Friday, October 10, 2014

The Choice



As I sit on the floor outside her bedroom, the only sound is my fingers clicking the keyboard and her breaths-ragged and short.

I hate this time of year.

H.A.T.E. it.

Because every year about this time my allergy-prone child gets some sort of respiratory virus that is accompanied by one of those terrible sounding coughs that racks her tiny body every 2.5 seconds and leaves she and I both completely exhausted by the end of the day.

We battle this every single year, sometimes multiple times a year, and it never gets any easier.

Ever.

In fact, over the last two years, I think it's only gotten harder.

Because it's in these moments when I'm tired and spent, and crying in the hallway outside her bedroom door wishing I could do more that I wonder, "What in the world am I doing here?"

You know, I read somewhere that no mother sets out with the goal to be a single mother.

I believe it.

 Because if you would of told my young, beautiful, 24 year old, new-mommy self that in three years I would become a single mom, I would of laughed at you.

Right to your face.

Yes, while it's true that this was my choice, trust me, it wasn't my first choice.

I had every intention of raising my daughter in house with a mom and a dad and maybe a sister or two. There was a plan and I had never even considered another option.

We were going to be happy and healthy and whole.

Period.

Because that's what my church had promised and all the fairy tales had said.

But, that isn't how it happened is it?

That certainly isn't where the road lead.

And while I don't regret my present life and all it has taught me for a single second, I would be lying if I said that this life-this single mommahood-isn't hard.

Because it is.

It's really hard.

It's hard when...

There's no one to hold you after a particularly rough mom day when you've completely lost it more than once and you put them to bed 30 minutes before bedtime just to save the last strand of your sanity.

There's no one to tell you that dinner was delicious even though your five year old gagged through every. single. bite. 

There's no one to help negotiate with your aspiring fashionista or to help with homework, dishes, and night time routines.

There's no one to put your mind at ease about the things the teacher did or didn't say during the parent-teacher conference or to keep you from believing everything you read on Web MD.

There's no one to wipe away your frustrated tears or to take over so you can get some air, or some quiet time, or maybe just go to the bathroom in peace.

There's no one to share the midnight watch with you, or to wake you up and bring you to bed after you've fallen asleep on the floor holding their little, fever-warm hand.

There's no one here at the end of the day to remind you that you are enough.

It's just hard sometimes.

Which is why I'm pretty sure no mom sets out with the intention to do any of these things alone.

But you know what, a lot of us do: whether we chose to do it on our own or life chose it for us.

We still do it.

Every single day.

All by ourselves.

And even though tonight I'm lonely and exhausted, I wouldn't change a single baby step that has brought me here.

This life is molding me into the type of woman I want my daughter to admire: strong, independent, grounded. A woman who fights for herself. This life is preparing me for bigger and better things, even if tonight it doesn't really feel like it.

Because tonight, I wish there was a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, and whisper to remind me that every little thing is going to be alright.

And that this too shall pass.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

An Open Letter to 28


Dear 28,

I look at the girl in this picture, and my heart hurts for her. 

I remember how hopeless this birthday felt-how much this moment ached. I remember the forced smile and the wishes I made on those candles. I remember reminding myself that even though it felt like it, this was not the end. 

And you know what? It definitely wasn't.

Wow.

What a year.

What a chapter. 

The lessons I learned from you are irreplaceable. The memories we made despite the heartache will always be some of my favorites (Cozumel, anyone?). The friends and family I have grown closer with and the little girl I have poured myself into throughout your days are the biggest reason why I'm still here. 

Yep, 28. 

It's been a doozie. 

And as much as I am dreading turning another year older, I am also ready to embrace it. 

I'm ready to kiss my young adulthood goodbye, because I've done a lot of growing up over this last year. 

I would skip a night out on the town just to spend a night at home watching Frozen with Emma in a heartbeat. 

It's amazing what a year of gaining a new perspective will do for you, especially when you finally let go of the thing that was clouding your judgement.

Thank you for that, 28. 

Thank you for that and so much more. 

Thank you for the tears, the growing pains, and the laughter.

Thank you for more dinners in.

More books checked off my reading wish list.

More hours towards my degree.

And more date nights with my daughter. 

Thank you for the memories I've made with my family.

