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The Beach

My best friend turned sister in law tagged me in a post today about forever friends. The gist of it was about a woman and her friend from the time they were young and carefree to weddings to babies and everything in between. It got me thinking about this picture that was recently discovered. We were about 9 and 10 on our favorite beach in our favorite place proudly displaying a sand castle we made. 20-something years later we still sit on that beach now watching our kids (cousins!) play and build sand castles. 

I got to thinking about all that beach has seen. It saw us through our awkward Pre-teen years looking for shells and discussing the sheer horrors of middle school. It saw us when we were young teens seeing who could get the tannest as we digested our latest crushes and if they actually knew our names. It saw us the summer before we left for college scared as to what we were leaving behind and if our roommate’s name could actually really be Marta (she’s a whole other story…). It saw us when we thought we were in love singing Dixie chicks at the top of our lungs drunk off cheap vodka. It saw us when we started dating our future spouses as we navigated our way through our relationships. It saw us become married women all within a couple years of each other. It saw us become moms. It saw the bad too. Sick parents, loss of other friends, losing grandparents, the really hard times. 

I used to think back to our early twenties as the height of our days on our beach. Endless days with nothing to worry about but getting burnt and who was refilling the drinks. But not I see that this is the best times. Happy with our husbands and wife, watching our kids play and have our beach become theirs too. But through everything, the good, the bad, the hard, and the ugly (middle school) that beach has been there. The rocks we could walk on with our eyes closed we know them so well, the feeling of content during low tide at sunset, the sound of the chatter and waves, our beach is our home we go back to every year. 

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Just an ordinary day

Today we unexpectedly and not purposely spent one of these kind of days…


There’s something about hot days that gives me a sense of nostalgia. I can’t quite always place my finger on what it is but when it happens I know it. Naturally living in my grandparents old house where I spent a lot of my childhood these moments pop up frequently. Today me and the two youngest sat on our front porch steps where we discovered loads of the little helicopter leaves had fallen from our front tree. These are what I mean…
 

I had to look up what they were called because I couldn’t remember what they were I just had memories of them. We sat there for close to a half an hour picking these little leaves up peeling them and sticking them on our noses. No other distractions. Something in the feel and smell of them made me stop and look at the tree. I remember parking in front of that same tree with my parents running in to see my gram and pop. Greeted with firm hugs from my pop and a deep throated hi from my gram seated behind her trusty card table as she sorted through something. She was always sorting through things, cards or pictures. I remembered taking the fallen helicopter leaves with my pop and him teaching me how to peel and stick them. 

These days I worry my kids won’t have those same memories of those small moments. Because as I sat and spent time today thinking about what I remember most from being little it was seemingly little moments. Chocolate chip cookies that my mom baked when we watched a Winnie the Pooh movie. That one sticks for reasons I’m unsure why but perhaps I hold onto that feeling of comfort. My head on my moms lap as she rubbed my head during a headache. Cookouts at my aunt roses on hot days. And sitting under her big beech tree in the front, the ultimate tree. Big and strong with knotty, long roots. I remember feeling the coarse bark as my hand followed the lines and curves of it. Little moments, little things.

Nowadays raising kids there are so many distractions, so many have to dos, want to dos, keeping up with the Facebook parents. This summer I want it to be the summer of in the moment. Walks as the sun goes down and you can just feel the air start to change a bit to a cool breeze. Hot days with homemade popscicles that drip down your hand. Days with no plans but the kiddie pool in your yard and the iced tea that’s waiting for you. The years are going quick and before I know it those helicopter leaves will be left to lay untouched on the sidewalk only to remain etched in my memory. 

To mom and auntie…

If you remember my post from last year you know my feelings on mother’ day…basically it’s a load of B.S. But I would be remiss to not acknowledge the moms who have brought me here today. Because aren’t we looking for a little recognition for this heart wrenching, wonderful, crazy, hard journey we call motherhood? 

