An open letter to every man in America,

It has happened two weeks in a row now. 

Two separate times now, one of you has pulled your car over to my side of the road, while I have been out running in a public place, not some backroads park, to ask for directions. 

Each time, you have rolled down your window to very politely asked me if I knew how to get to <fill in the blank>.

The first time, your seatbelt was dangling precariously over your shoulder, not buckled as it should have been had you actually been headed somewhere. I want to assume that was just an oversight on your part. 

The second time, you had an iPhone in your hand, which I am assuming has a built in GPS. 

Each time, you got a little too close with your car and a little too comfortable with your conversation. 

Each time, you were within half a mile either direction of a gas station, a public library, two elementary schools, a grocery store, and an entire downtown. 

Surely it had to occur to you that one of those places would be a better option to ask for help if you were lost. 

So here’s my message to you ALL:

 STOP IT. 

STOP IT NOW. 

If you are reading this, you are smart enough to know that it is bad idea this day and age. 

If someone else gave you this article to read, he/she is either assuming you just might not have stumbled across it on your own or that you are so dumb you might actually think stopping to ask a woman running alone for directions is a sane idea. 

Either way, enough is enough

Women have enough to worry about these days. 

We have kids to feed & care for, houses to tend to, jobs to go to, appointments to schedule & keep for the whole family, and on and on and on. We have meals to plan and schedules to organize and offices to run and corporations to manage. 

What we do NOT need is to have our quiet time out running/walking/jogging/hiding from the kids interrupted by some man we do not know. 

We watch the news

We know what kind of things could happen. 

We are aware that there are some of you out there that mean well, but you don’t make the news. 

Who makes the news?

The ones of you who lurk sound in parks & alleys waiting on us to come by unaware. 

The ones of you that for some sick, sociopathic reason, feel you can do whatever, to whomever, whenever you would like with no repercussions. 

The ones of you that have bad intentions ruin it for everyone

Just know this, men of America: 

We are aware. 

We are paying attention. 

We are strong & fierce & unafraid. 

We will stare you down, talk you down, & if neccesary, take you down. 

Be advised: You have been warned

If you are dumb enough after this to stop and ask a woman out running alone for directions, just know that we will assume the worst about you and act accordingly. 

Sincerely,

Every woman in America  

And so there is that…

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An open letter to my mother-in-law

mother in law

Dear Mother-In-Law,

There are a few things I have wanted to say to you for a long time. Some of them are long overdue, but I have heard there is no better time than the present, so I am just gonna lay this all out there.

I knew from the moment we met that we were totally different types of people. I knew that I would NEVER be like you in many ways. I knew from the moment I saw you come upstairs from the basement where you were hard at work doing laundry to refill your husband’s tea glass that I was NEVER going to be like that.  Seriously…You walked across the length of the house and up two sets of stairs to refill a man’s tea glass. A man that, I might add, was sitting at the table literally in the kitchen. No ma’am…that is not how I am wired.

I had no idea when we first met that one day I would be your daughter-in-law. I didn’t know that our lives would forever be intertwined by a web of relatives & events & phone calls & family gatherings.

I had no idea that bringing my kids to see you would always involve such chaos. It’s clear that my desire for organization & your desire to just be “in the moment” didn’t mesh at times. I cannot count the number of times I had to remind my kids to get dressed & clean themselves up before bounding out to see you for breakfast. I didn’t think it was illogical to expect them to do that. Clearly, our brains function differently.

I cannot even count the number of times you called me to ask the kids birth dates…& their ages…& their sizes…how to spell their names & their favorite music/toys/games/shows. I began to feel like I should carry a master list around with me so that I could just spout the information off to you, knowing full well that I was only going to have to do it again very soon when you couldn’t find the random piece of paper you recorded it all on.  I am sure you shoved it in a purse somewhere. I am sure it will turn up when no one needs the information anymore.

I need you to know that I am not you.

