A year. 365 days. 365 changes.

One year ago.

We had just bought our new house. In our new neighborhood. And while this new house still sat empty, we spent Halloween night trick or treating up and down these little blocks.

Back then, I had a four year old who was super scared of the houses. The decorations. A four year old that needed his daddy to knock first. Brooks hid behind Dave’s leg most of the night. Only to peek around to whisper

“trick or treat”

And Lucas. My little one. Oh this boy has changed so much. Last year, on the last house after blocks of forcing trick or treating. He whispered,

“treat treat”

He had basically no language. Those quiet words felt like such a victory then. At this point, we still struggled greatly with eye contact and hand holding. And this boy walked silently from house to house. Held out his bucket. Staring at the ground. Never a smile. A boy that lasted in his dusty crop hopper plane costume all of 10 minutes.

And Roman. My girl. A baby with basically no concept of Trick or Treating. A girl who clung to her momma. I carried her most the night. She ate about four suckers while we followed her brothers from house to house. She fell asleep to the rhythm of my feet on the concrete.

Looking back, I realize I wanted “it” so bad. That night. I wanted that moment I remember from my childhood. Really, I wanted it to be so different than it was. And I sort of left that night feeling a little lost and a little lonely.

Over and over, we had passed groups of families talking. Kids running through the darkness. Laughing. Screaming. And I felt like such an outsider. I felt lost and confused. I questioned things about my kids that took months to let go of again. Brooks’ bravery and maturity for his ripe old age of 4. Lucas. My heart just broke for where this boy was in life. And his future or lack thereof because honestly at that point I didn’t really see one. For Lucas, it was his disconnect from childhood that was so much greater than trick or treating. And it truly ripped my heart from its chest. And Roman. My girl who most time just felt like a backpack I carried around. That night she was just the  extra weight as I so desperately was trying to create something we just weren’t ready for.

But a year. 365 days. And while somethings felt the same. Everything was different. And not one bit of me takes that for granted.

What a difference a year can make.

This year. This Halloween. I spent the day at Brooks’ school watching my Wolverine march in a parade with his class. I mingled with moms during his classroom party. I walked home to another little boy just as excited for trick or treating. The loudness and excitement in my house waiting for daddy to get home was contagious. The minutes passed as the kids chased each other around the back yard waiting for darkness. Wolverine. A police officer. And a little witch. All filled with magic for this day.

This year my expectations started out way lower. Lucas started working on costumes back in June with his therapist Renee but still he spent the majority of the day deciding if he was even going to wear a costume at all. And Roman’s asthma is well… less than controlled right now. We weren’t even sure how far we would make it outside in the cold before that cough started to end our night early. But we were ready to try and that’s all that mattered. 

So we set off. Buckets in hand. Barely dark. And hit the first street. My three. Running up the stairs. All banging on the door.

Lucas rang the door bell probably 10 times.

“That’s enough dude.”

Dave yelled up to him. 

We stood on the side walk. Watching our three BIG kids. The door finally opened. And three of the wildest voices yelled,

“TRICK OR TREAT!!!!!”

A kind man filled my kids buckets with a handful of candy each.

“Who are you?”

He asked each of my kids. 

“I’m Wolverine.”

Brooks screamed followed by some sweet moves that I’m sure looked even more amazing in his head. 

“I’m a Police!”

Lucas interrupted. 

“I a witch.”

Roman stuttered through. 

They came running down the stairs filled with smiles.

“Mom, Dad. Look how much candy we got.”

“Awesome. Did you say thank you?”

And in an instant, all three turned around at the same time.

“THANK YOU!”

Oh be still my heart. 

So off we went to the next house. And the next and the next. And as we ran into friends on the streets. We talked with parents. We yelled at Brooks to wait for us as he ran from house to house.  Lucas stuck to his side. Screaming at the top of his lungs. And Roman insistent to walk. To keep up with her brothers.

And by the time we made it home. It was late. We had walked blocks and blocks.

The kids laid out on the floor and counted their candy.

Lucas sat dressed head to toe in a costume. And he kept stuffing more and more chocolate in his mouth.

“Momma! This is the best day of the year! The very best day!” 

