoy every minute

Nothing makes me feel quite as overwhelmed as the words “enjoy every minute”.

Like do you mean right now while my kid is spread eagle on the Target floor demanding a slushy? Do you mean when I make dinner and half of the family is crying because it looks weird? Do you mean when I clean the toilets and I wonder how the pee reached the corner under the trash can?

I can do it; it’s worth it. But enjoying every minute is a different type of pressure.

In truth, there are a whole lot of minutes I feel annoyed or tired.

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Dear Mama, You are not a failure…

Dear Mama,

You are not a failure.

I know you don’t always believe that, but it’s true.

We all fail, all of us, but we are not failures.

There have been so many moments when I felt done, when I wanted to run outside and scream. So many moments when I knew I said the wrong thing the second the words came out of my mouth.

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Being a mom is hard, and that’s okay.

Today I met some friends in town for coffee and shopping. I ended up bear hugging my four-year-old on a bench as she screamed and kicked in a level ninety-nine tantrum. A shop owner came out of a pottery store with wide eyes, but her face softened when she saw me.

I’m so sorry I mouthed.

“You are totally fine!” She smiled encouragingly. A minute later a woman and her older daughter walked by and said, “You’ve got this mama! You’re doing a great job!”

I continued on as a human straight jacket.

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Confessions from a Tired Mom

My ears are tired. Everyone is just always talking, all the time. Do not tell my kids that I said this, but sometimes when they are telling me a story that is never-ending I think about what color I would like to paint the walls and if I should get more throw pillows. I feel terrible about this, but it is the truth.

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Dear Kids, When I’m tired…

Dear Kids,

Sometimes I peek in your door and watch you sleeping. I wonder how I could ever get mad or frustrated at you. Your soft face is squished against your pillow and your favorite stuffed animal is buried under your chin.

Today I was irritated that you left your notebooks and crayons all over the floor.

I was annoyed that I could hear you bickering in the other room.

I was bothered that I asked you to clean up five times before you did.

All of those things are silly and unimportant now, as I pause.

Those things have little to do with you and everything to do with me.

You are my favorite.

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Swearing and other things I taught my kids.

I had grand plans of the things I would teach my kids. I would teach them confidence, kindness, and a love for great books. I am still working on that, but in the meantime I’ve taught them some other gems…

Swearing.

Yesterday on our way to church my oldest son realized he’d forgotten something at home and hollered out a perfectly timed swear word. My husband and I looked at each other. I didn’t know whether to be stern, or a little proud.

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Confessions of a “Selfish” Mom

When we got to the beach today children, sand, and food wrappers exploded out of the car as soon as the doors opened, and I laughed to myself. I picked up a rotten tangerine that had rolled under the car and tossed it in the trash. The boys shook the whole vehicle as they wrestled their way out of their seat belts. They were yelling so loudly I thought maybe I should clarify to people walking by that there were no actual violence happening, just kids “at play”. My third child sobbed because she had an “owie” (also known as a sock imprint) on her ankle, and now she couldn’t walk.

I had a few comments on the blog recently about how people have kids to fill a selfish need for love.

I laughed because even if I had kids to fill a selfish need, parenting is where all needs come to die.

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Dear Firstborn, It’s okay to fail…

Dear Firstborn,

It’s okay to fail, and to fail again and again and again.

There’s something special about my bond with you. It isn’t better or more important, it’s just different. You were the beginning of my awakening, the step through the portal that is motherhood. Your becoming was my becoming. The day you were born I said goodbye to one life and ran with open arms into the next.

I can still picture you cradled in my arms. I stared at your tiny face in disbelief. How was I going to give you, this precious human, the childhood you deserved? I still haven’t figured that out. Every day I make beautiful things and I make messes too, but there’s never been a calling more worthy of my everything than you.

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My kids are not an inconvenience (for you)

We just moved into a new neighborhood and I met an elderly woman a couple blocks down the street. She looked at me in shock (almost horror) when I told her that we have four kids and she kept saying, “Four? Four??” Then she looked at me square in the eyes. “I guess that will be okay,” she said, “as long as they are quiet.” She was dead serious.

