Micro Posts Click on photograph to read words associated with each picture. All posts originally published on These Boys of Mine Facebook page. I’d set the world on fire for you. A thousand times, again and again if it meant you’d be safe. I’d set the world on fire for you. When someone tries to hurt you, to make you feel bad or lesser than the amazing person that you are. I’d set the world on fire for you. To make all of your dreams come true, no matter who tries to tell you they won’t or thinks they can get in the way of them. I’d set the world on fire for you. To give you everything you need in this life and long after I’m gone – so that you will be taken care of and loved by others that also know how wonderful you are. I’d set the world on fire for you. If it meant showing the world all of your capabilities and not just what you can’t do. I’d set the world on fire for you. Even if I come off a little crazy, a little mad, or whatever else they might sling at me – I don’t care because I’m just fighting for you in everyway possible. I’d set the world on fire for you. Because you deserve it. You deserve the very best of the best and so much more than that still. I’d set the world on fire for you. Always and forever, without question or explanation I’d do it, again and again because you are the reason there is a fire burning inside my mama heart in the first place. The face of the fridge. Filled with pictures, reminders, and eclectic magnets. Drawings from preschool and dates to be saved. Tokens from past adventures and favorite holidays. The first thing we see when our stomachs are growling and sleepy eyes glaze over as we reach in for the baby’s bottle at midnight. The centerpiece of the kitchen, where our family gathers for nightly meals. The pieces may change from year to year but the front door of the fridge will remain a display of our dreams, past and the love we share. I didn’t know it yet but I was about two weeks along with my long-awaited, desperately prayed for, sweet firstborn baby in this photo. After nearly 3 years of trying, and no money to invest in fertility treatments, I’d decided to give it to God as to how and when I’d become a mother. God, as He sometimes does, had a funny way of answering my plight. I don’t know if He wanted me to be truly ready for motherhood or what but I was grateful when He did finally answer. After all, He already knows the path we all will walk – as mothers, as wives, as daughters and as friends. He knows what exactly it is that we can all handle. God knew I had a heart big enough to withstand the months of not conceiving. He knew that trying to get pregnant for so long would make me more compassionate towards other women who followed me down the same path. So, He waited until He had the perfect, most special little soul to send our way, that’d wear my face and have his daddy’s determination. God knew. He knew I’d take this picture on that beautiful day in May, almost as if I was being baptized again, except this time as a mother and reborn as the ideal creation to care for the little miracle that was already forming inside of me. You too mama, He knew you’d be the best mama for your babies too – no matter how or when He sent them to you. My sweet second born rainbow baby, Happy 1st birthday! It’s hard to believe a year ago today I made the mistake of lifting a 50 lb bag of dog food into my shopping cart at Target two days before my scheduled c-section, and by 10:24 PM you’d be in this world. Always the surprise you are! The sleepless nights, long days and learning how to live life as a mother of two went by as I fell deeper in love with you. My happy, blue eyed baby – where did you come from? From the way you raise your eyebrows in the most hilarious ways to your contagious smile, you mean the world to me. You and your brother are my whole heart. Happy birthday my sweetheart. May God bless and keep you always. So often as mothers we carry the weight. We carry the weight of the hope in our hearts for the babies that haven’t yet come. We carry the weight of the excitement on the mornings we take that first test that’ll tell us if we’ll be mamas or not. We carry the weight of our babies as they grow and grow until it’s time to enter the world. We carry the weight of the burden when sometimes our babies don’t grow or come as planned. We carry the weight of our the needs of our children because if we didn’t then who else would? We carry the weight of our spouses when sometimes they need us to carry more than our fair share but know they’d do the same for us too. We carry the weight of the friendships that have fizzled out because of the weight that motherhood sometimes brings. We carry the weight of careers that change with the needs of our families. We carry the weight of the hopes and dreams we have for our children and for ourselves too. We carry the weight of the ghosts of our former selves that seemed to have gotten lost as we’ve had to grow up and be the adult. We carry the weight of our aging parents and sometimes having to be there for them instead of them for us. We carry the weight. We do it because eons ago it was decided that there’d be no being stronger than a mother to handle all of the things that are thrown at us. We were built to carry the weight – literally. We do it because we are strong enough and there is no better person to do it. I’ll follow you. Down the corridor of that hospital wing as they push you in your bassinet and me in my wheelchair, towards the room where we’ll spend our first days together. I’ll follow you. Closely behind as you army crawl your way across the living room carpet and eventually up the stairs to all of the things that you love to get into. I’ll follow you. Through the tunnels, to the swings, down the bike path and back again as you try to keep up with the big kids at the park. I’ll follow you. As you make your grand entrance into that kindergarten classroom and smile up at me with excitement in your eyes. I’ll follow you. When we go to your friend’s house to take pictures in front of the lilacs of all of you dressed up for prom. I’ll follow you. To that college campus too far away but you’ve got your heart set on and who am I to say no. I’ll follow you. As you lead me across the dance floor on your special day with the love of your life and indulge your mom in the traditional dance. I’ll follow you. Into that room where you will introduce me to my sweet little grandchild and the one that you will now follow. I’ll follow you. From now until my dying breath. Each morning they wait together for the bus to arrive. It has become their morning ritual. Promptly at 7:00, they go outside and have 15 minutes of one on one time together – just father and son. I used to go out with them, until little brother arrived last winter. But now, I stay inside with the baby and watch them from a far. Occasionally, I’ll poke my head out the door to hand off a jacket or a forgotten snack for his backpack. But otherwise, I try not to intrude on this special time they have with one another. They both clearly enjoy it and look forward to it each day. The weather is not always beautiful, and once the snow starts to fly they won’t wait outside as often. Instead, they will be perched at the dining room window and they will run out to greet the bus when it arrives. Until then, I’ll secretly watch them from the window. Sometimes one of them will spot me and give me a quick wave. Father and son together, for such a short, a cherished ritual that will soon fade away as he starts to wait for the bus by himself in the years to come. 10 Things I Hate About Motherhood I hate the way I have to count to three, and the fact that you don’t care. I hate what you did to my stomach and this five inch scar. I hate it when you pull my hair. I hate the way you will only eat pizza instead of offered fruits. And the way you’ve always whined. I hate the way my showers have to be quick, it seems I never have enough time. I hate it. I hate the way you both always fight. I hate it when you cry. I hate how many times I’ve washed that stuffed giraffe, even worse when you ask me why. I hate it when you make a frown, and the fact that you’re getting tall. But mostly, I hate the fact that I don’t hate motherhood. Not even when you’re gross. Not even if you hit. Not even when you bawl. The truth is that I love you most of all. Credit/Inspiration: “10 Things I hate About You” <3 This plant has seen better days. I got it at a road side stand a few years ago, and it was healthy until last year. I’m not really sure what exactly happened to it but my theory is that I should have taken it out and replanted it in a bigger pot because it was outgrowing the original one. I tried really hard to save it. I added new, fresh soil to it. I watered it appropriately. It had even had adequate sunlight. Heck, I even brought it to my dad who has an amazing green thumb to try and salvage it. But alas, here we are. Recently, I’ve had the displeasure of ending a friendship that is a lot like this plant. I tried to keep it alive for so long, even long after it had died. The truth is, much like the plant, I outgrew the pot in which I was being kept long ago. This particular friendship had me contained. I didn’t have the room to grow that I needed as a person and for the other important people in my life. Sometimes, it’s good to realize that it’s time to move on. That even though we love the person (or the plant) that it might just be better for everyone to replant in a new pot or call it quits entirely so that both the plant and the person can prosper. It’s