Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ask What . . .

My fists had pounded that table with each anguished why that cried.

Why? Why? Why?

Why! Why! Why!

Those arms that ached with the heaviness of emptiness was a visceral pain.

All that pain gets clinched up, the emotions ball up and then out they come with a pounding of a fist, a guttural cry of why.

My husband so gently took that clinched, pounding fist, covered it with his open hand and said, "I know your need to want to know why. Trust me, I do. But that may be a question that never gets answered. At some point, we need to turn that 'why' into a 'what'. What are we going to do with this? What are we going to make of it?"

Slowly, those why's reduced themselves one by one as the days ticked on.

Slowly, the smiles started out weighing the tears.

Slowly, you start living again not because you have to but because you want to.

And slowly, the 'what' starts unfolding, naturally, just as the moon unfolds itself to the light.

There is a love that reveals itself when you give birth to life. It's a true, organic, all the way through kind of love that never dies.

Love in and of itself is a mystery full round but there is a mystery that lies within, there is a need . . . a longing to care for your baby that you no longer get to hold.

Even when your baby dies you are a mother who aches to mother.

That first Christmas was rough and hard and seared all the way through. The mother in me refused to stop mothering. We continued with traditions. We bought ornaments for all three of our girls and hung them on the tree. Christmas stockings were still stuffed.

The 'what' slowly started revealing itself.

There was a need to fill those two stockings to two little girls. What do you do with material things that the ones they are intended for are not here?

The 'what' slowly started revealing itself.

The second Christmas, we started thinking broader.

The ache to mother two little girls I don't get to hold never dies, it continues to grow.

That ache to love has been stretched right through, pulled tight and over to ache to love others. To care for other mothers and fathers who ache over their babies.

The ache to love revealed the 'what'.

And so, EV's Christmas Stockings, out of cries over death, was breathed into being.

EV's Christmas Stockings provided a stocking to each baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Riley Children's Hospital.

Some people have said what I have done is "amazing" or "awesome".

I don't deserve those praises.

What I have done was born from pure selfishness for the memories of my daughters to keep on living. I don't want people to forget two little girls who made such an impact on my world.

It's my mother's selfish love that made me do what I did.

It's that desire . . . that longing to care for and love two girls whom I physically can't. So that desire has been placed on others who need to be cared for, loved for and remembered.

I thought I was the one giving. I thought I was the one bestowing the blessings.

There is no way to describe the appreciation and gratitude one has when they receive something completely unexpected.

I received more than I gave. I was blessed more than I blessed.

It was a very emotional day for me. That morning, as I gathered all the Christmas stockings, I cried. After months of working, I was finally still enough to absorb the weight of it and my emotions overcame me.

I called my husband upstairs and had him look at all 65 stockings and through tears I said, "look what they have done! Look what our two little girls have done!" 

I would never have dreamed that Emmerson and Vivienne would be able to touch so many. They were only here for a short while but look at what they have been able to do.

Trust me, if I could, I would change it all to have them here. Nothing will ever take that away. After all, I'm still a mother who longs to mother all four of my children.

But, wow! Look what they have done!

We will probably never have our answer as to why but now, we know, what we can do with what we have been given. And that is simply to love . . .  

I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love. 
~ Mother Teresa ~


Saturday, November 16, 2013

You Surprised Me

Those muscles fibers pulled tight in the middle of the night and I thought if I sipped water, repositioned, let the magic of water relax as it flowed, those fibers would let go.

For twelve hours I tried to believe it to mean something different. Because sometimes the obvious isn't so obvious. Sometimes the obvious sits in silent whispers, just still enough to leave room for doubt.

I wasn't ready to let go. I knew it was too early to let go.

I needed to hold on.

My fears raged for seven months straight. Those tightened muscles that medicine had a hard time relaxing confirmed my fears that I would have to let go . . . again . . . in a way that no mother should ever have to let go.

I needed to hold on tighter just a little more.

For four weeks, those fibers pulled tight enough and often enough and just enough to keep my fears dancing.

But you surprised me.

Those fibers tightened once more, with more time that had gone by and at the right time, those fibers tightened and I needed to let go. One slow breath at a time.

I let go and you entered our world.

