Cheers to 5 years…

When Madeline was diagnosed, my brain kept repeating “What are we going to do?”.  To say I was overwhelmed would be a supreme understatement.  I couldn’t think ahead, I lost that skill.  My internal clock was set right to RIGHT NOW.  I remember driving home from the hospital with Madeline, on our way to Target, I looked at Matthew and asked “What are we going to do?”.  The words that followed reset my brain and focus- “Madeline will tell us what she needs”. 

… And that she did way back then.

… And that she does right here and now.

In the days, yes only days, that she got to be here on Earth after we knew she had DIPG, the world carried us.  We spoke, others listened and amazing, important things happened.  After Madeline passed I wondered “What am I going to do?”… how can this world keep spinning, how can the bus still drive by, how is everyone not screaming out and standing still?  Yet… somehow she still kept telling us what she needed.  We knew that we needed to carry on her legacy, but I could never have imagined the beautiful network she would create. 

Out of the darkness and grief and fear and broken…. Out of the ashes… came a way to make Maddie’s Mark on the future.  All of the marks she should have made in this world, chalk drawings and hand prints in my future home’s sidewalk, scratches in my car when she learns to drive, art work she was supposed to make and votes that she never gets to cast.  Her Mark is different, it is all that she was and all those she connected and all the ways God sent light to us.  Maddie’s Mark is shining light into other’s darkness, carrying joy right next to others pain.  Her Mark is carrying those families, like we were carried.  Her light is embedded in me, that dark and painful hole inside of me is brightened by a light that never leaves.

I know that Madeline is ok, she is safe and fine.  She was an amazing gift that I only got to hold for a short time.  She is an amazing light that I get to carry and shine on others for my forever.  I wouldn’t trade a moment of it…

Last night the foundation we created to honor Maddie and to help her leave her Mark turned 5!  It has been 5 years of carrying Maddie’s light into others darkness, 5 years of her sending in connections and support.  I am in awe of what her legacy looks like now, what it does for others.  She must be crazy proud and grateful.  I love the work that we do, even when it hurts or it’s hard.  I love it when my errands for a day include stopping to drop off dinner to a family who has a sick child at home, or bringing fingerprint necklaces to Albany Med, or stopping at target for a tablet for a little who needs it, or meeting with a caterer for a graduation party for a child with Leukemia… I love my job.  I am pretty sure every.single.day there is something I get to do to leave Maddie’s Mark.  It is the best.

I am sitting here, fighting a nap, letting it all sink in.  Yesterday my Treasurer told me that she had done some math, like she does all day long, and determined that we have put back $250,000 into the community.  In 5 years we have invested funds that were gifted by others to create ‘Best Day Ever’s’… to create spaces for families to enjoy their time and to try to raise awareness for Childhood Cancer.  When Madeline passed away funds were collected by many to help us with medical expenses, experiences and maybe funeral costs.  The thing is… she only got 5 days.  When she passed she didn’t get to enjoy all of those funds or reap the benefits of extra medical care… so that became the nest egg for Maddie to leave her Mark.  Those funds were how the first ‘Best Day Ever’s’ came to life…

$250,000.  Holy crap.  I can’t count the number of families we have encountered and supported.  I have no idea how many big Best Day Ever’s we have done, how many people we have entertained at events, I have no idea how many little one’s have played on the playgrounds we have created.  I have no idea how many souls have heard and connected to her- that have become more aware of Childhood Cancer, DIPG and the importance of enjoying time.  How many little girls have come to the Madeline Father Daughter Tea and twirled and watched in awe while the dancers danced?  How many families and nurses have joined us on Thanksgiving for a comfortable and beautiful dinner in the midst of their child being inpatient in the NICU or PICU?  How many children have enjoyed a graduation party, a remission party, trip to a waterpark, new bedroom or a backyard makeover while they are stuck in a very hard and scary time?  So many…

I sit today and reflect on the businesses, donors, kiddos, moms, board members, nurses, siblings and all the others who have been connected and enjoyed Best Day Evers with us.  What an honor…

Last night celebrating these 5 years at The Point was such a special gift.  In the golden glow of the lights there, surrounded by exposed brick walls and the most inviting long dining room tables- all meant to connect and laugh and enjoy… I felt so grateful.  I am so blessed.  We all are.  In all of the hardships and struggles- the joy and light ride along as well.  Life is about loving and accepting what we are handed- even the pain.  Madeline gets to make her mark and ride this journey right along with us. 

