Put Your Best Face Forward

Every parent goes through what I call, “the busy season of life.” You know that stage where as a mom or a dad you are pulling up all nighters, not for the fun of it but because you have a fussy baby, a sick toddler or a child that refuses sleep. You are wearing clothes that may or may not have a bit of food or perhaps spit up on them. You wonder when you enjoyed a long, uninterrupted bath and you just feel like you are surviving.

When my girls were babies I swore that when they became toddlers, then I would make time for me. Then they became toddlers and I swore when they became school age THEN I would take a second to take care of me. Well, my girls are officially 9 and 7 years old now…..I could keep making excuses because let’s face it…for the rest of our life, our children will need us. They will need us during their teenage years, their college years, then they will truly need us when they also become parents. So, the beginning of last summer I began to see that parenting is a lifelong gig and if I wanted to be the best version of myself it was high time that I began taking care of me.

My huge wake up call was when my then six year old asked me, in the most innocent and honest way possible, “Mommy, why do you have those lines on your head?” Talk about hitting you where it hurts. I calmly responded some nonchalant response, but it got me to thinking and really taking a long look in the mirror. I did NOT like what was staring back at me. My appearance didn’t look the way I felt on the inside. I thought I would pamper myself, and buy some skin care a friend of mine was selling.

But, just like all parents do, I kept thinking about how could I possibly justify investing in my skin or my face when I could buy this or that for my children. However, I couldn’t quiet that voice inside me that popped up every time I caught a glimpse in a mirror. Who was this woman staring back at me? She looked tired, deflated, her eyes were puffy, droopy, dark and lifeless. Your reflection is supposed to be just that…a reflection of you. THAT was not me! I didn’t want my daughters to grow up thinking that they were the last priority in life! I always put myself last, it was part of the gig I would tell myself. I was lying to myself!

You don’t have to be a martyr to be a good parent! Yes, our kids should always be a priority but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be a priority at all! This is the face you will greet your family with every day, the face that will one day be photographed at your children’s wedding, and the face that your grandchildren will one day look upon. I decided that I wanted their memories and photos of me to be ones that reflected my inner joy!

I contacted my friend about Rodan and Fields and bought myself a regimen! I was hesitant, even a bit guilt-stricken to purchase myself a gift. I figured it wouldn’t work but there was a 60 day money back guarantee. I hopped on board and began transforming my skin! I never thought it would change my appearance, let alone my life!

I have only been using this product about 3 months but my face is no longer red, uneven, my wrinkles are disappearing, and my eyes reflect the liveliness my soul feels! What is better than that? I hopped on the Rodan and Fields journey because I want to share it with every single person I know and even those I don’t! I actually made enough money in one month selling it to buy my own regimen with just that money. The best part is you can earn as much as you want with a little work, plus have great skin! I turned 36 two days ago but look younger than I did 3 years ago….I am aging in reverse! Bring on the birthdays because getting older is inevitable but aging is not necessary! Invest in yourself, invest in your face, invest in your future and your children’s future….the mirror will thank you!

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Pip, Christmas is Sharing Germs

12/26/17

Pip,

Well, this was your first unofficial Christmas with this wild and crazy family that you will soon join! I dare to hope that this year doesn’t set the tone for future holidays! We aren’t doing too hot on the holiday season the last few years. Last Christmas, Auntie A was rushed to the emergency room, this Thanksgiving your brother took a tumble and made his way to the same hospital and then Christmas eve this year, your mommy and brother had the flu ūüė¶ Now, I am a glass half full kind of girl, so I just gave extra thanks that we were all under one roof, sick or not! I even got to snuggle with your mommy so we could let your Daddy get some sleep, and then the next morning I awoke to a sweet, cuddly nephew. (For future reference you should know that I call your brother Fidget).

I got up and laid upon the couch with Fidget’s feverish little noggin resting on my chest and we fell asleep a few dozen times. Fidget has a way of putting your old Auntie A into a sleep induced coma. No one got much sleep Christmas Eve night but with all the craziness the holiday season had brought our way somehow Christmas cheer had found it’s way into my home. There were sniffles, fevers, coughing galore, but we all huddle on the couch spreading love and germs without worry! Everyone’s eyes were a brighter red than Rudolph’s old nose. It was not like any of the previous Christmases that we had shared and your mom and I have been sharing them for a very long time now. There were a few people missing, Nanny was sick and Faith was working…it looked as if it would be a somber day…but it turned out to be one of my favorite ones to date!

I looked over at your Mommy who had given me a fright with her catching the flu bug that had hit everyone I know with her very pregnant with you. Your little heart rate got ridiculously high and Auntie A nearly drove to Illinois to say some choice things to the quack of a clinic that had not treated the two of you! I should have been tired, and I was, but the emotion I recall the most is the complete and total peace in my heart. Your mommy was now on the correct medicines, the doctor had gotten your heart rate down, and Fidget had began Tamiflu, your Daddy had gotten a few hours of shut eye after pulling a very long shift and a stint at the hospital to be sure you guys were okay. Your cousins and myself had thankfully caught the flu the week before so we all just pitched in, hunkered down and made the best of it! We didn’t even cook our usually over the top dinners for an army of 50, instead we ordered from the little corner store, we unwrapped gifts with less zealous than usual but our biggest gifts were already unwrapped.

I looked around and in my 35 years, I cannot remember ever being so content. Fidget got a new pint sized recliner from me, and my heart smiled as I watched your Daddy sit in it and pull your brother onto his lap to watch Baby Boss. I looked over at the first memorable gift I was given…your mommy, her eyelids were trimmed in red, she was coughing but she was laughing too. My girls were playing quietly in their room and I felt like the most blessed person in the world.

