Being a parent is hard. Like, worn-down-with-exhaustion, just-want-to-sleep-until-they’re-eighteen kind of hard. When my kids were babies and toddlers it was a physical exhaustion: pushing through the days on little to no sleep, nursing on demand,… More
I caught a glimpse of her on the trampoline as I wiped the dining room table clean. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her long blonde hair dancing wildly in each gust of wind. I turned to watch her and my heart fell. She wasn’t jumping or rolling or dancing the way she usually does. She was sitting, legs crossed, back to the wind. Just sitting. No smile crossed her lips. Instead, she scowled unblinkingly across the yard.
This little girl of mine is always feeling something big. Whether it’s ecstatic joy or the darkest sadness, she doesn’t ever seem to just . . .be. So when something hard comes along, I know to expect big feelings. And big tears.
And sometimes I just don’t understand that.
See, while she’s out in the wind, leaning into her feelings, acknowledging her own hurt, I’m inside furiously wiping counters and tables, straightening pillows and making beds. Desperately avoiding the hurt and the tears. I used to be really good at this. My husband and sister like to point out all the times I didn’t cry when I should’ve. I’m been called the Ice Queen.
So maybe it’s the fact that I’m over 30 now and my body is just done with it, or maybe I’m just tired of holding it all in, but I put my towel down and walked out into the wind and sat next to my daughter. We scowled at the yard together while our hair whipped our faces and we cried together and we told each other how this hard thing is just the worst. And then we bounced. And we laughed.
We felt our way through yesterday. We let ourselves cry and yell and then smile and laugh.
Today, as hard as this is to write and as much as it doesn’t make sense, I’m thankful for hard things. I’m thankful for the strength that’s uncovered and the vulnerability revealed. I’m thankful for all the feelings that bring us closer to the people we care about.
I’m thankful for hard things because at the end of them I can look back and see how God has worked everything together and how He’s gotten me through.
I know there will be more tears and that this particular hard thing is far from over. And when it’s over, a new hard thing will come in its place. We can chose to dwell on the hardness, on the pain and the struggle. Or, even amidst the tears and sadness, we can embrace our feelings and then fight to chose joy.
What are you thankful for?
This post is part of a community post. Every Friday, a one-word prompt is announced. You get to free-write for five minutes. No editing, no out-lining. Just writing the thoughts as they come. If you’d like to participate, you can find all the info you need here.
When I hear the word dance I immediately think of two things: my sister awkwardly dancing in the car on road trips with unexplainable confidence and Lee Ann Womack’s country song from the early 2000s.
Have you heard it?
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
Get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens.
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance.
I hope you dance.
It’s such a pretty song and it meant so much to me the year I graduated high school that I actually wanted to sing it at my graduation. I didn’t tell anyone that, I was just waiting for someone to recognize my amazing musical talent and put me on the stage. I guess the meaning of all the words didn’t really sink in back then. When I look at the lyrics, I think every other line seemed important.
Not losing my sense of wonder, feeling small in this great big world, loving people? Those all made sense to my 18 year old brain. I had the whole world in front of me! How could anyone lose their wonder?
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances but they’re worth takin’,
Lovin’ might be a mistake but it’s worth makin’,
Don’t let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin’ out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance. . . I hope you dance.
Every now and then, I still belt this song out with my best country accent. But the words that hold meaning have changed. I’ve looked back and I’ve seen myself “sitting it out” more than dancing, fearing those looming mountains and backing out more than I’d like to admit.
Why do we do that? How can we feel the excitement and pull of our most precious dreams and then bury it? Are we so afraid of failure that we don’t see the possibility of all our dreams coming true right before our eyes? Or are we, even now, afraid that once that dream has been achieved or, heaven forbid, failed that there is nothing else for us, that the world holds no more wonder? That there is a limit on dreaming?