5 years and $250,000… what else does this journey have for us?  Where will be all be in the years to come?  Where will the connections we just made bring us?  One thing we should all remember is we don’t have control of this, that we need to enjoy this present and be prepared for Plan B… Plan B and C often trumps the plan…

Cheers to 5 years of making Maddie’s Mark, creating Best Days Ever, building better and accepting Plan B (or C or G) and embracing what He is creating… sometimes He gifts you a Madeline, other times He trusts us to make her Mark.

… that hit me like a tractor trailer

Sometimes those moments just sneak up and hit you like a tractor trailer veered into my lane on the thruway.  I had to maintain composure- but on the inside I was a shaken up.  I managed to steer to a clear spot, saved for the moment… but my insides were still a hot mess.

I was sitting on the bleachers watching my Lucy play ball, Amelia had Sparky’s leash.  A few kids that I was talking to when we came onto the field were leaving and a mom I didn’t recognize asked me “How many kids do I have anyway?”.  I am sure she was wondering if all of the kids I was talking to were mine… and she knew it was a harmless question.  The thing is there is no harmless answer for me.  I think I stuttered, or asked ‘who me?’… then it felt like forever while my brain figured out the way to answer her the safest and most honest way.  The other moms sat and looked worried for me… my daughter’s father was standing behind me.

“I have 3 daughters, but only 2 are here.”  Crisis averted- honest answer that avoided darkening the sunny afternoon and embarrassing another mom.  Amelia said I acted annoyed, though I didn’t mean to be.  I really just didn’t expect it.

It is weird how that question is always a rough one… do I want to spend the time to explain Madeline being the oldest Musto Chick but is forever only 5 ½ or do I want to go into it with a person I don’t know and change the direction on my day?  The bad part is I don’t ever not want to include her in the count… so every time it is a different answer.  I guess it is part of this missing, part of this grieving process… though I often wonder when parts of this process become normal and not so Earth shattering.  I am guessing never, or at least never while I am still roaming this planet Earth.

When we got home we talked about that moment, Amelia applauded my honesty and noted that I have 3 girls and 1 isn’t there.  I told her that it hurt my heart very much, not in a way that she meant it to hurt.  My heart hurt because Madeline died and I miss her.  I mostly love the world, but sometimes I just hate it.  I hate that it spins- it spins! 

I talked to a momma who just found out she is expecting her second soon, some wondered if she would find out.  I went back to those days… those moments of hope and excitement.  I loved the preparing, the nesting.  I loved holding a tiny human and seeing the funny faces, the perfect hands that always wrap around a finger like they are meant only to hold a parent’s finger… I loved watching my girls sleep on my Boppy… watching them take each breathe.  I loved the faces we made when we would feed little ones… showing them they need to open up to devour their pears or sweet potatoes.  I really go back when I see a mom in Target trying to look at labels and still entertain their littles… lending their child a silly face and handing them something they could play with.  I still rock side to side in Mass, like when I used to have a baby…

Anyway, today we were talking about how different the second is from the first, as all progressive pregnancies and parenting experiences are I assume.  I only went to 3… so I guess others would know better.  I know for me that going from 0 to 1 was the hardest for me.  I was just me, me and my work and social life and travel and just thinking of me.  All of the sudden one day a hospital let me take home this baby that I carried for 10 months… inside where she was fine and cared for.  I felt like an alien leaving that day, like I was not at.all.prepared.or.the.correct.fit.  I went from the Erin I knew and loved to this different version of me, not ready to be recognized.  Erin as a mom…

It took me a long time to connect to Madeline, I had a very traumatic labor and delivery.  I understand it better now, that in my mess of delivery and hormones and loneliness and fear, I had postpartum depression to an extent.  As I healed and grew… Madeline and I became adventurers together.  She and I walked the wheels off a stroller… she saved me in my loneliest times.  Then came Amelia, mom’s groups and Lucy… and I started to know this new Erin better- I even felt like she wasn’t an alien.

