My daughter thinks she has a boyfriend.

We were driving home from getting her cast removed. Emery’s stick-figure arm looked even more scrawny without the hunk of purple fiberglass that we’d grown so accustomed to seeing – and smelling. It was approaching lunch time so I asked her if she wanted to just skip school that day or if she wanted to try and go in for the afternoon. She insisted that I drop her off at school. And then it happened.

“Hey mama, sometimes – at school – we pretend that (so-and-so) is my boyfriend. Isn’t that just crazy?”

By the goofy smile I spotted in my rearview mirror, I could tell she didn’t think it was crazy. She thought it was pretty awesome.

I’m gripping the steering wheel as my child waiting expectantly for my answer. She still cares about my responses – not just my words but my level of excitement.

I really wanted a pause button so I could Google, “Biblical, supportive, female-empowering response for when you’re 5 year old tells you she has a boyfriend.”

Note: surprise, Google doesn’t have a good result for this query. 

Instead, I smiled and said, “Really? Wow, honey. That’s neat. Is he a nice boy?”

She nodded, smiled and went back to fidgeting with her newly freed arm.

My daughter has a boyfriend.

No.

My daughter thinks she has a boyfriend.

Emery is 5 and also thinks that unicorns are real and have chocolate syrup coursing through their veins. So, she isn’t exactly up on what’s what. But they sit together at lunch and hold hands in the hallway. He brings her gifts of apples and presented her with a camouflaged-printed woven bracelet. Look mama, it even has a clip. 

He’s a nice boy, I’m sure.

This isn’t just about stealing playground kisses (which she has been clearly instructed not to do) or setting perimeters around hand holding (it’s flu season, you know). As a mother to daughters, I worry more about the way she views herself in relation to how others – especially boys – perceive her.

My daughter is beautiful and hilarious and a free spirit. She has no concept of negative body talk or feeling insecure about her appearance. She can’t fully grasp the weight of words from the opposite sex. Because she’s 5 and she shouldn’t.

This boy may be a nice kid. But he doesn’t know just how awesome my daughter is. I don’t care who he is – he simply isn’t good enough for her. No one will be. But soon enough, she’ll be 16 and wanting to ride in cars with boys. And then she’ll be heading off to college with thousands of boys who will want to be her study partner. In her 20s, some well-intentioned, God-fearing boy will want to marry her.

I’ll want to say no every time but won’t because she will be experiencing these things in life for the first time. And parenting is about celebrating those things which give our children joy and nursing their crushed spirits back to life when they experience sorrow.

So I tread lightly. We discuss romantic relationships and their importance for adults. I tell her that her body is her own and that she is beautiful and valued as she is, regardless of what attention she receives. I remind her that it’s her daddy’s job to keep her safe and protected. And I look wide-eyed and impressed at her new piece of fabric jewelry.

Little girl, stop growing up. This mama doesn’t have all the answers yet.

//////////////////////////////////

Do you see that cute little Top Mommy Blogs icon to your right (—–>)? If you would, could you pretty please give the little button below a click? Voting will help others find The Lambent Life and good content coming your way. Xoxo, Liz.

Advertisements

Why traveling with kids is worth losing my sanity.

There we were.

We were in hour seven of what was supposed to be an eight hour trip. The girls and I had spent the previous several hours sounding out words, making up new lyrics to our favorite songs and played round after round of I Spy. I’ve become pretty comfortable making the drive from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, where all but two of our immediate family members live. We’ve travelled this same stretch of highway since we moved to Georgia so I’m familiar with every grimy gas station bathroom and each of the three Starbucks along the route. When we moved to North Carolina and the trip was cut from a miserable 13 hours to a more manageable eight, the girls and I began making the trip ourselves. Josh has a hard time getting away from work so I needed to become comfortable making the trip alone.

The coloring books had been filled and the books reread from memory. Heavy rainclouds stole any bits of sunlight that may have remained after daylight savings time but we were in good spirits – one more hour to go. I topped yet another of the rolling hills and winding roads that carry us through Southern Pennsylvania when I saw it: miles and miles of red, angry brake lights staring at me through my rain spattered windshield.