I laughed like it was a joke (because that’s what I do when I feel awkward).

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Dear Kids, It’s okay to be mad at me…

Dear Kids,

It’s okay to be mad at me.

Sometimes we make decisions for you that you don’t agree with or understand. You feel voiceless and frustrated.

Sometimes I overreact and I misunderstand.

Sometimes you just have a bad day. It’s okay, I have those days too.

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So this is my thirties

Last night, I was tucking the girls in and my four year old reached up and touched my face, “You are young,” she said, “but you do have those lines by your eyes.”

This is my thirties.

I am still young-ish, but I do have the lines around my eyes. Dammit.

I’ll tell you what else I have…

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Mom Guilt is a Liar

I have friends that grow, cook, and make almost everything from scratch that their kids eat. They are amazing. I salute them while I rip open a box of macaroni and cheese and add an extra few tablespoons of butter. It’s Annie’s Organic on a good day…otherwise we are not above the 19-cent variety.

A friend of mine researches every health related issue, and spends her extra change on the supplements she reads about. It is her passion, and it’s how she loves her family and friends so well. I spend that money on lattes and stretch pants.

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Dear Kids, As you grow older…

Dear Kids,

Right now as I watch you sleep, I lean in so close I can feel your breath against my cheek. I think about the good moments today. I think about you touching my arm and telling me a story about a slug that you found by the water. I grin to myself alone in the dark. I think about our conversations and I realize how grown up you’re becoming. How did it happen so fast?

You are perfect laying there so still; my heart swells like it might burst. Motherhood has  made me so strong and so fragile at the same time. Since the day you were born I’ve worn my heart on the outside of my body. Everyday I fight against the urge to lasso the world and make it tame for you. I wish I could keep you in a bubble.

I wish I could keep you safe here with me forever, but I will use all my strength and I will give you wings instead my love; then I will cry the day you use them.

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Dear Stranger, Yes, my hands are full…

There I am, standing in the checkout line. One child is having a meltdown because they want a soda and the other one is doing aerial spins in the aisle. She is seconds away from taking out an elderly gentleman. He will never see it coming; she’ll take him out right at the knees. I grab her, which is kind of like capturing a demonic butterfly. I wrangle her and pin her between my legs.

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Dear Strong Willed Child, You’re worth it…

Dear Strong Willed Child,

Today we had many battles you and I. We had battles in the sun, battles in the sand, battles over popsicles, and a battle while I walked you screaming and kicking back to the house. You were red and fuming, I fought back tears. We’ve had thousands of battles you and I.

Today our battles were about little kid things, someday they might be about curfew or boys or doing the dishes.

No matter what, here’s what I want you to know:

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Not a Perfect Mom, but an Enough Mom.

I was going to be the Dr. Oz of parenting. I was going to be a guru, and then I realized that I would probably have to teach my kids to stop acting like wild raccoons at the grocery store. I don’t want to be negative but my kids are 10, 8,6, and 3. This is never going to happen for me.

You are not going to get advice from me on teaching toddlers to read, or getting your kids to stop gagging on their vegetables. I could however offer a step-by-step guide to watching them chew on the same vegetable for two hours, until you eventually give up and let them spit it out.

I am not very perfect at parenting, but I do love my kids enough to cuddle with them while they smell like pee, and I feel like that’s kind of a lot.

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Dear Kids, When I fail…

Dear kids,

Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I see that you’ve grown over night. Your face is more defined, your eyes look older. A part of me is excited and in awe; I know you have so much ahead of you. Another part is scared because time is racing and I can’t slow it down. I’m afraid that I haven’t always been awake and noticing, and that somehow I have slept through the magic of your growing. I wonder, have I enjoyed you enough? Have I given you what you needed? Is your heart still whole? Is your spirit unbroken?

I’m not always good at this. I’m not always as good as I want to be at being your mom. I want to be great; and sometimes I am, but sometimes I’m not.

Sometimes I get it, and sometimes I don’t.

Sometimes I do it right, and sometimes I completely miss it.

