A Family of Our Own

There’s only so much other people see; at the park, on a playdate, in a photo or through an Instagram page. It’s all real, but it’s only a part of our story. The intricacies, everything unfiltered, what we’re like in these four walls – that’s the nectar reserved just for us. The cheeky smiles before the huge laughs, the inside jokes on the last page of the potty book, the bedtime shenanigans, the embarrassing dance moves, the strange “sammie” voices and nonsensical nicknames. How we look singing Sam Hunt songs in Eddie the Explorer. The loudest screams, the deepest cries and the softest hearts. Pillow talk. The best of us, the worst of us, all of us. In the moments in between what other people see and what we choose to share, we are knitting the heart of our family. A family of our own. Home. 

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Ara & Little Boy

I used to think Maisley had an imaginary friend. Her name was Ara. She talked to her often; on long drives, in the kiddie pool, in bed. After months of inquiring about Ara and google searching the scale of normal for imaginary friends, I found out some other, arguably less disturbing news about who Ara really was.

It happened in the car one day.

I turned around in the midst of a conversation with Ara to find Maisley gently cradling her left foot. She proceeded to tell me that Ara was sandy. Ara, her left foot, was sandy. I finally caught up to her imagination and asked if her other foot had a name. Indeed it did, his name was Little Boy. 

This is Maisley, Ara and Little Boy at their first day of preschool.

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Double Standard 

It’s so easy for me to see your failures as opportunities for growth. Your challenges as enviable badges of honor. Your beauty as beauty and potential as truth. Perspective and positivity come easy like a summer breeze. Who cares if your house is messy? Just because you lost your shit doesn’t mean you’re losing your shit. When you do something wrong, there’s always a next time. Certainly, you can handle anything. 

I want to see me, the way I see you.

One More

One more song with the windows rolled down,
One more trip to a bucket list town.
One more beer,
One more cheers.
One more comforting hug,
One more full-bodied laugh,
One more finance chat.
One more piece of advice,
One more after-dinner orange slice.
One more Bass Lake run,
One more game of Yahtzee, anyone?
One more visit to the office,
One more kind gesture, anonymous.
One more side glance,
One more awkward father-daughter dance.
One more Sports Sunday,
One more “everything’s going to be okay”.

Already and Only Three

Mommy,
Don’t waste the water!
I need to be alone.
Can you stay with me?
I want to wear my hair down.
I only want a yummy snack.
Let’s do a dance party!
Will you play “Body Like a Back Road” with the windows down?
This is called the “ocean back”.
Can you clap for me?
I want to watch a little baby show.
Are you sad?
Can you read me Fancy Nancy?
Two more minutes.
No five more minutes.
Rock me like a baby.
I have to go potty.
I want to be an astronaut.
Are you serious?
Can you hold me?
Please.
I love you, Mommy.

 

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For Opa

For Ryan’s Grandpa, Fokko Nienhuis, remembered and loved in the vibrant memories of his family. 

Half a grapefruit livened with sugar for him,
freshly squeezed orange juice for her.
Oranje through and through,
and starting in nineteen hundred and 47,
he also bled red, white and blue.

A welcoming host at home and at heart –
Is everyone “goodso”?
He threw the party and she was the life of it. 

His meticulous mind kept orderly by his daily planner.
Strong in his history knowledge,
yet delicate while hand-rolling a cigarette. 

The Nienhuis patriarch, not by definition,
but by his welcoming, comforting character.
Everyone around him well-taken care of and well-loved. 

Except at the dinner table; a ruthless omnivore emerged.
A rack of ribs whittled down to ancient fossils,
no sea creature escaped with its life,
no crumbs left behind.

He wore a polo shirt tucked into his trousers; 
classy, yet inconsiderate of his satisfied mid-section.
Saw almost all 50 states, showed up without a fuss,
always chose family, community and honor.

Lenie, “Cognac?” as he held up his thumb and pointer an inch apart.
“I don’t care what you guys are doing, but I’m going to bed.”

 

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Hard Days: A Road Map

Overall I’m having more “good” days than “bad” days right now. After a string of good days, the bad ones still catch me off guard. Is it grief? Is it motherhood? Is it an aggro-crag of PMS? Is it just a hard day?

My dedicated brain is always trying to understand and find an explanation for the spontaneous feelings and happenings in my days.

During the hard ones, I (sometimes frantically) pull out my road map of tactics and try to remind myself that I’m not back at the beginning, but just having a hard day.

With grief, new losses amidst the bigger loss are emerging. The loss of Father’s Day, our family unit as we knew it and the simplicity of nachos with jalapeños at baseball games. The loss of me, as I knew her. 

When I have conversations with my future self, the one who has that “my kids are now wiping their own ass” glow, she always comes with one clear message. 

You will never regret showing yourself compassion. 

She goes on to say…

What you are going through is hard.
Asking for more help is necessary.
Not feeling like you can do your job of motherhood everyday is okay.
Wondering if it will always be this hard is normal.

She doesn’t say to try harder or do more or get a new job, she just says:

Be kind and take care of yourself.

 

Hard Day Road Map

  • EFT – tapping
  • Constant prayer and putting up a force field around me of love and support from my guardian angels and God (sounds a little “woo woo” like Oprah would say, but it helps immediately)
  • Meditation – I love the Calm App
  • Stream of consciousness writing 
  • Getting outside for walk or a swim
  • Yoga
  • Walking barefoot around our front yard
  • Calling someone or meeting up with a friend
  • Crying and allowing the feelings