So you’re a little broken.

A friend of mine recently received a gift from her mom. A snow globe; which has been a tradition they’ve shared for years. It’s something she has cherished and looks forward to. She has a whole cabinet filled with these tokens of love.

The night she brought the newest addition of her collection home she left it in its gift bag on the mud room counter. It was late, and she decided she would get everything put away the next day; after they all had some rest. Pretty standard for many of us, I’m sure. The next morning her daughter reached behind the gift bag to grab something; an easy guess of what happened next.. there was a crash, and lots of tears as the glass was carefully picked up. Then the once contained liquid wiped clean.

I love how she handled the whole situation. She let her kids see her emotions, see her sadness. They saw her pain as she cleaned up the loss of such a heartfelt gift. She didn’t yell, however. She knew it was an accident and there was no way anger mixed with sadness would solve anything. Her daughter, along with a son, did their best to lift her spirits by making her cards to show they care and her feelings matter.

How many times do we find something broken and decide it’s no good? Maybe even not worth our time anymore? Have pain, break a little and feel WE aren’t worth it? We let those cracks and chips start to define us, impact us negatively. We look in the mirror and find our fractures then break a little as we let them fill in with sadness, then anger when not properly cared for.

We are all a little broken. We all have scares, some bigger than others. The fact is we are patchwork quilts of our experiences. We are snipped, clipped and stitched. We gather up the pieces needed and leave scraps behind us in a trail as we’ve lived. We are perfectly, beautifully pieced together showing moments, some darker, some brighter. Pulled together with love and healing in stunning contrast.

Japanese pottery is rarely tossed when broken. Instead, it’s often mended with liquid gold. The scares make it more beautiful, more unique. The gold brilliantly shows the fractures of the objects past and highlights the defining lines of its life. Making its future more beautiful.

The mending of cracks and fractures is an art. It takes time. It takes practice. It is worth it. Just like Japanese pottery, it takes time and practice to mend our broken bits. As we learn to do so, it’s also worth it. If we can’t mend our broken pieces, how can we help and teach our children to mend theirs? It’s a practiced skill that needs constant honing, and worth passing to our legacy.

The snow globe? It’s sitting in a cabinet surrounded by dozens of perfect snow globes. Snow globes that don’t have any visible cracks or broken pieces. It’s sitting on two cards, written with love. It doesn’t shake into a white winter flurry anymore. It has jagged pieces, and doesn’t resemble a perfect translucent sphere. If you ask me, it’s the most beautiful globe there.

Here’s to all us broken people. You; with all your cracks, your chips, and fractures. You; who is struggling to get out of bed. You; who has been wronged in some way; whether by family, friend or foe. You; whose trust has been broken. Whose world feels upside down. I see YOU. You have embellishments of gold perfectly placed in cracks you didn’t ask for. You are perfect. You are stunning.

Let him love you.

Behind every historical victory of women’s rights is an incredible woman who saw the need for change. Behind every incredible woman who changed the world, stood strong grounded parents who helped nurture her fire. Whether by positive influence or negative reselance, her parents molded her into who she became. As I think of myself, I am who I am because of the strong parents who sculpted and shaped me into the woman I am today. When I look at the face of my daughter, I want so much for her. I want her to be strong. I want her to push. Be determined. I hope I am able to do half as well for my daughter, as my parents have done for me.

She deserves that doesn’t she? She will fight her way, tooth and nail, to greatness. This world won’t be handed to her, not because I don’t want that for her, but because learning to stand when you feel like falling builds character that only tripping now and then can teach.

Here’s where this takes the curved road instead of the straight path you thought we were headed toward. Not just her, my sons as well. They deserve to hold the same reselentsy, strength, and zeal that I hope for her. While I love the pep our young generation of woman have with-in them, trust me… I’m one of them, I can’t help but be nervous the tables may turn in a negative way for my boys. Not because anyone has actively attacked their personal character, but because of how independent I am with their father, my husband.

I’m not taking him out back with a switch by any means, while there are days I totally think about it. If I’m being truly honest with you, my children totally catch me saying things like; “I’ve got this, I don’t need no man.” and “I don’t need you to do that for me.” Admittedly, most things are in jest. Some, like the later, are completely truthful. I cringe at the thought of my boys being put down for things I am actively teaching them, like chivalry. Scoff all you want ladies and gents, chivalry is not dead, and should never be! However, it along with basic humanity and respect for a strong partnership will be extinct very soon if we don’t put ourselves in check.

