… But I wasn’t ready

This week I had to have the talk. I didn’t want to have the talk, I tried to avoid the talk. I remember the day that I had the equivalent of the talk… it wasn’t a good day. I still feel sad about it. The talk robbed much of the magic and wonder… it stole a bit of my naïve. I imagined that the talk would be further into the future- somewhere around 13. I guess I was naïve…

My daughter came home with that grumble in her soul, that stress that comes when she has something bugging her. I wait it out, knowing that she will come to me when she is ready. She hinted a bit about the kids in her class and a poll and how she was one of the few that answered how she did. We dropped Lucy off to basketball and it came out. “Mom is Santa real?”… “Of course, I believe in Christmas spirit and Saint Nick and magic.”… again and again “Mom BUT is he real????????”

She stated that many of the kids in her class don’t believe, they said Santa isn’t real. I told her that they really suck the magic out of something special- and for the rest of your life people will do that, choose to know what you know. She insisted on knowing that truth, which makes me believe she had already made her decision. I was driving and really wanted to cry… thankfully it was dark. I realized this was the talk and I wanted to do it right. Only it had to happen right now- before her sister was done shooting hoops.

So…

I shared the big secret. I told her that I buy and wrap presents and put them under the tree. I am the Santa that gifts her Jesus’ birthday presents. Santa is real. Saint Nicholas is real, he has a special role in history just like Jesus. Santa and Saint Nicholas are more present in spirit during this time of year. Look at people this time of year, dear. People want to take care of others, people spoil poor children, they volunteer to cook at the City Mission, people take care of their neighbors. Lovely, that is all bits of Santa and the spirit of Christmas. I laughed and tried to break any awkward with a little sarcasm “Wouldn’t it be nice is the other 11 months people thought of Santa and Christmas???”… She agreed.

I reminded her that I believe in Santa. I might buy and wrap and spoil her, but there is a North Pole and helpers and magic. I told her just like Madeline isn’t physically sitting with us at the Christmas Tree- she is there. There is no body sitting and enjoying with us, but we can feel her spirit. She is here, just not how we imagined it would be. Santa is here, just not as she imagined he is. She kept repeating to me “Mom… I believe in Santa, I do.” I felt sad that she had to remind herself, reassure herself. I asked her is she was sad, she told me yes. I know that feeling. I didn’t feel mad that I had been lied to, I felt like the surprise and magic were stolen. I imagine that is what my daughter felt…

We made it to 10 years old… obviously Madeline has known for a while so I guess It was earlier. I told my girl the rule- that she knows a secret and she is not to share it with others. It isn’t an unsafe secret, but if she respects this it will be a grown up bit of knowledge that doesn’t break others ideas and beliefs. I told her she is to respect others, including her sister. I told her respecting others and her sister and the magic is VERY important and she needs to do it to be more mature. She promised she would honor that expectation… but a piece of me broke off that night.

The thing is, why don’t all parents encourage their kids to honor other families and other traditions? Why do other parents not remind their child that this is an honored secret? That when you are gifted the talk and you get to move the elf or know that Santa isn’t real- we honor the other kids. Instead of pushing our kids to be older, we can embrace that childhood magic, that spirit. For my own heart and the hearts of many other moms, let’s try to do this better. I felt like my daughter was cornered into believing in not believing. I saw it. Let’s try to do this in a building way, not a breaking. I know I would love to see it.

As hard and sad as it was, it reminds me to be lucky. I have 3 lovely girls, 2 of which keep growing and maturing and becoming. Madeline is and will forever be 5 ½… she travels with us in spirit. I am lucky, well except with Lottery Tickets. I have a good life, I have good words, and I have the best freakin’ girls ever. I look ahead with excitement and fear- I look back with contentment and love. I will forever love and cherish the time that I was a Secret Santa and delivered Jesus’ birthday presents under the surname of Santa Claus. I will forever miss the piece of naïve I took from my daughter on that drive… and I will never get to take back those years of being ‘Santa’ in the way I was. I will try and work to be the mom and me that is needed right now, and in 5 minutes and again in days. I wish… but I can’t change.

Welcome new world, lacking some of what once was…

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… the sound of silence

silence

Silence is hard. It is hard to maintain, hard to feel comfortable and hard tackle all those things that need silence to process. Silence wasn’t always hard, or maybe I never let myself ‘stay’ in the silence. I still avoid it… all of these years later and I know what the silence holds.

I worry and think other moms who have to sit in the silence. Recently I have thought a lot about Christine, Devin’s mom, and how important and impossible the silence is. How hard it is to come by in those years in the beginning when we are driven to create and honor. The silence comes… it always does. I teeter on warning other moms or is it better for them to find and sit in their silence.

The silence hurts. Avoidance does a good job of keeping the pain away for a time, but silence just like grief will always catch up. It will be right there ready for you to ‘sit’ in it and feel all the things that are waiting for you to tackle.

One afternoon recently I was really tired and sore after work, so I took a bath. I filled up the tub, grabbed a towel and put Pandora on my speaker. I got into the tub and finally I felt warm, right about that moment I realized that I left my book and cell phone on the counter in the bathroom. I could see them but I wasn’t going grab them, I shrugged to myself and told myself I would just be present instead of reading away. I sunk my head into the water and just listened… I love how you can hear your heart so well under water. My mind wandered, and I started to think about and worry about a mom who just lost her son, and her silence. I brought my head up out of the water and enjoyed the music. Mumford and Sons Pandora is pretty great for the soul. Taking a bath with music, just enough noise to not feel too much.

The music stopped.

