Tennis Shoe Trust

School mornings around here are always hectic. On any given morning my tasks include pouring ceral, brushing hair (“pink bow, mom!”), packing lunches, finding that missing mitten while carrying a cranky toddler, handling at least one tantrum about a “bump in my sock,” and telling my children at least 237 times to put on their shoes. No matter how prepared I am the night before, the morning always ends in a mad dash to get out the door on time for school drop-off.

I go through a mental checklist in my head. Backpack? Check. Lunch? Check. Pink folder? Check. Snow gear? Wait. It is finally warm out. No snow gear. Is it Thursday, do we need show-and-tell? No, it’s Monday. Oh! That means we need library book! Sweatshirt? Check. Tennis shoes? Check.

Except on this particular morning, I forgot the mental checklist. After school drop-off, I took the younger children to the playground for a playdate. It was lunchtime when we arrived home at which point I noticed a missed call on my phone. School called. Oh no!  I thought as I started listening to the voicemail. Savannah forgot her tennis shoes…wearing sandals…please bring for recess…

I glance at my watch. 11:44. Recess is in 14 minutes. “Kids, we need to go!” I say to my other ones in the middle of eating lunch. We scramble to jump in the car. My two year old crying because he is mid-chew. “Savannah needs her shoes for the playground.” I explain in the car.

Ugh. This is the second time this year we have forgotten her tennis shoes. I hope we make it in time, I think as we pull into the parking lot. As we enter the school, I see they are still eating lunch. The receptionist kindly tells me I may take her shoes to her.  As we enter the cafeteria, the kids and I scan the tables for her. And there in the back at the hot lunch table, I see her. And she has a huge grin on her face once she sees us. We deliver her shoes, and Savannah is happy. “My shoes! Thank you, Mommy! I can play on the playground!” She exclaims. She hugs me. We chat with her friends for a few minutes. The girls squeal over her “cute” baby brother.

That was close, I think as we make our way home. I am relieved. I made it in time. I didn’t let her down. She can count on me. And my heart feels full.

The day carried on without incident and on our walk home from school I asked Savannah if she was worried Mommy wouldn’t bring her shoes to school. “No.” She said immediately. “You brought them last time I forgot. So I knew you would bring them to me,” she said as she skipped off down the road.

I knew you would bring them, I repeated back to myself. Her words hanging in the air. She trusted me. Even though it was in the final hour that she needed her shoes, she believed I would bring them. There was no worry. No doubt. No fear.

And right there, I realized I could learn a lot about trust from my kindergartner. She trusted me fully with her whole heart. She believed in me. Can I say the same about trusting my heavenly father? How often do I question God? How often do I worry about plans, relationships, finances, health issues. I ask and ask. Are you sure God, I ask again. Are you listening God? Is it time yet, God? Any minute now, God? I worry. I rant. I stress. I doubt. I get anxious in the waiting on God. In the trusting.

But do you trust me? He whispers.

What if the answer I am waiting for is not about the answer, but in the actual waiting. Waiting so I can actually trust him. Trust. Him. That he knows. He hears. He answers. He always provides. Maybe the answers come once I finally let go.

But do you trust me? He whispers.

What if I trusted God as fully as my daughter trusted in me to bring her shoes? What if I never doubted God and his timing as my daughter never doubted mine? Has he not demonstrated through past answered prayers that he will always come through for me as I had done for my daughter? Yes. Always. 

But still, I let my imperfect, broken, sinner flesh dictate my feelings and actions instead of handing it to God and saying, Here God. You got this for me. I. Trust. You. 

But do you trust me? He whispers again.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

This verse doesn’t say to trust God with part of your heart and only acknowledge him some of the time. But with all your heart in all your ways. I am working on having “tennis shoe” trust in God with everything from a close parking spot at the grocery store on a rainy day with kids in tow to big life altering events–like preschool closings. And in doing so, he will lead me on the right path.

And the next time one of my children forgets their shoes, lunch, homework, or mittens, (because I know there will be a next time) it will remind me to keep trusting God in the midst of whatever struggle I may be facing.