It’s time to stop living like that. It’s time to embrace that skipping heart beat and thrill of excitement, time to push fears aside and go after our biggest dreams. To reconsider selling out on ourselves. Time to embrace those mountains and valleys. Love wildly, live confidently. It’s time to dance.
And my dancing will be different from yours and yours will be different from that girl and that other girl. Maybe you can bust out a moonwalk or pop-n-lock or a twerk and look freaking fantastic doing it. That’s awesome! Dance away, love! Or maybe you’re more like me and your best move is a step-tap. Maybe you get a little crazy and raise the roof every now and then. Or maybe you’re a line-dancer or ballerina.
It doesn’t matter how you do it, the point is this: you do your dance and I’ll do mine. We live our lives and chase our dreams, embracing the risks we are taking. Knowing life won’t end at the end of our dreams. We just get new dreams.
And a new dance.
Last year, on a whim, I decided to start a new tradition on the blog. I was having a rough time family-wise: my husband was out of state for work for months and it was dragging on far longer than we expected, we were in our second year of homeschooling and I was frustrated, and we were waiting, waiting, waiting to find out if we were moving the next summer or not.
I needed a way out of the gloom. I needed something to focus on besides all my yucky feelings. So I started making lists of things I was thankful for, no matter how small or unexpected, in a desperate attempt to turn things around. It’s funny how something as simple as writing down things that make you smile can change your whole outlook on a situation or even your life.
So Thursdays around here will be full of giving thanks. It’s kinda the theme of my whole blog, really. Keeping my eyes open and looking for the good instead of focusing on the bad or the frustrating or the annoying. I’ve lived that life and I don’t want it back. I don’t want to be the bitter, complaining girl who doesn’t realize how good she’s got it.
For the month of November, I’m being terribly original and posting a #DaysofThanks post of Facebook and Instagram along with a picture. This week I’m going to share those posts with all of you!
Disclaimer: All these pictures were taken with my phone, so they’re not especially awesome.
Day 1: We took a short road trip to the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. Specifically to a tiny town called Calico Rock. We needed a quick getaway to someplace with a real “fall” feel, but we didn’t have much time. Coffee and road trips with my favorite people (and faithful dog)? Yes, please!
Day 2: We did some exploring on our vacation rental lands. The kids LOVE the outdoors, but, unfortunately, in hot, humid, mountain-less central Oklahoma, they don’t have much to explore. We found some stuff! Heart-shaped cacti, snails, lizards, caves, and cliffs. I don’t know what it is, but I just don’t enjoy my kids wandering next to huge drop-offs. I picture them slipping and falling to their deaths. Tell me I’m not the only one! Adventure in the unknown. . .Nature, wildlife, wonder. . .and not falling off cliffs.
Day 3: Like I said, this trip was short. But it was relaxing and fun. And we found fall.
Day 4: We watched the Country Music Awards. I’m not really sure why, since neither my husband nor I really enjoy country music. Except Reba. We love Reba. And may I just say that she is rocking 60 years old. Rocking it.
Also, when Chris Stapleton walked up on stage, my daughter said in her best country accent, “Now that’s country.” Yes. Now excuse me while I download his album. . .
Now, my husband doesn’t really post of Facebook. Ever. I think he posted 5 times during the CMAs. All insults on country music. He was cracking himself up because he thought he was being so clever. I was afraid he’d lose friends over it. We have some die-hard country fans in our lives.
So I’m thankful to have a husband who makes me laugh. I can’t imagine our lives if we took ourselves too seriously.
So what are you thankful for? What small things can you focus on to turn your attention from the unpleasant or downright terrible things in your life? I encourage you to look for the bright spots in your life this November.
P.S. He hates me for posting that picture of him. 😉
It seems to have happened so suddenly. This year my oldest boy is not interested in face paint. He doesn’t want his whole face painted like a tiger and he has no use for a cute little picture painted onto his cheek. His Halloween costume is more subtle than his brother’s and sister’s: jeans and an orange t-shirt with “Camp Half-Blood” printed in black across the front. He’s Percy Jackson.
