Sweet Brightness, Aliveness, Take-Me-Now-Ness

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my daughters these days. Not in these large sweeping grandiose ways about the depth of our relationship or how I came to be their mama, or how incredibly quickly the time has passed. I try not to get hung up on what they are learning from me and what they will carry with them that they learned under my roof and the cosmos that orchestrated it all to come to pass.

2016-05-08 01.28.40No. Lately I’ve been investing more mind and heart space to more bite-sized tidbits… things I can manage and process and appreciate in the immediate.  The things that spark my senses and make me stop and pay attention. I marvel at the way the sun makes Cate’s hair look like it’s a golden crown, literally golden threads streaming down her back in this wild and reckless nest of soft hair. Or how Taylor’s deepening voice sounds more like a song when she talks about the things that she loves – Harry Potter books, science, and soccer. I pay attention to how it feels when Caitlyn takes my hand when we’re watching a movie. Her soft, no longer tiny hands that seek out mine automatically and the small smile that curls on the edges of her mouth when she feels me gently squeeze. Three times for “I love you,” Two times for “I need you” and one time for “I’m here.”

I could try write for days about their giggles but it would never say it all. Their rare moments of combined joy when their voices vault towards the heavens in a radiant expression of happiness shared between sisters. I don’t even know half the time what started it, but I wish it were a song I could play over and over. I suppose to me it actually is…

taylorbeachI don’t think so much about how I only have four years left with Taylor before she goes off to college, but I do see the way her fingernails are growing again because she’s trying not to bite them and my ears immediately recognize the sound of her bites of cereal before she leaves in the morning when the house is quiet and still and the stool she’s sitting in sways side to side. The way it sounds in my ears when she tells me every night that she loves me. I notice how there is always a tan line around her wrist where she keeps extra hair ties and when her cheeks flush pink, her eyes dart downwards with a curious smile on her lips as she whips her hair behind her ear when a cute boy walks by… I watched her roam the thank you card aisle for several minutes, picking up and putting down the cards, waiting for the perfect ones to get for her teachers at the end of the year. I saw her face beam when (something unknown to me) in her told her she had found the perfect ones. I don’t know what sparked her to light up, but I’m grateful to see it.

bubblesI try not to dwell on the fact that Cate is almost done with third grade and try to think more about how every day she has more freckles dusting her cheeks. I lost count of them the other day around the same time she lost patience for sitting still when we were on the trampoline talking about fairies and angels and I was trying to count them all. I don’t stop myself from breathing in deeply the smell of her hair after taking a shower and how it feels when her damp hair slides through my fingers as I make braids for her before bed while she leans her whole weight against my legs. I try to pay attention to how far around my body her arms wind when she tangles up for a hug and how it feels to hear her breath and bubbling giggles when I pick her up every so often, even though she’s nearly nine. If I could I would draw a portrait of how her little golden eyebrows furrow when she has a math question she doesn’t understand. How she’ll tap, tap, tap her pencil before looking up at the ceiling, her eyebrows now raised in wonder…. then suddenly the answer arrives and she wiggles in her seat. I don’t know what gears turned or what lightbulb flickers, but I see the light when inspiration strikes.

IMG_2819I don’t want to get lost in the big things when I am surrounded by so many little things. So many wonders that go rushing past my consciousness like an endlessly streaming live action drama that is my actual life unfolding one little miracle at a time. I want to remember the sound of their voices, their smells, their touch. I want to be able to picture what their features look like and how their eyes dance when they’re overjoyed… the matching flecks of blue that they both have that shine in the sunshine. How they both wiggle their toes in the grass and crinkle their noses in the sunshine… how they both throw their heads back when they laugh. I want to experience what each day is like with them in those glorious little details. I am completely, selfishly overjoyed getting to see and know these things about them. To get to be the one that bears witness to the miraculous to the mundane.

2016-05-08 01.27.05-4What a shame it would be if I didn’t see those things because I was worried about so many other things I can’t control. Like the time quickly passing…. and how when I look up it is as though another year has flown by and more gray hairs have sprouted. When I stay focused on the small, daily things time feels less urgent. It makes life feel more like sipping lemonade on a summer day… like I have all the time in the world. And in those moments I think I actually DO. I have all the time in the world, in their world in that moment. All of it. That is the sweetest time. 