I’m beyond blessed to have the mother I do. The mom who grew up without her own mother. Just writing that I cannot fathom what it would be like to not have a mom. Lucky for her she was born into a family of the strongest, most loving, beautiful group of women that took her and my aunt Patti as their own and raised them to be the best example of mothers I have ever and will ever know. My mom, the hard working, honest to sometimes a fault!, loving, compassionate woman. Who doesn’t judge me, understands me, and who manages to love me and my sisters equally and fully without question. Being a mom has realized how hard this is and she does it with ease and grace. 

Then there’s my god-mom. Without question the most compassionate person on this earth. I am thankful every day that I know and love her and am loved by her. She has faced more trials than one person should ever face and she still has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. 

The two of the exemplify sister goals. There for each other 100%. I am in awe daily of the strength of their bond and love. Through them my sisters and my cousins find strength and support in each other and have the ultimate example. People lean in them, rely on them, love them. 

These two wonderful, beautiful women make me a better person, wife, friend, and mom by the way they live every day. I love you both more than any words I can type on a page, or say in a card. Know you are both so loved and appreciated and your mother is so proud of who you have become and who you continue to be…

Resolutions 

It’s a new year, a fresh start. We quit smoking, we promise to lose weight, work out, cut out the junk food. All healthy, reasonable changes. This year I’m tired. Tired of worrying about what my oldests future holds. Tired of worrying why my middle throws so many tantrums. Tired of worrying if my thirds lack of schedule is detrimental. 

Many people describe me as laid back. And perhaps I am in many ways. But underneath it all I am a worry wart. Consistently worrying mostly about things I can’t control. 

This new year I am pledging to myself and mostly to my kids to be more in the moment. Less worrying about when things will get done, if we’ll have enough money, if there’s enough time. I’ve recently become aware of how fast everything goes, how much changes. Soon enough these kids of mine won’t need me so much. Won’t need or want to touch me just to fall asleep. I promise to my kids, my husband, myself to respect and value each moment before I look back and it’s all gone. 

I read somewhere to make 2017 the year of kindness. I am taking that as the year of kindness to those closest to me. More understanding, more respect. I refuse to look back at this time of my life and regret. So many wish for a big, beautiful family like mine and I will savor this. Because before I know it this will all be a memory and I am not ready for that just yet. 

Welcome to motherhood 

I’ve been laying here since 530 am with my middle asleep on me just listening to the sounds of his breathing and relishing the way his little head tucks under my chin and the contentment we both feel. My oldest is next to us gently stroking his brother’s head. This is not the norm. Usually we are rushing, or fighting, or debating, or bargaining, never this. The baby is asleep trying out the crib in the next room and I listen to her shift over the monitor and hate that she is so far away despite the fact she would only sleep on top of me all night. 

When I was little I’d wake up in the morning and crawl into bed with my mom. She’d play a game With me. ‘Draw a letter on my back and ill guess what it is.’ i loved it. I never understood it was her way of a few more moments of rest and a back rub. I wouldn’t have cared. There is something so deeply comforting about your mom. Sometimes in the rush of the day and three kids crawling on me, with the little one taking up permanent residence in my arms, that I forget why. I’m their Mom and sometimes you just want your mom. 

In the past month my sister and now one of my best friends had their first babies. They’re moms now. They will be their babies’ comfort, happiness, food, life-giver, tear wiper, butt wiper, shoulder to sleep on. It is huge. These little lives we hold are so huge. This responsibility can feel so overwhelming. We are moms we make mistakes (my mom didn’t make many she set the bar high). But our kids forgive and forget because there is nothing better when you have a nightmare and your mom is there, or when you skin your knee, or get your heart broken than to lay your head in your mom’s lap. 

So welcome to this Mom world Christina and Kristen. It is scary, it is overwhelming. You will cry, you will feel frustration. But these little moments with their head on you, with their sleepy smile, make it great, make it indescribable. You will both be great. Now back to my cuddles. 

