I hope you fly!

Crap.

There is an art to being supportive while maintaining a sense of realism. I have yet to master that art.

I am on my third, and last, child. I’ve given these speeches more times than I can count. Turns out practice doesn’t make perfect.

Over the years you can read about a lot of my supposed to be encouraging yet weren’t moments. There are plenty of keeping it real talks. Some well received-some not. Some worked. Some didn’t.

Last week I got a newsletter from the middle school about volleyball tryouts. I casually mentioned it. Baby girl was a little intrigued. I hadn’t expected her to as interested as she seemed to be.

In my best cautionary tone I mentioned how you needed good grades to play for the school and warned that some of these girls had been playing for a long, long time.

The conversation ended.

I love my girl. But she drives me CRAZY.

We are never going to be asked to attend an honors night. There aren’t any academic awards in our future. She wants to do well in school but she is easily frustrated and gives up. Homework is hell. Pure-tee-total hell. Tears (hers or mine) are always involved. She muddles by. Mostly.

Our goal is to NOT fail. Plain and simple.

So grades are a valid concern.

But I want her to have something she’s proud of. I want her to have something to work towards. I want her to see that hard work pays off. I don’t want her to always feel less then or not enough.

My girl is anxious. She stresses easily. She worries incessantly. She frets and flits and twitches through anything new.

I was torn. Did I encourage her to try knowing the odds were against her? Did I shelter her and help her decide not to try? I struggled. So I asked my mom and dad for advice.

“Let her decide,” my dad said.

He was right.

Friday I mentioned it again. “Volleyball tryouts are Monday. Are you going to try out?” I asked.

“No. I don’t have good grades,” she answered. I’ll admit I was relieved. I didn’t push any further.

Life seems to have stacked to deck against her a little bit. Why add to it? She’s suffered her share of disappointments. Why give her one more?

Yes, I felt a little bit like a coward. Did I really fear a broken heart more than her not even trying?

Yes. I did. I couldn’t stand the thought of those big brown eyes welling with tears and not being able to do anything to help.

I wanted to protect her. There was so much that I couldn’t protect her from…but this was in my control. I’d offered. She’d declined, It was over.

Then there was this…I was preparing for her fall. What if she flew?

Was I holding her back from flying?

Crap.

It was a conundrum.

In the end I didn’t mention it again because to try out you had to have a physical form. She didn’t have one for this new school system and wasn’t going to be home over the weekend to get one. The crisis seemed to resolve itself.

At 5:44 today I get a message from a phone number I don’t recognize. “It’s Sadie. Can you get me from tryouts? They are over at 6.”

Damn this child. I am 20 minutes away.

I DIDN’T KNOW YOU WERE TRYING OUT I texted as I grabbed my purse and sprinted toward the door.

I squealed into the school on 2 wheels. There stood my girl. In jeans. And fuzzy socks and frou-frou tennis shoes. Lord

“You tried out in that?!” I asked her. She laughed.

I peppered her with 50 questions. What made her change her mind? How did she do? Did she get the ball over the net? Did she volley at all? How many girls tried out? How big was the team? How would she know if she made it? Did she know the coach? Was anyone really good? Was anyone really bad?

On and on I went. To her credit, she answered.

She decide she really wanted to try.

25 girls were trying out. 14 would make it.

The girls that made it would get an email saying “congratulations”. Those that didn’t make it would get an email never to come back. How valid is that? Who knows? But it’s what she heard .

Oh…and to finish trying out she had to have the physical form. It was 6:25 on Monday night.

What the hell??

If she was brave enough to try I had to help her.

So I gave her my speech on I am proud of you for being brave enough to try no matter what happens speech. All the whole driving across town to an urgent care center to make sure she had her physical form.

At 8:30 we made it back home. New shirts, actual athletic shoes abs tall bike socks all ready to go. If she was going to try I was going to equip her to do her best.

I gave her one more speech. No matter what happens be proud that you tried.

“But I’ll be a little sad if I don’t make it,” she said. I told her that was okay. “I might cry a little bit,” she mumbled. I assured her a little crying was okay as long as she was more proud of her bravery then disappointed if it didn’t go her way.

She looked at me like I was crazy.

Before bed she opened her computer and made sure she wasn’t missing any homework so her grades would be better. Too late on the game for that since school is all but over. But I appreciated the effort.

“I hope I make it mama,” she said before bed.

“I hope you do too,” I said. And for once in my life I stopped. I quit talking. I didn’t add anything. I just hugged her and left it there.

Will we celebrate ?
It will we cry?

“I am probably going to need another one in the morning,” she said referring to the hug. I assured her she could have a big one for luck!

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. No idea.

Regardless of which email she gets I am very, very proud of her for trying.

