The Motherhood

Before August 16th, 2016, I thought motherhood was a phase that women entered; a personal journey. I thought it was the experience of becoming and being a mother.

{The only thing I really had to compare it to was the journey of entering “womanhood” at age 13 and the cringe-worthy feeling of telling my mom I got my period through the closed bathroom door, only to be met with the over zealous words, “You’re becoming a woman!”. It makes me die in awkward self-consciousness just thinking about it. Going through puberty was a vastly personal and solo journey, with the occasional tip or two from a sister or friend.}

Since August 16, 2016, I have come to understand motherhood in a different, surprising way. While I have certainly entered into a new dimension, the journey has been one of community, collaboration, and support.

I had no idea it was something I would become a part of.

A Motherhood.

I feel as though I have joined a secret club that I never knew I wanted to be a part of, but deeply needed. A true sense of belonging, sealed with the stamp of labor, surrogacy, adoption or any other means.

Other moms, young and old, look at me with compassionate eyes and unconditional respect, as though I’ve arrived. Their expression says, “I get it”.

I’ve been welcomed at mommy and me classes, mom and baby yoga, and lactation support groups. We’ve followed blogs written with raw authenticity and joined Facebook advice groups.

A whole network of moms. Moms who have my back. Moms who have stood where I stand.

At the edge of a bassinet in tears at three in the morning.
In shoes I’m not sure how to fill.
On the rug doing jumping jacks for the chance of a rewarding giggle.
In the bar at a bachelorette party, pumping and dumping.

However you got there, wherever you live, whoever you are; thank you to all moms in the motherhood.  

Thank you for your hard work, your unspoken love, and our unbreakable bond.

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Before You; Us

Dear Bean,

I love your Dad with all my heart. It’s so important for you to know that.

Before you so perfectly came into our lives, we dated.

We met in high school, but always stayed in the “friend zone” {even though I totally had a crush on him}. Like a true friend and gentleman, he always held the door open, carried my bags, sang silly TV jingles at school lunches with me and engaged in meaningful conversations.

We fell in love almost immediately when we reconnected a few months after college ended. It was a serendipitous moment of professing our feelings to each other, after all those years of innocent friendship. Sunset Cliffs in San Diego became our “spot” where we shared deep conversations, exposed our fears and expressed our unending devotion and love for one another.

Although we were not immune to the ups and downs of the early-20’s-dating-finding yourself-rollercoaster, we never stopped loving each other and never will.

I knew deep down that your dad was the person I wanted to marry for a long time. When my mind had finally caught up to my heart, and he popped the question, “yes” was the only answer. He told me, “You will never know how much I love you”. Everyday it becomes more and more clear why he is my husband and your dad.

He is a man who is true to his word, always remaining faithful, selfless in his actions. Loyalty runs deep in his bones. He questions the norm, is open minded, always understanding and never judgmental. His peaceful exterior is wrapped in depth and complexity. Equally goofy as he is respectful and kind. He knows how to bring me perspective and make the sky blue on a cloudy day. He never stops working hard for us, for our lifestyle and for our happiness. Family is everything to him. He is a walking paradox who wants to travel the earth but also put down roots – a sentiment we both share deeply. He is more creative than he will ever admit; in his thoughts, ideas, philosophies and writing. He is a storyteller.

He loved you when you were only a dream. He loves you in the comfort of my belly; kissing you, telling you he loves you and that you are appreciated and wanted. He holds you and fist bumps you back. And he will continue to love you every second of your life.

You are the most important thing in the world to us, and we are also the most important thing in the world to each other. We are a family, fit like a puzzle, divinely created for intense love, exploration, laughter and personal growth.

I can’t wait for the day, when you are old enough to start dating (at age 21?), and you find your person, like me and dad found each other.

You will never know how much I love you, and Dad.

