Prepared Hearts

Today was Grandparents Day at school. Brooks was definitely not short on love today. He was surrounded by his grandparents as he showed off his classroom and talked about what he was thankful for. He was loved well today. And my heart was so full watching the pride he had in this moment.

Just last week, we had parent teacher conferences for Brooks. And in the middle of talking about letters, sounds, colors and numbers. Miss Maggie reminded me of the little boy that started at this little Christian school a year and a half ago. A little three year old. That had never left his momma. Scared and Cautious. A three year old that hurt himself on the wiggly wiggly bridge at preschool orientation. And that wiggly bridge was all it took. He was terrified to ever go back.

“Just look how far he has come.”

Miss Maggie pointed out.

Her comment stuck with me watching him today. I remember that little boy. The one who was overwhelmed by school and the playground bridge.

Dave and I would talk and talk. Do we send him? Do we make him go? Do we just tell him to man up?

And then we decided to prepare him. To give him the tools for success.

It was our first taste of holding these little hands through life. We drove to the school. Sunday afternoon. School started on Monday. We parked outside the big tall chain-link fence. And we talked to Brooks about that big scary playground. Then we took a shot in the dark. We called the school. Maybe someone would answer? Let us in? 

And the principal answered.

“Oh hey. Um. This is Dave. Dave Soderberg. My son is uh, starting school. Well, preschool, tomorrow. In Mrs. Herrema’s class. He uh, fell off a bridge on the playground at orientation on Friday. And I was wondering… wondering if there is any way I can just get him on that playground. Teach him how to get accross that bridge. Is there, uh, any way to get on to the playground?”

Dave NEVER sounds flustered. But he did here.

Those questions racing through our heads. Are we doing the right thing here? Is he going to think we are crazy? Those parents? That can’t let go? The ones that cater to their kids every whim? 

Our questions were interrupted by…

“Sure. Sounds great. I’ll meet you at the front door.”

Dave walked around the front of the building with my little one and disappeared into the school.  I sat in the car with two sleeping babies. And then I watched the three of them appear on the playground.

Brooks timid. Hiding behind his daddy.

Dave. Strong and sure — the man I married. Smiling. Talking to to the principal. Introducing that amazing little boy to his new principal.

And then Dave swooped Brooks up. Set him up on his shoulders. And took off running toward the playground.

His excitement was infectious. And I watched my two boys run around that playground. Dave guiding Brooks. Teaching him where to hold on to get across that wiggly bridge. Guiding his steps with his hands. Teaching him with his words. Showing him the ropes of his new school.

Brooks came running back to the car. Now completely excited for school. A change in heart and spirit. His little heart felt safe and prepared. And Monday morning was met with nothing less. And as he disappeared into his class that very first morning, he whispered in my ear,

“And, Mom. I won’t forget to hold on to the magic spot on the wiggly bridge.”

As experienced humans, It’s so easy for us to prepare our own hearts. We guard our souls, our spirits. We protect our feelings and emotions. We build walls. Defenses against our enemies. We give ourselves pep talks. Mantras to follow. To live by. Scripture to dwell on. Prayer. Meditation. Whatever it is.

We protect our hearts.

Almost instinctually. Unintentionally.

But as parents. We have to protect our little’s hearts. Fiercely.  Intentionally. Because they don’t protect themselves from the world the way we adults do. We learned how to prepare our hearts. We learned to turn to each other. We learned to turn to our spouse. To God.

I am just now learning how to prepare and teach these little hearts for this life.

I believe in setting these kids up for success. Sadly, something that a lot of mothers and fathers don’t do enough of. Those extra steps to set these kids up for genuine success.  Independent success.  The kind of success that they earn all on their own.  Sometimes, I helicopter parent these kids. Mostly, I step in too soon to give them that success. I want it so badly for them. Especially Lucas. And then I see it, that look in their blue eyes. That look that tells me that I stole that moment from them. That ownership of success. And so I pull back. Learn to prepare them instead. And give them every single tool they may ever need to build a beautiful life. And I have to let them use those tools. On their own.

I have to let them build their own life. Not a life I built.

