These Boys of Mine blog

The Hidden Scars of Miscarriage

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I’ve experienced a pain that no mother every wants to endure – an awful nightmare that came to life not just once, but twice in my journey to motherhood. I’m not sure why I was chosen to become a mother to two angels, or why my children were never allowed to know life outside of my womb. Even now, nearly three years later, I think about that question at least once per day. I question the existence of a God that would allow me to go through such pain and not allow a baby to meet his mother and father.

Some say it is time for me to move on with my life and focus on the two beautiful children I do have here on Earth. While I’ll always be eternally grateful for them, I still question and wonder about my other two babies and why they both were given to me then ripped away. That burden is mine to carry until I take my last breath. I wear it around like a giant scar on my chest, similar to an open heart surgical patient, with a massive scar in the center of my chest. As if someone reached into my chest, tore out a piece of my heart, sewed me back up and then came back six months later and did it again. What’s left is a heart that’ll never be the same. It’s been broken, tattered, and bruised too many times for it to ever go back to the way it once was.

This unbelievable burden is not something I would have chosen, then again, who the hell would? Nobody sets out on the path of trying to conceive in hopes of miscarrying. I never thought it’d happen to me. Yet, it did. It wasn’t until that moment when the ultrasound tech told me there was no heartbeat, though there had been just five weeks prior, that I realized how very often it does occur to mothers hoping to have babies –one in four. One in four women that want nothing in the world more than to hold a baby of their own, to rock her to sleep at night and sniff her precious head, or to hear his first cry in that cold hospital room. One in four lives changed in an instant. Hopes and dreams smashed all to hell with a simple sentence like, “There’s no heartbeat” or by simply going to the bathroom and wiping a streak of blood from herself. Just like that, a mother’s life is forever changed. Her soul is instantly tainted for the rest of time and she never knew her heart could break into that many pieces.

Some scars are carried like a badge of honor – police officers that get shot saving lives in the line of duty, though unfortunate they are remembered as heroes or a sister that gave her brother a much needed kidney bears the mark of a heroine that saved her little brother’s life. These aren’t the kind of scars we carry. We have fragmented hearts, stretch marks from babies we’ll never hold, and C-section incisions that will heal with time but nothing to show for them. Most of the world will never see our scars and while most days we are grateful for that it is also insanely tragic. The tragedy is in the fact that unless we speak of our lost babies, the world will never know they were here. That fact alone if perhaps the saddest part of losing a baby – to know that they were indeed here but the only part of them that remains is our memories of them in our hearts and the hearts of a select few others that loved them too.

Although there’s no way of undoing the damage that has been done to my heart or to stop wondering about what could have been, I will hold the spirits of my unborn babies deep inside of it for the rest of my life. There they will be at the center of my thoughts, hopes and prayers each day until I’m no longer a part of this Earth. There they will be safe, loved, and never forgotten.

Originally posted on the Grit & Grace Project

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These Boys of Mine blog

So God Made a Cat

In all of his creations, God had made the worthy, the loyal, the loving, and the hopeful. As God looked down upon the Earth, He decided it was time to mix things up a little bit. He wanted to create a being unlike any other. One that would make his beloved humans question their sanity yet look upon with total joy.

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So God made a cat.

God wanted a being that would be the counterpart of the loving dog He had created for the people of His Earth – where they were loyal, these creatures would be independent. Where dogs were loving to all, these creatures would choose their companions, and where dogs were made to be man’s best friend, this creature would be the apple of a woman’s eye.

So God made a cat.

He wanted someone that would thrive in the darkest of night – with wide eyes that could see more than most in the dark, a true slayer of all mice, and would jump on his owner’s head as he was in his deepest slumber.

So God made a cat.

God wanted a creature that humans would worship, from the ancients Egyptians to the modern day housewife. They would all bow down to her beauty, her gracefulness, and her pink little nose.

So God made a cat.

He wanted someone that could bring a little mischief to the world – a cup tipper, a counter climber or a string chaser that humans would make YouTube videos of their antics and bring smiles to millions of faces.

So God made a cat.

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God decided to give her eyes as big as saucers in all different shades, things called whiskers to help them sense danger and navigate their world, and claws to catch prey and dig at their owner’s new carpet.

So God made a cat.

He knew he needed an animal that could be destructive, vicious and brave, yet could turn even the coldest heart into mush with a rub upon his leg.

So God made a cat.

God wanted a being that was soft to the touch as if made of the fluffiest clouds in Heaven, with young that looked like tiny puff balls and made the sweetest of noises.

