One trip around the sun...
A great deal can happen in a year. You can reach goals or you can remain stagnant. You can falter and grow, but you can also succumbed to the hardships. In one year of time, you can find a new purpose in life and throw stability to the wind. In that same year though, change can come seeking you out whether you like it or not and throw your balance and direction off kilter. Sometimes we go wishing time away and say things like “well next year…” but what will next year look like? Who will be by your side, where will you be, what will you be doing? Each day holds promises and heartache and we have to embrace the journey, a lot of things can happen during one trip around the sun.
Roughly one year ago I decided to take a leap of faith and start this blog. Through the encouragement and support of many dear friends I put myself out there. One year ago, I needed something, something for myself. I was drowning and trying to figure out exactly how to find joy in the day to day grind. I was tending to the needs of my crew (8, 6, 2, and 1 year old twins), while being a full time teacher, attempting to maintain friendships, be the support my extended family needed, oh yes and be a good wife and also just happy. Starting a blog might seem like I just added one more thing to my plate, but it hasn’t been like that at all. Instead I found my voice, I have carved out moments to pause and reflect, I have been able to connect with others and I’ve shared my story and documented the past year of our life.
I shared what makes us unique as a family…
My husband and I met when I was 19 and he was 20 on the college campus of Otterbein in Westerville, Ohio. There is something special about college love stories. To meet the love of your life during such an impressionable moment and time of growth in one’s life, it means you have found your partner and true support system. I know many others who have a similar story to ours and they are strong, resilient couples; must have something to do with that college soil where our love is rooted.
I am currently at my happy place - Findley Lake, New York! In this post, I share the history of this place and the many fond memories I have, but also the adventures my crew is now experiencing. We all need a place where we can rejuvenate ourselves, feel at peace, and find a sense of purpose and calm. It’s not exactly calm at the moment being that we have four boys and one little girl - 9, 7, 3 and 2 year old twins - but this is my place, I hope you have a safe haven just like this in your life.
We all have family as well as friends, but what about friends that are family. They are your tribe, your people, your crew. These are the people who stand beside you are your wedding, are the god-parents to your children, know every bit about your past, and are currently in the trenches of life with you. I’m blessed with these individuals in my life, some I’ve known since birth and others who instantly became our people and choose to ride along this journey with us. These people don’t make our relationships with our family any less, but rather add so much to our lives and I’m so very thankful for them.
My husband, the principal is a post all about Mo and how very different we are; we couldn’t be further on the personality spectrum from one another. Those differences are what makes our relationship work - he is the calm as I worry, I am the straight line when he varies off course. Our relationship is a pendulum and neither person or perspective is wrong; we have the same rooted goals and even though we get there differently we often need the other to help us in the final steps. People will often look at us and say, “wow, you two are so different,” but that’s what makes the dynamic of our life together so special.
Weston, our second son, has Celiac Disease. Celiacs is an autoimmune disease that requires him to have a strict Gluten Free diet. Weston is special for so many reasons and one is the way he has embraced a new normal and even at such a young age became his own advocate. Take a moment to read his story, I’m still amazed with how we came out of the darkness of the unknown so much stronger and it was all because of this amazing boy of ours.
Babies number four and five in our family are twins! In the post titled Twins, the first chapter… I share their story from the very beginning - from the moment we learned we were pregnant, to the hustle and bustle of having two at once, to the magic that a twin relationship contains. There will be more installments to their story on the blog, this is just the first chapter. My husband and I always say that if we were going to be blessed with more children, how thankful we are that it was a set of twins!
“You just do and you would too,” is my typical response when people ask me how we do it. Life is all about perspective and so I understand when people question our sanity and are curious as to how we are able to raise five children while maintaining our careers. I thought about what it really takes and this is what I came up with: patience, capturing small moments, teamwork, efficiency, accepting help, but also carving out time to “grow me.”
My guess is that anyone with multiple children feel as though they want to apologize to their first born, because they are the ones who taught us to be parents, we made mistakes and are constantly learning, we question and worry. Dear Parker, is a letter to my first born and it was a way for me to put into words the pride I have in being his mother, to preserve who he is right at this moment, and to remind him that the choices I make are because I think it’s what’s best for him. I read this post to him and he cried, and then I cried. He told me that it was the nicest thing that anyone has ever said to him…it shocked me, and helped me to realize that I need to say these things more often because I feel them every day.
Rainbows are the promise of hope following a storm. When a couple loses a baby and is then blessed to have another following that loss they refer to this new life as their “rainbow baby.” Thankfully, so many women are breaking the stigma and talking about their loss; I too have lost, but have felt silenced by my blessings. From our perspective we have two big guys and three rainbows, the glaring gap in between is our loss. In this post, I open up about our miscarriage, how it has shaped our family and the struggles I have had in sharing this story.
In the post Reflections, I describe each of our five children and share how they are reflections of their father and I. A reflection is the bouncing back of light, and isn’t that true - when we look at others we see greatness and we see the good in us that they emulate. This was one of my favorite posts to put together.
I was vulnerable and talked about my struggles…
I have a slight obsession with pictures and documenting our life in that way. I get it naturally from my mother. I vividly remember flipping through photo albums and having her fill in the missing pieces of the story. I want for my virtual baby book (Instagram) to be accurate and do so I need to be better about jumping in the pictures. Because I was there too.
The post titled Expectations was an extremely vulnerable moment as a writer (I truly struggled to hit the “publish” button), but I’m so thankful that I was willing to share this part of my story because I was able to connect with others who have felt similarly and through conversations I learned that my words resonated with others. I have come to a point in my life where high expectations have become a heavy weight and I opened up about suffering from postpartum depression and just the feeling of never being good enough. The most impactful words that were shared with me during this season of my life is that I crave control and my arms can only reach so far, it’s okay that I can’t wrap my arms around everything in my life, not everything will be perfect. Those expectations were not set by others, but really myself, I need to give myself some grace.
