For My N, on his 5th Birthday

I love to write my littles letters on their birthdays. It’s for them, but maybe it’s more for me. It’s so they’ll remember. It’s so that I won’t forget. Time is impossible to stop. It’s impossible to slow it down. So, maybe … maybe if I can just capture a little sliver of it in words … maybe we’ll be able to remember just how sweet it all is …

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To my Favorite Boy,

My sweet boy. You are 5 now. Whenever I pause to reflect on you; to write to you – my heart gets caught in my throat and I always have to stop and have a good cry. It’s just … the way I love you has always amazed me. The way I feel about you can never adequately be expressed. It’s soo much.

It was a little cooler today and I noticed some of the leaves changing as A and I drove to pick you up at pre-school. Fall always makes me feel more sentimental.  I caught myself feeling overcome by mixture of happiness and sadness. I have loved your littleness. I have loved baby N and toddler N. Raising you isn’t always easy and we have days that feel desperate,  so raw and so hard. Yet, there is so much beauty in it. There is so much life in it and ridiculous amounts of joy. I have a wonderful time with you. You have made my life so meaningful. It’s strange to me that you are 5 now. Already. It doesn’t seem quite right. You should still be my little guy, but you are growing and changing every day. You are a kid now. It’s hard to let go and watch you grow. Yet, I’m so proud of you. And, though it’s hard for me at times and I yearn to wrap you in my arms and keep you little, watching you grow has been so rewarding and fun. It’s my favorite thing.

At 5, my boy, you are full of life. You are smart and imaginative. You are innovative and full of ideas. You are kind and tender-hearted. You think “stupid” is the worst “bad word” there is and you truly strive to use only “kind” words. You are easily frustrated, but mainly because you want to be able to do all-the-things. You are funny and goofy. You make us laugh. You sorta play soccer. Sorta. You love pre-school. You adore stuffed animals and have more than any child should. You struggle with greed … caused by your desire to have all the stuffed animals in the world. Ha! You are a comfy clothes wearer. Silly story teller. You are becoming a good little artist and not a bad little carpenter. You still want to be a construction worker when you grow up. You take good care of your sister and y’all are best friends, but you also like to tease her and sometimes you make her cry on purpose. You feel strongly about all the things. You. I’ve never loved anything more. My boy. My heart.

Love, Your Momma

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My Life vs. Writing about My Life

I want to write. I do. I want to curl up with a hot cup of coffee and my computer. I want to sit and write and share my soul with you. I want to think and read and reflect and consider and ponder and imagine and … write. That’s what I want to do. But, I’m sure that my absence from the world of blogging would reveal that what I want isn’t always what happens. It’s, quite honestly, rarely what happens. That type of quiet time is simply a luxury that I currently don’t possess. And, it’s fine. I’ve accepted it. I like the happy chaos that surrounds me. But, quiet time to write is just a bit elusive. Which means less time for Elle Bee Lovely. Less time for you, my dears. Less time for me.