No matter what happens she’ll have a big hug waiting on her at the end of the day.

Being a mom at a new stage

I love being a mom.

From the second I held my little fella I was hooked. By the time I held my first girl I was smitten. Then, I was lucky enough to get to do it one more time.

Every “stage” I thought, “if only this would last.” Little hands holding mine. Sweet little heads lying peacefully on my shoulder. Funny mispronounced words…I wanted to capture and hold each moment certain it that moment was as good as it was going to get.

My fella
My mini me
Sweet Sadie

But each stage inevitably ended only to be replaced by a new stage. They weren’t all great—-teen years age definitely a roller coaster—but each phase held something special.

There was my pre-teen fella yelling,”I love you mama,” in front of all his friends

My spirited big girl morphing into a beauty right before my eyes.

My littlest one…well, we are in a hard phase but I still seem glimpses of her sweet little heart. They are few and far between but there are enough moments for me to hang onto through the torment of pre-teen angst.

I miss good night cuddles. I miss being their hero. I miss little people crawling into my bed for snuggles. I miss toothless grins. I miss the baby smells and soft, sweet skin.

But…

I wasn’t prepared for how much I would live my babies as they became really cool PEOPLE.

I love to see the adults they are becoming.

All I am I owe to you read the inscription on the key chain my fella gave me. He gave me the crooked little grin he saves for me as he said,”I mean that mama.”

He laughed when I tried to get into his BIG truck. I made it up. But I noticed he stood behind me just in case I needed help. Just like I did for him when he first learned to run on those chunky little legs of his.

My gamg

With her own money my big girl gave me a pandora ring of stars and a card that promised I was a star to her. She also gifted me the cutest, funniest little yard art critter because she knew it would make me smile.

My little one thought I would love an animal print watch band.

Sunday we rode to celebrate my mom. We aren’t super handy in the kitchen but we managed to make a nice charcuterie brunch together.

My middle girl was excited to help. She loved making it beautiful and special. Her heart came shining thru in the details.

Her post on Facebook made my day.

On Saturday I’d laughingly told my son about this amazing syrup I’d found that was full of glitter! He’s not into glitter. I didn’t think it would even register with him.

But tonight when I got home (he had to work) there sad my glittery, sparkly syrup and some specialty salt that I like.

I loved being the mom to babies. I wasn’t prepared for how special it would be to be a mom to thoughtful adults.

The gifts were generous and amazing. But it was more the fact that they heard me, they know me and that they took the time to make a Sunday in May so special.

There is never a meal we share that they (the twi bugs) don’t thank me. Not once.

I love how both of them will plop down in the den and tell me about their lives.

Not a day goes by that my fella doesn’t ask,”how was your day?”

Some weekend mornings my littlest one will proudly make a serve me coffee. When she does there is always something special for me. Sprinkles, added honey, a cookie hooked to the side of the cup…a sweet little twist to make me smile.

Coffee by Sadie

I love being a mom. I loved being a mom to babies, then to toddlers, sort of loved being a mom to teens but am really, really enjoying being a mom to these amazing creatures who are blossoming right before my eyes.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there-not matter what stage of mommy-ing you are in. If you are struggling thru the hard season of mothering just hang on. There are brighter days ahead. Days when you will see the fruit of all the labor. Days when all you hope for come to light in generous gestures, thoughtful moments and glimpses of kindness.

Those baby kisses are sweet. But so are those adult hugs.

I love being a mom.

Aunt Debbie

As I sat down to write this I could only think of 2 things:  banana pudding and chocolate delight. 

I wanted to write about my Aunt Debbie to try and portray what an amazing woman she was but I was stuck with 2 thoughts in my head:  banana pudding and chocolate delight.  Frustrated, I walked away without writing a word.

Then, in the middle of the night, I woke up with a start. Banana pudding and chocolate delight were EXACTLY exactly what I should be using to describe my Aunt Debbie.

Let me explain.

Aunt Debbie loved the big family gatherings at Nanny’s house. THWACK. The old wooden screen door would sound the alarm every time someone new came in on those Sunday’s. THWACK—the door would sound and then there would be Aunt Debbie, smiling, holding a large bowl and a smaller one. One whiff would tell you if it was banana pudding or chocolate delight. Both were her specialties. She’d have other food as well but I wasn’t much interested in potato salad or poke beans. Still aren’t. The banana pudding and chocolate delight…that was and is much more my liking.

The smell of banana pudding still takes me back to Sunday’s at Nanny’s.  Memories of Sunday’s at Nanny’s always involved Aunt Debbie and her smile.  Those Sunday with the THWACKING of the screen door over and over as family piled in.  Little kids running thru the front door and around the kitchen.  The echo of feet overhead as those little ones ignored the warning to “stop running” issued by some adult in the group as they raced up the back stairs, across the floor and down the front stairs. 

