Dear Alyssa…Do you Really Have to Grow Up?

Motherhood

Dear Alyssa,

You like to remind me every day that it’s getting closer and closer to your 9th birthday. Birthdays are a time to celebrate, and you know that I find any excuse to throw a big party and have all our friends together. But then I reflect on the last year of your life, and it’s always bittersweet. Something about the fact that you are almost T E N is really not okay with me. I know this year hasn’t been the best, but to be honest you probably think that it has. I hope you never lose that light you have to offer the world. You really are something special.

You’re a dreamer. You get that from me. I hope that you never waste time viewing that as a flaw or trying to fit in.

Thank you for telling me it was okay so many times when it really wasn’t. Thank you for seeing the positive in every situation and finding the beauty in this ugly world. I am so proud of you for fighting through your fears. You handled all the struggles of this year with grace, sometimes much better than I could as an adult. Thank you for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I hope that you look back at this time and know that everything I did was to protect you.

You’re such a cool kid. I’m not even saying that because you’re my kid. The fact that you still want me to pick you up, spin you around, and “squish” you at almost nine years old makes my mama heart so happy. Your Pok√©mon pajamas, desire to learn everything possible about sharks, and your independence make me so proud to be your mom.

You know that dance parties require 90s music, that the only way to cure a broken heart is by eating a Snickers ice cream bar, and sprinkling glitter everywhere is just a part of life.

I know it won’t be like this forever. This past year you have learned to play violin, found a love for reading, and gave the best dang soldier performance during the Nutcracker that I’ve ever witnessed. You are so intentional with everything that you do, and sometimes I really do love you so much that it hurts.

You find the best in people, even when they really don’t deserve it. It used to worry me, but after this past year I’ve realized that the world needs more people like you.

Sometimes people need just a little bit of your magic. I know that your smile, despite the worst of odds, made me commit to becoming the best version of myself. It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it’s not okay in any sense of the word, but you made me so proud to be your mom by showing everyone what you are made of. Never stop standing up for what is right. You are your only limit, baby girl. I truly believe you can do anything you set your mind to because I’ve watched you do it. I watched you pick up your violin and play when all you wanted to do was hide under your blanket.

I want you to know that I support you. I love hearing all your dreams and no matter how exhausted I am, your energy gives me life. You love to create, and I am so blessed to call you mine.

So many people have told me that kids are resilient, like you can just move on and forget about the trauma you’ve been through. They’re right in a way. You have shown so much strength. But you also have the biggest heart, and you understand things that an eight year old should have no clue about. Sometimes you’re the only adult conversation I have all day. You’re an empath, like me. I want you to know that it’s not easy for me to leave home at night when I know you need me there to feel safe. But I get to spend my days watching you grow.

There have been so many positives this year. You had your first dance recital, you played basketball and had nerf wars. You went to Mexico and swam out in the middle of the ocean and slid down a slide into the water. You jumped off cliffs into the lake. You drove your scooter to your friend’s house all by yourself. You learned your multiplication facts and read your first chapter books.

I won’t ever be ready to see another year go, but I am always up for a new adventure.

Love you allllllll the way to the moon and back,

-The Zombie Mom

How One Year can Simultaneously be the Best and Worst Year of your Life

Mom Life

 

Just a few more hours to reflect on the last decade, so here goes. I guess I’ve reached all my “milestones”, so what now? Here’s a few things I’ve learned.

During this decade I’ve been a teen mom, a college student, a photographer, a business owner, I’ve experienced trauma, I’ve lost a baby, I’ve had four healthy babies. I graduated college and started my career. I accepted a promotion. I was room mom and I was homeschool mom. I drove kids to violin and dance and I’ve spent a week in the hospital with my baby who’d turned blue. I traveled to new places. I’ve had very little, and I’ve had what a lot of people would consider to be everything. I’ve experienced post partum depression, and I’ve been told that my endurance has inspired others. I’ve photographed and shared some of the most important moments of people’s lives. I’ve been awake for days at a time in an effort to be fully present with my children, and also work full time at night.

I’ve been evicted due to no fault of my own, I’ve moved more times than I can count. I’ve lived in an apartment, moved back into my childhood home, and I finally purchased my home with a big kitchen and fenced in backyard. I witnessed first steps and lots of baby snuggles. I’ve picked myself up more times than I can count, but I won’t leave this decade crying tears of pain. I’ve jumped off cliffs and I’ve kept up with The Bachelor. I saw a shooting star. I almost died during childbirth, when a concrete stair knocked me out, and in Mexico when I “lived a little” and had to be wheeled back onto the ship via wheelchair.

It’s hard to find your village. It’s hard to find people that “get you”. For most of my life I didn’t really have that. I had people I talked to occasionally, and even people I was quite fond of. But I didn’t have a person. In my twenties I found my “people” and I was perfectly content with that. I knew who to run to with questions and I knew who would show up at my kids’ birthday parties no questions asked. I knew who I could text to ask the gross mom questions and who would pray for my baby in the middle of the night.