You see, Pip, you will hear many debates about what the holiday season is all about but this year represented the meaning of this time of year. We were gathered with the ones we love the very most. Sharing gifts, presents and more than a few germs on this wonderful occasion! It was the beginning of the new family your parents had began in the home where my family had already been completed! Not once did I shy away when your Mommy or brother needed me to give them a hug, medicine or a place to rest their head. Nope, I leaned into those hugs, snuggled tightly up to them and relished in every single second.

Family is rejoicing in the good times and leaning on each other in the not so good times. This year I leaned in, I am not ashamed to say that this year I felt my age. Not in the bad way, but in the way that each second counts. I was present for each moment, I looked at this holiday with new eyes, a grateful, thankful, overtly blessed heart and smiled a big, sleepy, sappy smile. My sister was here with me, with the two best nephews and one pretty awesome brother in love! I know next year you will be here to share with us, the love, happiness and yes even the germs and my heart leaps with excitement! You see, this year what I wanted wasn’t underneath the tree, one of them was sitting lazily in your Dad’s lap, my sister was sitting next to me, my girls were in the next room, and you my precious Pip was nestled under your Mommy’s ribs safe and sound! To add to those incredibly amazing blessings in a few short months you all will be near me every day! If anyone asks you what Christmas is all about you tell them it is about Jesus and sharing everything….love and germs equally! Love you, my sweet nephew!

Your love-stricken,

Auntie A

One Lifetime and a Thousand Dreams

Life is so funny. It moves, it bends, it bows, and it can conquer you if you allow it to…Tonight I had a strange epiphany…I remember growing up thinking what it was I wanted to be growing up…others just knew their purpose…yet, I never had an answer…”What do you want to be when you grow up, April?” As a child it seemed so easy…well, I just wanted to make people’s life better..I wanted to be a pediatrician or maybe a counselor/psychiatrist, I wanted to adopt a hundred orphans, I wanted to speak up for those that didn’t have a voice, I wanted to heal those that were afflicted, I prayed to bring a laugh to just one person’s lips, wanted to pass a little light along the way….I just wanted to make a difference…sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

Today, I contemplated what I wanted to be..then in a rash decision I decided I want to be all of them!! I cannot pick…I cannot possibly live only one lifetime..I cannot just be one thing…I am a writer, introverted and I find solace in a cubby all alone….I am also an extrovert and social, a girl who loves to just make someone’s day a little brighter. I am an artist who finds inspiration in the sunset, the sunrise, the waves crashing on the shore, I am a therapist to all my friends that need me I love my circle; my tribe and those I love, and to my default I give them advice against my better judgement…I just give my opinion which is some days hard to interpret. Bless them for entertaining my optimism and listening to my heart…I simply cannot help myself. I know I will never mother any more children…but I want to love all the children, including the three that I nearly and very possibly gave my life to, and would gladly give again. I don’t have time for just one life…I need more. I want to spend at least one life hugging my kids, another writing a book on a forgotten back road, maybe one more painting a landscape on the patio of my plantation farm in Maine beside a forgotten light house……if I get lucky quite another life loving/saving animals or people…things that I love. But, don’t you see, I am only one me…one me, one life to live, 70 years if I am lucky to fulfill all of my wants and desires……By those calculations I am half way there and that terrifies me.

I have had so many people ask me why I waste my talents. April, why aren’t you published? Why aren’t you a renowned artist? Why don’t you have a degree in medicine? etc etc…I could do any of those things if I chose to be devoted to that but that is my problem…..I have too many faucets of my personality to figure out who I am in one single lifetime…yet that is what I must do.

I don’t have a grand gesture to ensure all my friends will be alright…you will not be alright…You will suffer, you will fail, you will fly and you will fall…not a fairy tale ending I suppose…the truth is if you are reading this blog you know those things never exist..you don’t get to choose your destiny…you get to choose your path though. I love a man I would have never dreamt I would love but here I am, all in, all present, and I love that man with all that I have….ONLY, one man. You see your heart is resilient..had a friend tell me that being broken is just part of life (forgive my lack of exact quotes) but you know he was so right…when you are whole, complete, totally intact…well life is easy…yet if you are broken, fragmented, piecing yourself back together well…the good news is that broken form of you will come out a better version of yourself!

I am not sure what I am supposed to do in this one frail life I have besides hope that someone hears the words I speak or reads the words I type on blank pages….I wish to be more. Yet today, I will find comfort in scrubbing someone else’s toilets because it makes them happy, I will relish in my daughters’ arms around my neck, a little bracelet that says “Mommy”, and a little blonde haired boy that thinks his Auntie A is the funniest thing ever to grace the world! I will choose to give a little love, a lot of grace, and even more understanding to those that find themselves falling on hard times…….perhaps, that is all of my purpose? Perhaps, my calling is to lighten others burdens? I pray, before my time ceases I can do just that…love beyond measure and leave this world better than I found it…but if I should be granted more I have a thousand lifetimes in my heart, and I would be happy to live every one…since this is the only life I am promised, I am okay to just be me, because for today it is enough!