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I’ve been a Stay-At-Home-Mom for two years now. TWO YEARS! I can not believe it. Where did two years go?! It’s not possible. It’s just not. I remember my last day of work, walking to my car at the end of the day, walking away from my lovely team at The Green Kangaroo, as if it were just a few months ago. I was excited then, and maybe a tad apprehensive, for a new adventure with my babies. And, what an adventure it has been!! N was going on 3 then and A was still baking in my belly. Now, N will turn 5 (FIVE?!) late this summer and A will be 2. Time flies! I mean, it really flies, doesn’t it?! Sure, the days can be, at times, long. Some days, really long. But, even still, it goes quick. Staying at home is, well, not quite what I expected and exactly what I expected, if that makes sense. It is easily the hardest I’ve ever worked. Easily. And, maybe that’s because it’s so many roles in one and you never, ever go off the clock. And, I’m so invested in it. I love it. I’m rewarded by it. I care so much about it. I desperately want to get it right. The “SAHM” title makes me chuckle though. It’s not-so-accurate. It doesn’t bother me and I don’t spend much time thinking about that sort of thing. But, still … we don’t really “stay at home.” We go everywhere. We do all the things. My mom (who was also a SAHM) still talks about a male family friend who used to laugh when she’d say that she stayed home with her children and say, “Your house must be so clean! Do you just sit around and watch soap operas?” Clearly he had no clue. No. Clue. We go out and about nearly every day … parks, playgrounds, pools, libraries, play dates, Chick-fil-a, shopping, errands. We go out. And, some days, we don’t. Some days, we stay in. We (I) clean, we relax, we make messes, we do art projects, we color, we play, we build legos, we go for walks, we play outside, we make cookies, we read, we laugh, we dance, we watch movies, we kiss, we hug. Whether we are out or we’re at home, we are always doing something. It sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? I’m snorting a little as I write this, because it sounds so fun, so easy, so carefree. And, it is lovely. It is special. It is a blessing. But, it is not easy breezy. Because, in listing all the “fun” things that we get to do, I’ve left out all the other things — the tears that happen as we drive around town — the hundreds of cups of juice/milk/water that must be filled and not forgotten — the snacks and messes and spills that happen in the car — the kid who needs to pee just as we pull onto the highway — the other kid that howls like she’s being tortured most of the time that she’s in her carseat — the diapers that must be changed at the most inconvenient times — the lost pacifiers — how much you sweat as you are attempting to get everyone seated for what “appears” to be a simple lunch out — the boo-boos that must be kissed — the toys that are All Over The House at all times — the cleaning up and putting away that never ends — the laundry — the way everything seems to fall completely apart right as you are trying to fix lunch and dinner (don’t even get me started on dinner) — the silly battles that happen — and on and on and on. That list above, that sweet list of all the things we do … it needs to also include these: we cry, we yell, we argue, we sit in time-out, we make-up, we negotiate, we talk it out, we color on walls, we stomp our feet, we throw tantrums, some of us throw food, we use some mean words, we pray, we are sticky, we make other things sticky, we say “I’m sorry”, we pray some more, we love. We love. Through all things – we love. And, we sweat. Did I mention that? I had no idea. I was never much of a Sweaty Betty, but motherhood is sweaty. I’m not kidding. It’s one of those things that no one tells you. That kids make you sweat. You should know that. They should put that on the warning label that comes with the children. Ohhh wait, that’s right! 🙂 A few weeks ago N, A and I met a group from N’s awesome pre-school (Grow Pre-school, if you are curious) for a rainy morning at an indoor mall playground and a food-court lunch. As we struggled with our strollers and trays of food; as we struggled to get all of our children seated, to get their plastic placemats stuck down (only for them to be ripped right back up); as we struggled to get everyone’s meat cut and drinks handed out and to avoid ketchup spills; as we just struggled in general – I looked across the table at one of the other mommas and she, literally, had beads of sweat covering her forehead and another momma was fanning herself as sweat ran down her face, and it wasn’t even that hot. We were just … working hard. And, then, we finally get to eat … for 35 seconds and then someone has to pee again and then someone else is crying to get out of her highchair. So, yeah … it is the life of leisure …

Did I mention that I’ve been a SAHM for two years now?! Ha ha! Don’t get me wrong. I celebrate it. I do. It may be challenging. It may be hard. But, it’s beautiful. It’s my beautiful, messy adventure and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Not anything.

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In trying to balance it, trying to figure it all out, I’ve let the writing (among a list of other things) slide. You’ll hear from me still. Just, less, for now. A is growing and napping less and demanding more. N is out of school for the summer. Any quiet time that I may have had, seems to have floated away and it’s remaining just beyond my grasp. And, yet, it’s okay. I’m allowing myself to be okay with it. Give yourself the gift of letting yourself off the hook. One can not do it all or have it all, despite what society may say. One still must prioritize. And, it’s just a season, remember. In the long run, this time will be a little sliver out of my life. Probably the best, most cherished, little silver. I’ll have plenty of “me time” in the years to come. This is my “momma with littles” season. I’m choosing to embrace it. Let’s embrace it. Let’s own it. Let’s roll with it. Let’s make it the best damn season under the sun!!!

Xoxo

Hearts of Love on Mother’s Day

Today. Mother’s Day. A day of celebration. A day of complication. A day of emotion.

