I get it. Time keeps ticking. We are forced to keep moving with the motion of the clock.. There is a small part of me though that wishes I could go back. A part of me that wants a second chance to pay more attention so the memories are clearer and crisper in my mind. I was looking at a picture of my son from four years ago. He looks so small and naive at 11 years old. He was still my baby then and I felt like I had the power to protect him. He turns 15 tomorrow and the physical changes between then and now are astonishing. I can only wonder how many changes have occurred internally. The world changes as we get older. At least our perception of it does. Our openness slowly narrows, our faith gets tangled. Our beliefs change and get challenged with the passing of each new day. Four years ago he was a different boy. I was different back then too. Change is inevitable and necessary but once in awhile I long for the simplicity of years ago. I miss the days when we would throw the sleeping bags and pillows on the floor and make a mess with popcorn as we argued over which movie to watch. I miss the days I didn’t know I couldn’t hold onto my kids forever and I was too caught up to ever think there would come a time those days of camping out on the floor would come to an end. As I sit here today, I realize more than ever how little control I have over anything. All I can do is hope that the good moments slow down long enough to imprint the permanence of this memory of him in my mind. I know I can’t physically go back but as long as I have the memories I can linger there from time to time. It seems like yesterday, I was bringing him home from the hospital on that rainy day. How did fifteen years pass by so fast? It seems like a blur. He’s desperately trying to grow up too fast and I’m desperately trying to hold onto my little boy. Happy birthday Chase. Slow down just a little because I’m having a tough time keeping up. Time waits for no-one. Ready or not, here it comes.
On Thursday, my daughter will turn eighteen. How blessed I am to have had the opportunity to hear someone call me mom for that long. We celebrated her birthday over the weekend. The ride home was quiet. Her cake sat on my lap like a weight hanging heavy on my soul. Where did the time go? The same little girl who clung onto me for dear life at preschool was ready to let go and run. Would she even look back? My tears escaped onto the cake box, each one a reminder of how much I was going to miss her. Each one aching, begging for just a little more time. Am I ready for this? Is she ready? Eighteen. How can it be. I close my eyes and I see her little pigtails blowing in the wind. For a moment, she is two, sitting in a field of wildflowers and time stands still. I see her little hand move through the colors. A purple and orange tapestry of pure beauty with her sitting in the middle of it. The symbolism smiles back at me. Why didn’t I see it before? She is my precious, unpredictable wildflower, growing at her own pace and in her own precious time unbound by anyone’s limits. Her spirit, her beauty could not be contained. I go to the place I keep that picture. I drink it in, desperate to taste the day one time more. My heart breaks a little as I study every detail of her tiny face. For that single moment, I am there in that field pointing my camera at her sweet little face while the flowers tickle my bare feet. In my next breath she is standing before me, eighteen and I think again how blessed I am to be her mom. I remind myself quietly, savor every moment. You can’t get a single minute back.
It’s the children the world almost breaks who grow up to save it.
I had a conversation with someone today who is going through a really difficult time. Many young people today are struggling to find their place in this world. It is a painful thing to reach an age where you stop automatically accepting everyone and everything and pick and choose what you will now accept as well as reject. Sometimes it’s necessary to choose a different path than the one you have always known. There are mixed emotions when you make a stand and say, this isn’t for me and I need to make a life for myself, different from the one everyone envisioned for me. It’s a hard day when you learn that you are not in this world to please anyone or fix anyone and you have to learn to swallow the guilt that comes with taking a step away when that is the only way to save yourself. One thing I learned is this, the hard times we come across are the moments that will define us. They are the moments that will drive us to be this or that, happy or sad. There will be moments that will nearly destroy us but instead recreate who we’re meant to be. So what can I say to someone who is barely hanging on and feeling tired and worn? Let go of the reigns and land where you fall. Tomorrow is another day and no two days are ever the alike. Get up and carry on and stop trying to look back. You can’t go back there. You can’t change the story that has already been written but you can end your story the way you choose. Life is meant to be happy. Don’t be afraid to do whatever it takes that gets you on that path. You decide how your life turns out and you are not meant to be held back. Sometimes you have to have faith and believe that when you really need them, you will find the wings you need to fly.
Today was cold. I actually dragged my Uggs out and dusted them off to wear on my feet. It’s easy to not notice the things that are obvious and staring me right in the face. When you look at something day after day, the changes are so subtle that they often go unnoticed. We went to the outlets today to get the kids some winter clothes. Today that in between stage came to an end as my youngest moved out of kids clothes and into men’s clothes. I had to notice. I couldn’t miss that one. The clothes are so much bigger on “that” side of the store and I stood there shaking my head wondering, when did all of this happen? My youngest, my baby, in men’s clothes. Look closer. Don’t miss the changes that are happening right before your eyes. Find a way to ignore the distractions and pay attention to what is really important. Someday you will look back on this day and probably wish you looked a little closer. Start now. Do it today.