Everyday I make mistakes.

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What do Stay at Home Moms DO all day?

While usually we are being quaint and adorable like a live Norman Rockwell painting, there are a few other things that get us from WHYGODWHY in the morning to Netflix-O’clock at night.

We clean things so they can be destroyed right exactly before you drop by. I don’t mean to brag, but my kids are capable of making my house a major health code violation in ten seconds flat. Sometimes I think about posting pictures of what my house looks like when it’s clean – just for reference.

Welcome to my home. Here is a picture of what my house looked like one time last week.  It could also look like this more often if I had 47 maids and manservants.

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Dear Kids, The world is still beautiful.

To My Kids,

Some people will say that the world is a scary, scary place. Some people will say that there’s no hope and that the future is dark and bleak.

It is scary sometimes, but my dear ones, always remember, there are things that are awful, and terrible, and sad, but there is also always HOPE and there is always GOOD.  You have the tools already printed in your heart. You have love, mercy, compassion, generosity, and kindness. You have ambition and courage, and a radical sense of justice…and that is exactly what is needed.

You are not helpless to bring goodness and light to the world; you are well equipped.

Fear will tell you that it isn’t enough, and that there is nothing that can be done. It will say that you are helpless and a victim to fate. It isn’t true, my loves. The world is your canvas. Make your mark on it with creativity, compassion, and purpose…and I promise that you (and it) will never be the same.

The world is still very, very beautiful because it is full of people, people who have greatness inside of them. We must always be believers in people.

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Dear First Born, It’s not you, it’s me.

Dear First Born,

I remember the day I first held you in my arms. You became, and I also became. I’d thought about motherhood for a long time, about how I’d be and how you’d be. But I was still so unprepared. Heaven and Earth kissed for a moment and I’d never felt so sure and so uncertain all at the same time.

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Confessions from a Stay at Home Mom

I know you think I wear yoga pants and athletic-T’s because I spend my days doing pilates while my kids practice Mozart on their harmonicas. But, I’m here to tell you, I wear them because they’re stretchy.

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Why Moms Need Each Other

The other day I was at the park with a friend. We were busy keeping shoes on, slides unlicked, and wanderers corralled as we sipped our coffee and had half finished conversations. I was eyeing my oldest on the monkey bars when a woman came up beside us. “Um excuse me,” she said, “I locked my kids in the car,” her eyes filled with tears, “can you help me?”

“Of course!” we said quickly.

I felt everything I imagined she was feeling, as I jogged with her back to her car. She swallowed tears hard as I helped her call 911. I could see how terrible she felt as she stood there waiting, and I reached for this stranger and gave her a hug. “It’s okay, ” I said, “I’ve done the same thing before.”

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Please respect my boundaries: what people learning to set boundaries want you to know.

Boundaries are hard.

It takes a lot of courage to stand up for ourselves and to be honest about our needs and limitations. It’s counter cultural and our insides scream that it’s selfish. But the facts are, it is so so important and imperative to our wellbeing to do it anyway. Having boundaries is not just saying “I matter”, but it’s living like we matter. It is about being honest with ourselves and listening to the inner voice that says too much, I can’t, instead of sucking it up and running ourselves the ground.

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Dear Kids, When you grow up…

Dear Kids,

This letter is for the day you spread your wings: whether it’s a graduation day or a wedding ceremony, or a new adventure you’re about to take. It’s for the day you step into the wild blue; it’s for the day you begin your own life.

I want you to know whatever you make of this life, I am so so proud of you. There’s nothing you could ever do to make my love die down or be snuffed out. No matter what choices you make, I will forever be your greatest fan. I will always be here for every phone call and for every time you need a reminder of who you are.

But I know it’s time. I know it’s time for you to paint the painting that’s inside your heart and I am so excited to watch.

I wrote this letter for the hard days, for the ones where you wonder if you’re the only one and if you’re all alone. Let me assure you that every mistake you are about to make has been made, and probably most of them by me. Don’t judge yourself harshly my love; spread your wings, trust yourself, and keep on flying towards the dreams that make your soul come alive.