Back to the hardest transition being 0 to 1… I learned to give up some control after.  I learned that we needed to work as a pod and when a new member joined we worked together to live and enjoy and nap and grow and cry together.  I tried to let go when things didn’t go as planned, detours and changes of plans need to be a normal with littles.  I also loved trying to figure out how to fix a change of plans with only things I had on hand… in my family we call it ‘Magyvering’.  I would challenge myself to fix the situation- sometimes with a diaper wipe and homemade onsie… other times with placemat and jelly containers as blocks- I would be super proud if I could do it for free.  I think I loved the challenge of having 2 and then 3… I loved best seeing them together.  My little tripod, my clan. 

I hate that my pod is so damn tiny now.  1/3 is never at baseball, 1/3 is never visible to the ones we have never met.  Stupid.  This world is amazing and beautiful and kind and hard and painful and terrible and stupid… I mean it keep spinning.  The sun comes up, the day goes by then comes dinner and bath and bed… and the sun goes down and it is still truth- the world can turn without her.  So must I…

I never know the next time I will be sitting on a bleacher or in an office or at an event and I will go back to all of this pain.  For now I am here… today it is softer than yesterday.  I loved going back to those early days today… for that moment of feeling her skin, hearing her murmurs, watching her breathe, feeding her food trying to avoid the spit back I might get and walking the miles and miles we walked together… our pod of ladies.

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Grateful Heart & Easter

Grateful.

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This Easter season really snuck up on me.  I really didn’t keep track of weeks or Fridays… and weekends just flew by.  It was a pretty nutty 40 plus days.  I don’t think I purposefully avoided it, but I definitely put the importance and holiness of this season on a back burner.  I love the preparation, including avoiding meats on Friday.  I like trying to abstain from something very normal, and I totally get other people with different ideas and feelings.  I mark those weeks of Fridays, and every time I think of the fact that I am abstaining I really do think about Jesus and all he gave up for me.  I watched as people went to mass last night… and wished I had planned to bring the girls to the vigil.  It is a beautiful service, with low lights and candles… it is an emotional mass.  They were too young to enjoy before and this year I chalk it up to poor planning.

Mass this morning was lovely, sunny and bright.  I loved seeing the children of people I grew up with, and the priest invited kids up on the altar.  I looked up there and in a group of 10 kids, mine included, was a child waiting on a best day ever and a set of red headed twins I have watched grow on Facebook.  The circle…

Life is a big circle- connections everywhere.  He is in the connections.  I waited for a profound homily or moment of connection to some of the words- but I kept focusing on the community and the connections in that sacred space.  I thought about how grateful I am for all of it; grateful for the connections, communities, blessings, mercy and grace.  I am grateful for this temporary home.

Easter is about the Resurrection, about Jesus giving his life for us and rising from the dead to join His Father in heaven, so that we too can join Him in heaven.  Someday I get to join Him in that paradise, Madeline already did.  If Jesus never gave His life on the cross my Madeline wouldn’t be in paradise- so I will be with her one day.

I wish I hadn’t missed/avoided all of the special parts of these past 40 days, but we can only be right where we are right now.  I can work on tomorrow and next year.  Having a year that I really missed all those bits reminded me to get back to it, and put it in the front.

I left mass today with a grateful heart.  Easter, today, is about being grateful.  Grateful for the simplicity and the constant love, for the support when times are tough and the grace to get by, for the roof and food and family.  I am grateful for my 3 girls, and for every day they were gifted to me.  I remind myself that I was never promised 100 or 1000 or 5000 days with my girls, but I am grateful for every day I have.  I am grateful that when those days are done and I am no longer the caretaker to my girls that they are in good hands- He will have them.  I can’t imagine not knowing she was okay even though she isn’t with me.  Thank you Jesus…

So today as most enjoyed the sunshine and the family and too much dessert I hope you let your brain and heart feel gratitude for the gifts in your life, for the strength to get by, the grace to move on, the support when life is unbearable… I hope you felt gratitude for the gift of a safe place to land and the most amazing paradise to call home.  I felt it. 