I feel really bad for my daughter tonight. She is learning the very hard lesson that when people are spiteful, they will find a way to punish you.
Long story short, she was supposed to go to the fair with friends tomorrow. They got together and purchased the tickets a few days ago but they just assumed she would drive. Those girls know me well enough to know I would not let her drive that far with so many kids in the car. So, one girl finally agreed to drive but now my poor girl has lost her spot in the car and has been replaced by two boys. What’s worse is they are making it very difficult for her to even get her ticket from the girl who is holding them.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t just happen with teenagers. Adults use their anger to manipulate others as well. It gives them the control to be the puppet master while they are jangling around your puppet strings.
I really hate watching her go through all these tough lessons. The saddest part of all is, we can choose to be kind or we can choose to be cruel. It’s sad to think so many choose cruel. When will we stop hurting people on purpose? When will we have more consideration for people’s feelings and less focus on being one point ahead, as if it’s a game.
Be nice. Be kind and please don’t go out of your way to punish or hurt someone. Be better. Someone has to be.
I wrote this post a year ago today and I can honestly say I have moved closer and closer to the person I want to be. It’s so important to reflect back and make sure you are always moving in the direction you want to go. Make sure you are on your own path.
As I get ready to travel tomorrow to the place I grew up, I am forced to take a look at who I’ve become. I am still that small town girl. I am most comfortable in an area with trees and space and fresh air to breathe. It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve spent away, home will always influence who I am.
Recently I was hiking in the Grand Canyon. It was a steep climb with loose dirt. It was easy to slip or feel unsure of my footage. I noticed there were rocks that lined the trail on both sides. Just like a kid all those years ago hopping from one rock to the next on my way to and from the bus, I hopped on those canyon rocks and the climb became so much easier. My memory kicked in and my body followed. It seems like just yesterday that I was that little girl happily skipping home from school. Sometimes the adult in us makes things look so complicated and the child in us finds the easiest way.
Time jumps. That’s just the way it is. It doesn’t feel like it slips by one moment at a time. It jumps in big leaps. I was 5, then, 12, then 18, 21, 30 and now I’m 43. The moments are sometimes forgotten but the milestones stick. I hope there are many more of them. My goals and my prayers and my hopes and my dreams become much different as the years pass by. I used to believe life was about being a certain weight, looking a certain way and holding an important job. I believed those silly things would make me happy. I did my very best to strive for perfection in every area of my life. It didn’t take me long though to discover that perfection is a myth. I could waste years of my life trying to be something that was not realistic or attainable or even worse, trying to be who others thought I should be. Then I found the freedom to love myself just as I am. What I am is perfectly imperfect, just the way I am meant to be. I am beautifully flawed and tragically damaged and I am so much more than I ever imagined through the foolish eyes of a young girl. We spend years of our lives being conditioned to become someone who doesn’t feel comfortable. Then, ironically, we spend years undoing who we become. That is where we really live. In that small window peering out where we finally get a real glimpse from our own eyes.
I dream that someday everyone will find a sense of peace. I dream everyone will feel the joy of happiness in every day. My hope is that there will always be someone waiting in the window when I finally get to visit home. My goal is that I find a reason to be happy and grateful each and every day. I pray that we learn to forgive each other’s weaknesses and love and accept each other with our whole hearts, just as they are without apology. I hope we stop carrying the weight of the world when it starts to weigh us down and admit when we are weak so someone else can take our burden. I hope I can create moments in each day where I can laugh with my kids and surprise them with my silliness. I hope even people who will not like me will respect my consistency. My actions and words will always tell the story of who I am. Some may not like the book but I promise there will not be any surprises when it comes to my character. I am free from others opinions because I now know the only opinion that really holds any weight is the one I have of myself. I have to carry my weight and wear my shoes. I know who I am and am no longer threatened by those who will never see me for who I really am. I hope that I will get better at breathing more and talking less, responding and not reacting, having more moments of quiet and less of noise, discovering more happy than sad and finding healing and patience where there is pain.
Wish me luck on my journey back home. It is always bitter sweet. Always great to see the faces of the people I love and even harder to look away when it’s time to go.
I recently saw the movie Inside Out. I went with the expectation that it was going to be funny but the truth is it left me feeling very depressed. I don’t want to spoil the movie for you but I will share the reasons I found it so painful.
