The last seven days have been great! Our nanny lives on the island with us for 3-4 weeks then goes home to her family (sisters and nieces and cousins) for about a week. I always think I’ll be able to get my work done during these days. Even though I am never able to get my work done during these days. I tell myself during the day that I will get to it when she goes to bed. But I’m too tired to think after she’s gone to bed. So at night I tell myself I will make time during the day while she watches tv. By the time she watches tv I’m just trying to take a shower because I’m covered in marker and glue and glitter. Which is kinda fun, I must admit. There’s something cool about getting in touch with your inner artist with a preschooler’s perspective.
But, dang, three years olds are flat out demanding – I tell you – if you don’t already know first-hand. Three is by far a harder age than two. Why? Because they ask why. They have more reasoning skills. Two is hard because they are learning independence and we’re used to them being babies. They begin to defy us. Three is harder because they’re learning to manipulate and lie and avoid consequences. They are devious little things! AND they are the cutest sweetest things on Earth! All at the same time. JUST LIKE TEENAGERS! I have a unique vantage point with Sabrina – I’ve done this twice before and am also through the toughest part of the teenage years. So this Momma knows ALL the tricks. And cherishes all the snuggles.
I love my days with Sabrina because every few weeks kids change and learn and have more to say. They can jump higher. They can swing on their own suddenly. Their feet are bigger. So I really enjoy being on her level and connecting with her during this time. It is ALSO completely and utterly exhausting! See, babies are physically exhausting because they need you to physically do everything for them. Teenagers are emotionally exhausting as they deal with hormones and real life – you’re constantly wondering what to say. One wrong word and you’re toast. Three year olds are both physically and emotionally exhausting making for a unique period in their childhood.
They make you question yourself and they are constantly moving. And not just moving – jumping, climbing, traversing. Often in the kitchen near heavy plates and hot stoves or flipping on beds while you wash dishes. Sabrina cried real tears one afternoon “because I don’t have any pretty shoes.” Are you freaking kidding me!? I own four pairs of shoes so she didn’t learn this from me. I’m baffled. Another day when I wouldn’t do what she wanted right away she frowned and said “Then you’re not my best friend anymore! Hmph!” And as soon as I sit down its “Mom, I have to go potty,” and then telling me “You look old” on the way to the bathroom. Thanks kid. Now let me wipe your ass. Maybe next time I won’t catch you as you flip off the bed. That’ll teach you!
But I will. Catch her.
Three year olds also love unconditionally. And -no matter what they say – you are the center of their world and they want to please you. Their hugs are the tightest and best! Their little breath when they fall asleep in your arms – its SO good. They enjoy helping with the chores. See below picture. I’ve got a great dishwasher 🙂 She asked me to read her poems this week. ‘When We Were Very Young’ by A.A. Milne. A book I used to read to E & L. And she laughed when it was time to laugh and asked for specific poems. It’s pretty amazing to watch things click in their little brains. One day they don’t get it. The next they do. Just like that. The brain cells connect and suddenly they can ride that bike or read that word.
There is something great about every age children are. They are pretty amazing. I love being a Mom to all my kids at every stage. Even when they call me old 🙂
I’m doing some hard personal work right now. My ideas and thoughts and goals are being harshly challenged. And I’m running my own interference. The Universe has stood up – as if to challenge to my credibility. “Who are you to tell people about love and happiness?” “Let me test your true understanding with a few curve balls…” Continue reading Testing, testing – 1, 2, 3
Lilly and I had grand intentions of using our 3 hour layover in Houston to shop and have dinner together to celebrate her 13thbirthday. Instead –due to flight delays and an insanely long Immigration line- we settled for choking down a sandwich and a quick happy birthday toast – in hot pursuit of not missing her connection to Indiana. There was little time to feel sad as we hustled thru the airport and I didn’t want our last moments together to include me sobbing like a baby and begging her not to go. Not exactly good form.
On the tram before her flight.
Once we got to the gate it went fast –a blur. I hugged her and kissed her face one last time before she walked down the jet way onto the plane. Disappearing all too quickly without even looking back. Then it hit me. I wondered when I would hug her again. When I would get to have another meal with her. I wondered what she was thinking. Right then I wanted to hug her again so bad it hurt inside my chest. I thought my heart was going to explode. My body was frozen and emotionless. Completely numb. I found a seat next to the window and stared at that plane for 40 l-o-n-g minutes until it was wheels up. And then cried. Quietly in that little corner of the giant Houston airport my heart was breaking.
I let her go.
Because I love her that much.
Today I sit here and write this and I still weep. I just want Lilly here with us. There are days like today my heart aches and aches and aches because one of my babies is absent. Because everywhere I look I see her face or I remember how she played with Sabrina and kayaked with me on the weekends. I really miss watching her learn and study. And yes, I even miss the older girls arguing. I think of her each time I feed the animals, which was her job. Her cat, Alley, misses her too. Alley follows me everywhere now and insists on sleeping in my room. She has left a void in our lives that we are all working to fill.
We are all still in transition. Our family feels different. Since it is different. Sabrina asks where Lilly is every single day. Thank heaven for FaceTime and Skype. Emma even asks to talk to her and has openly admitted to missing her sister. Amazing. Lilly’s friends from school have sent me messages telling me they wish she would come back – they say the 7thgrade isn’t the same without her. Even the staff at the Resort ask about her and wonder how she is adjusting to all that snow! There is not a piece of her life here in Belize that doesn’t feel her absence.
