Mom, I forgive you

Dear Mama,

We’ve worked a tremendous amount on our relationship over the years, and I am so proud of how far we’ve come. I used to dread Mother’s Day because it was a reminder of how awful things were between us. I’m glad it isn’t that way anymore.

While we’ve talked a lot and had many a heart-to-heart over the past year or two, and especially in the past few months, but there’s one thing I don’t think I’ve said in such plain language.

Mom, I forgive you.

I forgive you for all of the times you weren’t there. I forgive you for the birthdays passed without a call. I forgive you for the visits you missed. I forgive you for the times your actions and decisions made me feel unimportant and disposable. I forgive you for the times I needed you, but you didn’t have the slightest clue how to be there for me.

I forgive you for the times you would change your phone number and forget to tell me. I forgive you for the letters and packages that got lost in the mail. I forgive you for the hurtful things you’ve said.

I forgive you for all of the things you are still so angry about.

I know you’re still mad at yourself for a lot of things, but I need you to know that I’m not mad at you anymore. There is no anger for the way my childhood went. Yes, there were parts that were shitty. There are parts that I wish never happened. No one wants to have grown up primarily without their mother around for what (at the time) felt like her choice. I understand now a lot of the reasons that I didn’t understand before.

I know you were operating from a place of love and doing the best you had with the cards you were dealt. Maybe looking back you can see places you could have improved, but that’s just the nature of life.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

I forgive you so I need you to forgive yourself.

You are here now, and that is what is important.

Thank you for that. Thank you for turning things around. Thank you for forgiving me for my mistakes and letting me in.

Thank you for allowing me to watch the world break you. Not because I enjoyed seeing you hurt. Not in the slightest. Watching you struggle and be in pain has nearly destroyed me countless times. Thank you because watching you build yourself up into the strong, radiant, beautiful woman you are has had a profound impact on me. If you can come back from the things you have been through, then I know that I, too, will defeat the things that haunt me.

I’m proud of you.

You are an incredible example of strength. I hope to be even half as strong as you are, wonder woman.

Thank you for always being open and honest in showing me your flaws. Thank you for being quick to admit your wrong-doings –and even for occasionally admitting you’re terrible at admitting your faults because like me, you think you have to pretend you have it all figured out.

Thank you for calling me on my faults and for recognizing where they come from you.

Thank you for showing me that it is okay to screw up. The true test of character comes from how well you bring yourself back from your mistake.

Thank you for allowing me to learn from your mistakes but also understanding that I have to make my own, too.

I know all you ever wanted was for me to be better than you, and I’m sorry that in so many ways I am not. I know I’m reckless, overzealous, oversensitive and frequently very one-track-minded. You are quick to call me on that when it is getting in the way of what’s important, and I appreciate it.

But I never want to be a disappointment to you.

Thank you for knowing who I am and helping me to become the best version of myself rather than trying to make me into someone I’m not. Thank you for reading my writing and loving most of it, but also for not being afraid to tell me when it sucks. Thank you for encouraging all of my creative pursuits.

Thank you for all of the nurturing and mothering you’ve given the past few years. Thank you for being a steady presence in my life lately. It means more than any showy, over the top gesture ever could.

Thank you for being there when I took a sledgehammer to my life and sat lost among the wreckage of everything I thought I would be. Thank you for not being disappointed that I’d failed on such a grand scale. You were just there to help me see how to be rid of some pieces and fill in the gaps with new, better things.

Thank you for reminding me that I’m stronger than I think despite how broken and weak I feel.

Thank you for kicking me in the ass when I get too whiny and emotional and need to just get shit done. Even if I cry in a corner about it for a little while, I do appreciate you and your directness.

Most of all, thank you for loving Sophie. Thank you for being there for her. For doing her hair for school everyday, for making her lunches and doing crafts with her. Thank you for spending time with her in ways you didn’t, and couldn’t, with me.

