The Moments That Count…and All That

To my darling girls….if I could repeat all tmy mistakes I like to think I would do better. The truth is, believe it or not, I truly strive to do my best every single day that I am your mom. Some days, I feel indestructible….other days I feel like an utter failure. I am not sure what disturbs the balance…I wake up with the same mentality every morning, be the best mom that I can be. Some days, I take you to work with me then we head off to the pool. I soak in a little sun and then I soak up all of your sweetness in a few sweet but glorious hours. Other days I have to lose my mind to get you to stop fighting with your sister, or to sit down and I have to have a come apart to get you to chill. It is such a struggle…….where’s that happy middle? What am I doing to tip that scale, or even it out? I am so unsure that I question what in the world I am doing raising two children when I clearly have no clue what I am doing.
On those days I lay down at night after you have drifted off into oblivion. I look into your room as your sweet lashes grace your cheeks, pink from the sun, and I feel so deflated. I recall all of the ways I could have parented you better that day. All of the tiny ways I failed to be the best version of myself. I think back to the way I over-reacted and screamed when I could have remained calm. I think back to the face you made as I was scolding you and wonder if I am damaging these gifts I have been given? Then I weep.
I weep because surely God must have made a mistake handing off such prized possessions to such a failure like me? I weep for all the words I spoke in haste and aggravation…….surely a good mom would mind her tongue? I weep because I am giving you all that is left of me and it will never be enough. I weep because nothing will ever be enough for you…….because even the best still doesn’t measure up. I lie awake at night, long after you have drifted off to sleep and I weep.
Most days I am not my finest. I am literally just trying to make it through my day…and that makes me ashamed. I wish I could just stay at home and love you girls but there are bills and things I want you to have…so me and your daddy work. With that comes exhaustion, stress, and busy schedules. I could cry just thinking of all the things I have yet to do tonight at 6:30 pm, which will take me until midnight, and I have to get up at 6 to clean 3 more cabins. We go, and we go, and we go…until we are all wore out from the week, exhausted, over extended and just plain over it……then we all lose our minds for a minute.
I like to think that I purposefully took Fridays off because I knew I would need at least one down day to absorb the chaos of the week, unwind and embrace you girls. The truth is I took that day because all my clients wanted it and I decided that I would use that as my down day. Down to go to the pool, down to nap, down to clean my own house, down to spend my day with you or take you to a sitter and get a pedicure. It was my day to decide. The truth is I can’t remember a Friday I actually took for my own needs. Every single time I try to do something for myself on a Friday I wind up wishing you were with me. So, goes our summer…….if it is sunny on a Friday we are at the community pool. I am sitting poolside reading a parenting book or writing and watching you girls play. That is our typical down day. I normally jump in every 30 minutes to play with you and cool off that is….until last week.
Last Friday, turned out to be the downest-bestest day of all. I sat in my lounge chair taking notes on all the things I needed to do before the end of summer. I am soaking in the sunshine, and feeling pretty accomplished at the amount of things I completed that week. Then a shadow fell over me and I worried that perhaps the forecast had changed to rain. I pulled my book down from my chest just in time to hear, “Mom, I know you just want some peace and quiet….but would it be okay if I sat with you awhile?” That familiar lump crept into my throat and I managed to whisper, “Sure, Braelyn, sit with me anytime.” I pulled a lounge up next to mine and you sat quietly for a few minutes but I could almost hear your thoughts jangling around in your mind.
“You ok, Brae?” I ask as I rest my hand on your scrawny, tan knee cap.
“Yes, Mom, I just don’t understand life some times.”
“What don’t you understand? Maybe I can help you if you just tell me.”
These conversations were few and far between with my first little darling. But when they came I knew to sit aside whatever I was doing and take heed. Although my oldest baby struggles to state what she thinks I have learned to speak her language. A language of love, a language foreign to most people I listen with my heart on these days.
“I don’t know why Brynlee makes more friends than me and I have to be lonely in the pool. I try to be nice to people…and all that…but she just makes them like her and they don’t like me.”
Side note (and all that, is her current saying fixation)
“Oh, Brae, I think she just keeps talking to them and playing with them until they become her friends.”
Insert Braelyn logic, “So I have to be annoying to make friends? Just keep bugging them until they play with me because that is what I been doing. I been talking and playing and all that but they are still not my friends. It is pretty boring without even one friend out in that pool.”
My heart literally crumbles into shreds as I hear my sweet, innocent, purest little love confess her view on the world. Her real, honest, true view. No blame placed just a genuine heart trying to figure out where she fits into this world and having no idea that she was in fact my WHOLE world.
I laid that book down and picked up my daughter. I am in fact 5 foot tall and 115 pounds. I did indeed pick up her 4 and a half foot, 85 pound body and carry her into the pool. I also disregarded everything I was reading in that parenting book she interrupted. I cradled her in the water with her sweet little arms draped around my neck and those arms will always be my finest gems. I let her head rest in the spot that connected my neck to my shoulder the way she used to when she was just a baby. I felt the hot tears sting my cheeks as they slid from under my sunglasses. How has it been 10 years? Where did the time go? I am not the mom I dreamed I would be. I am not enough. I should have been in here enjoying my daughters instead of tanning. I continued to berate myself, refusing to acknowledge the tiniest bit of good in me. You prayed for kids, you actually begged God for kids for 7 years….for what? So you could ignore them while they felt isolated at the pool and you tanned? You seriously got bent out of shape this morning when they could not find their shoes in a timely fashion? You don’t deserve these kids…
“Mommy, I remember when I was with God and I told him that I wanted you to be my mom. He is so awesome isn’t He, Mom? He knew I needed you to be my mommy for when I was lonely in the pool and all that!” Her blue eyes lit up with the heavenly light she had brought into my world and a quiet sob escaped my lips.
“Don’t cry, Mommy sometimes I think about how lucky I am and I cry too…and all that!”
I squeezed her until my lungs filled with oxygen and my tears finally abated. For this day, I would allow myself a win. I would allow myself to feel like I had successfully loved my children with the degree of love I wanted them to feel every single moment, of every single day. I played with them, and I realized it was unrealistic to show them love this unabashedly every minute of every day but I allowed myself to pretend I was going to. I just let go and loved them, accepting that moment as sheer happiness. I took in their sweet profiles, the way the sun danced off their tanned skin and the pink on their cheeks and I cried tears of joy. I tried to steal away that moment for days not nearly as bright. It was really perfection, their little blonde heads were kissed by the sun and their smiles were upon their lips. I could sit in the sun all day and their laughter would out shine it… every. single. time. So, maybe, just maybe I was living my best life, maybe I was being my best self, maybe I was being a good mom today……..and all that….