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you. 

For the first time in forever…

Pardon my little ‘Frozen’ song clip.  Last night was the first time in forever that I wore high heel shoes, which sounds like a little deal.  Last year I injured my ankle, and since sprained my other one when I took a digger.  I have rocked boots and flats and sneakers for many, many months.  I miss my heels, like I miss my cocktail dresses (but not enough to get to a point that they fit).

Anyone who knows me knows I always had a kick butt pair of black heels on when I went out.  I told Rick early on, even though we are the same height I will always wear high heels.  I love how it felt to wear those shoes, I even liked the next day when my feet hurt some and I put on sneakers.  I felt worth it to feel confident and beautiful.  Hence the missing these past months of those shoes…

I had to go shopping for an outfit yesterday… to the mall… ugh.  I had a great purple tunic dress option I wanted to wear, but I made the mistake of wearing it to work on my Birthday.  One friend thought it would be prettier with a big circle where pressed his salami… and salami oil doesn’t come off well.  The mall was a punishment place yesterday… rude people who budge in front and bump into us… not to mention I brought the kids who kept fighting.  I found 2 cute dressed on clearance at JCP and wandered over to shoes.  It is there that I found them… a pair I have wanted to rock for a long time.  I grabbed them up and instantly got nervous for the night. 

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The what if part of my mind wouldn’t stop bugging me… what if I step in a pothole, or fall all off the stage… what if I get off balance and fall and reinjure my ankle???  Last year at this event just after I spoke and thanked everyone I stepped back and my heel got stuck in a crack on the stage… and there was ALMOST a disaster… what if??? 

I took some deep breaths and got myself ready and buckled the shoes… I walked in feeling and looking confident.  I managed to not fall, to not trip and to not get my foot caught in the stage crack.  I made it!!!  For the first time in forever… I rocked a pair of hot black shoes.

Last night, along with the black shoes, was a great night.  Maddie’s Mark was honored by the Schenectady PBA with a comedy night.  It was wicked fun, my cheeks hurt.  I just love events like that… sitting in a room FULL of people some who have no idea who Madeline was and what we do, others who have supported all along.  It is a special gift to introduce them to Madeline, Maddie’s Mark and the amazingness of our community.  I love it, it gifts energy right to my soul.  It is like a bolt of sunshine that gives me the energy to get all the work I need to done.  I am grateful to all of those PBA planners, they did an excellent job planning and setting it up.

Remind me to laugh until my cheeks hurt more often, seriously.  Comedians gifts are some I wish I had been gifted, but alas I get to watch and hear.  Life is so serious, so busy and full of paying bills and picking up and going to work and all that jazz… stopping to laugh is pretty important.  I think it is up there with going to the beach or on a hike.  I feel fresh today, like the morning is well inside me.  I love comedy nights, even if I am the one getting picked on. 

Sometimes my song is ‘Let it go…’ but today it is ‘For the First Time in Forever’… I am content and grateful for an amazing night with some awesome people.  I am wicked glad for my new shoes, and for all of the adventures they will come along on.  Today I remind myself, as the sun shines into my living room, that life is good.  It is good and hard, but it is good.

This side of 35

It doesn’t really look different on this side of 35, I don’t know what I thought it would look like.  It is funny how I can pin a day or goal and then it comes and it feels pretty much the same as before.  It isn’t a bad thing, it just of emphasizes the importance of being present in every day.

I can’t say I was super excited for my Birthday this year.  I didn’t really rock out my Birthday month like I normally do.  It really didn’t have anything to do with being all annoyed with turning 35.  Honestly, I treat age a privilege not grated to some.  Wrinkles and laugh lines are a gift that comes with having more time.  To have lots of birthday candles means a longer life to experience more- more family, more adventures, more of all of it.  I think it had more to do with March being such a dark month, one with extra snow and lack of sun.  It was a cold March…

There was a lot of loss this month.  I know that every joy fills my bank and every loss costs something.  It is hard to put on a party hat and rock out a day that celebrates getting older today.  Maybe it is just this March but I am sad that Madeline never gets laugh lines and wrinkles and a chance to turn 16 or 20 or 40.  I am sad that many other lovelies don’t either.