Our boys need… no, they deserve the same effort of growth our girls deserve. Equality goes both ways. I hate to think that my boys could someday live in a world where they feel a compliment could offend someone. Where being a gentleman is viewed as suppressive.

We are strong. We are vocal. We are hella resilient! We stand up for the little guy. (yes, the little girl, too. *insert heavy eye roll*) Here’s the kicker; sometimes WE ARE the little guy. A man being our support in those moments does not make you or me any less of a strong woman. In fact, the strongest leaders know when to take a knee and rely on the people around them.

In the same years my parents were raising a strong woman who is more than capable to think for herself. My husband was being raised by parents who were teaching him to love, respect and protect his future wife and family. He was taught to stand up and speak when needed. He was shown how to continuously fight to provide and care for a family. He learned about partnership and respect. In the time so many women were being taught to stand up for themselves, so many honorable men were being taught to help those women shine.

Which brings me here. Let him love you. Let him care for you. Let him be your strength. Let him open a damn door now and then! And if he doesn’t; then teach your boys to be better. To do better. It does NOT make you less of a woman. It makes you a great partner who understands that he needs to love his way now and again. He’s trying to understand what you need and how to best support you. Learn the same about him, meet the poor bloke half way, would ya?

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If I knew then what I know now.

I’m sure many have seen the social media then and now trend circling. If somehow you haven’t, which I highly doubt, people are asked to post a photo from 2009; then a side by side with 2019. Ten years, a whole decade, how have you changed? Is your family different? Do you look drastically different, or has Father Time been good to you and the changes are minimal, if at all? What about the things you can’t see, the life you’ve actually lived. If you knew then what you know now, would anything be different? Would you change anything?

I look back and see the start and end of a life season. I met and married my Husband and we started and finished our family. Which a simple sentence like that seems so picturesque. So routine. It got me thinking, if given the chance what would I tell ’09 me about the years that lay ahead? The trials, the triumphs, the moments that made me proud, and the things I wish I had done differently.

I think it would go something like this:

There will be moments that you are so sure of what you’re doing and you will still have others tell you you’re wrong. Trust yourself in those moments. Others can’t understand or dictate your happiness, especially when talking about the life you are choosing to build. That man-boy you just met? Marry him. Stop telling him to go away, you already know where this is headed. I understand what you’re thinking, “what will people say? Think? Assume?” They will say, think, and assume all the things. The only thing that matters is the truth.

Learn the difference between advice and opinion. Advice will come with love, and understanding. True advice will welcome you with open arms no matter the choice made. Opinion will come with finality of one person’s thoughts. Differing opinions can be a great thing. You can learn greatly from them, but only if the opinion is coming from an open minded source. Quite frankly, another person’s opinion of you doesn’t matter. Especially when we’re talking about your happiness. You control your happy. There is a calm that comes with real unwavered happiness. Recognize that perfect calm. We aren’t talking about the calm before a storm feeling. That calm has a sense of foreboding that comes with it. This is an absolute calm. A calm that allows you to laugh, have joy, and complete comfort even while there may be a storm around you. Learn this calm, and remember it, you will recognize it many times in the the next ten years.

The last thing you will expect is infertility. People don’t talk about it often, that will change. I promise you are not alone in this trial; something you don’t find out until your first miscarriage. Support will come from the most unexpected places. Through this you will find yourself being the support for others. Many will reach out to you about miscarriage and infertility, that you’ve just met because your story was shared. Don’t get upset when some don’t understand. It’s one of those things that many can’t fully comprehend until they live it. You assume in your young, nieve self, that things will come easily; the perfect picture of what a young couple starting a family should be. It won’t. There is no should be. There is only what is, and if you look carefully you will find beautiful imperfection in every moment.

