Sunday, May 8, 2016

Always, Always

Motherhood.

It's surprising and joyous and painful all at once.

It stretches you to elastigirl lengths. Mostly in your heart where no one else can see the bending and twisting that occurs as one comes to grips with the raising of these small (that become big) humans.

To My Dearest Chickadees,

I've watched you this year, my loves, leaping and soaring and standing precariously close to the edges of cliffs, both physical and metaphorical. I've watched you journey, with abandon. You're both so very very brave and strong and beautiful and kind. I'm not just saying this because I'm your momma and I have to, I'm saying it because truth words deserve to be spoken. I speak truth.

Grace Girl, we've had such a year of firsts and lasts. So many, in fact, that I'm downright worn out. I've heard teenagers do that to a soul. But despite it all you are so worth the loving. Worth every second of it. Remember the days when you were smaller than me? Now I have to tip-toe to fix your hair or help you with make-up. Let's be real...I actually have to ask you to sit to be able to reach you. Your poise? It surprises me again and again. You've gone for the near impossible and dealt with the no. I mean, who flies across the county to tryout for Julliard when they only take 22 students for their summer program and then says she'll do it all again next year? YOU DO. We don't come from big dance and all I desire is to give you the training you so deserve, but you've stayed here and worked your hardest. You go to every single class and you try. It's all I could ever ask of you. You care more about hearts than you do about fame and glory and you've taught your smallish sister to do the same. You love so big, even when you don't want people to know that you do. Your heart? It's so much more beautiful than anything else. It eclipses all of the sass and teenagerhood we deal with in our house. You're sixteen. You're not perfect. Nor am I. You're learning to be all grown up, and it takes my breath away. Covers of catalogs and modeling shoots and texts from amazing choreographers haven't changed who you are on the inside. Lately, you've surprised me with your intellect (I mean, we've always known you were smart...but THIS SMART???) and honestly scared me with the possibilities of all that you are truly capable of academically. My love, the sky is truly your limit. Whatever you decide to do I'll be here to cheer you on, pick you up, and send care packages filled with rice cakes and cookies and reminders of home. We're in our last year of high school early, because, like everything else, you've done it at your speed. You waited a year and got your driver's permit at the age where everyone else was getting a license. It wasn't because you didn't want it, but because you were busy pursuing things that were more important to you. When you're dancing 30 hours a week is there really time to learn to drive? May you always have priorities and may you never care to fit in with the crowd. Those people don't really count anyhow, and I'm grateful that you've learned this early. Do what you do at your own pace. I've watched you live this, both in your schooling and dancing, and it makes my heart swell. YOU, Hannah banana, are the real deal. The one that people want to be when they grow-up. You're all of the lovely things in this world wrapped into one unique package. When that new friend told you he'd never met anyone like you? He spoke truth. There is no one like you in this world. The mix of your determination, fiery spirit, beauty, kindness, gentleness, honestly, wit, worldview and wicked sense of humor are unique. As you prepare to head out from here don't let anyone take those things from you. I'm learning, bit by bit, to let you go. I know it is coming and I'm so proud of you. I'm also so sad for me. I've been raising you to fly, to have roots and wings, and in moments where the days are long but the years are short it's abundantly clear that you are so much bigger than where we are right now. I accept this, dear one, but oh how it will break my heart into a million pieces when you leave. If I've done my job, my heart should break. It will tell me that I did all I could to raise and prepare you before you left and that we've given you all of the tools to feel equipped to leave. That's what motherhood is...roots and wings. Just remember, as you head into all of the last lasts that lead to firsts, that until you find the one that makes your heart soar I'll be your last goodbye as you leave and your first hello hug back.

Little Bit, you are growing up before my eyes. Your maturity and poise have skyrocketed this year (if it was even possible for you to be more grown-up than you actually are...). You, my love, are so incredibly special. There is a light about you that radiates for all to see. It's magical. Like your sister, you're kind, intelligent, witty, interesting and beautiful. But you are so much more than all of that. When you were a baby and we told people that you were the Mary Poppins of small children I never expected you to keep that quality. You draw people to you, Eliana. You create joy wherever you go without even trying. You, too, are the real deal. There is nothing fake or fabricated about either you or your sister, and I'm so proud of you for never caring what anyone else thinks or says. We've had a few hiccups this year as you've tried to make a path for yourself that does not include Han. Having you talk, with a thirty year old's wisdom, about her growing up and leaving broke my heart in two. Your grace in the situation and foreknowledge astounded me. Trying new groups because she won't always be here to do things with is so, so brave. Especially when you're still so physically small and people mistake you for someone half a decade younger until you open your mouth. Thank you for being my child that never gives up. Ever. The one that will try until she gets a skill or concept or even a friend. Thank you for the ways you grow and teach me. Thank you for always loving me as your mama and as a person. You have no idea what your sweet joy does for my soul. Traveling with you and getting to know you better both as a person and as an artist has been a gift. What 10 year old (who turned 11 this year) gets a lifetime appointment to something? YOU. You're just that unique. You are worth investing in, and watching you pour yourself into it has been something I cannot quite put words to. I'd go to the ends of the earth to watch you learn and stretch yourself and do what you love. Your growth in all areas has been exponential, and so has your heart for those around you. Nah-Nah, you truly are a future star. You're light and joy and life. You have so much ahead of you that I'm already thankful for. The ordinary that you make extraordinary is just around the corner. Breathe in these moments, my sweet girl, because your path is one of flight, too. You'll soar like your big sister. I'm just so so thankful I get you here with me for a bit longer. But, when the time comes, I'll be ready to let you go too, knowing we've raised you to be true to yourself and to share with the world beauty that you are daily becoming.