I have to say though 35 feels pretty fine, an awful lot like 34 and 33.  I imagine it feels like 36 and 41, only with less adventures, wrinkles, joy and loss.  I liken it to the mileage I was so looking forward to on my Jeep- 150,000 miles.  I got excited at 130,000 and giddy at 140,000.  I was excited that she is still kicking with me- travelling on adventures, driving my girls all over and still pumping Taylor and Adele for our long drives.  She is paid off and has a rockin’ new set of tires.  I kept watching the odometer as it neared 150,000 and was on my way to visit my friend Jackie.  I freakin’ missed it, the turnover point.  I looked down at 150,001.  I felt oddly not excited, like 150,000 wasn’t really a big deal, just a thing I looked forward to and it wasn’t as big a deal as I thought.  So maybe 150,001 feels a heck of a lot like 149,980…

I am grateful to be 35, that is the best way to describe today.  I am thankful my time, for my girls, my life, my family, my Rick, my herd and my wrinkles.  I have a wonderful life, it is full beyond the brim.  God sends the best people to connect and be woven into my fabric.  I have a lot of missing, but I also know that those I miss are not far away.

This morning my girls came in excited and telling me to stay in the bathroom.  I walked into the kitchen to a super thoughtful gift with the cutest, kindest tiny cards.  I could tell they thought of me when they shopped with their dad, I am grateful we have a relationship that honors each other in this part.  I am snuggled in watching Moana right now, waiting to go to Church School.  I love my girls, all of them.  I miss Madeline like mad crazy but I see her in so much.  I know that someday I will be out of here, hanging with Madeline in heaven.  I will be enjoying cake and bagels in a place where calories don’t count.  There is no missing in heaven, no crying and grieving, that is for us left here.  I was 29 when Madeline died… and I have made it to 35, I am sure God has many more birthdays for me to celebrate ageing here on Earth.  I will celebrate my wrinkles, my adventures, my gifts and my time while I get to.

Today I am grateful for every smile and kiss my girls gave me, every hug my students gave me, every bit of steak I enjoyed with Sir, every word I got to read on my phone, every ‘Happy Birthday’.  It is an important day, I know.  It is a special day right next to all the heavy, even if I didn’t get my taste of a light and airy and bright month.  I love being 35, wrinkling and ageing… I do it for Madeline- and Devon, Ana, Tyler, Onja Rose, Myles, Ryan, Elijah, Kenzie, Kara Mia, Peter, Tabitha, Jillian, Naomi… and more.  I will let myself have a year that I don’t feel all ‘party like;, but watch out next year world…………………

How we live…

Life isn’t about how we die, it is about how we live.  Our death is one day in our history, to be remembered only for that one day would be a lost legacy.  When death comes and we succumb and our body no longer wants to breathe… and our soul heads off for heaven the most important part of it all is how we lived.

Every day we all encounter extraordinary people.  It is a given.  I feel like I often times get to know and love a larger number of extraordinary people and kids… or maybe I am just good at recognizing ones living life well.  I love the kids I meet at the hospitals, the families I work to support and the people I meet all along the way.  Every person, especially the kids who have been or are sick, become a part of my being- their colorful webs are woven into mine.  I love the beautiful fabric God is weaving.  All of those extraordinary kiddos and their colorful threads are part of my being, my fabric.

How we live says so much about us.  When we lose someone, we must remember how they lived…

Ana Dooley passed away last week.

 

One day last week Ana died.  She lived for the previous 5,000ish days.  Ana was a musician, her voice reminded me of a classic rock singer.  She sang so smooth and maturely, with no fear or anxiety in performing.  Her body moved with so much grace, a kind of musical grace.  The different genres of music she sang impressed me- from The Doors to Christmas music, not a common voice or talent.  Ana was an artist.  Her mom shared some of her work and it made me wish one of my girls had been born with that talent.

I remember when I took on Ana’s Bucket List adventure- a new bedroom, and I realized that pleasing a teen is so.much.harder than a child.  I was reminded that I am far away from teenage girl life, and had to pull in the help of a friend to design to her standards.  I had never heard of ‘Hipster’ style and could not figure out why anyone would want a platform bed (I stub my legs on everything).  I was so nervous that she would hate it when she walked in, but she didn’t.  She loved it.  It was unique and personal, with quotes and polaroid’s and record covers.  I didn’t know how much it would mean then, but it became her sanctuary, her space.

