Wednesday, August 31, 2016

To Ollie Bear for his 4th birthday

Dear Ollie Bear, 

Tonight, as I chase you back into your room for the third time, you are a bubbling ball of three-year-old energy.

In the morning, you'll be a groggy, pint-sized four-year-old.

I know I say it all too often, but I can hardly believe it is happening.  How did I blink so many times that another year has gone by?  It hurts my heart to see the days passing so quickly, knowing that I haven't savored enough moments to last my lifetime, and taking those that have gone by for granted more often than I dare to admit.

I am sorry, Ollie Bear, for letting time pass us by so quickly.   I wish I could pause it and we could stay here just a little longer.

Dear boy, you are such a complex combination of gentle spirit, fire-cracker temper, detail oriented dirt magnet of a lad.  You are intense, but soft.  You are quiet, and so boisterous.  You are calm, and you are ferocious.  You have so many facets, and I know we haven't discovered most of them yet.

You have a vivid imagination that never ceases to surprise and amuse me.  Just the other night, you told me that your shirt transformed into a new shirt, when I asked what happened to the clothes you were wearing.  I laughed so hard.

You know so many things, and you try so hard to understand what you don't know.  I love the intrigue in your spirit and the thirst in your mind.

I love your laughter, and I hope that I will never forget what it sounded like in these early years.  I can hear it so clearly in my mind now that it causes tears to trickle, because it causes my heart to swell with so much joy.

Another thing I really love about you, is that even when you're mad at someone, me included, you almost always will big bear hugs, and you don't stay mad when you are squeezed super tight. I hope you never lose that.

You're at that awkward stage where you're "little-big," wanting so badly to be a big boy, but still so very small.  I pray you'll stay small a little longer in some ways, like how you're usually up for a cuddle, no matter when or where, but progress to big in others (I wouldn't mind you being out of diapers every moment of the day, but I promise I will try to change them at night without frustration knowing full-well someday I'll miss that side of little, too).

Buddy, I promise that I will continue to work on my patience and grace, and trying to spend time with just you, even if it's in minute fragments here and there.  I never want you to feel forgotten or overlooked "in the middle" of your siblings and in the chaos of our lives.  

I pray you will always feel loved, and you'll never feel alone. I pray you know your worth, not only to me and those who love you, but to God.  I pray that you'll never feel unworthy of anyone's affection, knowing that in the years to come, you may struggle due to the events in your toddler-hood.  I pray that you always love learning, creating, laughing, hugging, reading, and dancing.  I pray you give yourself grace and moments to breathe because of your intense spirit.

I pray you know how much your siblings love you, and how you are best friend to both of them, even when you're not getting along.  

As much as I wish you could stay little for a while longer, I am so excited to see what great things God has in store for you.  He has a plan for you, and while I don't know what it is, it excites me to my core.

Collin Liam, you're a treasure.  You are mine, and I'm so blessed that I am yours.

All my Love,
Momma Bear

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sometimes, I'm the baby.

My children... They're little. They're not tiny. They're not babies. But they're not big.

Sometimes, though, they seem so big.

With fall rolling around, we have so many milestones coming up. I'll soon have a kindergartener, and also a 4 year-old, a 6 year-old, and a 2.5 year-old.

We have lived in our apartment for over a year, making it the longest home my daughter has ever had.

I've been listening to my children talk and play a lot more lately. I've slowed myself down and just observed. They're all so intelligent and so hilarious. They're polite and kind. They're loving. They're naughty. They're kids.

Today, I laid in my bed watching the younger two play. For no reason that I could immediately pinpoint, I was suddenly in tears. 

They fell and they fell, leaving river trails down my face onto my pillow.

The years have been so hard. They've been insanely exhausting. They've been incredibly overwhelming and exceedingly trying. They've been a whirlwind that seemed to last forever in some moments.

But they passed so quickly at the same time.

My first baby, the one who turned my world upside down in great ways and made me momma... His years at home with me during the week day are done. They have been for almost two years of course, but somehow knowing he's going from daycare to school... It is the end of his baby, toddler, and preschool days. He's a "big kid," now. I don't know how he got so big so fast. 

I called him into my room to hug me. He asked why, and all I could say is "because I love you and want to hold you." He obliged but looked at me like he thought I was crazy.

