Spread Your Wings Baby Girl

Soon you will be five. And I know what that means. I’ve known it since the day you started three-year-old preschool. You will be going to Kindergarten next year. You won’t be my baby girl anymore. And even though in my heart you’ll always be my baby girl, I know it’s time for you to spread your wings. It’s time for you to fly.

I was blessed to have the time I did with you. The time I got to be home and watch you grow…help you grow. I remember the first time you smiled at me in your swing, the first time you said I love you mommy, the first time you walked, how cute your voice was when you made all your animal sounds and all the other firsts I was blessed to witness. You are such a joy in my life.

My heart is torn thinking about the next year. I’m so proud of you and how incredibly smart you are. I’m proud of your kindness and respect for others. I know you’re going to be amazing. But I will miss you. Oh how I will miss you. I will miss spending my days with you. I will think about all the incredible things you’re doing and learning, but also wishing you were still small and here with me, wishing I could stop time and sometimes wishing I could keep you little forever.

But it’s time. It’s time for you to fly. It’s time for you to begin your journey in this world. It’s time for you to flourish. I only want the best for you. I’ll always only want the best for you, even if at times you don’t see it or maybe even believe it. So for now, I will cherish the months I have left. I will soak up every ounce of you. I will hug you and kiss you and tell you I love you a thousand times. I will hold our time together close to my heart and thank God (and my husband) for the ability to spend the time I did with you. My heart will always prevent me from letting go, but my strength in the incredible person you are, will. I love you baby girl, now spread those wings and fly.

All the Things They Don’t Tell You…

Being a mom is wonderful. It’s the most beautiful part of my life. It has completed me in words I cannot express. It’s a blessing that I get every day…to be a mom. My children are little pieces of me and big pieces of them. They are miracles from God, and they are mine.

Whether pink or blue, you prepare for these little ones. You imagine what they’ll look like and one day what they’ll sound like (not the screaming part). You’ll enjoy pregnancy, or maybe you won’t. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy your first one a little too much and by trimester three you’ll be eating an ice cream cone a day! But either way, the first time you hear your child’s heartbeat or feel that first kick, it changes you. In some ways, it’s a reality check…this is really happening…you’re having a baby. You’ll plan, you’ll read, you’ll nest and you will do everything you can to prepare for your little one, except nothing can really prepare you. You truly don’t understand the love your heart can feel until you hold your baby for the first time.

But what they don’t tell you is how difficult it is. Not just the labor, which if you’re a mom reading this, whoa, the labor. In an instance, you’re a parent. You have to figure out how to take care of this tiny human with a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mentality (something a type A person like me cannot do easily if at all!). You also have to co-parent. And that is no easy task. If you thought your marriage was tested your first year (we did not live together prior to marriage so ours definitely was!), then times that by 100, and that’s your first year as parents. Your marriage is different. You’re a family now and that inevitably changes things. You’re trying to manage your new roles separately and together. As a new mom, you might feel a little resentful for how much your life changes versus your spouse. You will feel a lot of things. Your emotions may get a little out of whack for a while. You might get postpartum immediately (like I did), later on or not at all. As a couple, you’ll fumble through the first year. You’ll argue. You’ll question your decisions. You’ll struggle. But you’ll get through it together. And by the time you’re ready for a second child (or not), now you’ll know what to expect.

No one can prepare you for breastfeeding. It will either be easy or difficult. Mine was difficult. I cried. My daughter cried. I never made enough milk. I had a ton of mom guilt so I didn’t want to give it up but I had to. I hated it. It gave me so much anxiety and I felt like a failure because it wasn’t working. No one can prepare you for all the failures you’ll feel. And they hurt. They hurt deep. Because the expectations of mothers are insane. They are flat out unattainable. Breastfeed until your child is one, throw the perfect first birthday party, always look put together, get the best family photos, perfectly balance work being a mom and wife, figure out your stance of vaccinations, food and a million other decisions you have to make on a daily basis and of course, don’t screw any of them up, keep up with social media and posting how ‘amazing’ your life is and that’s just the beginning. Then as the kids get older you get to deal with school drama, homework, bullying, sports and extracurricular activities, your child’s clear independence from you, who your kids friends are, will they have cell phones and social media accounts and another slew of decisions you don’t know how to make because again, no one can prepare you for them.

Motherhood is not easy. It’s tested me in ways I never thought possible. It’s challenged me, questioned me, frustrated me, enraged me, on some days defeated me and on most days, taken all of me. But it also has encouraged me, bettered me, enlightened me, strengthened me and shown me what unconditional love really is. And that’s something no one can prepare you for either. That’s the joy of motherhood. There will be ups and there will be downs. There will be little joys and big disappointments. There will tears, lots and lots of tears (kids and you!). But there will be so much love. And that love is what will fuel you. It’s what makes you a compassionate, protective mama bear. That love will never stop. It will never end. And that is the blessing of motherhood no one can prepare you for. A love like no other. The love only given as a mother.

