Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Day You Went To Kindergarten

The day you went to kindergarten, I woke up late. 

6:36 a.m. to be exact. Your dad was going to be at my apartment with you by 7:15 a.m.

Yep. 5:30 a.m. is going to be hard on this mama's body...just ask my hair that is now officially going on day 4 of not being washed.

The day you went to kindergarten, my hands shook while I dressed you.

Your daddy asked if I was nervous. He knows me too well. 

All I could think about was that your brand new dress was no longer brand new. It had hung in your closet for weeks and you had begged me to wear it on more than one occasion. Well, it's official occasion was finally here.


The very first day of all your first days.

The day you went to kindergarten, we were late. 

As always.

It never fails.

We paused briefly for pictures, I signed you in at the front door, and then they quickly whisked you away because your class was already headed upstairs.

I hardly got to say goodbye and you looked so overwhelmed and so scared.

My heart stopped for a full minute.

The day you went to kindergarten, I cried. 

Briefly. But, I still cried. Even thought I promised myself that I wouldn't.

I sucked in my breath and rung my hands, as your daddy followed me quietly out into the parking lot.

He assured me that you'd be okay-that eventually we'd get this down.

I wanted to believe him, because I knew he was right.

The day you went to kindergarten, I hugged your daddy goodbye too. 

Because for all our differences-all our mistakes-we're in this together. The two of us-for now.

I couldn't have made this far without him, and he couldn't of made it this far without me.

We have been able to successfully parent you to age 5 together-to your first day of kindergarten. We have raised a beautiful, smart, funny, big hearted little girl and we are both excited to see where your future is going to take us from here.

We know it will be an adventure.

It always is.

The day you went to kindergarten, I worried about you incessantly. 

The minutes ticked by so slowly. Each moment seemed longer than the last.

My heart was in my throat and I was hardly able to eat a thing.

Were you getting enough potty breaks?

Did I pack the right snacks?

Did you remember to take your thermos of juice to lunch?

Were you making friends?

Did you miss me? 

They assured me you were okay, and my head believed them, but my heart just wasn't so sure.

3:15 p.m. couldn't come quickly enough.

The day you went to kindergarten, I felt the change. 

The pages turning as one chapter of our lives closed, and another began.

We've been through a lot, baby girl.

Just you and I.

All those days and nights I spent at home with you when you were a baby all by ourselves. All the nights I slept with you on my chest. All the tears I've soothed and boo-boos I've kissed. All the reminders to say "please" and "thank you". All the gentle encouragements to share and play nice with others.

All of the milestones we experienced together.

All those moments that were just ours.

They were preparing us for this-for growing up.

Not just you, but your mama too.

And while we've both grown up a lot-especially in the last two years, I decided today that growing up is hard.

Really hard.

And you know what, baby girl? I just don't think it's ever going to get any easier. Not one little bit.

But, at least we've been able to grow up together.

Just you and I. 

And I wouldn't have wanted to do it with anyone else.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Growing Pains

I know I've been writing about motherhood a lot lately.

Maybe it's because I am a mom and it's my number one job.

But most likely it's the nostalgia.

The fact that in twenty short days she starts kindergarten.


When did this happen? 

I've been looking at her baby pictures the past few days. I've been assuring myself that this is normal.


Yes. It's definitely normal. It has to be.

And tonight she surprised me by glancing through her baby albums with me. She flipped through the pages a little too quickly and chattered constantly as she was situated next to me in her multi-colored tutu with her tiara perched perfectly on her head.

Because even in the moments when she is begging me to slow down, she still manages to go 100 mph.

We looked. She talked.

 I remembered. She was introduced.

She asked a thousand questions, and I gave her a thousand answers.

She saw the little dresses, the headbands, the toys, and the blankies before they were so loved and tattered around the edges.

I saw the silly grins, the little reddish curls, the orneriness in her eyes, and the things about her that will never change: the personality that she has had from day one, her caring heart, and her empathetic nature.

She has the best and the worst of her daddy and I inside of her.

She is our daughter.

Through and through.

And even though I am struggling fiercely with this whole growing up and leaving me for kindergarten thing, I know that fact will never change.

She will always be my daughter.

The little princess in the tutu going 100 mph will always be there even when she has to be tucked deep down inside of the woman she is becoming.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Courage, Dear Heart

"But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her,
 'Courage, dear heart,' 
and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan's, 
and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face." 
~C.S. Lewis, "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" 

"Courage, dear heart."