My five-year-old taught me an invaluable lesson about trust that day. And I know that inevitably there will be a day that I fail one of my children-even with my best efforts-because I am human and imperfect. But she can always count on God. We both can. He will always be there. He never disapoints. He never falls short. He never leaves. He never fails.

xo, Becca

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The Sweet Spot

In tennis the sweet spot is the location on your racket if in which the ball is struck will result in the ball rebounding with greater velocity than if struck on any other part of the racket. In other words, it basically is the perfect hit.

***

At dinner every night we recently started asking the kids two questions. What was the best part about your day? and What was the worst part about your day? And let me tell you, my children love this. Seriously. One of my daughters has taken it upon herself to lead these questions every night, asking each person with unconstrained excitement. We all listen intently, laugh at the silly answers and talk about the sad ones. We reflect on how a timeout could have been prevented, why your sister made you feel sad, who was the Uno! champion, and how did you show kindness.

Last night as we were taking turns answering these questions, I looked around the table at my husband and each of my children. All three children were eating their food with no complaining, we were having real conversations as opposed to squabbles about how many bites to eat. No one spilled their milk. I didn’t have to cut the grapes in half. We were laughing at my toddler’s silly faces. I didn’t race to scarf down my food to tend to a crying or nursing baby.  It was just so…pleasant.

And in that moment I realized, I think we have [finally] entered the sweet spot.

In motherhood, the sweet spot is after the baby phase and before the teenage years. Right now my kids are almost 6, 4 and 2. Old enough to play nicely without mom refereeing every move. They all can use words to communicate, no more endless cries and super ninja tricks to decipher their needs. There are no other babies on the way so none of that pregnancy drama. We are no longer dictated by a nursing and multiple naps-a-day baby schedule. I can *sometimes* leave the house without my diaper bag and it not be a total disaster. My girls are actually helpful with small tasks and chores around the house. My former Velcro baby no longer cries while in Sunday school. My children sleep all. night. long. Need I say more?

We have not yet entered the “mom is not cool” phase, and my kids still prefer to hang out with me. I know this will not last forever. But of course, I will not complain if they “skip” this phase. Problems can be solved easily-which movie to watch, which dress should I wear, which snack should I eat? No mean girl or boyfriend-stealing drama. No curfew abusing or worry about friend choices and drivers licenses. Enough said!

We can spend hours playing at the park or a day at the zoo and my kids are so excited. I declare one night, it is a “two scoop” kind of ice cream night and my daughter shouts, “Best Day Ever!” Yup, I agree. These days. They are! My children right now are easy to please, they hang on my every word, and little simple joys are their biggest delight.

These are the days right now. The sweet spot days. The ones I am storing up for when I am old and wrinkly. The ones I will look back on with nostalgia.

I am in no way saying that I don’t have hard days in this season. Because, trust me, I do. Last week I had three sick kids, and let me tell you something-I was exhausted and totally over all of it. It’s just that now, the good days outnumber the bad days.

I am not foolish enough to believe these days will last forever. One day, I will have three teenagers at the same time. And I know from my mom friends with older kids, that will be no easy feat. I know motherhood will get harder again before I can blink, so until then, I am soaking up these sweet, sweet days.

We went to our first ever family movie a couple of weeks ago. All three children not only made it through the entire movie, they sat well, engaged in the experience of “going to the movies.” It was so glorious!

I used to imagine that one day, a day like that would come, when I wouldn’t be elbow deep in newborn blowouts or round the clock nursing. Back in the days when I looked forward to bedtime because that meant morning coffee would soon follow. When my husband and I used to divide and conquer kids, passing the baton in a relay race where we rarely had time or energy for an uninterrupted conversation.

And now, all of a sudden, here we are, the sweet spot, all together at the movies.

Little victories. Simple joys. These are the days. And they are so so sweet.

xo, Becca

The Death of a Friendship

It was 2008. We met in spin class. In between sprints and mountian climbs, we bonded over The Bachelor, dogs and our love for J.Crew. We became fast friends, which was a welcomed blessing after my husband and I had recently relocated and knew exactly nobody in our new city.