A traffic jam. In the middle of the Pennsylvanian countryside.

With no where to go, no where to reroute, the girls and I sat for two hours.

Do you know what’s exciting? Traveling.

Do you know what’s exhausting? Traveling with children.

We sat and whined, sighed and scowled. I prayed with a ferocious intensity that neither girl would have the sudden and immediate need for a bathroom break. An eight hour car trip is manageable. But when that eight hour gets stretched to nine and then 10… that’s enough to make a Momma lose her mind. I may have said some things to those sweet children that aren’t fit to repeat.

But we do it. Many times each year. And it sucks. Yet I do it gladly.

We made the decision to move away from home. Our families live in Western Pennsylvania – some just a stone’s throw apart. The issue of traveling and distance wasn’t bothersome when we were in college or when we moved to Ohio. But when we had children, we all became more concerned with quality time. When we agreed to move farther away and began collecting children, we had to make the decision that where we decided to live had to be worth the distance we were placing between our children and our families.

We chose to move away because it was what was best for us, our careers and our children. Yes, there are aspects of life that would be easier if we were near family but currently the benefit to living where we do is worth the sacrifice of a few miserable hours in the car.

While our families do visit and willingly drop their lives to come and help when we need it, it’s harder for our siblings and extended family to make their way south. It’s not fair to our children and our parents, siblings, cousins and dear friends that they don’t get to see us or our children. But they aren’t the ones who moved. It’s our responsibility to make sure that our children know and have memories with their extended family.

I don’t care if the drive is eight, 10 or 15 hours. We do it because family is important and memories like these aren’t made on Facebook on FaceTime.

IMG_2814

IMG_5855IMG_2802 IMG_2787

1412711_872207886775_6760394653526436374_o

That being said, I’m putting away my suitcase for awhile.

 

Why parenting never gets easier – and why it’s amazing.

The countless diaper changes, sleepless nights and dirty dishes create a blur of beautiful chaos those early years of parenthood. Add in siblings close in age and you lay your head every night thankful everyone survived another day. The kids get older, you become a bit wiser until eventually one day goes by unnoticed as anything other than unremarkable. And it becomes two and soon a few weeks and then you realize that without the pomp and circumstance that celebrated your entry to parenthood, you’ve entered an entirely new phase that involves noticeably fewer tears from everyone.

I am never so naive to think that I’ve got this parenting thing down. But we seem to have travelled through the survival phase known as babydom and toddlerhood and arrived at the other side: school-aged.

And things become markedly calmer and you think, “This is easy! We could totally have six kids.”

Then you’re kid does something awesome like break her arm in such a way that it’ll require surgery, pins and a full arm cast. Because, you know, God is hilarious and has awesome ways of gently reminding me when I’ve become too big for my britches.

The kids get bigger and so do the problems. I’m not talking strictly about physical injuries. While I’m no longer concerned with the perils of potty training, I’m now facing the challenge of raising two young girls with healthy body images and leading them through the maze of mean girls and self esteem. While this chapter of parenting is typically less physically demanding – although the shuttle service between school carpool and ballet classes and traffic is exhausting – it is a race of emotional and mental endurance. I’ve shifted my energy away from the day-to-day and toward the long task of character-building and emotional development.

They ask Big Life Questions that I usually feel wholly ill-equipped to answer. You must formulate a concise, spur-of-the-moment response when your five year old explains that sometimes she feels like God isn’t close and wonders if I’m sure He really thinks she’s special enough. Or when she confides that she isn’t sure she’s pretty enough. Or if I’m sure there isn’t even one thing that would ever make me stop loving her – what if she steals a rainbow? Because to a five year old, there is nothing worse than stealing a rainbow.

I want to blame the influence of peers and society but truthfully, I’m confident most women struggle with the same questions regardless of our age, social circle or upbringing. The lessons that we instill now – or don’t – will have a lasting effect far into adulthood. Nurturing a sense of value and self-worth, cultivating grace and generosity and taming arrogance and superiority. Are we ever good enough? Interesting enough? Thin enough? Strong enough? That stuff is hard.