And I don’t know if it was comparing this day of Halloween to last year or just taking a moment to soak it all in. But that smile from Luke. Those words. They melted my heart so much that I just sat there watching him eat more and more candy. I could have listened to him recap the night forever.

Then he basically ate himself into a food coma while I got all emotional that he threw up in his sleep that night. Chocolate everywhere! I sooooo brought that on myself. But man, I would let him eat it all over again, just to re-live that night. Those emotions of growth. I had such pride for my kids. For that brave 5 year old. For the 3 year old so full of life. And that 2 year old determined to be part of it all. 

I realize now it was Time. My little family needed time. More time to grow up. More time to heal. Mommas out there. I wish I had known all along what I learned this year. These holidays happen organically. These kids grow at their own pace. Give yourself time.

Halloween. It’s a holiday rooted in evil. In darkness. But my God showed his light to me this day. His goodness. His blessings. And most of all, His faithfulness.

And once again, I am learning to trust in HIS timing. Not mine.

Ciao! Girl

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Ciao! Girl

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Ain’t No Pain Like A Momma Off Her Game

So I wrote this post forever ago while I was going through a rough patch as a momma.

So while I am so thankful not to be in this place anymore, I decided to post it up anyway. Maybe some of you mommas can relate? 

—————————-

The last couple weeks. Months maybe? I’ve just been a little off as a mama. As a wife. Just a general sense of feeling uninspired. Unfulfilled. Moments that should be huge felt small. Moments that usually fuel me — fill my cup — just kind of passed me by. I guess I lost myself in the motions. And as my passion for being a mom, a wife, a human started to slip, so did my confidence. And I got that feeling that every mom knows all too well (I hope). That feeling that you’re a bad mom. Well, not bad. But just that you’re not doing enough. Not doing what you should be. And my familiar mama-style began to shift and change.

Now bare with me as I painfully remind you of what sucks about this journey called motherhood. I’ll get to the good stuff in a sec.

The pressures of motherhood are brutal. The milestones, the responsibilities, the exhaustion, the opinions, the general lack of compassion from fellow human beings — I am talking to you deep-sigh-lady behind me in the grocery store.  And those pressures rain down with unrelenting force. And the silver lining for me is that sometimes — most times really — I simply dance in that rain. Because well… #humblebrag. I am an amazing mama. It’s something I do extraordinarily well. With love and patience and passion. And that day in and day out of motherhood — the part most mama’s hate. It fulfills me. It builds me up. It gives me confidence unlike anything else in this world. At the end of most days I drag my tired self to the couch, curl up next to Dave, and tell him all the magic that that happened that day. All the funny things Brooks said. All the milestones Lucas crushed. All the cuteness Roman exploded. And it’s in that moment — that reflection — that I am reminded just how truly blessed I am. Each and every day.

But then there are the other days. Days I’ve been seeing far too much of lately. The days where I just question everything I am doing. Days that end in crying next to Dave on the couch instead of joyfully reflecting. These nights end in doubt, frustration, and failure. The culmination of all those little moments that you fell short. The kids falling asleep to you yelling at them to stay in their beds. Mindlessly scrolling through your phone instead of giving them the attention they deserve. A battery drained stopwatch from all the timeouts. A healthy meal traded for frozen nuggets and chips. A diaper left unworn and the rug pee stain to prove it. You get the point.

It’s just one of those days. Where you find yourself not even wanting to look at those little assholes. Where you slowly lose yourself along the course of the day. Where you were pushed to every breaking point you have. It’s those days that turn into the nights where I walk up the stairs and that rain (the rain I used to dance in) is drowning me. And inevitably you realize every moment that almost broke you wasn’t even their fault. It was yours.

Ain’t no pain like a mama off her game.

So when I feel like a failure. When I want to quit. Give up entirely. I have to fight. Fight like hell.

Now listen, Dave is like any other guy and can sometimes offer me nothing. Don’t get me wrong, he’ll try. But solving the puzzle of

“what’s wrong with wifey”

is like exploratory surgery — you may or may not find the problem. But Dave is consistently amazing at building up my confidence. And on these nights, that’s usually his M.O. And it usually sends me to bed with the mantra of

“tomorrow is a new day. I’ve got this.”