Ana was a normal extraordinary daughter; her mom gives me pointers on teenage girl life.  She struggled with normal friendship issues, and had two best friends that lived along with her these last few weeks.  Ana and her sister Emily had a regular sister connection, with much closeness these cold and snowy past few weeks.

Sunday I got to visit Jackie, Ana’s mom.  I listened to stories about her as a toddler and music in her life as she grew.  Ana was an independent chica… even in toddlerhood.  Her parents reminisced about a tantrum she had when they carried her upstairs around 18 months.  They could not determine why, until they walked her back downstairs- only to have her climb the stairs alone and go straight to bed.  I quite love that I.can.do.it.all.by.myself.attitude.  I may or may not have a lot of that in me too…

Ana lived right up until she couldn’t live the way she needed.  Her illness and tumors would have knocked a grown person to their bed, but not Ana.  I talked to her mom as she took Ana to dances, lunch dates and Birthday parties- things she should have been too tired for.  Instead Ana chose living.  She wanted to use her 5000ish days the way she wanted.  In her own way, she compared the cost of enjoying time with her friends or family with the pain it would pile on later.  She performed solos and recorded music with huge tumors in her lungs… with the smooth beauty of her soul.

 

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Ana and her Momma.’

 

Ana was a beautiful and smart teenager.  I will forever see her eyes, those just like her mom’s.  I will hear her voice as she sings a beautiful version of Stevie Nicks “Songbird”.  I forever remember getting to fulfill one small wish for her, a gift from Madeline and Kara Mia.  I will remember the way she lived her 5000+ days.

I don’t know why we get the piles of hard stuff that we do, but I do know that what we do with it means so much.  I don’t know why life is long for some and short for others, but I know that it is important and profound to live what we have the best we can.  Ana is an inspiration, a reminder to spend our days in the best way we can.  Death is only one day of our story… Ana lived for so many days… she only died one of those days.

Please know her, connect to her.  See her live and perform.  Remember her way, her light.  Watch her song, and help her family go through this…

If you can donate… please help Jackie and her smaller family get back to living…

http://jacquelinedooley.com/anas-wish-fund/

What will I do when…

This morning as I sent Lucy down the hall, at school, I had one of those moments.

I had that wonder of when it will all change.

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 When I work at school we walk in together, me with my arms full of a lunch, a coffee and my purse… Lucy with her untied shoes, hot mess hair and dino backpack.  We always stop at the entryway and I hug her, sometimes I go to kiss her and she slides her forehead down to block me… to which I stop mid kiss and tell her ‘lips bubba’.  I watch her, with her swagger, as she walks down the hall to her wing.  Sometimes she looks back, sometimes she just chugs down to her room to start her morning work.  It’s a good way to start the morning. 

Most mornings I walk Amelia into her school.  I park my car and she jumps out of her side and we walk hand and hand into her lobby… where she is mostly on time most days.  I tell her to enjoy her day, be kind to friends and listen to her teacher.  She leans in and gives me a big kiss on my lips and then heads in through the big doors, not looking back.  I run back to my car and jet over to Lucy’s school to start our day and watch her swagger down the road. 

I snuggle the girls on the couch and feel their hair… I poke them in the belly and tickle them.  I nibble them at wake up and tell them to get their butts moving.  I love when Lucy shares her morning breath with me, it sometimes smells just like Madeline’s did.  I love her giggle when I wake her, when she isn’t cranky.  That kid can be a bit of a terd at wake up… but even in her cranky she will ALWAYS kiss me goodbye.  She holds my hand and touches my cheek…

We burrow together and watch movies.  They lay on my chest, even if I am braless and they don’t even care.  We walk through the parking lots holding hands, for safety.  They perform elaborate performances, silly dances and sing songs that they try to mimic from the radio (sometimes in their underpants).  I am still the one they come to when they wonder about things… things they hear and want to know more about.  I am still the one they will deeply cry with, share embarrassments with and ask questions they don’t know who to ask. 