You entered with lungs full of life. A sweet surprise . . . a sweet sound that interrupted the deafening silence of doubt that raged deep within me.

Four seasons have come and gone. Time has a way of letting go to let more be. Infant grunts and sighs let go for smiles and coos to full on belly laughs. Lying still in arms to rolling over to pulling up and moving on.

You surprised me.

I didn't think my broken heart was capable of filling up once again. But you came and it over flowed.

You surprised me.

My cup runneth over and my heart spills through.

By nature, I want to hold on. It's a mother's reflexive response. I want to hold on because it is so hard to let go.

A full year has come and gone. You have transformed a little body into a giant personality.

My heart fills up and overflows.

My soul needs to sit in the reverence of the bittersweetness of motherhood.

Motherhood is full of laundry, dirty dishes, washing dirt off feet, reminding them for the hundreth time to say please and thank you but what wears a mother out and fills her up all at once, more than anything else, is trying to perfect the art of holding on and letting go.

Motherhood is full of muscles pulling tight but the pain ensues when we let out those long slow breaths. Those breaths we learned to breathe in and out to ease the pain of childbirth are the very breaths that hurt after.

We were designed to hold on to that which we desire to keep. But that's an illusion. We have to let go so we have something to hold on to.

I need to grieve the newborn onesies that have been folded, the blankets that swaddled and the sweet scent of new on you.

I need to inhale deep and then let it go so more of you can be. So I can breathe in worn out knees in your jeans, building forts with those blankets that swaddled and the scent of dirt, mischeviousness and you exploring the new.

I need to let go so you can be.

I may grieve the time that has gone by but I know I can only grieve because it was. I am grateful that I had it at all.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

When Your Baby Dies

When you lose a baby . . .

You don't lose a baby.

You lose your car keys, one sock to complete a pair, a tube of lip gloss. You don't lose a baby.

Your baby dies.

When your baby dies you lose a huge chunk of yourself. A gaping hole lives inside of you.

You don't know if you can smile again or if you even will ever want to.

It feels as if your muscles are suffering from amnesia. It's hard to remember how to smile . . . how to laugh. You forget what its like to move without feeling like you are trying to walk on the bottom of the ocean floor.

When your baby dies, you feel that you have too. You wish it had been you instead and you just can't understand why its wasn't. You have lived, they never really got to and where's the sense and nature in that?

When your baby dies because your body went into pre-term labor, how do you ever trust your body again? It betrayed you in a way it never should. How do you ever trust it again?

When your baby dies, there is a distinct line drawn. A line that separates your life into two parts - a before and an after. A line that has separated you into two - the person who you once were and the person you are now . . . whoever that is.

When your baby dies, you wish you could go back to the before, if just for a day so you could hold onto that lightness, joy and innocence a little bit tighter in the hopes you could remember everything about it for your life in the after.

When your baby dies you wonder how you will go on. You wonder if you will ever again possess the desire to go on at all.

When your baby dies, you are scared that the grief will become you. And you are scared that it won't. Because if it does, that means life is forever colored in shades of black. If it doesn't, you are scared that it means you have forgotten your baby.

When your baby dies and you smile again and not in a forced manner to falsely assure others that you are "fine" but truly smile and it registered that you did, it instantly throws you back and you wonder if that means you have forgotten. And that is the worse because if you forget, everyone else will too.

When your baby dies, you wrestle with everything you believed before. You don't want to believe in a God that allowed you to bury your child. You believe in the hope of heaven so you can't deny the God who created it.

When your baby dies, you wrestle. You struggle. You fear. You grieve.

When your baby dies, your heart still contracts and your lungs still take in air. And you eventually learn that the contractions and the breathing in and breathing out don't betray that your baby lived. It's a way to live . . . to speak . . . to remember . . . to honor them.


Friday, September 13, 2013

A Million Pieces

Enjoy it. It goes so fast . . .

The smile that could give way to the quiver of the lips and the smiling eyes belying the grief of a time gone by. I believe its more of a statement uttered in disbelief, of trying to still grasp how fast it all went then advice to still-young-parents.

I know those words will fall from my lips. Even in the days when its hard and I feel every sluggish minute wearing me down, I know, even then, that those words will haunt me.