To My ‘Person’

We all have one. That one ‘person’. The one person who has been there for you. Whether from childhood, grade school, high school, college or your first job….you found that person and they have been with you ever since. They have stood by your side when everyone else walked away. They never judged you, doubted you or intentionally hurt you. And you love them. You love that person because they are irreplaceable. They hold a place in your heart that no one ever will.

I met this person when I was four years old. It was the day my sister was born. I didn’t know then what she would be to me now, but oh how I am blessed. I am blessed in ways I cannot even begin to explain. She is my person and she will always be my person. And yes, I said my sister not my husband. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband but husbands aren’t ‘persons’, they are spouses. They are our greatest loves. They are the fathers of our children. They make us whole. They have their purpose for us, but I don’t believe this is it.

Your person is someone different. It’s someone maybe you’ve known your entire life or maybe it’s just felt like that. The person that just gets you. It’s a relationship that requires no effort because you both know what you mean to one another. And while every relationship is different, here’s what mine is.

Mine is my best friend. My sister. The one person who has never given up on me, not even for a second, who has never judged me, never hurt me and never done anything but be there for me. She’s made me a better person…a better sister, daughter, friend, wife and mother. She’s my person. She knows what I’m thinking with one look, one word or even one gif. We have always joked that we really are twins just born on different days and in different years. She is the most generous, loving, kind, faithful and loyal person I have ever met. She is someone I admire and respect. She’s the kind of person that is really loved by all who meet her. She has a kindness that you cannot fake. She has a faith that cannot be shaken. She is stronger than she knows. She is beyond beautiful inside and out.

Maybe your person is your sibling or the person you grew up from down the street. Maybe it’s the one you met your first day of Kindergarten or freshmen year Biology. Maybe you met in the college dorms or your first job after graduation. Wherever you met, you know they are your person and you are theirs. No drama, no jealousy and very little arguing if any. This person has your back, they don’t stab you in it. They love you for the person that you are. They accept your flaws because you accept theirs. You get each other. You talk at least once a day because that’s just what you do. You’ve seen each other at your best and worst and you’ve always been there for each other during those times too. This person will forever be in your life.

I’m blessed I happened to grow up with my person and that no one can ever truly know me like she does because she’s been there from the beginning. I don’t remember what my life was like without her and I wouldn’t want to if I could. I am better because of her.

A while ago, I was struggling just as any other mother and wife does. My sister and I listen mostly to Christian music and she sent me Lauren Daigle’s song ‘Rescue’. She said this was her song to me. It, of course, brought me to tears. And that’s the amazing thing about having your person, they know how to help you when you need it most with just the right thing. Because no matter who, what, when, where, why, how…they are your person, and that will never ever change. Thank you being who you are Stephanie, I love you more than words could ever say.

Today I Danced…

I love Christmas. I’ve always loved Christmas. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. I have the best memories from Christmas time as a child and even as a young adult. My parents made the holiday truly magical. A special memory for me was always the night we’d decorate our Christmas tree as a family.

My dad would bring out his old record player and put on Christmas albums. My mom would get out the Santa hats for everyone to wear while my sister and I would put our great-grandma’s hand-knit Christmas stockings on our feet and slide around the house. We’d toast with a “special drink” my sister and I got once a year that my dad made (we eventually learned it was a Shirley temple). As we got older, we would talk about all the ornaments as we pulled them out (my sister and I searching for the “best” ones to hang). The ones from my moms parents from Poland or the “firsts” (first year married, baby’s first Christmas, etc), the ornament with the tree and all of the presents underneath or the shiny heart. We even laughed about the ornaments we made when we were younger. I can picture us now as I tell my sister her ornament is ridiculous and we laugh hysterically (she and I would also devote a side of the tree to ourselves where we’d put all of our ornaments, and we continued to do this as adults!).

I loved Christmas growing up, and I still love it. Of course the real reason to celebrate is Christ, and my parents instilled that very early on in our lives, but it’s those little special family moments that I’ll never forget.

I was really excited for the holidays this year. Even though Grant is only two, Emma is four and a half and I knew the magic for her would start to set in. We began “Elf on the Shelf”, continued our Advent calendar and I just tried to do all the fun things my mom used to do with me and my sister.

I want my kids to love Christmas the way I do. I wanted it to be perfect. And that’s of course, where my problem began. Because the only thing perfect about Christmas is Christ, so trying to have the perfect Christmas holiday isn’t possible.

