I do

How do you stop when you are already at the breaking point? How do you talk yourself back from the ledge before you take the step you know you’ll regret? How do you accept the balance of the universe, knowing the good will always be balanced by the bad? The positive will always be equal with the negative. Or can you somehow spin that- change your perception enough to see the negative as just another momentary occurrence, no better or worse than those moments you perceive as positive?

Today, backing up from the ledge meant getting both boys in the car and driving until they slept; parking and listening to Tchaikovsky’s moody violin concerto. Finding a way to give myself a little breathing room until I was able to appreciate the beauty of the rain falling gently on verdant ground, until my heart was full of joy at the beauty of my growing family. With the dulcet tones of the violin and the accompanying melodious piano chords as a backdrop, I was able to give myself over to the balance of the universe.

It was a challenging day for us. We all threw temper-tantrums at different times. Yesterday I wrote in my journal that “my patience seems to have increased as of late” and, as children will, today both boys found a way to push my patience to it’s newly stretched limits. But too often, our bad days find a way to bring us down. It’s so easy to feel anger and resentment, when you are having a tough day, especially towards those that are having a better time. What if instead we chose to see our rough days as a blessing? If the universe truly finds balance in every moment, then our bad days are allowing someone else to have a good day. It is a blessing to have a bad day every once in a while, not only to keep us grounded and remind us of our own humanity, our own limits, our own strengths, but to also allow the universe to use us as a tool in it’s balancing act.

Today, my sister-in-law, whom I love dearly and consider a true sister, got married to a wonderful man who she loves with her whole being and who I am proud to consider a brother-in-law. I couldn’t be happier for them. I was thrilled to get the pictures from their private, awesome New York wedding through texts today and I was thinking about them and what an amazing day they were having the entire time I was dealing with one of the rougher days that I have had with both boys. I think it was the universe aligning itself- allowing them to have the most beautiful, magical, wonderful day ever by balancing it with a less then stellar day here. And I feel fine about that. I feel honored that in some small way, I could shoulder a bit of burden so that they may have none on their hallowed day

Thank you universe. Congratulations Emily and Preston. I couldn’t love you both anymore….and I couldn’t have been more happy to toast you ( a few times) this evening. I hope today was magical and by the same token, I hope tomorrow is even better all around!

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Saturday

I’ve seriously been sitting here for the past hour and a half with two boys napping on top of me and I couldn’t be any happier!!

Here are a few recent videos:

Walking

Lest anyone think I forget about my youngest son, I’m here to assure you that although motherhood is quite different the second time around, watching child grow in their first year is no less amazing or delightful.

Cameron took his first step about two weeks ago, right around 10 months, same as his big brother. I forgot what it was like to watch a baby walk for the first time; that first time tottering off balance and instinctively putting a foot forward, the surprise at finding themselves still upright, the immediate plopping down onto their bottom. Their delight at being able to do it a second time, the joyful laughter when they can put a few steps together and walk from one parent to another. That look on their face as they begin to look down and study their feet and realize that it is their own feet making them walk.

I relish all of Cameron’s toothy grins and infectious laughs as he conquers this new feat. He doesn’t walk independently all the time- still in shorter, usually prompted bursts. He loves holding onto one hand as he walks next to you, always stopping to pick up a toy car or a block so he is holding something as he walks. We do exhausting laps around the house but just as I am ready to deal with the inevitable angry tears at making him stop, he looks up at me and grins his snaggletoothed grin or stops and claps at something and I can’t help but just get down and give him a squeeze, tell him I love him.

Motherhood is decidedly different the second time around. No less amazing but no less hard either. It is a heartful/handful kind of constant that wears me down and fills me up all at the same time. It’s big and confusing sometimes, usually overwhelming, and a lot more sleepless. It’s also joyful and playful and lighter then it was the first time around. There is more yelling but also more laughing, less sleep but twice the snuggles on a daily basis.

First Day Jitters

I constantly battle the feeling of not being enough; wonder if I have done enough, given enough. Those moments when I have felt lacking plague me. The yelling, the times I have not paid enough attention, feeling annoyed and tired, not giving my all to my boys- those moments sit heavy on my shoulders sometimes. After all, it wasn’t their choice to be born. It was my choice to bring my children into this world and as such it is my job to do right by them, to give them the very best that I can give. And then, just like that, they are grown up into little tiny humans and they’re off, even if it is just for three hours in the morning. It’s a little like watching a baby bird take that first step off of the branch, hoping they can fly, or letting a kitten outside for the first time, waiting for them to return home. The thing is, I know he’s fine. Even as I sit here with my heart a heavy lump in my throat, I know that Casey is having a blast in his new school. I can’t wait to hear about all the friends he makes and the things his teacher says and how he interprets everything he does and learns. I know there will be the inevitable time when he comes home after getting his feelings hurt for the first time or does something that causes him to feel embarrassed and, although those times haven’t yet come, they already weigh heavy on my heart. For now, it’s quiet and I barely know what to do with myself. It feels like I have to learn how to parent all over again, with just one boy to take care of for the next two hours. It’s exhilarating and terrifying and mostly I simply can’t wait to pull to the front of the car line and get my big (baby) boy back!!

Photographs

My husband doesn’t understand why I can never delete any of my pictures.  He can take 5 photos, choose his favorite and easily delete the other 4.  I don’t have that gumph.  I like the off photos, the pictures that will never be posted on Instagram, that show people in the moments before or after they pose.  Some of my favorite photographs are those where the subject doesn’t seem to know they are being photographed, the photos that are slightly out of focus, blurred.