What a Difference a Year Makes

My sweetest Fidget,

I am so sorry it has been a minute since Auntie A has been able to post in your blog. Life has been quite the adventure this year since you made your debut. I am trying to catch up. As I am sure you know, there has been so much going on that it is nearly impossible for me to sit in front of my computer and write to you all the musings of my heart. In your 365 days of life, you made me an aunt, made my sister a mother, made my girls a cousin, witnessed your mommy and daddy say “I do”, and will soon become a big brother! I mean, what magical being are you? You have fully engrossed my life with light and laughter, joy and obsession. I live for your giggles over my silly antics……each time I make a total fool of myself and am rewarded with your cackle…it spurs me on! I am such a sucker for all things Fidget. Your feet? Oh I could tickle them for hours! Your little fingers? You love to shove them in my mouth and even your girly auntie will allow you to do it no matter where you have been crawling…well, because you are simply delicious! LOL Your smile? I mean it is like looking at your daddy smile but seeing it reach the eyes that look just like your mommy! I mean simply enchanting. Your giggle? It has been known to coerce me to act like a total moron to passerby’s just because I love it so much and I end up in a fit of laughter when I succeed in getting that chuckle of acknowledgment. Your little voice? I love it so……my favorite word that you say is eat, eat…EAT! The way you crinkle your tiny nose, wrinkle your forehead and concentrate on pronouncing the word is like simply the absolute cutest thing I have ever witnessed (you say eat A LOT right now which makes me want to eat, eat…EAT you up)!

Your mom will say that you look just like your daddy…..oh and trust you really do look like him. Yet, those big blue eyes shaped like half moons…..well, it takes your old auntie back to the days when your mommy was a mere tot herself. Those eyes could penetrate the hemisphere and quite literally could be the answer to world peace. If ever I see those beautiful eyes crying, instinct kicks in just as it did when I was a big sister only now it is way worse. Make this terrible crying, and tears stop, there is simply no reason these precious blue eyes should cry, give that baby all the things…ALL the things just don’t let it cry! This is what I did for your mommy when she was a wee one and I do that for you multiply it by 100….even if it means singing patty cake so long your little arms are exhausted from clapping your hands to signal me (yes, I am equivalent to your personal circus).

I care not about what others think when I get my hands on you, or facetime you! I literally live to make you happy, it is my calling in life! I see your mind turning trying to interact with the world…..well, lucky for you, your auntie speaks fluent Fidgetese. I know that when you clap your hands together I am to begin singing and performing patty cake. If you stomp your feet that means for me to queue “if you are happy and you know it”. The look that crosses your handsome face when I speak your language and do what you ask is total enchantment. Like hey look at my trick, I clap my hands and my auntie does this, stomp my feet and she does that! I imagine if you were bigger you would toddle over and fetch me a treat for being a good girl lol!

No worries, Fidget, you have me trained to whenever you beckon…and I am guessing since your mom still has that effect on me that you shouldn’t worry that this will wear off in the near future…..Now, don’t pity me a fool for living to make you laugh, smile or spending countless hours playing peek a boo with a tot that just covers his face with his hand or closes his eyes…….you think you are a wizard of sorts with this trick and I am happy to continue allowing you to think that because you are magical.

Magical in the way you make me slow down, magical in the way you make my heart flutter with the mere mention of your name, magical in a way that although I love your cousins I was too deep in the thick of things to notice all the fleeting moments that I do notice with you. I notice when you no longer have “frinkles” (a term I made up when you were a newborn, yet to fill out, and your forehead would wrinkle in the cutest of ways imaginable..hence the word forehead + wrinkle=frinkle…this is the way my mind works) I still mourn the frinkles daily and with each milestone I mourn the sweet baby you leave behind. You haven’t mastered the walking thing and I am beyond okay with that. You see, my most loved Fidget, with every little achievement you make, as the mom of two young girls, I don’t see YAY a milestone as much as a bittersweet bridge to you growing up……to which I will plug my ears, shut my eyes and be in total denial for as long as I can about you growing. I look at your cousins now 6 and 8, in the wake, or much sleep deprived blur of it all, I didn’t notice their frinkles as much as I did yours. I didn’t have time to stop and admire their little words (although, I remember several). With you, I am not the tired mom with two little beings stealing my food, my sleep and my routine, nah, with you, I just get to be fun, happy every time I see you, make him giggle at all means possible, cannot get enough of him-auntie.

I still cannot believe that you are one…….no way! But what a difference a year has made. Since you were conceived you have changed everyone’s world. You have made me pause, slow down, love every minuscule thing you do and anticipate what you will do next. You made my sister a mommy…something I was unsure would ever happen but the transformation is almost supernatural as I see her love for you through every pore of her being. You made two little girls who could accurately be described without malice to be “thing one” and “thing two” with their craziness to stop and tend to your every need with a calmness that is almost scary. You were your nanny’s first grandson, your daddy’s first child, and you were a ring-bearer at your parent’s wedding. You are EPIC. I knew this from the moment I was told you were coming, and you have only solidified it……sooooooooooo what in the world could be better than a “Fidget”…well, absolutely NOTHING, except a “Nutter” one. Which is exactly what I found out after your parents wedding…….Now, I cannot fathom another perfect little creature to love and I will love him/her with all of my heart. I wonder how my heart will have enough love but before you, I didn’t deem it possible to imagine loving a child a tenth of what I love my girls….yet, you were born and somehow I loved you just as much. It was like my heart just expanded and you were in every corner that I never knew existed. I am overwhelmed with excitement for this newest little “nutty” baby, but also, simultaneously worried you will feel overshadowed (I felt this way with your oldest cousin, Braelyn when Brynlee was born which looking back was a silly notion).

I know, I know this is unrealistic to think that you would ever feel anything but love….the protective part of me wants to assure you that although this next sweet baby *nick knock name to be determined* will be equally as loved, YOU will not be loved any less! Instead, you will have a sibling (one of life’s greatest gifts and if you don’t believe me ask your mommy), you will have someone to share with, fight with, love with and learn with for the rest of this life. I prayed for this baby, just as I prayed for you, and both of you are loved beyond measure. When this “Nutter” baby comes along, as your Auntie A, I promise you, I will love you more each day, and that although this new miracle comes into this world, our bond will not be diminished. I will never forget the sweetest prince/cowboy (depending on who is telling the story) that made me a certifiable aunt! I will forever be loyal to you, whether you call me to tell me how your sibling is driving you crazy or just to chat. No one will take your place, and when this baby comes, I will of course be certifiably crazy for he/she no doubt about it……but if you are ever questioning, I don’t know just for argument’s sake, you can tell your sibling that you made me “certifiable” first! Here is to many more adventure, a whole lot more magic and a lifetime of love with my always, sweetest, most precious, littlest dude. I know you are going to be the best big brother EVER! I love you, Fidget. I love you so BIG!

