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living slowly

Breaking and Growing

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Breaking and Growing

"Remember, it's their day too."

Many months ago, I lost it. There was a night that broke me and shook me and changed me as a mother - and I grieved because it caused me to {momentarily} lose hope that I could always be patient and understanding toward my children. I know that the main reason this happened was lack of sleep and time to decompress at the end of the day, but I blamed myself for not being strong enough to handle every single challenging moment of life with a toddler and a new baby. After allowing myself to cry and opening myself to any and all meaning that could be applied to the situation, I had a moment of clarity. It was a moment that caused me to literally say "Thank you!" out loud to whatever it was that carried me back to reality and reminded me of what was important. I then took a minute to write my thoughts on paper so that I could always remember that moment and come back to the positive outcome that came of a lapse in love and patience.

Today, I am intimidated by the many tasks ahead of me. Both of my girls are sick and the littlest one is teething with fervor. I'm exhausted due to a night full of interrupted sleep and repeated nursing. My husband will be at work until dinnertime and we are in desperate need of a trip to the grocery store. We have yet to finish unpacking after Christmas travel, and the piles of laundry, toys and dishes rival in size. I'm anxious to get to work on my certification requirements and other business ventures, but it's all I can do to find a moment to use the bathroom without one of my children going into hysterics. All of this causes me to worry about what kind of mother I will turn into by 3 in the afternoon. I worry about how many tears my girls will shed before they rest their weary heads at bedtime. I simply worry.

But this morning, when I sat down in my usual spot to chug my lukewarm coffee, my elbow bumped into a note my husband wrote to me. It was a note full of encouraging words for the day ahead of me (a day he knew I was dreading), and it gave me strength. It reminded me of the letter I wrote for myself those many months ago, so I went upstairs while the baby napped to retrieve that letter and reread it to remind myself of what really mattered today (hint: it's not the laundry, dishes or business ventures). Something is telling me to share this letter here, on my website, so here it is, minus a few of the more intimate parts:

"This night, though negative, intimidating and stupid, has enlightened me. I need to rid myself of anxiety by ridding myself of my phone and excess research. I need to relax as a mother and go with the flow of the crazy. I need to hug my children - not carry them in anger. I need to strengthen my body, my patience and the trust my girls have in me. I need to be a guiding light and inspiring force of femininity for them.
This is REAL life. My family is all I need, and all I will ever need. Do everything for them. Live FOR them and WITH them. Be their comfort and their best example. Create a home that is filled only with things that are beautiful and purposeful, nothing more. Create a home that makes them feel safe, happy and inspired - a home that is warm and inviting and houses incredible memories.
I can be this. I can be myself, a mom, a lover and a friend all at once. I can avoid big mistakes by living with intent and trusting my intuition. I can succeed and empower my girls to do the same. I am strong, loved and wanted. I matter. He matters. They matter.
Tonight had a purpose. I will learn, grow and move on to a better and more fulfilling day-to-day life.
I will live for:
         my girls
         my husband
I will live with:
I will purge:
         unnecessary doubts
         negative energies
         unhealthy everything
         unnecessary addictions {phone, TV}
         unnecessary stress
I will write:
         for myself
I will {ultimately}:
         nurture my body
         break past habits
         honor my girls
         embrace peace and deny deny emotional chaos
         wake early
         sleep long
         work at ideal times"

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There was a summer storm three days ago. It was unexpected, but much enjoyed. The weather was warm and humid and the skies were gray, then blue, then gray again. The rain poured, then drizzled, then stopped, then poured and drizzled again. And it was beautiful.

The girls decided to sleep in until 9 a.m. that morning, but my phone, unfortunately, decided to NOT push the reminder for a breastfeeding class I was supposed to attend at 9:30 a.m. My joy at the extra two hours of sleep was quickly transformed into panic when I realized I was going to have to bust my slightly curvier mama butt to pump some milk and get both kids fed, dressed, packed up, out the door and delivered to my parents in a totally unreasonable amount of time. Moments before I decided to just skip pumping, take Isla with me to the class and walk out the door with my babies in their PJs, I messaged the instructor that I was running late. She replied with the most glorious words right as I buckled Lorelei into her car seat:

“Oh, I was actually going to cancel the class today!”