Motherhood is a teeter-totter that's never able to balance right center, perfectly parallel to the ground and to the sky. It's that constant tug-of-war between meals, dishes sitting dirty, clothes that refuse to stay clean with stories read while lazily sitting against a stack of pillows and the littles on your lap, giggling over nothing and everything and swinging high just to see if your toes really can tickle the sky.

This mom thing is hard and it hurts. Why do so many people act like labor is the most painful part of motherhood? The true labor of any mom begins after that swaddled bundle has been placed in your arms. In a million ways and a million times, you will break right in two.

I know I will look back and remember more when my tongue cut sharp and sighs heavy with impatience were released but I hope . . . I pray they remember the "I love yous", reading long past bed-time and impromptu hide-n-seek more.

I hope they remember more when I let go and let them be.

I know I will look back and will be unable to comprehend how fast it really went. Wishing I could have had more. More ice cream melted over hands just so I could hold those small hands once more. More tickling just so I could I relish in the laughter that is light as air because the world hasn't weighed them down.

Motherhood is heavy and the weight of the responsibility can be terrifying and paralyzing. There are a million ways to mess up and break them right in two.

I want them to be smart and have friends. I want them to be kind and for life to be easy. But I know beauty can only be birthed from pain. And oh, how I want them to be beautiful people!

I want them to be the kind of beautiful that is kind even when everyone else is telling them its wrong.

I want them to give even when they are tired, weak, broken and penniless.

I want them to bleed with compassion but I know that you can only bleed only if you've been hurt.

More than any other prayer and hope is that they know how to drop to their knees with folded hands, look up and to trust God.

It breaks me . . . the weight . . . the responsibility, it breaks me in a million different ways. I know they will learn only by how we have lived. I hope they have witnessed that love isn't always a fairytale and sometimes . . . a lot of times, requires hard work. I hope they see two people who work together, live together and love together. I hope they witness that even with broken hearts of our own, we still care and that even when bone tired and financially poor, we still give.

Motherhood is hard and it hurts and the labor never ends and if we are doing it right as best we can, it hurts more, breaking us into a million pieces.

The miraculous thing about a Mother's heart . . . any heart . . . is that even when it's broken, it still continues to beat. 

I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did - that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that - a parent's heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.

~D. Ginsberg~ 


Friday, August 16, 2013

Slowly, Ever Slowly

You, the one sitting stone still, staring at nothing . . .

You, the one who feels like you have aged a 100 years . . .

You, the one with swollen, red eyes . . .

You, the one who wonders if you will ever be able to truly live again . . .

Slowly, ever slowly, you start waking in the morning and that overwhelming dread of having to live out another day starts to lift.

Slowly, ever slowly, you find that you have smiled at some one or over something and it wasn't forced.

Slowly, ever slowly, you find that you are looking forward to one thing . . . one event.

Slowly, ever slowly, the darkness lifts.

The grief and sadness never go away, they just change form . . . you learn how to live with it . . . how to cope. Just like someone learning to walk again after they lost a limb, you learn how to live with the grief, how to reign in the tears when they dare to consume you in the middle of the grocery store or while picking up your other child from preschool. The walking doesn't negate the loss of the leg nor do the smiles and the living negate the area of your heart that is empty and torn.

It isn't something you ever get over. You are not suppose to because you can't. You can't get over something that defies nature.

It isn't something you ever get over, it is something you go through. Everyday you will walk through this. Every. Day. Right now, though, it is thick and heavy. Ever slowly that fog will lift and it won't consume every part of you.

You get through it by slowly, ever slowly going through it. There is no other way.

Don't let anyone tell you how to grieve.

Don't let anyone tell you how to cope. 

Don't let anyone tell you enough time has passed. You don't know when enough time has passed to smile again. You don't know until you feel that foreign motion of the lips curving up. And even then, there are still soul-crushing, take-your-breath-away, bring-you-to-your-knees moments and days. 

Don't let anyone tell you to be thankful for the child(ren) who are living.

Don't let anyone tell you that having another baby will fix it.

Nothing can fix this. Nothing can make this better. 

Give yourself grace. There is no blueprint for this. Everyone does this differently. Don't let anyone tell you that you are grieving wrong because so-and-so had a similar experience and it didn't affect them like it's affecting you. 