Stages and phases 

It’s 2:00 am I’ve just got the baby settled and closed my eyes. My door opens and light floods in from the hallway, crap, ‘hi mommy can I sleep in your bed?.’ As he crawls in making himself at home in our already tight queen sized bed. I sigh and make room rolling over while I grumble at myself for never have the nerve to ‘sleep train him.’ Out of mostly pure laziness I chose to co-sleep with my kids because rolling and over and whipping out your boob seems so much easier than getting up and nursing the baby in ‘gasp’ a chair. I don’t know how people do it. But alas 4 years later and my kids still prefer to sleep with us so I don’t know how I do it either. 

I get us all settled as my husband’s snores taunt me. ‘I’m sleeping you’re not, you’ll never sleep again. I sleep every night’ they seem to say. It’s not the actual sound of the snoring I despise but the knowledge that he can sleep through baby cries, the 4 year old crawling over him, and okay me hitting him that really irks me the most. We all fall asleep. 4 am cries over the monitor ‘moooommmmy I need to get out of here.’ I get up grab him and bring him into the bed that is starting to overfill. Where can I fit him and why the heck do we even have a house with three bedrooms? I make room at the end of the bed. ‘Look! Your very own spot!’ He seems appeased and quickly goes back to sleep. 

As I nurse the baby back to sleep I am now wide awake. I look around at all my babies and smile. I secretly love having them all with me safe and sound except for the fact I now have approximately 2 inches of space. I used to get frustrated and mad that I didn’t have the type of kids that sleep nicely in their beds from 7-7 (it seems so foreign this exists). But I know even in my short 4 years of motherhood how quickly it goes. When you’re in the trenches like this it feels impossible to get your head above water and take a breath. Sometimes it’s these 4 am moments where I’m finally able to think and breath. I look at my 4 year old and know that soon he won’t have the need to snuggle me at night it’s already getting less and less. My two year old won’t always wake up at 4 needing reassurance. My 4 month old won’t nurse forever. So yes this stage is tough but it’s just a short blip, a small phase that I’ll forget even happened soon enough. So in the morning when my husband pretends he was up all night because of the kids and suggests we do something about it, I’ll secretly roll my eyes, pat him on the back and say ‘sure, we’ll figure something out.’ knowing I already have.

4 years 

Today was my oldest’s 4th birthday. 4 years as a mom. 4 years of loving someone more than I could ever imagine loving someone.  I remember the first night home with him and being more scared than I have ever been in my life. My body was so tired, my mind was so tired, I wondered if I’d ever sleep again out of the fear that if I blinked something would happen. I knew exactly what people meant that having a child felt like your heart is outside your body. I felt so exposed and my mind raced all night as I struggled to stay awake to watch his little chest rise and fall, assurance that he was okay. I laid awake thinking okay this is just what I’ll do for the rest of my life, watch him sleep. Eventually, of course, exhaustion wins out and you sleep. But never the deep, wake up whenever you’re refreshed sleep. That doesn’t exist anymore that day you become a mom. You are always listening, always waiting for the cry in the night ‘mama maaaammmaaa.’ Usually you wake about 5 seconds before that call comes. Your mama sense knows they need you before they even do. 

As a mom I’ve noticed that nothing can hurt me personally anymore. Whatever sad or bad or hard thing that happens I worry only about how it effects my kids. If they are hurt or sad or disappointed I am that too. Three kids, three pieces of my raw and beating heart exposed. Being a mom is tiring. The late nights, the early mornings and all the wake ups in between are tiring, yes. Being in the trenches sometimes not having a second to breathe or notice yes you did forget a bra today, is tiring. But it’s holding the well being of these tiny little souls’ in your heart that really causes the exhaustion. 

As I laid my new 4 year old down to sleep tonight after an epic ‘I should have put him to bed two hours prior’ tantrum. I kissed him and whispered to him to not be sad, that he was just tired, he would feel better in the morning. I reminded him of all the birthday fun and how I wished that he was happy. Happy because as a mom that is the greatest hope we can have that our babies and the pieces of our heart they carry, are happy.