But not lately. No, lately all my nights were ending this way. And as the days turned into weeks. I sort of stopped believing that “tomorrow is a new day” thing. I started to expect the meltdown. The fall. And this heart of mine started to feel like someone else’s. A beat I didn’t recognize. A way of loving and an attitude that just wasn’t me.

And I can pinpoint the moment I broke,

 “Hey Brooks.”

I yelled downstairs.

No answer. 

“Brooks? Dude, Answer me or I’m taking your WiiU away.”

Nothing.

I went downstairs stomping extra loud. Partly out of frustration and partly to make my point. But he wasn’t in his room. Or Roman’s room. Or downstairs at all for that matter. And as the minutes passed it got scary. I mean, this is a little house. As Dave and I were frantically running around our house screaming his name at the top of our lungs. My heart stopped beating.

But then Dave found him. Hiding behind the door of his office. And Brooks came around the corner with the biggest smile on his little face. Those curls in his eyes.

“Surprise Mama!!”

He had thought he was hiding. That this was a game. And I did something I NEVER do. I started yelling at him.

 “BROOKS YOU ARE IN SO MUCH TROUBLE. I WAS YELLING FOR YOU. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! THIS IS NOT FUNNY!”

And in an instant that smile was gone. Replaced with a quivering lip and broken spirit.

I don’t yell. Ever. I never really have. Well, of course, I have but NOT LIKE THIS. And before I knew it Dave had dropped to his knees and, using soft spoken words, he began to clean up my mess,

 “Bud. Mommy was scared. Hide and seek is fun but you have to answer when we yell for you. You have to know when we’re not playing anymore. We were scared because we couldn’t find you. But that was an awesome hiding place!”

Proceeded by a high five.

I looked in the mirror that night. To a face I didn’t recognize. And I realized what was missing. It wasn’t that I could just dust my hands off and try again tomorrow. It was deeper than that. It was my passion for this. My inspiration. And passion is a funny thing. It can be strong and steady. It can be all encompassing. It can drive change. And happiness. It can feel so good. And so fulfilling. It literally has the power to make a life worth living. Make that sunrise in the morning not feel so early. Or those darkened streets not feel so quiet. It builds confidence. And hope. And best of all, dreams of what lies ahead.

But that passion. It is fickle. And temperamental. And can be gone in an instant. It has to be nurtured. cultivated. And most of all, protected. Because when that passion of the heart is lost. It starts to beat differently. 

And I finally realized that the rain I once danced in had me dodging for cover. I was questioning myself. I had started to change who I was. The “way others are doing it” started to matter to me. The pressures came and my foundation was cracked. I am regularly an extremely Type B person. Laid back maybe to a fault. But it’s something that works so well for my littles because it’s something that works so well for me. But summer had just arrived. I felt the pressures of activities. And sun. And Kindergarten prep. And I made up my mind to be Type A. I can do this. Plan more. Be more rigid in my expectations for myself and my kids.

But man, you Type A people. That shit is stressful. And this idea to be more “perfect” as a mom this summer? It started to change the way I do motherhood. And as I changed, so did my kids. And all of our happiness shifted. Our ability to do what we do had been replaced by a pressure to conform.

And in the darkness of the night. That night I’d exploded on Brooks. Dave laid in bed. Played with my hair. And whispered over our sleeping daughter,

“You do you.”

“Stop trying to be someone else. I love the way we do things. I love who you are. I love every ounce of this life. I love every ounce of who you are.”

“You do you.”

I laid awake most of the night thinking about that. I had lost my voice. I had stopped doing what came naturally to me. And in that wandering my passion was left somewhere along the way. So I took it to heart. “You do you.” It was simple. It was to the point. And holy shit was it what I needed to hear.

And there I found myself — in an instant. Completely re-inspired. Inspired to drown out the noise. To let the deafening sound of pressures, expectations, and opinions be overcome by my own rhythm. 

YOU DO YOU.

