More Than Beautiful

Yesterday, my first blog post for Raleigh Moms Blog went up! Whoop! I’ve been excited about joining their team as a contributor. But, I’m also excited to share my words with you here as well….

MoreThanBeautiful

Excerpt: “A few days ago, A (my 2-year-old) and I were strolling through Target (yes, it’s always Target, right?). She was in a particularly playful mood. I was stealing kisses from her. We were smiling. We were in our own happy world for that particular minute in time. I leaned down and said, “You are SOOO beautiful!” She wrinkled her nose and beamed up at me, giggling. And. Then. A woman (a woman whom meant well I’m sure — they always mean well, right?) said, “You know, you shouldn’t tell her that she’s beautiful.” My head whipped around. I hadn’t even seen her there. I hadn’t even noticed her in the aisle with us. My mind went blank.”

Click HERE to continue reading More Than Beautiful at Raleigh Moms Blog!

Photo Credit: Shannon Haynie Photography (She’s awesome, by the way!)

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A Father’s Daughter

10366129_10204236138808444_8543520950004898412_nI spend so much time being a momma, thinking about being a momma, writing about being a momma, and being a wife that sometimes I forget to put on one of the other important hats that I wear. The one called “daughter”. It’s an important role, too. One I need to be more conscious of and attentive to. And, this is a daughter with a regret. Well, maybe two regrets…

ONE – I think maybe I’m too hard on my father. I hold him to higher, harder to achieve standards. I don’t know why. I let my mother off easily. She’s simply right … no need to argue. But, with my dad, I can’t seem to let it be. I let things get under my skin. I say too much. Or, I say too little. With him, I know I’ve made too many mistakes. Maybe, we are too different. Probably, we are too much the same. I really, simply, don’t have answers. But, it hurts to think about.

TWO– A year or so ago, my sweet father had the opportunity to buy a classic old car. An awesome opportunity. Upon hearing this, I immediately jumped on the Con List Bandwagon. But, why? I don’t know. Today, I don’t really understand my reasons. It wasn’t practical. He wasn’t a “car guy” or a “mister fix-it”. He never “tinkered” around in the garage. He didn’t need to spend his money on something like that. He wouldn’t drive it enough. Honestly?! I don’t know what my problem was. I don’t know why I felt the need to even share my opinion at all. But, I know I was wrong. I know what I should have done, but didn’t. I didn’t talk to him directly. I received all of my news secondhand and formed my opinions without hearing his. I never spoke to HIM about it. I never listened to his reasons or … his dreams. Had I, I would have felt entirely different. It’s a regret. I was wrong. Once the opportunity had past and the car was gone, we finally got to talk about it. Oh, why didn’t we talk sooner?! Once I stopped talking and started listening, it took only mere seconds for me to see it all through his eyes. And, it was like a smack in the face. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if things are practical. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if it makes sense. Sometimes, all you need to do is follow your heart and reach for your dreams. It’s so obvious. I’m ashamed I didn’t see it sooner.

This is a man who has given me everything. He deserves more than I’ve given him. He’s worked hard my entire life so that my mother, brother and I never wanted for anything. He worked hard so that she could be home with us…his greatest gift to us, in my eyes. He worked hard so that we could simply be kids. He never asked for anything from us. This is man who loves the Lord and his family. His heart is big and wide and open. He taught me (he still does) about prayer and about believing and about what faith means. He feels things strongly and he’s passionate about life and the people he loves. I get that from him. This is a man who used to put me in his lap and let me steer the car around the block. A man who put me on his feet and danced me around the room. A man who told me ghost stories instead of bedtime stories … probably not a good move, Dad. I still remember laying awake worrying about the hitchhiker with the hook for a hand. This is a man who understood the need to let loose and let it all go from time to time. The need for fun and laughter. There was always fun and laughter in our home. This is a man that loved (loves) good music and a good book and knew what each could do for the soul. When we were young, he’d turn his music up so loud, the windows in our home would rattle. I still smile every time I think about that. This is a man who surprised me with my first car – a red Honda Civic with a giant white bow on top!  A man who made sure I had the wedding of my dreams. A man who reads every article I post and comments faithfully. A man who I know will, no matter what, love me until the end of time. And, this is a man who is hands down the most loving grandfather I could have ever hoped or imagined for my children. They get only good from him. As a father, he had to be hard as well as soft. He wasn’t perfect (but, who is, right? who wants perfect, anyways?). He had his share of flaws and there were tough times in our household, too. But, as a grandfather, he’s only soft. My children have simply melted away everything else. He’s pure love with them.