Love your over-the-moon, certifiably-crazy-times-two,

Auntie A

Losing him or losing myself

Marriage is a blissful thing…if it is executed correctly. It can also be a very lonely place if it is left idle. I find myself alternating between both realms of reality, swinging from the rooftops, just ecstatic with my hard earned, well established relationship, and then without really a moment’s notice being in the lowest of valleys wondering what the hell happened. I find no pattern in which our marriage wanes or falls, only that I feel utterly helpless as to why it seems to hit the highest of highs when I feel like we could take down the world all the way to the lowest of lows when I question every single thing I thought defined us as a couple.

Some days it is cut and dry, just happy to be a couple, faithful and loyal to one another. Other days it feels like I love him more, then I try so long I just get numb and it seems he is the one trying to salvage this marriage………on the greatest of days we are in sync, united, equally in love and proud of what we built. Those days aren’t nearly as often as I would like. The high highs and the low lows are enough to deplete the happiest person.

I love my husband. I love that he works hard, he is reliable, he is dependable, he is constant…….yet I am only human, and I struggle wondering is this enough? This companionship that seems to come and go only when it is convenient. I miss having someone laugh at my jokes, tell me I am beautiful, or how valuable I am in this family. It is lonely when he reaches his threshold for dealing with life and I am utterly shut out without a reason or explanation. I feel totally vulnerable, alone, and I ask myself is this the day, is this the time I quit caring? Is this the day I just step away from feeling less than enough and decide I deserve more? Then he does the thing where he hugs me just tight enough and says just the right words to woo me back into feeling safe. He feels like home on those days but then just as suddenly as he becomes my safety net he sweeps it away making me feel like I am free falling into an uncertain sky or isolated on an endless peninsula of happiness and grief. I question my own resolve, why do I feel so secure one minute and then totally abandoned the next? The transition from ecstasy and complete happiness to the depths of total despair seem to have no rhyme or reason, leaving me flailing to catch my balance and left lacking.

I feel so conflicted by his actions, and I wonder if I am imagining all of the ups and downs or if I am just standing passively allowing it to happen? I only know that the journey of it all is almost more than I can bare. I often ask myself if he really knows me at all…..at times I think he must but then the deeper parts of me, the parts that feel unfulfilled make me believe he doesn’t know me at all…not at my core, not at my being, I show him just enough of me that it doesn’t reveal all of myself. I keep buried just under the false smile the girl that feels forgotten. The artist, the writer, the easy go lucky person who had a quick laugh over life’s silliness. He doesn’t get this part of me, perhaps, the essence of me. The person that accepted herself without care of what others think, the girl that enjoyed her quirkiness and relished in her individuality. Now I ask how much of me is really left and how much of me have I allowed to be molded into something unrecognizable…..the thought makes me sad in places I didn’t even know existed. Does he even know his wife is funny? The life of the party? An intellectual who loves to learn, read and perceive the world? Or have I buried that just deep enough to compromise on what he deems normal? I feel like a sell out or worse a washed up version of myself..this is not his fault it is mine for conforming to what I thought he needed instead of being who I am. I have lost my voice, I have succumbed to what makes others happy and that in and of itself makes me miserable. The rare times that I allow my true self to surface if even for a few hours I am greeted by his disappointment in me for no other reason than simply being me.

When I disappoint him for whatever reason, as I am never sure what I have done to earn his disdain, I am greeted with silence, as if my ultimate punishment is his with holding all affection or even a conversation. I find my inner self fighting to catch my breath, come to the surface of which I am drowning and find my footing. It is akin to drowning just long enough to be grateful to find my breath once more. Relentless is the pattern that each time he shuts me out I just quit caring if I surface on his safe harbor…I miss being my own safe harbor the one person I used to count on for my own happiness. I tire of conforming, of being the idea of who he or what everyone else wants me to be. I get fed up with being less than whole and with each silent reprimand I get from him, each wasted weekend I feel further from his shore…the shore I once considered home.

If it is jealousy he feels, then he is only competing with himself. He should be jealous of no one as I am loyal and faithful to a fault….but if he needs to feel jealousy he should ¬†compete with the man that I have yet to meet, the one I think lies deep within the man I married. The only man he should fear is the man he refuses to be, the one who seeks my laughter like a starving man seeks a good meal, the man that after a long day wants only to make me smile, hear about my day, ask me what I have written in the words of my blog that day, a man who seeks just knowing me more fully, even if that means asking me what book I have my head buried in as of late, even if he doesn’t share my love of reading. I feel like the part of me that is smart, challenging and intellectual has been lost and with each day I feel her slipping further away into a place I may never regain her again! There is no man he competes with other than himself and no one that could take me from him, other than the person in me that fears losing my identity more than the loss or gain of any man.