I was worried it would hurt, but it has healed more than I ever thought possible.

I’m so grateful for the relationship and the love between the two of you. And for all of your help.

mama

I love you, mama. Our relationship hasn’t always been perfect, but I wouldn’t want anyone else as my mom.

Thank you for the laughs, for (sort of) dying my hair purple even when you had an allergic reaction. For car jam sessions, coffee dates and hugs. Thank you for passing down your love of music and writing. Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you for the qualities you’ve instilled in me: strength, creativity, enthusiasm for life and honesty. You’ve taught me to always stand on the side of the truth because the truth will set you free.

Thank you for teaching me to be self-reliant even if it has been the hardest lesson to learn.

Thank you for being a complete (adorable) dork, and for being just as cheesy and excitable as me. Thank you for giving me your smile and your big heart.

I love you much, mama. Happy mother’s day.

Love,

Sunshine

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2015 Year in Review

I told myself I wasn’t going to do one of these this year. “No one cares,” I thought to myself. “Everyone already saw you obsessively social media most of this,” I said.

Then I realized that I care, and I’m working on realizing that doing something because it makes me happy is a good enough reason. With all of the transition our family has been in, I’ve been feeling a bit like my life is on hold. It’s hard to set longer term goals when things are constantly changing and evolving. That’s the nature of Army life, but it will be really nice to be settled in our own home and our own space in Germany in the spring. It’s hard to roll with the punches and work toward anything for myself so this reflection has helped me realize how much I’ve accomplished, despite feeling completely uprooted.

Here are my favorite moments from this year:

  • Having Sophie: This obviously tops the list. Bringing our perfect, healthy little girl into the world last January was easily the highlight of the year. I was lucky to have such a (relatively) easy pregnancy and birth, and a really calm, easy going baby. She has brought so much joy to my life this year, and as much as she has challenged me and changed me, I know she’s made me better. I’ve learned so much about myself through being a mother, and she just ignites the fire under me to work toward my own goals to be the best mom I can be for her. She teaches me new things every day, and I love getting the chance to see the world through her eyes.
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My year was made at 12:02 a.m. on January 21 with the birth of my little love, Sophie Elizabeth.

Her birth also showed me that I have some of the greatest friends ever. Eden, Patrick and Emma sat in the hospital with me all 15 hours of labor so they could meet Sophie as soon as she was born. They even went on a 2 a.m. cook out run to get me a cheeseburger and an oreo milkshake once I was allowed to eat. You guys are the best.

  • Graduating UNC Charlotte, Chris’s commissioning: When I found out I was pregnant in June 2014, I heard a lot of “well how do you expect to finish your degree with a baby?” I didn’t have an answer, all I knew was that it was going to happen. In May, it did! Hooray! I graduated in a record three years with my English degree all while maintaining a job and raising Sophie. It still doesn’t feel real, but it happened and was probably my proudest moment of this year. I spent a lot of tearful nights up with a fussy Sophie trying to finish assignments. It was really hard to prioritize school when all I wanted to do was snuggle her, but I got it done, and I’m so glad that I did.
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I’m lucky to have so many wonderful friends and family who helped us celebrate a wonderful weekend!

Chris commissioned as a 2LT this spring as well, and I could not be more proud of him! It’s crazy that everything he wished for and worked for came true, and while the transition into Army life hasn’t been the easiest for me, it’s been wonderful, and I’m so happy with where our lives are going.

  • Working at camp: As messy, stressful and crazy as my job was, I loved it. I am so glad I decided to go back to work after having Sophie. Even though we’ve moved, and I had to quit, I think going back was a great thing for me. Transitioning to a stay at home these past few months has been difficult so I’m glad I took the opportunity to work while I had it. I love staying home with Sophie, and I’m so lucky to get this opportunity to be home with her, but it’s kind of strange not working or going to school.
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Dobby misses causing shenanigans at camp.

