Monday, October 26, 2015

I'm Sorry….

Dear Josie Mae,

I need to apologize to you for a few things:

* the fact that you are over 2 months old, and this is the first time I'm writing about you.
*forgetting to take your one month picture and posting it on Facebook (*GASP*)
*taking your 2 month picture when you were actually closer to 3 months.... Oh well.
*always feeding you while chasing your sister or with your bottle propped up in the car.
*failing to record your first smile in your baby book - I'm pretty sure you have a baby book somewhere...
*skipping a birth announcement - everyone on Facebook knows, so what's the point, right?

Okay - so basically all of the documentation I did for your sisters, I haven't been on top of with you.

But, here's what you're getting in return:

*a lot of dance parties while strapped to me in the Ergo.
*trips to the corn maze, apple picking, and the pumpkin patch.
*a big sister (Annessa) who reads to you all the time.
*another big sister (Elaina) who feeds you and alerts me anytime your eyes are open.  Oh, and she also pretends to be a monster to wake you up.
*jumps in leaf piles and walks through the neighborhood.
*midnight cuddles when no one else is awake.
*Lots and lots of noise - singing, talking, yelling, whispers and laughter.

So, there you have it.  Your baby book (where ever it is) may not be full to the brim, but you are so, so loved.

Until next time (hopefully before you turn one!) -

Friday, June 12, 2015

Princess, Monster, and the Karate Kid

I currently live with a princess (Annessa), a monster (Elaina) and the Karate Kid (unborn child # 3).  My oldest daughter is pretty jealous of Duchess Kate and Princess Charlotte.  I can relate, their lives do seem pretty fabulous from the outside looking in (although I've heard the little prince is quite the spit-fire, so that makes me think that maybe no matter how great it seems on the outside, on the inside, we all struggle with the same stuff).  Lainey, on the other hand, is obsessed with Sully from Monsters University and runs around the house roaring with her fingers clenched like claws.  Meanwhile, Baby Girl # 3 is karate chopping her days away in my uterus.  No gentle rolling felt here.  All rapid-fire kicks and jabs.

I'm amazed by how my girls are so different (I'm assuming # 3 will have her own little personality as well-and I have to say, the curiosity of what our 3rd would be like was a driving factor in the decision to forego birth control and "see what happens").  The older they get, the more we uncover about who they are.  Annessa is showing more sensitivity now than ever before, while Lainey is showing more spunk than we ever thought our mild-mannered baby would have.  Both girls are funny in their own little ways - Annessa with the way she is experimenting with her sense of humor, and Lainey with the way she crosses her arms and huffs when she doesn't get her way (dangerous to laugh at, we know).

They fight like I never knew sisters fought.  As a girl with brothers, I had only heard about how territorial sisters can be, but now I actually LIVE inside of this craziness.  Yet, as the end of the day, this happens:

And I remind myself that I am the lucky one that gets to watch these sister relationships grow.  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Middle Child

Dear Ruthie,

In a few months, you are about to go from the "baby" to the "middle child."  Being the baby of the family has certain perks, that's true, but being the middle child has its benefits, too.

You will have the best of both worlds: You'll always be a little sister to Annessa and now a big sister to ??.

So, as I hear your dad and sister waking up, I have to bring this (short) post to a close.  But, what i really wanted to say can be said in one sentence anyway: You are a middle child - precious and beautiful, but most of all, you are you.

Love you Ruthie,

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Annessa: My Prayer for You in the New Year

Dear Annessa,

I love you so much it hurts.  You have become a girl overnight (how did that happen??).  Gone is the toddler that used to climb on everything and dance in the yard wearing last year's halloween costume.  Any trace of baby, toddler, even preschooler is gone.  Now you do things that girls do.  You do wonderful, delightful things like teach your little sister animal sounds and write in your diary.  You laugh and sing and dream about meeting Katy Perry.

You roll your eyes.  You look at me like I am crazy.  You have even written me a note that, dare I admit it, says, "I hate you" - only to crumple it up minutes later and tell me you didn't mean it.  But still.  That's what I remember doing when I was a little girl.  I was so jealous of my cousin's relationship with La-La that I wrote little "I hate you" notes to my aunt and left them all over La-La's house (they were living with La-La at the time).  Of course I didn't really hate them, but when you are little, sometimes the gray area feelings that have nothing to do with anyone but how you feel about yourself are hard to describe.

Anyway…..This girl stuff scares me.  It's true what "they" say about parenting getting harder as your kids get older.  You are becoming your own person.  So wonderful.  So smart.  So individual.  And so mine.  I feel like Daddy and I are the guardians of your heart right now.  Our words have the power to build you up or tear you down.  In large part, your sense of self comes from how we are choosing to raise and parent you right now.  And to be honest, that scares the (shit) out of me.

So, my prayer for you in this new year actually has nothing (yet everything) to do with you. I pray that Daddy and I will "show up" for you every day.  That we will hear God when He tells us how to respond to your tears, your anger, your sadness and your joy.  He knows your heart the best. My prayer is that we build you up with our words and actions.  That we are worthy examples of how to live in a Godly way.

Being a girl is scary.  There are lots of people out there saying you need more of this, less of that, bigger this or smaller that.  But, if we can show up for you everyday,  then maybe you will discover that you are enough.

You always were enough and you always will be enough.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Bucket of Pain

Pain.  Does it ever really get better?  Or, do we just get better at covering it up?  On the anniversary of a tragedy (a life-changing injury or the death of someone in your inner circle, a divorce….the list could go on and on), well-meaning people tend to say something like, "I hope that the pain gets less and less with each passing year," or, "Time heals all pain."

