Posts Tagged With: dreams

Having Children Ruined My Life

It’s no secret that R, our first son, came as a surprise. Sure, my husband and I rarely (if ever) admit to it, but all you would have to do is simple subtraction to figure out we had only been married a year and a few months when we brought that little guy into the world. I suppose some people plan it that way, but we had just barely graduated from college. We were young. And I was terrified.

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Let me tell you about how my life was going to go. I had it so carefully calculated. We would graduate, move, find awesome jobs, and I would teach for five years before we started our family. We would travel the world. Oh, the places we would go! We would have lots and lots of money saved up, my husband would be successful, I’d be happy with my accomplishments. I could then stay at home for the next 10 years until our kids started their education. I would do it all. At least that’s what I had planned.

Before we became parents, we would sit in church and watch the little girl twirl her pink, frilly dress up and down the isle. She’d squeal and scream, making the prayer impossible to hear, and her parents would stare at her with glossy, exhausted eyes. We would walk home and talk about how we would NEVER let our daughter do that when we became parents. Yes, our children were sweet darlings that never disrupted or disturbed anything while they were still only figments of our imagination.

Then we brought that baby boy into this world and my little, perfect life was turned upside-down. I never taught. I graduated and tucked that diploma away in a box and in the back of my mind. Ah, well. Maybe someday, I’d sigh. Nights were nothing short of a nightmare (and I thought I didn’t sleep much in college!), and we lived in a small, plain apartment with obnoxious neighbors because we had no money. At the park the nannies would scoff at me, a young, clueless mother who obviously had done nothing with her life before having a family. While they talked about their future, about their planned trip to Cancun with their fiancée next month, my extent of packing never went far beyond diapers, a big, fat tube of Desitin and fishy crackers.

Having children ruined my life.

I had big dreams, plans, aspirations, and ideas that were dashed to pieces when that little boy entered our home. But as we prepared for him to come, loved him, held him, and imagined all the wonder and beauty in the world we had the opportunity to help him experience, something truly magical happened. A new life was set before me. A brand new one that I never could have imagined for myself. My once-flat tummy was now adorned with stretch marks. Marks that represented a tiny human I had the marvelous ability to grow inside me. I didn’t get to travel the world, but I got to witness a miracle. I got to see the wonder of everything through the eyes of a brand-new baby. I got to experience a kind of selfless love that I truly believe only a parent can feel. I slowly realized this life, it isn’t all about me. I found I didn’t have all, if any, of the answers. I didn’t care if the other moms “oohed and awed” at my resume and life’s accomplishments, or even scoffed because that resume and those accomplishments didn’t exist. It no longer mattered.

Having a baby was humbling. So incredibly humbling.

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Instead of walking home from church talking about how WE would never let our child dance and scream down the isles, we found ourselves locking empathetic eyes with the parents wishing we could help, but secretly deep down saying to ourselves, “twirl on little princess! You’re drawing attention away from our toddler howling for us to draw a ‘hooker’ (and by hooker we are hoping surrounding congregation realizes he means a truck hitch) with his ruby red crayon. Not to mention our youngest with the colored pencils up his nose.” Our real children, unlike our imagined ones, weren’t perfect. We were certainly not perfect, and I’m so thankful we had the chance to find that out.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we had waited. If life had gone exactly as I had imagined. I wonder if my life hadn’t been ruined by little ones if I would have been as incredibly happy as I am now.

Maybe.

But what I do know is that what happened was truly a blessing. That having children when I did taught me life lessons I may have never learned otherwise. Should everyone have surprise babies 15 short months after marriage? Is having a career and traveling the world before settling down a bad idea? Of course not! But if God sends you down a different path than you had always dreamed, know that your life may be ruined, shattered to pieces, only to be replaced with something far greater than you could have imagined yourself.

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Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

By Small and Simple Things

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One of my favorite Christmas traditions every year (and possibly one of yours too!) is curling up on the couch with family and watching It’s a Wonderful Life. Jimmy Stewart in pure 1946 black-and-white splendor. At the end of the movie when the credits are rolling, tears are being wiped away from every eye in the room, I always wonder what it would be like to have George Bailey’s wish…to see what the world would be like without me. What difference has my simple, small life really made?

George Bailey: [George hears a train whistle] There she blows. You know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are?

Uncle Billy: Uh huh. Breakfast is served; lunch is served; dinner…

George Bailey: No no no no. Anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles.

No doubt about it, It’s a Wonderful Life is a Christmas classic, a beloved movie in many, many homes. And maybe that’s because we all have a bit of George Bailey in us. We all want to do BIG things. We want to explore the world, make our mark, leave it for the better. We want to be good at something, known for something, have people remember our names after we have gone. And so often we feel like the whistle blows, the plane starts up it’s motor, the anchor is hoisted, and we’re left watching from the station. But I wonder if we realize, just as George Bailey had the opportunity to find out, no matter how insignificant, how small and simple our lives feel at times, we are making differences. Our lives are intertwined into so many others. We make ripples, and even the smallest ones touch more than we could ever imagine.