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“In the end you won’t be known for the things you did, or what you built, or what you said. You won’t even be known for the love given or the hearts saved, because in the end you won’t be known. You won’t be asked, by a vast creator full of light: What did you do to be known? You WILL be asked: Did you know it, this place, this journey? What there is to know can’t be written. Something between the crispness of air and the glint in her eye and the texture of the orange peel. What you’ll want a thousand years from now is this: a memory that beats like a heart– a travel memory, of what it was to walk here, alive and warm and textured within. Sweet brightness, aliveness, take-me-now-ness that is life. You are here to pay attention. That is enough.”-Tara Mohr

Always.

Alan Rickman passed away today.

I never met him and he certainly had no idea I even existed, but I am devastated by the news. You see, he created an unexpected pathway to my teenage daughter, Taylor. A cherished connection in the budding years of her life where I’m becoming irrelevant and aged to her. An place that she and I can share.

It was through his embodiment of Snape in the Harry Potter series that Taylor, my brilliant and precocious teenager, began a different mother/daughter connection. It was from the life that he breathed into that fateful character that we will always have this very special thing in common. Where what you love and what you realize love means become one and the same. The only kind of perfect and fleeting magic that we get to touch in our lifetimes.

He gave us the most tender of nuggets we share that had nothing to do with me being her mother and her being my daughter. It was more than our shared love of the books. Of the richly woven tales of magic and mystery, heroes and heroines. The stories that let us escape for a time to Hogwarts or the Leaky Cauldron. That allows us to imagine what it must be like to fly on brooms or on the back of a dragon across the London sky. To challenge a wizard for his wand or save your friend from the attack of a demon by conjuring a Patronus.

It is in these shared visions and dreams that she and I began our evolving connection. This shared place we can imagine that no one can fully describe – it just dances in the light of your eyes and is recognized by the excited pitch in your voice. And all of that beautiful magic exists most completely and most fully in the role that Snape was to play in tale. In the most selfless of acts. In the most beautiful of tributes. In the complete sacrifice made from the deepest, fragile caverns of his heart.

Those words Harry witnessed in a memory. Those words exchanged between a dying wizard and a grieving hero that hold so much purpose when put together in that moment of that story. The realization of what he felt finally said out loud. The place where my daughter’s and my heart could understood what it all means in the same moment and appreciate the profundity that is our love for one another. It is the promise we all make when our love of another is fully recognized. Maybe we just didn’t know what to say.

But we do now. Because of him. Because of the promise he made and we will cherish him for it. For he showed us the greatest magic of all. The magic that lives in and between us in love.

After all this time?

Always. 

Little Bargains

Two nights ago, I heard my daughter Cate whispering to our dog, Chase Muttley. She was kneeling down, very close to his face her little hands scratching him behind his tall ears. I couldn’t begin to guess what she was saying but I assumed her murmurs to be sweet nothings or puppy/baby talk. She finished speaking to him, sat up far enough to kiss him on the head, and skipped back over to the couch where I was sitting. She jumped and spun to land with a plop next to me, smiling like a fool and buried herself under the blanket to finish watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas on television with me.

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Her cheeky return to the couch had me curious as to what they’d been “discussing.” She gave no indication of sharing with me. Minutes passed and I finally had to ask her, “What were you and Chase talking about?”

“I was telling him to sleep well tonight.” She said matter-of-factly.

“Oh did you?” I said back. “How sweet of you.”

Her little mouth quivered at the edges, as if there were more to the story…

“I told him to sleep well, cuz, I was probably going to be sneaking into your room after you went to bed and I didn’t want him to scratch around his kennel so you could hear me coming!” Her eyes were bright and shiny by the time she finished speaking. She then erupted into giggles. Her little cackle filling the room.

“And how do you know he will listen to you?” I asked.

“Because mom, I asked him very, very nicely, gave him lots of kisses and promised I’d give him treats. Chase LOOOOOOOVES treats!”

I’m not sure if she followed through on her end of the bargain, but Chase didn’t make a peep all night and I woke up with that little blondie sleeping soundly next to me in the morning.