No matter which room you were in on Sunday’s you could hear:

“Put ice in those cups.”  

“Who wants sweet tea?” 

“Girls you’d better get in here at help”

“If you keep stealing that ham there isn’t going to be any left to eat!”

“Kids on the back porch!”

Aunt Debbie would be in the kitchen, smiling, and unpacking her dishes.  And there would be the banana pudding or chocolate delight or pound cake. 

Some Sunday’s there would be a dozen of us. Some Sunday’s there would be several dozen of us. All family– some by blood, some by choice. On warm days we would spill out into the yard. On cold days we’d stay by the fires or in the plastic wrapped back porch. You’d speak to one aunt or uncle and then move onto the next. There would be hugs of hello. Some of us would be in church clothes; others would not. We’d be spread out from front porch to back porch and every room in between. Everyone taking. It was chaos.

Aunt Debbie loved those Sunday’s.  She loved the loud, the chaos, the food and the fellowship.

Those Sunday’s always ended the same way—with Aunt Debbie at the sink.  Washing dishes. And there were always a lot of dishes!

Banana pudding and chocolate delight remind me of those Sunday’s. 

They also remind me of Aunt Debbie because there were always 2 bowls. If it was warm banana pudding there would be a smaller bowl for Sandi because Sandi didn’t like bananas.  If it was chocolate delight there would be a little corner without nuts. For me. Because I LOVED chocolate delight but didn’t like nuts.

Aunt Debbie thought of others like that. Always. I know there are hundreds of better examples or her thoughtfulness but in this moment the sweetness of her making sure everyone had what they wanted fill my heart.

That was another thing about Aunt Debbie…she made everyone feel special. Whether is was leaving out bananas or nuts or making it a point to seek you out to say something nice…she always made you feel loved and special. Like she had an extra ounce of live just for you. I don’t know how she managed to do that for all of us, but she did.

She did that for me…made me feel special. I wasn’t outgoing. I wasn’t social. I didn’t always have a lot to say. But that didn’t stop Aunt Debbie. Nope. She saw who I was without judging what I wasn’t. She made me feel like I was enough. I am willing to bet all the cousins feel exactly the same way. But I don’t want to ask. Because for just a little bit longer I want to believe that I was the only one.

Those Sunday’s stand out the most to me and are most vivid in my mind. But there are other scattered memories too. More random and less defined but still there.

Her love didn’t stop with me. She loved my fella before he was even here. She and my mom made sure my little one had someplace special to call their own. (this was before we knew if it was a he or a she). Every baby should be lucky enough to have a truly hand painted nursery.

I didn’t get any banana pudding or chocolate delight in recent years. There aren’t anymore Sunday at Nanny’s since we lost Nanny. But she still thought Of me. “I’ve got some books you need to come get” and she’s load me up with books she’d thrifted. Typical aunt Debbie-they would all be a genre I loved. No sappy romance novels for us!

Once when she was sick years ago she was in the hospital where I worked. I’d go up and check on her. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the way she made sure everyone know I was her niece. I am nothing more than a spoke on a wheel there but aunt Debbie made me feel like much, much more. She seemed proud of me. Her pride made me so proud.

From here it’s just pieces.

Old memories of her teaching is all the ski. Everyone is us. The patience that took! She was nothing If not patient.

Friday night football games as she cheered for #60. She was so proud of Stephen. After the games she’d encourage him to take me along for some Friday night fun.

She loved Volkswagens and to sing. Sometimes she’d take my sister and I to her church. We thought it was cool because she’d slip us a lifesaver. And she would sing. In a high voice. It was pretty.

She was always smiling. Always. That Hayes smile. I can hear her husky laugh even now. She laughed authentically and spontaneously. When she did you found yourself smiling along.

She liked my writing. When my cousin, Sandi, showed me that she’d gifted her a hard bound copy of https://likemymamasays.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/growing-up-a-hayes/ I felt like a New York Times best selling author.

I got lots of hugs from Aunt Debbie but the one I got when my Grandpa died stands out the most. I was sad, so sad, and she hugged me. It didn’t take away the sad but it made me feel better all the same.

Pineapple milkshakes in a fully carpeted conversion van. I remember doing forward rolls off the back ledge while she laughed. I don’t know where we were going or why I had a pineapple milkshake (ugh) but I remember it being a fun night.

I remember the long hallway and the green walled den at her old house. Laundry hung in the doorway off the kitchen. We got to spend the night there sometimes. She let us stay up late and watch movies. I saw my first rated R movie at her house. That was a big deal at the time.