Thank you for the bridges I've burned, and the ones we've been able to slowly mend. 

Thank you for best friends who keep me laughing, and sisters who keep me grounded. 

Thank you for introducing me to a career that I just so happen to be in love with, and for putting me on the path to the boy I love even more. 

I am blessed, 28. 

Despite the pain in those eyes.

I have been blessed.

And you know what? I have a feeling that 29 is going to be even better. 

Sincerely, 

The Birthday Girl

Friday, August 29, 2014

And Sometimes You Fly



" When she transformed into a butterfly, 
the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but her weirdness. 
They wanted her to change back into what she always had been.
But, she had wings."
~Dean Jackson

If you would of asked me a year ago where I thought I would be in a year, I wouldn't have been able to answer. 

A year ago this week, I was a mess. 

Literally.

Every breath hurt. 

Every night was long. 

Every second that I could make it to the next was an accomplishment. 

There were days I didn't think I would make it, and there were nights I almost didn't. 

This post describes that time in my life perfectly. Despite it's controversy-it is my story on paper. 

The bitter means to what was meant to be my end. 

Thankfully, it wasn't. 

Not by a long shot. 

You know, the most amazing thing about rock bottom is that when your lying flat on your back you learn a lot about yourself and what exactly you are made of. 

Strong things. Tough things. Never-ever-going-to-back-down things. 

And once you realize that you are more than the mistakes...

The hurts...

The abuse that once chained you...

The men who walked out on you...

The lies you once told...

The lies you once believed...

The promises you broke... 

The darkness that once tried to consume you...

You allow Him to walk into your life, and begin changing you for the better. 

You allow Him to shine His light into every single inch of you and it stretches into every dark place inside your soul.

And suddenly you begin to understand that verse you learned as a small child, 

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." (Ecclesiastes 3:11). 

What has He made beautiful? Everything.

Every single thing.

He reaches down and finds beauty in the ugliest of messes. 

He pulls you out of the darkness and picks you up from your reckoning place on rock bottom. He wipes the dirt and spit from your face, and in that moment instead of judgement He gives you the most beautiful set of wings. 

Wings that help you rise above the stones they're throwing, and their condemning whispers. 

Wings that allow you to see the world from His point of view instead of from the hard church pew you were used to seeing it through.

Wings that give you the strength to reach into the fire for others. 

Wings that remind you that you are no longer a caterpillar. 

He has set you apart. 

He has allowed you to walk through the fire, so that your story can be used to glorify Him. 

And as many of you know, I have never once shied away from my story. 

I have owned it from the moment my entire world fell apart. 

And as long as He sees fit to use this beautifully broken vessel, I'm going to let Him, and because of that He has blessed me. 

He has blessed me with the opportunity to meet some of the most strong and amazing women I will ever have the pleasure of knowing. Women with stories just like mine. Women who own their beautiful messes and who give all the glory to Him. 

He has blessed me by empowering me through my story. By giving me the courage and opportunity to show my daughter what real love looks like. 

He has blessed me with this completely amazing guy. A guy I would of never met if my life would of stayed on the same path it was a little over a year ago. A guy who truly loves me unconditionally-faults and all. Not only have I found a best friend, but a protector for my heart. A rare thing in this world.

He has blessed me with an amazing church family who have a heart for this broken world just like I do. 

He has blessed me with the opportunity to mend broken bridges and make them stronger, so that my daughter can have a loving and caring family dynamic on both sides of the fence. 

He has blessed me. 

Truly.

If someone would of asked me a year ago if I ever thought that He would use my ugly mess to bless my life, I would of probably laughed at them just like Sarah laughed at the angel who told her she would have a son in her old age.

And you know what? He would of proved me wrong.

A thousand times over. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Day You Went To Kindergarten


The day you went to kindergarten, I woke up late. 

6:36 a.m. to be exact. Your dad was going to be at my apartment with you by 7:15 a.m.

Yep. 5:30 a.m. is going to be hard on this mama's body...just ask my hair that is now officially going on day 4 of not being washed.

The day you went to kindergarten, my hands shook while I dressed you.

Your daddy asked if I was nervous. He knows me too well. 