There will be hard and terrible days, but there will also be wild and wonderful days full of more joy than you ever thought possible.

One of those days for me was the day I had you, my love. There’s no greater honor or joy in my life than the one of being your mom.

You will make mistakes: we all do. Chances are you will make lots and lots of them. Sometimes you will fail miserably and terribly and in that moment you will wonder if you failed or if you are a failure.

My dear kids, please remember this: you will fail; you are never a failure.

Money might be tight: you will make it. My bank account has been on empty and I’ve gotten notifications of overdraft fees. That feeling falls like a rock in the pit of my stomach. It’s sickening and scary and feels out of control. I’ve dug to the very back of the freezer and been grateful to find one lone chicken thigh to serve with rice. Those days are hard. They’re hard and unnerving, but baby you will make it. You will discover that there are more important things than money and you can do hard things. No matter how broke you are you can laugh; you can hold the ones you love tight; and you can strategize and dream…because believe me, it won’t always be like this.

Sometimes you will be your worst self: everyone has days like that. Some days I have been angry. I have yelled when I should have been soft and kind. I’ve lost my temper and then felt shame cover me like a too-hot and scratchy blanket. I’ve wanted to hide because I didn’t think I’d ever be able to be the woman I’m meant to be. On days like this you will find that humility and an apology go a long way.

The bad days don’t define you, and they never will. You will rise from the pit; you will shake off that scratchy blanket; and you will find you are enough. You’re enough, not because you’re perfect, but because you’re enough exactly how you are.

You will be misunderstood: your heart will heal. I’ve had days when I thought I was doing the right thing, but the right thing made other people angry and hurt. I still don’t know if I made all good calls, I probably didn’t, but I was doing my best. Sometimes you’ll be accused of things that stab the core of who you are. These times will be so so painful. Ask the people who know you and love you to hold you up during these seasons and to remind you of who you are. You will make it out the other side I promise.

You will doubt yourself: that’s normal and it’s okay. I have had days when I felt like a little girl playing house. You will have those days too. Courage isn’t feeling brave my love, it’s feeling fear and putting one step in front of the other anyway.*

You will have days where you fall apart: it won’t stay that way. It is okay to fall apart; this isn’t your forever. I have drowned in anxiety and your dad has too. Just remember that everything is temporary and the sun will shine again. Reach out even if you feel frozen in whatever it is that you feel. The first step to getting better is speaking out.

I have questioned myself every day of raising you: every single day.  I don’t know how much I’ve gotten wrong and how much I’ve gotten right. My prayer is that in spite of my mistakes you will know you are loved and you will grow strong into who you are. If there’s ever a day when you realize that a thing I did or said wounded you, please tell me so I can make it right.

I love you with my whole heart and I’m cheering for you every step of the way.

Love,

Mama

 

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*Loose interpretation of a quote by Nelson Mandela.

Dear Imperfect Life, I like you.

The other day I faced two of my anxiety triggers. I left my kids and my husband (separation anxiety) and got on a plane (flight anxiety). My emotions and adrenaline were on high and the tall beer I got at the airport cafe barely touched it. I considered grabbing an Uber home (everyone would surely understand). The husband laughed when I told him that and assured me he would not have understood. But I dragged myself into my seat, one foot after another. At one point I wasn’t sure if I was going to poop my pants or start sobbing, but still I stayed put. I didn’t run down the aisle screaming LET ME OUT I WANT TO GO HOME like I thought about for more than a couple seconds.

I’m not really sure if staying in my seat was bravery or social anxiety.

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Yep, I have cellulite.

I wrote a quick article yesterday about cellulite. I have it and I own it, that’s it. 

I get a lot of crappy comments on other things that I usually shrug off, but I had one yesterday that really got me. I am an eating disorder survivor, and even though it has been seventeen years since I had to weekly see a counselor, nutritionist, and a doctor, her words still triggered me. They triggered me in the icky way that made old thoughts emerge from the grave where I buried them. I imagine it’s similar with any addiction regardless of how many years have gone by.

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