I just want to hold him on my lap and rock him a while.

My heart can't handle it.

The second child, the fierce one... He's so little but so big. He will be four in days. He is still pint-sized, which makes him seem younger sometimes. But I watch him play, color, write, and listen to him talk, and it's clear he's not a baby, and he's not a toddler anymore. All of his baby and toddler pudge and rolls are gone. Soon he likely won't wear diapers to bed anymore. He could start school next year.

My heart can't handle it.

Then there's the youngest. She is so self-sufficient. She spins and dances and asks me to watch her and I can't stop watching her golden curls twirl around her face as she giggles incessantly. I watch her cuddle her kitty (our cat) in the morning and take care of her babies. When I listen, I hear her teaching them things. She loves to draw circles and she can draw her own bath, too. She wands to choose her own outfits. But, thankfully for my heart, she still is part baby, though mostly toddler. She still asks me to hold or carry her sometimes. I don't always want to, but sometimes I need to, because all too soon she won't want me to. Her baby days are numbered and her toddler days are flying by.

My heart can't handle it.

So, I become overwhelmed with tears. I gather them all on the couch to watch a movie so they don't notice the tears still trickling.

Their little days are numbered. This makes me the baby now.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I am (not) Clara.

A little over a week ago, one of my very besties had her first published novel released to the world.

THE GIRL BEFORE, by Rena Olsen, is an amazing piece of literature for many reasons.

This post contains slight spoilers, so if you haven't read the book yet and are wanting to, I suggest you head to Amazon, Target (or, or Barnes & Noble (or and get your own copy. I believe you can read it safely without it giving away too much of the book.

This book is poignant and it deals with a hard, but extremely important topic that affects nearly every country in the world today, millions of people, including those in the United States. Years back, I blogged about the topic because it's so striking and important.

From the first page, each time I read it, I was hooked into the story. 

But one thing, above all, really resonates with me, especially this most recent time I read it.


Clara is the leading lady in the book. It's her story. While I read, I found myself drawn deeply to her, becoming attached, empathizing with her so strongly that I could feel it in my core.  

A few days past my most recent read through the book, a friend told me that I reminded her of Clara.  Something struck me there, and it's been on my mind since.

I am not Clara, but yet, I am.

As many know, I've been through the control, manipulation, mind games, deceit, betrayal, neglect, and abandonment of a former husband who disappeared over a year ago from mine and my childrens' lives.

As I trudged through the loss, the further down the road I traveled, the more lies I uncovered, the more crazy plot twists and details I unveiled, the more widespread effects of his choices I understood, and the more overwhelmed and confused I became.

But I never gave up hope. I never stopped believing in the good. I never stopped holding onto faith. I never gave up on love.

I saw how naive I was at times for believing in him so deeply, and for allowing myself to be convinced he was a good person making bad decisions "to benefit his family" as he claimed. I forgave him multiple times and took him back. I allowed myself to take a stand for him, beside him, helping him fight his battles and clean up his messes when he lead me to believe it was necessary because he couldn't do it himself. I allowed myself to believe in his web of lies so strongly that I would stand up for him and fight for others to believe, too.

I trusted. I believed it was okay. I believed I was doing the right thing.

But then my world shattered and he was gone and I began to see the truth, and see the world so much more clearly.

I began to understand that I loved him deeply, but I didn't love the things he did or who he became. I understood I could love and let him go. 

I began to see my own strength. I began to relax and worry less. I began to gain control.

And then, I did what I never thought I would do. I stood up against him, fighting for myself and my children. I fought for him to be held responsible, all on his own, for the things that he did.

Because it wasn't me.  I may have been there, but it wasn't me and they weren't my messes.

I stopped fighting so hard to hold him close and fought to let him go. 

So much of what I believed to be true and real wasn't. I could be cynical and jaded. I could be bitter and spiteful. I could have given up on hope and what's good.  

But I didn't.

Good things can come from the bad things of the past. 

Today, I'm a new woman. I'm the lone parent and provider of my household. God is the foundation of our home and I'm the pillar of our family. I walk with my head held high, with joy in my heart, hope in my soul, even on the saddest or loneliest days. 

Because I am Clara, even if I'm not.

When I briefly discussed this with my friend, the author, she said this.