Don't let anyone tell you that things could have been a lot worse. The ones who say that, never buried a child so they don't have a right to define worse for you. They don't know what worse is. When it comes to your child dying before you, that encompasses worse. Worse is worse.

Slowly, ever slowly, you realize you are alive.

Slowly, ever slowly, you enjoy living.

Slowly, ever slowly, you find hope. And you find that you hope in hope again.

There is, I’m convinced, no picture that conveys in all its dreadfulness, a vision of sorrow, despairing, remediless, supreme. If I could paint such a picture, the canvas would show only a woman looking down at her empty arms.
~Charlotte Bronte~


Saturday, August 10, 2013

To Age Is To Be Beautiful

I'm really starting to feel the effects of aging. I don't know if it's due to the littles I am caring for and the energy and time they consume, if it's from everything that these last two years have thrown at us, my age or a mixture of all of the above.

I'm starting to really feel the affect of the years gone by and it's crazy because wasn't it just a few days ago that I was a teenager thinking those teenage years would last a lot longer than they actually did?

I'm in my thirties and those lines are creeping in and creeping deep, a white hair has sprouted and the pounds don't drop as easy as they used to and the energy I had ten years ago has disappeared and I'm left wondering where I lost it.

Some days I look in the mirror and feel so much older than the reflection says and other days, I stare back and wonder how so much time has already been spent.

Everywhere I look, I'm reminded that this world I live in prioritizes beauty and youth over everything else. Over wisdom that only years spent living can bring and beauty . . . the true kind of deep beauty. The beauty that can't be bought, applied or worn. The kind of beauty you get from only be worn from years spent living and being loved. 

I grieve those years that are already gone . . . never to be had again. I grieve the person I was then and wish I would have appreciated that time more when I was in it rather than now that it is gone. I need to live in the moment but I am human and at times, I just miss the times that became memories. 

I look at my children and I grieve how fast the time is speeding by. I want to slow it down.

I flash forward to ten . . . fifteen . . .  twenty years from now and I can already feel myself aching for this time that will soon be gone.

I want them to stay sweet and innocent and pure. I want to always have energy to run miles and run after them. I want my skin to stay smooth and my hair to stay the color it is now.

And then I remember a friend who will never grow old.

And I remember two of my babies that I don't get to hold anymore. I think of them and all I'm left with is to wonder who they would have become . . . what they would look like now and at five . . . sixteen . . . twenty-five.

I think of a quote I have seen many times:

Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many. 

I realize that decreased energy and those lines do not deny me anything. They are proof that I have been given a lot and I have had the privilege to live a lot.

I realize the years spent, the children growing, the creeping lines and the color changing hair is all a gift.

I am not promised tomorrow. I am not promised my next breath. I am not promised that my children will out-live me.

The ever ticking of the clock, the ever changing me and my children are a gift I need to embrace now . . . in this moment.

Those glossy magazines, those reality TV shows that claim to reflect real life are all an illusion. You can't compare yourself or your life to an illusion because an illusion doesn't exist. Years gone by, gray hair, those lines that creep and rest around your eyes and mouth are real. They reflect memories, smiles, laughter and years of loving and living. 


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dreams Are Still Memories

There are some memories that never got a chance to be played in real-time . . . only thought up in my head in played in my heart.

There are those memories - real memories - of the morning we found out we were expecting for a second time and the shock and joy that surrounded.

There are those memories - real memories - of seeing two babies on the screen and the smiling and laughing that filled my soul as I watched Emmerson kick Vivienne and Vivi acting as if she could enjoy the rocking caused by her sisters kicks all day.

There are those memories - real memories - of planning the nursery, shopping for everything in twos, and shopping for mini-vans.

There are those memories - real memories - of my husband and I being in shock while basking in the glow of thankfulness.

There are those memories - dream memories - of coordinating outfits for two identical babies, a baby in each arm, and three girls playing together.

There are those memories - dream memories - of birthday parties, halloween costumes, and the first day of school.

There are those memories - dream memories - of first loves, broken hearts, proms, wedding days, and Father-Daughter dances.

