If you think 244 miles isn’t a long distance, ask the heart of a mother who just left her daughter behind to start her sophomore year of college. Every mile we drive, the separation becomes more palpable. I’m absolutely certain now that no matter how old my kids are or regardless of whatever dream or path they are following, I will always ache to have them near me. A mother bird feels much better when her babies are cozy in the nest. Sure she knows that one day they will fly on their own and she will celebrate that moment but there’s no denying the comfort she feels when she is physically watching over and protecting them as she guards the nest. This too shall pass just like it did last year but for now I will allow myself to mourn as I try and get comfortable in this place of feeling such loss. I know now that a child can never really know a mothers love until he or she becomes a parent. It’s not something you can explain or describe and the connection is unbreakable no matter how many miles keep you apart. My heart feels as empty as my gas tank as I get closer to home. Although my heart is sad, the joy and excitement in my daughters eyes will serve as a reminder of this amazing journey she is on. I want her to enjoy every moment and to know that each second that goes by, she is loved more than she could ever know.
It wasn’t so long ago that I had a real blow out pity party for myself. I was feeling isolated and alone and resented the fact that I lived so far away from the precious family who raised me and who I missed dearly. For years, I felt like the outsider looking in at all the moments I continued to miss. I had to challenge myself to find a healthier perspective than the one that was weighing me down to the depths of despair. I looked at the family I was raising and realized how much precious time I had wasted allowing myself to get caught up in nonsense. I tried so hard to change my way of thinking. Will this really matter a year from now after I let chunks of time slip away because I was engulfed in senseless drama? The change came slowly and I welcomed it excitedly. Slowly but surely I got my priorities straight.
My mom leaves tomorrow after visiting for almost 4 weeks. I see things so different now than a few years ago. Time is only what we make it. It can be quality or it can be quantity and slowly but surely I am learning to give my relationships purpose and focus. We must embrace the time we are given to spend with the people we love. Each turn of the hand of the clock is a blessing and we must find a way to put substance into every opportunity to connect. We waste so much precious time marching for the latest cause, but how much time and energy do we put into the people who are there beside us? Maybe loving them, enjoying them, listening, appreciating them is our real purpose and we are missing the mark trying to save a world when it is the people around us who need to be saved. They they need us to slow down and pause long enough to really see them, to connect on that level that is so difficult to find in these changing times. We create moments and we make memories when we focus on doing just that. Maybe that is where real change comes from. Pay attention to the people around you. Make time for them and find a way to make them feel special. Don’t we all need so much more of that?
This morning is testing my own philosophy to not sweat the small stuff. How many times have I preached to not get crazy over the things I cannot change? So why am I so aggravated that my husband brought my son to take his permit test and they both forgot an important paper and had to go back home? To those of you struggling to be better, more forgiving, patient, and understanding, I am right there struggling with you today. Happy Wednesday! We’ve got this.
We are so quick to criticize or point out to someone something they did that was wrong but how often do we volunteer to tell someone they did something right? When is the last time you told someone how great they were? In all honesty, most of us are more apt to point out flaws. The closer we are to someone, the easier it gets to practice this art of making someone you love feel like crap. I am guilty of this and everytime I catch myself doing it, I hate myself a little more.
Tonight, I challenge you to find something to make each and every person in your house feel good about themselves. Point out something you admire about them. It’s time to start replacing bad habits with good ones and what could be better than building someone up you love. What do you say? Will you accept the challenge?
What kind of people do you surround yourself with? I had a conversation with someone today. I explained I was running into the gym for a quick 20 minute workout. Her response was, why bother? The truth is we have cheerleaders in our lives and we have judges. We have people who lift us up and people who rip us down. We have people who encourage us and others who discourage us. Make sure your people are balanced. It takes all types to keep sane but it is imperative to have someone who is 100% behind you. We need that one person who will cheer for us when we are too tired or discouraged to cheer for ourselves. That one person who says yes you can when we tell ourselves, there’s no way, I just can’t. What percentage of people in your life are supportive? What percentage of people cheer you on? Focus on finding more of them.
My daughter loves to sing. Not the soft, beautiful singing that soothes your soul but rather hard on the ears, top of your lungs, screeching with passion kind of singing. My ears actually hurt as she belted out her favorite Frozen tune. Let it Go she bellowed through the house. Immediately I softened. I realized, in that moment, that soon my house would grow eerily quiet. Not the kind of silence I would welcome but one that would remind me how empty the house will be. Next year during this time she will be off to college and I will be longing for her to return for Christmas break. It’s easy to lose track of time and what’s important. There are days my life flashes in front of my eyes and I ache for the certainty of what once was. I picture her chubby little face, messy pigtails and sweet little Barney songs. I miss her crawling in my lap or in the tub everytime I would take a bath. I miss her big, brown, sparkly eyes and the wonder each time she would discover something new. Her eyes are more serious now but I am grateful for her playful spirit. She has fallen down a few times but is still brave enough to run full speed ahead. She is unafraid and confident and fully engaged in every moment. I pray that never changes.
Today, look around you and really see your blessings. Enjoy every person and every moment and remember that we can never know what tomorrow may bring. I know this holiday season is bitter sweet. This is the last year that the only normal I have ever known will only exist for a few months more. Today I will look a little longer, love a whole lot deeper and feel the gratitude in my heart. Today I will not take anything for granted. I long to hold onto her just a moment longer.