Our new normal around the house is surely quieter. Our new normal no longer includes teenage girl fights about whose shirt/dress/underwear belongs to whom. Or whose music is too loud. Or who looked at who “that way” first. There is less food to prepare, clothes to wash, and far less shampoo to buy. Our new normal is making sure only one student gets to and from school each day, not two. It feels like I am forgetting something when I leave school with only one in the car. Our new normal has a little less laughter.
Our new normal is also fostering an interesting metamorphosis of Miss Emma. The energy she previously used arguing and competing with Lilly is now being channelled into herself as well as connecting with the rest of the family. The new normal involves FaceTime video chats where Sabrina shows Lilly EVERYTHING in her room –one by one. It involves instant messaging to talk about our days instead of doing it over dinner. The new normal is sending her packages and flowers (yes, more than once in four weeks) to make sure she knows without a doubt she is loved and thought about here in Belize EVERY DAY.
And Lilly’s new normal? I can’t be certain. I do know she is happy and adjusting well. Although she has yet to begin school because they have had huge amounts of snow, she has been for a tour and is excited to pick out her classes this Monday. She is enjoying a room all to herself. She has sent pictures of snowmen and talked about how much fun it is to sled in the snow. My little bird seems to be thriving in her new nest.
We are all a work in progress – working towards accepting our new normal daily routines.
FaceTime screenshot – The view out Lilly’s window in IN, and the view from our lanai in Belize.
Some of my favorite lyrics for my loved ones…
“I hope you never look back but you never forget
All the ones who love you and the place you left I hope you always forgive and you never regret
And you help somebody every chance you get
That you’d find God’s grace in every mistake
And always give more than you take
But more than anything my wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold” -Rascal Flatts – My Wish Lyrics
“Well, you only need the light when it’s burning low,
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow,
Only know you love her when you let her go.
And you let her go.”
–Passenger, Let Her Go Lyrics
Written on December 15th, 2013 Letting Go of Lilly
Sometimes in life we have to let go of things or people – especially when we don’t want to. Especially when that something has been a part of your day since you can remember. Even when every fiber of your genetic makeup is telling you it’s not time. Even when we want to keep fighting for what we believe is best. Even when your heart aches at the mere thought. We have to let go to – in order to go on.
This week we are having to let go. Even though it is not what we want. And our hearts will surely ache.
Just as our daughter Lilly turns 13 next week she will be moving to Indiana to live with her Father, step-Mother, and little Brother. After careful consideration, unprecedented communication with her Father, counsel from family, and some soul searching of my own, we made a family decision to allow her to move. The decision was made months ago but I kept secretly hoping that Lilly would change her mind, or plans would fall through. Selfishly – I just want her here with me. I want my baby bird under my wing where I can protect and groom her. She’s not supposed to leave the nest yet. My brain is hardwired to be with her. But I have come to terms with the reality. The truth is she’s not leaving the nest, but rather going to experience a new nest where she WILL be loved and cared for as she continues to become a young woman. And she knows she can always come back to us. She knows our unconditional love.
For the first time in 13 years I won’t be waking up to her face. I won’t be calling her name 10 times every morning trying to get her up. I won’t be taking her to the first day at her new school. This is my first time to miss a “first day” of anything in her life. I won’t be there for every school event or performance. And I will no longer be the one drying heartbroken tears or packing her favorite things for lunch. It will no longer be me. And this makes me very sad. I will be homesick for her – our whole family here will miss her.
I also feel very proud and am confident in Lilly. Because for the first time in 13 years Lilly is confident enough in herself to be able to handle such a big change. Because she is brave and strong. She is ready. She knows she can pull through any hard times. She strongly feels that more educational opportunities are available in Indiana than here in Belize. And possibly most important -I know she wants and needs to connect with her father. I have to feel good knowing Lilly has grown to not fear the world and its possibilities. I take comfort in her attributes as we are learning to let go of Lilly.
I have always taught my daughters these things, but I want all 3 to now be able to read it and know these things are true no matter how old you get, or how smart you think you are. I want, you, Lilly to know my thoughts and advice, even from many miles away since I won’t be there myself to remind you.
So, girls, if you can’t remember here are a few basics you can always count on:
Do not be afraid, be cautious instead – making choices out of fear usually results in a mess.
When you don’t know what else to do in a moment of stress – take a few deep breaths. Or twenty.
It is better to say nothing at all than to speak hurtful words. You can never take the words back.
When you are hurting and angry, remember that your feelings are valid and REAL. But don’t hurt others because you are upset.
Kindness never goes out of style. Just Be Kind. It’s not really all that difficult to do. Smile at an old person, feed the homeless, thank a soldier or just call your mother.
You can be a kind woman and not be a pushover.
It is always okay to say NO and expect to be respected. In your future career, with someone who says they love you, to your best friend. Do not compromise your standards for anyone!
LOVE is the greatest thing in the world. To love and be loved is at the core of the choices we make every day. It is the core of our being.
You can always count on your Family for LOVE. No matter who – what – when – where or why, we are here to share our love with you. You never have to go looking for it at the bottom of a glass (unless *maybe* its wine). Kidding. You don’t need to search for love from a stranger. Or a drug. Or recognition in a job that makes you miserable. Come home anytime, you will be loved without question.
Be-still my heart – L to R: Emma, Sabrina, Lillian.