This year was one of the most challenging years of my life. At the end of this year, I can see that God was staging my life to where I would lean only on him when it came to making life changing decisions. There’s something people just don’t tell you about losing someone that was extremely important to you, especially when they are still in your life. If someone you love is hurt, they can’t “clap for you when you win” because sometimes, there are no true winners.

But what do you do when someone chooses to walk away despite the memories or there not being a real “fall out”? The biggest take away I have from this is that everyone is different. Our differences can lead to misunderstanding, which can lead to pain. But that doesn’t mean that our differences don’t make us stronger...because they most certainly do. My advice is to never stop being open to the idea that people are good, but life is hardWe are all going through it, but not always at the same time. Be understanding and be intentional in everything that you do. Staying bitter will hurt you far more than it will hurt anyone else.

Sometimes we have to create a new normalSometimes we have to stop linking ourselves so closely with others so that we can have time to figure out who we are, how we feel, and what we truly want. I found my voice this year, but I know that without the space to make my own observations without the opinion of anyone else, I would have responded much differently. We naturally cling to relationships that make us feel comfortable, but sometimes the best things in life push you far out of your comfort zone.

It wasn’t a toxic person holding me back, it was my opinion of myself and the power I allowed a person to have over me. I don’t let a mean comment shake me to my core anymore and I don’t stay silent because I’m afraid of what someone else’s opinion of me may be. And I’ve realized that it’s okay to look back on the memories with tears in your eyes and simultaneously be proud of the person you’ve become. Instead of labeling people jealous or narcissistic, maybe we should just take a step back. We are all different.  The moment you feel free, the moment that you felt on top of the world…is the moment you realized that you don’t need validation from anyone else as long as you know you’re doing the right thing.

During the worst time of my life, I learned the best lessons. One of them being that true strength is discovered in the moments of life that make you question everything. There’s so much power in having confidence in yourself even in your worst moments, that finding yourself will never be easy. I would have never had the strength to speak out about an issue I was extremely passionate about without first backing away from someone who never truly had my best interest at heart. I didn’t see it at the time, but to become who I am, to find peace, and my new normal I had to redirect my focus.

I’ve been called a great mom, and I’ve had the nation question my parenting because of a choice I made to provide more security for my family. Intentions might not always be seen, but they mean a lot. You should give yourself grace when it comes to that. If you do anything different this year, do just that. Give yourself grace.

And also sleep…sleep is good

-The Zombie Mom

 

 

Less Stuff, More Vacations

Uncategorized

IMG_4380I’m going to be real for a second. The only thing that gets me through the work week is planning my next vacation. Yeah, I enjoy helping people and all that good stuff, but at the end of the day, I just want to be exploring new adventures with my three little girls. I feel important at work, I think it’s pretty cool that I get to call myself a “scientist” and I worked hard to get there. Even still, nothing will ever be as important as being “mommy”.

For the longest time, being busy defined me. I was a full time student, full time photographer, and made it through school with two babies. I often think about what I missed out on, but I know that many of the memories that we have now wouldn’t mean near as much without that struggle. I often thought of the time when I would be able to “buy them anything they asked for in the store”. Man, that was a silly thought. I’m thankful for it because it kept me motivated, but flash forward to now, my kids won’t care that I couldn’t buy them an impractical gift when they were two years old. They will care that I existed in their lives.

I hope that when my children look back at their childhood, they don’t remember me handing them a toy in an effort to distract them. I hope they don’t associate me with presents or “stuff”. I hope they look past all the clutter and remember the time we spent together because that’s really all that matters.

Blind Bags. I never thought that I would work all week to spend $3 on a toy I know my daughter will never look at again once she opens it. But, life is kinda like that, huh? You live for surprises, adventures, and what’s behind the next door. Maybe the reason kids enjoy watching other kids open these silly little bags is because they enjoy seeing the excitement of someone else. I’ll gladly work to spend $3 for that.

At some point that $3 toy becomes a $30 toy, and by the time it becomes a $300 toy, our excitement seems to fade. I never want to see that look in my child’s eye, when life isn’t near as exciting as it once was.

Thats why instead of more stuff, I want more vacations. I want more time together. There will never be enough time together. I’ll never wake up and feel like we spent too much time together. I’ll never stop wishing that I could keep them the age they are now, and watch them grow up at the same time. It doesn’t even make any sense how much I love them, but little in life does.

My oldest is 6, and we talk about her day, her friends, her teachers, and she often reminds me (in great detail) of every trip we have ever been on. She brings up the little things, like going to pick apples or a trip to the zoo. She rarely reminds me of the time in the store when I let her get a toy. Because that isn’t what’s important. Last Christmas she received a princess carriage, a swing set, and tons of other toys. She doesn’t remind me of all the little gifts she got. Neither one of us remember at this point, but she asks when we will ride in a princess carriage and look at Christmas lights again. She’s asked when we will pick out a tree and if she can help me decorate it. But the “stuff”, it doesn’t matter. It’s just clutter in her mind of memories.

Give your kids something that matters. Love them. Spend time with them. Don’t hand them “stuff” and expect them to find their true potential on their own. They are only little once. Soak up those baby snuggles, and big kid hugs. Listen when they tell you about their day. They will remember the time you spent together far longer than a distraction. Less Stuff, More Vacations.