Signed,

A Mom Who Is Doing Her Best…and All That

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A Mommy is Born

January 16, 2009

That was the day….a day like any other day in January. It was fiercely cold outside, the temps dropping into single digits, it was also two days after my 27th childless birthday, and every birthday the same frigid weather entranced us as every year prior, but all in all it was a day as to be expected in our region. By all means it seemed to be a normal day in the midst of winter. The snowflakes pelted from the sky, hitting my warm cheeks and melting. This day, two days after the day I was born was going to be a day remembered by all as the miracle I hoped for or a day of great despair. I loaded up my two door sports car with baby gear….which in itself seemed to contradict itself. I allowed myself to glimpse my watch, it was only just midnight, but it felt like the hours, the minutes, and the seconds were ticking by at molasses speed. I knew that I wouldn’t get much sleeping done, so I did not even try. I walked into the house, checking and rechecking every single check list I had made…..trust me there were a LOT of lists. I walked into your pretty, rosy pink nursery, lovingly touching and rearranging every thing until it was all in place. I ran my hand over your crib suppressing the happiness that tugged on my heart. Would this truly be the last morning that our home was childless? Would this be the final wee hours I would awaken to deafening silence? I traced the flowers, butterflies, and letters on the fabric, willing you to be there. I must have loaded and reloaded my car a hundred times, whilst my loving spouse, Scotty, slept in the room adjoining your nursery. He had stayed up and we had spoken at length about your arrival, both of us excited, and anxious for you to come home. But as most men do, he fell asleep, leaving me with my thoughts…..and oh, did I have thoughts. I had barely slept in the passed 2 months, preparing for you, worrying about everything under the sun, smiling and then crying because some crazy fear would creep into my happy dreams.