I don’t think like you.

I don’t act like you.

I don’t dress like you or cook like you or even like the same type of music as you. 

I don’t raise my kids the same way you did. I haven’t learned to just leave the dishes until a better time or ever felt the need to pack 5 or 6 overnight bags for a LITERAL overnight stay. Every time you came to our house it looked like a Samsonite display at Kohls.

And don’t get me started on what a shopping trip with you was like. I seriously cannot even grasp why every trip to any store turned into a day long journey. It had nothing to do with your health or your ability to get around. It did have everything, however, to do with your desire to look at literally each & every item a store had for sale. It didn’t matter if it was WalMart or Belk or the gift section of a gas station. It all had to be seen. And we all had to loiter around and wait for you to be done looking.

We are so different.

But here’s the thing.

Last November, I lost you.

I say lost because that is how it has felt since you were taken away so suddenly on a normal Thursday a week before Thanksgiving.

I have a head full of stories to share & a phone full of pictures & a car load of kids & you are gone. Just gone.

And all of the sudden I realize all that you taught me.

It never mattered to you if I ever refilled your son’s glass of tea or not. You loved me anyway.

If I wanted the kids to get dressed & clean up before breakfast, you were right there encouraging them to obey & smiling all the while.

Yes, you called me often for the kids’ sizes. Often. But, that’s also because you bought all their Easter clothes & school clothes…you filled massive Easter baskets & put Santa to shame when it came to Christmas. Birthdays were enormous events & you never hesitated to make the 2+ hour trip to celebrate a birthday or graduation or holiday or just to have lunch. And I am at a total loss as to how I will ever fill those shoes. We fumbled through Thanksgiving & Christmas in a fog…Easter came and it felt so physically painful to ponder what to dress the kids in. And now it’s almost time for back-to-school shopping and I have no idea how to do it. You made it special & fun & memorable & those moments are etched indelibly on my heart & I CANNOT BE YOU.

I have been blessed with a mother…a wonderful mother. And she is here & she is present & she loves my kids.

But, she is not you. She fills a spot that is hers to fill…and your spot feels like a gaping wound that I will never be able to fill the void of.

Thank you for not ever requiring that I be you.

Thank you for holding me when I failed.  Thank you for always telling me you loved me & that I was needed & wanted & appreciated.

Thank you for lifting my heart when it was broken & for staring me in the face & reminding me that I have worth & value & that my contributions to the world are only mine to make.

Thank you for helping me live with no regrets.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the physical embodiment of unconditional love.

Your presence is so missed. My heart feels the loss with such great magnitude. We all struggle with looking forward to big events knowing you won’t be there to laugh & cry & celebrate with us.

I am so grateful that we loved big & we shared our hearts with each other. Thank you for being vulnerable with me & for never hiding behind your story. Thank you for being you.

There will never be another you. I recognize that. 

This void will, in some way, always be here as a reminder.

Things that leave big holes are things that filled big spaces.

You filled my space with love & I am forever grateful.

and so there is that…

An Open Letter To The Food Service Industry


Dear Food Service Industry,
I want to tell you, first of all, how much my family loves the service you provide. My kids are French fry-aholics and thanks to living in the south, sweet tea runs in our veins. 

We spend way too much of our hard earned cash choosing between Mexican & Italian & American & Asian…between sit-down & take-out & walk-up & carry-out…between places with the all-day breakfast & places that stay open literally all day. 

We love local flavor & grain-fed beef & free-range eggs & farm-raised anything.

In short (or long???), we love food

Plain & simple

We need to eat & we love to eat & we are so grateful for the chefs & the burger flippers & the fry droppers & the salad tossers…we love the hosts & the hostesses as well as the servers of all shapes, sizes & sexes. And the bartenders??? Well, they are just an added bonus. 

Without you all, we would be, (aside from probably each being 20 pounds lighter) hungry & unhappy many times a week. 

