Tall trees

Matthew is an arborist by trade.

He warned me once about the fate of some neighborhood trees. He spoke of how they would fall.

A new house in our community had been built; tall pines cut down to make room for it.

Where there had once been a rich forest only a few remained.

Matthew told me of how the trees that had grown accustomed to the shelter provided by others would now be left vulnerable.

No sooner had the first major storm passed than one of the remaining pines found itself on the brand new roof.

I think of Matthew’s words often.

The analogy fitting.

As we stand two years into building our family, I am reminded of how we predicted the rains and the winds, but underestimated the forest that surrounded us.

They can’t stop the storm, but they bear the brunt of it’s beating.

During a week when the forecast is particularly brutal, I find myself filled with gratitude for the gifts of those who stand beside us. May we one day be their forest.

Thirteen

January 12, 2020

 

Dear Audrey Hope,

It was just last month when I realized you had made that transition from girl to young woman. We were waiting for you to perform at your recital. I caught you in your chair taking deep breathes. I assumed your were nervous. When I asked you got a silly smile on your face and told me you were doing the breathing exercises your teacher had taught you. Then you walked up front, played your guitar and belted out your song. Your confidence in your craft was impressive, but more than that it was your independence. You had this. Why would I doubt?

So today beautiful girl you turn thirteen and I can’t but help remember the baby you were. Your Papi said you looked like a cabbage patch doll and with the round face and big blue eyes you really did.

You’ve been a gift from the moment your graced our world. You have always been easygoing.

You roll with the punches and you teach your rigid Momma to do the same.

Your world is big and your heart is even bigger.

Thank you for loving all of us so effortlessly.

The way you reach out to cuddle and care even when we are at our prickliest, is pretty special.

This year will hold great things for you, I just know it.

Keep in mind I am along for the ride. There will be more date nights, conversations about good books and dance parties in the kitchen.

I love you baby girl.

I am so proud to be your Momma.

Happy 13!

Love,

Momma

PS- In appreciation for both the words and the talent behind the guitar, it had to be Cat Stevens for this year’s birthday song.

 

Away

 

We left.

Packed our bags. Pulled out the drive. Drove south.

13 hours and one detour later we made it to our destination.

Now we spend these days soaking up the shore.

It may not make sense to many. Why we choose to leave behind holidays at home.

But you see, when these lives have been about the tug and pull of one house or another, special days can become a blur. By removing ourselves from what was, we have a chance to focus on what is.

Building this family not by glitter or gold, by the gift of our presence.

 

 

 

Hard

The husband captured the moment.

Wife contemplating months of mothering.

The waves, the metaphor for the back and forth of the season.

Just when she thought a course had been charted, a decision reached, a new question would wash ashore.

The weight of the world rested on those shoulders.

And then it was over.

And now she can’t quite remember why it was all so hard, in part because this season has welcomed a new hard.

The heavy is here and the waves aren’t retreating.

So she will once again stand at the edge. She will ponder the places he’s calling her to.

She will remember that the hard brings the happy.

And she will be grateful for this gift.

 

 

 

 

Ellery Jane at 9

September 24, 2019

Dear Ellery Jane,

It seems as if nine is upon us.

As I sit, caught off guard by the passage of time, I think about the beautiful girl you are becoming.

Day turning into day, finding myself wishing I had hit record on the thoughtful words you fill our hours with. Today you inquired as to when I thought we had become so close? When had you and I developed this bond? I told you of how we were knitted together before God placed you in my belly.

You my darling child are bold. You are strong. You are a leader.

You are persistent and you are just as much grit as you are grace.

I am most excited to see where these next years take you.

I have now doubt you could become a teacher or an astronaut or our President.

Do me a favor will you? Keep talking to me. Keep telling me where you hide the hurts.

I promise to keep loving on you. I’ll make sure to make those silly faces at school drop off and always hold my arms wide open when I pick you up each afternoon.

Don’t stop dancing and dreaming and doing everything that makes you uniquely Ellery Jane.

I love you to the moon and back.

Your one and only Momma

PS – We’re going to be alright, odds are.

 

 

 

 

Recovering

Dear Dad,

I wish I had thanked you for the butterscotch candies on the desk;

the dance parties (the ones where my feet on top of yours made indentations in the living room carpet);

the long car rides ending with ice cream in a baseball cap;

for the nights spent in the garage checking tire pressure and oil levels;

for conversations over cups of coffee and

for that time when we fought and you apologized by returning home from Kmart with a pair of black boots that made me feel like Debbie Gibson.

I wish I had thanked you for your belief in the beauty of that permed and pimpley faced eleven year old.

I know there were hard years.

Times in the blue chair when you wondered why your opinion once important now meant so little. Days when you wished a few laps around the high school track, your girl keeping pace, could bridge the divide.

