Thursday, August 13, 2020

Molly's golden year.

It's a bit ironic that your golden year falls smack dab in the middle of a global pandemic in a year that brought us murder hornets, lackluster departures from middle school and alllllll this together time. I mean, maybe this day will mark the turn of something new for us all. Wouldn't that be lovely? The brightness of your today to lighten a murky, exhausting year.

Cast some of that golden goodness this way, sister. 

It has been quite a year, birthday girl. 

Tonight was a reflection of so many nights these days... you giggling upstairs in your room with friends on the phone, the neon reflection of your LED lights bouncing off the walls down the hall and a gentle plea for more minutes on your phone before the dreaded NetNanny App locks that ish down. Predictable, slightly annoying and absolutely oozing with the glaze of teendom. We are here for it.

Time is such a unique concept while parenting a teenager. All those years I longed for the life of bigger kids and more sleep only to discover that teens still keep me up, make all the messes and eat all my snacks...just with bigger bodies and louder voices. Probably best I didn't realize that little bit of info in the early years of parenting.  At times this year, we have found discord in our timing, unkind words are shared and the silent resistance of your budding independence crowds my spaces. Growing up can be slightly uncomfortable, no? 

What I don't mention when I seem frustrated, is how easily I can feel lost. Unsteady footfalls, I glance up to realize that the map I have in hand is outdated and while I remember climbing aboard a familiar passenger car, in actuality, I have landed on the express train and I am careening down the tracks at an uncomfortable speed to some place I have never been before. It is overwhelming. You and me. Carving out new paths together--- you counting down the minutes to independence and me clutching tightly to the few I have left with you right by my side. What a weirdy-little waltz of emotion this season can be. I know that the rest of our gang will have it easier down the line and each day, I become increasingly thankful for your patience and grace. We will figure it out together. It's what we have always done. 

So on to this next chapter of high school. Soon our calendar will be filled with advanced coursework, cheerleading, masks and new normals... maybe if we are lucky... the hopeful promise of future crowds. I'm excited for the return of hugs, sleepovers and evenings spent under those Friday night lights. So much joy awaits in your golden year of life. Pandemic be damned, we are going to make it shine.

First to forge the path and the one to make me "Mom". My hardest and best job and all because there was a you in my life. 

Love you, first born. Happy next twirl around the sun.


Sunday, August 2, 2020

A Quarantine SIX

Annie May.

There is a light that burns within you that seems almost other-worldly. Wrapped in impish delight, your magical goodness feels like this rare gift we stumbled upon and somehow have managed to keep for ourselves. In all the logistical thinking that goes with with a weary and crowded mind (read: NONE), I would worry that my time with you might be limited somehow. Like any day, we were going to discover this horrific finding or medical condition that was going to take you away from us. This fear would catch my breath as you snuggled in closer or smiled your twinkly eyes my direction. It was irrationally crazy, untrue and yet- terrifying. You see, I just couldn't fathom how a brightness like that could stay here for always. 

And yet, here we are.

 Your steady glow in this family grows stronger still for six beautiful years and I am slowly leaning in to the truth that you were meant to be ours. How did we get so lucky?

You continue to be so quirky and uniquely you. Shoes lost, clothing optional, covered in someone else's confiscated hair chalk or makeup at all times. Just when we think that you float above reality-- you will hack into our technology, order animal fart apps on our Alexa with secret, memorized codes and change Dad's watch face on a dime without him even noticing. You are selectively attentive to details but only on Annie May time. It is simultaneously fascinating and infuriating. One day, we are going to harness that feral reserve you delicately balance and channel it to save the planet or something. There is some real ingenuity there, buddy.

You continue to be the most incredible, independent player, lover of ALL the cats, fierce beanie boo collector and crazed, makeup enthusiast I have ever met. At bedtime one evening in April, you casually whispered in my ear that you were a "cat in a human body" and I absolutely believe that to be a possibility. Good thing I'm not allergic to cats.