I am not sure how it happened but alas, the sun finally broke, I woke Scotty and ushered him to the car and we made the short trek to the hospital……Today, was the day, the day I met my child…..I pondered, yet my inner dialogue kept teasing me I felt too afraid to get overtly optimistic. The other side of me kept whispering over my shoulder, “It is just another day, you will leave here empty handed.” “She will keep her.” “You aren’t meant to be a mother.” I almost shouted aloud for that voice to shut up! We were sent to a private room which was void, no cards, no flowers, no visitors, only dank gray walls and sterile furnishings because no one visited someone when they aren’t sure that person would be a parent at the end of the day. I spruced the drab room up with a diaper wreath, a few blankets, a small bear, all the little bows I had for you, and a few outfits. The nurse updated us that they were about to deliver you and I busied my hands. I sanitized the entire room wiping every nook and cranny, I folded and refolded your outfits, then a knock at the door revealed a nurse that looked like she had grave news…my heart stopped. “The baby is here, she is doing well, but the biological mom has decided to take her to her room.”

Legally, I had no rights to voice a concern about MY daughter going to someone else’s room when we agreed there would be no one holding her after delivery. Yet, at the same time, how could I even be angry? This woman was potentially giving me my child, the greatest gift a person could ever want. The pessimistic side of me kept rearing it’s ugly head, “You know she will keep this baby.” What makes you think after 8 miscarriages, that you will actually be a mom?” On and on, my world spun until I was dizzy sitting upon it’s axis. I sent a prayer upwards and made my way to the nursery glass…nothing could have prepared me for the immense emotion that would engulf me or the beauty that awaited me there. I looked inside the nursery windows where at least half a dozen babies rested or screamed in their little carts….yet my eyes landed on you. I cannot explain how I knew YOU were my daughter but I felt it to my core. My breath caught in my throat, my finger longingly traced your outline. You were crying, rather fretfully, and this tug in my heart almost made me jump through that glass and pull you to my chest. I have never in my life felt so many emotions at once, I was so happy, I was so scared, I was so excited, I was so anxious, and I laughed, cried, even screamed, within short intervals of time. I gazed at your face, your fingers, your hair..and in one instant you were imprinted upon my soul!!!!!! Inwardly, I knew that I had loved 8 faceless babies, 8 miscarriages before I even heard the beating of their heart and they haunted me like ghosts from another life, threatening to send me spiraling over the edge of sanity…..but you were different. You had a face, you were here, you were real, you had hair the color of honey that my fingers ached to touch, blue eyes that were brighter than the northern lights and I couldn’t wait to see them looking up at me, tiny feet engraved with the wrinkles of a babe that I wanted to kiss…..I was pulled to you! You were only a pane of glass away but yet you felt as unattainable as the babies I had lost. I cannot do this, I kept thinking, I cannot lose her……..then they wheeled you out of my sight.

I sat in my room, completely entranced in prayer, my mom and husband were nearby but I didn’t reach for them. I was too busy with my own doubts and fears that I couldn’t fathom entertaining all the questions and worries they had. I got in my prayer closet, which at this time happened to be a hospital bed. I begged silently and although it seemed like days…..it was only four hours and a wrap at the door reeled me back to life. “She is asking for you to come to her room.”Quickly, my husband arose and was reprimanded with the single sentence, “She only wants, April.” I tried to appear brave, glancing at Scotty telling him that I was strong enough. I was strong enough to walk into a room, look upon my child’s face and be told that she wasn’t mine after all. I knew full well I wasn’t strong enough……but I could hear your screams down the hall and it had taken all of my will to not lunge the short distance to you. Because something in my heart told me that you needed me and I knew without a doubt I needed you.

I walked into the doors, trying to appear confident although my shaky legs threatened to let me topple over at any second. The lighting was poor, but as I pulled back the curtain, she sat there, holding you in her arms, and the urge to swoop you and run was stronger than ever. Somehow, I kept my composure, I looked at your tiny face, all bunched up in a grumpy frown, and your cheeks red from the exertion it was taken to show your disapproval with this new place. I glanced at her, this woman, this extraordinary woman who had just birthed you, then her eyes met mine. “I’m sorry, April.”

My knees buckled and I felt my world slide away, but then I felt a hand on my shoulder, “I didn’t mean to keep her so long. Are you ready to meet your daughter, Mommy?” I choked, I cried, I gasped but somehow my arms were steady when she placed you in them. My gratitude to her could never be defined but I looked down upon your face that had moments earlier been fretful and red had immediately gone into a restful sleep.