People will choose to leave your circle. This will be painful, and I’m sorry. There really isn’t anything that can be said to make these moments easier. You will still feel sadness no matter the time that passes. You will never understand why, questions will never fully be answered, you just have to hope they have done what’s best for them. My only solace would be to quote Alfred Lord Tennyson. “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” To feel sadness is to know you have loved. On the flip side. Don’t be afraid to leave a table if the company isn’t what you need or is the source of what is dragging you down. You have a loyalty almost to a fault at times. Your loyalty belongs to your husband and children. It’s more than okay to love and cheer for people from afar.

Most importantly, you need to know for every bit of struggle there is more good than you can imagine. Your trials will come and go. You will move through all of them, some much less gracefully than others. The emotions will stay with you as a very real reminder of those moments. I can promise you they will be that, moments. Some longer than others, and what comes out the other side is a stronger you. You follow that perfect calm and marry that goofy guy who could barely tell you his name. He is supportive and not afraid to call you out when needed. He is exactly what you need. The two of you have a beautiful rainbow baby, followed by two more who are just as perfect as the first. You laugh every. Single. Day. Even on the hard days. Yes, there are still hard days. Some days you will feel like you’re only surviving. Girl, there is nothing wrong with surviving. It means you’re still trying, still fighting. It most definitely doesn’t mean you’re failing. You keep your head up, look for the good. When you do, you see the smallest blessings that are present in everyday.

As this decade closes, so does this season of life. There was pain and sadness, but there was so much good. So much love. More happy than I could have hoped for. Sometimes we have to look back to see the full picture of what was. I’m excited for what’s to come. I’m also blessed to have lived the moments I have been given. We blinked and this decade was gone. For this next decade, focus on and live in the moments.

Photo credit: Gwendolyn Dattage Photography

The chicken people banned me.

Okay… Full Disclosure. Ban was a strong word, they suspended me. Why? For bullying… No you didn’t misread that. Me, the chick (pun intended) who has BE NICE stickers and lanyards all over the place. Suspended for bullying.

Let’s back up. Before my family and I moved we had chickens. So naturally, in the social media age we live in, I found a comfy home in a few social media groups geared towards chickens. I had been apart of it for some time, it was pretty standard. Questions, photos, all things geared chicken. – You’re jumping out of your seat to be BFF’s with me, aren’t you? – One day, while browsing through my feed a post caught my eye. It was about a gal who was upset because she couldn’t find anyone who wanted her beloved rooster… Laugh all you want, its a real thing. There is a time I would have laughed too. Here’s the thing, once you devote that much time to a flock, big or small, you’re bound to get attached. You learn who they are, what each bird likes. Yes, they have different likes and personalities, and you learn them! You begin to have favorites. I could relate, I missed having chickens and a roo a time or two I had to rehome for various reasons. I opened the growing comment thread and started to read. It was full of suggestions, solidarity, and people genuinely worried about where this rooster would end up.

Then there was that comment. The one that caught my eye and sealed my suspension before I even knew it was coming for me. (We’ll call her Karen. We all know a Karen.) Karen commented “No sales or finding homes for birds here.” Really, Karen? Now I’m not one to sit back and let the little guy be put in their place for seemingly nothing. So I reply. “Karen, what would we do without you?”

Listen.. I know how dumb this sounds. Seriously, as I’m typing this I’m rolling my eyes at the whole thing. But really; the chicken lady, Karen, isn’t the worst of it. The keyboard courage is. We’ve all seen it. Hell, most of us have both fallen victim to, and been guilty of it. **slowly raises hand** On most any given forum the comments are the best part. Because people can’t get a grip and control themselves. I tell my son every single day, above all else.. BE KIND. He isn’t always. Sometimes he’s a down right asshole.. but he’s trying. And trying is better than not.

I digress, we are all so worried about social media and what it will do to our children. But what about what it’s doing to us? We are the ones who didn’t grow up with it. We are the ones who were never taught to manage ourselves on social media. Hell, my son will tell you what he thinks to your face. Filter always optional in his eyes. He doesn’t need a screen and a keyboard to hide behind to say what he wants in any given moment. Maybe, we could implement a few of the lessons we are worried about teaching our children and apply them to our daily lives. Our daily dose of social media know how and lessons, if you will. Because while there are people out there who will tell you how it is, just like my son. (Trust me, I know one of them. And she’s fantastic!) The difference is, they were taught to communicate in both speech and text. They understand context, and the basic human right to be treated well even if they don’t agree with someone.
I guess what I’m getting at is… don’t be a keyboard chicken lady, Karen. HA! No, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself, but don’t let the screen and keyboard be a mask to easily bring out the ugly. The world has enough ugly.

