Every Little Piece

Emilia,

It’s been a while since I’ve written a letter like this. This one is important to me and it’s something I need to write down to remember to enforce every day in myself.

The first time I looked in the mirror and saw beauty there, I was in my 20’s. I have heard the word my entire life, but it was the first time I saw it myself. With naked lashes and spotty skin, I admired the shape of my jaw, the strength of my chin, the size of my eyes… I saw someone who I could love.

Now that I have you (and you are what it took to see myself clearly) I realize how important it is to feel that way. How important it is to bury that self-love deep into your soul.

From this point on I will make up for all of those years I missed. I will love myself now, because now is where we exist; you and I in this moment that we’re so lucky to have.

I am not perfect, but I am beautiful. I am strong. I am confident.  I am secure.

You are all of these things, too. Right now. In all of your two-year old glory. You are SO fierce. So beautiful and strong. You will do it “all by yourself.” And you do, you almost always do. At the same time, you don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. I admire you so much for that. You’ve taught me that strength comes not only from independence, but recognizing limits and seeking support.

When I told you your hair was crazy, you corrected me right away, “No, my hair is BEAUTIFUL, Mom.”

And it was. You are always beautiful.

Your anger is beautiful and a force of its own. You lash out, you scream, you don’t want to be touched or spoken to. I stay back, but still as near as I can. I sit there with my arms open and my lap waiting and you come to me, you crawl into it and your hug is just as powerful. I love you so much then. I love every tear that spills over, every scream that rocks my core. You’re so beautiful in that moment it breaks my heart.

Your love is beautiful and more gentle than I ever would have expected. You caress my face and pat my hair and look deep into my eyes. “You love me mommy?” Yes, baby, I love you so so so much! “I love you so much, too. I’ll keep you safe.” Emi, my fierce little girl, that will never be your job. I will always be your  mother, you will never have to take my responsibility onto your shoulders. Broad like mine, yet so delicate, you will always be free to be a kid.

That little sigh you make right before you fall asleep, the way your breath hitches twice; your hand gripping mine from the backseat as my arm goes numb; the way you sing E I, E I, O; the way your whole face frowns; the way you smile all the way to your toes; the color of your skin and your hair and your eyes and your lips and your nail beds; your very faint scar; your endless bruises; your baby teeth gap; your voice; your cry; it is all so very, very beautiful.

By the time you are old enough to read this, Taylor Swift probably won’t be music you listen to, but you’ll know every word to this song anyway.

I love you, little big girl.

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Every Little Piece

On The Eve Of Two

Today you are one. Tomorrow you will be a big girl. A bigger girl. Somehow at two the world has decided you take up too much space to be a baby anymore and you’ll become something else. Someone with her own seat, Someone with her own ticket, someone who needs her own menu… Not quite a baby, not quite a kid, just somewhere in between the spaces.

It’s surreal.

As I write this I feel the tears coming on. They’re going to spill over and if you catch me sitting here crying you’ll climb up onto this unfamiliar bed, put your still 1 year old hands on my cheeks and you’ll ask me “Mommy is sad?”

“No,” I’ll say. “Yes.” I’ll decide. “Both.” I’ll finally understand.

Because I am sad. I am sad that I am losing my baby so soon after I lost the baby I thought would make it easier. Because, in a selfish way, it is sad to watch you grow up. It’s heartbreaking to know every day you are one day closer to going your own way, and that every decision I make now is geared towards preparing you for that time.

But I’m happy, too. So happy! I laugh so much because of you. Today you sang songs in the car I didn’t even know you knew and I thought my heart might explode. Because you are bigger. Because every day you do something to amaze me. You take my breath away and you fill me with joy. Because without you I wouldn’t have been able to survive losing something so precious. And even so, without that loss I might not appreciate all of this so much.

Baby girl, my baby for a few more hours, I love you so much. You are everything I could have ever asked for. You are my soul. My bright eyed, independent, fierce little girl who’s got my chin and my smile and my eyes. You’ve got your dad’s tenacity and intelligence and cheeks. You are the best and the worst of us and you make it perfect. My little big girl, I am so lucky to have you.

So tonight while you are still my baby, my only baby, I’ll cry a little but I’ll laugh a lot. Because I love you as big as the moon, as much as the stars, as endless as the universe!

 Tomorrow you will be two.

Too much.

Much too big.

A big girl.

My bigger girl.