We are born with the purest of hearts. We love unconditionally and we trust in a way that makes us feel safe and secure. Our eyes only see the good in the world and the people around us. They smile at us and we smile back. The world is a place that is exciting and we are exhilarated by the way we see it every new day. If something is wrong, mom and dad are there to fix it. We want something, it is given to us. We learn that whatever we need will be provided to us by someone else. We are told everything will be okay.
Somewhere along the road of growing up, we learn pain. We don’t wake up excited anymore, we wake up trying to convince ourselves to get out of bed. We are told to suck it up buttercup and keep moving on. We learn that the world is not as safe as we once believed and we learn that people are capable of hurting us in the most horrible ways. We learn that we are on our own and there are just some things that will never be fixed. Everything will not always be okay and we have to deal with the disappointment that brings. We start to love conditionally and we shut ourselves off a little more each time someone lets us down. People we loved so easily start to appear a whole new way. We place conditions on them and they place condition on us. We start to judge our lives and others by the unrealistic expectations that end up killing the spirit that used to make us feel so free. We say and do things we are not proud of and we spend a lifetime trying to forgive ourselves. We spend a lifetime searching for happiness instead of finding happiness in every single thing around us. We start to believe that happiness is dependent on this or dependent on that. We put off living today because we are living the past or rushing the future. Our looking forward to a new day is replaced by dreading another mundane day. The happy go lucky child in us takes on responsibility that doesn’t feel as fun as riding our bike down the street we used to live on each night. Bills happen, tragedies happen, people die and despite the grip we have on the wheel, we cannot control the direction of the car we try so hard to steer. We want life to be fun and roses but the truth is we are sad, discouraged and mostly lonely. We pretend we are happy. We pretend we can handle anything and let life’s blows just roll off our back. The reality is every blow hurts. Every blow leaves a scar and taints the innocent view of the world we once so easily had. We stop seeing through the bright eyes of a child that used to be bursting with life and worst of all, we stop making time to play. We don’t even remember how to play anymore. We are serious now. Mature. Responsible. We wish we had a binky to make it all better or a replacement for that stuffed animal that used to be tucked underneath our arm. Remember how it used to make everything better? Our security blanket is ripped away and we are left alone standing fearfully on our own two feet waiting for Superman to fly in and save the world, save us from ourselves maybe. He never comes. We stop expecting anything from anyone and we stop looking into the eyes of people all together because they are much too busy staring into cell phones to look back. We become one with our sadness until it feels comfortable and slowly, one day, we start to heal.
I’m not trying to say life is horrible. It’s wonderful and there is so much good. What I am saying is growing up can be really hard. We realize that what we believed as a child is not the reality we live as an adult. We discover that life is more than being happy. It is about loving and living and disappointment, success, failure, hurt, pain and everything in between. It is a journey of embracing every detail of your life and reinventing the dream of what you thought it would be into the reality of what it is. You love the inner child in you so she feels safe again and you accept her unconditionally so she learns to reopen the parts of her heart that hurt once closed. You learn to let life happen the way it unfolds and you set your car on cruise control. You accept that everything won’t be okay but you will hold it together to get to another day. You learn that each day holds promise, a chance to do better, to live better and to finally make time to play. You accept that Superman is not real and you learn to become your own hero, to save yourself. You learn that the best friend you could ever have is yourself and to live a way that feels right with your soul. You start to love unconditionally again and you find forgiveness for the ones who let you down. You learn that life will be filled with every emotion and that’s okay. You start to look for the good in everyone and you feel a tremendous amount of gratitude for the blessings that are all around you. You accept that life is tragically beautiful and you buckle your seatbelt for the bumps along the way. You live, you love and you do it all again when you wake up the next day. Life can turn you inside out and make you feel upside down. Learn to stand on your head and enjoy the view from wherever you are.
When I think back on my childhood, there are certain things I barely remember and other memories that are very clear. I remember Mom setting out all the fixings for hot roastbeef sandwiches and the chocolate pudding she would serve in the little yellow dishes. I remember her laying my clothes on a chair outside of the oven with the door open so they would be warm when it was time for me to get dressed. I remember her bringing me in scrambled eggs and toast when I was running late for school and still doing my hair. I remember her spending Mothers Day weekends on uncomfortable bleachers at gymnastic meets that went on for grueling hours. I remember her waiting up for me on weekends to make sure I was home safe and long chats in her bed until finally I would hear her snore.
I know many who look back and only remember negative things. I believe we can only see what we choose to see. If you look for the bad, it will always be there waiting to catch your attention. But, if you remember with your heart, it will always be full.