time to plant some new seeds, let the sun shine upon me, and focus on the things and relationships that are truly important and worthy of my time. I was childless today. Well, not really, one kid was at school and the other went to Nana’s house for the day. This doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, though I am fortunate to get it more than most I’m sure of it and I’m eternally thankful. Though, with all of the sickness and running around that had to be done, it hasn’t happened in a while. So today, I had my first “day off” in a while. I know I’ll get mocked for that, as being a SAHM means I don’t have a “real job” or so I’ve been told. Yet, I don’t care. I needed this alone time. Time to be with my thoughts in a quiet house. Time to write. Time to sit and do nothing. Time to cuddle with my new kitten without a child attached to me. Time to sit and watch “The Real Housewives” and not listen to some kind of cartoon for all hours of the day. Yes, I needed today. My mama heart ached for it. Does that make me a bad mom? No, I don’t think it does. My heart and the great Lord above knows that I love my kids more than anything on this green Earth. But, that it is okay to need a break from them from time to time. Even healthy. So Mama, don’t feel guilty taking your days to yourself. It’s okay to leave the baby with grandma or a trusted sitter and just do you. Whether you spend that time with your new kitten or choose it to run errands, we need to indulge that part of ourselves here and there. We deserve it just like everyone else after all. I love my morning coffee. Like, really love it. When I was growing up, I always wondered why my mom loved her morning coffee so much. It intrigued me so much I even suckered my grandmother into letting me try a few sips of hers when nobody was looking. I didn’t really start drinking it until I moved in with my now husband when I was 22 years-old. It took me a while to figure out “my coffee” – as I prefer a creamier taste than straight black. But then, I did – basically it’s half coffee, half milk with a bit of creamer. In more recent years, there’s been more coffee to milk in that ratio because…kids. Coffee and I have started seeing each other in the afternoons now too. Basically ever since the baby could walk and get into stuff. He’s turned me into a 3 cup/day person. Which is fine, until stuff like this happens. I should mention that I love animals about as much if not more than I love my coffee. So, when your 18 month-old comes up to you and tosses a clump of cat hair into what’s left of your morning coffee you have to laugh. (And wish you had already vacuumed). Our kids take so much out of us. Our time, our patience and our bodies and sometimes, our morning coffee, for which they are the primary reason consume it. I could get mad about it. But, instead I laugh. I have an adventurous yet mischievous little guy, his less destructive older brother, their lovable daddy, a beautiful long-haired black cat (who obviously needs to be brushed) and there’s always more coffee in the pot! A simple piece of paper shouldn’t make you question all things good and true in your life. A simple piece of paper shouldn’t make your mind wander to what could have been. A simple piece of paper shouldn’t trigger feelings of loss and utter heartache. A simple piece of paper shouldn’t make you question God and all of the things He has laid out before us in our time here on Earth. A simple piece of paper shouldn’t make you want to punch something so hard that your knuckles bleed and the bones in your fingers crack with anger. But, this is what a simple piece of paper such as this one make us miscarriage mamas feel every time have to fill them out. It’s a standard form. One I’ve filled out many times before and I’m sure will encounter again before my days are done. To most people it looks like a generic new patient form. More specifically, a new patient form you’d fill out at a OBGYN’s office. As I was filling out the 10 page packet for my new doctor’s office, I stopped when I got to page 4. The part where you have to tell them how many pregnancies you’ve had and how many living children you now have. Plus, words like “abortion” in the column where you have to put how your babies entered this world. Alive or not alive. It hurts. It hurts that as grateful and appreciative as I am that I get to place the name of my two boys on that chart, I also feel the constant, never ending sting of loss for the two babies who’s “name,” “age,” and “weeks of gestation” will never compare to their brothers. Though, they have names in my heart, and I have a strong sense of the gender of them both, the last part, the part that describes when they left this world for Heaven is the saddest of all. There is something disheartening and cold about these forms. Though, I get they are medically necessary, they break my heart every time. They remind me of that place deep inside of myself, one that not many people get to see, where I keep the pain locked away and don’t often talk about it. The pain of a life unknown, a life without two of my babies, a pain this side of Heaven only parents of the unborn know. I wish there was another way. A simpler way. A less painstaking way to ask me about my other two children. Because I’m always more than willing to talk about them, just not as an after fact or medical procedure. Because to me, they are so much more. I’m not worried about my sons. I’m not worried about the people that they will become or the way they will handle themselves in the next generation of men. I’m not worried about their future girlfriends, girls in their classes, or anyone else accusing them of being a sexual predator. I’m not worried about them not standing up for a woman that they witness being harassed, being put in an uncomfortable position or just needs someone to walk her safely home. I’m not worried about them not knowing when they are coming on too strong, not knowing that no means no, or ever being anything other than gentlemen. I’m not worried about them calling a woman a bitch, a slut, or anything else that is spat at victims of sexual assault. I’m not worried about them not being able to prove that they are good people, with strong ethics and character. I’m not worried. I’m not worried because I’m their mom. I’m not worried because their dad is their dad. I’m not worried because I’m a strong, smart, independent woman – one that will be their primary source of how a woman should act like and carry herself. I’m not worried because their dad is a caring, steady, and compassionate man – one that will be their primary source of how a man should act like and carry himself. I’m not worried because I will teach them to respect women, to follow the lead of any girls they are interested in, but also not to be afraid to let their affections be known. I’m not worried because their dad will teach them to respect women, to follow the lead of any girls they are interested in, but also to teach them that there is a fine line between showing interest and coming on too strong. I’m not worried because they will see me carry myself with the knowledge that being a woman in this world can be scary, but that I have a voice that I will always use when and if the time comes. I’m not worried because they will see their dad treat their mom with kindness, compassion and in the highest regard as both the mother of his children and also his partner in this life. I’m not worried because my own dad, their grandpa, showed me how a man should honor his wife, protect his daughters, and guide his son to be a good man. I’m not worried because their dad’s mom, their grandma, was also a strong, opinionated, independent woman and showed her own sons that women are equal and to be respected. I’m not worried because I know that other women of my generation that are also raising sons, will teach them all of these things as well. I’m not worried because I know that other women of my generation that are raising daughters, will teach them to speak up, be strong, and be honorable women. I’m not worried because I was given these boys – to nurture, to comfort, to teach, to love, to discipline, to guide, to encourage, to support, and to show them what a woman with a strong mind, a kind soul, and a voice that will never be afraid to shout out looks like. I may worry about the kind of world they will grow up into, but I for one, am not worried about the sort of men they will become. “You better put your running shoes on,” she said even before he could crawl. While I may have rolled my eyes at what my mother-in-law had said in those early days with my second born son, I realize now that she knew what she was talking about. I wasn’t prepared for him in so many ways. Not him as a person, because he is my highly anticipated rainbow baby after two miscarriages. But, him as an individual. His feistiness, his busyness, his constant desire to always be on the go. He’s so different from his older brother in both his demeanor and his lease on life. While my older son is cautious and I highly appreciate his ability to sit still for more than five minutes, my baby, is fearless and wouldn’t dare to be still for more than five seconds. I’d never compare the two. They are both two beautiful equal pieces that make up my whole heart. But, I have to admit, my littlest man is the reason I sleep so soundly at night. From spilling the dog water dish to practicing being a future stunt man, he keeps me on my toes in more ways than one. He takes falls better than some adults I know, but still comes up to his mama when he needs a kiss or a quick hug. He tries his hardest to keep up with his big brother and older cousins, even though he’s four years younger. He’s always smiling, always repeating, and always running. He has his daddy’s face but we sometimes joke that we don’t know where he came from because he’s such a vibrant, happy-go-lucky, go-with-the flow soul – so different from his parents and brother. Oh I’ve got my running shoes on with this one, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🎶 Thank you for being a friend. Traveled down the road and back again. Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant. 🎶 You know the rest of the song, I’m sure. The Golden Girls, who didn’t love them? When I found this t-shirt at Target today I had to buy it. You see, not only do I love the show and still watch it occasionally on late night television, but it holds a special place in my heart. My grandmother and I used to watch it together anytime she’d babysit me and my siblings. To some, that might sound lame, but to me it was sacred. It’s often said that everyone has a soulmate. I do believe this but I also believe it’s possible to have multiple soul mates. My grandmother is one of mine. Sometimes I think God made me out of the same stuff he had made her out of 55 years prior. We share a love of lilacs, Maine, creamy coffee, and berry picking. I miss her wisdom, her love of her family and her laugh. She was one of a kind. I hope you all have a soul mate, or maybe a few of them. They could be your spouse, your dog or maybe even your own grandmother. I’ll wear this shirt every chance I can because it reminds me of her. And let’s not forget how awesome Dorothy, Sophia, Blanche and Rose were too. I have a lot to apologize for. I speak my truth, even when I probably shouldn’t. I spend more time on my phone each day than I should. And I always leave the doorto the cabinet above the microwave open, much to my husband’s dismay. I’m far from perfect. I’m human and I mess up just like any other person on God’s green Earth. But there’s one thing that I will never apologize for, even if my life depended on it. I won’t apologize for being a mom. I won’t apologize for putting the needs of my kids first. I won’t apologize for canceling plans when one of them is sick and just wants me. I won’t apologize for sometimes wanting to spend a quiet night at home with my guys, just the four of us. I won’t apologize for the person I’ve become since that first sweet boy announced his presence to the world with an echoing cry in that cold operating room. I won’t apologize for needing someone to talk to about the hard times once in a while. I won’t apologize for not always wanting to bring my kids everywhere with me or needing a little self love time. I won’t apologize for defending my kids ferociously against anything or anyone that I think might hurt them. I won’t apologize for being a mom. These boys of mine are just that – they’re mine. They aren’t my only reason for rising each day, but they are top priority. They are my responsibility, my choice, and my dreams come true. And I’ll never apologize for putting them first, because that’s the way it should be. Guess what mama friend? It’s okay to take a break. It really is. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the shuffle of everyday life as wives, mothers, friends, employees and all of our other roles that we forget to breathe. I know this has been the case for me recently. So, when I was offered the chance to accompany my husband on a work trip for a few days I jumped at the chance. Does that make me a bad mom? No, I don’t think so. Because moms need time away too. We need time to recharge our mom batteries so we can be the super mom our kids have come to expect us to be. Of course they are never far from my mind. But I know they are perfectly happy (and sugar induced) with their doting Grandma. So, for just a little, while I’m going to lay on this cozy hotel bed and enjoy the quiet and stillness. I hope you get the chance soon too Mama. Because when we get the chance to charge up our batteries, we are all better for it. We were beach babes once or so we thought. We’d lay out in the sun in the backyard of our northern New York home. We’d enjoy the lazy days of summer for as long as we could. Because in this part of the world, summers were precious – short and fleeting. Mom would bring us egg salad sandwiches on paper plates and we’d love picnicking on our beach towels. We’d listen to “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” on vinyl and think we were just so cool. We’d practice our cartwheels and round offs, both thinking we were good enough to be Olympic gymnasts’ (we weren’t). If I close my eyes even all of these years later, I can still feel the heat of the sun slowly turning my skin from alabaster to pink. When dad got home he’d spray us with the hose, we’d run by him and giggle and screech with excitement when he got us. Eventually, these summer days would give way to the crispness of fall. We’d head back to school and summer would soon be but a memory. But, I’ll never forget those lazy, hazy summer days with my sister (and eventually my little brother too) in my childhood backyard. They were some of the very best. A mom lit a candle. A mom lit a candle – to remember her baby that had gone to Heaven before she was ready. A mom lit a candle – to think about the life that could’ve been. A mom lit a candle – to feel like she was honoring a child of her own that she never met. A mom lit a candle – to show the world that her baby was here on Earth once upon a time. A mom lit a candle – to touch that part of her heart that only a select few get to see. A mom lit a candle – to show her living children that she loves their siblings in Heaven just as much as she loves them. A mom lit a candle – to feel closer to her baby that she never got to hold. A mom lit a candle – to remind those around her to be conscious of her grief. A mom lit a candle – because it’s all she’ll ever have of them. A mom lit a candle – in hope of it burning bright enough for them to see it in Heaven and to know how much they are missed, they are loved and they are never forgotten. They are calling the massive storm that has pummeled most of the Northeast today, “Winter Storm Liam.” It seems to be a relatively new thing to do, to name these massive storms that happen in the winter or at least from what I can remember growing up in the snowy terrains of Upstate NY. Call it fate or call it coincidence but this storm couldn’t have been named more appropriately because on this very night, 5 years ago I was heavily pregnant with my very first child. The next morning, at 8:24 A.M. he would arrive via planned C-section thanks to his breech position and my world would forever be changed. We named him Liam. Liam means strong-willed warrior or unwavering protector, depending on which baby name site you visit. Both fit my son perfectly. He’s the most stubborn, persevering, and sweet person that I know. He has fought to be where he is today, can outwill both his dad and I and he is the best big brother around. When his daddy drove me to the hospital that morning, in the middle of “Winter Storm Nemo,” I didn’t know what would wait me in that operating room nor the days that would follow. All I know is having Liam changed my life. Like so many other moms before me, our lives are marked by the time before we were mothers and the time after we became mothers – all curtesy of our firstborn babies. We named ours Liam. I’ve come to learn that mothers hold a special spot in their hearts for their firstborns. We don’t love them any more than the children that follow, but they were the first in so many ways. The first ones to change our lives, the first ones to make us feel the special kind of love only a parent can feel for their child, and the first ones to teach us the true meaning of putting another’s needs before your own. They are our test subjects, as we learn how to do this parenting thing right along beside them. It’s hard to believe that 5 years ago, this little boy came rushing into my life, much like the storm that was occurring the morning of his birth and the one that falls outside the walls of my home tonight – softly, fiercely, and strong. In the 5 years since he’s showed me to true meaning of love, inspiration, hope, and what it truly means to see yourself in your child. We named him Liam. My wishful thinking of an early spring got the best of me today and I started spring cleaning a bit earlier than normal. I decided to tackle our bedroom closet. It’s been time to purge clothes that hadn’t been worn by my husband or I in years for a while now. He only pulled out few old work shirts that no longer fit properly, but not me. The majority of this pile is my stuff. As I pulled each item out, I looked it up and down and thought to myself, “When was the last time you wore this, really?” My practical side was in high gear today, so anything that hadn’t been worn in the last two years got tossed in the pile for charity. But now as I lay here, waiting for the baby to wake up from his morning nap so we can run errands, among which includes dropping these off at the local salvation army, I can’t help but to reminisce about each piece of clothing hastily tossed in the pile. The purple t-shirt I wore almost daily in the weeks following the birth of my firstborn – I remember it was the only thing that covered my new C-section incision and made me feel human again after losing 25 lbs of my baby weight in 3 weeks time because of exhaustion and postpartum