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On The Eve Of Two

Wordless Wednesday

1 more day…

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Wordless Wednesday

Snapshot Saturday

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My ray of hope.
My reason to keep trying.
My first, but not my only.

Snapshot Saturday

Living Life on Purpose

555150_148807201952265_2081807157_nThe biggest decision I have made in my life wasn’t to become a parent. It was the kind of parent I chose to become.

My husband was the first of the big decisions I made. I had a very clear choice. I could have done the safe thing and went off to college, built up a staggering debt, and repeated the small town cycle of life I grew up in. I didn’t know any different. Through him I had another choice. He said, “Stay with me.” And *poof* just like that I made the decision to leave everything I knew and write my story my way. The Hub has been the greatest gift of my life. Together we’ve built a beautiful life full of happiness, trust, and support. I know without a doubt that in 50 years he’ll still be by my side come hell or high water. He makes me strive to be better, for him, for Emi, and for myself.  I know I made the right choice.

When I got pregnant, I realized parenting wasn’t just about my child, it was about me too. When I chose a home birth I faced some of the normal backlash of “But it’s dangerous!” and “It’s selfish!” I think it started me off on the right foot because it forced me to prepare, to research, and to gain more knowledge in the physical and mental processes of pregnancy and birth. I didn’t sit back and let things happen to me, I chose the path I felt was best, regardless of other’s thoughts. This was a huge realization for me. It isn’t selfish to think of your own wants and needs, it doesn’t make you a bad parent to respect your own happiness while fostering your child’s. You matter too! It was the beginning of listening to my truth above the chatter of everyone elses.

As I started thinking about the kind of parent I wanted to be, I only had to think about the kind of person I wanted Emi to be. How could I shape her into a strong, kind, independent, loving, secure, and healthy person? By being that person to her. Without showing her love, kindness, strength, security, and an example of health, how could she internalize those things? She could eventually, but it’d be a harder road than it needed to be. For starters, I do not withhold affection from her for any reason; if she asks for me I give her everything I have. Period. No situation changes that. I set limits, I tell her no, but I do it with respect and empathy for her feelings, because her feelings matter. When I speak to her, I think about what I am saying and I choose my words carefully. I don’t tell her she can’t do something if I can’t give her a valid reason. “I see that you can climb onto the counter! That is exciting for you. I don’t want you to climb onto it because it’s not safe for you to be up there. Remember when you fell off yesterday? It scared us all and it hurt you. I won’t let you play up there.” Does this upset her? Absolutely! Does she push limits to test my seriousness? Of course! But I am her parent and I owe it to her to be consistent and trustworthy. My word has to mean something and without follow through and consistency it won’t.  I am not perfect, I fail many time a day. When that happens I apologize. I take responsibility for my actions and my feelings and I am open with her about them. The night before last I fought with her, becoming so frustrated that I yelled while I was trying to get her ready for bed. I stopped, I looked her in the eye and I apologized. I took responsibility for my frustration and asked her how we she wanted me to help her get dressed. All she wanted was to lie on her stomach while I put her diaper on, such a simple request that took me much too long to listen to. We got her dressed and she crawled into my lap for a hug. It’s moments like that that I am so thankful I parent deliberately and not just from the hip. She deserves my best, I owe it to her to be present and involved in her life every moment, not just for the big picture. It’s the moments that matter most.

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” — Maya Angelou.

Read that quote again and again; live by it. Let your past go and embrace your future. Learn more, do better, and make the most out of what you have. Live deliberately. Make the choices that will facilitate you dreams. I spent too many years miserable, letting things happen to me instead of making the choices that would have made me happier. I made the right choices where they counted and I love the life I have made for myself with my family. I think the key to happiness is going for what you want and failing as many times as you have to until you get it. And if you have the right people around you, they will support you. They will help you build the ladder that reaches to your moon. Hold those people close and don’t ever let them go.

Living Life on Purpose

Wordless Wednesday Wordplay

I try to think of things
Like back when I was poetry
And all of this was words and letters
strung together by tears and laughter and pain
and I felt and I felt and I felt,
Everything but better.

Back when the clouds looked like loose leaf paper
and my toes were a pen…

Now they’re dangling out of reach
Because I can’t go back to her, to then.

But with time brought happiness
And took with it pain (and words)
I’m reaching, stretching, pushing –
For what belongs to her.

I’ll catch them if I can
Pull them back to me
Breathe them deep into my soul.
Then I’ll plant them in my daughters heart
and quietly watch them grow.

Wordless Wednesday Wordplay