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This Decade

Posted by casey on March 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

Thoughts. Thoughts. Thoughts. Thoughts.

What are my thoughts?
I should know this.

Let me circle around a bit.  I’ll get there.  Circle with me for a moment.

I find that often times we, (we being “we the people” of the general public) look at things in terms of chunks of time.  Specifically in near terms, the weeks/months ahead and further out, in five/ten year sections. “Where do you see yourself in five years?”  “Can you imagine, ten years from now, when…” “What does this month look like for you?”  Chunks of time.  No wonder we have trouble living in the present.

But alas, we are programmed that way. To think ahead in these sections and to look back in these sections.  Our lives, memories and histories are fragmented into these chunks as the specifics fade and the time blurs.  And then before you know it, a decade goes by and here you are, you being me, circling around this term ‘decade’, letting it clunk around my head along with the loose screws and marbles and roll off of my tongue because today, since well, about right this moment, I have been motherless for a decade.  DECADE.  decade…echo, decade…echo, decade.

That is how it sounds in my head.
Yes, the one with the loose screws and marbles.  I heard you peanut gallery, ease up.

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Ten years.  Ten years and yet the details and specifics of that day are so very clear.  So much that yes, it does bring up a bit of anxiety and emotion as this day nears and appears because I have not forgotten a single thing from this day.  Well, that seems weird to say since I don’t know how you would know if you forgot a detail because well, you forgot it, but I am pretty crystal clear on my perspective, recall, and even internal dialogue of this day.  That, that is eery for me.  That I can’t forget.  The sounds, feelings, phone calls, attire, people, hustle, travel, sleeplessness, headspace of this day.  It just will not escape me.

8W5A1822@SouthernMaePhotographyToday brings up the theme that we all should know and accept of not being in control.  Of not knowing what lies ahead while we so fervently work to tidy the day to day happenings of each day we have…that has a completely uncertain future.  That can be beautiful or terrifying.  I most often find it beautiful but, on days like today, the terrifying can get to me.  I look at my most precious sons, and so desperately do not want them to be motherless.  Something I cannot control.  I cannot guarantee.  I cannot prepare for.  I cannot make okay.  But I want it for them, bad.  To ensure that I will be there.  That they will not be rolling the work decade around in their head one day for this same reason.

That is what I have realized most.  What losing my mom has most done to me is twofold.  First, there is a certain loneliness left there, that just cannot be filled.  It just can’t.  It is no ones fault.  It is no one not doing their part.  It isn’t even about happiness, or a marker of the current joy and joys I have in life.  It is the very section of my heart and self that she gave me.  That she quite literally grew for me.  It is that connection that allows mothers to know their babies are awake in their crib before anyone else, that triggers their body to sense they are ill before the sickness strikes, the very real and biological connection given to mothers to protect and nurture their young because they are theirs.  Simple as that.  It is that place in me, that was lost ten years ago.  What words, as harsh as they may seem have come to me in this tenth year without my mom to explain, rationalize and even compare are these,

“I am no longer, a mother’s daughter.”

Yes.  She is with me.  Yes, I carry her on with me.  Yes, we are just alike.  Yes, her legacy lives on in what she passed to my brother and I. Yes I have been abundantly loved and supported by friends and friends’ moms.   But no, she is not here.  No, she doesn’t show up because she knows we need her.  No, she doesn’t pop by because she heard it in our voice or because it is our birthday month, or because she was missing us, or because she heard her grandbaby squeal and just had to see them or because she thought we just might need a break/day off/hour off.   No, we are not thought of the way a mother thinks about her children because she cannot not think about her children no matter how hard she may try.  I am no longer, a mother’s daughter.

The part two of the twofold is something that builds each year as I add years to my life.  Gratitude.  We all feel it and have it for a variety of reasons and we all need to have it and feel it for areas we may not right?  As I realize more and more who I am, accept my personality, ways, flaws, choices I see her in that and I see those around me in that.  For ten years now I have friends and family who were equally changed in ways on that day.  I have friends who experienced loss first through this experience too.  I have friends who at that young age had to figure out how to navigate their own shock and feelings and choose to support and love me through it.  And they did.  They may have been afraid, and nervous and wavering in what to do, but what they did was treat me the same and that is all I wanted.  Desperately.  To be the same.  Even though I wasn’t they carried on.  Backed me up.  Cried with me.  Let me laugh.  Stood at my wedding.  Threw me showers. Held my babies.  Still do.  Still check in.  Still think of me.  Still know….like a mother does.  I am grateful for these friends who are in some ways stuck with me yes because of our relationships but also because big life happenings bind you together.  They can’t forget this either.  We all lost my mom that day.