If he cherishes me, he will cherish each part of me, the writer, the poet, the artist, the joker and all of those things that are lost on him, invaluable as they don’t relate to him, a part of me maybe he doesn’t or doesn’t want to understand. It feels like a part of me, a vital part of me has been cut off like an unimportant appendage, useless to him. Today marks day two of being ignored, like a reprimanded child. Perhaps he knows that is the greatest punishment of all…to be treated as invisible as I felt as a child helpless as to what I can control. I am no longer a child, I remind myself, I only tolerate what I think I can and that is something that makes me cringe. I am not without purpose and I am not without use. I am better than being disregarded as some play thing set aside for when I am once more useful or when he feels like I have been reprimanded enough to satisfy his purpose. It distances me in a way that makes me want to escape, yet all I want is to find my way to the place I call home, him…but only if that means I can be me 100% of the time. Hiding inside myself is no longer an option. I am worthy, I am better than being ignored or treated with indifference. I love him with all I am, his dark places, his hidden places would never make me stop loving him…but him not loving all of me….that is the one thing that could possibly push me further than his reach can extend. I cannot be something he seeks and casts aside with equal enthusiasm……I love him with all I am but at some point I have to love me more than settling for the all of him or the scraps he wants to throw my way. Either way……today I find my way back to myself, the truest version of me, and as much as I love him, losing myself in this relentless shift between happiness and despair, is more than I think even that this man I love with my whole heart is worth the loss of myself

Being a Daughter

04/21/17

Braelyn and Brynlee,

Hey, my beautiful baby girls, I have struggled so much to make this blog. It just seems so hard to think in the past when the days are moving by at record speed. I decided to change a few things up. I am going to write to you in the here and now, and the present as things occur, then work myself backwards. You see today just seeing you climb into the bus and pull away from me is almost more than I can bare……it takes all of my courage not to chase after you kicking and screaming that you cannot possibly be ready to leave me to attend school. I have come in on days that I don’t have to work, intent on filling pages on my blog beginning with the day you were born…….but then the cloud of nostalgia hits me and I barely make it through the fact that you are both in school. Most days the only thing I can do is crawl back into bed and wish the day away, or spend my day cleaning to numb my mind to all of the ramblings it likes to replay in my head. Most days I am busy, working, providing, surviving, just keeping my head above water. Motherhood has both stripped me bare…..raw and unrelenting yet somehow soothing and magical. It has also given me my greatest gifts, you and your sister along with the most fierce weapons, the love and courage of a mother. I look at you, my eyes feel up with tears, even though my mind reels it to stop being foolish. I look at each of you, and the love I feel……well, it is beyond explanation. I would live forever in pain if it spared you just a single ounce of hurt, I would die right now if it gave you a life filled with happiness, there really is no definition to a mother’s love, and I can tell you all of this until the cows come home but you won’t truly know until you have babies of your own. The love you feel for them is almost painful.

I was talking to your nanny the other night and it suddenly hit me. Your nanny had to learn how to live without JUST being a mommy after such a long time only identifying as being that. Your nanny and I have always had an inexplicable bond, one that neither time nor words could define growing up. I hate to admit that in the recent years there has been a distance, a wedge, a shift in what was once a very established friendship. I pondered on it relentlessly, not able to place a finger upon what caused this change, though it gave me great anxiety. For the passed few years one of us felt slighted by the other and it was a relentless cycle. I mourned for a great while before telling myself….well, you are doing this on your own, you are being a wife, and a mom, you are making it work…….never thinking that perhaps that was the very thing that hurt her. You see, my sweet girls, I ALWAYS needed your nanny, be it advice about a date, a chat about life, or a much needed laughter song fest in the car……I needed her. So, when she wasn’t there when I needed her, I was lost. Now, I place no blame on her, chances are that I didn’t tell her how much I struggled finding help with you wee little tots whilst trying to work, chances are I expected her to just know like she had all of my life…in the end, me and your dad figured it out, we made it work. But where did that leave your nanny? I just assumed she was over the child rearing stage, doing her tough love act, making me stand on my own two feet…….but yet it seemed the lesson must be over; you started school and I was free to work. I was at an impasse on how to fix our strained relationship. What did I do to make this rift and how do I repair it. I didn’t care who caused it but had no idea what I was apologizing for. You girls remember to always say you are sorry when you hurt someone even if it is unintentional. I tried to think of what I had done to hurt her until one morning after my two sweetest gifts boarded the bus and I walked into my now quiet house, I crawled into bed and wept. What is my purpose??? What do I do now?????? I asked over and over as my body was racked with sobs….then I saw her, my mommy, looking at me the way I looked at you when I was little. Watching in fast forward as I grew up, but I must’ve been hard to let go of because I always needed her. If I was happy, sad, angry, excited she was who I shared it with…then you pretty girls were born. Life got fast in a hurry, it was a blur of sleepless nights, happy days, first steps, new words……and you became my all in all, my sun, moon and my stars…….my entire universe. Now, I will never regret loving you both that much, I do regret making my mom feel like she wasn’t a necessary part of that galaxy. I put you on a bus and you would be home before dark…….she wrapped her world around me and your aunt boo and then we had a family of our own. Laying under those covers that rainy April morning, I tried to envision the day you didn’t come home to the house you share with me…I know that day will come but I have never allowed myself to think of it, much like I try not to ponder on your births because it brings up untapped emotions and it takes all the emotion I have to face each day. This particular day however, I relented, I could see my mom her blue eyes sparkling as she walked me into school each day, willing the tears not to fall. I could see her every Christmas morning as me and my sister unwrapped gifts that she had tallied through the year to make sure nothing was missed……toys, clothes, everything we really couldn’t afford she made it happen every single christmas, giving us magic for a day and herself debt for a year. She was and still is a tough love type of person…..hence the reason you have a mommy much the same way. Mom doesn’t do babying, or at least not when we were kids…a little more with you girls but I can’t fault her there when I have grandkids goodness knows I will be softer.

