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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Here

The leaving is hard to explain.

Fulfilling work, beautiful friendships and things still left to learn

but, the longing persisted. I listened and left.

After a decade, leaving behind a “dream job”, because it wasn’t where he was calling me to be.

People were perplexed by the choice.

Four months later I find myself most Tuesday and some Friday morning’s, on an almost three hour road trip through Ohio’s heartland.

At 5:00 a.m., while children slumber and the rest of the world sips their Starbucks, I am alone on winding, country roads.

The years of early morning runs have prepared me for this meditation.

It’s nothing more than mental when one small town turns into another small town and the sun has yet to rise.

I dodge deer, map out the day ahead and daydream about beach vacations with my beautiful girls and their handsome papa.

Just about the time I’m ready for the morning commute to be over, I see the fog in the valley and make the final turn up the hill and I’m onto campus.

Waiting for me there will be meetings and memos.

The day will be long.

The learning curve steep.

And when dusk begins to settle over that little hilltop, I will hop back in the car and make the journey home.

I will be greeted by smiling girls and a sense of satisfaction knowing that for now this is where he is calling me to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anniversary

It’s not a fairytale.

It’s dirty socks found on kitchen chairs, next to toilets and in the dog’s cage.

It’s six lunches needing packed.

It’s scooters left out behind parked cars and its cold showers.

It’s the sounds of little girl’s laughter creeping through closed doors well after bedtime.

It’s tears by the tub-full and grace upon grace.

It’s “I love you” spoken when least expected.

It’s the desire of a man and a woman to live out this vocation with sometimes painful honesty which means it’s acceptance that what was broken can’t be made whole again.

It’s the understanding that no amount of family meetings or vacations can bring back what six girls lost when their biological parents parted ways. But, it is the belief, that while not perfect, not a fairytale, it is a home.

 

 

 

 

 

14

Dear Sidney,

So it seems fourteen is upon us. I now must acknowledge that you are without a doubt a teenager.

Welcome to these next four years full of discovery.

Days that will fly bye in such a way that at some point, way off in the future, you’ll look back on this time and wish you hadn’t rushed it so.

Pause here my love.

Enjoy the air turning from summer to fall and the field hockey games that will puncture its night sky.

Sit in the rocking chairs on the porch laughing until you cry.

Allow your mom to take you out on dates.

Go a whole week with letting the suns glow be the only make up that touches your face.

Remember the way it feels to walk in the door after a long day of school and practice and drop that heavy backpack on the floor. That’s the weight of the world falling away my sweet girl.

At fourteen you carry yourself with more grace than women two times your age.

You are resilient.

You are tough.

You are dependable.

You are honest.

You are without a doubt the best thing that came of my first 26 years on this earth.

Thank you for allowing me to grow this year and for forgiving me time and time again.

It is such a privilege to be your Momma.

I love you Sidney Reagan.

Happiest of birthday’s.

Momma

PS- no sap only upbeat for this year’s song

 

 

Breckenridge

At first the thought of leaving seemed selfish.

Money had been spent on a wedding and a Disney vacation with our girls was around the corner.

But, if we didn’t carve out time alone now, then when?

After sifting through options it became clear that 4 nights and 5 days in Breckenridge, CO was where we were meant to land.

Twenty- four hours into our married life, we boarded a plan and found ourselves in the middle of those mountains.

And with nothing preplanned we made our way to daily mass where beautiful people prayed for our marriage then gave us some tips on good food and hiking.

Up to 12,500 feet elevation we climbed one day. My stubbornness almost got the best of us but this man, this partner, he’s my balance and his steadiness gave us direction.

We spent hours talking about our goals for the future, for ourselves and our family.

And when it was time to go, more gratefulness flooded my heart.

Happy to see our girls and ready for the real journey to begin.

 

To Float

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes

In God’s house,

on bended knee,

he asked for my hand.

These girls, this man, this beautiful life and the journey that brought us together – yes.

When the giggles subsided, with tears flowing, we joined our hands and bowed our heads in prayer. Gratefulness poured out of me as I promised our heavenly father I would seek each day to be the wife, the mother, the women, he is calling me to be.

Our lives now joyful, together.