Thank you for never waivering.

Your confidence would bring you through the dry spell until once again your words held weight.

I found you in the birth of my daughters.

Your smile in Audrey. Your hard-headedness in Sid.

I wish I could thank you for helping me to navigate those first sleepless night,

for the phone calls,

the long runs,

the days at the beach while I rested tired eyes and you wrangled little girls.

If you were here now I’d thank you for Ellery Jane. Her tough exterior, booming voice and tender heart is the physical reminder of your presence.

The places I found solace after you left us; your library and it’s books with your handwritten notations in the margins, they provided great comfort. I wish I could thank you for guiding me back to God.

Recovering from your loss is what brought me here.

Your death informed.

I want to thank you for Matt and Sydney and Molly and Zoey, for this life that longs to live in service to others.

Thank you for those thirty years of loving me on earth and the twelve spent guiding from above.

I hope I make you proud.

Forever your girl,

Heather Ann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

Dear Sidney,

Fifteen years come and gone. 5,475 days passed in the blink of an eye.

Then 7lbs 12 oz and all leg,

today 5’11 inches of grit and grace.

Here is what I want you to know as you sit on the threshold of independence.

Take time to smile at strangers.

Get mad when you meet indifference.

If it feels wrong, don’t do it.

Wear your poker face only when playing poker.

When you don’t want to pray, that’s the exact moment your knees should meet the floor.

Listen to your Momma when she asks you to make your bed, but ignore her when she tells you to stop stealing chocolate chips from the pantry. Oh and always say yes to the chocolate shake. Life’s to short not to indulge your sweet tooth.

Remember your roots, carry on tradition. Us Dahlberg’s can parallel park like no one’s business. We expect nothing less from you as well (Uncle David’s example does allow you to fail the drivers test twice before passing as long as your parking game is on point).

You are strong, capable, loving, intuitive, smart as a whip and better than any darn daughter I could have dreamed up.

You have all the tools, now refine the skills.

I am so grateful for the gift of being your Momma.

Happiest of Birthday my darling girl.

Keep dreaming big.  I’m here to dream with you.

I love you to the moon and back,

Your one and only Momma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question

The question asked.

“Are they all yours?”

We were in line waiting to use the restroom.

My smile and head nod, not enough of an answer for her.

“Were you trying for a boy?”

Thankful the stall door opened and my no” could end the conversation.

The truth is the story of our family cannot be shared in three second sound bites.

The girls know that. They don’t discuss details with curious strangers.

If asked they tell of their five sisters.

Yes there are six of them, no twins.

They often throw in a line about how the dog is a girl too.

It doesn’t matter they didn’t all come from one womb. They are woven together.

In those brief interactions with others, I struggle with the desire to summerize all that is our family.

Yet, these fierce, loyal, loving young ladies have come to understand what is taking their Momma year’s to accept -nothing needs explained.

Next time maybe I need not wish the inquiry away.

Joy in the knowledge that my daughters know what family is.

Sydney at 12

Dear Sydney,

I wish you were reading this on your birthday!

With the busyness of April and May, the days slipped away and almost a full month later you finally get to read my birthday mushiness. I’m sorry for the lateness kiddo. I promise I will do better next year.

You’re simply the best bonus daughter a step-momma could ask for.

Loving, kind, patient, hardworking, dedicated, funny and pretty darn smart.

Being a part of this loud, opinionated family can certainly challenge one’s patience yet your  approach is always level-headed.

The back and forth between homes with it’s changing rules and shifting boundries could be a struggle for anyone and you navigate it all with an unending reserve of grace.

Your ability to embrace my extended family has left me teary eyed. 

I am easily filled with hope for our tribe of eight when you are around.

Thank you Sydney Rae for allowing me to play a small role in your life.

I’m always here should you need a Starbucks run or a dance party in the kitchen.

Happiest of birthday’s my love!

H

 

PS-

This may just be the most perfect birthday song ever. I hope you get what I am saying with this pick.

 

 

 

 

Audrey at 12

Dear Audrey Hope,

You are bold. You are brave. You are incredibly beautiful.

You tell stories, weaving words together and turning the mundane into magic.

When people come into your presence, they most immediately feel loved.

And that smile! It simply lights up our lives.This birthday feels different, a bit of nostalgia mixed in with the moment. The threshold of the teenage years crossed, earning more of your independence with each passing day.I want to keep you close, to protect you from the ugly this world can throw. But, in doing so, it would also hold you back from the joy that comes after the ache.

I am so very proud of you.

I know you will make good decisions.

Never doubt how much you are loved and how uniquely and wonderfully made you are.

I believe in you.

Love,

Momma

P.S.- This years birthday song says it better than I ever could