Lastly, there is a perspective my Dad as somewhat discreetly taken that I don’t even know he shares with others so well.  I have actually caught it often in conversation despite living quite far from one another.  When he hears someone commenting on their age, getting old or complaining, he quite simply and softly without any malice and faith aside replies, “it is certainly better than the alternative.” 

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I am so grateful for each year of my life. I am grateful to get older.  Grateful to grow with my family and friends and grateful to have family that is doing the same.
Experiencing all that she is missing and loving each other through it.
Ten years and counting.

 
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The Privilege in “Us”

Posted by casey on February 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

I am about to have a seven year old.
Seven.
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This sweet bundle of love who turned me into a mama, and subsequently a weeping, reminiscing, internally wondering about all around well being and how I may or may not be ruining their chances at survival in life by denying them a sixteen scoop ice cream cone because I don’t want him to wake me up in the middle of the night puking but loving life kind of a person, is seven.  Was that a run on?28goofyBW_edited-1

My former teaching brain which is trapped in there somewhere tells me yes. But I also like to think that it is mom eloquent and that we all ramble internally like that in our thoughts.  If your answer is no, no we do not and you are nuts, just smile and nod your head at me, and if really want to you are welcome to tell me I am pretty too.  It is the little things.

But seven years ago, this little guy so patiently, 31 1/2 hours of labor patiently, changed my world and taught me what real selflessness, worry, love and joy means.  Okay…and exhaustion, confusion and fear get lumped in there. The thing is, what I have been coming back around to lately as I have yet again in this seven year span been really, really focusing on my family is that those first four descriptions trump the hardships because despite the tears and fears, despite the breaks needed, body aching, want to work out, searching for a “me moment” moment, this is such a privilege.  We were gifted the chance to leave a real legacy, a real living example of our selves, love, thinking and kindness and all this gift wants is us.

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Here she goes.  Another appreciate the moment, everything is sunshine and rainbows mom forgetting the “in the trenches” days of multiple blowout diapers in multiple kids at the same time who hasn’t slept in months, who…

Nope.
I’m not that cheery. I get it. I remember.  It is still my everyday.  I still ugly yell and then feel awful about it.  I still question, on those really bad days,  the fact that I did this to myself.  I still have all of those wants and needs as a woman and human that aren’t just about my kids.  I am still working on my perspective in this super busy, super comparing world which is what this is more about.  Prove it.

The oldests just woke up, so I am trying to finish my thoughts, because the baby 8W5A2502@SouthernMaePhotography(who is almost two by the way, but will forever be referred to as “the baaabaaay”) is still asleep, and by golly gee wizz gumdrops (see previous post about attempting to no longer curse) if they wake him up because they are stomping around like wildabeasts then I am going to choose to start my day grumpy at them OR I can choose to be so thankful that I woke up early for some quiet thinking and that the reason they are stomping around like said wildabeasts is because those sweet brothers have chosen for the past three nights to have a sleepover in each other’s rooms and immediately wake up giddy to see one another and ready to play.

They just want each other.
They just want us.
As we are.

Why not give it to them?  This is our chance.

This is our chance.
Think about it.  Really think about it.

I have a few moments each day that completely immerse me mentally and physically in my kids that are so sweetly slow and fast at the exact same time. My five year old, loves, LOVES for me to snuggle him at night.  Books have been read, songs have been sung, bladders have been emptied again…and again…and then, he just wants a snuggle.  He slowly sidles his way closer and closer until he is entwined and at peace.  But here is the truth.  It is selfish. Not for him, but for me. This kid, he is SO carefree.  His energy is so positive, calming, and present.  This moment, every night, I am at my calmest.  My day, thoughts, headaches, worries truly go away.  Because he gifts me with the need of myself, I get to just be there as his mom, in the dark, just us.  And then what happens?  He falls asleep.  Not because he needs me there to do it, not because he won’t go to bed without me, but because he is safe.  With me.