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Today my heart is full of gratitude. I’m hiding out – stealing a moment away to write. Listening to the two littles and the pitter patter of their sweet little feet. Those two made me a mother. The very thought of them can bring tears immediately to my eyes. They sure are ‘some kind of crazy’ most days, but they’re mine. They are MY crazy. And, forever and ever, I’ll be eternally grateful for them. Forever and ever, I’ll do the best that I can to be my BEST for them. Forever and ever, the fierce love that I feel for them will carry me. My heart is so full of so many hopes and wishes and fears for them. But today I’m just gonna soak it all in. Sit back. Hug. Kiss. Love.

Today my heart is full of love for my own mother. She is My Most Beautiful. She is my best. She is the reason that I’ve never felt alone in this big ‘ole world. Her love is so constant, so consistent. Because of it, I’ve never doubted real love. It has always existed for me. I know how lucky I am to be able to say that. I know. And, I’m grateful. Thank you, Mom, for loving me in the powerful way that you do.

Today my heart hurts for those who aren’t feeling so celebratory. Everyone has their own story. Their own ache. We all, each and every one of us, carry something hidden in our hearts. I know that there are far too many women in this world whose hearts are yearning for babies to make them the mothers that they already are in their own hearts. There are far too many women who have experienced miscarriages and loss. They walk this earth with deep, unseen love buried in their hearts for a baby … until one day … one day when our Heavenly Father calls them home and love reunites them and they are able to hold each other in a way they just couldn’t in this life. And, there are far too many women who have buried a child. Gone too soon. It’s something I feel inadequate to even attempt to write about … as if I couldn’t begin to describe their loss in words … couldn’t begin to do their sweet child the justice that they deserve. And, so I won’t. I won’t attempt to write about these types of losses. I won’t attempt to know the depth of your hearts. I will simply say. I see you. We see you. We aren’t forgetting you today. Our hearts hurt for you. We wish it were different.

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Today my heart aches for those who can’t pick up the phone and call their mommas. I’m sorry. I wish that you could. I wish that for you. I wish that my simple, little ‘ole wish would make a tiny bit of difference to you. But, it won’t. But, maybe an acknowledgement will. Maybe. Maybe just knowing that you aren’t forgotten. That you aren’t alone. Maybe you’ll be able to celebrate your mother today in some way that’ll mean something to you. May you feel her light shine down on you.

Today my heart bleeds for those of you who’ve never known the love of a mother. I don’t have the right words for you. I can only hope that you feel God’s love shining on you in a way that is tangible to you. I hope that you have great love in your life. I hope that someone shows you just how amazing, how worthy your are. I hope that even if you don’t have a “someone” to show you these things … that you find it all on your own. Your beauty. Your worth. You are enough. You are. I hope your heart is full.

There are a lot of different types and ways to “mother” a person. The “fruits” of love grow on all different types of trees. And, so Happy Mother’s Day to the WOMEN of this world. Whether or not you have birthed a child … doesn’t matter … it’s about LOVE. It’s a love thing. If you have loved others deeply or have cared for them or have raised them or have nourished their spirits, then you are celebrated today! Keep loving. Keep being the light of God in this dark world. Keep on making the difference that you are making. You are seen.

Xoxoxo

Being Still

Sometimes, some days, my heart just gets caught up in all of it. In all of the … the mothering. And, I start to forget. I forget the point of it all. I start yearning to hear God’s voice. I start aching for … more. I start feeling like I should be doing more of something.

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The past few weeks have been harder than most. Full of chaos, tears, tantrums, sickness, teething, messes, more tantrums and just … soooo many needs that must be met. I’ve felt pushed and stretched and tested. I’ve felt raw, vulnerable, exposed. I’ve felt like a big, giant failure. Yes, there will always be days like this. Weeks like this. Days when motherhood will take all that you have to give, and then ask you to give even more. It’s easy to get caught up. Lost. That’s what was happening. I was starting to lose myself to these types days. Starting to drown in them.