I am so happy you are part of our love story.

xoxo
Mom

 

I carry your heart with me

Here is a letter I wrote Maisley when I was 35 weeks pregnant and she was still “Bean”.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling) – E.E. Cummings

Dear Bean,

You have been swimming around in the magical waters of my uterus for 35 weeks now. You dance to the drum of my heartbeat and swish around to the muted sounds of conversations, music, dogs barking and life outside the womb.

As time seems to melt away like an otter pop on a hot July day, one thought has remained.

We will never be as close to each other as we are right now.

I have appreciated you everyday, and tried to remember to tell you that everyday. Thinking back to the moment that a tiny stick revealed your existence, until now, just a few weeks from 40, already feels like a lifetime.

Over the last 8 months we have gone to best friend’s weddings and danced the night away. We traveled on an airplane to Portland and then later across the Atlantic Ocean to Iceland. We celebrated dad’s 30th birthday with a clambake at Newport Dunes. We went paddle boarding on the 4th of July (dad fell off but we just sat and relaxed). We celebrated your Aunt Linny’s graduation from grad school, your Aunt Mackenzie’s graduation from high school and your Aunt Meesh’s 25th birthday. We watched your sweet cousin come into the world. We saw Missy Higgins live at the Belly Up. We bought our first new baby mobile together.

We cried over uncertainty and new beginnings. We had a minor mental breakdown in BuyBuyBaby around week 29. We watched in fear as the world struggled with terror, trying to have hope that the light and love we are bringing to those around us is making a small impact.

And even though I feel your tiny, wrinkly feet nudging me awake every morning, I have so many questions.

Can you feel dad giving you fist bumps back? Do you love it or hate it when Sammie, our pup, is climbing all over you? Are you on avocado overload? Do you flip around so much because you get bored easily like me?

Soon, I will see you. Soon, I will know. Until then, I dream.

I dream that you will grow up in a world where creativity is at your fingertips, nature is your second home and curiosity is your mode of transportation. I want to show you that anything is possible and that I will always believe in you.

While physically, we can’t always remain this close, I will always carry your heart with me. And I will never forget our precious time together.

Thank you for choosing me to be your mom. Just a few weeks remain until I carry you in my arms.

Always yours,
Mom (the Bean carrier)

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Just as we are now

:: MaisleyNienhuis@gmail.com ::

She won’t need it for a while, considering she’s only five months old, but I wanted her to have an email address just in case {and a clean one without any numbers or silly characters}.

Although, around the year 2030, will email even be a thing? Or will she just simply write her note into thin air and it will transfer by virtual reality to the intended recipient’s air space {ya heard it here first}.

Or maybe we will go retro and snail mail will be cool again.

Anyways, my sister wrote Maisley a really sweet email. It was about how she wishes Maiz could hang out with us as we are now. By “us” she means the four of us sisters, parents, our husbands and friends.

I so wish she could see us now too.

The way we still act like kids. The way we laugh so hard around the kitchen table that snorting is always inevitable. The way we go all-out for parties and showers for our friends. The way we constantly reminisce about funny stories from our childhood and the thrill of a new person in our circle to share them with. The way we are carefree and enjoy nothing more than a flight of beers at a brewery and a wood fired pizza. The way we are mostly weird with a sprinkle of cool.The way us and all of our friends are hilariously trying to navigate this parenting thing with no manual.

The way we dance like crazy in front her, jumping up and down, making the most ridiculous faces, all for a little giggle. The way we take her everywhere we go as our adventure buddy. The way we smile at her, sing to her and tell her we love her. The way we snuggle her close and kiss her cheeks until she can’t stand it anymore.

The way we are now, in our 20’s and early 30’s. The hidden years that children assume never existed for their parents. After all, your parents to you are only mom and dad. They never dated other people, never had drunken nights out and definitely never made bad decisions.

When she becomes old enough to realize how cool we are and want us as friends, things will be different than they are now. Not bad, just different. Maybe even better.

I still wish she could see us now.

I guess I will casually drop this note into her inbox.