I wish I could remember more. I wish, instead of snippets, I had full memories. Why were we in the van? What was she cooking when I ran down that long hallway at her house? What song was she singing? I can hear her laughing but I can’t remember what she was laughing at. I wish I could. I wish I remembered more boat rides and days on the lake. I wish I had more.

Banana pudding and chocolate delight and sweet Aunt Debbie.

I felt a little silly when I asked for this picture on Easter Sunday. She didn’t feel well and I looked a mess. Hardly an Olan Mills moment. But now, now, I am so very grateful to have it.

Goodbye sweet Aunt Debbie. I hope your heaven includes lots of Sunday dinners with the family we lost before you. I know Uncle Gene is happy to have you back! Grandpa and Nanny too. Cookie and Bucky and Suzi…all those we loved and lost. Save some banana pudding for me.

In the game

I don’t know if this blog is about bravery or colossal mistakes. In all honesty, I suppose it’s both.

I made a colossal mom mistake. My non-confident, insecure daughter wanted to play basketball at the ymca this winter. She’s never played. She’s probably never even seen a basketball game before.

“Okay!” I said, proud that she was branching out.

A physically mature 11 year old girl in the 6th grade should not, out of the blue, decide to try basketball. I know that now. I didn’t realize it was co-Ed. 6th grade boys know the game. 6th grade boys are serious about the game. I know I that now.

Wish I would have thought about that before now.

To encourage her to make friends and to help boost her confidence I have been pushing her to join in sports at our local ymca. Volleyball had been a success. By the end of the “season” she’d come out of her shell a bit and seemed to enjoy being on a team.

Girls volleyball and co-Ed basketball is VASTLY different.

I know that now.

“Mom! I am the only girl!” She complained. I gave my speech about being brave and being part of a team.

“Mom! The boys never give me the ball…even when I am open,” she complained. I gave my speech about working hard and earning your spot,

“Mom! Those boys are aggressive,” she complained showing me bruised knees and elbows. I gave my “suck it up buttercup” speech.

She started “missing the bus” on practice days.

Commitment. Responsibility. Pride. I used every speech in my arsenal. Nothing. I resorted to the BECAUSE I SAID SO. Nope. She didn’t care.

I am stubborn. This child….makes my stubbornness seem insignificant. There were tears. Some of them may or may not have been mine.

At a loss I called the head of the program. “I don’t believe in quitting,” I started. “I’ve always believed in finishing what you start. But I want to be realistic here. This was my mistake. I don’t want to do more harm than good—it defeats the propose.”

We talked and I got off the phone torn.

She got sick and legit missed 2 practices and a game. Another was missed for her weekend at her dads. I wasn’t straight up letting her quit but it seemed as if the universe was making it easy to just let it fade away.

“Sadie, we don’t quit in this family. We fight. I don’t care if you make a basket. I don’t care if you are good. I care that you try. I want you to be brave. I want you to be proud of yourself for doing something that scared you. Those are the reasons I want you to finish this. If you quit you won’t know what it’s like to know you accomplished something.”

I am not naive enough to believe my speech worked. In all likelihood it was the threat of me taking her phone if she “missed” the Y bus again.

So she started practicing. One night the head of the program walked her to the car to tell me she made 2 baskets at practice and that he didn’t want to hear anymore about quitting.

Oh that smile!

So she played in a game. Lord love her. Those boys were fast! They were dribbling thru their legs and stealing balls and making 3 point shots. I felt awful. I wanted to storm across the court, grab my girl, wrap her up tight and scurry away.

I didn’t.

At the Y everyone plays. I about stroked out when they send her in. She looked terrified. Absolutely terrified. And lost. She had no clue as to what was happening all around her. But she stayed in the game. She fidgeted and played with her hair and even (to my horror) picked out a wedgie on court. But she stayed. She ran up and down the court with the boys. Her coach would yell her name and say something and she would correct her location. She tried.

She didn’t touch the ball that night. There was a time or 2 that she was open but no one threw it to her. But that was okay. I believe my speech about earning the ball. True to my word I gushed with pride about her being brave and getting in the game.

She has lots of obstacles. In school, socially, athletically…everything she does outside her very, very small comfort zone is a victory. Sometimes I forget that. She spends about 90% of her time in trouble. ADHD, impulsivity, teen angst, raging hormones, anxiety, a body bigger than her brain….the list goes on and on.

But she got in the game. That’s all I can ask of her…to get in game. One step at a time—get in the game. Take a shot…pun intended. That’s what I ask of her. It will take her longer to do it, I’ll have to fight to the point of giving up every time-I need to remember that. I can’t quit pushing her.

I’ve added another speech to my arsenal. Getting in the game.

My happy view

My happy place.

If you look beyond this picture you’ll see yarn pieces need to sweep up. There is sure to be a load of laundry that needs to be folded behind the couch. The floor probably needs to be mopped and there might be a dish or two in the sink.