I am not sure why the light bulb didn’t go off after all these years? Perhaps, because you girls liked to see how sleep deprived I could get and I know there are days that run together because Brynlee Jean loves to wake me up. I know the day will come that she no longer seeks me to comfort her from a nightmare or Braelyn maybe you won’t tell me as enthusiastically as you do now, about your day. I try not to rush these things because you see a few weeks ago,I was you. I was a tiny little girl, learning about how this big old world works and I had this mom, well she was everything. Let me tell you how great she is. When my first crush came along, which also happened to be a celebrity, she didn’t discourage it, we talked about getting into concerts because she told me if he ever met me he would love me instantly. We would blast his songs and laugh all night as we painted the kitchen. That same mom, many years later would accompany me to see that very guy in concert…(although we were both very married lol)

The weekends most teens want to spend with their friends I spent with my mom, we watched great movies……and some not so great ones, shared a popcorn, then dinner…..then boys came along. Oh, girls, I know that day will come all too soon but I pray it is a long time from now. Yet, Mom, listened about every fancy my heart had, and the one that broke my heart into a million pieces…..she saw me through all the in betweens and then the heartbreak you cannot define except to live to see the revelation on the other side. She spent her life building me, she built me up, when I was broken she brought me back to life and when I could finally set sail on my own she pushed me out to sea willing me to find my way. I couldn’t see her reasoning and her way of thinking or the way it felt…I felt abandoned, capsized, done in by the waves of life that kept hammering my vessel with no relief in sight. It forced me to see a lot of things, I saw your daddy, I saw my own strength, but I didn’t see your nanny anymore. I thought for a long while this was her intention, and I continued this way after many nights grieving the bond, the love, the laughter we once shared. I mourned those back roads on a late night, a cheesy movie and just her company…but this is what she meant to do,right? I felt forsaken and alone, like my only harbor was your daddy, which only aided in the ever growing bridge between me and my mother. Girls, you see, sometimes you are too close to a situation to see it from all sides. Your nanny didn’t cast me out, she through the line and waited for the bobber to sink so she would know trouble was afoot…..the trouble is she raised me to be just like her, so even if I was struggling my bobber never moved…..so she sat on the side of a bank for goodness knows how long waiting for me to need her. It is silly now because I always needed her but thinking this was the lesson she was teaching I never grabbed the line to be reeled back in. I drowned a thousand times to keep from being saved just once. Pride is a great thing but it can also be a problem if you put it above those you love. It is a tricky thing to navigate being both independent and leaning on those you love. I hope you learn to do both. Your nanny did something my heart could never do, she loved me, built me, rebuilt me, tossed me out to stand on my own and when I did she allowed me to, even though it meant she had to stand alone.

The thing is girls, I didn’t know I was hurting her because I was too busy thinking of how much I was hurting……yet, I left your nanny who had never one time growing up abandon me, I made her feel alone, unimportant, replaceable…..no that was never my intention but it is her perception and there are years I will never get back because of it. I hope you grow up, and know my love is strong, tough, and unending. When I force you into the world that doesn’t mean you don’t get to come back to the nest………I cannot imagine my nest without you. Never be mad at me longer than a few hours because I am only human, and I am full of flaws, if you picked me apart for an hour you would know I am not worthy of you nor will I ever be. I made a mistake a long time ago to allow my mom to think that I didn’t need her. It never occurred to me that she didn’t know she was the beat of my heart, the happy to my sad, the make me laugh when I wanted to cry, the sing when I was out of music………the first day of school, and every bit of heartache I felt as I sobbed into her shoulder. To imagine you girls will one day think you can live a day without me, if I am here, call me. Pick up the phone, make the call. If you need help, tell me. If you want advice ask. Forever is a long time and I want you both to know no matter what you do or who you become I am so proud of you. I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mom and an aunt……..hopefully, I will live to be a nanny but I am human. I am flawed. I am imperfect. My love for you, however is perfection, flawless and undefinable. Forgive me more than I deserve and love me when I am unlovable. You see my mom did this for me but somewhere along the way I forgot to do the same for her. You will never regret loving someone even if it depletes all of you, because it comes back full circle. I want you to love me like I loved your nanny, and I want you to share a bond that not many women can say they have felt. We are the same, she and I, the issue was I was too much like her at my age and she is me in the future. Although no one is to blame, so much time is lost! If you see your nanny, you hug her, you love her, ask about her day, listen for a change because that is what she has done all her life, tell her how beautiful she is, share the memories I have shared with you, only then will she feel alive, reborn, renewed and fulfilled. You, my sweet girls, you are the future, I broke things I work to repair, your great grandma broke things too, let’s lift each other up. If the day comes your sister, aunt, cousin or nanny seem withdrawn……seek to draw them in. I am so sorry my mom ever felt isolated when she’s always been my one true north. Never make the same mistake, love everyone, you will never regret it. If someone is sad, you encourage them. Live by these words and you will forever make me proud. You can outgrow a lot of things but you cannot outgrow your mom.

 

Your unworthy mom,

April

Imprinted

I have searched for the exact words to write this blog, at least a million times……each time, deleting, rephrasing, rewording all that I type. How do you begin to describe the fact that my¬†journey had at long last found a happy ending? Through words I¬†could capture my heartache, my pain, my losses but to find words to begin to describe the joy that came at the end of that fight, the sweet fulfillment of that dream coming true…….there seems to be no words. The emotion is strong enough to make the loss seem like a shrapnel, a fragment of what was to await my heart. The treachery I had endured seemed to define me……little did I know they were a piece of me….but it was the beauty at the end of the broken road that defined me. Braelyn, YOU define me. How do you put something that infinite into words????? How do I describe how your world can be so shattered and one tiny little girl can erase all that and put all the brokenness back together. So, I will start with the ending of my journey to finding you….and as sad as that may sound it is, I had stopped searching for you, not that I didn’t love you, oh how my heart ached for you. I had to let go of what everyone had described as a pipe dream of being a mom and settle for spending the rest of eternity just being a woman, a wife, a daughter, a sister…..and nothing more.