Girls, being your mama is my most favorite job. It's my hardest too. Do you know what it's like to raise two golden haired beauties with minds and hearts of their own? Exhausting...mostly because I know that loving and leaving go hand-in-hand. I love the ways you're in our world but not of it. I love the compassion you have for others. I love watching you grow, and I love the way your circle is constantly increasing in diameter. I love both of you for who you are, were, and will someday be.

For always and forever I thank you for allowing me to be called your mama. It's my hardest, best, most worth-it title outside of being your daddy's wife and daughter of our King. You make my days so very very full and amazing. Continue to let your light shine. Be you. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks. Choose the joy. Speak truth. Love well. Be strong and brave and bold and unique.

I'll always love you higher, deeper, and wider.

Always Always,

Mama

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Choosing


Joy? It's a choice...

...Choosing Joy.

It's how she chose to live her live. It's how everyone is choosing to remember her as she's partying in Heaven. 

Lucky. Duck. She's partying in Heaven...

Because as the book that Mary Carver penned from Sara's blog (linked above) discusses, it wasn't all sunshine and roses. Or even mostly sunshine and roses. It was real life gritty and uncomfortable. It was painful and messy and downright awful at times  most of the time. Sara chose.

She focused on the joy and the laughter and the family and friendships and community. She picked it. Just think...in the middle of all of it she picked to focus on the good and beautiful. She made a life for herself when others might have wallowed. She did that occasionally, but always came back from it because she never wanted to be "that person". She never was.

In the book from the blog, Mary does an excellent job of choosing posts which highlight Sara's keep on keeping on attitude and heart. From tv on Friday nights with her "sisters" to time out on the porch with her parents or shopping in her closet with Laura, Choose Joy highlights the ways that Sara was able to live. She chose life in the middle of her chronic disease. She chose to savor moments and memories and relationships. 

Yesterday the chicks and I were in the middle of real life. Real life is hard. It makes you feel all of the feelings and choose. It asks you to try. If you never try you can never choose...and if you never choose then you never grow. You don't feel the feelings. You never step out and change your circumstances. It's a very complicated circle. It's messy. It's life. You must choose to begin to try. Growth comes from choice

We've been given the opportunity to choose

What are you choosing today?



Friday, January 8, 2016

Stepping In

It’s been forever and a day since I last checked in (when I logged into this account it said two years and one day, to be exact). I’ve been preparing the girls to someday take flight, which has consumed minutes and hours and days and weeks and months and, apparently, years. It’s a process that is full of perspective and breathing and growing.  I’ll share more about the chickadees and their process in the future, but these next few posts will focus on different topics entirely.

To be honest, I’ve found it difficult to be in an online space without friend requests and boundaries. It’s vulnerable and open and real. I’ve been all of these things, but on a much smaller scale and with a limited audience, so please bear with me as I take baby-steps back here.

I am honored to be part of the Choose Joy launch team.  I am.  But honestly? This is hard. Glennon says all the time “we can do hard things”. I hard core adopted that mantra as I geared up to read. The hard is in no way based upon the writing or the promotion or any of it. It’s the topic, which just happens to be my dead friend. The one who made plans with me for the “highlight of our twilight” and had a wicked sense of snark and uncontrollable curly frizz. The one who didn’t make it to forty.  Yep. Her. Our Sara (I'm linking to a post YOU MUST IMMEDIATELY GO READ where she discusses her snark along with her philosophy of it being "all good" and also uses the term "freaking kidding me" which was ALL HER). The game she discusses? The one she played with Mama Jane in the waiting rooms at Mayo? We often play it in airports. So. Many. People. In. Airports. Yes, the girls and I share Sara's snark. As I review and share the book I'm going to guide you back to her blog. It was many of the best parts of her, the ones she put out for everyone to see, but it was honest and raw and real. She was real. Rereading the post I linked made me laugh and cry at the same time. True definition of sappy that she and NieNie discussed often. So, dear ones, we can do hard things. I proved it. I picked up the darn book and read it in a single sitting.


The book arrived for me to review and it sat under my Christmas tree for three weeks.  Three. Weeks.  Side note: A friend, Alece, refers to this, 2016, as her year of “badassery”. It’s not my word, but for all intents and purposes, I’m borrowing it here.  I’m reaching deep down into that word to rejoin this online community and review a book that was difficult for me to read. Laura Pederson and Mary Carver spent countless hours launching (Laura) and writing (Mary) Choose Joy. It took me that much time to gather the strength to read it. I'll be sharing parts of it here in the coming days. Welcome back, friends, I'm harnessing strength and rejoining this crazy wonderful word world.