Cheers to 7 Years

My Dearest Emma Kate,

Happy 7th birthday, my precious darling child! When you were born, I got a lot of advice.  I didn’t ask for it, by the way, but sometimes people just like to give it. One of the most common things I heard was “Don’t blink. They grow up so fast.” I’m sure I’ve already given this advice out to new moms and if I haven’t, I’m sure I will. It is the God honest truth. There is nothing truer in this world than how fast time flies. How in the world has seven years passed already?

It makes me sad sometimes. You’re infancy, toddlerhood, and now half of your childhood is just a memory. Well cherished.  You are a ray of sunshine everyday to me. Rod Stewart (I know you’ve never heard of him, and I should change that) says, “You fill my heart with gladness. You take aways all my sadness. You ease my troubles, that’s what you do).

This birthday, you asked for a glitter water bottle, pink hair extensions, a doll from Hobby Lobby named Emma “who looks just like me!” and a Rubix cube. You lost your third tooth this week. It’s a top one and you look so funny. Sorry kid, but you do. You were so excited to lose it before you turned seven. And your toothless grin makes me smile! You are a little prankster and you love to trick me and your dad. Of course, we never fall for it, but we act like we do. You’ll get this someday when you’re playing dumb for your kids, too. You love to play games. You give the best squeezes. Right now you are over the moon about llamas! You want everything llama themed, from your toothbrush to your bedroom.  So naturally, we had a llama birthday party! You wanted to go to the Plaza and have them sing happy birthday, so we managed that too! You truly don’t ask for much, and you are just happy and content no matter what.

51223912_10219215884014754_175594532396597248_nYou love your family and gymnastics so much! You really are passionate about that. You set goals for yourself, and you are hoping to get first place at one of your gymnastics meets. I’m proud of you for striving, but please always know it is not what you do that matters. You matter, already. No matter what you do or don’t do. You are loved, you are adored, you are worthy, you are deserving. You don’t ever, ever, ever have to earn love. You are loved. You are love. We will always love you. I know you’re going to grow so fast. I cherish the days I have with you. I try to see the world through your eyes. It’s hard, because grown ups have lost that childlike joy, imagination, and wonder. But you keep it alive in our house. Even when we’re tired and don’t want to play or imagine, you make us and it’s good for us. You love to wrestle with your dad and you love to snuggle with your mom. You are our gift. I mean that. I don’t know where we would be without you, but it would never be as grand and wonderful as where we are today. May you always know how much you’re loved and may you love life, always!

I love you more than you can ever understand,

XOXO
Mama

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Late Bloomers

I love how nature speaks to me. I received a great lesson today, and I wanted to share it with you.

At the beginning of summer I planted a garden. Granted, I may have been a tad tardy with my planting, but my garden has been a flop. I attempted a new method this year, hoping to avoid weeding, avoid tilling, and freshen up the soil. Instead of planting directly into the ground, I planted a pallet garden.

If you’re unfamiliar with this technique, it’s a simple concept. At least for me, which may have been the reason for my poor results. I basically tossed a pallet on the ground, filled it with soil, and sewed my seed in the rows of pallets.

My garden took off……..in the beginning. It sprouted. It blossomed. It flourished.  I was so excited, eagerly awaiting the results. The delicious food that I could bless my family with. But it never produced fruit. While others posted pictures of their bounty all summer long on social media, I chalked my garden up to a big ol’ dud. The plants were large. The leaves were green, the blossoms were oh so many. But no veggies were to be had.

J-Dub and I assessed the situation and decided that perhaps it was a little too crowded in that pallet. No, I didn’t thin the little saplings like the seed packet told me to….I just can’t stand to pull up potential. Each of those seeds has within it the potential to provide life nourishing food. I just figure I’d probably pull up the wrong one, that every little seed deserves a chance, and that the strong would win out. Wasn’t true. There crowded conditions kept any of them from producing. Anyway, we continued to water, it continued to grow, but when I realized my mistake, I decided what I’ll do differently next year. More room, less plants.

Today is Sept. 13. Here it is on the cusp of fall, and I got the surprise of the day when I discovered little bitty baby veggies growing in my garden. I laughed out loud, bending down to move the big leaves to see what else was hiding underneath. Quite a few little babies were there. Yes they are tiny. Yes they may not make it full grown, but they are there just the same.