Clarence: Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?

I wonder if we could all see, if only we could know what we have done. If only we knew…

I think who I have become is ultimately a collection of small moments I have shared with others.

I think who I have become is ultimately a collection of small moments I have shared with others.

If only Mrs. Chamberlain knew. An awkward tom-boy with a hideous bowl cut and no self-esteem was completely changed in her third-grade class. If only she knew how many elementary ed professors read about how every child deserves to have a teacher like her, who gives them a chance, believes in them, and loves them.

If only Regina, the owner and boss of the best family-owned burger joint around, knew. Those who have worked for her over the years would all agree she taught us far more than how to make a killer Ladybug shake or count back change. She taught us about being kind, giving people a chance, and serving others with a smile. Always. She taught us to truly care about others and think more of them than of ourselves.

Yeah, we lost almost every game. We weren’t the best in the league, but we loved soccer. We loved it because we had amazing coaches. Their pep talks when the score board read 5-0 might have seemed to fall on deaf ears, but their encouragement went far. To this day we are all changed because they taught us to love the game, to be a team, to have fun and be good sports…even if we could never seem to get the ball in the net.

If only friends from long ago knew. If only they could feel the way their simple messages, phone calls, letters, have made me feel on a bad day. If only they realized how much their friendship has meant to me over these many, many years.

If only the kind lady at the grocery store realized how far-reaching the effects of her simple gesture of allowing us to go ahead of her at the checkout counter meant. Not just to the hungry, crying baby and the exhausted mother, but countless others who I have shared her story with. I want to be her someday when I don’t have the anxious kids in tow.

If only…if only Mrs. M knew how scared my son was to start the first grade. How he didn’t like to read, how he despised writing. How he has blossomed and reads every night, writes stories on the bus, and talks about her at every meal. She is his hero. She is MY hero.

He’s only the custodian, but Mr. Mike creates ripples. The kids love him. The way he teases them in the lunch room making each one giggle with delight. He makes a difference. Every single day. They will remember that forever. If only he knew.

If only each one of us could know.

Each day, each moment, our small actions touch others. Sometimes in very big ways when we don’t even know it. We may never do really big, grand things. We may never have an audience of millions, have stadiums or buildings named after us, or have our photo on the cover of magazines or in books. We may never be the best. But life really is wonderful, and you and me, all of us, even in our small and simple ways, make a difference.

Clarence: You see, George, you’ve really had a wonderful life. Don’t you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?

Categories: Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Leap of Faith

But what if I fail?…”

Can I tell you a secret? Blogging terrifies me.

I’m a relatively private person. Telling the world my feelings, my experiences, my stories, my life, that kinda intimidates me. In some ways I’m still shocked that I took the plunge and wrote that first post nine months ago. I served myself and everything I stand for on a silver platter for anyone in the entire world to read, critique, judge, enjoy, or mock.

What if no one reads my posts?
What if people read it and don’t like it?
What if I offend someone and they make ugly comments?
What if I can’t come up with a story?
What if I say too much?
What if the people following me via email feel like I fill their inbox with senseless garbage and wish they’d never signed up?

But among all the doubts and worries, I mustered up the courage and chose to hope. I stepped up to the edge and held my breath, assuring myself that if even just one person would read and like what I had to say, it’d be worth it.

To my dear friends and family, to the sweet friends I have found along the way, to those who have trusted me with the precious gift of your time, who have allowed me space in your email inbox, who have commented, liked, encouraged, cheered me on, and clicked on my site, it has meant the world. Your words have made me laugh, cry, and brought such sweet joy to my day. You have given me hope.

IMG_5180So now I’ve taken another giant leap out of my comfort zone. I feel vulnerable and incredibly silly all over again. But if I have learned anything in the past months of writing and posting my stories, it’s that we never know unless we try. I signed up to be a part of “Top Mommy Blogs.” I very recently learned about it through my sweet friend, Marla at A Pendulum World (who you should go see, because she is amazing and her blog is so refreshing, down-to-earth and all-around awesome). It’s basically a directory of blogs that parents write. The way it works is that if people click on my button to vote for me, my blog will become more accessible to those searching for things I write about. Up to this point I’ve simply wrote. I haven’t really reached out. I feel a bit ridiculous writing this, but I feel like it’s time to stretch myself a bit. Just like before, I’ll need your help. If you enjoy my posts, please click on the “Mommy Blog Badge” off to the side (or in this post) once a day as often as you like. That’s all you have to do! When you get done reading my latest post, just give it a good click. I would appreciate your help so very, very much! (And while you’re at it, maybe you could check out A Pendulum World and vote for Marla as well. 🙂 )

imageI hope you, too, can take that risk you’ve been contemplating. Do something totally unexpected, totally life changing, totally wonderful. It might seem out of character, you might feel incredibly vulnerable and maybe a bit silly. But you’ll never know unless you step up to the edge. Here’s to all of us, you and me, taking leaps of faith in this journey of life.