There are those memories - dream memories - of my babies expecting life, seeing them hold their babies, witnessing the women they became.

All of these memories to be played while watching in amazement of the unique relationship between identical twins.

You see?

It wasn't just that my babies were born too soon. It wasn't just that there was something wrong.

I loved them with a Mother's Love before I ever got to hold them in my arms.

You see?

My babies died.

There are also those memories - real memories - of the air standing still and hushed, mumbled whispers while staring at a screen.

There are those memories - real memories - of a conference room, highly specialized doctors and words. So. Many. Words. Of shivering, uncontrollably and someone placing a blanket around my shoulders.

There are those memories - real memories - of a pain wanting to split my body in two, worried glances, an ambulance, more worried faces, no one looking me in the eye and me pleading with my God.

There are those memories - real memories - of "I'm so sorry . . . ", tiny fingers and toes, kisses and swaddles and snuggles and me still pleading with my God.

There are those memories - real memories - of flowers that were too beautiful and sweet, cemeteries, funeral homes, a casket and a too-big-hole in the ground.

You see?

It wasn't just that my babies were born too early. It wasn't just that there was something wrong.

I have memories and dreams and all of them are bittersweet. All of them carry the same weight because they all occupy a space in me.

You see?

It wasn't just that our babies were born too early. It wasn't just that there was something wrong.

We lost pieces of our hearts . . . members of our family.

It wasn't just that our babies were born too soon.

Our babies died. While holding them, they died.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It Is Okay

They say time heals all wounds.

It doesn't.

I don't know who they are but they have never been more wrong.

Some moments . . . some days it is unfathomable to me that this hurt is with me until my last breath. I don't know how to do it.

In a world of contradictions, in a place where two opposing emotions dance together, it is okay.

Well, not okay but okay because there is no other word to describe that it isn't okay.

It is okay because there are two names I can speak of.

It is okay because I got to hold them.

It is okay because I got to kiss them.

It is okay because I live in a world where they once were instead of never at all.

It is okay but it's not.

It is okay because I don't know how else to answer when someone asks - truly asks - how I am doing.

It is okay because I don't know how else I'm supposed to feel. I am extremely blessed because I have two littles to care for here and I am extremely blessed because I got to hold them. But at the same time, I am extremely angry that all four of my babies are not here, right now. I am extremely angry that all I got were moments and not years.

And so, I am just okay because I don't know another word to describe it. I am just okay because I don't know how else to balance two opposing emotions . . . two opposing extremes.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Grace Is Greater

I thought and was lead to believe that those who gave in and gave up didn't stand a chance.

We weigh sins and then we place them in order from least to greatest. When in reality, they all weigh the same. All great. All small in comparison of this Gift of Love.

They may be great but grace is bigger.

I used to believe that giving in and giving up meant you didn't stand a chance.

And then it touched close. Someone who loved deep and whole, someone who loved The Love that gave it all, gave in.

My world shifted and I started seeing differently. My belief changing. Is grace and forgiveness like a gold ring - strong and endless? Immeasurable? One from which there is no beginning or end?

How can my small mind try to box that in? Define it with my vocabulary?

And then . . . it touched even closer. The giving in and giving up grew deep within. Uncontrollable. Without conscious thought.

Thoughts and visions seared sharp and I did not know from which it came.

The pain was too acute to even take in a deep breath. The pain was too black and I couldn't see. I wanted to give in and to give up.

That seemed more beautiful than the ugly that surrounded.

But that grace that I can't contain and I can't define, saved me. I don't know how and I don't know why, but it saved me . . . here.

I don't know how those that give in and give up don't stand a chance. I don't know how blind they were, how much they did and didn't feel all at the same time.

They stand the same chance that any of us stands.

Because the grace that can save here, can save there too, can't it? Who am I to pretend I know anything about grace but other than what I have received?

If grace and forgiveness are like a gold band then we don't know from which it starts or from which it ends, then how are we to know from how it covers?

Life can be messy and life may hurt and sins may reap many and great but grace is bigger.

Grace is greater. 


Friday, April 19, 2013

I Am Not Hopeless

There is darkness that overcomes and overwhelms.

There is darkness that consumes.

Darkness can descend in many ways.

It can leave hopelessness and despair in its wake.