My dad recently told my son “It’s easy to destroy, it takes work to build something up.” I’ve adopted the sentiment here in our home. Why take the easy way out? Why do something that destroys, when the building and hard work are everything to be proud of. Nobody ahh’s and oogles the torn down, everyone takes a moment to take in something that took time, hard work, and dedication to build. This takes on whole new meaning when you put a person at the center of the statement.

Also, to be clear. I did tell Karen, before I was.. err, suspended, I was sorry she took my words so harshly. Because they weren’t meant that way, (again, context people) I just found the policing comical. And obviously didn’t convey my thought correctly with my lack of context and sarcasm. I’m not perfect, and I never will be. But like my son, I’m working everyday to be a little better.

Lesson Learned: The small things matter BIG time.

Today, I received a text from my sons 1st grade teacher.

“Jack was wondering if you could bring a change of underwear? He didn’t quite make it but his pants are fine.”

I rolled my eyes. Not because he dribbled some in his underwear on the way to the restroom. It’s because being a mom is hard and sometimes draining. I know how this sounds, and I know the eyerolls I may have coming toward myself for the statement. Let me clarify, Rewarding? ALWAYS! But still, hard. That’s the simplest way to put it.

I was an hour into the baby’s nap, my four year was at preschool for another hour and a half, and frankly; I was not in the mood. I was ignoring the dishes, the laundry, and Netflix binging like a Mo-Fo!! Hey, we’ve all been there. – If you haven’t, I both salute you and would like to invite you over for a relaxing evening of sweets, snacks and some chill. – It had been a crazy week and the last thing I wanted was to wake up the baby and bring a pair of underwear to the Elementary School 6 minutes down the road.
If I’m being honest with myself; it’s not even about waking up the baby, or canceling my binge plans. It’s more about not being needed for half second… or what would feel like half a second once that hour and half had passed and I was 1.5 episodes deep into that docuseries. I love my children. I thrive on their happiness. I’m also human. I’m a person who needs a mental break just as much as the next person, and that’s okay. It’s taken me some time to realize it’s okay to want to be alone for a minute. Today was my minute, my me minute, if you will.

I have to be honest, I hesitated. Then I realized. He knows I’m home. He knows I’m home for him, for his brother and his sister. He knows. He remembers the day I told him I quit my job to be with him and his siblings. I tell him constantly that I’m here for him. That he can come to me with anything, and no matter what… I’m here.
So what would I be telling him if I didn‘t show up for this seemingly small thing? Except to my six year old; this was anything but small. He has always been very aware of himself and the people around him. Something so insignificant to most; is a mountain to him. He thinks about it nonstop until the problem is resolved, a conclusion is met, or he understands a situation.

I got up, grabbed some clean britches and put them nicely in a brown paper bag; very discrete. I woke up the baby, loaded up, and I went. When I walked in the secretary called to his classroom and let him know I was there. She let us use the faculty restroom in the front office, we went in and I helped him quickly change. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. That was it; except it wasn’t.

That’s when I saw how much this 6 minute errand meant to him. He asked me what he should do if his teacher told the class why he had to go to the office. I told him she wouldn’t. He asked what he should say if his friends ask him about it. I told him to tell them his mom came to say hi. Because “here I am, and I’m saying hi.” As I was about to help him put his shoes back on and we were still weirdly tangled fixing his jeans, he wrapped his arms tightly around my neck. You know; those hugs your kids give when they can’t quite contain themselves and the strength surprises you. The really good ones. The ones that make you pause.

“Thank you for coming for me, mom. I love you.”

That was it. I realized what I almost did by not going. Repairing the trust in me would have taken, months, possibly years.. if ever. That request was so small to me. A nuisance even. However, for him it was monumental. His mom showed up. I stepped up and showed him there is real truth and meaning behind my words. I became someone he can trust all over again. These little things are what pile up on one another until they are packed tight and solid. Never moving; to slowly and surely build a foundation for the big things. The big things are what I hope.. No, I pray he calls me for any day, anytime. Netflix binging or not; I will be there.

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