I looked at my phone on the counter, and knew I wasn’t going to grab it to fix it. I just sat there and realized I was just thrown into the silence…

It was like God was telling me “You worry about others, but you still rarely visit the silence… Here it is”. I sat there and told myself that my job right now is to sit in the silence…

I sat…

I stayed in the silence.

The music started, right where it left off. It was as if God paused my Pandora to remind me of the importance of that silence.

In the silence I feel the things I can’t feel in this loud world. I feel the missing… not the surface missing I feel when I am busy living and moving forward. In the silence I can feel the pain of those 6th graders doing all that she should be, the hurt I feel knowing that once again Madeline will only get one gift for Christmas… the hurt of missing her. In the silence is the sorting through the pain… that big pile of pain. When I am in the silence I see how much sorting I have to do… how much pain needs to be touched and felt.

I think of other moms, and some are probably so much better than me at sitting and working in their silence. It is something I must work on. I still worry and wonder and feel for those moms… for I know. I know the silence, the pain. I know how this goes, at least 5 years in.

I need to make room for more silence… and make more room for sorting. I was reminded of this, maybe He gave me a clear sign. I still hurt and worry for those other mommas… and I feel for their work in the silence. Grief is beautiful and ugly. Time is beautiful and ugly. Life is beautiful and ugly.

So I sit more in the silence…

As grown as she got to be…

she is lovely

On November 5, 2011 Madeline asked me to curl her hair. I took a picture and put it on Facebook, a way for my family and friends to see how much she had grown. I remember looking at that picture and sending it to my sisters, in awe of how mature she looked. I remember thinking that I had the 3 most beautiful girls, even if I was biased. We were all healthy and growing. There was broken in my marriage but at this point life was pretty good and normal.

I can see the timeline now… you know the saying hindsight’s 20/20. Halloween, Amelia’s birthday, afternoons getting dark before dinner and watching Ellen with Madeline after the bus brought her home. A couple weeks after this picture was Thanksgiving, my sister’s all came and we celebrated our own little Thanksgiving. Madeline has a mysterious fever, but over enjoyed the weekend. I remember calling our Pediatrician and he of course told us fevers are a good thing, don’t worry. I didn’t worry. I never really worried, I still don’t. That weekend with my sisters is the first time I can recall any symptoms developing, I think this time is when Madeline’s DIPG started to do it’s evil work.

This picture is pretty much exactly how much Madeline got to be grown… how much maturity she was allowed to achieve. This moment, that popped up on my Facebook, I can feel… I can go right back to it. I can hear her giggle as I took her picture. I can go back. That moment in history was one of the last moments that DIPG hadn’t started to steal Madeline…

It is surreal to me still that it can be 2017 and she is not here… that I only got 5 tiny years to feel her skin and hear her heartbeat. We don’t get to go back, we just get to keep moving along this life. That makes it hard, but when we can dive into a moment in history and feel it, see it- almost touch it… that is a gift. I see her peers grow and post pictures of sports and choir… slumber parties and adventures- I always so happy to see those kids grow and be happy… but there will forever be a pinch of sad in my heart. A pinch for inches she didn’t grow, the adventures she missed and the 11 year old that she never got to be. She is and will be my forever 5 year old lovely, and this image will forever be one of the last moments that DIPG didn’t start taking her.

Madeline and her cardigans… all buttoned up just perfectly. Her neat style and perfect hair, partnered with that dimple… I will forever miss that chick. I will forever dive into those memories, those frozen moments and time. That shirt and sweater are what Madeline is wearing still, with her perfect twinkle toes and her Hello Kitty head band. She is forever just as this picture shows…

Her First Decade

A Decade.

I had never really thought about it that way. In a few blinks, at least it felt that way, I have been raising Amelia for 10 years today. She is my ‘oldest’…

My first decade I spent being little, finding paths to ‘The Mansion’ or meeting friend at the village ice rink. My second I spent trying to be a homemaker… to be a wife. I loved learning and I had this idea of college, marriage, kids, LIFE. Madeline was the.easiest.baby. My 3rd decade is still going, although I am half way through it, has been a life changer. I feel like such a different person this decade…

Amelia Jane was born on November 2, 2007.  She shares her special day with her Great Great Aunt Jane and my baby sister Molly Jane. I love the tradition in her birthday. It is a special honor to share those days, on one day my family thinks of and celebrates 3 great women… women who changed me to the core. My 9 pound 14 ounce bundle of Meme, was the easiest labor of my 3. She came into this world with a big spirit and that spirit has just multiplied exponentially. She is a force, a compassionate and confident force. She feels BIG, her love and happy take up a room- and her pain and broken is the hardest thing to see.

Amelia’s decade has been pretty full, more full than many have in their lives. In her First Decade she has experienced great loss and birth, grief and love, growth and pain. Her first years were full of simple days and adventures, and her more recent half of this decade have been full in a different way. She makes our family work, in all of it’s different.

In her decade she has shown me more of the awesomeness of God and DNA… she has the same feet and hands as me, we have the same eyes. I think it is fascinating that God made her to be so much like me and so different. She is persistent and motivated, she loves to care for others and teach. She is often described as a talker- I don’t know where that came from.

I have loved getting to be her mom for this decade, to build each other and hold each other up. I am honored God chose me to guide her on this journey… I am incredibly impressed with Amelia’s ability to see good and positive in this life.

Amelia came into this world a BIG presence, she has learned to share her BIG emotions, she has tackled the role of being the big sister and not the middle sister with grace. It is like Madeline helped build it in her…

Cheers to this decade, and I can’t wait to see what this next decade will bring. I hope Meme learns and enjoys these coming years, that she is surrounded with builders not breakers… and that she continues with her BIG spirit.