parenting

Moving Forward

January 13, 2015

winter-warmth3

Sometimes putting one foot in front of the other is the hardest task. Baby steps, they call it. It is in the moment where you are so frozen in time that the next moment seems worlds away that those baby steps are the toughest.

A few weeks after my last post, two things happened that defined my summer. First, my daughter and last babe turned 1. I am not sure how that happened. Time flew by, and there we were. The pink cake, the banners, the rain, the singing and the food. It was all there, and it was glorious. Everyone I loved in one room, celebrating this child who still seems like a dream. We had created a new space inside; new paint, new furniture, new start. The day dawned with clouds and pouring rain, a trait of almost every birthday party I ever try to throw. It was still perfect, and every detail I wanted to make my own. As the day drew to a close, we exhaled. Months of work to restore our home were nearing completion, this big day was in the books, and we could enjoy the summer.

Then the unexpected. My husband began to develop chest pains. We thought that perhaps he had torn a muscle from all the house work, but as hours grew into days, something seemed off. Finally an eemergencytrip to the doctor ensued, and we were told he had a serious pulmonary embolism. It is weird, isn’t it, that one sentence can change everything? I knew it could happen, I knew that most likely it would one day, but not that day. That day I thought, as he did, that we were just overreacting. I thought that we would be home in a few short hours with the idea of rest and lots of ibuprofen. I didn’t ever think that  I would be sitting next to him wondering exactly how to prepare myself or my kids for the worst, but there we were.

Those moments so often play in my head like a video on playback. Seeing his face as they called down to the cat scan room, knowing what was being said on the other end of the line,  not knowing what was going to be said next, racing home to deposit my children somewhere, anywhere that I would not have to think of them for a bit, not understanding how it was possible that I needed to not think of them, anything of them, for a short moment in time. Calling his family, my family, his friends, our friends, and telling them that I wasn’t sure what was next. Then the wait. The needles, the medicines, the invisibility that so often comes with being the visitor and not the patient. The need to do something, anything, to make him comfortable, to just stop the wait. Anything to stop the wait.

I remember that I apologized for every bad thing I had ever said to him. All those frustrating moments of marriage that we all experience were gone, and in their place was a need for him to know that he was the most loved person in the world. Something that I wished, in that long moment, that I could have given in all of the other moments we had shared.

In the end, we were one of the lucky ones, as we would get him back to share many more frustrating moments of marriage and parenthood and life, and for that we were eternally grateful. The road has been long, and we still face the very real possibility of this happening again, and then again. But we aren’t the same that we were before. We live our lives just a bit differently, with a near constant reminder that every day is pretty incredible, and amazing, and full of the need to live it fully. That should have been there before this happened, but it wasn’t. When I look back, I realize that with four kids, we were more in survival mode than life mode. That changed this past summer. We are in full on living mode right now, and we are trying, in whatever we can, to impart that to our kids.

It is funny how much I have shied away from writing since all of this happened. As if putting it into words would make it more real than it already was. I haven’t been able to sit down and write a word since July, not one word. Today I just sat down and began. No edits, just a flowing trail of words strung together with all the emotions of letting go. I think that I needed this.

This is not the worst thing that is going to happen us, which is scary as anything, but it will rank as one of the hardest things we have had to face so far. Difficult moments, life events, they do not leave you the same person you once were. Why should they? Life is meant to shake us up and spit us out and see how the heck we handle what it throws at us. I am hopeful that we have faced the challenge with the strength that we were graced with, and that in choosing to look at life in a new way, we are taking more control of the happiness that we so often believe can come from something or someone, but rarely look inside of ourselves to find.

For now, we have enjoyed the holidays, we have celebrated the passing of another year, and we are in the quiet of the winter season. We are not waiting for the next big paycheck, to lose the weight, to have the time, or the house, or the space. We are living. We are doing things that we said we wanted to, we are taking chances, and we are moving forward, one baby step at a time.

Wishing you all a beautiful beginning to the new year.

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Raising Adventurous Kids

June 23, 2014

Bike-racingin5 Elwoodsoccer13 Jacob-riding Bike-Races8

I was not an adventurous kid. I wanted to be, I really did, but it never happened. I wasn’t a wall flower, per se, but I also wasn’t the cool girl with the snowboard on the roof of her car. To be honest, I was jealous of that girl. The idea of being bold and brave enough to climb a mountain, snowboard down it, or climb it’s rocks. To bike a big trail, or surf a great wave, those are all things I wish I had done young. When I look back on my life as a young adult, I realize I didn’t take enough risks. I don’t mean being reckless, I just mean letting go and jumping in with both feet (or harness). Being adventurous was something I missed out on, it is really that simple. I spent most of my early life being afraid of falling, of failing, of being hurt or not being good enough. It was a bit of a curse, and one that I would love to go back and redo.

When I had kids I made myself a promise that I wouldn’t let them be raised with fear. Looking at life as an adventure to be lived fully each day was a goal that I had from the day they were each born, and it continues to be something that I push for. Living where we do helps, as everyone here seems to hike a mountain or ski a basin with incredible frequency. For me, as an almost 40 year old woman, I am just now getting up the courage to do a few of the things that my boys have been doing since they were in diapers. I rock climbed for the first time this year, which felt like an incredible challenge. I had to tell myself all kinds of things to get up that darn wall, but one thing that helped was knowing how proud my boys would be of me when I told them. Funny, isn’t it, when the mother becomes the child, even if just for a few seconds?

To me, being adventurous isn’t just about the moment you are in an adrenaline pumping activity, it is a mind set, a way to look at your life and really live it. I see my kids go after everything, from soccer to history with that adventurous spirit, and I never want them to lose it. They look at everything as a challenge, a new run to conquer, a new trail to blaze, and oh my I think that is such an awesome part of being a kid. They don’t fear anything, but they have a very healthy sense of self-preservation (thank goodness) that moves them in a safe direction.

As their mama, it is certainly a balancing act between letting their lives unfold in a way that opens up many new adventures, while also teaching them what it means to be safe in any activity they are in. Teaching them the skills that they need for each new activity they choose to take on is not just important when they are young, but will hopefully set the stage for them choosing to do the same as adults. Giving them the right skills, equipment, and guidance is essential to feeling as though I have done my part to ensure they are safe and smart.

We all have visions for who we want our kids to be, how we hope their lives unfold. It is a natural part of parenting to do so. Sometimes we call it right, and the lives we see become reality. Sometimes our kids blaze a trail we never thought that they would walk. Either way, for most of us their happiness is all that matters. When I think of my kids, especially my two older boys whose lives have been lived a bit longer, and who I know a bit deeper, I see the boys pulling up to the house, snowboards on the roof, bikes on the back, smiles on their faces. I see them coming in and telling their dad and I all about their adventurers, what they saw, the fears that they conquered, the challenges that they set for themselves and met. I see kids who will look in the mirror and see someone staring back who can do what their mind wants to do, who says yes to the challenges that life puts forth, and who choose the road that builds their character, rather than simply gets them to where they need to go. Yes, I do in fact know that this sounds a little bit too dreamy and wide eyed, but why not put it out there and then see where they take it? I could never be disappointed in my kids, but I could certainly risk being disappointed in myself if I didn’t set the stage for them to be the type of kids who could live a life like that. I want them to get to the end of their adventure and say, “I did it all. I really lived.” That would be a truly epic parenting success if ever there was one.

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