When Josh and I decided to have kids, it was a pretty short conversation and a sudden shift from my career-oriented life goals. And my view of parenting was very short-sited and I, embarrassingly, didn’t think what it meant to be a parent past the first year. I never entertained the idea that God may bless us with daughters instead of the enviably less dramatic male option. Instead, He gave us and one then another incredible little female human with tender hearts that need guarded and guided and given a safe place to flourish.

I want them to grow strong – physically and emotionally. I will teach them to shine brightly and boldly. I will show them that vulnerability is not weakness. I will encourage them to embrace difficulties and remain joyous through the challenges.

I miss the simpler days of parenting when snuggles and Momma milk made everything better. But how fortunate am I to be tasked as steward of such precious gifts?

Please, please don’t let me screw them up.

SONY DSC

 

Worry.

Parenting has a way of amplifying qualities in a person, doesn’t it?

Hi, I’m Liz and I’m a worrier.

Raising two girls, close in age and in the midst of a chaotic life has left me grasping for control. When that isn’t feasible, I get a little crazy.

This isn’t healthy, right? So I’ve been working to let go of what I can’t control. A healthy level of concern is a good thing. Worrying about every worst case scenario is not.

I’ve made a real effort to stop worrying so much about my children’s safety when they are playing outside. I survived years of wandering the farm from sunrise to sunset without seeing a single adult – I want my children to have the same opportunity to experience things without an adult hovering above, narrating and stopping them short of discovery.

This morning, we got a late start and missed church. We decided to take advantage of the gorgeous autumn weather and take the girls to a nearby park with great trails for scooter and bike riding. Josh and I had some reading to do so we settled on nearby bench and set the girls free to explore.

photo-4

They played flamingo and spun around in circles. They swung to the moon and raced down the slides. After awhile, Emery called us over to see what she learned. She jumped from a platform and reached her arms up to catch a bar above her head. She pumped her legs and tried to work herself into a chin-up position before losing strength. I was ecstatic to see her pride and accomplishment. She repeated this over and over and I encouraged her to try it again.

She jumped from the platform. Only this time, only her fingers gripped the metal bar and she slipped. She fell to the ground and landed on her elbows and knees. It was evident by the way she laid in the mulch that the landing hadn’t been kind. Josh was standing near and helped her to her feet. The sobs turned to shrieks as he tried to touch her arm. He carefully removed her sweatshirt to inspect the arm and her pain was undeniable.  They made their way to the truck while Blair and I gathered our books and the scooters they had intended to ride. After a few minutes, we concluded this warranted a visit to the Emergency Room.

I thought we were nearing the end of our childhood firsts. No, today we got to experience our child’s first broken bone. A fractured humerus, to be exact. Our sweet, adventurous girl will be sporting a full arm cast for the next six to eight weeks. This means no climbing at recess, no hopscotch in gym class and a hiatus from her beloved ballet class.

How can a momma not feel guilty? In my efforts to not worry and to let her explore, did I fail at my job to protect her? Common sense assures me not but her tear-filled question, “Momma, why did this happen?” breaks my heart.

She has handled this like a champion but my Momma worry is on high alert.

photo-6

 

 

Precarious.

A normal Saturday morning. Rising a little later, moving a little slower, we gathered ourselves and our things and loaded up for a trip to the farmer’s market. Routine, uneventful, rather boring. We snaked through the narrow streets of the older part of town, turning between the old mill warehouses and remarking how crowded it was for a cool, drizzling morning. The girls chattered in the back seat and argued over Fancy Nancy books while Josh and I sat silently and waited for a parking spot to open.

At nearly 3 and a half, Blair is a cautious soul and continuously looks to her Momma for approval and encouragement. The truth is, I don’t worry about her. Aside from the typical parenting worries, of course. She listens. In the shadow of her older sister’s untamable energy and will, parenting Blair is, honestly, easy. So, when we eventually parked and began to unload across the street from the market, I helped Blair out of her seat and mindlessly told her to stay nearby while I gathered our bags.