But I kinda have a problem with that.  Those kinds of sentences (despite the person's good intentions) implies that pain is something that vanishes over time.

Like, your pain is in a bucket and with each passing year, you take a scoop of pain out.  If you follow that logic, then at some point, depending on how much pain there was to begin with, the bucket would be empty.  You would be pain-free.

But that's not how I see it.  Deep, dark pain - the kind of pain that changes every aspect of your life - never goes away.  It doesn't get easier with each passing year.  Not a day goes by that you are not reminded of what was lost.  Sure, in the beginning, you probably cried yourself to sleep.  Maybe even hated the world and the way everyone in it just went about their day as if nothing even happened while you were so overcome by tragedy that you could barely move. Or speak. Or think.

That's in the beginning.  After the beginning, when everyone assumes you have moved on and adjusted to the "new normal," that damn pain is still there.  It's always there.  You just make a Choice to move forward with life.

Sometimes the Choice to move on is the most painful thing of it all.

It makes it seem like it doesn't matter.  Like you're okay with the way things are.

But, we all know that is not true.  We're not okay with the way things are.  But, what Choice do we have?  Lay in bed all day and let our kids grow up without a mom or a dad?  Lose our jobs?  Drink?  Sure, those things might happen.  But then we wake up and realize that it's time to join the rest of the world.  The rest of the stupid world that is moving on with their days.

Except, what if the "rest of the world" is hiding pain too, just making it through the day?   What if everyone is making a Choice to put their bucket of pain on a shelf and rejoin society?  That's what I think.  Everyone has pain.  The pain doesn't go away.  Deep down, it's there, and all it takes is a song, a memory, and smell to bring it back to the surface.  As if all of the living you've been doing never happened and you're right back at the scene of the crime - when your life was split into two parts.

Before and After.

But then the phone rings, the kids call or the light turns green and we quickly push the bucket back on the shelf, and rejoin the After.

Because, after all, what Choice do we have? 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Dear Annessa,

Tomorrow is the first day of first grade.  You will have kids in your class that you know well from last year, and there will be kids in your class that you don't know well.  Your daddy and I want you to know that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us.  People make us laugh, they are there when we feel sad, and they are there when we want to have fun.  But most of all, God puts certain people in our lives so that we can learn from them.  Annessa, the kids in your class this year, they are God's gifts to you. They will teach you things about yourself and about the world.

There will be times when someone is being teased and your heart will feel sad.  That is God saying, "Wake up, Annessa! one of my children is hurting!  You need to help!"  And you will listen to God and go sit by the classmate that is being teased or ask someone without a friend to play with you.

But, there will be times when someone is feeling sad and you don't step in.  You don't ask her to play or offer to share your snack.  When you get home, you might still be thinking about how you wish you would  have done something to help.

Daddy and I want you to know that it's okay to make mistakes like that.  The feeling you have of "I wish I would have…." is God whispering to you that you will get it right next time. Or, you can tell your teacher and then us - we are all on your team.

You see honey, you don't have to be the smartest person in class.  You don't have to spell every single word right or solve every math problem perfectly.  It's okay to make mistakes.  We will still love you.

What's really important is that you listen to God - He is that kind thought you have, or the feeling you get when you need to help someone.  God is in your heart, wherever you go.  He will help you make decisions and help you admit when you make a mistake.

Your daddy and I love you so much and we are proud of the girl you are.

Mama and Daddy

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Lost Teeth

Annessa has been on a tooth losing spree.  She loses her teeth in two ways: first out of her mouth, and then she literally loses them.  She talks to them and carries them with her the day that they fall out, knowing that tomorrow, the Tooth Fairy will come and whisk them away forever.

Freakin' Tooth Fairy.

So far, out of the four that have fallen out, two have made it into the Tooth Fairy's hands.  Never mind that I have know idea what I, the Tooth Fairy, am supposed to do with these two teeth.  It seems a little….morbid?….to keep a box of tiny teeth hidden away somewhere.  And what if she find this box? Then everything will unravel -- the Tooth Fairy, then Santa, the Easter Bunny, Elf on the Stupid Shelf, leprechauns….

So, what did I do with these two remaining teeth?  I (gasp) Threw. Them. Away.  It's tough love people.

But, with each tooth that falls out, I can't help but think, "Here's another piece of childhood.  Gone.  You better get your shit together."

She will be in first grade in a month.  Kids remember stuff from first grade.  Childhood (in their minds) starts somewhere around 1stish grade.  And all I can think of is that it is halfway over already.

In another seven years, she will be a teenager.  We have seven years left to shape her childhood.  I want her to remember a house full of love and fun.  Expectations, of course, but love and fun.

So that means I need to get my shit together.  I need to plan fun trips, traditions, playdates…..Wait.  No.

I need to get my shit together in a different way.  Pancake mornings, smartphone-free days, walks in the woods, popcorn in bed.  I need to resist the urge to feel pressured and hurried and over-booked.  I need to breath her in every day.  I need to honor the girl that she is and nurture the one she is becoming.

Because before I know it, all of these tiny teeth will be replaced by big, akward-looking jaggity ones.  Then, my job will be to help her smooth out the jaggity ones during adolescent years.  Childhood will be a thing of the past, and middle school will be upon us.

I think I will crawl back in bed and snuggle her awhile.