You remove from me, specifically, the burden of deciding who likes what, figuring out when everyone (or even the majority?) will be home, as well as keeping me from having to peruse Pinterest on the regular to find recipes that will be photo worthy for my friends & family to be jealous of (after all, what is social media for if not a place to show our “friends” how much better our lives are than theirs????).
But, I digress.

Here is my dilemma:

Please, someone, for the love of all food prepared in this great nation of ours, explain to me why in the burger-flippin’ world there is an age restriction at MOST of your establishments for people to order from the children’s menu????

It is, according to my observation after raising 5 children who now no longer qualify for said children’s menus, that the main, if not often the ONLY, difference between the menu for the youngsters & the menu for the adults is the AMOUNT of food actually being served. 

Have any of you that actually make these decisions taken a look around the good ol’ U. S. of A. recently??? 

Have you not noticed that “muffin tops” no longer actually referring to the literal top of a baked goodie anymore? 

Have you been unable to see our rapidly expanding waistlines as well as our much larger donations to the medical profession???

Can you not see, as you clear our plates & provide to-go boxes in all shapes & sizes that we RARELY ever even finish the amount of food provided by your establishments???

I understand that some of your meals aimed at little people come with drinks. I will remind you, however, that you are already making huge profit margins on those beverages, I feel quite sure. 

I also realize that some of your establishments provide buffet meals. That’s a whole different issue and, honestly, an entirely different blog topic altogether. Consider yourselves exempt for the purposes of this piece. 

Why should we be forced to order more food than we want, or even NEED, to eat???

Why is it not acceptable to CHOOSE to request a smaller portion of food for whatever reason? 

Cheaper price?? Okay

Smaller portions?? Okay

Dietary restrictions requiring less food be consumed?? For the love of God, also okay. 

Just REALLY want our food served in a paper car with crayons & a plastic cup?? Okay, okay & okay. 

We should ALL be able to voluntarily decide to eat less food, or even just WANT nuggets & fruit as our option. 

We should ALL be able to enjoy a meal out without being forced to either eat it all, throw some of it away, or carry around some sort of portable food container for the rest of the evening. 
Bottom line, we should all be entitled to be kids if we choose. 
Just some “food for thought” for your consideration. 

Sincerely, 

Basically every person everywhere 

And so there is that

To my son, as you turn 21…

This guy.    

21 years ago, he made me a momma. 

I have failed him in a million ways. 

I have broken his trust. 

I have caused him undue pain. 

I have hurt his heart in ways no child should ever endure. 

I have forgotten to pick him up from places. 

I have lost track of schedules & time & important things. 

I have thrown away things he wanted to save and I have misplaced others in places they might never be found again.

I have watched him love his siblings. 

I have watched him love others. 

And I, so thankfully, have watched him learn to love himself. 

It has been a narrow, winding road to 21 Taylor.

It has been painfully real, brutally honest, and heartbreakingly crushing at times.

I have had to watch you hurt & you have done the same with me.

And yet.

Your love for me is endless. 

You never fail to say “I love you“.

You still call me just to say hello. 

You hug me no matter who is around & you never make me feel unwanted, unloved, or undeserving.

I know what a gift this is.

You are more than I could have ever dreamed you would be.

You make me proud for so many reasons.

I will never be able to repay you for your generosity, your honesty, or your love for me.

What is so lovely is that you would never expect me to anyway.

You can’t ever walk far enough away that my love & feet won’t follow.

You are you & I wouldn’t want you to be anyone else.

Never forget the One who designed you.

You are fearfully & wonderfully made & I am proud to call you my son.

Thank you for 21 years of unwavering love.

I love you, Bubbs.

(Now, if you could just improve your aim for the laundry hamper, that would be great ❤️)

And so there is that…

An open letter to the middle-aged mom…

I see you. 

I see you at the park, walking the track trying to wish the muffin-top calories away while the younger moms push littles on the swings and play chase. I recognize the relief that you are not needed to play such a pivotal role at the park, and yet at the same time I see the misty-eyed way you watch and remember “those days”.