 

“You’re just a late bloomer, aren’t you?” I spoke to my lovely little garden. “Just like me.”

I realized then and there, it’s okay. How often are we constantly comparing our lives to others who are posting their bounty on social media? How often do we think we should already have accomplished, achieved, experienced so much in our life by now?

We are so much like this little pallet garden of mine. We have within us so much potential. We are the seeds, full of possibility to give life nourishing fruit to others. But we sometimes get crowded out. Others outshine us. We may even look at the ones around us and believe that they have it all and there’s no way we can bear our fruit. Maybe we even believe it’s too hard, or there’s not enough to go around and those other guys already got it all. It’s never a good feeling when we feel like we are competing with the ones next to us.

We should never give up. Yes, it’s the oldest cliche’ in the world, but it’s more than a cliche’. It’s truth.  Just as I didn’t give up on this little garden. Even when we thought it might be a dud, we didn’t abandon it. We kept on watering it. There was always a little glimmer of hope that it might become what it was intended to. That is exactly why I checked on it today. In the hope that the fruit would be there. Same as us. We all have our dreams inside of us. Don’t give up on them. Don’t give up on yourself. You aren’t a dud. Keep your hope alive.

When I saw those little baby veggies, it brought me joy, and I quickly got the hose to give it more of what it needed. And like you and like me, our small baby fruits, that we think don’t make a difference, do bring others joy. Give yourself what you need. Whatever that may be. You are important and your needs shouldn’t go unmet. Take some time to reflect on what you need, and love yourself enough to tend your own garden.

My takeaways from this lesson in nature:

1) You have great potential and possibility inside you.

2) You may not be planted in the optimal place, but you can still bear fruit.

3) Don’t let others crowd you out. Stop comparing your bounty to everyone else’s. They have weeds too, you just aren’t seeing them.

4) Blossom in your own time, even if it seems too late. It is never too late.

5) You and your gifts bring others joy. Keep on. You never know when you are affecting another.

XOXO,

Angel

 

Love in My Lap

IMG_2849.JPGThe clock is a kill-joy on mornings like today. Mornings when my baby girl is so warm and snuggled up against me, her breathing heavy and full, a half-snore.

Mornings come so early for us, and bedtimes don’t always come easily. It’s hard to rub the sleepies from our eyes some days, and this morning was no exception.

I am on the countdown to summer break, for both of us. Well for all of us. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit to find our cat marking X’s on the calendar, if she only had opposable thumbs. I think she’s on the countdown too. She knows that soon we can sit like this all morning if we want to. We probably will. I love her soothing purrs and EK’s half snores.

It’s no secret that my baby isn’t a baby anymore. But I will carry her from her bed to the recliner as long as she reaches her arms around my neck and snuggles her face into my neck each sleepy morning. I will carry her as long as I have strength to do so. I will hold her in my lap as long as she curls up in it. I will breathe in the smell of her hair and kiss her little head for as many days as possible.

I believe that the gift of being an older mom is knowing in my heart how fleeting the days are. I may not be young and hip. I may occasionally get mistaken for her grandmother. I may be old-fashioned and a bit of a stick in the mud. I may get tired soon after playing shadow tag, but I am sure of one thing. I am not foolish enough to believe that these moments will last.

When you get to a certain age, you start looking back. Here I am, halfway through life (not positive, but realistically yes, but gosh that’s hard to think about) and it went by in a blink. Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes. I remember a younger time when it felt like days dragged on and waiting for something to come seemed to take an eternity. Like graduation or a wedding day. Even summer breaks felt long when I was a youngster. I remember a younger me full of goals and dreams, rushing through days, not living in the present but taking every day for granted, the next would come and I would wash and repeat. Can you relate?

Not anymore. Now me and J-Dub look at the clock in the evenings and can’t believe it’s 8 pm already. Where does all the time go? It flies. That’s the truth.

The clock that hangs on my wall was a gift from my dad. I remember my 25th birthday when he gave it to me. I remember the 25 year old who was cute and hip and took everyday for granted. She could probably play shadow tag for hours. The clock chimes on the hour. I try to have EK ready before 7 bells each day, but today we sat a little longer. I relished the seconds that passed. I attempted to slow down time. I did not want them to end. I felt such joy and love. But the clock chimed our reminder that time is passing; slowly for some, much more quickly for others.