I am always disappointed in myself when I sit down. I should be cleaning or organizing or something. My closets are organized. My house isn’t clean. But after long, long days there is usually just not enough left in my tank to tackle all that needs to be done. No matter what I’ve accomplished in the day I feel like I’ve failed.

But for a moment I take a deep breath and settle into my place in the couch and I look at my view. And I love all I see. I have a home. A home I worked hard for. I’ve made it my own.

In this view I see so much I love.

My dad made the wooden tray.

My mom put the chair in the spot I never would have thought it could go.

I built my own fire.

The wreath is handmade by me.

My daughter and I found the yarn hearts while antiquing/junking together. It was a perfect day of gossiping and chatting and finding treasures.

I found the leaded window at a garage sale and am still amazed at how little I paid for it.

The candlesticks were left in my office my someone I am privileged to have worked for. I painted them and added glitter to make them my own.

My mom gave me the pink balled wreath. That and the glitter deers were part of my Christmas decor but I love them so I left them out as winter decor.

There is a picture of me and my babies from a perfectly spent thanksgiving at my parents.

Farmstyle books declare that fair is where you get cotton candy. I’ve always said fair is my least favorite F word.

My daughter gave me the silver bike that makes me think of a moped. And moped makes me remember a story that still makes my children laugh uncontrollably.

My little girl and I found the candy heart wooden pieces in Monroe on a cold, sunny, lazy Saturday when it was just she and I leisurely finding treasures.

Tonight my friend gifted me a piece of her pottery. She picked out a delicate tea light candle holder just for me! I loved her work so much I became her first paying customer and bought a bowl. I love the pieces. I love owning a piece of her art. More than that I love all that those lovely pieces represent. They represent a woman finding her talent in a life she’s building. Those art pieces represent a woman whose loved me thru my darkest days. She created our tribe. And she created the art. It’s a reminder of how brave, strong and vulnerable we all are.

I love that round pedestal pour art piece because someone made it. A stranger. I love pour painting. But I don’t do it anymore because what do you do with the pieces once you are done? Someone likes to do it, did it and was brave enough to put it up for sale. I like to think someone’s living their best life and my purchasing that piece I helped in some little way.

Behind the chair is a little red wagon that I was given as recognition for doing my part to help when Covid first stole our lives. It reminds me that we all make a difference. And that sometimes that difference is making people smile when you bring them goodies in your red wagon.

The clock was a Christmas gift from my parents from my first Christmas that I hosted in my little house.

The feathers under the wreath were purchased in Arizona from one of my favorite trips of all times. An impromptu trip to Arizona (in monsoon season) to see the Grand Canyon. I haven’t quite figured out what to do with them so I stuck them on the mantle until inspiration strikes.

The black and white beads are crooked and don’t really belong where they hang. But I smile when I see them because in my decorating style I threw them up there. Literally tossed them onto the nail because I couldn’t find the ladder. Someday I’ll move them. Maybe.

The fire is crackling. There is a comforting smell of wood. And apple cinnamon from the candle just out of view.

My little home.

A house I bought.

A move I made to start a new life.

A chance I took.

If I zoomed out it’s a little messy. But it’s mine.

DGD

I was unprepared for the impact today would have.

A uga tradition …the lone trumpet …Picture this…(click on link)

On the screen a lome trumpeter stands in the middle of a darkened football stadium. Standing, bathed in a single shaft of light, a single note plays.

If you are a UGA DAWG fan you know exactly what I am describing.

If you are a DGD you get chills just thinking about it.

The long, lasting note of the solo trumpet stretches out.

There is a second of silence.

A deep voice rises up,”today you become a member of the University of Georgia family. Today, you are part of the Dawg nation.”

Next to me sat my daughter.

I didn’t understand the impact having her as a member of the University of Georgia would have on me.

The Dawgs have been part of my life as long as I can remember. My parents were there when they won the national championship. Colton was born the day before UGA beat Tennessee and ecstatic students stormed the field. My cousin was part of that group. She gave my day old son framed piece of the famous hedges.

On Monday the Dawgs take the field to fight for a national title. The city we live in is bathed in red and black.

And my girl, my incredible girl, is a part of that.

A few slides later the leader of orientation assured is that they were already okay. And he promised that we, the parents, would be okay.

I don’t believe him.

Her future started today.

And her future is starting at the university of Georgia.

I have lots of UGA swag. I donned a new DAWG pin today in honor of today. I loved it when I put it on this morning.

When I saw it in the mirror after the mornings session I loved it even more. I loved it for what it signified. I loved that my girl was part of all that tradition. She was part of it all. Today she was a University of Georgia Bulldog and I was a University of Georgia mom.