“She knew you were her mommy and not me! The moment you picked her up she knew that is where she belonged.” Her birth mother smiled a smile genuine and true.

I swear I saw a smile cross your tiny rosebud lips. I smiled down at you and kissed you atop your soft hair, “I sure have missed you my whole life. But you were worth the wait. I am your Mommy, and I have waited my entire existence for you.” You were and always will be the best day of my life.”

I let the tears pour from my eyes with such a force that I thought for sure I would drown you with them. I lifted you so that at long last I could smell your fluffy duck hair; it smelt like Heaven. I kissed you every inch of your face your brand new skin was so soft. After a long hug, there was so much I wanted to say to this woman who had handed me the greatest gift in my life, but no words would come. I looked at her and she nodded, because she knew exactly what my mommy heart was feeling. No words were needed, for no words would have done justice to this miraculous moment.

I had to fight myself not to race you down the hall in your little cart because I wanted to show you to your nanny and Daddy. I opened the door to our room and they both sit stoically. They were sure I was going to come into that room without you, but when I wheeled you in the whole room lit up. Your daddy’s face was wrecked with a mixture of emotion, relief, excitement……and an all-consuming love for you. Nanny began praising God and I joined in as I handed you to your father.

“I don’t remember them being this little. Look at all her hair. Am I holding her right? April, we have a daughter!” He embraced me with you pushed between both our hearts and at last I felt like a real family. I felt so complete. I watched as Nanny cried and kissed you before laying you upon her chest. I will forever remember that image as I glanced over seeing you both sleeping and knowing that if you were both that peaceful that everything would be alright! I resisted the urge to go pick you up because I longed to feel your weight against my chest but instead I just sat and watched you sleep!! Daddy wrapped his arm around me and for the first time since we found out you were coming….we felt sure that you were home in our arms.

“Can you believe it, April? We have a daughter!” Scotty whispered into my ear as I pressed my head to his chest.

“I can’t believe it. She is so perfect! Today our Braelyn ReAnn was born. Today, I became a MOMMY! I get to be her mommy for the rest of my life……” I responded to your already snoring father…this is what contentment felt like, this is what motherhood felt like, this is what family felt like….bliss, happiness, joy, love…..and completeness.

I couldn’t stand you not being in my arms any longer. I walked over, gently scooping you up. I pulled you in, I put your head against my heart, “Braelyn, my heart beat is forever changed because it has you engraved upon it now! Can you hear it singing your name? My sweet baby, you mended my broken heart and I don’t know how it ever beat without you! My whole existence I have been missing you. Missing this little face that I had never seen. I have searched the whole world over but until today you weren’t here…..this day, January 16, 2009 I found the missing piece to my universe.”

You were asleep, I stared at you with wonder. Your perfect face was turned up towards mine, your tiny little mouth was shaped in an “O” as you slept and I knew you had know idea what I was babbling about….I felt the tears sting my eyes, I felt the familiar lump in my throat….this was what being a mommy felt like. “I am not worthy of her, Lord. She is perfection. You crafted her just for me! I know I was impatient, I know I was begrudging some times because you were not answering me. Forgive me, God, I didn’t know your hands were busy molding this miracle. She was worth the wait. I give you all the glory because you loved me enough to make me her mommy!” I cried tears of sorrow for all the times I lacked faith, all the days I was angry, all the times I tried to do things my way. All the while, God loved me enough to create you anyways. If He never showed me favor again, He had showed me more than I deserved in a million lifetimes. It has been ten years now and I keep thanking him every time my eyes land on you. I still stare at you in wonder at your beauty. I still get choked up at the realization that I am YOUR mom because you will forever be the best birthday gift I will ever receive!

Dinky Do Turns 7

11-07-2017

Dinky Do,

Well, my beautiful little love, it is your 7th birthday today. Every birthday you or your sister have makes Mommy a little emotional. Each one for different reasons. The first one was because you weren’t technically an infant, the second one because you were officially a toddler, the third one because you were in between a toddler an a little girl, and on and on it goes. This year…well it is your golden birthday, the day you were born and the age you are at. I can remember so vividly the day you made your entrance into this world, and it is lost on me how that was 2555 days ago! You came into this world a wise soul, independent, fierce and you were your own person from day one. It was like you knew who you were before you were born. You are not afraid to ask for what you want or need. You are strong-willed…stubborn even but that will serve you when you grow up. Each year I think, I wish I could just capture her at this age and keep her here. I would love to go back in time and kiss the top of your soft wispy hair as a newborn, I would love to watch you once more at one mastering walking and saying mommy, I would relish in talking to your two year old version and hearing the sweet voice still full of babyish innocence, I would relive and revisit each one of your years of life.

