Summer’s End

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.

 

Authentic

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.

I snapped.

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.

 

 

 

Chicago

When the school year ends the girls and I pack our bags and head out.

The kick off to summer break always begins with a trip.

This year we headed to Chicago for three nights with beautiful friends who have become family.

We love them with all our hearts (so does our Anja girl).

It was Anja’s first road trip as a part of this tribe,

and each night she was worn out from the cuddles.

We’re so grateful for these people who love us when they aren’t required to;

who open their home and their hearts, and

whose wisdom and counsel is always shared with our best interest in mind.

If there is one example my girls remember from their years with me, I hope it is of friendship.

Chose wisely my girls.

When you find the women who will willingly go all in,

hold on tight.

There is nothing better than a life lived with others whose only desire is to see you soar.

 

 

 

 

Pride

Sometimes I think I don’t tell her enough how proud I am of her.

This girl with her smile as open as her heart.

The one who works hard,

keeps her promises,

and loves without condition.

The two of us, we have learned together.

A million and one mothering mistakes I’m sure I’ve made.

And now as she stands 5’9 and full of forgiveness for all of my failings, I am supremely proud of the young women she has become.

 

The Husbands

They are an unexpected bonus.

Their wives, on the other hand, were a given.

I knew the minute we met, a thousand years ago as college freshman, that our friendship was forever. I don’t believe, at the time, I thought about how the men they would marry would participate in our story as well.

And now, fresh off a fortieth birthday celebration weekend in Florida with these ladies, I find myself reflecting on the unexpected gifts of our friendship- those men who love them.

I looked back through my library to find their photos. Not at all surprisingly there weren’t many pictures. Not because they aren’t present at our gatherings; but rather, because they are often the ones behind the camera, off wrangling toddlers or fixing worms to hooks on fishing poles.

These men are a constant presence.

The girls refer to them as their uncles.

Among the first to hold them upon their births;

participants in birthday parties, thanksgiving dinners, spring break adventures and the yearly Labor Day weekend reunion.

They’ve rough housed, fixed bike tires and encouraged silly behavior that their Momma would have never allowed.

The gifts extend beyond their influence on my girls.

I’ve sought their counsel on topics ranging from financial planning to the purchasing of new computers.

They’ve served as my cheerleaders, my running partners and my changer of light bulbs.

Most importantly they’ve encouraged and nurtured the friendship I share with their wives, never questioning my place in the lexicon of their family.

Thanks boys for loving your wives the way you do,

for being the incredible dads you are and

for being my friend.

I’m glad I’m on this journey with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love

“I said I love you Momma and now he’s gone”, the words choked out between the sobs.

“I shouldn’t have loved him if it wasn’t going to be forever”, the ache in her heart a reflection of the joy his presence brought.

“Baby girl but isn’t that how Jesus taught us?” My words offered in the moment through God’s grace.

“We are to love without expectation”, I reminded her and I.

“You felt it and you gave it freely. Don’t ever feel badly about giving your love”.

“You are my brave girl”.

 

 

Talent Show

She caught me as I walked in the door.

Waving the green paper in her hand, telling me she was going to do the school talent show. All she needed was my signature.

What if she froze on stage?

What if kids laughed?

What if she looked at the others; the gymnast flipping, the ballerina leaping and the boy and his violin concerto, and somehow she felt less then?

How could I place her in the path of those possibilities?

Wasn’t my job to protect? Yet there she stood asking me to be a willing accomplice.

I was worn down in the moment. The paper signed, off she went.

For weeks she practiced with her friend and talked excitedly about the show.

Even after the preparation, I worried.

The evening arrived.

Glowing faces, happy smiles as parents and grandparents lined the aisles.

I sat glued to the hard, metal, folding chair wishing the night away, placing my own elementary school fears squarely on the shoulders of my ten year old.

Fears of rejection and failure from a recovering perfectionist, no wonder the air felt heavy.

But, as it always happens, she took the chance to teach me.

She sang.

Her face flushed with excitement, voice beginning softly then growing in confidence. The two friends side by side supporting one another.

Two minutes gone in the blink of an eye and it was over.

The exhale was for me alone. She had not needed it.

My story was not hers.

She wrote her own that night.

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer

A rough night at gymnastics.

A cut, a fall, more tumbles when tumbling was not supposed to happen.

A quick trip for frozen yogurt and a smile returns.

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Just as the sun sinks into the sky, while she licks the last remnants of treat from the spoon, her small voice catches me off guard.

“What can I pray for you for Momma?”

I cannot claim credit for teaching her to ask the question.

After weeks of watching us start each Sunday mass with that question to the person in the pew beside us, she has learned this is a way she can engage.

Her church community has nurtured in her the desire to connect in this manner.

I paused not sure how to answer.

There is a line I’ve often felt when revealing ones prayers that are closest to the heart.

“Will you pray for guidance and for wisdom for Momma?”

With the heart of a six year old her response makes me pause one more time.

“Can we pray now Momma? I want to pray for you and for some others I’ve been thinking about.”

Grateful for our church.

Grateful for this journey of mothering where I receive more then I give.

 

Here now

Haircuts and braids,

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string’s concerts,

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cuddling on the couch,

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books together before bed,

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budding artists and their designs,

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Valentine’s celebration’s.

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Always thinking far ahead when in reality, simply here, now, is were I need to be.

 

 

For When She Turned 10

Dear Audrey Hope,

Double digits kiddo.

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You’ve hit it.

10 is here.

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Happy Birthday!!!

Before we celebrate the big day, can I gush about you for a moment?

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You make your momma so incredibly proud.

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You are light and love and all things good in this world.

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You touch people with your generous spirit and your smile is as wide as a rainbow.

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You dance through each day. You radiate energy.

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Most importantly your presence in our lives is a reminder that this life is a joy to live.

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As you walk your way through your tenth year there are a few things I want you to remember.

You will accomplish great things.

You will move mountains and make this world a better place.

I know this as it was embedded on my heart the moment the nurse placed your head on my chest on January 12, 2007.

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Don’t give anyone the power to place doubts in your head about your abilities.

Follow the prompts of the quiet voice inside your heart. God is working in you.

Finally, don’t ever forget how loved you are. My love for you is immeasurable.

Enjoy this year and all the blessings it will bring.

Happy birthday my darling girl.

I thank God for choosing me to be your Momma.

I love you,

Momma

PS- This, this my love is what I want you to remember. Play it often and soak in the words- your birthday song.