depression. The turquoise bikini I used to wear in my then boyfriend’s pool, when our relationship was fresh, new and exciting. My then boyfriend now husband would probably give his hind teeth to see me in one now. And, what about that Planet fitness shirt that I got when I when I first signed up in December of 2015 after my second miscarriage that year, and my body and mind needed an outlet to escape from the pain I was good at hiding from losing two of my babies. There are more items in the pile that make me remember good times and bad. Articles of clothing that tell a story of the woman I am today. Some I’ve outgrown physically, some with age and some would just be better off with a new owner that will actually wear it. I hope that the souls that get these clothes carry them with the knowledge that they weren’t discarded just to make room in the closet. They were bagged with love and fondness and even though I’ve never been one to hang on to things for unnecessary reasons, some of these were mine longer than they probably should have been. Cleaning out the closet is a metaphor for moving on. Yet, I can’t help but think of what was and what is still to come. And so it begins. You hear the saying all of the time. It is a clever way to express the beginning of something new, or a definitive end of one era and the ushering in of a new. In this case, it’s the start of what will likely always be an ongoing battle of “That’s mine” and “He took my (insert latest/coolest toy here)!” You see, my baby is in fact on the cusp of becoming a toddler and on the move constantly. He’s into everything and anything that can fit into his chubby little hand goes directly into his mouth. We’re teaching him the word “no,” and though it breaks my heart when he cries, he needs to learn that the loose fibers on the carpet are not for eating and that the dogs don’t like their ears pulled. His big brother is learning as well. To him, his baby brother is a tiny person that sits on mom and dad’s laps and drinks out of a bottle and cries from time to time. In fact, he did so well when we brought the baby home that I was shocked at how smooth the transition went from him from being an only child to being a big brother. But now, he is crawling everywhere and constantly curious as to what big brother has going on. Big brother doesn’t quite understand that now he has to share his toys and that now that the baby is on the go, he’s basically got a built in shadow for at least the next few years. Sharing is such a hard thing to learn when you are young. You have all of these toys, and they are all yours, they belong to nobody else. Then all of the sudden you have a little brother and when you see him with that toy that was once yours, you want it back and you want it back NOW – even though you wanted nothing to do with it for the past 6 months. Let’s not forget that our oldest also wants the toys that were bought specifically for the baby or were hand-me-downs from his cousin. Oh, he wants those too. We’ve had to step in numerous times when a toy has been snatched out of those chubby hands. But then, something funny happens sometimes. As I have my back turned while making dinner and turn to sneak a peek at them, the baby in his high chair and my 4 year old running around the house. The baby will have dropped all of the food and toys I set on his tray onto the floor within 30 seconds of me putting them there. But, as I slowly glance at him I see his big brother emerge from the floor, with a toy in his hand, and he sets it on his tray. “There you go buddy,” big will say to little and they’ll exchange a quick smile before they both go back to what they were doing. Melt. My. Heart. This is the moment you wait for when you decide to have more than one child. They will fight about toys, clothes, use of my car, and whatever else in the years to come. But, I was there to witness that moment and I just know there will be many more like this somewhere in the mix of the politics of sharing. I have to admit I was sad to see you go this afternoon. You’ve been a part of our family for almost six years now. You were bought on an impulse for my husband’s newly christened “Man Cave” – only to be hauled out into the living room a short year later to be the centerpiece of all things baby care. You held me as I rocked my firstborn deep into the night, slowly learning what this mom thing was all about. You held the both of us as he fell asleep on my chest, with pillows propping my arms up and keeping him safe as we both drifted off into a much needed sleep as early morning infomercials played quietly in the background. You were the favorite resting spot of the man I love most in this world, my hard-working husband. You provided him comfort after the long days as an adult college student and then as our full-time breadwinner. You comforted me as I laid on you for weeks on end after the loss of not one but two babies in a year’s time. Your soft fabric seemed to curve into all of the parts of my body that needed it, as if you were giving me a hug in my time of need. And then you were yet again my ship, my precious vessel in the early days of having another new baby that didn’t sleep at night. You were my only source of comfort while we camped out in the living room while the rest of the family slept comfortably in their beds upstairs. As the months passed, you got weathered and worn with remnants of spilled juice, crumbs from snacks and small pieces of cat hair from cuddle time between the cat and me, you remained the star of our sacred space. From all three of my boys piling together on you with fits of giggles and wrestling to my husband and I stealing kisses as he pulled me into his lap while he sat on you. Yet, like all good things it was time for our memories together to come to an end. With newer furniture arriving within days, it was time to send you off to your new home. Like the sale of a beloved home, a favorite car or the last piece of baby clothes, it was bittersweet. I hope you are the centerpiece of the home of your new family as you were for so long in ours. A soft, warm place to land when life gets a little crazy or a moment is needed to kick up their feet and relax. I thank you for rocking my babies, providing constant relaxation and comforting my family through all of these tender years. My 4 year old son is obsessed with numbers and counting. As part of his autism diagnosis, he tends to excel in the area of math or anything numerically related. He can count to 500 at any given time and is on the verge of knowing how to subtract and add numbers. He’s amazing. So, yesterday when I told him that today is his papa’s birthday and that he is going to be turning 62 today he kept saying, “Papa is going to be 62.” Hopefully my dad won’t mind this so much when we go to see him later today. 😉 The fact of the matter is that the world never really prepares you for your parents to age. I can still remember the “over the hill” party my mom had for him for his 40th birthday at our house. I was 10 years old and now I’m closer to 40 than he is. In my eyes my dad will always have jet black hair and the same creamy, white skin I have. Just like my mom will always have long brown hair that goes to her waist and be the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. They won’t ever truly have a wrinkle, grey hair or fine lines in my mind. So many of us take for granted the time we have with our loved ones. We go about our daily lives and just think that they will always be there to go visit with tomorrow. Or there will never be a Christmas without them present. It’s just not true. Although, 62 is still very young in my book, and I’m still lucky enough to have both of my parents here on Earth, I try to cherish them and love them for who they are while they are still around. My son will probably tell my dad that he is 62 today, and although aging does bother him, I hope he realizes just how much we all love him (and mom) and everything they’ve always done for their children and grandchildren. And just how happy we are to have him here another year to celebrate with. To the girl I used to be, I can still feel the joy you held deep in your heart the night this picture was taken. You were spending the night at your grandma’s house with your favorite cousin and life was full of so many possibilities. You had dreams of college and a hope that you’d meet a boy worthy of your heart. Oh, to live in that moment again, even if just for one night. You had the entire world laid out in front of you. You knew what you wanted and how to achieve it. Or so you thought. There are so many things I wish I could tell you. So many tips that could save you some trouble and so many things that could save you some heartbreak. I think most of all you should know that the you that lives in my time is doing okay. She’s a strong woman, wife and mother. She’s a go-getter, a fighter, and still wears her heart on her sleeve. But, she’s been kicked, forgotten and betrayed. The world hasn’t always been her friend. The ones she thought would be there for her, haven’t been. I wish I could tell you who to keep an eye on and what ties to cut now to save you so much heartache. Yet, that’s how life works isn’t it? We are given the struggles we are meant to conquer at the exact time we need them. After all, it’s how we become the wise old women that like to sit on park benches and input our wisdom on everyone that passes by. Like so many that have come before me, I think starting out life with a sense that everyone is inherently good is necessary. As