 

Play Me a Song

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Someone is hard at work learning her piano songs for her upcoming and first EVER piano concert. Growing up NOT playing an instrument I am tickled to hear music fill my house. Especially on cold and stormy nights that are promising the first snow of the winter season. It may be cold outside but we are toasty warm from the inside out here.  #Thankful #MyCate

Role (With the Punches)

Three years ago, my then five year-old Cate suddenly took ill. She became lethargic and developed strider in the early morning hours unexpectedly. After rushing her to the Emergency Room I went through several scary days that included a hospital stay in the at Children’s Medical Center. What I wrote about that experience is as fresh on my mind as what I ate for lunch. The fear is still palpable and sour when I revisit the words I wrote three years ago today…

October 14, 2012

Cate, my five-year-old daughter is watching a movie and lying sideways in bed. She can’t get to a comfortable position where she can breathe well. She extends her chin out, lengthening out her neck and throat trying to capture extra breaths.  She moves her feet, wiggles and clenches her toes, twisting and crossing her legs trying to get to a place where she can sleep.

“I can’t lay very well,” She whispers softly in my direction with as much voice as she has, which isn’t much. If wasn’t right next to her, I wouldn’t have even heard her speak. We’re at the local Children’s Hospital and Cate’s on her second night of fighting for breath. Rushing her myself to the Emergency Room Thursday morning as she struggled for air, we’ve been battling an infection in her throat that has occluded her airway. Her belly and chest would clench with each violent pull of air she tried to take, her nostrils flaring, anything to capture more air.

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Cate Turns Eight

My beautiful daughter, Cate, turned eight on the 21st. I feel like I blinked and there she was standing in front of me her wild blonde hair
and crooked teeth. As a mother, this experience isn’t unique. There isn’t anyone out there that has children that hasn’t felt how I felt today watching her blow out her candles, another year older. I can’t help but feel enormous joy with a slight sting of sadness. She’s such a remarkable little person – I’m so proud of how she’s grown and the young lady that she’s becoming. But gone is my little baby who needed my help to stand, to walk, to read. She still holds my hands, she still reaches for me to hug and squeeze and cuddle – I know those days of generous affection are numbered…

I often take moments looking at her and her big sister and try to burn the images into my mind of what they are in these moments. The unbrushed hair, the untucked shirt, the frosting on her cheek she missed or the fingerprint I can see on the edge of her glasses that she smudged as she was pushing them up her sweaty nose after a hot night of bouncing on the trampoline.

I have heard how the days seem long but the years are short and it couldn’t be more true. My sweet, sweet Cate is another year older and before long there will be nine candles on the cake. How lucky I am to be her mother. How lucky I am to have eight years of Cate in my life.

Meet Chase Muttley

Our dog, Chase Muttley, is around 18 months old. I’ve been told that in dog math, that makes him about 20 years old in human years. I realize I haven’t spoken of him on my blog and thought I’d introduce him to you.

As he’s grown we’ve had our struggles with him. From the beginning he was a very active dog who was happiest when he had a job to do. As a Cattle Dog/Husky/Collie mix, he’s bred to work hard and we have to keep him very busy. When he was adjusting to our house he showed signs of dominance and was hesitant to see himself as anything but the alpha in our pack. He’s slowly relinquished that alpha tendency and has become a loyal and trusting member of our little family.

We learned this week that he is a big fan of the garden hose, and he spent a lot of time today, the hottest day of the year so far, running through the hose and wearing himself out in the process. His joy in such a small act is a reminder to enjoy the little things…

Life Lesson #25 Take it All IN

by Carrie Adams

I suppose around one’s birthday we become a bit more reflective, a touch more nostalgic, and perhaps even a bit more fearfully aware of the passage of time that seems to be speeding up over the years. There was a day I couldn’t imagine being in my mid-thirties and now here I am firmly there. I’ll admit, it sometimes takes my breath away when I catch a glimpse of my 13-year-old who stands nearly as tall as me, who without any effort I can still hear her toddler giggles bubbling up under the covers with her stuffed animals and Cheerios, brown curls flowing around her ears and her toothless smile greeting me with joy when I “discover” her hiding there. Without any trouble, I can still feel the warmth of her little body tucked into my arms, pacing the floors at 2AM singing her back to sleep. She can’t remember those moments herself, I’ll have to settle for telling her about those days when she’s willing to sit and talk for more than a moment. Today, I am lucky if I get a good night hug every evening… though I’ll never stop asking for them.