I tested up looking at my UGA pin in the mirror.

The emotion of having my girl as part of all of that on top of the emotions of having my girl officially starting college almost got the best of me. Almost.

Glory, glory to old Georgia…

There are 40,000 Students at UGA. My daughter is one of them.

There are hundreds of thousands of fans who shout “WOOF! Woof!” With pride. She’s now one of them.

Millions of fans watch on national television as the DAWGS take the field.

She is a piece of that.

Doctors, attorneys, scientist, soloist, teachers, leaders and veterinarians hail from UGA .

She will be one of them. The very thought is staggering to me.

It would be impossible for me to describe the prose I have for this girl of mine.

Who is #1?

Getting here took dedication and work…

Getting here took sacrifice.

Getting here took perseverance.

Getting here took pushing herself.

Getting here took fight.

Getting here took bravery.

Getting here took spunk.

Getting here took brains.

Getting here took grit.

Getting here meant silencing that inner voice that told her she couldn’t.

Getting here took believing she could.

Getting here meant setting a goal and giving everything she had to obtaining it.

Getting here meant making hard decisions.

Getting here meant leaving what was comfortable to stride into the unknown.

Getting here started took work.

But she got here. SHE GOT HERE.

And I got to be part of the experience with her.

And i underestimated the impact being part of her journey into the DAWG nation would have ib me.

I wasn’t able to stay with her for the entire orientation…something that will haunt me for a long time.

But the amount of time I was able to share with her was so special.

My girl is a Bulldog.

And I am a dawg mom.

And we play for a national championship in 3 days.

Damn.

Damn it’s good to be a bulldog.

Actually, it’s GREAT to be a Georgia Bulldog. Yeah it’s GREAT. Even the cheer takes on a new meaning now.

She’s a damn good daughter. She’s going to be a damn good dawg.

#DGD

Full circle

Unexpectedly I found joy this year in a circle.

A full circle.

2 of my 3 babies aren’t babies. They are semi-adults. It was fun to watch them create their own little holiday magic.

They still wanted their nutcrackers out. I loved knowing they aren’t too big to enjoy their favorite part of the season.

They willingly participated in our annual pajama/cookie party.

PJS!

Well…they wore the pajamas. We didn’t make any cookies. It turned into a pajama dance party. And you know what…that’s okay. I haven’t laughed so hard in years.

Dancing king

All my babies slept under the same roof Christmas Eve.

And Christmas morning…my bugs were as happy to give as to receive.

And they gave so thoughtfully.

That was my favorite thing.

They were generous and thoughtful.

What more can a momma ask for?

My girl works 3 jobs. She starts college in January so she’s been working full time. For the first time in her life she’s got money. Her savings is is bigger then mine! So when she has the idea to gift an adventure I was fully supportive.

She and her beau ❤️ dinosaurs. Rather she loves Dino’s and her beau goes along for the ride.

This year she planned, bought and executed a trip to Washington DC to visit the Smithsonian.

7 years to the day that I took them there.

I love that she loves adventure. I delight that her adventures are starting where ours started the year our lives started over.

My bigs

And I love that both big babies took time to thoughtfully buy gifts that meant something to that the other.

They are becoming friends. Nothing could make me happier.

My big fella is flourishing and has found a job that appreciates his energy, his charm and his hard work. As a big boy, with a big boy he bought big boy gifts. Expensive gifts.

I should have said no. It’s too much. But I didn’t because he’s proud to spoil his mama and I am proud that he wants too.

Full circle. My littles are bigs now and they are doing big people things in this world. I love knowing that no matter how big they get they are holding on to pieces of lessons that I taught them when they were little.

Full circle.

20 years

I celebrated 20 years at my job today. 20 years.

My team let it slip that it was my anniversary so I was gifted the most incredible gift all day-Emails from people I’ve worked with and for congratulating me. One of them mapped out exactly what 20 years looked like:

1043 weeks…

7305 days… 

10,519,200 minutes (because we all know you never stop thinking, caring about what you do 😊)…

Countless lives impacted… by your passion, dedication, inspiration and support! thank you!!! Blessed to work beside YOU… HAPPY work anniversary!!

And there were more…

You do not know how much you have helped me over the years from the HR standpoint and with my professional growth. You always make everything seem so easy when dealing with difficult situations and I truly admire your communication style as well as all your knowledge!! You have truly been a true leader to me. Always with a positive attitude and big smile as well as humor!!! I love you and I am proud to call you my friend!!

It was hard to reconcile that compliment with how I see myself. But it felt good. I can’t lie. It felt great.

The next one made me cringe a bit….