As my last blog left off I had found sanctuary in your father’s arms. He again became the man that I entrusted my heart to. I didn’t know what that meant for us as a couple. I knew one day we would breach the relentless hopelessness of being unparents and find ourselves on the other side. After my final miscarriage, I found myself now infertile, unable to get pregnant which had at one time been so easy, although the pregnancy never lasted long. I now simply resigned to just be me again…….nothing more. I was too frail to begin hoping for anything more than the whisper of a dream. I clung to your father like the last strand of my life depended on it…….because, truthfully, my life DID depend on him. On his steadfast hand, his unwavering stability, his matter of fact belief that everything would work itself out……..my mind reeled as it tried to embrace this new reality.

I threw myself into being the best wife that I could. Shifting my focus from motherhood, to things that were tangible. Just when I had resided to move on, your dad said what if we adopt? I had always wanted to adopt even if I could have carried a baby but never thought it was something we could financially afford. I just wanted a child, it mattered not if that baby came to me through my own pregnancy or someone else’s. I didn’t care what biological factors played in your genetic makeup. I talked to a lady in mississippi that was giving her child up after birth. She was having a boy, part Thai, and I began making plans…..it was futile though the adoption fell through before he was born. For some reason, I had a peace about it, and it didn’t wreck me the way my other losses did. I just felt like he wasn’t meant to be mine.

Of course, I would have loved a son. But secretly, I had always wanted a blonde-haired, blue eyed little girl; and so had your daddy…that would have been my wish list if I could’ve made one. However, any child that was ours would have made us happy, regardless of gender or ethnicity. I had no idea what God had in store for me. I had talked to my cousin about researching adoption agencies, maybe sitting up some fundraisers to fund our quest for parenthood. Two weeks later, I get a call from her, she had been talking about me at work, and a co-worker had a relative who was placing her child. Something in my heart fell away, a calm covered me like a blanket lulling that part of me that had given up to quiet in my head, I just knew everything was going to work out one way or the other.

Anxiously, I awaited a call back, and within two days I got the call…but not the one I had hoped. “April, they have a family that wants the baby.” I just sat in the parking lot of the store, for some reason my heart just couldn’t deal at the moment…….I only had one question, “Was it a girl?” Silence on the other end of the phone as my cousin knew my desire for a daughter. “Pam, I just need to know. It is a little girl, isn’t it? “Yes, April, it is a girl.” I ended the call and sat there in silence, in that parking lot but I didn’t melt down, I just tried to process it. One more dream had been snatched away, yet it didn’t destroy me…I waited for the moment that the wave of grief would wash over me…yet it didn’t come…I think that is because somewhere in my heart, in my deepest longings, I knew that this wasn’t over….but I couldn’t see a happy outcome.

I heard the Lord whisper, “Be quiet, and still. Through the storms I am your refuge.” I leaned on that because I had given it all to him just a month before. I had laid my burden at the foot of the throne over and over and each time I had picked it back up. Unable to wait, I would take back what I had told God to take over for me. This time I vowed to leave it there, allow God to do, what I had not been able to do….like have a child or not have one whatever his will! I felt for sure that soon I would find myself on the brink of insanity having one more dream dissipate before my eyes. I braced myself for what I was sure was a waterworks of emotion, but only peace consumed me, the Lord’s voice reassuring me my time was near, the wait was almost over, my answer was coming. Although I wasn’t sure what my answer would be or if I would even be a mom…I clung to that, the promise that God would give me an answer. I had no other choice, other than to spiral into the despair that I had been living in for seven years…..and that was not an option anymore.

Once I was at home, I knelt in my office where I prayed. I didn’t shout, or scream like I had not so long ago. I simply bowed my head and told the Lord, that we had been so close, a little girl, a private adoption without the pricey adoption agency fees, and that rarely happens. I would have given a million dollars for a child, but I no more had a million dollars than a precious baby resting in my arms. I didn’t know what His test was, perhaps showing me that with him anything was possible even something that rarely existed. A few weeks passed and not one of those days did I not think of that baby, the one that was almost mine, the one that was so close to being my daughter…..why did I feel like she was mine? Adoptive families never back out of a private adoption, especially ones that waited for years. Then why was this image of her cropping up in my mind? Why hadn’t I accepted it wasn’t meant to be, there would be a next time, right? But, nonetheless it felt this time was the time, this child WAS my daughter, and it all baffled me. As my heart dared to love her anyways, I didn’t wrap myself in grief or feel any anxiety. It was said and done but I couldn’t close the chapter? She was going to be someone else’s child, I realistically knew this……then my phone rang, it was a number I didn’t recognize which I typically do not answer. I picked up the phone thinking that it was the wrong number.

“This is April,” I said as I was washing the dishes………..

(To keep names private I am going to change the names)

“This is Sandy, I am Susan’s mother in law.”

I kept asking who this was, and trying to place the voice…I guess my silence gave it away.

“I am wondering if you were still open to adopt my daughter in laws baby?”

Trying to keep my composure, “Yes, I am interested! I thought she had already found her home.”

“The strangest thing happened and the other couple decided that they had waited so long that they no longer felt the need to have children.”

I wanted to shout, I know what happened, GOD intervened!!!!!!!! “What do I need to do now,” I questioned trying to keep my voice calm.

“Can you come and meet the family and Susan for an informal interview. You can ask questions and she and my son can ask you guys things. If it works out she will contact you and then you pursue the adoption.”