And that is hard. Really hard. Especially in the big stuff, like school. It is hard to let them do it on their own. But even in the small stuff. A puzzle piece that Lucas has turned upside-down. I just want to flip it over in his little hand. I want to reach over and place that piece in the missing spot for him. But I don’t. I coach him. I teach him. I remind him of the tools he has in that mythological toolbox of his. And I let him figure it out. And even when he asks for help. I am mindful of what kind of help he needs. And though initially I’d wanted to grab that last piece of the puzzle and put it in the spot for him. I don’t. I guide him in flipping that piece over. I use my words to help him understand lining up the picture. And I set the piece right next to the spot. I let him nudge it in. Let his little fingers feel that piece click into place. Let him own that puzzle. He needs it way more than I do. That puzzle means very little to me. It means a lot to a little boy who just learned how to do puzzles.

And Brooks. He needed that success on the playground. On his own. Because his daddy was not going to be there next time to hold his hands across that bridge. That in itself, is the scariest part of letting go. Knowing we wont be there holding his heart. But his daddy’s words. His daddy’s teachings. His daddy’s confidence in him. That was going with him. And those tools that we just taught him how to use. They gave him exactly what he needed to get across that bridge. And school? Turns out that school is this boy’s heart and soul. He loves it oh so much.

And to think my first instinct was that he wasn’t ready because he didn’t initially want to do it.

I believe in this way of parenting toddlers. I believe in holding their hands through this big scary world. Because by riding that line of holding their hands just enough, you’re able to acknowledge to them that this world is big and scary. But that it only appears that way. And that it’s navigable — and incredibly enjoyable. You first validate their feelings. And then provide every tool imaginable to get through it.

And sure, this writing is probably coming off as a humble brag. But the truth of the matter is that I usually don’t do it right. This is one of the few times I figured out that balance. I usually hold them too tightly. Or, sometimes, I don’t hold them enough. When what my kids really need is something right in the middle. Where I guide them. Set them up for success. And then set them free.

With prepared hearts.

Ciao! Girl

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I Heart Copper

Ciao! Girl

(For links to original images, I pinned all the images on my Pinterest page)

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My Lucas.

A lot of chapters of my life right now are ending. On so many levels, change is raining down on us. We are planting roots. Growing up. And saying goodbye. 

We are moving this week. To a house we bought. In a good school district. With that back yard and garage we swore we didn’t need. With those neighbors that I guess for the first time feel and act like us.  And while this new place does not feed that piece of my soul that is searching for life. It does not offer me that wild abandonment that this apartment has. It gives me so much more. An end to all that searching. A new start.

A house that will be a home.

So tonight is our last night in our little apartment in the heart of Denver. With the views of the highway. And the city lights that still take my breath away.

And tomorrow is our new day.

But this move feels small to me. Insignificant. And I am having trouble even caring about it today. Partly because we have movers that are packing and unpacking us. (That helps!) But mostly, because my heart is somewhere else.

Today was Lucas’ last day of therapy. Ever. After a month of testing, reevaluating, questioning and observing. The time has come to move on and say goodbye.

Renee came today. Like she does every Tuesday. But today was different. And instantly Lucas and I recognized that she didn’t have her big bag.

“Where’s your bag, Miss Renee?”

Lucas probed. 

“Yeah, you don’t have your bag?”

I echoed.

It was like we didn’t recognize her without it. That Mary Poppins bag of magic. With toys that turned my little one into a real boy.

“I don’t need it today, Lucas. We are just going to say goodbye.”

My heart sank. My throat. That all too familiar lump.

Lucas beat me to the punch. He started crying. The tears. They flowed from his eyes in the most genuine, heart-wrenching, outpouring of emotion. 

“It’s ok to be sad, Lucas.”

She buried her head next to him in the pillow. She waited.

Then looked to me.

“It’s ok to let him feel. To let him be sad.”

So we waited for Lucas to process. In a dark cloud of sadness.

He’s ready. By all of his tests. All of his evaluations. This boy of mine is three. All levels of his development were checked with age appropriate. A term I have never heard for my boy until now. I am just not sure if I am ready.

The truth is I almost don’t believe it. But he has been ready. For quite some time. It was just hard for us all to let go. We held on to Renee. For fear that if she left us, she would take back with her everything she had given us. I mean I know he is caught up. I see it every day. Every single moment. Those eyes. That soul. This little personality that is exploding. This mind that is learning. And a mouth that is talking, and singing, and even counting. A boy that is happy. And alive. A kid with a bright future.

We now know what we were missing. And that fear of losing it again is paralyzing.

My Lucas. (deep sigh.) 

I still deep sigh when I say his name. But for so many different reasons now.