We met religiously three times a week at spin class, where we’d sweat out life’s problems, and routinely be yelled at by instructors for the incessent talking amongst us. She shared with me how her sister-in-law was dying of cancer and about her own infertility journey. I divulged equally private issues. We listened, cried and laughed together.

Over the course of three years, we did more than just “spin,” we Christmas shopped, had doggie playdates, emailed back and forth, before texting was a “thing,” and exchanged birthday presents. Our husbands became friends too, and we’d meet for dinner some nights or they’d come over and play cards. She cheered me on during my trialthon races, back when I actually did that, and our husbands completed a trialthon relay race together. She watched our labrodoodle, Sierra, numerous times when we went on vacations. I brought her a beaded bracelet back from Maui.

We were basically inseperable. She was more than a best friend. She was the big sister I had always wanted. She was older than me by about fifteen years, if I had to guess, but I never did muster up the courage to ask her age.

She was the first non-family member I told I was pregnant. And I was so nervous to do so given her infertility background. She and her husband were not able to have children. But she was so happy and joyful for me. She was encouraging along the journey and so genuinely excited for us. She and her husband even came to the hospital when our first child was born, bearing gifts and flowers, and enjoyed some baby snuggles.

But as the year progressed, I noticed a change in our friendship. It is no surprise that Savannah’s first year was undoubtly the hardest year of my life. She cried a lot, daycare was horribly hard for me, she had too may ear infections to count, and I was bascially a hot mess. I needed my mom, who lives half way across the country, and I had nobody. My friend pulled away, at the very time I desperately needed someone.

I know to her, someone who couldn’t have children, I probably looked like a disaster. Which I wouldn’t deny, so I tried to be sensitive to her, given her infertility journey and how she must have felt. And now I had a baby, and it was a challenge. But I gave her the benefit of the doubt many times and continued to reach out to get together, to walk to dogs, come over to dinner. But I felt the distance starting.

The next year, once Savannah turned one, I felt my life was turning a corner. I could “see the light” at the end of the tunnel, and I was no longer a “clueless” new mom. I was excited to tell my friend, while we were on a walk one day, that I was pregnant with number two.

And her reaction was less than thrilled for me, and I’ll never forget it. I’m so surprised. Wow. I am just so surprised. That was all she said, but it was also how she sounded with her judgy tone when she said it. Like how can you possibly have another child when appears you cannot even handle one?

When I had told my husband about it, he said, Oh, you are reading too much into it. She couldn’t possibly think that. You are over analyzing. 

So as the months progressed, I saw her almost not at all. I started to notice she began treating me like other people she no longer wanted to associate with, which I had witnessed first hand a couple times over the course of our friendship. I mentioned to my husband that I was starting to think my initial analysis of that conversation was correct.

She no longer attended spin. She blew me off when I had tried to schedule dog walking dates, she never emailed anymore, and if I emailed her, response times were very long. She no longer was able to watch our dog on our annual Christmas vacation to see my family. She was just distant, and there was an awkward feeling in the air the few times I did see her.

I made a last stitch effort once my second child was born to see if she wanted to come snuggle the baby. Surely, she’d want to see us, right? She did end up stopping by briefly, to see Scarlett. But, in an odd sense, the visit felt like a goodbye. And my husband, who was also there, agreed that the visit felt final. There was no, let’s get together soon, or come over while you are on maternity leave. It was just over.

It has almost been four years, and I have not seen her again. And in hindsight, if I had known that was the end, I would have tried to save it. Asked her how we can salvage this friendship because it is too important for me to let go of.

Not every friendship is “friends forever,” and I get that, but this one felt so personal. She just cut me off without so much as an explanation. I didn’t want it to end. It wasn’t just a friendship where someone moves away, or you naturally drift apart, or mutually just go your seperate ways. I have had those friendships too, and it has not saddened me. I know that not every friendship stands the test of time or circumstances, but this one should have. It was deep enough to and yet, somehow, it still died. And I don’t know why, but I feel responsibile for that.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to run into her somewhere. Would we be friends again? Probably not. But I would love to tell her that I am sorry our friendship ended. And that it took me a little while to figure out being a mom, but I am OK at it now (most days, anyway). And I do not harbor any ill will towards her, but I wish the best for her.

