Old Houses

Old houses carry baggage.

Years of abandonement mean aches and pains that must be treated.

We know her war wounds and trust that this is where we are meant to be.

She will require years of hard labor.

Days will be spent digging and grating and hauling away the signs of neglect.

Who better to rebuild a broken space then those who understand how scars become beauty marks?

As we manage the unending waiting game of will we or won’t we get an offer on the place we live today, we will be content with our dreams about the day that old house gets to welcome us home.

Buying a Farm

Our life has circled the edges of it.

The horse we own, the husband whose work is with the land and the children who desire to live outside more then in. Yet we remained in our beautiful suburban community, in all 3700 square feet of a house we really didn’t “need”. We have stayed because it is “comfortable”.

Like many, the weeks at home have found us contemplating things that mean the most to us. We began to dream about what life could look like living with those things at our center.

That is how we found ourselves one beautiful Sunday afternoon walking through the doors of a farmhouse for sale.

As we explored the house, the two barns and the 17 acres of farmland, forest and stream, all eight of us felt joy settle deep in the soul.

We offered what we thought was reasonable and now we find ourselves in contract.

There are steps still left in the process, a house to sell in a beautiful suburban community, but we are hopeful in months time we will have a new place to call home.

Syd at 13

Dear Syd,

I love you but I don’t get to claim you.

You don’t come from my gene pool.

I don’t know what your cry sounded like at birth or what your favorite baby food was.

I missed first steps, first days of school and five hundred other firsts, but I am grateful that I get to be here today.

Watching you transform into this confident, funny and thoughtful young lady is one of the greatest gifts of my life. I can’t take credit for a single second of who you are becoming, but I get the profound privaledge of watching life unfold for you.

I know sometimes our relationship must feel awkward. I am this woman that walked into your world at 10 and upended life as you knew it.

Thank you for forgiving me for my failings. For understanding when I don’t say the right things or how I sometimes serve raw meat for dinner. Thank you for teaching me that love comes at different times and in many different packages.

I am so happy we get to do life together.

For your thirteenth year I wish for you more late nights laughing with your sisters, more inside jokes and crushes on boys, more stargazing, more growing in grace, more tiaras, more tutus and less worrying about what others may be thinking of you.

I get prouder of you with every passing year.

Happy birthday beautiful girl. I love you more then words can say.

Love,

H.

Momma.

P.S. Can I say I am patting myself on the back with this year’s pick? Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

8

Dear Ellery Jane,

It started here.

You as the exclamation point at the end of my sentence.

Full of sass from the start.

Never one to shy away from your feelings you brought me to my transparency.

How have these years gone so swiftly by?

I can hardly breathe thinking of the moments that have made up these days.

My how well you have lived my girl.

Continue to be bold dear child.

Hold fast to your compass, your God.

Let me push you when it is necessary.

The days ahead will include moments of you doing the same for me.

Blessing upon blessing.

I can’t possibly put into words the joy it is to be your Momma, so instead this year I will let the pictures speak the words I cannot.

I’m here sweet, beautiful, sensitive, soulful girl.

We will dance together in the morning and I will watch you twirl your way into a new year.

Happy eight.

It only gets better from here.

I love you to the moon and back,

Momma

P.S. It couldn’t have been anything else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One

An engagement, a wedding, two homes sold and one purchased, a year come and gone since that evening.

A good Friday service, then to a local bar for dinner and music, and twelve months later we sleep with our six girls under one roof,

nearly six months into our marriage.

On that night if you were to have told me where we would be today, I would have believed you.

My heart knew.

It wasn’t just that evening of laughter and good conversation that led me to know he was the one.

Four years of work lead up to that date.

Relationships with others that helped me to learn.

Nights of prayer.

Lord, I give up. I place this in your hands.

When it was time, Matthew arrived.

Finally unencumbered by the “stuff” that weighs one down, we only needed the minutes alone together to know this was the start of the grandest adventure.

Many a night now I fall asleep mid prayer.  He and I whispering words while children sleep in rooms above.

Matthew says I take a deep breath and he knows then he has lost me to slumber. On those nights he finishes the prayers for both of us.

A broken women’s prayers all those years ago, answered now in the form of a man who speaks her prayers when she cannot.

Grateful.