Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Permanent Reminder (or 7...)

Sometime after my grandma passed away in 2007, I knew that someday I wanted a tattoo in her honor. I didn't know right away what I wanted it to be, so I waited for inspiration to hit me. 

On December 29, 2009, I finalized the design I wanted.

I Love You.

It's a simple, yet powerful message. And it's one that my grandma was sure to relay as often as possible. In every letter I have from her from my college years, she began and ended it with "I love you." I didn't realize it until one weepy day after she passed, and when I did finally notice it, it became something I thought was very special. I don't know many people who write letters that way.

So, that realization was what decided my tattoo. And, I put together the design. It is actually from two separate letters, because I wanted to make sure Love was capitalized (for emphasis) and I took the hearts from the second letter as well.

Green was her favorite color, and it's one of mine as well, so the hearts I made green. The lines were on the signature of one letter also.

Fast forward to a few months ago, I posted in my family Facebook group that I was finally saving up for the tattoo because I had decided on the location.

Somewhat to my surprise, multiple family members told me they thought it was a wonderful tattoo idea, so, I suggested maybe we get them together if we could find a date to do it.

That date was today (soon to be yesterday). June 22, 2013 was our "I Love You Tattoo" party.

My mom, my sister, my aunt, and three cousins all headed to the tattoo parlor (the Electric Crayon in Sioux Falls), and had a tattoo marathon. I wanted to go first, and my family was willing to let me.

I don't know that I was prepared for how exciting this tattoo would be. I was told (multiple times) that I was super giddy. I was. I was smiling and highly like a child on Christmas. It was SPECTACULAR.

And I was equally giddy for the next six tattoos.  My sister went next, then my mom, my aunt, and my three cousins. 

It was so much fun to sit there and talk and laugh and reminisce with these amazing women as we all became permanent bearers of my grandmother's important message.

We laughed talking about how it looks just like Grandma wrote on us with a nice pen, which is ironic, because she always told us not to write on ourselves.

We each picked a location on our body for our special memoir, some if us used the underlining, some of us didn't. But, the message and the green hearts were constant.

And, because my youngest sister and one of my cousins aren't old enough yet to have the permanent memoir, our artist sent the two remaining stencils with us to allow them to at least display the important and beautiful message temporarily. 

Someday, they too will wear it permanently, as may more of our family members. I hope so, not for my own benefit, but because I think it's a powerful reminder to us that we are all bound by love, and we are all loved for who we are. There's no greater gift than that!

Today was definitely a day I will remember always and a memory I will cherish the rest of my life.

Thank you, mom, Sam, Kat, Tarah, April, Naomi, Allison, and Hannah!  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


On June 19, seventy-four years ago, the world welcomed one of the most beautiful souls that I have ever known.

On this date, Leora Mae was born.

Now, I didn't meet this amazing person until 1983, nearly thirty years ago, that is, and I was only fortunate to have her in my life for 23 years, though that is longer than any of her other 18 grandchildren were able to spend with her. For that, I blessed. 

On days like today, her birthday, I miss her a little bit extra. I think about how I should be calling her or stopping by, but, of course, I cannot do that. I settle for hearing her in my mind, rewinding the countless memories I have collected like they are short films. 

There are tons of big things I miss- her hugs, her laughter, visiting her on an almost daily basis for most of my youth. 

I almost wrote that there are countless tiny things that I miss, also, but caught myself, thinking when you are missing a person from your life, not one thing about that person is a tiny thing.

Leora Mae was my first best friend. She was a confidante and a role model. Sometimes, I think of myself as her sidekick. I feel like we were somewhat inseperable. 

We still are, really. I carry parts of her with me every day. She formed who I am, not only by giving life to my own mother and shaping who my mom is, which then trickles down to my mom shaping who I am, but in direct ways.

Like my love of cooking and baking. I cannot tell you how many cakes I helped my grandma decorate for people who purchased them from her.

Or there's my interest in crocheting, which she taught me. I honestly was only ever taught the single and double stitch, but I have absolutely no interest in knowing more than that, because that's what she taught me.

There is also my love for "older" country music- by older I mean from the 1990s mostly, but even older than that also. Every single time I listen to "Tennessee Flat Top Box" for example, I hear her singing with me as she tapped her foot along to the beat.

I could go on for hours about the things we did, places we went, and memories I have, but I will save them for another day, another time (perhaps for my sisters who didn't know her as well, or my sons she never got to meet).

For now, I think I'm going to walk down the stairs (I've been snuggling with Spencer) and see her smiling face next to mine, hanging on the wall so I can see it multiple times a day, say a little thank you prayer to God, and imagine her laughing, and singing, and dancing with her Jesus.

Happy Birthday, Gma!

Friday, June 14, 2013

She's on the hunt.

I've been putting off writing this blog for at least a week now, knowing that when I did, the finality of the situation would feel even more real.

Alas, Collin woke at 4 and I have been unable to fall back asleep since, my mind racing. It's now nearly 5:30 and I'm laying in bed with tears.

The time has come in which I need to find a "real" job. A job that pays not in hugs and kisses, but rather money.

Out financial woes are just too much for my husband to quell on his own. 

Now, I'm nearly certain that at he beginning of my stat-at-home-mom journey, I wrote about how blessed I would feel to have the opportunity to stay home for even just a few days, or something similar.

While, in my mind, I know that is true, my heart is hurting. Yes- I was blessed to stay home for one year and five-ish months. 

But, I grew to love the job if raising my children so much more than I imagined I would that the thought if having to give up the one job I have had that I can't imagine ever leaving honestly makes me sick to my stomach. It makes my chest ache and tears stream down my face.

My sons are my passion. My sons are my calling.

And soon enough, I will have to walk out that door, knowing, honestly, I will likely never have that job back. The past year and five months have been some of the most trying times of my life, but also the most rewarding, and they have passed by me quicker than a breath. The next three years will pass even quicker as I leave my heart at home and go exchange my time for a paycheck, and before we realize it, Spencer will be in school. Soon after, Collin will join. And, if I'm completely honest, I am now reconsidering my dream of 3 to 4 children, because I hate the thought of bearing another child I feel I rarely see, and a third or fourth child I would have even less time with than the two miracles I already have. I'm undecided of course, but it has definitely been on my mind.

Their most impressionable years will now be spent, the majority of the time, with someone else. Someone who could never love them like I do. Someone who could never fill my shoes. I hate that idea.

I try to be okay with it, but it's a farce. I'm not.

 I know I shouldn't feel entitled to the position of primary care giver and teacher, but I've been spoiled in being that person, and so, I do. I'm sorry, I don't want to feel that way, and I'm trying to work through it.

It makes me so sad to know that there's a very strong chance I won't experience all of Collin's "firsts" like I did with Spencer. His first steps, for example, will likely be witnessed by my sister, who so graciously agreed to nanny for my miracles a while until I can afford to put them in daycare.

You would think, as a former daycare provider, I would be less anxious to put my children in daycare. I know that they won't likely hate it, and I know there are excellent care providers out there. Yet, I am very anxious to allow someone else to fulfill my role.

I've always had compassion for mothers that have to say goodbye to their children and enter the workforce, but I definitely have a new understanding for the pain many feel. 

I know that countless moms do it, but how they carry on without their heart breaking is beyond me. 

I know realistically, I am exchanging my staying home with my sons to make money for them and for all four of us, so that we don't have to live in a financial crisis for eternity, and that makes it feel more... okay. It is the responsible thing to do really. They deserve a home and food and clothing and all that, so the sacrifice of my time with them isn't for naught. But it's still filling me with emotional turmoil. 

I hope it feels better with time.