It all started with my daughter getting sick a little over a week before Christmas. As she got better my son got croup and instead of headed to my dads family Christmas party with my husband and daughter the day before Christmas Eve, we were at urgent care. On Christmas Eve, my husband stayed home with our son while my daughter and I spent Christmas Eve with my moms family (a tradition we’ve had since I was born). Christmas morning was rushed as we woke up late, did presents and raced off to mass where no one wanted to act remotely appropriate. I tried to hold back the tears. We saw my husbands family that afternoon/evening but it was short lived after my son melted down early (HUGE meltdown) because his only nap was missed (we hoped he would sleep on the drive!). I didn’t see my parents or sister and her family as planned because my son was sick. Everything felt rushed, disconnected and separate.

I was sad. I felt defeated. I tried so hard for this “magical” Christmas and it felt nothing like that. Not even close.

But this morning that changed.

Today I danced in the kitchen with my kids. I danced without a care in the world. They both had on their Christmas pajamas and we danced. We danced and laughed and ran around the house. My daughter kept telling me ‘how much fun she was having’ as my son said ‘again mommy’. And that’s when it hit me. Kids are simple! They love simplicity. And at this age, they don’t really understand Christmas. They understand gifts, Santa and Jesus’ birthday but that’s about it. They don’t need big, fancy expensive gifts. They need time. They need love. They need attention. So for thirty minutes, I didn’t focus on anything but dancing with my kids and you know what, it was amazing! Seeing their huge smiling faces over something so simple reminded me why I love Christmas. It’s those special moments. Those memories. It’s magical.

So maybe my holiday wasn’t Facebook perfect. We didn’t get a single family photo together (insert big emoji cry face for me) and we missed a lot of events, but we survived. Christmas isn’t about presents and it never was for us, it’s about family. Christ was born. So today I put away my pity party, and danced in my kitchen with my kids for Christ…and for us.

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope Jesus lives in your hearts all year long.

Today, I Give Up

As moms, we are tested every day. We are tested on how much ‘we can handle’. This is determined by the realistic expectations we set for ourselves paired with the unrealistic expectations we have as mothers.

It’s not easy to be a mom. And unless you are one, you can never truly understand the struggle. Because when I say it’s a struggle, oh it’s such a struggle. Being a mom takes everything out of you, every ounce of you and it never quits. Motherhood never ends. It’s a 24/7 job. But your kids sleep at night? Ha! If your child sleeps through the night then congratulations, but that will not always be the case. They will wake up sick or cold or hot or thirsty or needing to pee or anything else imaginable that requires “MOMMMMMY!”. And when babies wake up it’s even worse because they can’t tell us what’s wrong besides crying! But even when your kids are sleeping through the night, you’re still up putting away toys, doing dishes, cleaning bottles, finishing laundry you couldn’t get to, pumping, prepping lunches, organizing backpacks, working (like me! My second job begins once my kids go down) and cleaning up the nightmare that is your kitchen because let’s be honest, it’s a hot mess. Your job never ends. And you know? It’s exhausting. It’s literally exhausting.

But ‘it’s sooooo worth it’ and we are supposed to feel that way all the time, right? Children are a blessing. They are a beautiful gift from God. I will never argue that. They are so worth it. But that doesn’t mean we have to feel that way all the time. That doesn’t mean we can’t have days where we are frustrated, angry, tired and completely out of patience! That makes us humans. That makes us real moms, not these unrealistic ones who are supposed to have our s$&@ together all the time.

Sometimes I think about the Blessed Mother and wonder how she was with Jesus. Did she get frustrated with him? Did she discipline him? She must have been terrified when He stayed back in Jerusalem after the Festival of the Passover while her and Joseph traveled on for a day. They eventually found him after three days preaching at the Synagogue! “Why were you searching for me?” He asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them. I cannot begin to imagine losing either of my children, especially not in the world we live in now.

Each day, I tell myself I want to be more like Mary. I want to have her patience and humility. I want to have her love and her heart. So I try. I wake up each day and I tell myself, have patience, they’re only little for so long, thank God for your blessings. I even have reminders on my phone that beep at certain times during the day to remind myself of these! But they don’t always work. There are days like today where I give up. The days where everything little and big go wrong. I take my kids to church and my son screams the entire time. My kids argue, smack each other, yell, hit, throw things and tantrums like it’s their job and as their boss, they’re WAY too good at their jobs. Yes, these days when my sweet children are little monsters and I can’t do it. I can’t. I give up.

So I cry. Usually this is at night for no one to see but today at mass I broke down. Luckily my sister was there and I pulled it together. But this is part of motherhood. This is the raw, real part of it that we all deal with. Yes, some deal with it on a grander scale (children with cancer or other diseases), but we all have our burdens to bear as mothers.

So for any of you moms out there struggling, for any moms out there giving up today, know that you are not alone. Know that at the end of the day, you are so blessed with children who love you more than anything in this world. Know that ‘this too shall pass’ and whatever stage or phase you are in with your children, it will get better. As for me, mine are only little for so long and no matter how frustrated I get, I keep telling myself that I’ll never get this time with them again. Some days I feel like it might kill me, but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? Hang in there mamas, you’re doing an amazing job!