Who knew it would only take nine short months for you to no longer be seen as her mother, but merely the shell that once grew life?

Who knew that it would only take nine months before you would be forced to compete with someone who has no idea what it's like to give birth to your heart and then forever be forced to watch it walk around outside of your body?

Who knew nine months ago when you wrote this post that your words would actually be put to the test?

Who knew?

No one. 

No words, books, or therapy sessions.

Not a single soul could have prepared you for the last two weeks. 

The last two weeks that have turned once brave words to dust, and trust into a bartering tool. 

I can't believe I actually thought we were getting the hang of this. 

God, was I wrong.

We still have a long way to go. 

Because, unfortunately this road is hard and so very steep. It levels out in places, but only enough to give us time to catch our breath. We struggle. We glimpse the top of this mountain, but there are days when it still seems so far away.

And sometimes, I crumble. I lose my bearings. I give into the bullying when I shouldn't, and I stand my ground when there is no ground to stand on. I waiver. I start to lose heart.

And as I sit on my bed in a puddle of tears wondering how, if, and when we will ever master the steps to this dance-when we will ever reach the top of this mountain-I feel His hand on my face. His breath on my cheek. 

"Courage, dear heart." 


"You've come too far to turn back now."

And I know He's right.

I know.

I know the only reason I've made it this far is because He has ahold of my hand, and I know I'm headed in the right direction because He just keeps paving the way.

I know that even on these days when it feels so very hopeless that my hope can rest in Him, because He has a plan.

He always has a plan.

And I just have to keep praying, and trusting, and moving forward one step at a time.

So, today I will dig down deep and find my ever elusive courage.

I will stand my ground.

I will remind myself that I gave up being bullied into silence nine months ago.

Nine very short months ago.

And in the future if she remembers anything about these days, I hope she remembers the times I found my courage when it felt like I didn't have an ounce of it left.

Courage that only He can give me.

"Courage, dear heart."


Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Measure of Motherhood

Motherhood is this amazing thing.

It's going all day and realizing you've only had like 4 bites of something...anything edible, because your little person ate the rest of every meal you had in the last 12 hours. 

It's having to pee SO bad, but knowing you have to get both the swim bag, the wet swim suit, the wet towel, both stuffed animals, your heaping full work bag, and a sleeping little person in the house in one trip, and then successfully into their pj's and into bed before you can finally go. 

It's counting when she asks you to count how long she can hold her breath under water, even when you know it's still going to be ten-it's always going to be ten. every. single. time.
It's sidewalk chalk on a summer night, and "Let It Go" in the car for the umpteenth thousand time. 

It's in the "Can you please read me one more story, Mom?" and the "No, you can't have ice cream for dinner". 

It's kissing boo boo's, and carrying them up the hill when you know they are getting way too big to carry. 

It's games of chase, and catch me if you can. 

It's laughing harder than you've laughed in a while. 

It's the hair brushing drama, and the "Mommy, can I pick out my clothes?" days. 

It's days full of questions like, "Will you ever be big enough to FINALLY feed yourself?", and then contradicting questions like, "When did you finally get big enough to do THAT?"

It's the only job that make you feel so sure of yourself one moment, and then utterly doubt everything your doing the next. 

It's motherhood. It's messy. It's unorganized. It's crazy. It's hectic. It's too loud at one moment, and then too quiet the next. 

It molds you. It shows you exactly what you're made of...what you're capable of. 

It reminds you that this life is SO much bigger than you.

This life we call motherhood is more than the 9 to 5, the paychecks, and the never ending bills.

It's more than the never ending daily struggle.

It's more than the quiet, tearful whispers you mumble at night asking yourself if you...YOU, dear mother, are good enough? 

Let me be the first to tell you that yes, sweet momma. 

Yes, you are. 

Because this life...your not measured by those things. 

It's measured by dirty hands and wet kisses. 

It's measured by inches grown, lessons learned, and good night prayers. 

It's measured by a child mastering a new skill or an act of kindness. 

It may not be a glamorous life, but it is every bit of important. 

Because if you're only purpose in this life was to give birth and successfully raise that child, then that...THAT, dear mother, IS enough. 

I promise.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Just Below The Surface

"We are human beings.
We are made up of atoms, and molecules, and star stuff.
We store memories in the form of scars, bruises, and laugh lines.
The ones on your skin and the ones on your heart."