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Similar theme….the baby, only just before nap and bed, shows us the remnants of 8W5A3131@SouthernMaePhotographyhis babyhood.  He grabs all of the pacis, now deemed “paboos”, snugglies, blankets and well loved items he can grasp and wants cradled.  Like a baby.  If you ask him if he wants songs he will immediately say “yeah” every time.  There we are.  In that chair, folded in together for those few moments.  While I hear myself of my husband singing softly, his owies fade, his toddler frustration of the day subsides and he still makes those little noises as his body relaxes and he nestles in.  We can set him down anytime and he will roll over and go right to sleep. But we can also give him and ourselves that pause.  There he will snuggle, looking at us and around the room we so carefully assembled for him wanting nothing but the attention, love and touch of us.

What a privilege.
They just want us.
They are so trusting and loving of us, that where they can fall asleep, feel safe, want to be is with us.  Because we are theirs and they are ours.

Here is the thing.  Remember where this started?  That about to be seven year old? DSC_2115_edited-1 He is kind of turning into stinky, “weird” as in silly and I have no idea what you are talking about because we might not live on the same planet who just creeped downstairs and is now sitting on my lap working to READ (babies can’t read, how did this happen?) what I am typing so I better wrap it up boy.

BOY. Kid. Self.

Not just “us”.
Friends and teachers and real world are moving in, and moving in fast.

With him as I so often explain and embrace I have to learn at a faster pace. I haven’t done seven before.  I haven’t done friends and school and Power Rangers and questions and am I doing this right? Will he be okay?  Does he feel loved?

The answer I have to remind myself, is yes, and will be yes as long as I indulge him in the only thing I can control.  The only privilege he has earned without lifting a finger.  The only thing he should be able to trust and need and count on.

Myself.
What a privilege.

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Now if you’ll excuse me, I have been summoned to the couch for a viewing of Super Dino Charge with my still six year old, his trying to catch up brother and a cup of coffee.  So if you need be, I’ll be there with them, happy I am wanted hoping I always will be.

 
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Oh, Hello February

Posted by casey on February 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

Y’all.

We are eight days in.
Eight Days.
And February is HARD!

Here is the thing. Come January you hit the ground running.  Exhausted from the holidays maybe, but invigorated with ideas, and perspective, and dare I say it, goals? On the ball.  Ready to change.  Making the change.  Off to that great start.

And then it is February.

And your brain, okay…my brain went, “Oh my, we are only a month in to this whole ‘being present, spending less, laughing more, letting it go, I’m so easy-breezy go with the flow because I’m choosing not to care that my house is a mess and covered in fingerprints because I am a kick-ass, oh shoot I forgot I am working on my foul mouth, kick-booty mom’.  Deep breath in, deep breath out.  Everybody together now.

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One month in.

Grace.  By gee golly, goodness, gumdrops give me all the gosh darn grace.
Please.
(And maybe just one well placed, if I absolutely need it to make a point swear word? No? Okay…no.  Got it.  No Swearing. Not even when the dog throws up on the bed. )

But isn’t that the whole point? That we are imperfect?  Our day to day lives are messy.  Be it as moms or wives or friends, they all fall very much into the imperfect category for me.   So. Let’s not beat ourselves up.  Because I have come to notice that internally, I do that often.  “Ugh, I did so well last month and was really enjoying and embracing the chaos and then the past week has gone to…ummm, gone to, ummm the dogs?”  Is that a non-sweary thing one might say?

Here I am eight days in to the second month of a brand new year feeling defeated instead of celebrating the efforts I put into action last month (goodbye phone in reach, goodbye toxic, goodbye house cleanliness, hello stretching, hello playtime, hello photographing, hello journaling) when the truth is…DSC_1940

A. I still have a heck of a lot of February left.  Hello obvious.DSC_2090
B. I also have 10.5 months left to continue these efforts. Duh.
C. The only one keeping score is me, so the “scoreboard” just went in the trash.
D. Isn’t chugging along in slow progress better than none?

No one cares if February feels hard to you like it does me. NO ONE.
(ironic since here I am writing to you about it but, meh, I’m cool with that)

Okay wait.  That is a lie.  Yup.  That whole “no one cares” bit.  Lies.

We care.  Our brain, hearts and therefore bodies care.  Even with my list of reasonable reasons as to why some of those heartfelt wanted changes went by the wayside, somewhere in there cares.  And if we are beating ourselves up than that is what we have to offer back to ourselves, our homes, our families and our day to day life.  A beat up version of our self.