All I could think about was that your brand new dress was no longer brand new. It had hung in your closet for weeks and you had begged me to wear it on more than one occasion. Well, it's official occasion was finally here.

Kindergarten.

The very first day of all your first days.

The day you went to kindergarten, we were late. 

As always.

It never fails.

We paused briefly for pictures, I signed you in at the front door, and then they quickly whisked you away because your class was already headed upstairs.

I hardly got to say goodbye and you looked so overwhelmed and so scared.

My heart stopped for a full minute.

The day you went to kindergarten, I cried. 

Briefly. But, I still cried. Even thought I promised myself that I wouldn't.

I sucked in my breath and rung my hands, as your daddy followed me quietly out into the parking lot.

He assured me that you'd be okay-that eventually we'd get this down.

I wanted to believe him, because I knew he was right.

The day you went to kindergarten, I hugged your daddy goodbye too. 

Because for all our differences-all our mistakes-we're in this together. The two of us-for now.

I couldn't have made this far without him, and he couldn't of made it this far without me.

We have been able to successfully parent you to age 5 together-to your first day of kindergarten. We have raised a beautiful, smart, funny, big hearted little girl and we are both excited to see where your future is going to take us from here.

We know it will be an adventure.

It always is.

The day you went to kindergarten, I worried about you incessantly. 

The minutes ticked by so slowly. Each moment seemed longer than the last.

My heart was in my throat and I was hardly able to eat a thing.

Were you getting enough potty breaks?

Did I pack the right snacks?

Did you remember to take your thermos of juice to lunch?

Were you making friends?

Did you miss me? 

They assured me you were okay, and my head believed them, but my heart just wasn't so sure.

3:15 p.m. couldn't come quickly enough.

The day you went to kindergarten, I felt the change. 

The pages turning as one chapter of our lives closed, and another began.

We've been through a lot, baby girl.

Just you and I.

All those days and nights I spent at home with you when you were a baby all by ourselves. All the nights I slept with you on my chest. All the tears I've soothed and boo-boos I've kissed. All the reminders to say "please" and "thank you". All the gentle encouragements to share and play nice with others.

All of the milestones we experienced together.

All those moments that were just ours.

They were preparing us for this-for growing up.

Not just you, but your mama too.

And while we've both grown up a lot-especially in the last two years, I decided today that growing up is hard.

Really hard.

And you know what, baby girl? I just don't think it's ever going to get any easier. Not one little bit.

But, at least we've been able to grow up together.

Just you and I. 

And I wouldn't have wanted to do it with anyone else.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Growing Pains


I know I've been writing about motherhood a lot lately.

Maybe it's because I am a mom and it's my number one job.

But most likely it's the nostalgia.

The fact that in twenty short days she starts kindergarten.

Kindergarten.

When did this happen? 

I've been looking at her baby pictures the past few days. I've been assuring myself that this is normal.

Right?

Yes. It's definitely normal. It has to be.

And tonight she surprised me by glancing through her baby albums with me. She flipped through the pages a little too quickly and chattered constantly as she was situated next to me in her multi-colored tutu with her tiara perched perfectly on her head.

Because even in the moments when she is begging me to slow down, she still manages to go 100 mph.

We looked. She talked.

 I remembered. She was introduced.

She asked a thousand questions, and I gave her a thousand answers.

She saw the little dresses, the headbands, the toys, and the blankies before they were so loved and tattered around the edges.

I saw the silly grins, the little reddish curls, the orneriness in her eyes, and the things about her that will never change: the personality that she has had from day one, her caring heart, and her empathetic nature.

She has the best and the worst of her daddy and I inside of her.

She is our daughter.

Through and through.

And even though I am struggling fiercely with this whole growing up and leaving me for kindergarten thing, I know that fact will never change.

She will always be my daughter.

The little princess in the tutu going 100 mph will always be there even when she has to be tucked deep down inside of the woman she is becoming.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Courage, Dear Heart

"But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her,
 'Courage, dear heart,' 
and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan's, 
and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face." 
~C.S. Lewis, "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" 

"Courage, dear heart."

Courage. 

Who knew it would only take nine short months for you to no longer be seen as her mother, but merely the shell that once grew life?

Who knew that it would only take nine months before you would be forced to compete with someone who has no idea what it's like to give birth to your heart and then forever be forced to watch it walk around outside of your body?