I see you at the waterpark & the pool, trying to keep an eye on your oh-so-independent kids, while trying to negotiate whether to sit closest to the gorgeous young moms in bikinis or the pregnant moms that look more similar to your current body shape. I sense you trying to decide if the swimsuit you finally selected is current enough to make your middle school kids not want to walk 10 feet apart from you....I get it, I really do. 

I see you grocery shopping more slowly, trying to remember who will be at dinner that night since some work & some are away with friends & some just don’t want to join you at the table for meals anymore. 

I hear the insecurity in your voice as you try to have meaningful conversation with your now-nearing-adulthood children. I recognize the quiet way in which you ask how things are going because you don’t want to be thought of as prying…and yet not asking is risking that they will think you don’t care. 

Every part of motherhood feels risky.  

I see you at the pharmacy refilling your prescription for the hormones that will hopefully keep you from snapping like a dead twig (and ending up with a mugshot that shows up when your kids Google your name years from now).

I see you on vacation by the pool alone because all your people are “tired” or “bored” or so engulfed in technology that you can’t pry them out of the hotel or condo or house. 

I see you all over

When do I see you the most?

I see you every time I look in the mirror and notice a new crease or wrinkle or “beauty mark”.

I see you because I am you too.

I am right there like you, looking back wondering where time went, while looking ahead wondering how much time is left. 

I am with you at the park & the pool…the grocery store & the pharmacy…I am asking the same questions in the same timid voice to the same almost-adults hoping for the same connection. 

In many ways I am you & you are me.

We feel like we have lost so much time and we wonder have we done enough or held on enough or let go enough. Have we BEEN enough??

But, oh my friends, look what we have gained. 

We get to have dinner out without high chairs or kids menus. 

We don’t have to grab a stroller and struggle with its set up and its take down to go each & every place. (Side note: If you need ANY & ALL kids products, The Upscale WeeSale is THE place to get them! Check it out!!)

We get to do girls weekends without worrying if someone is using too much breast milk while feeding our baby back at home. 

We can read more & travel more & think more. 

We get to discover a new person buried deep inside the cloak of mom &, looking in the rear-view mirror we call experience, we get to decide who she is & how she acts & what she does. 

We get to have spontaneous pedicures & lunch out alone & we get to browse the aisles of the library that are actually made for adults. 

We get to forget anything & everything & our clothes don’t have to necessarily be in style & we get to laugh at our own jokes & cry at sappy movies & and we get to blame it ALL on being older & WE DON’T EVEN HAVE TO CARE WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS.

We get to look back on these people we have given our hearts & souls for, some of us even our careers for, & we get to watch them grow & thrive & become amazing adults. 

We did that

We need each other, friend

Right around the corner or in the next cubicle or even sitting in the next row over on Sunday is someone just like you. 

Someone who has just wrapped up years of clipping Box Tops For Education, packing mediocre lunches & attending sports events, performances & awards ceremonies. 

Right near you is someone who could use a lunch date or a day trip to the beach or just a meaningful conversation about life.

Someone just like you

And someone just like me.

Let’s be for each other what we need for ourselves. Let’s grab the phone & set up a lunch or a movie or better still, just a talk. 

Let’s make sure we all come out of this thing called motherhood feeling good about ourselves & holding our heads high. 

We each have our own tales of our successes & our failures…and nothing validates motherhood like sharing our stories and realizing we are truly not alone. 

Let’s make this next phase of life the best one yet. 

Get to it, friend. 

Adventure & friendship awaits. 

We are all in this thing together

And so there is that…

from the inside…

band aid I recently had an emergency appendectomy.

It obviously wasn’t how I had planned to spend that Wednesday night, and coupled with the fact that it happened literally the night before my beautiful daughter’s graduation from high school, the timing was not opportune.