I have two little girls whom I will never hear giggle as the grass tickles their bare feet.

The despair of their death can cause the darkest of black to consume me.

But I am not hopeless.

I appreciate the death died on that cross and the empty grave like I never did before. I should have but I didn't.

Consuming the bread broken and the blood spilled causes the consuming darkness to flee.

Life can bring new perspectives. And for all the pain that was brought and remains, I wouldn't change what my heart can now see.

The mission. Those who followed. The disbelieving. The accusations. The denial. That kiss.

Darkness prevailed in the days that followed.

Unbelievable darkness.

Unbelievable hopelessness.

Unbelievable reality.

For those who loved and followed and believed, they battled with an overwhelming hopelessness.

But that grave stood empty.

I am not hopeless.

The pain in the persecution didn't persist. The grave couldn't contain. His death didn't define him.

His death didn't say this is the end.

There was more.

I am not hopeless.

That grave is empty. The earth stained offers promise. He suffered a death for life. He rose so Heaven wins.

The enemy who tries to win by threatening me with the death of my girls loses.

Heaven wins!

There is a cross consumed with the fibers of death and a vacant tomb. There are two pierced through hands that offer the promise of Heaven.

I am not hopeless.

He's alive! My girls are alive! Their feet are tickled by the blades of grass. They giggle. They delight in the joys of heaven.

I don't get the privilege of raising them and the joy of delighting in their giggles. I am sad but I am not hopeless. Their death doesn't mean never. It just means wait.

Wait . . . the best is yet to come.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What You Need

I didn't want to be pregnant again. I wasn't ready for it. I don't know if I ever would have been.

I was terrified of being pregnant. It wasn't the bliss it had been. I walked in a cloud of fearful doubt.

Pregnancy didn't mean the beginning of dreams. It meant the end of them. The death of innocent and new.

With my first two pregnancies, I didn't care about the gender of my three babies. I just wanted healthy and whole.

But . . . with the third pregnancy, I desperately wanted a girl. I felt I needed a girl. I selfishly believed God owed me a girl.

I was nervous for that anatomy scan. Nervous for so many things I couldn't put voice to. So, I took all that anxiety and wrapped it up, only focusing on the gender.

Then we learned it was a boy (even though I already knew down deep) and I tried not to cry as my husband smiled. And no matter how hard I looked at the screen with all that gray movement, I only saw one baby, not two.

Even a year later, it still felt like a dream. My babies didn't really die?! If I could just wake up there would be two. Two figures, two heartbeats, four legs kicking me.

It was a boy and I was upset. More upset that he wasn't them and I couldn't even pretend. More upset that the nightmare was real and there was nothing to wake up from, blink and it all goes away. Funny how through it you have all these things to let you know you are awake but it still feels like a dream. Like someone else's life.

The day of the anatomy scan was the last day I stopped believing I dreamt it all.

I felt I deserved a girl. My husband prayed for a boy. Not because of the typical daddy wants a boy so he can throw a ball around with him but because he didn't know if his broken heart could look at a baby girl and not see Emmy and Vivi.

Here's the thing about God: He gives you what you need, not always what you want.

I needed a boy. For reasons I can't explain, I needed him.

I struggle hard somedays has I hold him. I struggled hard with guilt when we brought him home. I rock him and feed him and stare at him as he sleeps in my arms. I get to do all these things with and for him but not them.

I wanted to. I wanted to do all these things for and with them and I didn't get to and somehow, someway, I feel guilty for not being able to.

His little head has caught the pain of missing his sisters as it falls from my eyes. I'm holding him and snuggling him and I can still feel the weight of those empty arms.

I still feel the weight of them. 

I get to hold close and breathe in the weight of him.

I get to love them all, all in a different way. 

I'm trying to navigate being a mother to children in two different worlds. No matter what the differences may be, I am a mommy to all four of them. Nothing changes that.

Not even death.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Promise To My Daughter

We are in the trenches of what is known as the wonderful three's.

I've been getting frustrated, exhausted and hopeless when it comes to some of the behavior my daughter expresses.

I love her to pieces but this stage is HARD!

I don't know why people complain about the terrible two's. They were easy. She was easy. But now. . .  now almost everything is a battle. From brushing her hair to getting dressed to eating.