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I hate being late, like, really hate it, so it was a total blessing that the universe aligned in such a way. Though I need this class to fulfill a certification requirement, I’d much rather attend it on time and without my squishy, giggly baby serving as a major distraction (no offense, Isla, you just make it really hard to focus).

The next thing I knew, we were enjoying breakfast with my parents and discussing the weather in a very “not cliché” kind of way, because the weather was actually very weird and discussable. Another hot topic was the chrysalis my mom had transferred into a tiny greenhouse in her living room to protect it from the wind and birds outside. We had seen it first as a caterpillar in a “J” hang a day or two before. We examined it from a distance with Lorelei and watched The Very Hungry Caterpillar on Netflix in honor of the fact that it was beginning its butterfly transformation on my parents’ front porch. As we headed out to go home that night, Lorelei yelled, “Hey! Where’d the hungry caterpillar go??”

My mom and I took a look and were surprised to see that the caterpillar had transformed into a chrysalis when we weren’t looking. It was incredible to see, and we were all very excited. Lorelei was so excited, in fact, that she dragged her little red Adirondack chair over to the pot the chrysalis was attached to so she could sit and stare at it. Sadly, I had to tell her to get up out of the chair so that we could go home and hop in bed, but I reassured her that we would be able to watch the chrysalis for many days in the future.

“Goodbye chrysalis, goodbye ant, goodbye little yellow bugs, goodbye plant,” she said, before following me to the car. Goodbyes are never easy.

But, oh, how I wish we could have sat there as the sun set, and simply watched a transformation in progress without actually seeing the work going on behind the little green cylindrical wall of sorts. Nothing would have made me happier than to talk about caterpillars and butterflies with Lorelei while Isla listened and observed all the goings on. But a successful bedtime routine is all too valuable to me (Lorelei and Isla’s future moods depend on it), and it really was time to go.

On that weird-weather day a few days forward, Lorelei spent a lot of time watching caterpillars shed their skins and form their chrysalides on YouTube. But when it began to rain, we hurried outside to admire the huge raindrops that were glittering the sidewalk. Lorelei isn’t able to see rain all that often, seeing as how California has been in a serious drought for her entire life thus far, so being able to really experience a storm was very exciting for her. It was warm as we stood on the porch with my parents and watched the rain splatter. We guided Lorelei out onto the sidewalk so she could feel the heavy drops fall onto her skin, and we told her to stick her tongue out so she could drink some of the rain. After a little while, we went back inside and watched the rain stop and start again repeatedly out the window while kneeling on the couch. We eagerly listened to the thunder and told Lorelei that it was the sound that was made when the clouds bumped into each other. She liked the idea of that very much.

Eventually the rain slowed down enough that we could go out and play without getting soaked. As I looked around the front yard, I could literally feel the pace steadying. My mind was working more slowly, I didn’t feel as anxious as I usually do, I was able to play with Lorelei without feeling like I was forgetting to do something time sensitive, I didn’t feel like I was starving (a common side effect of nursing every few hours), Baby Isla was sleeping and the vibe in the air was a very, very peaceful one. Water drops on flower petals caught my eye, and I felt extremely inspired to photograph all of the beauty that I was surrounded by in a yard that I walk through hurriedly almost every day. The next half hour or so was very reflective and enjoyable for me. The air was still, Lorelei was beyond happy to be experiencing a different side of nature and I felt like my old, artistic self at the same time that I felt like a good mama. The combination of the two has never happened before, and this moment deserved to be remembered.

After Isla woke up and it was time to go back inside, I continued to see beauty in the most ordinary of places, like the contrast of the stormy skies against the curtains in my parents’ bedroom, Lorelei's attempt at wearing lipstick, or the colors shared by Isla’s blanket and onesie. I snapped away like crazy without ever leaving the moment. It was unreal and amazing and gratifying to know that I had nowhere else to be and was allowed to simply be myself, and actually enjoy it fully.

As the day came to an end and it was nearing the time to go home and help my girls go to sleep for the night, my mom and I both commented that the day in its entirety was actually really good. It never felt stressful, and everything that had happened that morning worked out for the best. We both love the rain, and I’m sure the change in weather was a much-needed change for our souls. I know that, for me, I was able to see my surroundings in a new light, and this ability allowed me to simply slow down and enjoy all of the mundane and ordinary parts of life that I never actually appreciate.

I’m thankful for the many wonderful and beautiful moments of that day.

And, I really miss the rain.