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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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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