Just wanted to say happy 20th work anniversary! I’ve enjoyed working with you over the almost 6 years I’ve been here. You always give it to me straight, which I appreciate. Thank you for all your help and honesty. I love your no-nonsense approach.

I had to laugh remembering my patent-teacher conference with my mini me’s kindergarten teacher who said, “with Kinsley’s brutal honesty we’ve learned not to ask if we don’t really want to know.” I was appalled at the time. This note sent me back to that moment. Guess I don’t have to ask where she got that trait!

All day they came…

I hear it’s your 20 year work anniversary! CONGRATS!!! We are extremely fortunate to have you and I for one am so very THANKFUL FOR ALL THAT YOU HAVE DONE FOR MEthrough the years!!!! Thank you for being there for me!! 😊

Thank you for all the years of support and dedication to making our lives better here at work. You perform your job with so much charisma and energy and always make people feel cared for and supported. I am amazed at how much you give back! Your reach goes far beyond your work and just know that you have touched countless lives with your caring and compassion!! Keep rocking it out!!

My sincerest thank you for all you do and give to this organization. Our employees always get the best from you! And it shows in how much you are respected and appreciated by all you encounter. Cheers to your successful track record…..and crafty nature!

I had a hard time sitting with all the kindness, all the powerful words. All the love.

In 20 years I’d had 2 children, 2 divorces and 4 hair colors. I’ve been 10 different sizes. I’d failed 100 times and dusted myself off 101 times. I’ve been pushed down and I’ve pushed back. I’ve fought…HARD …to re-invent myself. I’ve listened and learned. I’ve cried. Oh how I’ve cried. I’ve done things I am proud of and I’ve done things I wish I could do over.

I’ve felt like giving up. More times then I can count. But I haven’t.

20 years.

You hope you matter. You spend your life hoping your sacrifices were worth it. You want to know you’ve made a difference.

Today I felt like I have.

I hope I have.

I’ve lost myself in work. I’ve hidden myself in work. I’ve sacrificed a life for work.

I’ve survived.

When I started we were all paper.

I drew out an electronic version of that paper into an electronic idea that a genius made reality.

When I was tapped on the shoulder to make the move from home grown systems to a much larger, industry specific software I answered and remade myself to answer the call. When our hometown business became part of a big city conglomerate -I stayed and helped.

When the job I had became something I’d never done I learned to do the new tasks.

When the job was too big I worked harder.

Covid came. I was helpless. So I did what I could to help. I can’t do much. But I try. I don’t take care of sick people. All I can do is take care of the people that do take care of sick people. But it never felt like enough.

It’s cost me. This desire to matter.

There are days when I wonder if the cost is worth it.

Today was NOT one of those days.

Today I felt like I mattered. Like that work I do matters. That people know I care and that I want to help. At my core I want to make a difference.

20 years.

That’s a looonnggg time!

I hope I mattered.

I hope I made a difference.

I hope it was enough.

3 and 10

I miss 3 and 10.

There is so much I miss about 3 and 10.

I miss chunky baby hands.

I miss squishy baby hugs.

I miss simple issues.

I miss little girl clothes.

I miss not having to use the phrase hoochy mama when shopping for clothes.

I miss softball chants and hearing “I ya-ya” instead of I love you.

I miss everyone wanting to carve pumpkins, homemade Halloween costumes and picking apples.

I miss baby ringlets and pre-teen side pony tails.

I miss being mommy…before I was mama and then mom.

I miss team treat bags and playing for snacks-not trophies.

I miss when everything was easy to cheer for because it was the first: first hit, first steps, first word, first dance, first out, first heels….

I miss when everyone was in the same car because they needed me to take them where they needed to go. Okay…that’s a stretch. I don’t necessarily miss all the chauffeuring.

I miss dimpled knees and long, funky socks.

But more than anything else I miss this…

This…an adoring little one staring up at her big sister with stars in her eyes. Mismatched tights and boots and all. A patient sister listening to what is being said. And smiling. Listening and smiling. Sisters.

I miss that.

11 and 19 isn’t the same.

It’s got good parts. Lots of them.

Brief moments when the stars align and there is peace. And If you are really lucky there are giggles.

There are moments when no one is 11 or 19. Seconds where they are just girls who enjoy being girls.

But it’s rare.

And this…this isn’t the same.

Everyone is in a hurry now. Hurried to grow up. In a hurry to get out, get in, get up, get down… just in a hurry for anything that isn’t the same. In a hurry to move to the next phase.

What was once adorable is now annoying.

Little girl adoration has now become weird.

Little girl misses big girl. Big girl hears how much little girl misses her. Big girl comes to see little girl. Little girl tries so hard to be cool and aloof that she’s rude and dismissive. Big girl gets irritated and leaves. Little girl misses big girl. Big girl hears how much little girl misses her…round and round and round we go.

