It has been a week of swirling and whirling emotions.
Watching a flower bloom, a tree sprout, a child find his way.
What an inspiring thing to see.
My beautiful boy.
I was the same as anyone who dreams of a family.
I imagined them.
I wrote their names in cursive in my diary.
I wanted them to be different than me, to be more than me, to be less of me.
When my daughter's eyes started to change, from the dark blue she was born with to the brown she now sees the world with, I was crushed. I had been dazzled by those blue eyes and the way they made her look more like her father than me. I didn't realize, until they began to look so much like mine, how much I had wanted her to take after him.
And my son—who struggles so much with finding his voice—I wanted him to be the leader, the one who gets noticed, the kid who never has to hope he'll get picked. I wanted him not to have to face the same struggles I did. I tried so hard to help him change, until I realized I shouldn't.
The last 12 years have hardened and softened me to the dreams I wrote down for my imagined family. Years of watching children grow, will change what you see too.
I can stare down the flaws I've always looked for in my reflection. Standing in front of the mirror given to me by motherhood, I can finally see beauty.
Because my children are so much like me.
The love that lands on your heart the very instant the weight of your newborn is placed there—it heals you, if you let it.
Because that love leaves you no choice.
When those flaws dance in front of you on the wings of your child, you will see they are nothing less than exquisite.
It is the acceptance of those flaws in yourself that will give you the grace to love unconditionally.
You will finally understand that your eyes make her beautiful, because she thinks they're beautiful on you. You will remind her that those eyes come from the incredible women of generations before her, and she will be proud of them. She will know that it's so much more than what her eyes look like, and really about what she holds behind them.
You will be able to tell your son with truth, The day will come when you are always picked first, because you listen and you see everybody, and he will take comfort in knowing you understand. He will believe you, because he watches others seek comfort in your listening heart, and he will know how much this world needs him.
And you will catch your messy and flawed reflection in the mirror from time-to-time, and smile at what you see. You will finally understand the story you wrote for your perfect family is coming to life, and it's more beautiful than you could have imagined.
This essay is part of the Messy, Beautiful warrior Project — to learn more, CLICK HERE.
Today didn't start the way we had imagined.
But that's the way things go with four kids.
Make a plan, expect it to unravel.
It's been a relatively lazy weekend for us. We're headed out of town for three days at the end of the week, so we decided a hang out at home would be a good idea leading up to it.
After staying up far too late doing this, the plan was to have JB take the three oldest kids to swimming lessons this morning, while the little one and I got busy in the kitchen filling up the freezer for school lunches.
We were woken by an in-your-face time check from one of the girls. The ladies in this house don't like to be late, and they've have learned the value of taking the bull by the horns, so to speak.
I stayed in bed for a few minutes longer, while JB got the day started. I heard him directing the kids to pack their own swimming bags and some food for afterwards. We've been working hard on making them increasingly accountable for their belongings and getting things done when it's for their own benefit.
I came downstairs as they were headed for the door. And I was there to see the moment that it all started to unravel.
JB said Okay everyone grab your swim bags and head out. Later today, we'll stop at the bookstore and you can each choose a book.
The kids received gift cards for helping their friends guinea pig sit over the March break. They've been excited to use them. Except, you can't say that kind of thing to the boy and ALSO expect him to remember that you've asked him to do something.
His brain does not have enough room in it to think about the million and millions of books he wants to take home AND remember a swim bag.
I was in the kitchen filling up at the coffee maker when I heard the door slam. A few minutes later—just as I was sitting down to my steaming mug—I noticed the lonely swim bag in the front hall. And of course it was the boy's. And of course, as I called JB's cell phone to tell him to turn around and come back for it, I was met with voice mail telling me his phone is completely dead.
In other words, my kid COMES BY IT HONESTLY.
I know some of you are thinking I shouldn't have done what I did next—which was to shove the little one into a coat and boots and pop her into the car with that swim bag. But we're missing next week's lesson and no one wins by having him sit on the sidelines.
Yes, he needs to suffer the consequences of his own mistakes, I get it. But the fact is, he's not lazy or defiant. He's absentminded.
So if anyone has ideas or tips for a mother raising an absentminded son of an absentminded father, please send them my way.
After throwing a swim bag over the heads of a mosh pit of parents and kids on a pool deck, and watching it land at the feet of two sheepish boys, I'm back home and ready to head into the kitchen with a fresh cup of coffee and my itunes (I discovered this song by a bluegrass singing Belgian group and it has been playing on repeat).
Hope you're having a great weekend.
Even though the best parenting moments should happen in front of your eyes and not through a lens, sometimes, just sometimes, you are ever so grateful that you were standing on the front lawn talking to your husband on the phone, because this happens:
In the quiet of the night, my thoughts all jumbled and overflowing in the rush of my day, come together like short plays. They tell the story of relationships, motherhood and an earnest hope for happy endings.