But, then … yesterday happened. The sun was bright and warm against my skin. I had a few minutes to myself (let’s be honest, I was going to the doctor, but still … I was alone.) I felt … something more. And then, today happened. Today, my sweet girl (who doesn’t like to be held) actually fell asleep in my arms. This is so rare. Sooo rare. She typically pushes me away and reaches for her bed. Yes, honestly. She’s only 20 months. It’s tragic. I know. So, when she let me hold her for longer than 1.2 seconds, I was immediately in tears. I was in tears and thanking God for this sweet gift. This precious moment to just let go, be still and stare at her. I took in her beautiful baby profile, her flawless skin, her sweet smell, the gentleness of her breathing. Time stood still. Everything got quiet. My mind. My heart. In that moment, I pictured her … I pictured her jumping into crisp, beautiful lake water – feeling the coolness on her skin. I pictured her laying in the grass watching the clouds roll by. Feeling the fresh wind of spring on her face. The spray of saltwater on her warm skin. The butterflies that come with new love. The warm sand beneath her toes. The voice of God within her heart. The feel of her own baby in her strong arms. I just sat there, held her and glimpsed into her future … and let the quietness carry me…

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As time started moving again, as I laid her in her bed, I knew I had been given a gift. A moment of stillness with my growing girl. A moment of calm during days of storm. A chance to hear God’s voice in my own heart. A confirmation that I’ve been needing. I’ve been praying and seeking – wanting to know the plan. The next step. Yearning to understand what I’m supposed to be doing. What I’m supposed to be writing. If this blog should be growing. But, clarity comes … with stillness, clarity comes … and the voice I’ve been seeking has been trying to answer me all along. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Be still. Be STILL. And know. He’ll let me in on the next step when it’s time. Right now, it’s not time. I’m right where I’m supposed to be. This is my season in the sun with the littles. These are short, precious years. “Be still.” THIS is what I’m supposed to be doing. Being “Mommy”. The rest … He’ll reveal it all in time. I can rest in that beautiful knowledge.

XOXO

Side Note: My sweet husband, R, sent me a link to this video and it was exactly what I needed to watch. It’s short and sweet … if you want to check it out. I already loved Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper and Magnolia Homes, but now I love her even more.

Photo Credit: The top photo is from Janna at Yellow Prairie Interior Design. I love following her Instagram page and snatched this photo to share with y’all. Isn’t she awesome? Also, the “Be Still” sign, as well as the other, are from The Rustic Orange. The bottom photo is from The Secret Place Ministries.

Freedom from The Mommy Guilt

Aha! Aha! A few weeks ago, a light bulb went off. I was sitting at a women’s conference (Tara Furman’s uh-maz-ing “Making a Difference in My Generation” conference), listening intently, taking notes, when all of the sudden a distracting thought smacked me across the face. Really. She was talking about something mostly unrelated. But, still, somehow in the midst of her words, a thought came over me and I haven’t been able to shake it.

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It’s about that good ‘ole Mommy Guilt. Some of you know it well. Some of you don’t let it bug you. Either way, get this — All of the “mommy guilt” (or, honestly, any guilt for that matter) that we are always talking about/thinking about/fretting about — IT’S NOT REAL! Hello, people! Oh. My. Gosh. It’s just so simple all of the sudden. It’s so clear. How did we not see it all along? It’s just not real. Can it be?! Can it be that easy. Holy freedom! All it is … all the “guilt” really is, is the devil telling us that we aren’t enough. IT’S THE DEVIL TELLING US THAT WE AREN’T ENOUGH. That sneaky little bastard. He whispers it. He yells it. When we are running late. When our houses are littered with toys. When we work an extra hour one night. When we ignore work to read two more bedtime stories. When we let the littles eat waffles for dinner. When we forgot to put a single veggie on their plate. When the library books are overdue. He whispers quietly, “Hhhheeeyyyyy, you should have done better. You should be more. You should get it together. You should be able to do. it. all……” He whispers these little lies in our ears and we believe him. But, y’all, he’s a liar! He’s a notorious liar! He wants us to think we aren’t enough. But we ARE! We are ENOUGH! He wants us to think God doesn’t love us; that God doesn’t have our backs. But, He DOES! We are amazing mothers! We work hard. In and out. Every single day. We love. We give. We pray. We try. We fall. We get back up. We’ve got this. “The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you” (Deut. 33:27a) and … WE ARE ENOUGH! Repeat after me:

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So, whatever is guilting you today. Give it up. Turn it over. March on. You got this! Don’t forget. God made you. He loves you. YOU are exactly who you need to be.