I nudged her awake, stirred the cat, and began the day with a heart of pure gratitude for the love I hold in my lap each morning.

 

Mother’s Day #5

I’m a bit of a creature of habit. Just a bit. Not too much. Only when I want to be, really. But I do have a little tradition of blogging on certain celebratory occasions. My daughter’s b-day and Mother’s Day are the only 2 I really think of right now. Most of the time, this little blog is a ball of random. When the whim hits. Which hasn’t been hitting much lately.

Sunday past was Mother’s Day. My fifth one.  I’m not sure words can describe motherhood. There have been many people who have tried to put the words down, including myself. I think one of the best I’ve ever read is: #motherhood:

How true.

Motherhood is complete sacrifice, even when you adore pie.
Motherhood is seeing the tiniest, most minuscule, grain-of-sand-sized love God has for us.
Motherhood is a heart that is both broken and full to bursting often at the same time.
Motherhood is worry.
Motherhood is joy.
Motherhood is an exhaustion beyond what you ever thought possible.
Motherhood is sticky fingers and sweet kisses.
Motherhood is a million “I love yous” and a few teenage “I hate yous”.
Motherhood is handmade cards.
Motherhood is lots of laughs and plenty of tears from all parties involved.
Motherhood is eating lots of spaghetti.
Motherhood is late nights and early mornings and feet in your ribs when sleep does come.
Motherhood is thankless mostly, but worth every moment.

This Mother’s Day I was showered with little gifts. Gifts that will be put away in the bin with the other sweet gifts I’ve been given and the ones hopefully to come.

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18447353_10213478050932513_4614352799574924184_nEach moment is a true gift. A treasure to hold. Time passes so quickly. For some, motherhood never happens or sadly ends too soon.

My little daughter came into my life unexpectedly and the emotions I went through were paramount.  We are tight. This girl and I. We have a bond right now that I hope will outlast all the growing pains we still have to endure. The past five years have flown by, and I know the next 13 will zip past. And then she’ll soar on the wings that her dad and I have hopefully helped give her. So for now, I cherish every Eskimo kiss, every hug, every stick figure drawing stuck to the fridge, and even every melt down.

Every beautiful moment of motherhood for the past five years I have tried to store away, either in my memories or in this blog. I have been given such a remarkable little girl and I am so honored to be her mom.

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A Daughter’s Love

Last night, way past a normal bedtime for a 5 year old, my little EK and I were snuggling in. Saying our prayers and our I love yous. When suddenly she said, “I’m probably going to forget you when I grow up.” Why, I asked. Why would you forget me? She answered because she would be all grown up. I tried to explain to her that girls don’t forget their mothers, while believing this with all my heart, but also hopefully convincing her that she wouldn’t forget me, that she couldn’t forget me. My momma heart felt a moment of fear and heartache at the thought that my time with her was limited, that some day it would end. Which of course it will, but not by forgetting. Never by forgetting.

In my convincing, I tried to explain in the best way I could that I’m all grown up and I haven’t forgotten my mom and even my mom hasn’t forgotten her mom. And I desperately explained how when she was all grown up we would talk on the phone and visit one another if she moved away. That we could text on cell phones and take trips together. My mind was a flurry of all the grown up things we will do. In my vision, I was hanging on to her grown up self by a thread, knowing that it could so easily snap in an instant with her own life, her husband, her family, her busyness.

We were lying on our sides in an embrace, our noses practically touching. She said if she lived next door, I could just come over and visit. That thought gave me some relief. Yes, next door. That sounds wonderful. Then I said what all mom’s say at some time to their sweet preschoolers, yet to become tumultuous, unruly teenagers. “And you don’t ever have to move out, anyway. You can live with me forever.” I’m sure some day I will try to cram these words back down my throat, claiming I’ve never uttered them. But for now, the thought of her leaving, even to live next door is more than I can handle.

Then that sweet girl, with her big brown eyes, and her little mind that works all the time said. “And when you die, I’ll bury you in my front yard, so I can visit you all the time.”