This is marriage.

With my eyes struggling to stay half open after a night of the baby not liking to be more than a half a centimeter from my nipple, the almost four year old stretching out over half our bed, and the early riser 2 year old who likes to rise a couple hours before the sun, I answered my ringing phone. 

Husband in a hushed, urgent voice: I need you to bring my iPad and computer to work.

Me: wait, you mean to tell me you want me to dress the three kids and me, get them in their car seats and drive somewhere? 

Husband: um, ya you need to.

Me: mumbles swear words and try not go cry.

Husband: hangs up.

I pull the baby off my nipple and stomp around gathering clothes and something that I can appear to look somewhat sane in.

At least if I have to go out I can get a coffee I muse.

An hour later and a dose of caffeine in my blood my mind wanders. Tomorrow is our fifth anniversary. I know, do the math, 5 years 3 kids, it’s a frightening thought for many, I live it. I begin thinking how this is marriage. Dragging yourself to do something for your spouse, not because you want to, not because you think you are physically even able to, not even because you love them, but because in that moment they need you and you do it. 

I was under no illusion when we got married that marriage wasn’t hard. I’d heard it and thought I understood it. You can’t love someone all the time, you definitely can’t like someone all the time. It’s really taken me 5 years and 3 kids to get it though. There are ups and there are lots of downs. Life happens, shitty things happen, really shitty things happen. Kids get sick, babies are up all night, there’s never enough money or time. You can go days, months, years thinking you married the best guy on the planet. You can go days, months, years wondering why you ever thought marriage was a good idea. But it’s the moments you decide to get up, brush the sleep from your eyes and be there for them over and over again that matter. It’s fighting and laughing 5 minutes later because what were you even fighting about? It’s about getting up with the kids so your husband can sleep for an hour. It’s about working two jobs so your wife can stay home. It’s a choice. 

Marriage isn’t a wedding, a first dance, not even a first, fifth or fiftieth anniversary. Those just mark the time. Marriage is in the moments every day where you make the choice to be there. 

So happy fifth anniversary Mark, I love you and glad you are my partner in this craziness of our life. But please remember your computer on Monday. 

This is now, that was then. 

One of my favorite Facebook features is looking back on my ‘memories.’ Often times a cute picture pops up of one of the kids, or a song lyric when I had time to listen to things like music and post about it. As I pack for ‘vacation’… I have been seeing ‘memories’ of vacations of past and it’s got me thinking about packing for our annual camping trip now three kids in opposed to 4 years ago:

Then:

Go to library and find a minimum of 10 books to read. Two whole weeks equals lots of reading time!

Now:

Find a crumbled up, soggy People magazine throw it in a bag in hopes I can escape to the bathroom for some alone time. Fingers crossed!

Then:

Ensure I have a variety of bathing suits that will leave no tan lines with cute matching cover ups.

Now:

Find the one bathing suit that fits. Find a cover up that does just that, covers my entire body arguably taking away need for bathing suit. Make sure both are breastfeeding friendly.

Then:

Carefully select enough alcohol to cover the two weeks. Day time drinking, night time drinking! Need it all covered!

Now: 

Buy beer. Hope the baby sleeps for a couple hours at some point so I can get a decent buzz. 

Then:

Half an hour to get all my clothes packed! Can’t believe it took that long!

Now:

Start packing at least the month before to ensure all kids have adequate clothes (and pack for husband). Forget all shoes. 

Then:

Campings so fun and it’s inexpensive! 

Now:

Camping is hard. Camping is expensive. Why are camping? 

I read somewhere that there are no vacations with kids there are only trips. Camping with kids is mostly just work. I truly understand that now. Whenever I’m second guessing all the work that goes into I see the excitement in my kids faces and realize that the ‘now’ is so much better than ‘then.’