I stare at the paper and words written in blue ink. The handwriting is small and neatly printed. He wrote me almost every day and thirty of the notes survived. Holding them in my hands takes me back and I stop to catch my breath. Almost 20 years. Has it really been that long? To me, he has been known longer than unknown. Time is such a mystery to me.
When the notes were written, I was lost in a juvenile fog. I worried about how the school uniform made me look frumpy. I stressed over Algebra tests, why the popular girls didn’t call me and who would be at youth group on Wednesday night. My Junior year, I was the girl a boy liked and dated, but he was in love with another girl. By the end of the year, another boy asked me to prom, but I’m pretty sure it was only to make his old girlfriend think he was over her because they got back together after prom. Finally, I set my sights on a boy, who in the end didn’t want me. Unfortunately, it took me far too long to realize it.
In the middle of the ridiculous high school drama, he was there all the time – writing me notes asking if I would take a chance on him. Had I changed my mind? Was today the day I would come to my senses and agree to go on a date? He was patient and remained kind, in spite of my many replies, “No, let’s just be friends.” He wrote me original poems and favorite song lyrics. I helped him quit smoking and gave him relationship “advice.” (Not that I knew what I was talking about!) He sketched me roses and drew bullets with butterfly wings as we talked about the Smashing Pumpkins. He cracked jokes to make me laugh and if I was having a bad day, he could always make me smile. We planned to hang out after school sometime, but it would be more than five years before we would get that chance.
I have often wondered why in the world I saved his notes from high school. Everyone passed notes in between classes in the crowded hallways. After reading the notes, I would immediately discard them. But his…most of his I kept. After graduation, I put my favorite ones in a shoe box on a shelf in the closet of the room where I grew up. In this room, I had cried my heart out over boys, wrote melodramatic poems and learned to play guitar. I listened to the Cranberries, Sarah Maclachlan and the Indigo Girls, made sappy mixed tapes and dreamed up plans for my future. As I placed the box on the shelf, I said my goodbyes to high school and with it, I assumed I was saying goodbye to my old friend who couldn’t take a hint and told me my hair looked beautiful when I put it up.
Years later, the boy found me and relentlessly pursued my heart…again. Only this time, I saw him. I found the love that began with ripped out notebook paper and innocent pleas for a date many years before. And here we are. Ten years of marriage and two beautiful girls later… with the boy who passed me notes in Bible class and drew pictures in my text books.
It’s a crazy love story and I love that it’s our story. I am thankful that on some strange (foreshadowing?) whim, I decided to save these notes so many years ago. I had no idea that with each note Ryan wrote, a seed of love was sown. The notes are my reminders that true love really is patient and it will find you when you least expect.
Ten years have come and gone
Before my eyes
Fast as falling snow
And all I know is
What is true
That I no longer know
Who I am…
Happy 10th Anniversary to my husband and best friend…XOXO
I’ve noticed a trend in blogging lately. Parents are encouraging each other to give themselves a break and I find it refreshing. I think social media, movies, and even other parent friends can give us unrealistic ideas of what we “should” or are “supposed” to be doing as parents. That pressure is stressful and frustrating. The result is a lot of mentally worn out parents who are frazzled, overwhelmed, and living in guilt over the fact that they aren’t doing all of the creative educational ideas they see on Pinterest or worrying about not spending every waking moment with their children. Don’t get me wrong – I’m the first to say that we need to spend quality time with our kids and invest in them, love on them, and be truly present in their lives. But, sometimes we can lose ourselves in the parenting (particularly, stay at home parents) and we forget to pay attention to our own hearts as well. There is a delicate balance in parenting and it is so difficult to find it, let alone live it out.
This post and this post were two recent posts about parenting that really spoke to me. As I was reading them, I could feel my heart grow lighter. I sensed some of my own pent up parental guilt release. I believe in moderation with pretty much everything in life, but for some reason, when it came to parenting I always saw it as all or nothing. I am the first to give myself a guilt trip and the last person to recognize when I need a breather. Parenting is hard and it doesn’t let up. The minute you are out of one hard phase, a more difficult one is soon to follow. It is a never-ending, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – FULL TIME JOB. If you are a parent, you are probably already hard enough on yourself – you don’t need blog posts, Pinterest and Facebook making you feel even worse about your parenting skills. It’s about time we stop judging each other and get on the same team. We need support, encouragement and some light-hearted laughter when it comes to our kids. I am going to try to give myself (and my girls) a break. No parent is perfect and just to fully reiterate my point here, I will give some examples of what an imperfect mother I can truly be:
Mommy True Confessions: (and these are just from March)
1. This Easter, I purposefully did not buy or bring up the subject of dying Easter eggs this year because I JUST DIDN’T WANT TO!!!! It is a hassle, my kitchen will inevitably get dyed purple and pink, and the girls will fight for an hour about how the colors of their eggs didn’t turn out right. Okay, that was last year, but this year I was tired and didn’t feel like it and that’s ok. We did many other Easter-y things and Cammie even got to dye eggs at school. Sometimes I put unnecessary pressure on myself to do certain things and the girls probably wouldn’t care either way as long as I’m spending time with them.
2. My girls have eaten cereal for dinner lately more than I care to admit. If I had spent three hours making a gourmet meal, they would have probably asked for cereal, so I think of it as saving myself three hours and they get some vitamin D. Win-Win.
3. I have stopped intervening in the girls frequent bickering and fighting. All it does is stress me out and I end up yelling at them. If it gets bad enough, they will let me know. It feels incredibly freeing to let them figure out their issues without me constantly refereeing. I hope through this small way of my letting go, they are learning how to compromise and handle disagreements on their own.
4. I let my girls eat gobs of Easter candy this year, which I normally don’t do. I didn’t limit it at all this year… like at all. They ate almost all the candy from their Easter baskets on Sunday morning for breakfast and had more during an Easter egg hunt later that afternoon. There are only a few days of the year that they get this kind of candy, so I let them enjoy it without my constant reminders to “only have a few pieces or you’ll get sick.” Thankfully, there were no tummy aches and they made up for it by eating all their veggies that night.
5. My oldest daughter had a play at school recently – she had eight lines and I missed it. I never saw anything in her folder from class about the play and I only heard her mention it once. I assumed it was next month, and the teacher would let me know when it would be. Apparently, I was wrong. It was a short play during class time. My daughter casually told me at dinner one night that her friends mother was her “substitute mother” that day. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so small. I beat myself up the rest of the evening and apologized a million times. But my sweet girl said it was fine and she even acted out her lines from the play for me. I wish I had been there, but it was not the end of the world. My daughter knew my heart, accepted my apology and gave me grace. She learned that even loving mommies are going to make mistakes once in a while. And that’s okay. I had to learn to give myself some grace, as well.
There, that feels better. I am giving myself a break. Do you need a mommy break? How can you show your kiddos how much you love them by taking care of yourself? I went out of town for just a couple of days with some amazing women this past weekend and my spirit is rejuvenated. I feel more patient, less stressed and more loving to my family because I was able to tend to my soul and my heart. It was only two nights and it made a world of difference for me as a parent. It was much needed girl time and time alone to rest and enjoy God’s creation. We need to make sure that in the busyness of parenting, we are not losing sight of who we are outside of being “Mommy” and “Daddy.”
What are some parenting expectations or mommy guilt that you can let go? If you do, I can almost promise you that you will be a better parent without them. Let’s let our kids be kids, love them well and in the meantime, give ourselves a break.