Stop Comparing – Focus On YOUR Gifts

I continue to take my eyes off of the prize. I continue to slip. To look around. To watch others. And, you know what … when this happens, I start to feel a shift inside of me. I start comparing. I compare. It’s no good. It’s simply bad for me. But, it’s a truth that I struggle with. It’s not quite as green and ugly as straight up envy or jealously. It’s more subtle, swirling around inside of me and whispering, “You need that. You should have that, too. That is so cute. You deserve that.” Maybe the fact that it’s so subtle is what makes it so evil. I don’t think that I feel envious of others. I don’t feel jealous. So, I don’t even notice that it’s happening. Yet, when I give in – when I start comparing, I stop focusing on what’s truly important and I fall, like Alice, down a materialistic shaped rabbit hole. So, how do I stop, ya know, “coveting thy neighbor’s kitchen“?

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I know y’all love Glennon over at Momastery, right?! If you don’t know who I’m talking about, you need to. I think she’s probably the Queen of the Mommy/Woman Blogging World. That’s what I’ll call her. Queen G. She is always honest and brutiful, and she says, “I think comparison and competition exist partly because we believe that there is a scarcity of good things in the universe. And that belief makes us kind of small and scared and unable to feel true joy for others or peace for ourselves.” Wow, right?! But, there is enough, y’all. And, WE are ENOUGH.

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Why do we think we need MORE all of the time?? It’s something that’s been weighing on my heart and mind a lot lately. Why do you think you need more? Why are we all constantly looking to the next better thing? Ugh. It feels kinda gross, doesn’t it? It feels sinful and ugly for sure. Why do I think I need more? I have everything. I am in love with my husband, and he happens to adore me too. I like our marriage. A lot. We have two healthy, beautiful, contagiously happy children and a fantastically, loyal doggy companion. We have LOVE. We own our own home and have food in the fridge. We have cars to drive. I have supportive and loving parents, that also happen to be supportive and loving grandparents. I get along with my mother-in-law. She’s kinda awesome. What more is there? For real?!

Maybe I need to spend a little less time daydreaming about what color my cabinets are … and more time encouraging the fruits of the spirit within my children.

Maybe I need to spend less time looking at houses online and more time reading The Word, writing from my heart and creating something beautiful.

Maybe I need to spend less time thinking about what I can do better or how I can be better … when the truth is I am already enough. I am enough. We are enough.

The materialistic things that I don’t have, the things that I think that I want or need, won’t make me more. They won’t make me more of anything. That won’t make me happier or more fulfilled. Things don’t make us more or less. They are things. They are JUST things. We are not defined by what we have. We are not defined by THINGS.

Our lives are not meant to be the same as someone else’s. Our things aren’t meant to be the same. And, our GIFTS are not meant to be the same as someone else’s. At times, we might even find greatness in the midst of our own imperfection. We must embrace it. We must share it. We were created unique for a reason. We may to0 often analyze ourselves and focus on where we think we are lacking. We may consider something to be a weakness … when, in fact, that “weakness” may be the very thing that inspires or saves someone else. So, let’s stop. Or, attempt to stop. Or, at the very least, let’s just tone it all down a bit. Let’s stop looking around to see what everyone else is doing and wearing and keep focused. Keep our eyes fixed on The Lord. Feed our hearts and our souls.

“We were made for so much more than ordinary lives. It’s time for us to more than just survive. We were made to fly!” (Casting Crowns)

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing they way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

“Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as a standard of measurement. How ignorant.” (2 Corinthians 10:12)

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” (Galatians 1:7)

 

Photo Credit: 1.  Thrive Moms – Empowering Imperfect Moms With His Perfect Grace. 2. Momastery – Truth Tells and Hope Spreaders. Check ’em out!