She did not.

 

Blair ran behind the truck and out into the street from where she was hidden in between the parallel parked vehicles. She ran to her daddy and sister who we’re waiting on the other side of the single-lane street. Just as a large black suburban came down the street, lost in thought. The driver was probably running through her list for the market – cucumbers, zucchini – no, yellow squash, –  beef steak tomatoes, and a bouquet of flowers. But only if there were daisies. I can imagine her horror as a small tot with bunny ears sewn atop her hooded sweatshirt bolted in front of her vehicle.

I, still unaware that Blair left my side, heard my husband shout a deep bellowing command to Blair, telling her to stop immediately. She froze. Everyone heard him. Truthfully, I couldn’t figure out why he was yelling. I never for a moment thought that Blair was anywhere but waiting behind me. She would never run off. Until she did. The driver slammed on her brakes and I’m sure 25 miles per hour never seemed like a barreling speed before.

In a second, it was over. Blair was fine. Josh ran onto the street and scooped her up, her face nuzzled deeply against in neck in embarrassment and fear. I apologized profusely to the driver the driver shook her head disapprovingly. I grabbed Emery’s hand and hustled into the safety of the market crowd and people went back to their tomatoes and melons.

Life dangles so precariously. We plan and prepare and preach and convince ourselves that we have ensured our safety and, in turn, happiness. But it takes only a second for it all to fall apart on such a grand scale. I’m sure onlookers were appalled and probably thought their children would never run into traffic, just as I once did. But they do. No one expects accidents – that’s what they are. As parents, the sad truth is we often feel superior when we see others’ fail. When awful things happen, we vilify parents and curse them for not doing or seeing better. Yes, there is negligence. But most often, there is just life and mistakes and sometimes just a crappy series of events. I am horrified at what happened. I replay it again and again, considering the what ifs and every which way it could have played out. What if Josh had his back to the street and wasn’t watching? What if the driver had been going faster? What if I had made Blair hold my pant leg while I gathered our things? Hindsight is clear but offers little comfort. 

I’m sensitive and truthfully, a bit anxious by nature. It’s taken me 29 years to realize it and begin to embrace it as a gift instead of something to apologize for. As much as I want to dwell on Saturday morning’s incident, I can’t let myself. It’s not reflective of who I am or my parenting abilities. But I can learn from it, remember it, and appreciate it. I take it as a lesson and am grateful.  

New life.

One month ago, we said goodbye. Goodbye to our first house, goodbye to our neighbors and friends, goodbye to our church, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. After so many months of preparations and planning and waiting and waiting, the final goodbye was rather anticlimactic.

We had a week to get our things packed and loaded – with the “help” of a moving company – and the house cleaned and thought we’d have a few days leftover to enjoy the city we called home for over four years and say goodbye to friends who became like family. As usual, things became increasingly complicated as the movers took two days longer than planned to pack the house and our sweet Blair fought a high fever for over five days. And so, the week involved little fun and lots of tears and many prayers.

Timing is a strange thing and as it happened, as we were settling into our new home in a new city, we should have been welcoming a new life into our family. Mid-June would have been the due date to the sweet baby we lost last November and I’d be a horrible liar if I said the timing of our move and the what would have been wasn’t a heavy weight. Miscarriages are an awful, heart-crushing experience and with one heartbeat, you want to scream to the world, “this enormous, life-changing, emotionally and physically retching thing has happened – recognize this!,” while with the next you want nothing else but to hold this precious, private thing so close that the outside world can’t claim it and taint it. With the due date passed, I feel closure. Paired with our move, June turned a page in our family’s story and while I recognize and honor that chapter in our lives, I’m ready to write a new story about a new life. 

We’re more or less settled in our new house in Charlotte. We fought the trek to suburbia both tooth and nail but as the truth of family-friendly and convenience spoke, we ended up with a mini-mansion situated squarely in the middle of a subdivision with a pool, playground and sidewalks. Sidewalks that randomly end. For all I hate about the cookie cutter lifestyle, there is something to be said for neatly kept lawns and the type of community where kids leave their bikes strewn across the driveway without worry. So, I’ve resigned myself that this is our – for now – new normal. But I still hum “Tiny Boxes” as I chase my kids down the sidewalk on their new bicycles.