much as it hurts to see the true colors of other people, it also makes you keenly aware that you are better than them. You will rise above. You will move on. And you will find other people that get you, that understand you, and that love you. Good, caring people that will make you believe again. I promise you this. Don’t be afraid. Take risks. Jump in head first without an after thought. Forget about the noise of the people that tell you that you can’t. They do not matter. Because you know what? You can do it. You did do it. And you are just getting started both where you are and where I sit now. Sincerely, The woman I am today © Britt LeBoeuf I’ve always dreamed of being a writer. I used to imagine stories in my head of magical lands and fearless princesses that could kick ass just as much as the boys that were supposed to be saving them. I always had a lot to say. Both figuratively and literally. Really, ask my parents. I’d spend hours in the woods behind our house playing some sort of role me and my neighborhood friends had thought up. Or have Barbies act out similar storylines in my parents basement. That’s what we did. Until somewhere along the line, something shifted. I lost the fire I had for story telling. I don’t know if it was snuffed out by the rigorous standards of the public school systems or I just lost interest. Maybe a bit of both. But, it vanished. Then, one day it returned to me. It started out with poems for 11th grade English class, and then notebooks full of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfiction. I started reading books like “Little Women” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” – and the embers of creativity were reignited. I received A after A in every English or literature course that was thrown my way. I took the state English exam early and received a higher score than most of my classmates. I even planned to major in Journalism at the state university near my hometown. I wanted to tell stories again. Real and imagined. To make a long story short, I was talked out of Journalism, and pursued Psychology and then eventually Human Services as my final major. But, the need to put my words out into the world never left me. My desire to write something down or speak something that could help another soul out remained deep inside of me. Flash forward to a few years later, and I was a stay-at-home mom with a need for interaction outside the walls of my home. I needed something. Then, I saw a friend I went to high school with submitted to a parenting site and got accepted. I decided to go for it myself. And you know what? I got accepted too! A lovely lady in the middle of Nebraska decided that my words were worth sharing with thousands’ of people! From there, a blog was born, other sites loved and ran my words, I was able to talk about the book I had self-published years prior with pride in my heart, and here I am today. Some people say I’m not a real writer. That this is “just a hobby” and that what I’m doing here is a joke. Well, to those people, I’m here to tell you to suck it! When I get a message in my inbox from another woman telling me how much my article about my miscarriages made her feel less alone, or another autism parent telling me how I perfectly captured their feelings – I feel blessed. Blessed to have been granted this gift of words. Blessed to be the voice of so many others. Blessed to be a catalyst for ideas that can be placed in the universe. Blessed for my educational background that gives me knowledge of the many sides of human emotions, struggles and resources for help. And blessed to leave behind a legacy of thoughts, ideas, and wisdom to my own children in the things that I write. I am a writer. I will always be a writer. Even if I return to the workforce someday in a full-time job in human services, even while I’m here raising my tiny humans, even when I’m an old lady with crooked fingers and a mind that takes a little longer to get the thoughts out, I’ll still be a writer. I was made for this. I may not ever sell a best selling novel or fulfill every damn dream I have for myself with this passion. But you know what? I’m getting there. This weekend I am even attending two book signings for a book I’m a part of! I would have never imagined that even a year ago! I’m working on my dreams. I’m working on my writing. I’m making contacts and making plays to push my writing goals forward. And that’s good enough for me. If you have a passion, something you love and are good at, pursue it. It may take a little longer to get there or you may take a different route, but keep at it. You will make it happen. Trust me. I’ve been there. He was the first boy I ever loved. No, I’m not talking about the first boy I swooned over or wrote love letters to. No, he was the first boy to fill that part of one’s heart reserved for younger versions of ourselves and those we hold in high regard – the soft spot if you want to label it. He was the first person to reach that part of my heart. It took about a year or so, but he broke into it. I was 8 years old. He entered my world on a warm June day as I was playing outside with my neighborhood friends and soon after dark a phone call was made to our house where my grandmother answered and I was now a big sister, to a little brother when all I had wanted was a little sister. Looking back, I now know why God chose to send me a little brother. He knew something I did not. He knew I’d have a mother-like protection over him. That I couldn’t say no to him when he’d want to sleep on my bedroom floor when he was 3 and afraid of the dark. After all, there’s a special kind of bond between siblings that can’t really be described. This unspoken bond that is formed by Christmas mornings and fights over who gets the last Toaster Strudel on a random Saturday morning. They drive us crazy, but we love them fiercely because their blood is made of the same stuff that runs through ours. He’s my only little. The one that “replaced” me as the baby of the family and officially made me the dreaded middle child. I thought I’d hate him for that, but I never did. The truth is he opened my heart up in a Grinch-like way and taught me what it is to love a child younger than you. In a way, he prepared me to be a mom of boys. And I think God knew that. I think he planned all along for me to have sons because of this amazing little brother I was gifted. And today, as he gets ready to leave us for his next adventure and continue down the path I always knew he’d follow, I look at him and smile. I smile at the man he’s become. The uncle that my boys, niece, and nephew adore. The one that takes walks with them to the old baseball field out back. The one that tosses the ball and offers silly smiles to them as he passes by on his way out the door. As a sister who still holds a big part of her heart for her little brother, I still look at him and see that little blonde-haired boy that used to follow me and our older sister around outside and want to do know what we were up to next and if he could tag along. I’m so honored that God chose me to be his sister. I’m so proud and I can’t wait to see what this next step brings for him. Dear Disney Junior, I love you. No, really I do. You’ve provided me with moments of peace, clarity and contentment since 2013. For that, I cannot thank you enough. Yet, I have a couple of bones to pick with you friend. When you are a stay at home mom, you notice a lot of stuff. You know how many times a day the dog will ask for the door, what kind of tantrum the baby will have if he doesn’t get his bubba fast enough, and basically every line of every show your kids watch. You are probably the best children’s channel out there. You have the best variety of shows and they are by far the least annoying. Don’t even get me started on that whiny bald kid and tiger that never wears pants on that other station! With that being said let me begin… Why is Bob such a moron? He’s supposed to be some kind of genius inventor, right? So why do his dogs have to solve the majority of his problems? Can I just say I’d be so pissed if my dogs went to Africa or Europe while I’m out for the day (or without me)! Who knows, maybe they do? Why doesn’t Vampirina drink blood? I mean I get toning it down for a younger audience, but I come from the generation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Lost Boys and Interview with the Vampire. Vamps drink blood, they don’t eat meat. And how can she walk in the sun? So many questions. If my kids were up all fucking night dressed as lame ass superheroes, “battling” other little kids to save our city, they’d be in so much trouble! When do these PJ Masks kids sleep? I mean really? Better yet, where the hell are their parents? I love that you are bringing back older shows like The Muppet Babies and Duck Tales, but let’s slow down on rebranding everything mmmk? Don’t ruin my childhood cartoons like some other stations have done! Btw, who is this Summer penguin chick? Even though she’s cute, I don’t remember her? I think we’re good on princess shows and Mickey Mouse spin offs. I think you have the mouse and princess lovin’ demographic covered. Enough already. If I hear the sound of Donald Duck’s voice one more time I’m going to break my television. Seriously…what does Daisy see in him? These are things us moms notice. Sure, they are nit picky and kind of mean, but still. Thanks for the laughs, the moments of alone time before our coffee gets too cold and the silly yet educational ideas you give our kids. Sincerely, An observant mom/fan Real men are hard to