You Might Not Remember

N and I were laying side by side, having one of our bedtime chats a few nights ago and he was quizzing me about “when you were a little girl, Mommy”, “did you do this and that?” And, honestly, I had a hard time answering. I couldn’t remember all of the specifics that he wanted me to remember. The details are hazy now. I wish they weren’t. I’d love to remember. I had a beautiful childhood. I WANT to remember it. All of it. As he fell asleep, I held him tight for a little longer than normal. My heart hurt as I realized … he won’t remember this. Oh. My. Gosh! He won’t remember US, the way we are right now. And, ahhhh, the way we are right now is everything to me. And, to him. And, He won’t remember. And, I’d love to say that I would … that I’d remember for the both of us. But, I don’t have the world’s best memory, sooo, I might not remember all of it either. Ugh. My poor Momma’s heart! So, what’s a girl to do to? Well, write it down, for one thing …

~My N. You probably won’t remember. At times it’s a thought that haunts me. This special time that we are sharing right now – this magical season in our lives – this most amazingly wonderful time. You won’t remember it. You’ll simply call it “your childhood” and hopefully, think of it fondly. But, actual formed memories … You’ll have a few. You’re 4. Not many people remember 4 very well, if at all. Our day-to-day lives and routine right now – you won’t remember. You already don’t remember our first moments together – the very first time ours eyes locked, the way we already knew each other. You don’t remember the day you decided to finally smile at me. The way the fog lifted then, and all was right in the world. Or, the way you’d cling to me to me late into the night, not wanting to be left alone. You’d cry, “rockaby baby, rockaby baby.” You won’t remember how you loved bath time and how you’d giggle when I sang, “Stinky feet, Stinky feet, I love you.” You won’t remember Daddy and I taking turns laying in your bedroom floor because you refused to sleep or how you slip your hand through the rails of your toddler bed to hold hands with me. You won’t remember the way our hearts hurt when we had to say goodbye in the mornings at daycare. Your face and your tears broke my heart every time. Yet, you’d race into my arms at the end of the day and we’d both feel whole again. You might just remember how much you loved your Curious George, how much you needed him, how you took him everywhere, how he went to school with you every single day of your 3-yr-old preschool. You might have loved him just enough to remember loving him. You might not remember the summer that Audrey was born. I started staying home full time with you and we’d spend afternoons just laying in the grass talking to each other. You might not remember becoming your momma’s very best friend that summer. You might not remember, how, when I’d dry your hair after bath-time, you’d lay your head on my belly and whisper to your sister. You might not remember how you insisted her name be Peaches and how you called her Peachie her whole first year. You might actually remember coming to the hospital in your Big Brother shirt carrying a pink bear, ready to meet our baby for the first time. It was pure magic. The kind of memories that, when strung together, make up a lifetime. Sigh. You probably won’t remember how you’d swear you were gonna marry me one day. “When I’m a grown-up, I’m gonna marry you, Mommy.” “And, drive a big truck too!” Oh, how sweet your love for your momma is. May we never forget. How you’d shyly whisper, “I love you more than anyone else in the world.” My heart would burst, not just from your dear, sweet words, but from the way you said them. You pronounced words correctly, but in your own way. I adored it! It wasn’t “world”, it was more like “wolod”. And, my boy, you sure rocked mine. My world. You won’t remember singing the sweetest Sunday School songs in the car with me. Or, saying prayers for strangers whenever an ambulance would go by or we’d pass an accident. You probably won’t remember how you’d fly out of the door when I’d pick you up at pre-school and jump straight into my arms for giant hugs and kisses. You won’t remember asking me for “snuggle buggle time” or curling up with me under our favorite blanket. You might not remember how wonderful you were to your baby sister. How much time you’d spend talking, playing and teaching her. Oh, my boy. You probably won’t remember all of this — your first years. But, I want you to know. They were dear, sweet, messy, beautiful, lovely, innocent, perfection. I may not remember all of the details as clearly as I’d like either. Yet, I know we’ll always have it. The feeling that comes from it. That part won’t leave us. The love. The beauty. The joy. That feeling — it’ll always be ours. We’ll always have that.

Xoxoxo