Tonight at dinner we were discussing what you wanted us to order out for your birthday dinner. You immediately informed us all that what you really wanted was for us to get everyone's favorite individual meal and eat it all together. It is your day and you just want to take care of everyone else. You told us that would be your "perfect meal." To quote Molly, "We don't deserve you, Annie". 

You know what, she is absolutely correct. 

Thanks for putting up with all our jaded, brooding and cynical ways and adding to the mix your whimsical light and goodness. YOU MAKE US ALL BETTER PEOPLE. 

Here's to your next year, sweet kitty. 

May it shine as brightly as you do in our lives each and every day. 


Birthday Video below--- I really think this song was written specifically for you. 

Saturday, April 4, 2020

A Pandemic Nine.

Birthday Babe.

Of allll my Mays, leave it to the BIGGEST extrovert of the bunch to land her birthday smack dab in the middle of shelter in place orders during a global pandemic. It will be a year to remember for sure! Don't worry--- your Mom has some tricks up her sleeve to help you feel surrounded by your people and I can't wait for you to be surprised.

This year marked the the beginning climb to big girl status and a step further away from all things our tiny and mighty Lu. There's excitement in this growth -for sure- but it is met with a tiny pang of bittersweet. One day, you'll understand it. There was something pretty magical about the greatness of eight. You are an explorer, innovative, curious, independent with a good dose of magic still weaving throughout your every day life. It is like the best of all worlds and selfishly, I want you to get this sweet spot for so much longer than the world will allow you to have it. I guess we'll just have to enjoy it while we can!

This year, I worried I wasn't present enough for you. That random guilt plagued me at times when I would see you needing more of my attention in spaces where I felt pulled in another direction or toting the line of capacity. I wondered how I could make myself more available, seek you out, fill your bucket with some individualized time. I'll be honest, I didn't do so great at it most of the time. The happy and easy middle kid is so often the one left to drift while my attention gets pulled away. I know you would be the quickest to forgive me for it though. Instantly wrapped in a Lucy sized hug, you would tell me all the ways you love me and land a giant smooch awkwardly and aggressively on my face. The quickest to love always and even faster to forgive.

For such a wild spirit, you have this precious gift for loving people. I see it in the friendships you keep, the animals you seek and the little sister that resides in your shadow. There is a gentleness to your intensity and it paints the most beautiful picture of you. Fierce and loyal. Cunning and mischievous. Athletic and magical. You have struggled at times to see where you fit this year. There were talks about friends vs. friendly and how it is okay to not fit perfectly in to just one box. Some colors are just too bright to be seen only one way. In time, I hope you come to see that as a gift too.

You live the rainbow, sister and paint our world all sorts of colorful.

Love you to the moon and back, sweet girl.

*Turn Up Music*

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Birthday Boy

Hey, hey birthday babe.

I have to say... twelve looks mighty handsome on you.

I won't pretend this year has been all things stellar. We are far too honest with each other to not acknowledge the squishy parts. Lots of big feelings and chalked full of change--- it was one for the books. The comforts of little-kid land in your rear-view found you confidentially chasing your American Idol. You had waited two whole years to share a school with her again and finally, the time had come. What you found in the new spaces, however, were crowded hallways filled with a lot of hormonally-charged, bigger bodies with all the opinions and far less kind words. The reality checks of middle school came at you like a wave and unfortunately, the salt left a sting. It has been challenging to see my self-assured, quirky kid come to doubt all the unique ways that he is beautiful. 

Some years are just like that. In the wise words of Dolly Parton, "Storms make trees take deeper roots." Uncomfortable and awkward in your body at times, but necessary to grow.

Every day I see glimpses of your confidence rebuilding. When you feel comfortable at home, it is like all the hard of the day melts away. The funny videos, late night jam sessions, sketches and hilarious quips never cease to make me laugh. You are beloved by friends and teachers alike, and my hope is that you feel it too. 