I am sitting here in my living room watching Christmas lights dance on my ceiling. Yes I know it’s early but there is something very calming about lights and a tree and a warm fire emitting from my fireplace. I needed a break from the world going on outside. It’s safe here. No one is judging or fighting or screaming opinions at one another. We are just spending time together and we are happy. Every one of us. My kids are actually in the same room with me and my silly daughter hooked us up with her Christmas music playlist. She is dancing around like a crazy child. These are the moments you know? When my family is together and singing and happy and I am feeling so grateful for this beautiful moment. I will let this sink in. This is what it’s all about. I hope I am extending this peace out to all of you. Have a great night.
Teenagers. Need I say more. The first day I held my my babies in my arms I knew my life would never be the same. Here were these perfect packages of love all bundled up and counting on me to keep them safe. I didn’t know much about parenting then. I knew I had to muddle my way through until I finally figured out a plan. Certainly I would figure this mom thing out because like it or not, these tiny babies didn’t come with instructions. There was no transitional period. A baby was born and I became mom.There were no guidelines or anyone to tell me a sure fire plan to raise a happy, healthy, super kid. Sure there were people who offered suggestions that followed a hint of the theme I was doing something wrong. These days I feel everything I do is wrong. Sometimes I say things that later near drown me with pain and regret. Some days I’m so distracted that I forget to listen. Some days my cape falls off and I’m reminded I am only human. I right every wrong or fix everything that is broken. I can’t be who everyone needs me to be or pretend I’m someone who I’m just not. Sometimes my mom is broken. It can’t be fixed with a bandaid or a trip to the spa. Sometimes I need a good cry or a long walk or some space to breath without feeling the need to apologize for my own needs. Sometimes I need to remind myself that it’s okay not to be perfect and that each day is a new day to wake up and try again. So how do I parent when my mom is broken? The best way I can and somehow I have to make peace with myself that somehow that will be enough.
As we approach another school year, there are some lessons I hope you learn along the way. It’s great to take AP English and maybe even get straight A’s but none of that means a thing unless you achieve these things first.
In a world who often turns a cold shoulder, be a shelter of warmth. When the crowds of people yell suck it up, be that one voice that stands up and says “let me help”. Stand up for the people who cannot stand up for themselves. Do good things, not for any special reward, but simply because you can. When everyone is critical, work harder than even to speak kind words. Don’t join every fight you are invited to. Sometimes the decision to walk away from something unnecessary that does not serve you earns you the biggest medal of all. Be brave and use your voice to speak about what you believe in but not at the expense of drowning out everyone else’s voice. Your opinions and differences are never more important than friendships. It’s okay to disagree but do it respectfully. Remember sometimes less is more. Spread love and encouragement and snuff out contempt and criticism. There’s already enough of that going around. You never need to have the last word. Be honest and true to yourself even when it hurts. Don’t be afraid to admit your flaws or make mistakes. Believe me, they will always help you grow. Water your own grass and keep it green, not to compete with the yards around you but to make yours the best you know it can be. Respect yourself and don’t place too much value on someone’s opinion. Only you walk in your shoes. Wear them out but wear them proud. Never be ashamed to be soft or different. Stand out. If you make a mistake, fix it. If you hurt someone, show compassion and say”I’m sorry”. If you’re right then you don’t have to argue your point. Keeping peace is often more admirable than being right. Be a beacon of light and hope in the darkness that will surround you. Remember my favorite quote of all,
Don’t let the world change your smile, let your smile change the world.
Your greatest achievement will never be your grade point average, your degree or job but rather to be able to look yourself in the mirror and like who you are. Lie down at night and know that you made a difference in someone’s life, even if it’s small. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Be the friend we all need to have and never let the coldness of a few, make you shiver. Let your light shine and be a reflection of love and kindness. I am so proud of both of you! In a world where people will try and tear you down, be the hand that helps others up.
As I leave each mile marker behind me, I am reminded of the people I am leaving behind. I always love a visit home but every mile I travel away, is a little more my heart starts to ache. I’ve lived away for many years but returning twice a year has always been a priority that I hope I have instilled in my own kids. I have taught them family first. I remember when I first landed 15 days ago. I was in awe at the beautiful shades of green and the mountains on all sides of me. When I lived here many years ago, I think I stopped noticing how beautiful this place was that I had the fortune of growing up in. Now that I live in Oklahoma and the world is flat and the trees are low, I miss the beautiful state of New Jersey more than ever. I wonder if the same thing happens with family as well. I think when you grow up your entire life with family around you, you start to take them for granted. You stop realizing the importance of the people who can be there in a moments notice. It happens very slowly at first until the people we claim to love become a nuisance and annoyance to us. We stop noticing how beautiful family really is. Not to me. It hurts to watch it happening when I want so much to have someone in arms reach when the rest of the world seems scary and my loneliness becomes the only friend I have. It hurts when you make people a priority and my heart breaks when that same enthusiasm is not returned. It hurts to love people. It hurts to watch people wrapped up in things that just don’t matter.
Today, as I ride on this bus I am grateful that I have a place to call home. I am grateful for the little moments that I bottle in my heart until I can return. I close my eyes and I see the sweet smile on my nephews face and hear the silly giggle of my sister in law and the joy on my brothers face as he watches his baby boy. As I think of the tears in my mothers eyes as she pulled away, my own cheeks feel the sting of tears. It’s hard loving people and it’s hard letting them go to get on to more of the silly stuff that doesn’t matter. You either get it or you don’t. You love or you don’t. You make family a priority or you don’t. You always have a choice. I choose love.