These are different times now. I can’t help but wonder what my kids will remember when they are grown and gone. I hope I don’t spend too much time nagging and criticizing and not enough time enjoying and loving them. I hope they will remember how when they were little we would lay their sleeping bags on the floor every Friday night and eat popcorn and watch movies. I hope they remember our yearly family camp outs the short time we spent in Indiana. I hope they remember climbing trees and playing in the park and having a picnic almost every Sunday afternoon when we lived in Texas. I hope they remember playing spoons for hours and four square tournaments out in the drive way. I hope they remember that spending time with them was always our first priority.
What is your favorite childhood memory? What do you remember most?
I’ve been dreading today for several hours now. I love when there is no schedule, when life isn’t handing me a detailed list of things to do. As I crawled out of my warm bed and headed to the car, I wasn’t looking forward to everything starting back up. We had a restful break and I enjoyed getting up and hanging out in pajamas all day. It took me years to say no to jumping willingly on the merry go round of this crazy thing we convince ourselves is life and today was the day to purchase a ticket. As I started driving my daughter to school, something dawned on me. This was the last month I would ever HAVE to do it. Her birthday is the first week in February and in a few short weeks she would be the one behind the wheel. This moment that I thought I dreaded turned into wanting for more days and more years to have that time, just me and her. In the blink of an eye our kids grow up. I’m not sure if it happens when we aren’t looking or if it creeps up so quietly that it catches us completely by surprise. All these years, I have been the one to get her to all the places she needed to be. It’s so hard to believe that soon she will take that job over for herself. The more I think about it, the more I realize it was never a job at all. I have been so fortunate to be the last one my kids see in the morning and the first person they see at the end of their school day. Or, perhaps I have been the lucky one. The years of career I have given up have blessed me with the details of my children’s lives. I haven’t had to miss a thing and I have enjoyed the ride. Some days seemed like an eternity. The challenges and the lessons and the disappointments consumed me until I felt like I couldn’t breathe. But the important thing is that I was there for all of it, the good, the, bad, the ugly, the sick days, the sad days, the happiest moments. I was their constant, that strong tree that was standing grounded and strong, that place they would always call home. Times are quickly changing and my roll is changing too. It is so bittersweet to watch them grow. I am so thankful to have so many memories safely tucked inside my heart. The saying really is true, enjoy the little things because someday they will be the big things. Bottle them up and keep them close and remember to appreciate the love and the life in every single day.
Many of you know I am home visiting the place I grew up. I decided to go for a walk. At first I started to walk one way but my intuition forced me to turn around and walk the opposite direction. That is when I caught a glimpse of the rocks. I had to smile. I often blog about the rocks that used to lead my way to and from the bus stop. I was tempted to climb up but thought no and just kept walking. A memory crossed my mind of a neighbor who used to stop by and drop off juice boxes for me and my little brother. As I stared at his yard I remembered all the nights we spent there laughing while running the bases during a game of whiffle ball. I had great neighbors. I grew up believing the world was a safe place for me to explore, that neighbors and people were open and kind. I wondered what it must have been like standing at the bus stop all those years ago when I believed so many childish ideas. I believed everything would always work out. I believed that people were kind enough and their hearts were big enough to always do what is right. I believed that I could put myself out there open and vulnerable and no one would ever try and hurt or harm me.
Before I knew it I reached the end of the road. It was a turn around and I swore I could still hear our laughter as we played kickball for hours. What was once a trail to the reservoir where we would skip rocks and swing on the rope for hours was now guarded by a fence. What a parallel I thought. Over the years, just like that metal fence, places and people who were once inviting and open had become guarded. Circumstances change people. They make them hard. Their hearts become bitter and their actions become cruel. We don’t notice it so much at first because it happens gradually. But before you know it there’s a fence with a lock and a sign that reads no trespassing. And you will never get back in no matter how hard you try.
I started heading home and I realized I am still that little girl that stood at the bus stop all those years ago. My thinking and my heart and still childlike. That is my secret weapon. That is my method of survival. No matter what life throws at me or who tries break me down I will never change. I will never harden and I will always believe in good. I may have to change the direction I am looking but nothing will take away the peace I feel in my heart.
It didn’t take long to reach those rocks once again. This time I hopped on and took the old familiar route home. It’s funny, I never remember the rocks being that big, especially since I was so small. But today I noticed their size. I noticed the way they sparkled in the sun and once again I felt safe. Never lose the child inside of you. That is where love and hope survive even in your most trying times and you know what? It feels pretty good there and everyone deserves to feel that way no matter who they are.