Even though it’s been three months since I left camp, I still occasionally have a stress dream about it and wake up around 6 a.m. petrified that I’m late for work. What’s that they say, old habits die hard?

  • Traveling: Looking back on it, we went so many places this year! Little Sophie is quite the adventurer already. We went to Charleston in April which I was really happy about because I’ve been asking Chris to go for years. We went to the beach a few times and down to Florida for my brother’s high school graduation. Once we moved to Virginia, we were able to go to D.C. a few times which was wonderful, it’s one of my favorite places! We also spent a lot of time in the mountains this summer going for hikes. I really fell in love with hiking once I wasn’t pregnant, and I could safely do it again. I think it really showed me how strong I am. Let me tell you, it’s no freaking joke climbing a mountain with a baby strapped to you and a dog who has to smell all the things. I think it is the main reason I lost 22 pounds this year! (Hooray!!)
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This was one of my favorite hikes we went on in Boone this summer!

With all the places we managed to get to this past year despite our crazy schedules, I’m so excited to see where all we get to go once we move to Europe!

  • Sophie’s first holiday season: I love the holidays, like a lot. You know what’s better than being a kid for the holidays? Having a kid for the holidays. I loved watching her eyes light up as Christmas decorations went up in stores. I loved watching her investigate Christmas lights. Even watching her try to lick the glitter off our Christmas ornaments was entertaining. It really brought the magic back for me.
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Watching her enjoy her first Christmas was the best.

We spent Christmas with my grandparents up in Brevard, and it was just lovely. Sophie had a blast opening all of her presents, even if she was a bit overwhelmed. She’s still too young to really understand, but we still enjoyed it, even if the boxes were more interesting to her than her gifts.

Looking back, this has been a crazy busy but wonderful year. So much has changed now that our lives aren’t marked by semesters or school calendars or classes. We’ve moved into the “adult” world, the Army world. It’s like everything has been flipped upside down in the most incredible way. I struggled a lot this year. The transitions weren’t always easy on me, and I spent a lot of time this year trying to stop time in its tracks and keep it the same for as long as possible.

There’s no “new year, new me” happening this year. I’m still me. I still have the same goals, the same desires. I’m taking everything I went through this year as a learning experience. This year I want to roll with the punches a little bit more instead of letting them knock me down. I want to be more open to the changes coming instead of being nervous or afraid of them. I want to try to seize more control and take more action toward what I can and be less upset about what I can’t.

This coming year will be full of even more changes, but I’m ready. Bring it, 2016.

 

Sensory play: corn starch and water

My little one is now seven and a half months old. Seven and a half months. How on earth did that happen? Right around her seven month birthday, I had a little mommy freak out. She’s getting so big now, and so active. She’s in that stage where she isn’t quite a big kid anymore who can walk around and do things on her own, but she isn’t my little baby who just wants to lay around and eat and sleep anymore. It’s sad, but also exciting and you know what? Mildly terrifying.

I ended up spending about two hours on Pinterest looking up activities for seven months old and beyond. Turns out, my little one is capable of a lot more discovery than I thought. They grow so quickly my mommy mind can’t keep up! Sometimes I even think we should still be up every two hours (although I’m glad we aren’t!)

I decided we would try this cornstarch and water sensory play activity and boy oh boy was it fun (and messy!). We just mixed up some corn starch and water in a tin foil cake pan and let her have at it!

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She spent the first little bit staring at me like, mom, I’m bored. She didn’t realize the big bucket was for her to play with!

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Eventually she caught on and decided that the best thing to do with it was dump it all over herself –and the floor. It’s a good thing we didn’t decide to do this on the carpet.

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She couldn’t quite get a hold of a handful, but she did like making tiny hand prints in it, while chewing on a baby wipe of course. This activity was easy and occupied her for a good half an hour. We’ll definitely be doing it again and trying more sensory play activities in the future.

What are your favorite things to do with your little ones? I’d love to hear!

xoxo