We have lots of catching up to do, don’t we?

IMG_0936

IMG_0912

SONY DSC

IMG_0964

IMG_1126

 

SONY DSC

IMG_1148

Trying.

Life can be a bit trying, can’t it? And despite our best efforts to try, try, try, sometimes all you really need is to stop. Stop trying.

Several times a week, after I get my morning coffee, I sit down and begin to write a blog post. What’s new (a lot). Where we’ve been (a far). What’s changed (bunches). How I’ve grown (by miles and miles). What delicious things I’ve eaten (lots). And inevitably, within the first 100 words, someone – typically a rather loud, persistent 2-year-old – comes and demands my attention. And unless I give it freely and in its entirety, we both grow increasingly irritated and until I set my keyboard down a bit too hard and stomp into the kitchen/bedroom/living room to, you know, parent. Be a mother. I know, they have such high expectations of me.

So it’s become easier to just stop trying to accomplish all the unnecessary and focus that attention toward my kids. It’s hardly revolutionary but I’m still surprised by how much more pleasant my children seem. In reality, they’re just as sweet and inquisitive as always but I’m changing my perception.

Last time I found a moment to chat, I briefly told of the struggles Em and I were facing with school. We had enrolled her in a full-time program at a wonderful little school but it just wasn’t clicking. We tried. Every day. And every night, I continued to chew my lip and lament to anyone who would listen. I even broke out in a rash from all the worry. I wish I was kidding. We considered our options. We could stick it out. We could scrape every extra penny and send her to a costly private program four days a week. Or we could homeschool.

A brief tangent here – hang with me for a moment. It’s pretty incredible how God works and how clearly His hand is moving once you see things in hindsight. For the past few months, I’ve been struggling a lot with going back to work full-time. I’ve said it before – I never, in a million years, imagined I’d ever be a stay at home mom. Never. Even when it happened, it was always intended to be a short-term situation until we got settled in Savannah. This summer was hard for me, personally, and I’ve been struggling to figure out where I’m supposed to be in life and what really makes me happy. So I started looking for part-time and freelance work. The field of communications isn’t exactly a booming industry in this small town, so I broadened my options to include full-time work. But I kept trying to make it happen. With Em going into full-day school, I was pretty sure I was being called back to the professional world.

Then she actually started school and things quickly disintegrated. They didn’t fall apart, nothing tragic happened, no disasters ensued. Simply and one by one, our beliefs and motivations for having her in this program just began to fall apart. Her temperament changed and she became increasingly nervous and unsure of herself. Every morning, she asked how many more days were left that week before she could spend a whole day with me. Even her attitude toward her younger sister shifted from patient to annoyed. It became glaringly apparently that despite our sweet girl’s independence, excitement for life and people, and eagerness to be a big kid, she still so badly needed to be cared for by her momma.

There are no words to properly convey how relieved and happy I am that the perfect opportunity never arose for me to go back to work. Because that would have made an already difficult decision much more complicated and messy.

After giving it three weeks, we decided to pull Em out of school. PreK drop out – it has a nice ring to it, I think. We decided to try a casual homeschool curriculum. I’m hesitant to even call it homeschooling because really, she’s four years old. Regardless, I’m sure a lot of people were surprised by this because I am not known for my patience or excitement for all things kid-related. But it just made sense. We can visit family whenever we’d like. We can tag along when Josh travels for work. And throw in some phonetics, motor skill development and penmanship along the way. We’re still figuring out the social aspect of things because, really, this girl loves other children and this momma needs a break every now and again.

I’ve been hesitant to make any formal, “HEY! WE’RE HOMESCHOOLING OUR KIDS! LOOK AT US!” announcements because then people seem to pay particularly close attention to what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, if you appear to be succeeding or following whatever rules they think should exist. But the beauty of this is that I don’t have to try to meet expectations because, really, they’re my kids.