Ciao! Girl

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With No Strings To Hold Him Up

Fall. You’re here. I see you. I feel you. The yellow trees. The crisp air. The Halloween costumes hanging in the kids rooms. The pumpkin crafts coming home from school. You’re definitely here. No fighting it anymore. No more adjusting to new school schedules. Nope. Not my little family. We have settled in nicely to our new normal. To the fact that my family feels a whole hell of a lot smaller during the day when I am missing one big kindergartener. But somehow, It feels normal now. 

No more fighting to hold on to summer.

So, Dear summer. I have finally let you go. I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to recreate it. Oh summer. My life came alive with you. You gave me such a gift. A breakthrough. A deep breath that filled me to my core.

Not just any summer.  THIS summer. Oh man, it was one for the books.

I have a five year old. A boy who was going to start kindergarten in the fall. In three short months. And when the heat was just rolling in, neither of us were ready. If you know us, know him, you know. This boy was academically ready for Kindergarten at three years old. Dave and I stopped spelling things out loud we didn’t want him to know long ago. He was constantly reading at four years old. And I am learning now,  there is a great relief as a parent to remove the pressures of academics from the equation of Kindergarten readiness. But for my first boy. Something just felt off. Like he was not ready for this. That he was too young. That socially, physically, mainly emotionally he just seemed so immature from his age group. From his peers. It was something beyond the regular not ready for Kindergarten that all moms feel.

As I searched for answers, I found nothing really. Nothing holding us back. I mean. He never truly connected to kids his age. He struggled with a funky gate when he was running. He preferred to be coloring rather than be wrestling. He needed me more than most five year olds need their mommas. But seriously who is complaining about that last one? I sort of loved it. And I still do love that sensitive boy who hated the conflict of soccer. I love that his heart is so deep and full.

Still waters run deep.

But I HATED that he was insecure. That he doubted himself. That his cautious nature kept him from trying new things. That the disconnect he felt from his classmates turned out to be self inflicted when I examined it closer.  What was it? Bravery. maybe. Experience. sure. But ultimately, I learned it was self confidence. And all those little things you just can’t teach as a parent.

BUT this summer changed my boy. Inside and out.

We played outside. And swam all day. And rode the gondola up to the top of Adventure Ridge on Vail mountain more times than I can count. And my cautious boy learned to jump on the bungee trampoline, climb a ropes course, ride a zip line, and a pony. And most of all he learned to trust himself. To feel pride in trying new things. But this was all just the beginning.

He did skateboarding lessons with Ryan. A snowboard instructor. And while I am sure Ryan left his days with us thinking he is never having children EVER. My boy left changed each day. A little more confident. A lot more brave. And stronger. And surer of himself. And he watched kids come together at the skate park. And he learned to try and try again. He watched people fall. He fell hard himself. But something about that quiet strength of Ryan. To my surprise, my boy picked himself up and kept trying. I can still hear the words of affirmation from this guy.

“You can do this little man.”

“You’re not a real skateboarder until you fall and get back up. Get up.”

“Just try it and we will see.”

“You are the coolest five year old I know, you belong here.”

I imagine Brooks can still hear these words too. He lives his new life in Kindergarten by them. These words probably meant very little to Ryan outside of the prospect of ramps and tricks. But to my boy, they shaped a little part of his character.

Dave and I always struggled to bring this bravery and strength out of our boy. To encourage him in ways that fueled his spirt. To inspire him to try and fail, and to pick himself back up just to go at it again. But it couldn’t come from us. He held on to us too tightly. And we protected his gentle spirit too fiercely.

Slowly but surely, we learned to let go of him.

We learned to let him be loved, and taught, and most of all, led by someone other than ourselves.

The true definition of bitter sweet.

And when this summer was over. And we drove home from our last skate lesson. I looked in the back of my car to my son. He was taller, much thinner, stronger, and braver.

He was a boy. A real boy. With no strings to hold him up.

Ciao! Girl

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Is It Enough?

Is it enough?

I am asking myself that question far too often. It has a ringing of familiarity when I type it. Like I have typed it before. It’s like it has long been a part of my heart. And my heart skips a beat just hearing it. Wanting an answer. Though this heart of mine doesn’t want any answer. I long for the answer to be yes.

