Five Minute Friday: Miss

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300I miss my mini-van. It made life so easy with kids, pets and equipment. Everyone had a seat near a window and rarely did anyone complain that “she’s sitting too close to me”.  I had space to breathe in that car, space to be present but not super imposing even when all seven seats were filled.

Sometimes my memories become a befuddled mess though, caught between missing and longing.

I get sucked into longing for that mini-van, longing for the moments when the girls sang Disney tunes non-stop and we listened to children’s books on tape. I long for the cool spring afternoons a child would fall asleep on the way home from Mother’s of Preschoolers and I would park the car in the warm afternoon to read a book rather than wake her to come inside.

But longing is painful. It feels like grief and tarnishes the happiness of life’s moments. Longing makes me think that my happiness has passed, creating discontentment and a sadness that is not easily squelched.

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The Hare

Last night I took most of my home school materials to a used book sale sponsored by a home school group.  This is my last year teaching at home. After four years, The Hare is finishing 8th grade and will be attending a preparatory high school next year.I am already feeling that sadness seep in to my thoughts when what I should be doing is just acknowledging that it’s OK to miss her next year. I will miss our daily chats over breakfast. I will miss snuggling on the couch to read or watch a documentary. I will miss going on personalized field trips and learning side by side. I will miss hearing every detail of the book or show she just finished. I will miss listening to her same music playlist all day long. I will miss science experiments at the kitchen table and picnic lunches in the back yard. I will even miss arguing with this very analytical and opinionated little soul because at least in those moments, even in my frustration, I knew exactly what she was thinking.

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The Tortoise

The Tortoise is also graduating this year and will be attending college in the fall. I know I will miss the unexpected hugs and kisses. I will miss hearing the garage door opening after a night out and knowing that she is safely in her bed. I will miss hearing unguarded laughter both in and out of the house as we entertained small armies of kids most weekends and all summer long. I will miss the fire pit being in constant use and remnants of smore’s left on the kitchen counter. I will miss our driveway and garage crowded by a influx of cars coming and going. I will miss the impromptu runs to get ice cream and watching Grimm together after everyone else has gone to bed. I will miss her voice filling the house with beautiful music as she practiced and practiced.

I know that I need to be careful to enjoy the moments and miss the memories but not drown in the emptiness. I need to be careful not to long for days past but just be thankful or else I might miss the beauty in this next season of my life.

Now I drive a little hatchback that seats four comfortably, but rarely has more than 1 or 2.

At some point, I’m sure I’ll miss that too.

 

Five Minute Friday: Belong

5-minute-friday-1I picture you here, snuggled under layers of covers, watching movies with your sisters. I picture Sunday morning pancakes, Friday night pizza parties, and ice-cream runs in the middle of the week. I picture Lego building marathons, afternoons baking cookies, trips to libraries, the museums, and the soccer fields.

I picture you.

You were not a mistake.

You were wanted.

You were thought about for years.

We planned for you in our hearts, made space in our home. Our family is your family and would not be complete without you. You belong here, with us. I don’t know your name or the color of your skin. I don’t have a clue if your hair is long or short. I’m going to make mistakes and forget important things like what is your favorite food, your favorite color and your favorite bedtime story. I’ll have to learn what makes you scared and take note when you smile. But I  will learn.  I will cherish every moment, even if you are angry with me for wanting you. I will cry in private, in the shower, away from you on the days that are harder than others because I will want to greet you with constant open arms, constant love and acceptance. Life will not be the same without you and we will wonder how we ever managed before you. I will want to kiss you goodnight and ask how you slept. I will wait for the day when you let me hold your hand.

But I will not force you.

I will not rush you.

I will just keep reminding you every day that you belong.

That you are important.

That you matter.

That you are loved.

There will be no division between the children born of my womb and you, the child born of my heart.

* Today I’m linking up with Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. Each week bloggers are asked to write on a topic for five minutes. No planning. No editing. Just five minutes straight from the heart. This week’s word is Belong.

This is my inside

Two Shoes TuesdayI hoped Ed Sheeran would be my muse this morning. His music has been playing on shuffle for the last hour, but instead of being creatively ignited by rhythm and lyrics, I have merely been bobbing my head up and down, rocking shoulders left and right, in the midst of an imaginary crowd of musicians, surrounded by no one, but the dog.

Thunder grumbles outside the window, a grey sky threatening to unleash its summer spray. So I continue to sit inside. Waiting for the rain to fall. Waiting for the words to come, until all at once, a trickle leaks from the sky, quickly turning to a flood. The house grows dark, The dog shakes. The windows rattle and the trees start to follow the same back and forth motion of my shoulders, dancing in the rain.

I feel like I need to write a laundry list of moments to connect my last post to this one, a road map of events to neatly tie together April to July. But perhaps what happens on the outside matters very little since my inside continues to stay the same. Places I’ve been. People I’ve seen. Who I was in April, is really no different from who I am today.

Today I am contemplative. Today I am listening to Ed Sheeran and watching the rain while my sweet Luna puppy quivers in my lap. Today I am sad for all the inequity, violence and suffering there is in the world. Today I am thankful for even the tiniest bit of shared compassion, selflessness and unconditional love for humankind.

Today I play over and over the conversation DW and I had back in April over dinner.

“Perhaps it’s time to make a greater impact on the world, ” I said, “make someday today.”

“Perhaps you’re right, ” DW replied.

We have been married for thirteen years now, and for the last 10, we have talked around the idea of opening our home to another child. Strangely, it has always been a separate conversation than the idea of “creating” another child of our own.