Who knew nine months ago when you wrote this post that your words would actually be put to the test?

Who knew?

No one. 

No words, books, or therapy sessions.

Not a single soul could have prepared you for the last two weeks. 

The last two weeks that have turned once brave words to dust, and trust into a bartering tool. 

I can't believe I actually thought we were getting the hang of this. 

God, was I wrong.

We still have a long way to go. 

Because, unfortunately this road is hard and so very steep. It levels out in places, but only enough to give us time to catch our breath. We struggle. We glimpse the top of this mountain, but there are days when it still seems so far away.

And sometimes, I crumble. I lose my bearings. I give into the bullying when I shouldn't, and I stand my ground when there is no ground to stand on. I waiver. I start to lose heart.

And as I sit on my bed in a puddle of tears wondering how, if, and when we will ever master the steps to this dance-when we will ever reach the top of this mountain-I feel His hand on my face. His breath on my cheek. 

"Courage, dear heart." 

Courage.

"You've come too far to turn back now."

And I know He's right.

I know.

I know the only reason I've made it this far is because He has ahold of my hand, and I know I'm headed in the right direction because He just keeps paving the way.

I know that even on these days when it feels so very hopeless that my hope can rest in Him, because He has a plan.

He always has a plan.

And I just have to keep praying, and trusting, and moving forward one step at a time.

So, today I will dig down deep and find my ever elusive courage.

I will stand my ground.

I will remind myself that I gave up being bullied into silence nine months ago.

Nine very short months ago.

And in the future if she remembers anything about these days, I hope she remembers the times I found my courage when it felt like I didn't have an ounce of it left.

Courage that only He can give me.

"Courage, dear heart."

Courage.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Measure of Motherhood

Motherhood is this amazing thing.

It's going all day and realizing you've only had like 4 bites of something...anything edible, because your little person ate the rest of every meal you had in the last 12 hours. 

It's having to pee SO bad, but knowing you have to get both the swim bag, the wet swim suit, the wet towel, both stuffed animals, your heaping full work bag, and a sleeping little person in the house in one trip, and then successfully into their pj's and into bed before you can finally go. 

It's counting when she asks you to count how long she can hold her breath under water, even when you know it's still going to be ten-it's always going to be ten. every. single. time.
 
It's sidewalk chalk on a summer night, and "Let It Go" in the car for the umpteenth thousand time. 

It's in the "Can you please read me one more story, Mom?" and the "No, you can't have ice cream for dinner". 

It's kissing boo boo's, and carrying them up the hill when you know they are getting way too big to carry. 

It's games of chase, and catch me if you can. 

It's laughing harder than you've laughed in a while. 

It's the hair brushing drama, and the "Mommy, can I pick out my clothes?" days. 

It's days full of questions like, "Will you ever be big enough to FINALLY feed yourself?", and then contradicting questions like, "When did you finally get big enough to do THAT?"

It's the only job that make you feel so sure of yourself one moment, and then utterly doubt everything your doing the next. 

It's motherhood. It's messy. It's unorganized. It's crazy. It's hectic. It's too loud at one moment, and then too quiet the next. 

It molds you. It shows you exactly what you're made of...what you're capable of. 

It reminds you that this life is SO much bigger than you.

This life we call motherhood is more than the 9 to 5, the paychecks, and the never ending bills.

It's more than the never ending daily struggle.

It's more than the quiet, tearful whispers you mumble at night asking yourself if you...YOU, dear mother, are good enough? 

Let me be the first to tell you that yes, sweet momma. 

Yes, you are. 

Because this life...your life...is not measured by those things. 

It's measured by dirty hands and wet kisses. 

It's measured by inches grown, lessons learned, and good night prayers. 

It's measured by a child mastering a new skill or an act of kindness. 

It may not be a glamorous life, but it is every bit of important. 

Because if you're only purpose in this life was to give birth and successfully raise that child, then that...THAT, dear mother, IS enough. 

I promise.

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I do not receive monetary compensation from any of the products, companies, or organizations I promote through my blog, unless otherwise specified during a giveaway or promotion. I am just your average mom trying to share products that I enjoy with other moms, as well as organizations and charities I believe in.