But, the body, often like the heart, does what it wants & my body decided to send an eviction notice to my appendix, effective immediately.

Surgery was fine.

Recovery in the hospital was fine.

Getting home & settled & taking meds & resting was fine.

I am fine.

And yet, I’m not.

I still move so slowly. I haven’t been cleared to exercise or lift anything. I tire easily & I feel disoriented at times & I just can’t seem to feel like myself.

And sometimes, even on a really good day, my wounds are sore to the touch. They look good & they are healing nicely, but they ache & remind me of what happened.

I was talking with my mom recently about how I felt & she said so simply, “Remember…your body is healing from the inside also.”

So simple.

Yet, so profound.

This was a fact that I hadn’t really considered. 

I knew my scars were healing nicely & so I was basing my overall healing on the look from the outside. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to do all I normally could do or act like I normally would act, even though, from the outside, everything seemed to be just fine.

There is so much of life that seems to work in this seemingly reverse process. This process where things look just fine & seem to be healed, & yet when someone presses just right, the wounds ache & remind us of where we have been & what has happened.

And that’s okay.

We are allowed to heal at our own pace. There is no manual that dictates what stage of healing we must be at in order to be “normal” or “okay”.

Sometimes our healing is happening on the inside.

Sometimes the world is hurtful & we make foolish choices & we suffer immensely for those decisions.

And sometimes, things just happen…things beyond our control & out of our hands & our hearts hurt & our wounds are gaping.

Sometimes, we heal so well on the outside.

And yet…

Sometimes, someone comes along & their words press just right & our wounds ache & remind us all over again of where we have been & what has happened. Sometimes, we still move slowly & even on a really good day, our wounds are sore to the touch. They look good & they are healing nicely, but the ache is there as a boomerang back to the moment of injury.

And all of that is okay.

The hurt keeps us humble & the tenderness reminds us of our humanity.

Sometimes the ache is a glaring reminder of what hurt us & sometimes it is a gentle nudge, reminding us of what we survived.

We all have hurts & we all have wounds & we all recover from the injuries of life at our own pace.

Sometimes we move so slowly. Sometimes it hurts to lift anything & shame is a heavy burden that others place on us. Sometimes we tire easily &  feel disoriented & we just can’t seem to feel like ourselves. 

And wouldn’t it be amazing, if, in the midst of all that,  we just gave each other a little grace? If we just said to our people, “I see the pain. I know you are healing & I know you are tender… but look how far you’ve come.” Could it even be possible to smile & hug someone that’s hurting & look for ways to help them?

Wouldn’t it be life-changing if we just looked past the superficial surface & heard the hearts of our people? If we allowed humanity to be, well, human. If we stopped setting expectations & guidelines & time-constraints on life’s injuries & we just listened closely & closed our mouths & opened our arms wide & took in the injured & recovering & damaged & bruised with only love & patience & empathy.

And what if we could do it all without ever inserting our opinion?

Wouldn’t we all heal better in this way?

Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to touch our own wounds every now & then as a reminder of the power of the human body & spirit, & even more importantly, as a reminder that we all heal better when we are touched gently & with grace.

and so there is that…

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 {Guaranteed} Ways To Ruin Summer Break

We have all done it. 

At some point or another, we have all over-planned, under-planned or just had no plan at all. 

Here are just a few personal suggestions to think about not doing to help make the most of the time your little people are underfoot this summer break:

1. Think about the upcoming school year even once before August

Listen, school lets out for a reason. Fa-get-ah-bout-it for awhile. Soon enough you’ll be arranging schedules & planning carpools. May sucked the life out of us all with testing & graduations & teacher appreciation & end-of-the-year crap. Let June & July have their moment to shine. August will be here demanding our full attention & our lunch account money & our signatures on countless forms before we know it. Don’t blink. Wait it out

2. Look at other people’s vacation photos thinking, “I wish I were there.”

 Here’s the thing: You AREN’T there, so get over it. If you wanted to be there you should have planned ahead, saved up, packed, & gone. And you didn’t. We are ALL capable of planning a trip. We are ALL capable of foregoing a daily coffee or newspaper or sweet tea or whatever to save for a family trip or girls trip or solo trip. Some did and some didn’t. Don’t hate your neighbor or your relatives or even your enemies because they had the foresight to plan ahead. You gain nothing from that except frustration & inner turmoil. You decided early on “namaste here this summer”, so stop hatin‘.