Womp. Womp. Wommmmmmmmmp.

My five year old really likes to say that, and I have taken to it.  It really just sums up so much.  It is almost like taking a deep breath in itself and allows room to giggle, put on my big girl pants and saddle up.  Because guess what? Ain’t nobody got time for that gloomy gussing, my life could be, I should be, if I had a better hair situation…okay, that is me whining because I may have recently made a poor hair change choice that I am working on accepting along with all of the other accepting because do we really have time to sit around and let our hair dictate our mood.

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Nope.
It’s February friends.
Let’s do it like January.
Gratitude in hand.  Changes in Mind.  Heart in Action.
Grace for Ourselves.

 
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Let’s Try This Again

Posted by casey on January 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

A New Start.
A New Year.
Lots of new choices.

Almost four months ago, when I last wrote,  I decided “I was back.”  Back to not just reflecting because that is instinctual for me, but back to putting the pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to keyboard on those reflections.  Emptying my brain, releasing my thoughts, carrying on with life as usual. There was A LOT going on, and writing seemed to be the perfect fit.  But you see, because of all that was surrounding my brain, I couldn’t escape it enough to decompress and ultimately, deliver.  But the thing is, I am not going to apologize for that. Not to myself, not to this computer and not to the world around me.  Why?  Grace.  Lots of grace.  Lots of space.

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I am giving myself an abundance of grace these days.
I am also living knowing that I am doing the best I can, and I would like to think we all are. Giving it our best, giving it a “go”, and giving grace in the unfilled gaps.

This past year, start to finish for us, was hard. HARD. H.A.R.D.

That is not to say that there weren’t joys, triumphs, memories, laughs and blessings. But when we really think back on the year, rough, tough, trying, tricky are just a few of the immediate adjectives that come to mind.  I have thought a lot about this because I tend to jump to absolutes which is one of the many things I have and do work on.  Example: How was your day?  “The kids were a mess.”  (When really they 8W5A1730@SouthernMaePhotographyweren’t so bad, but the last 30 minutes have clouded that)

Knowing that tendency, classifying a whole year, 365 days as hard, seemed a bit much. So I thought and I thought and I talked and I thought and I came to the conclusion with gratitude for the good and growth from the bad that yep, 2016 was still hard.  Physically and emotionally.  The double whammy.

So, as we approached the end of the year I was more and more inclined to dig, dive in, and dissect how I was feeling and why, what I enjoyed and why, and what could or needed to change and why.

I needed some change.
A tad in routine.
Some in acceptance.
An abundance in perspective.

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It all can be summed up by a few things

- those who matter most and are deserving most of my time, love, attention and efforts happen to be all male and reside in my home.

- these days that I am living right now are what I will remember about the life I had so I darn better make sure I am doing what I want to be doing and it is directed at my personal goal/role/loves

- these days that I am living right now are what my three boys will remember about their childhood and mom growing up so I darn better make sure I am giving their hearts and heads what I promised when I brought them into this world.

- I am a mom.  I am a stay at home mom.  Despite what the world around us says, that is enough.  I do not have to prove that I can do more, am intelligent enough for more, am woman enough for more, am capable of more.  I am a mom and that is enough for me. It always has been, it is what I want to do.  Dream met. Let me be.

DSC_1891_edited-1So there you have it.  My focus is and will continue to be inside my home.  My brain is decompressing from 2016.  I just finished getting the Christmas decor down because, grace y’all.  “Ain’t nobody coming over anyway so who says it has to be done in a day?”  My body is decompressing from 2016 and I am re-centering my spirit and head while re-vamping how it feels when I move…lets get rid of that stiffness before another wonderfully year of age makes that a little tougher.  My home is recovering from 2016.   Every cabinet, drawer, closet, nook, under the bed, between the cushions spot is already in the process of being gone through, thrown out and simplified.  Why?  Because life is happening, and I don’t want to miss it buried in broken toys, unused knick knacks, worn out clothes and well, trash.

- More laughing, less observing.
– More listening, less multitasking.
– More naps, less busy.
– More talking, less screens.
– More calls, less texts.
– More pictures, less pushed aside.
– More “No”, Less “Yes”.
– More teaching, less bossing.
– More want to, less have to.

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More.  More of us in 2017.  Less of Everything Else. Let’s Try This Again.

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