find, or so they say. They are a dying breed or all taken, or so they say. Real men are still around if you take the time to look. They are hidden among the jerks, the players, the assholes, the evil ones and the chauvinists. Real men respect strong women and don’t try to quiet our voices. They enjoy having a spouse that is equal to them and the fruits of a partnership that is based on respect, love and understanding. Real men are equal parts strong and soft. They know when to carry a tough exterior and when a little tenderness is needed instead. Real men stand up for what they believe in, regardless of what others think. They carry themselves with a confidence without knocking the character of those around them. Real men are role models for their children. They teach them to be kind, expressive with their feelings, respectful and strong all at the same time – often in the same moment. Real men are guide posts for their families. They are hard workers, pillars of strength and a soft place to land when the world hurts their loved ones. Real men show their true hearts. They aren’t afraid to talk about the hard stuff, they can show their heart to those they hold dear, and understand that showing emotion is not a weakness. Real men can admit when they are feeling weak. They speak up when they are struggling, when they need assistance or are fighting a battle that they know they just can’t win without a little help. Real men defend the innocent. They speak up when necessary, they defend when it’s called for, and they always lookout for those that have lost their way. Real men love their partners even when they don’t like them. They understand that marriage is tough, that there will be hard times and times of disagreement but they stick it out because they love that other person more than anything. Real men are go-getters. They bust their butts to provide for their family, whether it’s at a job or at home – they do their part to keep everyone fed, healthy and happy. Real men aren’t arrogant or prideful. They carry themselves with grace, they’ll never be the first to boast about their achievements, but also have the confidence and self-esteem of the worthy person they are. Real men have tender hearts. They know how to wipe alligator tears off of little faces, give bear hugs to spouses that are down and calm fears of those around them like nobody else. Real men are fighters. They stick up for what they believe in, shut down people that are wrong, and are warriors of their loved ones. Real men are our dads, husbands, uncles, sons, grandfathers, brothers, and friends. They are everywhere, they are amongst us, they still exist – you just have to know where to look. This little boy right here, he’s my hero. You see, this picture was taken at an everyday fast food restaurant where I’m sure hundreds if not thousands of other parents have taken similar photos of their children. Amongst the scrunched-nosed smile and the half-eaten cheeseburger it’s hard to see the magic in this moment. This is one of the first times we’ve been able to eat at a restaurant like this. I know that probably sounds strange to most of you, but for me and my son this was truly a special occurrence because up until a year ago he couldn’t chew most table foods. My sweet, first-born son has autism and along with that diagnosis he’s suffered from severe food aversions and was extremely sensory defensive. It was something we noticed very early on when he wouldn’t even eat Gerber puffs at around 6 months, and table foods made him gag. He even started to choke one time on a piece of ravioli that we had cut up into the size of a dime. My husband had to throw his highchair tray across the room to pull him out of it to prep to administer the Heimlich, but thankfully he coughed it up on his own. To say were shaken by that would be an understatement! Most parents won’t understand this struggle. They won’t understand the many play dates we went on, and while all of the other kids were eating goldfish crackers and cookies, my son was still eating baby food at two years old. They won’t understand the countless times I had to explain the situation, only to get looked upon with blank faces and drawn in eyebrows from other moms who just didn’t understand. We couldn’t go out to eat for the first four years of his life without bringing his own special pureed food from home. You probably don’t think about how much it’d break your heart not to be able to give your toddler a bite of your pizza because he’d either choke on it or just not eat it at all? But, after years of intense occupational and speech therapy he slowly began to be less defensive with food. Until one day, he started to chew soft foods. I’ll never forget the first time my husband and I watched him take a bite of pizza at our kitchen table. We looked at each other with tears in our eyes. It would have been an insignificant moment in the lives of most parents, but for us it was four years in the making. Today, he eats almost anything placed in front of him. His palate has expanded and every time we see him try a new food we look on with complete pride at the hurdles he’s had to conquer. He’s had to overcome so much in his soon to be five years on this Earth. He continues to learn, grow and motivate those around him. He’s a whiz at math and has the kindest heart of anyone I know. He’s got my face and has inherited my Irish temper as well. He’s also most inspiring person I know. This moment with my sweet boy at a local fast food restaurant would look like nothing to those passing by, but for my son and me it was absolutely everything. I lost it tonight. Slobbering on my husband’s shoulder, need more than one tissue, ugly crying. All over a television show. A show that we’ve just recently found and is usually suspenseful and action packed. But not tonight, in this particular episode a female character lost her baby. As she was crying to her trusted friend and colleague about the loss, telling him that even though it was early on she just knew it had been a girl. And that she couldn’t understand how she could love someone so much that she’d never met. As the words were said I felt the dry lump in my throat start to form, saw the pool of tears form ove my eyes and rubbed them as they landed on my awaiting cheeks. The episode concluded with the womn crying in the lap of her friend as my husband noticed me silently crying from the next seat over. I paused the show and retreated to the kitchen for a glass of water and some tissues. He followed me because he knew I needed him to. I told him I knew how she felt but he already understood this as I’m sure he felt the same in his own way. As I collected myself and was reiterated by his tender words that it’s not something we’ll likely ever get over, I sat back down and tried to resume the show. I am reminded that something as simple as a plot line on a TV show can bring it all back. The sound of a doctors voice coldly saying my baby had no heartbeat, a hospital waiting area for surgical patients, asking my doctor where they’d put her, the pain of laying in bed that night without her inside me. Then, having the same thing happen not six months afterwards, but instead miscarrying my new little angel as I laid in bed at dawn crying because I was in horrible pain and couldn’t believe this was happening yet again. The pain. The heartache. The feeling of being cheated out of a life with someone you love so very much but never got to know. It never truly goes away. We hide it. We mask it. We keep it locked away from those that don’t understand it. We keep it close to our hearts and forever on our minds. But sometimes, the guards come down or are ripped open despite our efforts to keep them bound and we’re reminded of what we’ve lost. So, we cry on the shoulders of our loved ones and go to bed to dream of those we’ve only met there. I love fall. Like legit – I’d live in Halloweentown if it were a real place, give me all the pumpkin spice, foliage is music to my eyes, sayonara summer – LOVE fall. It’s my happy place. At least in my heart it is. You see, while fall brings memories of trick-or-treating in the middle of a snowstorm in northern New York, finding the perfect costume and apple picking with my kids – it also brings the changing of the seasons with my depression and anxiety. Fall brings change. New routines, new ways of doing things, and although I love the change in the weather, it also impacts my mood. This year is no exception. I can feel the sharp claws of depression trying to grab at me while I’m over here trying to enjoy my favorite season. Life hasn’t been helping my cause either lately. I’ve been in a rough patch. I’ve been dealing with a lot of personal struggles that have left me feeling sad and let down. While that’s all part of everyday life for so many, for someone with depression it can be that extra layer of yucky stuff that makes it harder for us to fight our battle. While all year long I feel it’s presence, it chooses this time of year to come out of the woodwork of my optimistic heart and attempt to ruin my pursuit of happiness. It’s tough. I’m not going to lie. I’ve been struggling. Depression has been winning the past month or so. It’s been kicking my ass. Coupled with the struggles mentioned above, I’ve been feeling like real shit lately. But, today I woke with a new perspective. With the help of my doctor and taking the time to really examine what’s been going on in my life, I’ve come to the conclusion that depression is going to win if I let it. If I just sit in it and let it spread across my life like a wildfire that’s thirsty for destruction – it win ruin me. Without remorse or question. What depression doesn’t know is that I’m stronger than it. I have a heart that knows pain, disappointment and also have the burden of being the person that often has to be the one to see the truth in people. I also know that between the overcasting skies there is light. There is a heart that is still full of so much love and light. There is a person that’s been hurt and let down but still looks for the good in people. Most of all there is a woman that will always struggle with this terrible burden called depression. A woman that wants to help others with their own battles. A woman that isn’t afraid to admit when she’s having a hard time or feeling down. Speaking up is half of the journey. Getting help is the second part. I’m currently doing both. I hope if you are in the same boat, you will too. You are too important not to! I’m a stuffer. Closets, drawers, cupboards – you name it, it’s likely stuffed full of clothes or towels. My husband coined this term early in our relationship. “You fold the stuff then you stuff it in the drawer,” he’d say, making fun of my laundry skills. Guess what? He folds his own laundry! He has ever since we’ve been married. Because this is how I roll and if he doesn’t like it then he can do it his way. 