3. Make a summer “academic” schedule

For the love of all things good & lovely in the world, let the kids have a break. It truly is possible for them to burn out before school even starts, and often we are the ones lighting the fire. There are a million plus things our kids can learn over the summer that are not “academic”. Teach them to load and unload the dishwasher properly. Make sure they can make a bed & empty the trash & do a load of laundry from start to finish. It’s actually even okay for them to spend some time mindlessly staring at the television or a screen of some sort. It’s called relaxing. So, relax. 

4. Look at “her” in a bathing suit with disgust because you don’t look like her.

 I realize this one is a touchy subject, but I’m just gonna risk offending everyone and put this out there: Pool/beach bodies are conceived in the fall, nurtured in the winter, birthed in the spring & adored in the summer. 99% of those people didn’t just get blessed with good genes. They woke up, ate well, and made taking care of their bodies a priority. It’s ridiculous to be upset with someone for having something you don’t when they put in the work you didn’t. And wearing jealously looks worse than an ill-fitting pair of yoga pants. It’s never too late to start. So, put down the bag of chips, grab the kids & take a walk. At the very least you’ll show the little people it’s important to get moving. There’s no better time than the present. 

Go. 

Now.

You can finish reading this later. 

5. Make your kids get up and go to bed on the same schedule they do during the school year. 

 Routine is important.  There is no denying that. But, one of the greatest parts of summer break is staying up a little too late and sleeping in proportionally late in the morning. Your child is not going to become a elementary/middle/high school drop-out simply because they passed bedtime a time or two. Everything in moderation. Let them have a sleepover or two, even if it makes you want to pluck your eyelashes out with a pair of dollar store tweezers. They are only little once. Let them be little. 

6. Insist that everyone wear matching shirts on vacation. 

Listen, before all you Cricut/Etsy/Craft-making people pitch a fit, hear me out. I’m gonna focus on the word insist here. If your kid/spouse/significant other desires to walk around Disney World looking like you all just walked out of a copy machine, that is just fine. Just don’t force feed them on the idea. We all have that one photo of ourselves where we are wearing something someone ELSE insisted upon. Don’t let this summer be the one your family looks back on with eye-rolling regret. It actually IS possible to have a successful family photo without everyone matching, or even coordinating. Sometimes I’m just grateful all my tribe even gets in the frame. I’m gonna let that be enough for me and I highly recommend it for you also. And if everyone wants to match??? 

Go. For. It

I’ll still double tap your pictures because it will make me smile, I am sure. 

7. Make promises to your kids.

 There are few words likely to bring about the feeling of hearing, “but you PROMISED!” 

Promises are a recipe for disaster.

The words “I promise” are often the only words we speak that our people will remember we said, they are almost always attached to some event we really don’t want to do, and we will be reminded we said them at the absolute most inopportune time. 

Guaranteed. 

Wait?? I PROMISED to take you fishing TODAY? (It will currently be pouring). I PROMISED take you shopping Friday??? (It will NOT be a payday).  And are you CERTAIN I PROMISED to get ice cream from the ice cream truck the very next time we saw one?? No matter WHEN or WHERE?? (You will have zero cash…just like last time). Instead of saying I promise, just open the front door and slam your foot in it a few times…the result is a lot less costly & painful & your little people never even have to know. 