Yes, mama, it is enough.

Yes or no questions are hard for me. They leave little room for interpretation. Little room for the grey zones. For me, most answers involve maybe. And most of the time when I am pondering this little question, I find myself in a moment of multiple answers. Within the torment of grey. Even the question itself is vague and layered with complexity.

Is it enough for me to be a stay at home mom? Is it enough for my kids?

Is it enough therapy for Lucas if it’s only once a week?

Is it enough to have a blog that really only features writing? Is it enough to make it successful? Is it enough if it never is?

Is what energy remains for the other two enough? After I am done regulating him. After I spend a day attached to her. After I carpool every activity for the first. Is it?

Is what I have to give spread so thin that it never meets the demands of these three?

One day these kids will be all grown up. Out on their own. And as broken and lost as I may find myself at that point. I want to know one thing. That I gave these kids every single last minuscule drop that I had to give. And I want to know it might not have been perfect, but that it was enough.

And beyond the questions of routine, schedule, and methodology comes the biggie.

The “Is it enough?” that carries the weight of a soul.

As always, my little family has been growing, changing, and shifting around. Facing all those big moments that come with age. Those big questions. We’ve tried to raise our kids in a home that loves God. That fully credits Him with this beautiful life we have going. But suddenly, Brooks has been questioning God. His purpose. His existence. And to be honest, this is one of those bridges that I thought I’d have a little more time to approach — let alone cross. But there I was, alongside Dave as we listened to this 5 year old philosopher voice his concerns about believing in something that he cannot see. Believing in something that other people don’t believe in. “Faith of a child” seems to be the saying. But my child doesn’t have that innocently blind faith. He’s smart. He’s analytical. And skeptical. He’s scared of what it means to believe in God. And he’s afraid to even pray to God because he immediately associates it with heaven. And while heaven to us may bring security in an everlasting life, to him it’s just the opposite. It’s insecurity in a life taken. A mommy or daddy suddenly gone. To a place they act as though they’d rather be than here — with him.

Heavy right? I mean shit. Kid’s got a point!

I laid in bed with Roman last night and was listening to Brooks talk to his daddy about God in the next room.

“Brooks you wanna pray tonight?”

“Nope”

“Come on bud. How about you pray?”

“I want to stay with you. Forever. I don’t want to go to heaven.”

“Buddy, you’re not going to heaven.”

Shit Dave! Yes he is!

My curiosity is now peaked with what Dave was going to say next.I mean, are we going to have the “everybody dies” conversation with a 5 year old? I wanted to go running in his room screaming,

“YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE IN GOD!!”

But Dave was calm. And patient. And above all else did something that kind of made sense. He validated his feelings. Because… well, it doesn’t always make sense. Even to us. In all honesty, this is a reoccurring conversation between Dave and I. We often struggle with and analyze the facts of Christianity. The questions. Our faith is real. And deep. And fuck if it isn’t confusing at times. BUT, we believe. We have felt it. We have been changed by our faith. We have seen God’s hand in our lives in undeniable ways.

But how do you teach that? How do you show that? And that’s it right there. The peskiest “Is it enough?” of all. Is what we are teaching and showing our kids enough?

To lead someone to Christ is filled that same grey. It implies you simply grab their hand and walk them to His feet. And that’s not what we want. We don’t want to drag a soul to the feet of God. Right now I don’t have the answers. I may never have them. It’s a grey zone just like everything else. And I just kind of faced the fact that the answer is maybe.

Because our duty — at least for this family — won’t be to lead them to Christ. It will be to lead them to the path to Christ.

That path will never be as meaningful, as hard, but as genuine unless it’s the path you ultimately chose.

So there it is. It might. It might be enough for me. For Lucas. For Brooks. For Roman. It all might be enough. And for now I can only rest in the fact that regardless of whether or not it’s enough. From the day to day, to this little blog, to their relationship with God. I’ll give all I have to give. Every last drop. And the rest? It’s up to them. To make it their life. And up to God, to provide what I cannot give. To give us more. To give us enough. To answer the “Is it enough” with a yes.

Only God has the ability to turn a maybe to a yes. It is all enough.

Ciao! Girl

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