The thing is, my tiny Brynlee Jean, with every passing day you blossom, you grow, you emerge a different little being and it is both bewildering, and bittersweet. This year, I have noticed so much change in you. Not only your appearance which morphed from baby cute to stunningly beautiful. You carry yourself with such confidence and you are just sure of who you are. I envy that you don’t need or ask for anyone’s acceptance of you, you are a take me or leave me type of girl, not willing to conform just to impress someone. That makes me proud as I know when you get a bit older you will be sound, and rock solid on your beliefs and won’t be swayed by others that may try to influence you. I see in you a fierce leader, not because you are bossy, but because you are diplomatic. You may be no nonsense, all business most of the time but you are fair, empathetic, loyal and you will be the first to stick up for someone you feel is being wronged or hurt. You are this wisp of a thing with a personality that is bigger than life.

I watch you with your sister, and it is my absolute favorite thing in the world. You two fight, you squabble, you bicker, and you even get sick of each other. But, the bond you share is magical to behold. Although, you are the little sister you aren’t afraid to play the caregiver role. From the age of two you were talking for Braelyn, telling others what she needed, like you had your own shared language. Your sister is much different than you which is what makes you both special. She likes to be cared for, taken care of, and being assured that she is still your best friend at the end of the day. You aren’t one to be lovey dovey….you get that honest except when it comes to you girls and your cousins. You would rather eat dirt than tell Braelyn that you love her, or goodness forbid give her a hug. But you are a person that shows their love through actions. You will go and find your sister her favorite toy, ask her to join in with you playing a game that you don’t like just because she does. You will defend her even against me and that makes my heart grow knowing that whatever comes her way she will have you by her side just like I have your Aunt Boo. You promise Mommy, that you will never stop watching out for her, ok? She will need you through this life and trust me you will need her.

A few months ago, I witnessed a new side of you that just brings tears to my eyes every time I recall it. We were at Chuck E Cheese, which we don’t visit often because it is chaos, and it gets expensive pretty quick. But on a whim I decided to let you girls decide what it was you wanted to do, and that is what you chose. I put 15 dollars on each of your cards so you could play the games. Your sister paused to take a minute to take a picture with me. You, however couldn’t be bothered with stopping for a picture (you get that from your dad), so you ran along to play a racing game. I went back to my booth and watched you for a bit. A while later you both returned to eat some pizza but before going back out to play you realized that you had laid your card down somewhere that had all your remaining tokens on it. Braelyn quickly came to assist finding it, and after we all searched alas it was gone. Someone had picked it up. I had told you when we arrived to keep up with it because I wasn’t going to buy another one. You weren’t going to ask me too either because even at six you knew it cost money but that didn’t stop the big tears from welling in your eyes. Without a single thought or prompting your sister reached into her pocket and got her card out and handed it to you. You just stood there, the tears you had been holding back fell silently to your cheeks and Braelyn said, “You can have my dollars, Sissy!” I watched as you felt the love of a sister, the sacrifice she would give to spare you pain, the fact that she was selfless enough to give you her card although we don’t visit this place often..and it surprised all of us when you (the one who never hugs your sister) without thought jumped and grabbed her in a sincere hug openingly crying in gratitude for her small but very big gesture. You embraced her for at least two minutes and Braelyn picked you up and held you until you had finished the moment. I sat there with a lump in my throat and tears streaking down my face. That was the most innocent, heartfelt, sincere and genuine moment I have witnessed. You took her hand and I am pretty sure she would have gave you every token she had every day for the gratitude you gave her in that moment. Until the day the breath leaves my body I will remember that moment. The moment you realized the worth of your sister, the moment you realized she was always in your corner, that instance that you were mature enough to grasp a straw of what having a sister truly entails.

I am so proud of the little girl you have become. It makes me sad to see you growing up but excited to see how you will blossom in the years to come! I love you, Dinky Do!

Love,

Mommy

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!

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 😦 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