A few weeks ago, the girls and I went to one of their friend’s birthday parties, a party at a firehall with a karaoke machine.  No one was singing, no one would dance… I decided to just do it.  I made Lucy come out and twirl with me… to do our little ‘dancing with the stars’ bit.  I forced Amelia to dance and laugh and be silly.  I tried to get other little ones out there, some little, little ones joined us.  I most definitely danced to the Spice Girls with my ladies… and they weren’t even embarrassed.  Amelia tried to act like I wasn’t cool… but then seeing her laughing and giggling and not running away from me, I know that I was the coolest lady she loved. 

When will it change?

When will my girls stop wanting to hold my hand?  When will they stop kissing me in front of others?  When will my crazy extroverted self… embarrass them enough to ignore me or disown me?  What timeline am I looking at?  When do I become the one they need to separate from…

What will I do… what will I be?  I know I am so many things… mom, Erin, President of Maddie’s Mark, homemaker, Teacher Aid, Teacher Assistant, blogger, writer, self-proclaimed type B lady, ex-marathon runner, sister, daughter, friend… and a whole bunch more.  My most intense and important role is that of being a mom… what do I do when parts of that role change again… parts I don’t want to lose.  I know that motherhood never ceases or stops, even if our children die, but… it will all look so different again. 

What will I do… who will I be when they stop kissing me on the lips in the lobby at school.  What about when those girls don’t hold my hand?  What is it like when they are embarrassed by me when I get all crazy and silly?  What is the next step like…

Parenting is hard.  I have had a difficult relationship with parts of parenting… the world makes it look so easy and natural.  My most proud moments were looking at my three chicks God gifted me, in the middles of my Jeep buckled in safely and singing Justin Bieber.  In all of the hard I love holding their hands, kissing those perfect ladies and seeing them at their most vulnerable.  I have loved the hard and the easy in this parenting gig… even those stinky puking moments.  I even loved the wicked hard moments, even if it took time to know that. 

My brain today… wondered what about when this part changes?  What does the next part look like… what new roles will life hold for me as me, and me with my girls?  I know that asking does nothing, but living answers so much.  I know that my children get to grow and change, and that is a good thing.  Age is a gift.  Some only make it to 5 ½ years old… if you make it 15 or 29 or 40 or 52 or 75 you better have lived it up.  I get all of that.  I appreciate the growing and the changing… but I also miss the innocence.  I am fearing the missing of innocence, the missing of all of those things ‘when they were young’.  I think, for me, the hardest part of parenting is the moving forward and living on.

We look at the history of the world and we see time periods, I see the differences and the next stages.  Time is impersonal.  Life is personal.  Parenting is super personal.  Life is hard…

Part of me knows that I know I will be just fine, okay with all of the changes… we will all get used to the newness when my girls don’t want to hold my hand, or hear my ideas… or dance with me.  I also know it when it is gone… when my role changes it will be hard, painful and positive.  We will reach another layer in relationships, but reaching it means they let go of other layers. 

My heart is going to miss all of those connection moments, maybe more than my heart, my soul will miss it all.  I need to remember to love that missing… that is the parenting part.  I need to remember how special it is the have had these moments, these handholding moments.  I need to carry it. 

Today I watched my little Lucy swagger down the hall and wondered how long I had to have that moment… how long she would care if I was there at goodbye.  Goodbye is hard, hardest part of parenting, in every different way that goodbye fits.  I will miss the lack of hand holds, the lack of kisses on my cheek or lips… I will miss when my dancing is an embarrassment.  All these changes…

What will I do?

Live on.

Build better.

Dance embarrassingly anyway.

Kiss those girls on the forehead (once lips are a no)

Hold those hands when I can…

Smiles when life is crazy….

Who knows maybe this next part will be worthy of the missing that losing this part brings.  Life is a series of getting through layers and seasons, some are hard and I think some are easier (though I can.not.for.the.life.of.me remember an easy part)… all of it is worthy of the missing, worthy of the pain and the beauty.  I will remind my brain in these moments of sadness or future anxiety of just that… to miss those moments but love the next stage.