“The world does not need another copy of me,” DW would joke.

When my eyes are closed, when I let my mind and heart mingle, I picture at least three children. I picture my daughters holding hands with another, guiding them with patience and unconditional love. I picture my whole family being a combination of shapes and sizes, quilted together by the threads of our existence, our need to be together and support one another, our desire to not leave a mark on the world, but instead, leave an impression of kindness.

Surprisingly, I have done a lot of writing over the last few months, just not for public viewing. I have had to dig deep inside, answering questions, responding to concerns, filling out forms, reassuring myself  and reassuring others that I do not own rose-colored-glasses.  I am both excited and scared to be near the end of this process. We are merely days away from being licensed as a foster care home with the intent to adopt. We are days away from potentially making one of the most dramatic changes to the dynamics of our family. However, it may surprise you that I feel like we have already received the most amazing gift, regardless if we are placed with a child. The gift of insight about the inner workings of our family. The gift of realizing my children have not only embraced, but cherish, the same world view and vision that DW and I have modeled. This licensing process has asked us to have deeper conversations about religion, values and moral vision. It has required us to acknowledge our mistakes or weaknesses and hone in on ways to improve our relationships. Our hopes and fears have been laid out on the table, with the understanding that our journey may take several detours before ever reaching our final destination.

This process has pulled everything from the inside to the surface. And I have reached a point of being more scared of staying the same than I am of the inevitable change.

*I am taking part in Two Shoes Tuesday hosted by Josie @ Two Shoes in Texas. Today’s prompt words were inside and extra.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I measure my success in smiles

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t completely sure what home school would do to this household. Often what I think things will look like, and how they actually emerge, don’t fit exactly right. Many times I find myself chiseling away at the rough edges until things fall into place more easily. But I knew we needed to make some big changes in order to keep my youngest daughter, The Hare, from spiraling into a black hole of anxiety and depression. Her joy and passion for learning had succumbed to rigid rules, state educational regulations and the destruction of creative learning. She was lost and we needed to find her again.

DW had many questions and concerns initially, but once I did all my research and made a real plan of action, he was quickly my biggest advocate and supporter. It really boiled down to me making myself an ultimatum: succeed or else. There was no other alternative. The educational and emotional well-being of my youngest daughter was at stake. Plus, the overall environment of our family dynamics would be altered and home school would need to bring harmony not just to the youngest, but to everyone involved.

Not every day has been smooth sailing, we’ve created a few ripples and waves over the months. It took a while to figure out schedules, approaches and projects. Securing a community was also important and so was knowing when to take a break. However, we have ended up on the other side stronger and happier. There are but a few weeks left of school, and yet our brains are already thinking ahead to next year.

School in our pajamas.

Although I wasn’t completely sure what this educational adventure would look like, I was pretty sure it could be tangibly measured. Test grades, final projects, book reports and productivity would be our measure. I wanted a record of successes, a portfolio of progress, to justify our decision. I also wanted a child who could sleep through the night and get through a school day without panic attacks. I was optimistic I wouldn’t be dodging temper tantrums or flying objects any more. And although my daughter will never be long or lanky, I hoped she would learn to stand taller and be more sure of herself, less fearful.

Most of all, I longed for the days my sweet girl was excited about the morning rather than wishing she never had to wake up.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a writer’s conference, hosted by A Rally of Writers. As an added bonus, I got to go with a good friend. She is a parent of one of The Hare’s former classmates. I really enjoy her company, but recently have had few opportunities to talk in person. Most of our communication this year is through Facebook and email.

We hadn’t been on the road long before she said, “I’ll tell you what Emily, I can’t believe what a transformation there has been in your daughter.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, knowing it had been months since she had any interaction with my daughter.

I mean, that every picture I have seen of her this year, she is smiling,” my friend said, “She is not the same kid that left public school last year. There is a light in her eyes that I don’t think I have ever seen before.”

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*This post was inspired by:
The Daily Post and Three Word Wednesday.

Five Minute Friday: Afraid

5-minute-friday-1Her voice sounds jumbled and explosive echoing through the car speakers.

“Why did you leave me, Mommy?” she cries, “Why did you leave me?”

The tears are flooding the connection, and my eyes start to water too. She sounds frantic.

“I’ll be right back,” I soothe, “don’t you remember what we talked about last night? I have to drop your sister off.”

She tries to respond, but her voice gets lost in the fear. I clutch the steering wheel tighter, willing my body to not turn the car around. The orthodontist is less than five minutes from the house and it will be all of a five-minute appointment to check a retainer. The high school is only another five minutes down the road. Round trip will only be twenty minutes, at most.  Any other morning, my nearly eleven year old daughter would have slept hours longer. But not this morning. This morning she calls me in a panic, seconds after I have left the neighborhood.

“Come back,” she wails, “come back right now!”

I continue to talk softly, assure her she will be okay, but no amount of coaxing can convince her that a quiet house in the morning is stolen moments of peace. She refuses to go back to bed, snuggle under the warm blankets and share Eskimo kisses with the dog.

“Alright,” I sigh, turning the car around.

Pulling into the garage, she bolts out the back door, wrapped in her robe and slippers. Cheeks red. Eyes burning. For a moment she looks two again, crying for me in her crib, arms outstretched, begging to be picked up from too long a nap. But she is not two. She is almost eleven.

She is afraid of everything and nothing.

I am afraid her fear controls her.

*This post was inspired by Lisa-Jo Baker, tales of a Gypsy Mama