I am dizzy with the ups and downs of this roller coaster ride.

11 isn’t cute. It’s not. 3 is cute. 11 is awkward and hard and messy.

19 is hard. You are at the finish line of your childhood but you haven’t yet broken across the line. You don’t want anything holding you back so you stretch and pull away so you are closer to the finish and further away from where you started.

As it should be.

But it requires adjustment….this race toward adulthood. Adjusting of relationships. Adjusting of rules. Adjusting of expectations. 11 year olds don’t adjust easily.

That isn’t fair. All an 11 year old does is adjust. Their bodies are changing. Their likes and dislikes are changing. Their moods change (all the freaking time but that’s another blog for another day). Their rooms change. Their beliefs shift. One minute they want a stuffed animal-the next-mascara.

This face? This adorable little face? Seconds before we were having a face washing lesson because her face was so broken out. Minutes after this snap she was sent to bed early because she smarted off. But in this snap she’s young and cute and precious. This is what the 19 year old wants to see but they aren’t patient enough to wait out the tantrums and the attitude to get there.

You can’t blame them. Most of the time anyway.

11 year olds push you away. But than they want to pull you close and hold you tight. Which is weird in itself because they have parts sticking out and they are growing up-literally. And let’s be honest, they smell.

19 year olds don’t want to remember the horrors of being 11. Who does?? They have blocked out 11 and all that comes with it so they don’t understand (or empathize). Instead, they roll their eyes and walk away.

The walk away causes the 11 year old to smart off, pout or become angry.

Which makes the 19 year old go away faster.

Which….

You get the point. It’s like being in a carousel that’s spinning too fast to be any fun. And it keeps going and going and going and going.

At 3 and 11 you still believe they will be friends. At 11 and 19 you just hope they don’t kill each other.

And you keep putting them together in the hopes that 12 and 20 or 13 and 21 or 20 and 27 are somehow better.

And that the gap between 11 and 19 gets smaller and smaller and smaller as the years go by.

She Played!

We, my littlest one and I, haven’t had much luck with team sports.

Read about our last attempt at volley ball.

She played tee ball. That’s a lie. She practiced tee ball. When it came time for games she refused to play because there were people watching. Flat out refused. She spent the entire season alone in the dugout. Which was a shame because she was so stinking cute!

She looked the part!

So ended our tee ball career.

We tried swimming. Again. She practiced everyday and did fine. As soon as the true meets started and parents started crowding the pool she refused. Again-flat out refused to participate.

I begged. I bribed. I threatened. I ignored her. I encouraged. I gave her examples. I let others try. Nothing.

I used every tool in my parenting toolbox. Nothing. She refused to get in the pool.

So we pushed her. Literally. Her race started. She wouldn’t go in. So I made her brother push her into the water.

And guess what…she swam. She finished the race.

I have to do that a lot with this one. Push. I have to push. A lot of time she pushes back. It’s hard. She’s hard. But I keep pushing.

And all that hard work makes the smallest victories that much sweeter. Seeing her pride when she doesn’t fail a test….that’s a win.

Seeing her step onto the field and preform a cheer…win.

Hearing her express her emotions instead of lashing out…yep…a win. I had to push to help her find her voice. It’s taken weeks for her to open up but when she finally does it makes me proud.

She gets homesick. But we’ve worked and pushed and now she will spend the night at her grandparents. WIN!

She worries herself sick before a test, a presentation or an event. But she does it.

This year she started a new school in a new school system. And she’s doing it. She’s working and trying and not giving up. I can’t ask for more.

After her new school she gets on a bus to go to a néw after school program. Well…she’s SUPPOSED to get on a bus to go to after school. We’ve had some issues with this particular task—-I can’t lie. She’s pushed every single button I have by not getting on that after school bus. A haircut, an empty closet and some very tough love were all part of the punishment I had to employ to get her on that bus. But I pushed and pushed and pushed and eventually she got on the bus.

And as part of that after school program she was part of a volleyball team.

She didn’t just sit this time.

When I picked her up she freaked out a bit (a lot). There were a few tears. There complaints of a hurting tummy and butterflies but…

She pushed herself this time and SHE DID IT.

Not only did she participate, she engaged. She scored multiple points, she served the ball and actually got it over the net and she cheered on her teammates. She wasn’t on the sidelines. SHE WAS IN THE GAME. Against all her struggles and her fears she played.

And that is a true win.

With my littlest one it’s two steps forward and three steps back. Most days I don’t feel like we are getting anywhere. But then she surprises me and shows me that all the effort, all the pushing and all the angst is worth it. She’s worth it.

Tonight we celebrated my player.

When she was 4 I had to explain to her what it meant to be Brave. Tonight she proved to me just how brave she is.