It’s not hard to talk about him anymore. There is no need to explain him. He’s just Lucas. My Lucas. And you or anyone else can just go get to know him yourself now. And you should. He’s amazing.

Oh this post. I have been dreaming of writing this posts. Sometimes when days seem long and hard. Or Lucas seems just so far behind. Or his therapy seems to overwhelm us. And suck all the oxygen out of the room. I would think to myself that one day. One day off in the future. This chapter of our lives would come to an end. So I would take a deep breath, roll up my sleeves, and put on my armor. Ready for the fight. Because it is so worth it to have this day.

My Lucas. My boy. I don’t even know what to say to you today. You, my heart, have overcome something so much bigger than you. And while every bit of my being as a mother is so proud of you. There is a strength in you that very few men have. But, I want you to know that you did not do it alone. That so many people have walked along beside you. Even when you thought you were alone. When the world seemed so far from you. You were not alone. Your dad and I. Your brother and sister. Amy. Megan. Brittany. And especially, Miss Renee. They went in front of you. Cleared a path. Carried you when you were too scared to move forward. Because they believed in you. I believe in you. And you are so worth fighting for. I am so happy for you. My heart is full because of you.

But for today, we are learning to say goodbye. A sadness that is as deep as our joys. 

We all watched Renee walk away. And Lucas ran after her. She dropped to her knees. And he jumped in her arms. And wrapped his little hands around her neck and kissed her on the cheek. She met him tear for tear.

“Don’t you forget about me Lucas Soderberg.”

How could we ever forget her? 

My Lucas. Oh be still my heart.

Ciao! Girl

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Answering The Call

Hey Guys. So… Um… this is awkward.  

But seriously, where have I been? Geeze, I literally posted like a month ago. And for the last two weeks,  I have had every intention of posting one of those classic

“Hey guys! I’m back.”

You know, the type of post that says,

“OMG! I have no idea what happened here. Totally not my fault! My kids. They were sick. And Roman’s asthma. So scary. And then the kids got WHOOPING COUGH. And Brooks literally took 4 showers a night just so he would stop his coughing fits. And Lucas. That boy that doesn’t feel pain. That boy who came along to the doctor with us with no symptoms at all. Who wanted the doctor to give him a check up just like his big brother.

‘My turn. My turn.’

And our Doctor — being sweet — gave him a little ‘check up’. Where he then discovered that Lucas actually was sick. A double bleeding pussing ear infection. Great.

Oh, and there was that time I got a sinus infection that turned into PINK EYE. 

And Dave took a business trip to NYC right in the middle of that. So again, totally not my fault. Right?

Ok, clearly we’ve had an awesome October.

And every time my overworked man stumbles in the door and I feel it’s my time to go write. I take one look at his tired eyes, and I see myself. Just as tired. Just as overwhelmed.

And I just wanted to curl up in bed with him and watch mindless TV. And play rock-paper-scissors to see who has to get up with the kids first.

Long story short. The blog. It has been pushed to the back burner. And as it should. These people that post every day are suspect. Suspect I tell ya!

 

But you guys, today. Brooks went to school! Lucas took a shit in the potty! And well, I feel… dare I say, alive. Even though I can’t wear makeup until Sunday. Sob!

And as I drove two of my sweet littles home from their coffee date with daddy.

This blog. This space. It started calling my name.

A whisper I haven’t heard in a while. A familiar voice I missed oh-so-much.

So today, I am here. Taking a deep breath. And letting it out. No “I am back”. No new post ideas. No guarantees. And probably no readers.

But you know what? I don’t mind.

Because I’d rather be genuine to a few than filler to thousands.

Thanks for reading :)

Ciao! Girl

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Ain’t No Mom Jeans: Doc Martens

You Guys.The past two weeks have kicked my ass. The kids all got a stupid little cold. Runny noses. NBD. 

And then…

The boys got ear infections. And little Miss got asthma. So after mega antibiotics and a round of steroids for Roman, we are finally back in business. And I need a nap.

But this last week was not a total loss…

I did a guest post for my good friend, Shana over on Ain’t No Mom Jeans styling Doc Martens!

That’s right! They’re back! And I couldn’t be more excited.

You can check it out to see a few ways to style these bad boys and hopefully give you a bunch of tips on size, fit, and breaking them in with the least amount of pain as possible.

And as tempting as it was, I am not wearing white panties and a wife-beater in any of the pics. You’re welcome. 

Ciao! Girl

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