So God made a cat.

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God wanted a creature with a face that was not only striking, but also somewhat scary if perceived the wrong way.

So God made a cat.

He knew he needed someone that could sense incoming natural disasters in time to warn their owners and even pick up on their person’s mood and offer a warm friend to cuddle up with for comfort.

So God made a cat.

God gave her a voice that had many different sounds –  one for distress, one to beg for food, and one to warn a pesky toddler that she was about to strike.

So God made a cat.

God gave her the ability to emit a noise he titled “purring,” that would mean she was at peace in her bed, on a windowsill, or curled up on her owner’s lap.

So God made a cat.

He wanted a creature that was a walking contradiction. Somewhat selfish, demanding and indifferent, yet also giving, loving, and kind.

So God made a cat.

God most of all wanted a true companion – someone that could walk through life with men and women for up to 30 years if they were lucky. Someone that would make them laugh with their antics, soften their hearts with their faces, and love them when they were in need of a friend.

So God made a cat.
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For Tabby Jane, Izzy, Penny, Franklin, Panama, Ruff, Boots, Sparky, Nike, Pippy, Luna and Mosley – you are all in my heart and soul forever, my beloved feline friends. ❤

These Boys of Mine blog

I Hope My Kids Find Their Neighborhood Kid Tribe

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We stayed outside until the street lights came on, even later than that some nights. We played capture the flag, road our bikes to the store, and talked about kids at school that we didn’t like. We rode the same bus to and from school. We built forts in the woods behind my house and played Barbies in my basement. We had sleepovers and often ate meals at each others’ houses. It was an open door policy at both of our homes. Your parents knew that when you were with me, you were OK and mine appreciated you being a steady friend for me.

We were the kids of that second street past the high school on the left.

The neighborhood kids.

We met for the first time in my backyard when I was seven and you were five, and since then we’ve had a kinship that has spanned just over 20 years. Our bond was created over summers spent berry picking, dreaming about boys, and camping out in my backyard.

A kind of friendship that stems growing up two houses apart.

We played with the boy across the street, my older sister, and the kids around the corner, too. Endless fall nights playing flashlight tag, riding bikes on the trails next to all of our houses, and swimming in the only pool on the street.

We grew up together. We were all so close in age—each graduating a year or two behind another. We were all early to mid-80s-born babies, cementing the fact that all of our parents had been busy around the same time.

I look back on those days with fondness. Though many of us have lost touch or moved away, the memories of a childhood surrounded by friends on the same street will always remain.

Now that I’m a mom, I want what I had for my own kids. I want them to have friends they can simply walk up the road and knock on the door of and say, “Do you want to come out and play?”

I want them to have friends on the school bus on the first day of school—a familiar face of the kid across the street that will make them feel comfortable on that first journey to school.

I want them to have a place to go if they accidentally get locked out of the house when they are older and get off the bus before I get home—neighbors that I can trust to call me at work and remind him where the spare key is hidden.

I want them to form friendships that will follow them throughout their school years, maybe even ending up in the same class as some of the others.

I want them to know the kinship that exists between kids that grow up on the same street—like how that one neighbor will never buy whatever product the school has them trying to sell for the next fundraiser, so it’s best to skip that house all together. Or which one has the best Halloween candy.

I want them to know the best trees to climb in a two-mile radius and the best place to spot the neighborhood tomcat—all fun things shared between local kids.

I want this for them.

I want them to have what I had. I want them to find a best friend up the street or around the corner. I want them to grow up with neighborhood kids because it can be one of the best parts of their childhood should they be lucky enough to experience it.

This was originally published on Her View From Home

 

These Boys of Mine blog

Welcome to Motherhood, Where Friendships Go to Die

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When you become a parent so much of your life changes. Anyone that has children understands what a monumental impact becoming a parent has on your everyday life. It is all consuming from the very first time you hold your new baby. It’s hard to explain it to people that don’t have children or any concept of what it is like to have a tiny, living, breathing soul that is totally reliant on you to keep it alive. Like driving a car for the first time or losing your virginity, it’s one of those strange things in life that you just can’t grasp until you are in the thick of it.

Although motherhood changed me in so many ways, some amazing and some not, I think that the biggest impact it has had is on the friendships I had prior to becoming a mother.

I wasn’t prepared for the total isolation that can accompany the early days as a new parent. After everyone has seen the baby, they don’t stop by as much as they used to before his arrival. It turns out people don’t really love babies as much as the world tells us they do. There’s no offers to help, calls to check in, or free food left on your front porch while you are finally sleeping with your newborn in the recliner in the early morning hours.