And I miss her.

To be honest, it took me a couple years to open up and find other friends to invest in after this. I was afraid of being hurt and having the rug pulled out from under me again.

I realize now that I cannot control other people’s actions or feelings toward me. All I can do is be myself, be real with those I care about, give grace, be kind and show love. And if that is not enough than there is nothing more I can do. I have some wonderful women in my life now. And they are friends and a couple of sisters-in-law who get me and require no explanation of circumstances. They are kind, supportive and refrain from judgment. They love me and my flaws on good days and bad days. And I am so thankful for them. You know who you are.

xo,

Becca

Confessions of a First-Time Kindergarten Mom

My mom has told the story of when she dropped me off at my first day of kindergarten for years. And how when she was crying in the parking lot a woman asked, “Why are you crying? You have more children at home.” I think the comment bothered my mom for years, and I admittedly never understood why on earth would my mom be crying about me going to school or why that woman’s comment upset my mom. Until now.

Twenty seven years later, I understand now, Mom! Funny how sometimes it takes us years to understand our wise mothers. Sending off your child to school is bittersweet no matter if it is your first, second, or last child because you love them, you want the best for them, you worry about them,  you will miss them. More children at home does not in any way dimish the significance of ushering another one into school. It is a milestone for that child. And now it all makes sense, Mom.

So now, here I am, a first-time kindergarten Mom, and I have ALL the feelings. Joy for my girl because she is SO ready. Peace because I know in my heart that she is going to rock school. Worry that she will be okay without me. Grief because I hate change. And let’s be honest, this is a BIG change. Sad because I will miss her and because this means I have to let go a little more. AGAIN.

We went school supply shopping today–finally. Something I had put off for weeks because I was in denial that this is where we are at. I know this is the next natural step for her. I could see the joy and anticipation in her face as she picked out her pencils, markers and 20 glue sticks. (seriously, why so many glue sticks?) But as the mom, it is never easy to let go.

With each milestone, I see that I have to let go a little more so they can grow and be strong without me. And this is HARD. But they need me, I rationalize. Well, yes that is true, but not always in the same way, you see. It is our job as mothers to guide them, teach them, encourage them, love them, but not hold them back from who they are meant to be. We have to loosen the grip so one day they will fly. 

I am excited for my girl, really! But at the same time, I am, selfishly, sad for me. The first day of kindergarten is as much about the Moms (and Dads) as it is about the children. Because for the kids, it is about the beginning of the “school days” chapter, until graduation, which I will completely ignore, for now.

And for the moms, it is the realization that daily life as we have always known it, will never be the same. And that is why I fight the tears from falling. It is a reminder that my children will always be growing. Even though some days feel like they last forever, each day ends and another begins and time carries on.

The days of all three of my littles at home with me everyday are done. It is the end of an era. A chapter in my life that was both filled with the greatest joys and also some of the darkest days. Are we really here, already? And I am just a little bit nostalgic about it all. We get one shot at being a mom and doing it “right.” So now I sit here and question everything these last five years.

Did I teach her enough?

Did I prepare her enough?

Did we laugh enough?

Did we read enough?

Did we snuggle enough?

Did I encourage her enough?

Did I do ENOUGH?

And then I hear the little voice in my head. Relax Momma. You DID enough. You taught her enough. You prepared her enough. You laughed enough. You read enough. You snuggled enough. You encouraged her enough. Now LET GO, Momma. She’s got this and so do you.

So on the first day of school, I’ll pack a carefully planned lunch, make an extra special breakfast, pick out the perfect photo-worthy outfit, take a thousand pictures with her chalkboard sign and walk her bravely into school. I’ll smile and tell her I am SO proud of her and that she is going to have so much fun and that I love her to heaven and back. Then I will kiss her goodbye and let go of her hand so she can grow up a little bit more.

And once I am sure she cannot see me anymore, I will almost certainly burst into tears.

xoxo, Becca