😂 Everything pictured in this closet is clean. When I took this picture this morning after “stuffing” a pillowcase into it, I thought of that meme that has been making its way around the interwebs for years. You know the one! With the perfectly folded fitted sheet that says “This is how my mom folds” & next to it is another fitted sheet that is all crumpled up into a ball but still “folded” that depicts how the daughter supposedly folds her fitted sheets. That’s so me and my mom. Who taught our mothers to fold so darn good? Grandma? Maybe it skips a generation? I’m not sure. All that really matters is that our laundry is clean and put away. Ok, so it’s a little chaotic…but you know what? I know exactly where my son’s neon orange shorts are in his dresser drawer & where that darn pillowcase is! I have a system. It works for me! And I don’t have time to make my drawers and closets look perfect. Who really comes over to your house and looks at these things anyways? I don’t think I’d want a friend that’d judge me based on what the inside of my linen closet looks like anyways. You do you mama, even if you are a stuffer like me. I had a conversation with a relative recently. I won’t get into the details, but he told me that stay-at-home moms don’t deserve a “day off” and that what they do isn’t a “real job”. I’m a stay-at-home mom. I have been for the past four years. I’m also a person who likes to feel accomplished and satisfied in the work I do everyday. So, it stung to have a member of my extended family basically tell me what I do every day is not worthwhile or even really necessary. I ended my conversation with said relative at that time so I didn’t say something I’d regret. After all, it’s not the first time I’ve heard such mumbles about being a stay-at-home parent. Oftentimes, the opinions come from people who have never been a stay-at-home mom or dad. I don’t want to demean working parents, because I’ll be totally honest, my hat is off to you. I don’t know how you do what you do and you have my full respect. No, this is about me and my fellow stay-at-home parents. The ones who have the privilege of being on the front lines of seeing our babies grow up. The ones who are in the thick of it day in and day out. The ones who have to multi-task our families needs with our own feelings of self-worth. The ones who never truly get a day off from our jobs because our jobs are our lives. I want you, my fellow stay-at-home mama (or dad) to realize you are worth so much more than what others have to say about your “occupation”. Your title as a stay-at home parent doesn’t define who you are deep down inside. It doesn’t define the person who has a life outside of her home and children. It doesn’t describe your education, your passions, your thoughts on life. Sure, we are in this phase of life when, the majority of the time, our needs come last and personal time is few and far between. We have babies grabbing at our pants, toddlers yelling to us from toilet seats, and we are always on the hunt for whatever possession our older kids have lost this time, not to mention making sure our spouses are happy, supported and taken care of. Heck, even the cat comes first sometimes. We are the centers of our families, the little engines that keep on ticking all hours of the day and night so the train can keep moving. Because there’s no slowing down, not ever. We all do so much for our children, our homes, and our families that when someone we thought was in our corner demeans what we do every day, it really hurts. It makes us look inward and question everything we have become. It makes us wonder if everything we do every day is worthless, pointless, fruitless? Well, I’m here to tell you it does matter. It is not for nothing. What you are doing is so important. You may not see it yet, but someday, you will. You will see it on his first day of kindergarten, as he turns to look at you one last time before he walks through the door. You will see it when she takes her first step, and you are there to catch her before she falls on the second try. You will see it when he calls you from work to thank you for remembering to put the fork he forgot in his lunch pail for him. They will show you. The ones you stay at home for. The ones who rely on you to drive them, feed them, teach them, care for them, and love them. The ones who need you to be at home right now so your little tiny humans can grow under the daily care of one of their parents. Maybe you stay home because you don’t have a choice. Maybe you stay home to save money on childcare. Or maybe you are laid off and this gig is just temporary. No matter what your situation is, whether you are a stay-at-home mom by choice or circumstance, do not ever let anyone ever make you feel you are not worthy of praise, time to yourself, or acknowledgement. You are worth so much—more than you know. * This post originally appeared on Her View From Home (https://herviewfromhome.com/to-the-stay-at-home-mama-dont-let-others-define-your-worth/) $3,840.17 That’s how much it would cost to have my soul crushed and my dreams stolen. $3,840.17 That’s how much it would cost to have a dilation and curettage procedure, a D &C, on April 17th, 2015 – 18 hours after I had been told my second child was dead in my womb and had been for all of 2 1/2 weeks without my knowledge. $3,840.17 That’s how much it would cost to run all of the tests, bloodwork, pay for the OR, pay the doctor, pay for my anesthesia, the short time I spent in the recovery room after the procedure, and various other things – including the disposal of the contents of my scraped uterus and my unborn child that I was not allowed to have because I was not past the 20 week mark. $3,840.17 That’s how much it would cost to be done with a pregnancy I didn’t want to be done with yet, but my body wouldn’t let go of on it’s own. $3,840.17 That’s how much it would cost to be rid of the chance to meet my son or daughter this side of Heaven. $3,840.17 That’s how much someone somewhere decided it would cost to break a mother’s heart into a thousand little pieces and make her worst dreams come true. $3,840.17 That’s how much it would cost for a man to see the woman he loves laid up in a hospital bed, recovering from anesthesia and crying for their baby they’d never know. $3,840.17 That’s how much it would cost to ignite feelings of guilt, blame, and utter sadness in a mother who was looking for answers to questions she’d never have answered. $3,840.17 That’s how much it would cost to say goodbye to a piece of myself and the love of my life, to my son’s younger sibling, to my parents’ fourth grandchild. All in all I walked away with a $150 co-pay, a scarred uterus that would betray me one more time before my rainbow baby arrived, and a soul that will forever wonder what could’ve been and the title of mother to two angels. I know a mom that is on her third cup of coffee by 3:00 P.M. almost daily. I know a mom that has a constant queue list of things that need to get done running in her mind. I know a mom that folds laundry one handed whilst balancing a 25 lb. baby on her hip. I know a mom that knows exactly where each of her kids’ favorite toys are at any given moment. I know a mom that just got her haircut for the first time in almost a year. I know a mom that worries she won’t have a career to go back to once her babies are grown. I know a mom that tries to make dinner each night, but often times it doesn’t happen. I know a mom that just wants a night alone to reconnect with her husband because she misses him. I know a mom that stays up late every night to enjoy her favorite show by herself in a quiet house. I know a mom that longs to sit and have a glass of wine with her best friends, but one is 500 miles away and the other works while she’s asleep. I know a mom that pretends to have it all together all of the time, but sometimes she just wants her own mom instead of being the mom herself. I know a mom that constantly worries about her children – who they’ll be, where they will go, how she will watch over them after they are grown. I know a mom that just wants the best for her family and hopes that they know that she is doing the best that she can day in and day out. I know a mom that knows she’s not