People often inquire now how the “blending” is going?
It’s simultaneously beautiful and hard I confess.
Grace doled out on a daily basis from husband to wife, girl to girl, stepparent to stepchild.
Like my races, some miles punctured with highs and others with lows, I find the hours of my days stretching out in the same manner.
The secret sauce I am finding is in the surrender.
If I recognize that so much of this transition cannot be controlled, if I lead with love, our new family thrives.
Nothing worth having comes easy my papa would tell me. How right he was.
Here’s the deal, this woman,
this one here,
in the white dress and big smile-
I’ll let you in on a secret.
She fails daily.
She at times finds it hard to breathe.
She’s been a less than perfect ex-wife.
She’s struggled with forgiveness.
She is an impatient mom.
She willingly admits these faults now because she is a recovering perfectionist.
In the recovery she has learned that the only way to slay the dragon is to acknowledge it and to name it.
You see the chase to perfect has eaten her soul at times.
It’s driven her body to revolt with shingles and kept her awake at night struggling to make her home look just as perfect as she hoped her heart would feel.
But perfect is an illusion.
It always leaves you wanting more.
What she craves is the joy that is born from the brokenness, from the failing.
So today, when she fails at work, at mothering, at being a wife, she will pause and remind herself that this life is much sweeter when she loves herself as her father loves her.
With or without that white dress and the big smile, full of imperfections, she will rest in his arms.
It was in this moment I knew, what she meant when she told me to float.
Here, in this church, pews lined with those who had been cheering us on, I felt myself float.
And as we vowed to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, a rush of our heavenly father’s love enveloped us.
A love I thought I needed to earn; one that couldn’t possibly be meant for this broken, sometimes bitter, woman.
But, yet I stood with this man, too impossibly good for words to describe, in front of six ecstatic girls pledging to walk with him forever. The father’s love for us palpable.
It happened because I said yes.
When feelings lay heavy on my heart to become Catholic, I said yes.
When he whispered in my ear that if a relationship was of his design, it demanded more, I let the old fall away and said yes to the new.
When my daughters said it was time for Momma to fall in love, I said yes to the trying which lead to those three new precious souls running into my arms and the subsequent yes to all that loving.
And when he called me to float down that aisle to the man in the gray suit who was pledging to become one with me, I listened.
I said yes.
And I floated.
Sometimes a momma’s heart just hurts.
There are things she cannot fix with kisses or hugs.
Little girls growing pains, stretching that at times feels unbearable.
The urge as a parent is to fix it, yet fixing isn’t what she asks of me.
I listen and hold back the words, refrain from spewing all sorts of advice. And in the holding back learn that parenting is sometimes best done in silence.
This transition from child to young adult is about learning to sift through the quicksands of life on one’s own.
So I will sit, make up excuses to take her for morning coffee and steal hugs when she passes me in the hall. This time I cannot make it all o.k. but I can hold the hurt in my hands and blanket her in love.
Dear Ellery Jane,
Wow did this year just fly.
I look at you, sound asleep in my bed, and I still see remnants of my newborn.
Seven years ago you emerged on the scene, eager to take your seat at the table.
Life instantaneously became more interesting with you in it.
You are full of big words and big ideas.
You are passionate.
You are hilarious.
I am so proud of the person you are becoming.
This year will be full of change. We talk about that a lot don’t we?
Do me a favor baby girl- keep talking.
Keep using your voice to tell us how you feel.
Those feelings are real, they are valid and they deserve to be heard.
I can’t wait to watch the next twelve months unfold for you.
Thank you for the happy you bring to our family.
Happy birthday my beautiful girl.
P.S.- Your favorite part. I gave you a sneak peek earlier this week.
This year’s birthday song.
It was wrapped in layers of tissue.
Purging led to its discovery.
The girls couldn’t have been more delighted by the appearance.
The dress a 22-year-old girl wore to wed her beau,
now worn by the next generation during a nighttime game of dress up.
They twirled and spun and looked more first communion than wedding day.
And as laughter filled the house, smiles in honor of the dance that brought us here.
“Wake me up in the middle of the night Momma”.
What she really means is when the sky is dark, grab me from my bed, wrap me in a blanket and cuddle me on the couch.
Before sissy’s wake up, homework needs completed and breakfasts are made, in your arms give me moments of quiet slumber.
A tradition started soon after her daddy moved out.
My alarm clock would ring at 4:45am and the treadmill would beckon.
Most days, when I would return from the run, I would find her asleep on the couch. Awoken by the movements of my mornings; needing me, but knowing even at three the importance of those runs for her Momma, she staked her claim on the couch and patiently waited.
Together we came up with a solution.
The morning run complete, I would sneak into her room and whisper in her ear,
“It’s the middle of the night, shall we cuddle”.
And now as we await the addition of four new family members, the requests have returned.
She is finding her own ways of articulating what she needs to manage this life transition.
And, I am finding, our needs are not all that different.
Thirteen it is,
at the threshold of high school,
I just love who you are.
endlessly fascinating to me.
A gazillion words and none could do justice in describing you.
Over the last twelve months, it has been such a gift to watch you grow your talents.
You are acutely aware of the needs of others, whether that be your horse, your best friends or your Momma. The way you engage with thoughtful questions and generous compliments makes each person in your presence feel loved and valued. That gift my dear will take you farther than any algebra skills ever could (apologies to your eighth grade math teacher).
Your drive is impressive. Would you do me a favor though? Give yourself a moment each day to pause and reflect on all you have accomplished. There will always be something else to strive for, but the here and now will be gone before you know it.
Thank you for your laughter, your cooking abilities so lovingly shared with your family, your attention to detail and for kissing me goodbye in the drop off line at school.
I’m very excited for your year ahead.
Happiest of birthday’s Sidney Reagan.
I promised you nothing sappy for this year’s birthday song. I failed. I love you baby girl.
Seems silly that with the end of July we face the end of our summer, the start of school around the bend.
Seventeen sleeps before our carefree days are over.
I’m simply not ready.
The summer camps, the trips, the lazy nights lingering with friends will soon be replaced with homework, evening activities and dinners eaten on the run.
As Matt and I talked last night about the impending end, a large part of me wanted to revolt, to grab those babies and leave it all behind in favor of a never ending supply of cotton candy.
But, we are called to be in this place, moving through our days, preparing hearts and minds for a lifetime of more adventures.
So I will pull out the lunch bags and begin the school prep, but if you find I am slower to return your emails or your texts go unanswered, know I’m just busy soaking up a few more summer days.
We live our lives with the applause meter on.
The channels of social media feed the human desire for acclaim.
But, to live an authentic life, one in which we force ourselves to acknowledge the pieces that are less than show ready, that’s a challenge.
I was tired.
Really, really tired.
I needed coffee or a nap or both.
Little girls scurried.
Please Lord, next time prompt me to warn them when these things are brewing.
This is the piece of me I’m learning to love.
No one else to blame, just a recovering perfectionist who cannot rest before it’s all complete.
The woman who simply can’t manage when something is left undone.
Apologies were whispered, when really they should have been exclaimed.
Little girls tucked away for the night will soon forget the mistakes made.
The best of me sometimes comes from the worst of me.
Tomorrow we’ll go at it again.