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“…But oh my darling, what if you fly?”

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Take Some Risks and Follow Yer Dreams, Me Harties!

Blimey! Do ye know it be International Talk Like a Pirate Day in the morn? To me fellow seadogs and swashbucklers, ahoy, me hearties! It be a fine day to celebrate. In our abode we be celebratin’ with me three buckos by dressin’, talkin’, treasure huntin’ and playin’ like a buckineer. What be ye doin’ with yer young lads and lassies on this fine international hol-i-day?

If ye needs some brainstorms, here be spots to take a looksie:

Me Crew’s favorite swashbucklin’ books fer this here occasion:

  • Victricia Malicia
  • Pirate Pete
  • Pirate Pete’s Talk Like A Pirate
  • The Pirates Next Door

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I’ll be honest. I would make a lousy pirate. I don’t have my ear (or ears, for that matter) pierced, I don’t have a single tattoo, I’m a bit scared of deep and dark shark-infested water, not too adventurous when it comes to deep-fried dishes with eight tentacles, and I really don’t care much for swimming. Most especially, I’m a bit of a chicken. With all that treasure hunting, pillaging, looting, shooting cannons, and marooning, risks are what one might say defines a pirate. Yep, a bit of a landlubber I be.

I read this awesome article on risk taking a while back by Leila on Sensitive and Extraordinary Kids. She shared her experiences with taking risks (and she’s taken some pretty awe-inspiring ones!).

She says: “’The best things in life are dangerous’: I’m not so sure about that one. But I do know that it’s those adventures that come with some risk that make me feel most alive. And that is where I get the strength and will to face those fears.”

After reading, I was set on being a bit more piratic. Taking a step or two out of my comfort zone, even if it means being a bit uncomfortable (imagine that!). I’m not sure I’m up for any skydiving or deep-sea diving, but let me tell you about a dream I’ve had for many, many years.

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Children’s books are my passion. My husband spent many a date at the children’s book store before we got married. Consequently, my boys have a decent stash in their bedroom and we frequent the library often. I love children’s books, and I have always thought it would be the most amazing thing to see my name on the cover (along with an illustrator, because, let’s face it. Art is not my forte). So over the years I’ve jotted down lots of ideas, wrote a few stories (not that I’m the next Eric Carle by any means), researched lots of publishing companies, and chickened out over and over and over. Apparently, being a children’s book author is the second most competitive job, following behind a choreographer (can you say depressing?). I did absolutely nothing because of the fear of almost certain rejection. I didn’t take the risk, I never sent in a single manuscript.

Imagine living in a risk-free world! We would miss out on literally everything we have. Risk doesn’t have to mean you’re the best. It doesn’t have to mean the world knows your accomplishments, or that you make astounding breakthroughs. It means you take something you love or are passionate about and give it a try, despite your fear and hesitations (or maybe even because of it!). I have no intentions to compete with the popularity or sheer brilliance of the Berenstain Bears or Pirate Pete. It appears I’d have better luck trying out for the WNBA. But here goes following a dream and giving it a try. I hope we can all take a look at our dreams and take a few risks in order to enjoy the thrills of life.

So on future International Talk Like A Pirate holidays, as you sit with your little lad and lassies all guzzied up in their pirate best, maybe ye can share this story by a pirate-dreamin’ landlubber who finally took the plunge and got her feet a wee bit wet.

Here be an excerpt from me most recent story, because I daren’t put it all out there and have some billage rat plunder it (I don’t have a clue what the privacy is on blogs like this)!

Cap’n Green Hook McGray

He was the meanest, the dirtiest, the gruffest and toughest scallywag to set sail on the briny blue.

He plundered, he looted, and that ain’t the worst he would do.

His crew, they all feared him, “Aye, Aye!” They would say.

Thoughts of the plank made them swiftly obey.

His name: The greedy, the despicable, Cap’n Gristle McGray.

Now pirates all have a weakness, any landlubber knows.

They sail the high seas where ‘er the wind blows.

With a map in one hand and the wheel in the other,

Their eyes are set on treasure chests full of doubloons to plunder.

And to the end…

So that there’s the story of Cap’n “Green Hook” McGray,

And how he finally pursued his dreams that day.

His crew no longer fears him, and though a pirate he be,

He’s the best gosh darn gardener to set sail on the sea!

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Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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