And, so, Dad, on this Father’s Day, rather than apologize for the things that I regret (you’ve already forgive me anyways), I’m simply going to thank you for the lessons that these experiences taught me. Never let your dreams die. And, I won’t either. I love you.

Day In, Day Out – My Messy Beautiful

IMG_1179Day in, day out, these little piggies march on. We carry on. And, so the story goes…

When my first (my sweet Little Man) arrived, the fog that blanketed my life was thick. The first few months were a haze. I was in survival mode. I missed so much of his precious newborn stage. I was here, of course. I was present for all of it. Still, I missed so much. The anxiety that I felt, that I carried around, was nearly crippling. I wasn’t prepared for it. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know what to do. I cried a lot. I cried because I was sad. Because I was so happy. Because I was scared. Because I felt alone. My heart felt swollen. I was raw.

I don’t think I fell in love with him instantly. I mean, in a way, yes, sure, most definitely. Yet, no, I didn’t. With N, it felt a little like dating. We took our time. We got to know each other. I learned. I learned even more. My heart and my love grew slowly and steadily each day, as I adjusted to my new role. Guiltily, I mourned my old life, I grieved it’s passing, while marveling at my new one. It was such a time of change. It didn’t all happen overnight, but as time marched on, I began to feel like a mother. Slowly, I stopped thinking about the freedom that I no longer had and started looking at all that I DID have… so much. As the fog began to fade, a new normal was born. Life evolves.

With my second (my Little Miss), the fog fell lighter. I could still see. I was still me. My life, though changed, was not unhinged by this new addition. My love came hard and fast. With her, I fell immediately. I looked at her and I already knew her. I knew what she needed. I knew what to give her. But, it was only because N had paved the way for her. He taught me, changed me, made me a mother. So, when A came along, that’s what I was – a mother. That’s what I did – I mothered. Thanks to him.

One thing that I was totally unprepared for, one thing no one told me about motherhood, was how lonely it would sometimes be. I am surrounded by love, yet at times, all alone. It’s strange. A contradiction of emotions.

I didn’t know how I’d miss my friends. I do. My friendships have evolved and shifted as we each, one by one, step into motherhood. Things change. Friendships change. They don’t know that I need them more than ever. Connection. But, I do. Yet, we are all knee deep in our own day in, day out, messy, beautiful lives.

After N was born, I went back to work. I was too busy to feel lonely. I was focused. When A arrived, I didn’t go back. I became a stay-at-home-mom (for so many different reasons). From day one, it was more than I was expecting. More than I was prepared for. More than I can even explain. It’s a blessing. The three of us – N, A and I, we get to be together – for better, for worse, we are together.  Day in, day out, I’m right in the middle of this beautiful mess that’s my life right now. It has been such a journey for me. I knew it would be hard. I didn’t know that it would be the most trying, amazing time of my life. I didn’t know that I could feel so much, so much of the time. I didn’t know how I’d be pushed to the brink of madness. I didn’t know how much I’d learn about myself. I’d never prayed about my own character before. Now, there are days when I hit my knees and pray for more patience, for more strength, for more kindness … for more of myself to give. I didn’t know that I’d be striped raw. Exposed. The good, the bad and the ugly. I didn’t know that it was possible to have so many different moments and emotions in a single day. Some days, I swear, consist of multiple lifetimes, all wrapped up in a single day. I can go from having a moving, loving moment with my boy to losing my mind in mere seconds. We can go from happy, crafting, baking, “look how together I am” moments to hiding in the bathroom so maybe I can be alone for one single friggin second … but no, here comes N and he wants to sit on my lap WHILE I PEE. Yep. It’s messy. It’s beautiful. It’s mine. We are marching on through these moments in time. Making it ours. Making it count. I’m carrying on with you, Warriors!

 

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

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