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30 Years Young

20 wasn’t so long ago, and it was also a lifetime ago.

Many days in my early 20’s were marked with independence and freedom. My mid 20’s with uncertainty, exploration and career growth. And my late 20’s were filled with unconditional love, I do’s and a baby. I graduated college at 21, lived in Australia at 23, ran a marathon at 26 and had a baby at 29.

While sometimes I look back in disbelief and think “Who was that girl?!”, I know my core being is threaded through each of those years.

Turning 30 isn’t so scary. Maybe it’s because I watched so much Friends in my 20’s that being 30 seems pretty cool. Or maybe it’s because overall, I’m happy with how I lived in my 20’s.

My only complaint is how quickly the years whisked away. And I don’t think time is stopping for a coffee break anytime soon.

When our daughter Maisley was first born, she had three veins on her left hand that were darker than the rest, crossing in almost a tic-tac-toe fashion. As she enters four months of life, the once prominent markings are starting to fade.

Sometimes I feel overwhelming sad knowing these moments and years are fleeting, and that I can’t grasp them anymore than I am. Her giggle and the way she looks and feels right now, right in this moment, won’t happen ever again.

Sometimes I wish a day away because life is hard. But I won’t do that anymore. Not in my 30’s.

Ryan surprised me and planned a trip to Lake Arrowhead for my birthday. We got stuck in the snow and for a brief second my fatalistic mind thought, “This is it. This is how it ends”. But alas, we made it to the cabin. At dinner, everyone went around the room and said their favorite thing about me. I was embarrassed, but also proud.

Ryan told me that I’m the bravest person he knows. He remembers me walking with my pillow clutched to my chest through security at LAX airport when I moved to Australia. It’s the nicest thing he could say about me.

Sometimes I don’t feel brave. Sometimes I feel afraid. Afraid of success, afraid of failure, afraid that I’m not the mom I want to be, afraid that I’m losing direction in my career. Knowing that he believes in me and that my family believes in me, gives me the confidence to keep pushing and keep trying.

While time will do as she pleases, fast and slow, slow and fast, I will live boldly in this next decade. Unapologetic. I will live not for pleasing, but for growth, for my family, my faith and for my greater purpose. I will live with love and keep trying to be better at the little things and the big things.

I’ve got nothin’ but love and gratitude for you 20’s, but I’m ready for the next adventure.

 

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For Jack.

A legend;
humble in his adventures,
wild at heart,
a shipmate,
friend to many.


High wispy clouds,
a golden haze on the horizon.
Deep blue water,
an oasis of childhood memories.

Waves crashed on the three arch bay,
ebb and flow,
ebb and flow.
Bringing in peace,
washing away grief.

Family and friends gathered;
from every season,
from every adventure,
from many parts of the world.

We all shared him in common.

Beers on the beach,
that’s what he would do.

Everyone gripped their memories;
Ray Bans covered wet eyes.

Who loved him and he never knew?
Whose life did he change?

A hundred surfers took to the water;
a circle of stories, a prayer, wild flowers.
Ashes forever amongst the ocean,
forever amongst us.

Live like him;
don’t be afraid,
ignore the chatter,
burn bright,
to the fullest.

For Jack.

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It’s About Time

I am so overly aware that my time as a new mom is precious.

“The days are long but the years are short. Enjoy it. It goes by too fast!”, they say. 

Time is an interesting character. A thing of its own. Ticking away either much too slow or way too fast.

I feel at the mercy of time, now more than ever.

Whether it’s a good time or a hard time, it’s just for a period of time. The feelings and tasks of the moment are fleeting, growing and changing. Big struggles become tiny blips. Happy moments become fond memories.

I hear so many people say, “I will be happy once ____ happens.” _____ can be that new job, new house, your newborn sleeping through the night, your school year to be over, etc.

But what if ___ happens and you’re not happy?

I vow not to wish away the present, but to find joy in the moment, whatever that moment in time brings.