"I hope a lot of women in those sorts of relationships (like mine) will find a way to relate to Clara."

I think that's largely the beauty of the book. She's taken a serious subject (that you should read the book to learn more about, as I am not telling you exactly what the subject is here), pulled at your heart and caused your mind to think about it. It should anger you and stir within you the desire for action, really.  It should make you uncomfortable and passionate.

But, she also introduces you to this beautiful brown haired, green eyed, hopeful, confused, strong, brave woman that I believe so many can relate to. While their stories are likely to be quite different, there's going to be countless women who see themselves in th pages. Perhaps they'll only be at the beginning of her story, or perhaps they'll be more toward the last chapters or somewhere in between. If they're only at the beginning, I hope at the end of the book they see hope and the promise of better tomorrows. And, if they're where I am, more toward the last chapter of the harrowing story, they'll be able to look back and see just how far they, and Clara, have come.

While my friend has no idea I wrote this (or at least doesn't know I am writing it but will soon), I urge you to check out her site: for more info and links to be in touch with her.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

It would have been Tin.

Ten years. 

Tomorrow, ten years ago, I vowed my life, my love, my best and worst, my all... To the man I knew I would love until I died. I married the man who agreed that divorce was never an option. We discussed how we wished we would never have to live without the other and how it would be a blessing to live full lives together, seeing our grandchildren grow, and dying alongside one another in our 90s.

Tomorrow is our ten year wedding anniversary.

Not "would have been" our anniversary.

You see, even though our marriage died this year, that date- August 5 still lives on. The demise of our marital union doesn't negate that it existed and our wedded lives began on this date ten years ago.

I didn't understand that concept until this year.

Now, I cannot say we've been married for 10 years. We were only married for nine. So I'm not celebrating 10 years of marriage. But I am cherishing the fact that I was able to experience the love of fairytales (even if it may have been false, I still do not know and often wonder), that I was chosen as a wife, that I found someone to give my heart to and love fiercely, deeply, and unconditionally.

And I mourn the loss. I may cry over the devastation I feel over watching nine years of marriage crumble away and for the loss of what would have been another year.

August 5 was the day I dreamed and waited my whole young life for.

August 5 is now the day that could make my throat constrict, bile surge in my stomach, and tears burn tracks down my face.

I can honestly say that while I know I am better off now, not constricted and delusioned in an unhealthy marriage, the passing of this day for the first time as a divorced woman hurts the heart. 

He promised me forever. He severed the promise and crushed my heart, but in the process, he made me much stronger, more courageous, more grounded, and allowed me to deepen my faith and stance on my stronghold than I ever thought possible.  In a weird way, it's all been a heart-wrenching blessing.

I look back on the day with a heart full of joy, knowing that I was truly, deeply, full of love and overjoyed that he had chosen me to be his companion. I took time to look at our wedding photos, and I didn't cry. I smiled at the happiness beaming from my face, from his face, from the faces of our loved ones. I remembered the excitement that overcame me as I went to his ring on his finger and tried to force it on the wrong hand. I remember the anticipation of forever together, and the incomparable blessing I felt at becoming his wife.

I don't cry over that day. I may cry over the crushing loss of it all.

But then, my tears will subside as I look at myself today. I'm more level-headed than I think I ever have been. I'm part easy-going, but part stubborn, balancing when to let the punches roll and when to put up a fight. The heart that was shattered is mending, and somehow, instead of smaller, it's bigger and capable of even more love than ever before.  Even on my darkest days, there's always a glimmer of hope, and two years ago, I am not certain that was completely true. I know what it is to have the ground ripped from beneath me and my breath siphoned away, but I also know what it feels like to overcome, to really stand tall, firm, and strong.

The 9 years of marriage transitioned from bliss to a bit of a nightmare, but with each passing year, I was given so much. I was blessed with memories of love, and I was shown who I really am as a woman of God, in times of great strife. My former husband, even in his continued absence, has given me so much. 

As much as it hurts to see this day come and go, I'm so thankful it ever existed. In the pain, there's joy, and in the sadness, there's peace. It's a heartache and a blessing. The depth of meaning behind this ten year anniversary is so great, I am not sure I am able to fully discover and embrace it yet. I guess that's something to look forward to in the anniversaries to come.