This year brought you some wonderful new loves too. Suddenly, your world is all things Topo Chico, hooded sweatshirts, skateboards, Anime and Notre Dame football. You have learned to play the guitar completely on your own. Often times, your strumming has become the peacefulness I look forward to as the day winds down. Dad has adored your growing love of all things football and having a buddy to toss the football with as the sun comes down. Thank goodness for that light up football. Man, it gets a lot of use.

I look back at the pictures that started this year and I hardly recognize that little kid. As Molly would say, you are on the brink of one lovely "glow up". Pretty soon we won't be reminding you to stand tall in your head... you will just stand taller... with your legs. You are the real dill to my pickle, Mr. May. I will forever be cheering on my big-hearted and curious kid. Here's to a year of so much more.

Happy birthday, Gabe. I sure do love you.

**music up!!**

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A Balancing Act

Standing at the stove, stirring our soon-to-be dinner and the distant voices of my daughter and husband exploding some kittens a room over floats around my kitchen. Lost in thought, I feel as though but a minute has passed and yet a quick glance at the computer screen confirms what I know in my heart to be true. Same smile--a bit more worn… same eyes--aged slightly with weary… same passion--softened by experience. Ah, reflections. They just don’t lie. Dang it. 

Carving out spaces to process quieted thoughts arrives with inconsistent dosing throughout the early years of motherhood. Creative outlets fall empty to the chaos of locating lost socks; refilling sippy cups; the goldfish army waging war on the floor of my van. The mundane of daily survival takes priority. It is babies vs. parents and I’m not so sure we’re winning.  

This whole Mom gig. We know it well. How many days was I determined to create predictability, a schedule, some tiny resemblance of a routine only to have it repeatedly kicked out of orbit by this adorably-faced, loudly-opinionated, dictator requiring ALL THE SNACKS and NONE OF THE NAPS? 

Motherhood, y’all

My hardest, best work without any gold stars and alllll the bathroom company. There’s a sweetness to it for sure, but it lives under many, many layers of sleepy. It is a sweetness that saturates with time. Thank goodness for that. 

Back to now. The laughter floating over our almost-dinner comes from my 3rd grade daughter. The same squishy-faced babe a blog post or two back is now sporting pom-pom dangle earrings and cartwheeling her way through life. 

Gone are my days of diaper bags, little gym hangs and googling the maximum daily dosing for baby Tylenol. In all fairness, Tylenol did go and change the dosing on all their meds post major recall- right there in the heart of my sleepless season- so some confusion was definitely warranted. Still, it is a season now gone away.  That sweetness of baby time? I may have overlooked it then but on some of the truly, mind-numbing days with middle-schoolers do I go reaching for it now! But that’s life, right? We don’t know until we know and then we delve deeper into some other sorts of unknown. Ever. Evolving. It’s just the best. 

My secret to surviving the Mom hustle? 

Seek out some balance. Actively choose the parts to clutch closely and the memories to let fade. It is about the company that meets you in the crazy vs the “friends” that fall to the shadows. Those peeps late night texting about bloody nose remedies, high school IB programs, and affirming that it isn't your fault that your kids can’t speak nicely to each other? Those people are your TRIBE and feed the balance that enables you to recognize capacity, to draw firmer boundaries and creatively channel some renewal. This life with bigger kids comes with the space that the newborn mamas dream of. Don’t you worry, though. Not everything is foreign. Older kid models continue to arrive with no manual, consistency or naps … and as a fun little bonus they throw in the added gift of hormones. All those smells and really big feelings. 

It's okay, Moms. We can do hard things. We already have. 

Bigger kid world doles out long days marked by heaps and heaps of grace. You’ve learned to forgive yourself more, hide a personal stash of chocolate in the pantry and have friends that porch drop wine. Your babysitters now live in your house and the permission for self-care lives here too. It is about balancing. The space to choose creativity again, to carve out a space for ME. Re-entering blog world once more. 

It is so lovely to be back.