I didn’t even know how to react to this. It is at the same time both very loving and yet bizarrely disturbing. So we said our good nights and our I love yous and I realized once again how immense love is.

 

When Motherhood Becomes a Battle…….the Side I Choose


We danced in the rain, arms outstretched, face upwards.

We water-colored and crayon colored.

We cooked and sang.

We kicked a soccer ball and practiced writing the letter S.

We read books and looked for hidden objects in the pictures.

There are a million things my mind tells me I should be doing. Like packing to move 400? miles away. And cleaning the house. And fulfilling commitments that I promised I would do. I should be doing laundry and keeping a more daily skin regimen and I should not be eating icing from the can with a spoon.

I sneak in my “Me” moments, (which are not “Me” moments at all, but just the stuff you have to do to keep life running) at times when I can. I try so hard to balance the attention I give her with the other things that need my attention. Am I harming her more than helping, I can’t help but wonder. Will she turn into one of those entitled, selfish brats that I read so many articles about because of my “overparenting”?

Those are the things my mind tells me. And my heart tells me that sticky fingers do indeed wash and wearing the same jeans two days in a row is not the end of the world. That knowing she is loved and cared for is truly more important, isn’t it?  Isn’t it the most important? My heart tells me this time with my daughter is short; shorter than I realize. I have friends posting graduation pictures of their children on social media, and I count the years remaining. Fifteen. I actually count those years more often than I should. Fifteen years until I can have an uninterrupted conversation with my husband. Fifteen years until I can sleep late again. Fifteen years until I can go to the bathroom without someone barging in. Actually, I have way less than fifteen, I know.

Motherhood is such a battle at times. Your heart battles your mind. Your shoulds battle your should nots. Your selfishness battles your self-sacrifice.

Some days I wish it were easier. I wish that I could be assured that everything I’m doing is right and good and that this little person is going to grow up with fond memories of family and fun and me. That she will possess responsibility, integrity, morals, and high standards. That she will grow up self-sufficient and independent, yet never act arrogant nor pretentious. That she will grow up and know love, and be able to show love to others. I choose to give her my time and my attention. I choose to help her know she is important and she matters. Only time will tell if I’m doing it all wrong.

We picked a fluffy dandelion and she asked me what I wish for. I looked into her deep brown eyes and said I already have everything I could ever need. I wish for her wishes to come true. She looked around the yard and saw her purple chair and said she wishes for a purple chair.

Perhaps we both already have everything we need.

That’s what I hope.
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On This Day a Year Ago……

On this day a year ago, we lost my grandmother on my dad’s side. She was a beautiful lady who just happened to be born on my daughter’s birthday 94 years earlier. She left this world at age 96.

Because we lived a good distance apart, I don’t have a vast amount of memories of her, but the ones I have I hold near and dear. I have blogged about her before here. As a testament to her greatness are her children. I truly have never seen children love their mother so much. I have heard others, and have been guilty myself, of complaining about our moms. I have seen children growing frustrated with their aging parents and speaking harshly at times. But not my grannie’s kids. They loved her, doted on her, spoiled her rotten up until her last days. We can only hope to be as lucky in love.

I remember when I heard about her passing. We had known it was near, but one can never quite prepare themselves for the grief that comes. To be very honest, I was surprised at myself for my emotion that followed, but it was an emotion that I had never felt before. I don’t even know if I have the words to convey it. But it wasn’t just loss. It wasn’t just sadness. It wasn’t an empty feeling. It was a realization instead. A deep realization, that if the world follows natural laws, all the people who came before you will leave before you. Of course logically I know this, but she was my last grandparent remaining. My father had already died, and I realized that now my mother only remains.

I experienced a deep understanding that I am one living person left of being an orphan. I know it sounds ridiculous. An adult orphan. But my last grandparent dying made me realize that my mom is all that’s left of the people who, because of them, I exist.

Maybe no one else knows this feeling or maybe I’m just terrible at explaining it, but it’s what I know.

But anyway, time marches on, there’s nothing we can do about lost time or lost loved ones but to keep on living and remembering them.

The only thing that stays the same is everything changes. We as believers however, have a hope because of our savior that one day we will meet again in our eternal home where there is no sadness and there are no tears. Until then, we carry on.grannie woods