Now get out there and do summer right
And so there is that…

Summer Break

sunflower

 

Today is technically the first day of the summer break from school. Yesterday was Memorial Day and Daddy’s birthday and the entire week previous was filled to peak capacity with graduation and graduation parties and family in from out-of-town and out-of-state.
And, in the middle of it all, my body decided it was time to evict my appendix. 

No written warning.

No 30 day notice.

Not even a small hint ahead of time.

So, here I sit, on the first day of the summer break from school and I am not able to drive or lift anything or basically do much other than walk around like an invalid.

So these kids that live here?

These little humans that need food & shelter...what have they done today?

The eldest went to work.

The second eldest slept until late, went to lunch with friends, filled out yet another scholarship & took me to get my grossly neglected unibrow waxed.

The others?

One has played video games all day long. He has only emerged from his cocoon on the couch in his room to forage for food & beverage. He did his chores at my promoting, and immediately resumed the aforementioned posture. I checked for a pulse and he is indeed alive & well.

The two smallest littles have made slime…again. They have been on FaceTime with friends basically the whole day. They have been rotting their brains with YouTube videos and Netflix and all sort of nonsense.

All. Day. Long

One just came out and uttered these actual words: “I am making a surprise. Are baking soda & baking powder both necessary if the recipe calls for it?”

Go with God was my response.

And they, also, are still among the living.

I am scrolling trough Facebook and Instagram and I am bombarded by vacation videos & pictures of someone’s trip to somewhere.

And it quite literally, is the first day of the summer break from school. When did these people even have time to pack?

I am not knocking those who have travel plans from late May through the eclipse in August.

I have no hate for those that keep each & every day filled to capacity with stimulating activity.

I am amazed at some people’s ability to do it all & go to it all & be it all.
But, the truth is, I am taking the summer off. 
I am taking this break seriously.
I am planning to sleep more & read more & watch the grass grow & the kids grow & my patience grow.
I plan to honestly break from the busy life & turn my back on the Joneses I have fought so hard to keep up with.
I want my people to learn the art of play. I want them to find the satisfaction in finding a way to occupy their time that is not directed by another person. I want our home to be a place of rest & fun & escape.
And if that means binge watching Netflix, bring on the popcorn.
If that means we have less pictures of picturesque scenery & more selfies from the couch, I’m okay with that.
I am giving myself & my people permission to take a break this summer.
So if you are traveling all summer, go with God & our blessing. Have all the fun that the world has to offer. Shut down every event & venue & have fun beyond your wildest dreams.

Us??

We will be here ordering take-out & taking naps & yes, making still more slime.

We will be here cheering you on & gathering our wits about us for the school year to come. We will like your photos and double tap all those cute pics of your people at the beach…or the mountains…or both.

Your way is okay & our way is okay.

And so there is that. 

An open letter to the young mother I met at the beach

BeachI don’t think I actually saw you until around day 5 or 6…

Shamefully, that’s the honest truth

Even though our husbands had been swimming and fishing together some part of each day and even though I was sure you were around somewhere, I just didn’t see you until it was the day before you went home.

It’s possibly because I had my face stuck in a book…yes, I had time to read a book…

You looked beautiful…I am sure you will disagree, but you did. You wore your motherhood like a fine gown. Your suit was stylish and your cute baseball cap made you look like a magazine cover. I am sure you struggled with even finding time to get dressed for the beach and I am sure the hat was probably more for lack of time to style your hair than for sun protection, but you looked adorable…seriously...

I already knew you had  littles…I had seen your boy playing with my kiddos in the water day after day…chasing the waves and asking his daddy tons of questions about fishing and bobbing up and down and  in and  over and under the pulsing ocean… I am sure it was unnerving every time his head went under the water waiting for him to resurface.

I didn’t see your sweet little girl until that same day I became aware of you…I loved watching you chase after her and keep her occupied in a place that held lots of potential danger.

I loved your zest and your zeal and your sunglasses…yes, I really loved your sunglasses.