At times I find myself struggling to bridge my teacher mentality and my parent heart. I know there is power in failing, but as a parent I struggle to watch my children fail. As a teacher I see the benefits of faltering and learning from one’s mistakes, but as a parent I find myself layering my children in bubble wrap so that they never know what failure is like. Failure provides an opportunity for us to be our best self, and as a parent, I need to remember this and not shield my children from these moments. And as a mother, who has perfectionism tendencies, I need this reminder as well, these moments of failure will shape who we become.
I never once questioned my choice of going back to work after having my first three boys, but after the twins I became torn. This entire post consists of my struggle with this issue - am I selfish to continue to build my career, will I lose myself if I stay home. This has been topic that is heavy on my heart and it truly still is. My hope for myself and others is that we have the confidence and support to choose the right path for us, right now, knowing that we can change paths at any moment.
When I became a mom there was an unearthing of many hidden talents (personal assistant, cheerleader, nurse, Disney movie guru, counselor, puzzle solver and many more), but at the same time I started to lose myself. In this post I share the moment I realized I needed to make a change and how I’m working on finding myself.
I poured out my worries and struggles in the post titled Alone… By definition, I’m not truly alone, but rather smothered most of the time. I am alone though, in the sense that very few walk in my shoes. I shared how I struggle to connect with others because of this and how I often allow the differences of my life to create a barrier. In reality, my life is very full and rewarding and I’m thankful for those who knew me before I was the mother of five children and for those who I have found that do share a similar journey and that I have been able to form a relationship with. Motherhood can feel lonely, especially if your story is unique.
I reminded others of things that I think are important…
My very first post on the blog was titled It’s my story and it matters because…this was a way for me to introduce myself, but also to remind others, as I do for my students, that your voice matters, your story matters, so share it!
I quickly realized when I was pregnant with the twins and people learned that this would mean five total children for us, that others just couldn’t hold in their shock and amazement and most times their words hurt. Being an English teacher the power of words is something that I would preach to my students, but it wasn’t until I didn’t fit into the typical box that society has created that I truly felt that power and began to be more careful with my own choice in what I say to others and how I say it.
Last summer I often caught myself wishing away time, because I thought things would be easier once the kids were older. It wasn’t until the end of summer that I began wanting more time and dreading how our routine was going to change and knowing that how we spent our time would be different. I also witnessed how precious time can be and how quickly we can lose someone and so through this post I wanted to remind everyone to not get caught up in the juggle of life and rather to enjoy our time.
Now that I have school-aged children, I have the unique opportunity of living in two worlds - a parent and a teacher. The start of new school year was upon us and I was struggling to understand the type of dialogue that parents engage in about teachers and so I decided to share the teachers’ story because we are cut from a special mold; a teacher’s entire focus is to be exactly what your child needs.
The post titled Just listen… came from two places - the feeling of being overlooked (not heard) and the regret I have for not truly listening every time. You gain a sense of importance and understanding when someone listens to you, what a simple thing and yet something we struggle to do because we get caught up in maintaining the schedule or accomplishing certain tasks. I am guilty of this and I wanted to share with others that once I took a step back and truly listened I found that it wasn’t just benefiting my children or my spouse, but it helped me feel more connected.
As humans we yearn to be accepted and want very much to be given affirmation for our efforts. We can be that voice for ourselves, be the reminder of the good that we do each day, but sometimes we need it from other places - someone we admire, a stranger, or through the grape vine. There is power in affirmation, be that reassurance for someone else.
I also explored ideas with you…
In a post titled Angels I reflected on how I manage to get out of the daily grind, how I move beyond what “has to get done” and it’s due to those special people in my life. Angles like my mother, Kyleigh, Katie and Rachael. I realized that for me certain individuals have helped me to accomplish more then I thought I could because they set the example, provided encouragement, or have shown a light on the possibility.
After a chance encounter with a women at the grocery store, I wrote about the need for finding harmony verse searching for unreachable balance. This is an idea that completely resonated with me and I go back to often when I become overwhelmed.
Last summer, while at our cottage on Findley Lake I was struggling with managing my five children and feeling this frustration with my big boys, I felt like a tour guide. I realized through writing this post that it’s okay that I feel this way sometimes, because isn’t that my job as a mother, to guide my children, to provide them with direction. When I finished writing this post, I felt more at peace with my current struggles and had a better understanding of them.
I truly believe you have to take social media with a grain of salt and rather then compare yourself, use things you see as inspiration. I find on my feed mothers who have a tremendous sense of style, but also just smart and functional choices in their home and daily lives. I know that less is more and I’m working diligently to take on that mindset and to help my children see it also, because with a family of seven, “stuff” adds up and all it really does is add distraction and clutter to our lives.
A dear friend and colleague said to me one day as we left school “we are on fire,” and I decided to explore that phrase in a post. There is really two sides to being set a blaze - a spark and fuel that can reel us into motion and feel successful, but there is also that feeling of being burnt and disappointed. Through writing I realized that we can help to build a fire for others and fuel their strengths and in turn it will add to ours.
Sometimes my posts will just come from ideas that will be heavy on my heart and so I write to make sense of my thoughts. That is where the post Brave… comes from. I came to the conclusion that when we are brave, we have faith. This idea resonated with me after thinking through the many examples of when I was brave or when I watched others be brave - quit a job, decide to try for another child after a miscarriage, be their own advocate, rebuild their life following a tragic turn of events.
So this is our story so far…
Thank you for following along with our journey, thank you for making me feel like my words matter, thank you for reminding me that we are all connected in different ways. I’m curious to see what the next year around the sun has in store for my party of seven.