The call ended and I ran, shouted, and jumped in my husband’s arms who had no idea what the commotion was about! “They changed their mind we are going to be parents!”

Scotty puzzled, “WHO, changed their mind.”

“The couple that was going to adopt our little girl changed their mind……that never happens! They changed their mind because she is meant to be our’s! We have to meet with them in two days but I just know this is our daughter!” I exclaimed.

My husband who never gets emotional, picked me back up in his arms, sheer joy on his face, so much joy in fact that tears fell down his cheeks, we laughed and cried in the middle of that kitchen. Inside those lonely empty walls of a house we cried tears of bliss, overcome with the moment and not allowing doubt to come in. This moment, we had a daughter on the way, nothing was ruining that.

Two days, were an eternity as I waited and waited, I didn’t sleep a wink. I was apprehensive about what they might ask, how would I answer, would they like us? The night we met them we pulled in the driveway, shaking with nerves, we said a quick prayer for God to give us words, for them to know what we already knew this child was meant to be our daughter. I walked inside, introductions were made and I saw Susan sitting in a rocking chair, very pregnant! I hadn’t realized she was so far along, excitement filled my heart. I instantly wanted to touch her belly, which is strange as I never touch a strangers belly but I was drawn to it, my daughter was inside there, mere inches from me, invisible except the mound under Susan’s shirt. The thought that she was in the same room with me was euphoric. Susan’s eyes met mine and she smiled up at me and I smiled back at her. I was taken aback as my oddly colored eyes, a gray blue were staring back at me……I had never met anyone with my exact eye color. She seemed to feel the same and studied my face intently as if she was seeing someone she knew already. She asked, “Would you like to touch my belly? She rarely moves but you are welcome to try!”

Without thought, I just put my hand on Susan’s stomach and I spoke to her in hushed tones……suddenly there was this large kick that took me unaware. A stirring of my baby, the baby that already had my own heart…….you were mine. She asked me why I had chosen adoption, and I told her every grueling story of my endless losses, my horrific details of every heartache we had in 7 years. I tried to keep my composure, I had gotten good at telling my story, and usually I would keep the emotions at bay. Yet here I was stripped, raw, and vulnerable, baring my heart to a stranger, a stranger with grey blue eyes who also was busily wiping tears from her cheeks. My eyes locked her’s and she said she would let me know monday…….two days away what her decision was. Yet, her eyes told me so much more….she already knew.

Braelyn, how does a person describe the sheer brilliance of the colors in a rainbow after the rain? How do you put into words the feeling you get when you are outside and the sun warms your face? The emotion of when you see something so beautiful, and experience it to the depths of your soul that you cannot see anything but that beauty???????? That is what you were to me.

Monday afternoon, I got a call, I knew the number……but answering it made me so sick and scared and thrilled that I hesitated before calming myself and answering..”This is April.”

“April, this is Susan…I have made my decision..” the voice said

I think my heart stopped beating before I heard the magical words..”You are going to be a mommy!”

I don’t remember my response, I just hung up. I walked to the room your daddy was painting, and with calm that I did not feel I said, “We are going to have a daughter!”

He hesitated, then swept me up and we cried, and laughed and spent the entire night talking about you. Your daddy, who is not much of a talker, couldn’t shut up. Your father who isn’t emotional, veered between laughter and tears as readily as I did. We were going to have a daughter! We spent a month cleaning, painting, decorating and buying all the bedding/necessities for a baby. It was like finding out I was 8 months pregnant……..full nesting mode. I painted everything, found the means to get all you needed……and I don’t think I slept a wink!

The day you were born was 8 days before your anticipated arrival. You were due January 24, 2009….I didn’t sleep at all. The day you were born, oh, baby girl, it was magical. It was all I wanted and more. You were brought out and put in the nursery, my heart leapt as I stared at your face for the first time. Oh, perfection, beauty, and this instant desire to just hold you swept over me. I cried, laughed, screamed, and a million other things and all I wanted was you……my daughter in my arms! You finally had a face…this baby i prayed into existence…..and you had duck down hair the color of honey, blue eyes that would rival the bluest seas, and lips the color of rose petals! The only thing that terrified me….you were REAL now, you were a PERSON, you were my DAUGHTER, not some image I wheeled up in my head about a child I never saw, touched or held, not some loss, not some sad thing…….you were EVERYTHING! My inner thoughts plagued me, so what if the biological mother decided to keep you? What if I had just laid eyes upon you but my hands would never touch you? I could come back from 8 losses, I could cope with losing 8 pregnancies, 8 babies I had never had the intimacy of seeing their faces…I could do that IF that meant your face was my reward! What I knew for certainty that I couldn’t do is walk out of that hospital without you….I could NOT see your face, and return to my mundane life like I had never looked upon your tiny existence…….I looked up to the heavens, crying as I watched them wheel you to the room that housed the woman who had kept you for 9 months, the woman who had by all rights the right to keep you, but in that instance in all the hurt and sorrow it was worth it. I pleaded to God. I am so sorry for my doubts, my uncertainty of your plan, if all those losses were for me to have this one child I would endure it all again, and never complain. Lord, what I don’t know is how I will come back from this. I had saw the face of my daughter….not a dream, but real, beautiful, breathing and perfect. I knew God would see me through but I told him under my breath, “I know you have everything figured out and I trust you..” Secretly, I knew that there was no way I was leaving that hospital without my child, I would just have to be sedated or put in restraints, but I would never recover. You were imprinted on my soul, you were more to me than any of my losses, and as terrible as it sounded, I know I would have exchanged you for every single loss 100 times over. I will never be able to put it to words, but you…yes you, were mine. You were the part of me I had missed my entire life, and I hope that one day you will know the depths of my love.