She is wonderfully creative and smart. She is independent, persistent and determined. And while I absolutely love these traits she possesses, the combination of all of them with this stage is exhausting.

I'm constantly trying to think of new ways to react, discipline and connect because what may have worked in the past doesn't necessarily work now.

And then some days (okay! most days) guilt gnaws at me. I feel like the only memories she will have from this time in her life is me telling her no, reminding her constantly to use her manners, to not interrupt when someone is talking, to not talk when her mouth is full of food, watch the attitude, don't scream at me, pick up your toys . . . your clothes . . . your shoes. And I wonder at the end of each day, did I laugh with her, did I get on the floor and play with her, did I praise her, did I make time just for her?

I don't know if I did. I don't know what will slip into the void and what she will carry with her.

And so I did what seems to be the only thing I know how to do when I have emotions and important things to say that I have a hard time expressing verbally . . . I wrote. I wrote her a letter. If she does have some not-so-pleasant memories from this stage or any stage, I hope when she reads this letter and she knows she was always loved.

I don't usually make the letters I write to her public but this one I will.


I've heard it said that when raising little ones the days are long and the years short. I know this to be true because wasn't it just yesterday we brought you home from the hospital? I also know this to be true because some days just drag on and on and on.

There are going to be days where laughter comes easy and smiles readily found. There are going to be days where you are going to need to entertain yourself because I'm going to be busy. Sometimes we have to do the things that are not always fun. Sometimes we need to take care of the little things as well. It's called responsibility. I'm going to clean the house, fold your clothes, brush your hair, make your meals and I'm going to make mistakes.

The making mistakes makes me swallow hard. I don't want to. I have a Type A personality. I strive for perfection - don't fall into that, you'll end up like a dog chasing its tail, it doesn't exist - and even though I know this, I still strive. Habits die hard. I don't want to. Mainly out of fear of scarring you. I will though. I'm human.

You are human. You will make mistakes. And you know what? It's okay.

Through the mistakes made and the living and the forgiving, I hope you learn something. I hope you learn about grace. I hope you experience grace. And I hope you learn something extremely beautiful about the human race: we are all just trying to do the best we can.

I'm doing my best.

I can't promise you that I won't make mistakes. That I won't lose my patience when instead I should have taken in breaths deep. I can't promise you that you will always see smiles on this face of mine. You've already seen so many tears fall, haven't you? I can't promise you that you will be shielded from hurt. You have already witnessed and lived the unexpected hurt.

Though you are still little, you have lived a lot. You have some experiences I wish you didn't. You have witnessed how life can turn in an instant. And from living, you have learned that death is apart of this life. You have questions. So many questions that most three-year-olds never have to ask. Questions that most adults don't even ask. I may never know just how much this hurt has affected you. In the midst I prayed that God protected you. I still do. I hope you witnessed and learned that even when pain cuts sharp, that God is always enough. Always. I hope you learned that death doesn't mean the end and that love doesn't stop.

I hope you saw that I didn't give up.

I can't promise you that I will never disappoint or hurt you. I will. I am human. I hope you learn a thing about forgiveness through my mistakes. I hope you learn to say I'm sorry. I hope you learn to be kind to others even when the hurt they inflict is intentional - you don't know what kind of mountains they are struggling to climb.

I can't promise you that I will never disappoint or hurt you. I will. I am human. I am your mother and you are my daughter. It is such a beautiful and complex relationship.

What I can promise you is that I love you deep and true. I promise you that when I look into the deep brown of your eyes, I will always be amazed. I promise you that I am doing the best that I can. I promise to get down on the floor and play with you. I promise to dive into that deliciously creative imagination of yours and get lost with you. I promise that I will let you play in the dirt and let you play with make-up. I promise to listen to you talk and tell me about your day. I hope you still do that with me years down the road. I promise memories. The kind that are rich and warm you on a winter's day. The kind that are sudden and cause eyes to smile. The kind that are remembered first from the heart and make you feel like home.

I wanted and prayed for you long before I ever saw that first flicker of your beating heart. I loved you then. I love you now. I love you forever . . . no matter what . . . cross my heart.

I promise!

Love, Mommy


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