When I was little, my memories were made from the perspective of a little child.  I think about this as I go through the day with my boys; wonder what they see. I think about how much of the world they are taking in and what it looks like from their perspective.  I wonder what they will remember when they are older and I hope that their memories will be made richer from my photographs.

I treasure the few pictures I have from my childhood, especially the pictures with my mom.  Even the pictures that have long been lost to time and cross country moves but are kept in memory.  I remember her as I saw her from my childish stance.  I can see her hands, the pants she wore, the white moon shaped cuticle at the base of each nail.  I catch glimpses in my mind’s eye of the highlights in her hair that I noticed in the airport one time when she flew back to Arkansas.  I can see her stepping on a shovel as she works the dirt in her vegetable garden in our front yard on Elm Street, the curve in her back as she kneels next to the flower bed, pulling weeds.  I remember the feel of the tubes and dressings on her body, hidden by her tie-dye t-shirt, as I hugged her when she picked me up from day camp, and the stillness of her body, eyes closed, as she lay in the hospital bed the last time I saw her.  It’s harder to see her face, her eyes, to imagine her voice, her laugh, to remember many of the things she said to me, the conversations we must have had.

The few photos that I have of her inform me of who she was, how she felt, what she looked like.  My favorites are the photos that catch her in a laugh or a far off glance. They give me a fuller picture of a three-dimensional woman.  They are a clue as to the woman that I may have known had she been around when I was old enough to care about knowing her more fully.

So I keep the off photos, the blurry shots, the accidentals, the photographs taken when there isn’t really anything to see.  I cherish them, even though I don’t know what to do with all of them.  I imagine them in albums one day and until then simply look back from time to time and remember all the small moments that were shared among our growing family.

Here are some of my favorite, recent, off photos (most of which I think are better then the posed):

 

 

 

Blueberry picking

I carried one boy on my back as I tried to convince the other one to put as many blueberries in our bucket as he was putting into his mouth.  The sun shone bright overhead and warmed our shoulders as we bent towards the bushes.  Cameron fussed from behind me, pulling small twigs and leaves from the bushes when he was close enough.  I wrestled them from his hands, blindly, relying on my three year old to make sure nothing had gotten into his mouth.  When he asked if he could give his brother a blueberry, I said  “Sure, as long as you bite it in half first.”  I watched him choose just the right berry and then pop it into his own mouth.  I bit a berry in half myself and peeled as much of the skin off with my teeth as I could.  “Hey, look at this little tiny one I found! Aww, it’s so cute.”  I reached back and put the peeled berry in Cameron’s open mouth as Casey gently put the tiny berry in our bucket.

We had started out picking Currants, finding vines dripping with the delicate, translucent balls.  Even though they are incredibly tart, Casey kept putting the few he picked into his mouth. With Cameron fussing from the stroller (which we ditched soon after) and lacking the concentration needed to collect the small berries, not to mention the sour reward for our efforts, we quickly returned to the farm store to exchange our small bags for a bucket and were pointed in the direction of the blueberry patch.

This was my first time picking blueberries.  I think I am in love. The color palette alone was enough to make me drool- the frosted blue and lavender berries, the brilliant green leaves, standing in sark contrast to the bright yellow hay piled around their bases.  It made me want to come home and paint our house; to rip up the bushes in our backyard and replace them with blueberry bushes. I had daydreams of a blueberry and lavender farm and I imagined the beauty and abundance of our crops for years to come.

The afternoon felt lazy.  We gorged on blueberry banana muffins while blueberry currant jam cooled in jars on the counter.  There’s still a pan of blueberries in the refrigerator waiting to be mixed into pancake batter, added to tomorrow mornings cereal, and eaten by the handful.  Still, we can’t wait to go pick more.

 

 

 

 

Let’s Celebrate

It is quite popular today, at least in the mommy blog-o-sphere, to write articles highlighting that life isn’t merely the beautiful highlight reels we display on our social media; to admit to the fact that life is hard, that it takes strength and courage to walk the path of motherhood and marriage and friendship.

I am totally in with that crowd because raising two little boys is hard.  Raising independent, loud, demanding children is a hike through the wilderness that is all it’s own.  And it does take strength, courage, grace and a lot of coffee to walk it every day.

I want to take a moment, however, to do the opposite.  I want to suggest that we all take a moment and call out those times that are beautiful and awesome.  Let’s celebrate and commend ourselves when things are going well and we are groovin’ through life to the beat of our favorite song.

Life has been awesome for me lately. Not every moment is full of sunshine and rainbows (we’ve been watching a lot of Pixar’s Trolls lately, if you get the reference) but in general, we are in an upswing. I’ve been rocking nap times and mealtimes.  I’ve been connecting with my children- laughing with them and enjoying such sweet moments of play and conversation; watching them begin to play together and care for each other.  My husband and I have been talking about the issues that matter and taking on things as a team.  We’re getting projects done that have been put off and balancing the care’s of our daily lives in a way that is comfortable for both of us.

Maybe it’s the beautiful weather.  Maybe it’s the fact that we’ve been getting enough sleep.  Maybe it’s just ok to say that life is awesome right now and leave it at that.

It’s so helpful to reach out when things are hard, and it is equally comforting to be able to speak up when things are going swell.  Life has a balance, a rhythm and the only thing that we can be certain of is change.  Things aren’t going to be rainbows and unicorns all the time. The upswing will eventually give way to a downswing before it heads back up again.  So let’s do more of showing up for each other when things get dark, when our friends and neighbors need a hand held out to them.  And let’s do more celebrating when things are awesome.  Let’s cultivate joy for ourselves and for each other when life hands out opportunity and success and be grateful for all the sweet beautiful moments.

I sure am grateful for all the sweet beautiful moments I’ve been experiencing lately.