And then yesterday we took the boys to get their hair cut and he got up from the chair looking three years older. He’s got the awkward gait of a teenager, he talks about more grown-up things, and I can’t remember the last time he held my hand.
My husband caught me giving our son moony eyes this morning. I just can’t help it. Out of nowhere my chubby little baby has morphed into this handsome, kind, intelligent man-child before my eyes and I feel blind sighted. I feel cheated. I’m more than a little annoyed that nobody pointed out the obvious to me 10 years ago: they grow up. And fast.
(Okay, maybe someone pointed it out, but I was too busy rolling my eyes because I was up to my elbows in diapers and toddler toys and Thomas the Tank Engine so I didn’t believe them.)
It feels like we’ve officially closed the door on the season of little children. Our youngest is 7. I still see her as my baby. She holds my hand and cuddles. But she can tie her own shoes and make her own lunch. Walking through a parking lot is no longer a desperate race for our lives. They can all do multiplication and read chapter books. They make their beds in a way that actually looks like they made their beds.
I’ve had a chance to come up for air and see how far we’ve come, how much they’ve grown. And now that I’ve seen it, I’ve been feeling this aching need to slow down and soak in all the details of these people I’ve been trusted with, to stop time just a little before we head into these teenage years.
I know the years to come will be filled with their own kind of joy and laughter and love, but these “littles” years were so fleeting and I’m sad to see them go. They’ve gone from first smiles to first steps to first days of school. Each more celebrated than the last. Now we’re creeping up on first crushes and first cars and first dates.
So every morning, I’ll hold on to those hugs as long as I can. I’ll read all the books and listen to all the silly stories and off-the-wall ideas. I’ll kiss those soft cheeks and nose tips as often as I can.
And someday (probably soon), my son will catch me giving him moony eyes.
And he’ll just shake his head and say “Geez, Mom.”
Yesterday, I had a rare chance at two and a half hours alone in the middle of a weekday. Actually, it’s not rare. I get it every Thursday afternoon, but I usually sit at the farm and write (in the blistering heat) while my kids have horseback riding lessons.
Alone time doesn’t feel luxurious when your constantly swatting at flies who are swarming to the sweat pouring down your neck.
So this week I took the opportunity to run some errands (I know. Glamorous, right?). We needed a couple things for dinner and I needed coffee. I ran my errands and still had about an hour before the kids were done so I stopped in a quaint little coffee shop. I was in a college town and the place was filled with young twenty-somethings all decked out in leggings and long sweaters with their laptops and earbuds. Each one had a notebook, pen, and coffee mug next to their computer.
Enter college envy. Oh, to be young and be expected to learn. Likes it’s your job. To have to sit and read and write for hours. To need to go to the library. I drove back to the farm (with an amazing cappuccino in hand) feeling very old and fighting back tears for what I had missed out on.
I dropped out of college after two years because I had our first baby (and also, I couldn’t decide what to major in. I wanted to learn ALL THE THINGS). And I’ve never gone back. And until yesterday in that coffee shop, I never knew how much I wish I could’ve finished.
You see, I’m a big, fat nerd. I’ve even got the big nerd glasses to prove it. I love books and paper and new ideas and new information. I love lining equations up and working them out. I love writing papers and doing research and taking notes. I get so excited when I learn something I didn’t know. There are so many cool and interesting facts to learn and ideas to ponder! I’m getting excited just thinking about it.
But if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. While I could never decide what to major in during college, I always knew “mom” was the title I craved the most.
I dreamed of spending days lost to snuggles and laughter and learning and playing. I still do. And I’m living that dream now as my son curls next to me with his pile of books. I wanted to carry a baby in my body, bring him into the world, and walk him to adulthood, marveling in the growth and changes it takes to turn one tiny human into an adult capable of making a difference in the world.
We can look back on the past and dream about what might have been. We can also look back and smile because of what actually is.