When I was a kid, I would spend my summers swimming in my grandmother's swimming pool. It is one of the old, in ground swimming pools. You know, the ones with the fiberglass bottom and the slant in the middle where the water goes from shallow end to the deep end of the pool?

Yeah. One of those.

My sisters, cousins, and I basically lived in that pool.

Every single summer, my mother would buy us new swimming suit.

And every single summer, those swimming suits would be completely worn out with little holes in the bottom from a slide that had been painted one too many times.

My best childhood memories are centered around that pool and the summers spent playing with my cousins and gorging ourselves on watermelon and sweet tea.

It was in that swimming pool where I learned to love the water. No matter the weather.

One of my favorite times to swim was in the rain. I loved to fill my lungs with air, dive deep into the water, and peer up to the surface. The top of the water would come alive with rain drops. New ripples starting before the old ones were even complete.

But deep below the surface, the water was calm. It was just me suspended in the clear water and the silence all around me as I rose slowly watching the water dance above my head.

 Today, I found myself wishing that life was like those moments in that swimming pool. That we could watch the chaos ensue on the surface while we hide safely below. Just waiting out the rain. 

Sometimes I think that life would be easier if we could hide from our problem. If we didn't have to face our battles, and get drenched in the storm. 

But, I am reminded that even though it may be easier to hide deep within ourselves-just below the surface, the only way to shore is through the rain. 

Life isn't about hiding. It's about weathering your storms and knowing that in the end you will emerge stronger, wiser, and better. 

Yes, it's going to hurt. Yes, you will have moments when you feel like you just can't make it through. Yes, you will cry, and ache, and walk around empty at times. 

But, I promise you that what is waiting for you on the other side of that storm is amazing. 

Beautifully amazing. 

You may find yourself so exhausted from the fight that you can hardly move, and every muscle in your body may ache from treading water. 

But, you can do this. 

I promise you that you can and that you will live to tell about it.

It may not feel like it. 

But, you can. 

You will.

Just a little longer, sweet friend. 

This way is much harder. 

But, His ways are not our way. His plans are not our plans.

They are better. 

So much better.

And running from your problems never changes anything.


Trust me. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Before You Go

I heard through the grapevine that you're leaving.

That you're packing your bags and starting over somewhere new.

How wonderful for you.

I mean, I honestly can't blame you.

I can't even begin to tell you the number of times since that hot, muggy August day that I have wanted to run.

To throw in the towel and leave all of this behind.

But, I knew in my heart that I could never do that to my daughter-not after all I've put her through. And so, I stayed.

I fought.

I never back down. not. one. single. time.

I know it's easier for you to pretend like I don't exist-like I never existed. But, before you go you should know a few things. A few things that I finally have the courage to say out loud.


Before you should know that I'm not going anywhere. This little town was my home long before it was your's. I'll always be here. Always.

Before you should know that I actually have a backbone now. A pretty damn strong one. I think that whole "refusing to roll over and die" thing had something to with it.

Before you should know that I smile more than I cry these days.

Before you should know that my heart isn't broken anymore. It has healed into a thousand little scars. Scars that have made me better, not bitter. Scars that have made me stronger, not weaker. Scars that tell a story. A beautiful story of grace, hope, and redemption.

Before you should know that I'm okay. Like really okay. I'm happiest I've been in a long time, and it feels amazing to be able to say that and actually mean it.

Before you should know that I did find someone else to love me. Yep, me. Broken, bruised, stained, and torn at the seams me. I know you didn't think that I would, but he took one look at my story, and decided that none of that mattered. That he actually liked the girl I've been seeing in the mirror these days. He has become a gift of God's grace in my life.

Before you should know that I have learned that mistakes don't define you.

Before you should know that I have accepted that for some wounds in this life you will never get an apology.

Before you should know that I don't hate you. I wanted too. The world wanted me too. But, I just don't. Not one little bit.

Before you should know that I forgive you. I forgive you for the promises we couldn't keep. I forgive you for the hurt. I forgive you for your part in the story.

Before you should know that God is using my mess. My beautiful, disastrous mess. Because those are His favorite kinds of stories.

Before you should know that my story has allowed me to embrace my calling. The calling to help other women just like me who have been left bruised, broken, and rejected by a world that can be far from kind.