So, here’s to hopefully finding more time to write. And not trying so hard. And having fun.

 

Quitter.

My jaw is sore from clenching and my teeth ache from grinding both day and night. My lips are raw from constant gnawing and my tongue tingles after five days of chewing the tip.

This was Em’s first week of preK and things haven’t been swell. It started on a high note – laughter, smiles, twirls and skipping to the car on Monday. As the week progressed, her enthusiasm has waned. By this morning, she complained of a belly ache and asked if she could please stay home with me.

She misses her momma and thinks this is just too much school.

I’m inclined to agree.

Eight hours.

That’s a long time to be away from home.

I leave to join the carpool line in 7 minutes. But who’s counting.

We’re giving it some time. I want to challenge her to go outside of her comfort zone. But she’s four. And there is a whole lot of life ahead of her to learn lessons.

And missing your momma is a pretty solid reason to be a quitter.

All quiet. Unless it’s not.

As you’ve noticed, things have been pretty silent here on the southern front. Actually, that’s rather presumptuous of me to assume you’ve missed my random ramblings but, hey, we’re all a bit narcissistic in these parts. Regardless, I haven’t had much to say the past few weeks. And I’d rather not say something just for the sake of it, you know?

Things are good. Just busy in that no school/holiday sprinkled/too hot-buggy-muggy to go outside/is it Monday already way that summertime seems to pass by.  I’ve been meaning to stop in to say hello, so, that should count for something.

Even now as I’m trying to type this, I have a cranky, post-nap 2-year-old angrily shoving finger puppets on my fingers. Which is really making me want to hit “save draft” and never come back to finish it. Instead, I named the post which makes it all feel more substantial, thus committing me to its completion.

IMG_7452

So, what’s new? Lets see.

Courtesy of the four-day weekend, we finally had some time to hit up the Forsyth Farmer’s Market after our CSA pickup at Urbanna Farms. We’ve been getting loads of tasty squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and other goodies from our farmers but I’ve been missing the market’s fresh eggs and our freezer’s is getting low on good, local meat. So after an early CSA pick up, we ventured downtown to join the sweaty masses.

IMG_7437

We arrived at the market shortly after it opened so there was a good variety to choose from. I scored some peaches, an incredible canary melon from Walker Farms, some beef from Savannah River, two homemade peach popsicles for my overheated girls and two dozen of my ever so desired fresh eggs.

After some shopping, basketball watching and twirling – by the girls, not me – we needed to head home. I know, I know, I’ve said it a million times. But Savannah is really hot and humid this time of year. I’m not exaggerating when I say I avoid all absolutely vital outside time from June 15 – September 15 (at least). The heat paired with a 4-year-old who was really, really tired after spending the night wandering the house and checking out the stray animals out our front window is a really bad combination. Were done with this family outing.

We walked the short distance to the car and it dawned on Em that we were, in fact, leaving the market. Despite warnings. A popsicle. Sing-songy voices.

There is no rationalizing with an exhausted, overheated child.

As I wrestled to get her in the car and out of the busy, traffic congested street, I dropped my eggs. My 24 beautiful, multi-colored, rather expensive eggs toppled to the cobbled street.

I may have said some not-Jesus-approved words in a not-positive-parenting fashion and perhaps shut the car door a bit too hard and went slightly overboard as I “explained” to Emery why that behavior is unacceptable and a perfect example of why she needs to stayinherbedallnightlongandSLEEPinsteadofwanderingthehouse. Because a child cannot thrive on 7 hours of sleep.

It was my frustration over the eggs and not so much the tantrum that fueled my tirade. I’ll admit that.

When we visited Em’s new pediatrician for her 4-year-old visit, we discussed Em’s less than stellar sleep habits. The doc agreed that her mid-night shenanigans, although often normal, aren’t acceptable and gave us a few suggestions. Although we have already tried many of her ideas without success, we decided to revisit the reward chart system.

Let me tell you, there is very little I can convince this child to do. But throw a little bribery – nay, rewarding – into it and she’ll be obedient forever. Or at least until she gets the promised ice cream.