perfect but she loves her children more than anything else in this world. I know this mom because I am this mom. I bet in some ways you are too? We all know moms like this that we have to lift up and encourage because we are all on this crazy rollercoaster called motherhood together. So if you know this mom or are this mom, give her a hug, buy her a cup of coffee and pat her on the back from time to time. She could really use all three. I’d done it. I’d found the PERFECT present for my husband of 8 years, partner of 14! Now, ladies, we all know how hard it can be to buy something for the men in our lives right? They never give us ideas, we never know if they’ll like a certain style, and if they want something they tend to just go buy it for themselves anyways. So yesterday when I was shopping with my family of origin (the rents and the sibs) I was so giddy with excitement when I found this coffee mug! My husband LOVES to go duck hunting! He’s even doing it as I type this right now! So this mug was meant to be his. It’s even his favorite color. There was no reason to buy him a present. It’s not our anniversary, his birthday and I wasn’t going to put it away for Christmas. It was a “just because” gift. A little token to remind him that I love him and I think of him even when he’s not around. He’s done this for me before too of course, like that time he surprised me and brought home a tiny grey-tiger baby kitten that turned into one of the loves of my life. When I got home I was so excited to give it to him. I took it out of my bag of loot, I unwrapped it from the paper the clerk had wrapped it in and I was greeted with two pieces of a mug instead of one. My heart sank. Somewhere in the transportation from the store to my sister’s house to my mom’s vehicle to my house it must’ve gotten misplaced and broken accidentally. I hurried and tried to hot glue it before he returned home. Half-heartedly, I gave it to him as it appears here. It was “fixed” but not what it had been originally. The excitement in the surprise had faded because what I had intended to give him was now something different, something lesser than. Do you know what he said? Instead of being disappointed, he put on a big smile and thanked me for thinking of him. He assured me that with the right kind of materials he could fix it to make it basically whole again. And even though he knew he didn’t need yet another mug, he appreciated the fact that I thought of him. That’s what marriage is all about isn’t it? It’s thinking of that other person even when we don’t have to. It’s the little things – the simple reminders that we see one another and care enough to remind them of that. It’s in the way one knows the effort that was put into finding these things, and the disappointment when it doesn’t turn out as planned. But, it’s also in the grace and the appreciation two people give each other everyday. Whether it’s broken coffee mugs, fights over finances or frustration over forgotten milestones – there’s grace and there’s love laced into the fabric of a good marriage. Marriage is a lot like this broken mug – it was found on the best of intentions with lots of love and excitement, but it was broken at one point and repaired with that same love. It’s still so strong and beautiful just the way it is, cracks and all. As most of us know winter has arrived on “Games of Thrones,” likewise hunting season has here in upstate New York. I love fall – foliage, Halloween, warm sweaters, hats, orchard trips, apple cider, and all things pumpkin. But, I despise hunting season. I do. I’m sorry, but I really, really do. I don’t hate hunting, I am not one of those people. Heck, I’d probably hunt myself if I had more free time right now. But, I hate that it takes my husband/father of my kids away from me for a large portion of his free time. Goose hunting, duck hunting, deer hunting – you name it, he probably participates in it. “Hunting widow” they call women like me. I don’t like that term. It makes it sound like someone died, well I guess maybe the deer, but not “my person.” No, no, he’s still alive. He may be out the door at 3:00 A.M. and back at 1:00 P.M. on both Saturday and Sunday (and sometimes during the week), but he’s still here on planet earth. I just barely see him. We become two ships passing each other in the night. I no longer recognize him because his beard becomes full and he often smells of cornfields and hay (goose blind). His laundry gets washed with “Scent Killer” detergent, and his circle of friends widens to include his fellow hunters. I never thought I’d be so happy to see a dead deer in the back of his truck, but that often means at least one portion of the trek called “hunting season” is over. September 1st to December 21st I dread thee. To me fellow hunting widows – I throw a Katniss Everdeen three-finger salute your way until almost Christmas. May the odds be ever in your favor (and you and/or your hubz get your deer early in the season). Photo: Britt LeBoeuf Our second born, Cullen “eating” venison hamburg from last year. I titled this “Future Carnivore” We are a family with big heads. Not in the egotistical sense of the world, but in the literal sense of it. All four of us have big heads. This little dude’s head measured so big at his last doctor’s appointment that we had to go back and get it measured again recently to make sure it wasn’t growing anymore at this point in time. It’s not. He’s fine. But, he still has a big head. And I love his head, and his chunky wrists, and his little belly. Now that little Mr. Big Head is crawling everywhere and getting into everything I’ve had to baby proof everything. He’s gotten into stuff sooner than his older brother did and is way more mischievous. One area of the house that I have been concerned about is the door our cats use to go down into the basement, where their litter box is. I’ve been crazy about covering it with the white cap that came with it when we bought it anytime the baby is on the floor. I was nervous the baby would climb through the door and fall down the stairs. Well, this morning one of the cats came in from outside and she needed to use the bathroom so she pulled the cap off. Yes, I know…she is the definition of a clever cat. I was in the other room picking up his toys when I heard the cap come off and hit the floor. I ran into the kitchen to see him sitting here like this. Thankfully, he hadn’t tried to crawl through the cat door yet. Then I had an idea. So, you know what I did? I picked him up and tried to fit his head through the cat door while I was holding him. Yes, you read that right. And you know what? It didn’t fit! Not even close! He thought we were playing a game and giggled the entire time. We all remember from 7th grade science class that if an animal can’t fit it’s head through an opening, then it can’t contort it’s body through it. My baby’s big head is way too wide to fit through the door! From every angle! I did a little science experiment and used my sense of practicality to take one worry off my mind! No more obsessing about my baby and his big head tumbling down the stairs via the cat door. I clean my house everyday. Top to bottom. Left and right. Laundry gets done, vacuuming gets done, and the dishwasher is never full of clean dishes. I don’t say this to brag or compare myself to you. I’m telling you this because this picture right here – it represents change. It represents a growth in who I am as a mom and an overall human being. You see, I clean my house everyday for several reasons. One, I like to have a house that’s somewhat in order. Some people thrive on chaos, I thrive on organization. It’s just the way I’m wired. I like predictability and planning. I don’t mind the occasional spur of the moment outing or change in plans, but overall, I like to know what’s coming. Second, I like to have a clean place for my kids to play and grow up. I like to teach them that maintaining an orderly home is a good thing. With 5 pets and 2 kids things get messy to say the least. When I tidy up I feel like I’m contributing to the overall well fair of my family and teaching my kids responsibility in the process. Lastly, I clean my house because if I didn’t I would be eaten away by anxiety. The chaos I talked about before, it’s part of that. I suffer from extreme anxiety. I have since the time I was a small child and I’d pray to God at night to not let me get called on in math class the next day at school because I probably wouldn’t know the right answer and didn’t want to look silly in front of my classmates or I’d have irrational fears of something happening to one or both of my parents. I know it sounds a bit off or a bit extreme. I know some people will label me as “Type A” or an “overthinker.” But, it’s called anxiety. It’s costed me job opportunities, chances at social interactions, and who knows what else. But, in recent years I’ve learned to control it. I’ve taken medication and learned ways to deal with it. And though I still get anxious from time to time, I recognize it. So, when the baby makes a gigantic mess with his cupcake after dinner, I can deal with it. I don’t stress about the mess I’ll have to clean up the 30 minutes afterwards. I’ve become a better mom, wife, and person because of this. I’m more of the person I always knew I was underneath my anxiety. Sure, I’ll probably always maintain a house that’s in some kind of order, but I think some of that is just a part of who I am. And that’s okay. We are all different. We are all fighting battles none of us talk about. Mine is anxiety and depression. What’s yours?