Before you should know that I am thankful. I am thankful for mercy that is new every morning, joy that always replaces sadness, and for a life that is far from over.

Before you should know that I wish you all the best, and I hope you're happy. Really, truly happy. And that if you aren't, you find a way to get there.

I really, really do.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Heartache of "Firsts"

It's late.

I should be in bed.

But, my child refused to sleep in her own bed tonight, and so like any good parenting expert would do...I gave in.

I always give in.

But, especially tonight.

Because tonight, I came home to a little girl who jumped into my arms proudly exclaiming,

"Look, Mommy! Look!"

It was a loose tooth.

Her very first loose tooth.


My heart stopped and my eyes welled up with tears. I swallowed hard, blinked about a thousand times,  and then mustered as much excitement as a could before she realized something was wrong. I smiled, wiggled the tooth, and then I tucked her safely into my bed.

The only place that time seems to stand still even if just for a little while.

And as as she drifted off to sleep, I positioned myself on my bedroom floor right next to the bathroom light with a box of tissues and a glass of wine.

The couch just seemed too far away tonight.


These are the moments you dread the most as a divorced, separated, and/or single parent. The moment when you realize that for the first time in their short little lives you might actually miss something.

Something important.

A first. 
For the last five years, I have been there for every single "first". 

Her first time in her crib, her first time eating cereal, her first words, her first steps, her first big girl bed, her first day of preschool, her first movie, her first sleepover, her first time at the circus, her first time swimming without her floaties...all of them. 

Every. Single. One. 

And to think that I might actually miss this...well, there aren't words for that kind of remorse. 

As her mother, it's hard not to feel like I have some kind of "right" to these moments.

 To all her "first"'s.

All those sleepless nights. All the diapers I changed. All the puke I walked around with all over my clothes. All of the dinner wars I've fought and tantrums I've policed. All the boo-boo's I've kissed and tears I've soothed. 

How can you not experience all of that and not feel some kind of entitlement to all major AND minor life moments?

The truth is: you don't.

As selfish as it sounds...there is no way as a mother NOT to feel that way.

I have been commissioned with a silent call from day one to be there for my child. It is my job to be present. To catch her when she falls and to celebrate even the tiniest victories from her first steps to her wedding day.

But sometimes when you are divorced, separated, or just a single momma sharing custody, you don't get to "be there" for all of those things.

Sure, he promises he'll call. He'll tell me the moment it happens.

I made him promise at least five times.

I could feel him rolling his eyes at me through the texts.

He still knows me too well.

Yes, that's all fine and dandy. It's sweet of him to cooperate offer. But, even with a phone call and the arrival of a tiny tooth tucked secretly in her backpack (hopefully!), it won't be the same as being there.

It just won't.

And for that...for moments just like the loose heart aches.

These are the moments that remind you that divorce is NEVER easy.

No matter how much you get the hang of it. No matter how wonderfully you perfect the art of co-parenting with your ex. No matter how happy you are with your new life.

There will always be moments just like this that remind you that divorce hurts.

It just plain sucks.

And unfortunately that is God's way of reminding us that divorce was never the plan. That divorce is a man-made thing we've made up to make ourselves feel better. Divorce-no matter the circumstances-always carries strands of selfishness through it.

These are the consequences of selfishness.

These are the types of consequences I will deal with for the rest of my life.

Yes, I am forgiven.

Yes, I am covered in  mercy and grace.

Yes, the Lord has continued to bless me and provide for me despite my divorce.

But, that doesn't mean there aren't or will never be consequences for my actions.

Consequences that serve as steady reminders that I never, ever, ever want to go through anything like this ever again.

I know I'll make it through this.
I know that the day of the very first lost tooth will come and go whether it's at my house or at her dad's.
I know that she still has many more "firsts" to go. Some I will experience with her. Some that I won't.
But, you know, a really amazing friend told me last night in the middle of my tears that all I can do right now is focus on what I CAN DO for my daughter.
I can love her unconditionally.
I can make her feel like that no matter what happens in this life she will always be my first priority.
I can celebrate the loose tooth.
And you know, who made the rule that the tooth fairy only comes to one house anyway?
We will survive this moment just like we have all of the others.
His grace and mercy are enough even for the moments when silly things like loose teeth make our heart hurt. He understands. He does.
And I know without a shadow of a doubt that He won't let go of my hand as I walk through this.
No matter how silly it may seem. 

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