Motherhood isn’t like the movies.

As it turns out most of your friends will forget about you. They will come visit you at the hospital to get their token new picture holding your baby and call themselves the child’s aunt or uncle on social media, but that’ll be the last time they’ll make any real effort to get to know your kid. The friends you had before you had your baby, the ones without kids, they will leave you in the dust.

Now, I don’t want to discredit the friends that have already walked the path of parenthood or the select few that actually care enough to stick it out with you through the early years of raising children. Those that have been there will certainly become your new best friends, as you now have the biggest thing in common that two adults can share a bond over. You may even get lucky and meet some new friends after you have your baby.

Everyone who has children has walked this path. There are countless articles that express the loneliness and loss of self that parenthood brings, but also ones that articulate the common theme of people that used to love us before we became parents only to forget that after we are.

Friendships are built on similar interests, fun times and a belief that two people can rely on each other through all of life’s hard stuff. Friendship is meeting another human in the most random of places whether it’s in the school yard, in the college dorm or at your new job, looking at them and saying, “I want that one!” It’s really quite funny how we meet a stranger and within a short amount of time they become like family to us. How crazy is that?

The funny thing about friendship though, is that unlike marriage, if one of you decides not to put the time in then it will die. Marriage doesn’t allow you the courtesy of walking away without some sort of repercussions. While, friendship doesn’t have any legally or spiritually binding obligations. If one friend wants out, they can just dip out the backdoor whenever they feel like it.

Of course the real recourse in doing this is a friendship that is like a house after a hurricane has come through. It’s an empty shell. There are walls still standing, pictures floating around in 3 feet of water and memories of a time that has come and gone. It happens slowly sometimes and fast other times. They end because of distance, differences in stages in life and disagreements over silly things.

The hardest pill to swallow is that parenthood is often to blame for the death of many friendships in people of childbearing age. It is probably the top reason why people lose touch, don’t make time and have their priorities shifted so dramatically and instantly to the point that personal relationships take a backseat because between caring for your kids, your spouse and yourself you just don’t have the time to meet up for coffee every week.

After the hurricane of early parenthood has passed and the flood waters have receded, you are left with something that needs to be torn down or rebuilt piece by piece. You really need to decide if it’s even worth rebuilding or if it’s time to just build something new where the old one once stood.

These Boys of Mine blog

Please Don’t Let Me Forget the Wispiness

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I’ve never been a baby person.
Not when my adorable little brother came home when I was eight-years-old. Not when my sweet baby niece was born when I was 19—and not even either time I became a mama to the world’s two most precious boys.
I think babies are a lot of work and I know with certainty I’m not alone in this thinking. I wished away most of my firstborn’s first two years of life just because it was so darn hard—the colic, the crying, the postpartum. I wished it away. I wanted him to be five-years-old instantly. And today, he is.
Time has a way of sneaking up on you. Tomorrow, next week, or two years from now always seems to be so far away. Our elders always tell us how quickly it all goes by, which always reminds me of that Kenny Chesney song, “Don’t Blink”—we don’t think about it at the time. We’re so caught up in the chaos of our everyday lives as mothers to young babies that we have no way of seeing it until after the fact.
Then just like that—it’s gone.
Maybe it’s because he’s my last that I’ve started to take notice. Or maybe I’m more of a baby person than I thought. But all I know is not a day has gone by in the last year that I haven’t stopped to soak in the wispiness of my second son’s ash blonde hair or the way he greets me with a smile every morning when I lift him from his crib.
And that other one? The one who made me a mama in the first place? I’ve learned to take long moments for him, too. The half-smirk I get when he rounds the corner of the school bus aisle and he tells me about his day as we walk hand in hand up our driveway after school. The way he has started calling me “mama” instead of “mommy” both melts and breaks my heart because I know that before too much longer, he’ll simply call me “mom” and I’ll miss being called by either of the former for the rest of my life.
While most days I go to bed tired and I still wish some of these days away, I am grateful to be conscientious enough to know that they won’t last much longer.
So for now all I can do is ask God to grant me the patience each day to remember.
To remember the way one laces his fingers through his afghan blanket as he sits with me in the recliner.
To remember the way the other one has mastered the art of the perfect pout face that makes me hope he thinks to thank his mom in his Academy Award speech someday.
To remember the way one was the actual embodiment of the cover of “Love You Forever” just the other day.
To remember the way the other one still lets me kiss his forehead before I turn out his bedroom light each night, though it probably won’t be much longer until he’ll think that’s uncool.
To remember the way they both still ask me for a refill of their juice, even though their daddy is standing right next to the refrigerator.
To remember the wispiness of the locket of dark brown hair that resides in a baby book upstairs and also the ash blonde lockets that still sit atop the head of my last baby.
All I can ask of God is to please, don’t ever let me forget the wispiness.