I sometimes feel tightness in my chest, when I see my blonde little Cate, her now long legs sticking out from underneath her cutoff jean shorts and scabbed knees from sliding in the dirt, reading aloud from chapter books instead of lounging patiently in my lap laying against my chest; her listening to me read her favorite board books as she points to the pictures and squealing with delight. I can still picture her round belly sticking out above her diaper as she ran through the halls of the house on much shorter legs begging me to chase her, blue eyes twinkling. She still lingers in my lap and lets me hold her close – though I imagine those days are numbered too as she will continue to grow and will slip ever so slightly from my motherly grasp more and more each day.

They overwhelm me with their spirit and energy, with their very existence. I cherish them. I cherish the mere fact that we are walking this Earth together – I couldn’t be more grateful. I live in earnest pursuit of being present in the moments I share with them, even as they pass too quickly. Sometimes I have to hold back from begging… begging them, begging this life to just slow down, just a bit… Just long enough for me to gather it all in and let their days (and mine) last a bit longer.

In the event I cannot slow time and I cannot stop their growing up before my very eyes so quickly, I will remind myself daily to take in the moments – especially the little ones – because that is where the love resides.

The Most Impossible of Fairy Tales

1097943_10153301269460093_831701138_nI met him in person in September of 2013. In a place that held a lot of memories for us both separately, but neither of us called home. He took my hand and led me up a stone staircase that he helped create months earlier when we were still strangers. For anyone else it would have seemed like nonsense to spend our first date in this place, but for us it was perfect. For us it was almost magical. From that moment on, what existed between us was undeniable.

Six months later he was transplanting his whole life – from family and friends to his livelihood, his passions, and his hobbies to make a life with me.  He was leaving all the things he knew to take a chance on a whole new existence that included two little girls. Without anything familiar to guide him, he trusted me to love him. He trusted me to let him take care of me just as I would take care of him. He left all those things to build new things and did those things ever grow…

In 53 days he will become my husband, but in 24 hours he will be heading across the country to a place where as strangers we connected; where we knew that we were meant to spend our lives together. I will miss him because he won’t be close enough to touch, but he will be going back to the place that crossed our paths. And if he were not the man that longed to be in those green mountains we would never have met. That place is where the fibers of “me” and “he” became a tapestry of “us.”

floridaSo I will try to not be sad that he’s leaving tomorrow. I will focus on what I know is true. I am grateful that he is the man who would have the courage to endure the pain and challenge of building the stairs that led to our first meeting, the man who would have the faith to leave his life to join a new one 17 hours away, the man who would commit himself to that new life and offer his remaining days to support and help build the days ahead. I am thankful that he has chosen me. I hope he knows that I have chosen him right back.

So, I am grateful to have fallen in love with a man that has the persistence to return… two years later to that fateful place where we first intersected, to finish what he started before there was a “we” and an “us.” I only hope that when it becomes hard, he feels me in the wind and sees me in the sky and that somehow he draws comfort and strength in those thoughts.  That he remembers all the steps he took from that first journey until now…

I couldn’t possibly love him more. For the man he was before I even knew he existed to the man that made me realize it was finally possible to believe in the most impossible of fairy tales.

I love you, Adam.

Stepping into the Spotlight

Cate_SpotlightOn Saturday night Cate had her fourth dance recital since she has started dancing. Like every year before this one, we curled her blonde hair and dabbed on her recital make-up. We ironed her costumes and laid out bobby pins, safety pins, hairspray and needle and thread (just in case.) Like every year before, we went to her rehearsal and sat for several hours in the auditorium waiting for her turn.

Unlike every year before this, Taylor was not performing with Cate. Taylor decided this year to focus on soccer and so she spent her recital this year in the audience cheering on Caitlyn’s two numbers. Never one to shy away, Cate confidently danced her two routines, with big smiles and giggles. So many of Cate’s adventures are alongside her big sister… this time she got to take the spotlight all by herself and step out from under her sister’s shadow and shine.