Dear Husband, Family Members, Santa, Friends,
In case you wondering what it is my heart desires…
1. A toddler play yard except I need it to be much bigger and taller. I don’t plan on keeping my kids in it, I plan on keeping my kids out. I will call it “Mommy’s personal space” or “Please don’t touch me right now”. I’m going to bring it to the playground because when I take my kids to the playground (imagine this) I want them to PLAY. I provide gas, and transportation, they must provide play. I want to sit on a bench and observe them at play. I want to feel the sun and drink my coffee while they are at play. What I do not want to do is talk about boredom or snacks.
I am the santa, the elves, and the magic.
I am the delicious smells, the stuffed bellies, and the Christmas spirit.
I am the twinkle lights, the clean bathrooms, and the mistletoe hanging in the doorway.
I am the stories, the advent calendars, and the reminding what Christmas is really about.
I am the greeting cards, I am the coordinator of grandparents and cousins, I am the christmas pajamas for the night before.
I am the traditions, I am the baker for school sales, I am the buyer of last minute presents that were forgotten.
And now I’m tired.
I am mom.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I love to shop. I love to go into beautiful stores and touch beautiful things. I have kids now though and it turns out they also like to touch things…all of the things. Each shopping trip starts full of hope that this time will somehow be “different”, but it always ends the same…with someone crying under a clothing rack next to a bag of spilled popcorn. Also they hardly ever offer me wine at the store. So, though I love shopping local, I also like shopping braless, pant-less, ALONE, and with a glass of red wine.
I recently partnered with Amazon and I get a small percentage of purchases when someone clicks through my site. I love amazon (not just saying that) and PRIME is the shiznit, especially when you’re a procrastinator like me. So here friends, is my first ever Christmas gift guide.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes the negative self talk sneaks up on me. It hits my subconscious before my conscious thoughts. It might start with a sigh when I button my pantts I need to eat less, I need to workout more. It might be when I look at the floor covered in dust bunnies and sandwich crumbs, my house is always disgusting, what is my problem?
It doesn’t matter where it starts, but it always has a common thread. The message is:
Do more. Be more.
You aren’t okay just how you are. Other people are okay how they are, but you’re not.
The last week has been like that for me. The stress below the surface has been building like a pent up hurricane. I don’t like to dwell on it, so I push it down, but sometimes I need to stop and address it. I don’t know where it comes from, or why it is, but it sneaks up and distracts me from everything that is actually important.
Welcome my friend, you’ve got this. It doesn’t seem like it now, but you will grow into motherhood just as gradually and quickly as the brand new baby you’re holding in your arms. It will become you, it already has. You just went through the most mind blowing, godawful, gorgeous, magical, frightening event of your life. No one prepared you. They kind of tried, but they forgot to use the words “blow torch” and “freight train” and “concrete drill” to describe what you might feel when your little one was born earth side.
We are a family who loves each other. We love each other in a messy, beautiful, broken, and together way. Sometimes that means making messes in the kitchen with spaghetti sauce finger prints on the glasses and stains on the tablecloth. Sometimes it means trying to scrape together tiny remnants of sanity for bedtime routines. Sometimes it means kissing a dirty forehead as I tuck them in at night and thinking it’s okay, they’ll take a bath tomorrow.
In our family we fight. We argue about things. We say we’re sorry. We overreact and then we apologize. We take a minute in the other room to pull ourselves together. Some of us are more full of passion than others, and I take full ownership of my title as Queen.