(Mine are prescription and they are old and too expensive to replace…So, I really was taken in by your cute sunglasses.)

You looked so together…Your parents were there and you told me y’all were making Beaufort Stew that night for dinner…It sounded yummy and I secretly thought about following your sweet family back to the rental house you were staying in to sneak some for myself.

We talked about the dangers of swimming in the ocean, and kids growing up, and how tiring being a mother to small humans is.

We talked about sunburn and where we each lived (I nodded when you said you lived in Elloree familiar with the word, but not it’s actual location) and how much you needed and were enjoying this vacation…  You said how much you longed to actually sit at the beach and read…like me…(I was literally standing in the ocean having this conversation with you while my book was still in my hand)

I remember telling you how tired it made me just watching you care for your little people…How I knew that I must be getting old because watching them run around made me tired… you chased after them and kept them from danger in the waves and made sure they had adequate sun protection… and food… and drink…and entertainment…

And I had time to read a book...

You commented ever so sweetly how you couldn’t wait until the time when you could finally read a book on the beach and I chuckled and said something about it being here before you knew it…

And when you left our conversation, you and your family packed up the magnanimous amount of stuff it takes to bring a family with littles to the beach…You packed up the tent and the cooler and the toys and the kiddos and you gracefully herded everyone to the cute little golf cart you rode back to the rental house…

And I had time to read a book...

but

While it looked like I was reading, let me tell you, sweet girl, what was actually happening.

I was actually sitting in my beach chair, I am sure looking quite relaxed and subdued, wishing I had remembered to bring the bathing suit top I had actually purchased to bring to the beach…the one I wasn’t 100% sold on but bought anyway just so I wouldn’t wear the same one I had worn for the last several years. I was wondering how smashed up my hair was going to be from being under that hat all day…that hat I was wearing because, even though I had time to fix my hair, I just wanted to get to the beach to watch my littles play.

I was also watching my tribe play in the water…asking their daddy tons of questions about fishing and bobbing up and down and in and over and under the pulsing ocean...It was unnerving every time their heads went under the water waiting for them to resurface.

I was thinking how I wished I had your zest and your zeal and your sunglasses…yes, I loved your sunglasses that much…

I was slowly turning pages and thinking about the dangers of swimming in the ocean, and about my kids growing up, and about how tiring being a mother to teenagers and adolescents is…

I was constantly re-reading the same sentences and thinking about sunburn and where I lived and how much I needed and was enjoying this vacation…I was also thinking about how grateful I was to be able to sit in a chair by the lapping waves, and yet how a part of me was jealous that you had littles to chase and build castles with…

I was also thinking about the danger of the waves…and wondering if my kids had on adequate sun protection…and food…and drink…and entertainment…

Yes, I had time to read a book…

But I really did very little reading...

We don’t ever stop mothering...

We don’t ever stop worrying and wishing and dreaming and wanting the best for our kids…

The grass always looks a little greener somewhere, sweet friend.

But, it’s only our vantage point that changes.

Embrace these moments…they won’t last forever and they will be in the rearview mirror of that cute golf cart before you blink.

You are investing wisely and wonderfully in the future of our world…and even when you doubt your self-worth or your abilities or even your swimsuit and hat, you are doing well, my friend.

Keep on getting after motherhood. Every day is a choice between living and existing…I watched you live at the beach and I am a better person for it. You reminded me of the brevity of childhood and the importance of being present in each and every moment…

You reminded me of me…ages ago…and today also…

You are enough, young mother…

Your contributions are enough and your value is enough and the only yardstick with which to measure yourself should be the one your Creator alone made for you with the wood from the cross He hung on.

The days will pass and the tables will turn and you will be sitting in the chair watching littles play and envying the sunglasses of a stranger…

All while some young mother thinks you are reading a book. 

I hope someone shares this with you. I sadly don’t recall your name. But I will remember your face and your hat and yes, your sunglasses, forever.

And so there is that…