This was originally published on Her View From Home

These Boys of Mine blog

The Drawings on the Wall

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Everyday when my son gets off of the school bus, I open his backpack to see if there are any notes from his teacher or anything else inside that should be taken out. Most often there are only left over parts from his lunch or toys that he had taken with him on the bus that morning. But sometimes, there are pieces of artwork that his teacher sent home that were either done that day or taken down after its stint on the classroom walls.
I love getting his artwork.
It’s always something different. Whether it is a dinosaur, a firetruck, or a painting of a pumpkin – it all makes no difference to me. Out of his backpack and straight to the fridge almost every piece goes! So much of his artwork dons our refrigerator that I often times have to send stuff to both grandmas houses so they can fill theirs as well. They love it just the same.
When we visit my parents’ house and I see my son’s artwork on their fridge, I’m reminded of the days when my own artwork hung on the “Look what I did at school today” magnets that my mom still owns. I remember rushing through the door after school and excitedly pulling out a new painting to hang on the fridge. I’d pick out the best magnets before my sister claimed them for her own masterpieces. I’d hang it up and be so proud of the work that I had done and be so happy to have my art front and center in the heart of our house.
It is funny how it’s the little things that take us back in time to our own childhoods – a certain smell, something someone says in passing, or perhaps a song. For me, my son’s artwork reminds me of a time when the biggest problem I had was claiming the good magnets before my sister got to them.
Other times, she and I would sit at the dining room table and draw pictures for our dad. You see, my dad was and still is a health guru. He has a workout room in my parents’ basement and still uses it to this day. The room once housed the bedroom of the teenage girl of the family that built our house before my parents bought it. So my dad decided rather than painting over the strip of flowered wallpaper that went around the room, that he’d hang his kids’ artwork on the walls instead. So, part of our family’s tradition was coloring pictures for dad’s workout room and pieces that had already shined on the main stage of the fridge got a second life downstairs on the walls too.
As we colored each drawing for my dad, I’d take big pride in going downstairs when he was in there working out and knocking on the room of the door while he blasted country music and lifted weights. He’d slowly open the door and I’d hand him my newest creation. He was always grateful and complimentary of whatever we drew and not all of us were artists (me in particular). I’d take tremendous pride as he pulled out two thumbtacks from atop his stereo system and asked me where we should hang it. Once it was up, we’d stand back and look at it. I’d look around the room at the drawings we’d given him over the years – my sister’s “School Safety” winning drawing of a girl crossing the street with her dog, a ripped out page from a dinosaur coloring book my brother colored during his “Jurassic Park” phase, and the traditional shadow silhouette of my profile I’d drawn in the 1st grade.
They were all there. Proudly on display. Mementos from his three children.
Most of the artwork would stay up for years. Long after I stopped doing drawings for the wall, I’d use the workout room for its intended purpose and I’d look around the room and be reminded of days gone by. Times when the world was simpler, easier and when the highlight of my day was knocking on the door of the room I now stood in as an adult. A young girl, excited by the thought of giving her dad something she’d made him for his favorite space.
When I became a mom I decided this was something I’d carry on with my own kids. I don’t have a workout room (the exercise gene skipped me), but the kitchen is the heart of our home now. So, when my son makes me a drawing or writes his name on a scrap piece of paper, it goes on the fridge. Anything he makes is special to me.
Like my dad, if I can make my child’s day by simply hanging up something he made just for me, well then consider it done! I will gladly continue this tradition, and luckily my son didn’t inherit my non-existent artistic abilities. Not that it would matter if he did, his art would still hang proudly on the fridge.
These Boys of Mine blog