I sincerely apologize to my high school art teacher. Once upon a time, I actually knew how to make things that didn't look like an 8-year-old girl got bored in math class.

I sincerely apologize to my high school art teacher. Once upon a time, I actually knew how to make things that didn’t look like an 8-year-old girl got bored in math class.

I have no problem dangling the proverbial carrot in front of the horse. The key is in how long you make the stick. We tried a “good morning”  chart a few months ago but promised the reward after 10 nights of good sleep. No bueno. Too long and the girl lost interest. Anyway, four nights may seem to be too lax but Momma is tired and we all want sleep and ice cream. Win-win.

How are you? What’s new? Are you surviving the summer? 

Becoming a mother.

Four years ago, I sat in a rocking chair in my unborn daughter’s nursery and cried. Hysterically. Josh stood in the doorway and stared at his very pregnant wife, unsure of exactly what to say or do and uncertain if perhaps something he had already said or done was what had spurred such an incredible display of emotions from his typically poker-faced wife.

Although the pregnancy was planned, it wasn’t very well thought out.

“Maybe we should have a baby.”

“Okay.”

I’m certain we’ve had lengthier and more serious discussions about shower curtains and tire tread.

Four weeks and four pregnancy tests later, we were pregnant. Pregnant.

I was just 24 when Emery was born. I had been playing grown up longer than most other women my age and after 3 years of marriage, it felt like Josh and I had been married for ages. Now, after 7 years of marriage, I can’t believe we were so naive to think we had this marriage thing mastered so quickly.

Cooking for two, clean laundry and balancing a budget. Check! Next up – Babies!

By the time that June evening rolled around, it all seemed like a very, very bad idea.

About 18 hours after my rocking chair meltdown, Emery was born on a rainy June afternoon to two utterly clueless parents. I had no idea of what was ahead. Honestly, I didn’t think much past wee babes wrapped snuggly around my chest and tiny bits of lace on bloomers.

Was I going to co-sleep? Maybe? Breastfeed? I think so…? Did I research car seats? Pediatricians? Vaccinations? Bottles? Daycare? Diapers?

Most people misunderstood my approach to parenting as laid-back or flexible. In reality, I just had no freaking clue parenting involved so many decisions. I didn’t realize there were choices on how to discipline, educate, interact. And even if I made a decision, I failed to recognize that there would be this other little person with a mind and personality of her own who didn’t care I rushed my hugely pregnant booty to Target and spent an hour choosing the best BPA-free, latex-free, orthodontist approved pacifier. She hated those $12 pacifiers and insisted on the latex, tooth-snaggling variety. Pick your battles.

Throughout the past four years, this girl has changed me. Her fiery spirit is rivaled only by the size of her heart and learning how to raise her has forced me to study the deepest parts of myself to find and understand those things that I buried years ago. Doing this breaks me down to the humblest and most vulnerable of positions because the only way I can attempt to understand her is if I understand myself. This child is more like me than I care to admit. It’s the most awesome and terrifying responsibility to nurture such an amazing little being who carries such incredible talents and traits. Because I am most certain that this child will move mountains and defeat giants once she sets her mind to it.

The flip-side of such a strong personality is taming such an innate defiance toward authority and those silly things called rules (again, like me. Sorry, Josh). Some days, all I can do is throw my hands in the air and pray with every fiber of my being that above all else, I don’t screw this up.

First Birthday.

First Birthday.

SONY DSC

Third Birthday.

SONY DSC

Fourth Birthday.

Apparently Em’s second birthday was as rough as I remember because we have zero pictures together and only a few blurred snapshots of her running laps around our backyard in a tutu. Followed by many, many tears when she blew out her candles.  I’m so glad those days are behind us.

SONY DSC

SONY DSCI can say with great sincerity that I cannot wait to see what this year brings. I have high hopes that “four” is our year. She’s coming into her own and watching her grow and blossom is a pleasure and honestly, rather hilarious. Happy Fourth Birthday, sweet girl.