This is important. This is where I belong. This is who I am.
I love everything about fall. The colors, the crispness in the air, the smell, the coziness. All of it. I’m a little behind the times when it comes to pumpkin recipes, but that’s because a week ago it was still 94 degrees. But I’m totally immersed in it now. Pumpkin creamer, pumpkin pancakes and, yesterday and today, pumpkin muffins. The best ones ever.
Fall for our family means settling in. Settling in to our home, our routines, and our family. Friends have mostly gone back to school and the focus comes back to each other. Everything about fall signals us to slow down and breathe deeply.
I don’t know why, but the only fall decor I can fully commit to is pumpkins. I’ve got so many different sizes and styles. Real, fake, glittery, light up, fabric. I won’t turn away a good pumpkin.
Especially in my food. There’s something about the smell of pumpkin and cinnamon baking together. It’s warm and relaxing and perfectly fitting for this season of settling in. I can’t claim this recipe. I found it through Pinterest over at Lovely Little Kitchen. The only thing I did differently was leave out the cloves and nutmeg. Because A) I don’t like cloves and B)we didn’t have any nutmeg. So I added a little extra cinnamon to make up for it.
Like I said, I’ve made these the last two days in a row. My dog was even inspired to scale the kitchen counter to eat the leftovers. (We had words, you can be sure.)
So whip these up with a mug of pumpkin flavored coffee (or chai tea!) and get ready for amazing.
Best Ever Pumpkin Muffins!
-1 3/4 cup flour
-1 cup sugar
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp ground cloves
-1/4 tsp nutmeg
-1 15 oz can pure pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
-1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
-1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place 12 paper liners into each well of your muffin pan.
- Measure out the flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, and spices in a medium bowl and whisk it all together.
- In a bigger bowl, lightly whisk eggs, add remaining ingredients and mix.
- Add dry ingredients to the bowl of wet ingredients. Stir until just combined.
- Fill muffin cups almost to the top.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
And be sure to check out Lovely Little Kitchen‘s blog for more deliciousness!
Every fall I get the urge to run. Maybe the cooler weather breathes life back into everything and makes me want to feel my heart pound, but it usually only lasts for one run. Maybe two. Because then I suddenly remember that running’s no joke. Everything bounces and jiggles and my nose runs and my legs itch and my chest hurts from trying to catch enough oxygen to keep me from keeling over. My shoelaces are too tight, my dog keeps stopping to pee on everything, and it’s a lot windier than I thought.
Let me just say I’m not a runner. I’ve tried to be for as long as I can remember. I signed up for a half marathon 6 years ago or so, but I ended up hurting my knee during another race and I couldn’t run it. I’ve had that “runner’s high” exactly one time in my life. My husband is one of those people who can sit and eat Cheetos 364 days a year and then run a marathon on the 365th with absolutely no training. So annoying. I skip a day and have to start back at day one.
Needless to say, the running urge hit strong last week with the appearance of fall in Oklahoma. I tried to ignore it, even tried other workouts in it’s place, but nothing worked. So one night I tucked my 10 year old into bed and asked him if he wanted to run with me in the morning. He replied with an enthusiastic, “I guess so” and a nice, exasperated sigh.
And so we ran. Probably not even a mile. And my feet hurt and I couldn’t breathe and the wind picked up right towards the end just like it always does. But this time, I pushed myself because my son was with me.
You see, this sweet boy of mine seems to have inherited his mother’s lack of perseverance. Something gets hard or uncomfortable and he gives up, just like me.
It’s funny what our kids can teach us about ourselves.
We pushed through it and whooped and high-fived in the driveway early on a Sunday morning. Then we talked about pushing ourselves to be better and recognizing our weaknesses and working to overcome them. We talked about how some things won’t always come easy for us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try or that we have to give up.
My son reminded me that I can do hard things and that there’s grace to be found in the stretching and the growing and the trying. While I was trying to teach him to never give up, I guess I was teaching myself the same thing.