Lessons From Nap Time

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I watched you today, sweet boy.
You were fighting your nap on the baby monitor. You were rolling around and rocking back and forth on your hands and knees to practice getting ready to crawl any day now. Your blanket was crumpled up in the corner of your bed. Your stuffed lamb was out of sight, probably on the bedroom floor after you had chucked him out of the crib. You’ve definitely got a future baseball pitcher’s arm.
As I watched you, I was laying on my bed down the hall. Your daddy and I were both tired from the night before so we thought we’d catch a nap at the same time as you and your brother. You big brother was already asleep in his room. But, you had other plans.
You started to cry then.
I looked over at your daddy, who was already drifting off to sleep. As daddy tends to know, he knew I was watching him, looking for an answer to an unasked question. He opened his big brown eyes and said, “Just go get him and bring him in here.”
Bring him in here?
I found the idea peculiar because in our four years of parenting thus far, we had yet to sleep with a child in our bed. Your brother was/is a good sleeper. You didn’t follow in his footsteps in that respect.
As always, your daddy knew just what to say. So, I stumbled down the hall to get you. When I opened the door you smiled your big toothless smile and sat up in your crib. I love how every time I pull you out of it, you make me feel like a prince retrieving the princess from the witch’s tower. Cribs aren’t really that bad are they?
I brought you into our room and handed you to your daddy who greeted you with open arms. I plopped down on my side of the bed as he set you in between us. You looked around the room as if to study it for the first time. You’d been in here plenty of times while helping me fold laundry or resting on the bed with me and our cat after I’d taken you out of the bath tub and dried you off. However, this was different.
I could see it on your beautiful little face. Mom and dad here at the same time. What in the world was going on?
Oh but you didn’t stay put for very long! The novelty of looking back and forth between me and your dad got old real quick, and you were rolling around in the nest we’d created for you with our two bodies resting on each side of the bed while facing you.
You’d touch your dad’s beard and when that got boring you’d roll back to me and try to pull at the design on my t-shirt. All over and in every direction you went. Countless times we had to keep you from getting too close to the edge of the bed. Our little wiggle worm.
Finally, we both tried tucking you into us with your back against our chests to try and get you to sleep. This did not work.
You started to fuss. So, I grabbed your bottle off of my dresser and held it for you. With my other hand, I caressed your hairline where it meets your face. You looked into my eyes as I did this, brown eyes meeting blue. We repeated this process until ever so slowly I saw your eyes starting to get heavy. Your dad looked at me and gently closed his own eyes.
You were both soon sleeping.
Not me though. I watched you as your breathing started to get heavy. I held my breath as you spit out the bottle and rolled towards your dad. He opened his eyes briefly to rest his hand across your midsection. You were still asleep.
You both slept. As your dad started to gently snore I shifted my gaze towards you because if you had any part of me in your DNA, this would wake you as it often does me at night. I love your daddy, but he snores – a lot. You did wake slightly. So, I was there to run my finger through your hair again, and out you went again.
The two of you slept for an hour. I rested on the bed, being as still as humanly possible as not to wake either of you. I should have slept. I was tired from the night before after all. But, I opted to watch you instead, my sweet, second born son – with perfect skin and eyelashes for days. You had frogged your legs and one of your little chubby hands was laced through the afghan blanket we had carted with us from your room. The other rested comfortably on our king sized bed.
Your daddy was fast asleep by now as well. You were both facing me so I found it almost impossible not to look back and forth at you both. The similarities in your features still amazes, as you are his little twin. I could almost see into the future as to what you may look like someday. I wonder if your hair will turn from the strawberry blonde color it is now to your daddy’s dark brown? Will you grow a beard like him? Will your hands be calloused and worn like the ones in which he now rests his head on? Will they bear the scars and reminders of a working man’s hands? I’m sure no matter what you do someday you will resemble your daddy in some way.
As the hour passed and I braved sitting up to look at the alarm next to the bed, I knew you’d both soon wake. Your daddy opened his eyes first. He and I smiled at each other and mouthed words in silence. I whispered for him not to move as not to wake you and he quietly asked me the time. We stared at you, our sleeping angel, and smiled back at one another. This was all new to us, a precious moment in time. Your brother could never hold still long enough to fall asleep in bed with us.
You started to stir, and as your eyes popped open I was the first thing you saw. I told you that it was ok, knowing you were wondering where you were. Then, your signature gummy smile sprawled out across your beautiful face and you tried to sit up. You looked back at your dad, and he kissed your cheek. You were yet again surprised by the fact that you were in bed with the two of us – mom and dad there just for you.
Before long, we were back downstairs getting ready for dinner. Your big brother had woken up shortly after and when I went to get him out of his room I gave him a big hug, knowing that soon you would be his size. He was no longer a baby of course, but just lying there on our bed with you for that hour of nap time, reminded me at just how fleeting time really is in the childhoods of my children. It’ll be over before I know it. But, that afternoon nap was so special to us all. I hope we can do it again sometime, my sweet boy.

* Originally written in fall 2017