The Deafening Silence

I’m sitting in a Starbucks trying to think of something funny or profound to write but nothing’s coming. I’m a blank slate. So I’ll tell you instead what I’ve noticed about the last three weeks since the triplets started school—there is so much silence to my days now. To say that it is a change is an understatement. It is beyond different. It is incomprehensible to me. And I’m still trying to get used to it.

When I dropped the triplets off on their first day of preK, Seth and I came home and I plopped down on the couch and sat. And I realized it was completely silent. It was, in a word, deafening.

When we dropped them off, I was happy. I didn’t shed any tears. They were happy to march into their classrooms (minus a few tears from Abby), so I was happy for them. But then we got home and the silence made me realize just how different my days will be from now on.

I said to Seth, “it is just so quiet,” and then I felt hot tears well up in my eyes. Seth stood there not knowing what to do next, whether to laugh or hug me or say something reassuring.

“It’s okay,” I said, “it’s just really different for me.”

Three weeks into school. this is still the most noticeable change for me. Three four-year-olds talk—A LOT. The talking and engaging was incessant. Without them home, it’s me and the dog Chloe in our quiet house.

I am not good with silence. As previously mentioned, I am a nervous talker. I grew up in a loud house, and my house is a louse, busy house, too. We’re generally pretty loud people. So I guess what I’m saying is this—silence makes me really uncomfortable.

The first full day of school, I texted Seth letting him know I needed to go back to work as a lawyer. He told me to calm down. The next day I texted my best friends and said: is this is? Is this what I’ll do forever—organize my house, laundry, and everything else? Is this it? What am I even doing?

They calmly suggested that I stop thinking about the rest of my life and instead think about today, or maybe even this week.

Of course they’re right. I needed to calm down. (I can’t say that anymore without humming Taylor Swift’s song, by the way).

Maybe partly because I hate silence, I always listen to podcasts while I clean. They’re highly entertaining and educational. Anyway, I was recently listening to one of Oprah’s Soul Sessions, and it felt as if she were speaking directly to me. She was talking about when you come to a crossroads in your life, and you’re not sure what you’re going to do next. She said your instinct is to ask everyone around you what you should be doing. You ask, ask, ask, when what you SHOULD be doing is being still and quiet, and listening to yourself. Oh man. Right there. She got me.

I need to be still and quiet and listen. I need to get over the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing right now or next month or next year. I need to learn how to relax maybe a little bit and enjoy the fact that life isn’t nearly as busy during the day (the mornings and afternoons are another matter).

I don’t know how successful I’ll be at listening to myself, but I’m going to try. It may take some time to figure out, but I’ll get there. I think one of the most amazing things about life is how you never really know where it’ll take you next. I can’t wait to see what’s next. I think it’s going to be awesome.

Photo of the best part of my days, greeting my kids at the bus stop. Thanks to my friend Kate for snapping it.

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Monet's Gardens: Stepping Back to See the Beauty Right in Front of You

I picture myself standing in an art museum. My face is an inch away from the painting—almost touching it. It’s an impressionist one, maybe one of Monet’s gardens.

I can’t see the whole painting because I’m standing so close to it. I only see the brushstrokes. The shades of color. The varying thickness of the strokes. The beauty of the painting is lost on me because I’m simply much too close. To see the full picture, I’d have to take several steps back. If I did that, I could see that all those seemingly random brushstrokes come together to create a masterpiece.

Parenting can be like that. When you’re managing the minute-to-minute daily tasks of life with littles, when you’re sleep-deprived, or when you’re just plain maxed out—you don’t have the luxury of stepping back to take it in. You’re standing so close to that masterpiece—your life and your family—that you cannot see it. In those times, the brushstrokes don’t look anything like a masterpiece; they look like chaos and disorder.

For me, that tends to happen when I haven’t had a second to myself for a long stretch of time and I’m overwhelmed by the noise and demands of my house. I can’t see that masterpiece because I’m so busy LIVING IN IT. I’m busy making the dinners, giving baths, breaking up arguments, or helping with homework. I am focused on those necessary brushstrokes of daily life with small kids. I’m too close to the painting, but I always know, in my head and my heart, that the masterpiece is there, somewhere right before my eyes. I just can’t see it.

Today is not one of those days. Today—I can see it. With everyone in school or mom’s day out today, I’ve had time to pause and hear myself think and step back a bit.

So today, when I’m not fully IN IT, standing with my face an inch from the masterpiece? I can see it, guys.

I CAN SEE IT ALL.

I see my older girls, growing before my eyes into older kids and pre-teens. They’re funny and thoughtful, and I love spending time with them. I see my triplets, whose golden faces no longer hold any visible traces of babyhood. My babies are now fully vested preschoolers.

I see my husband, who cares so much for the well-being of his patients and who knows exactly what to say to make me laugh uncontrollably.

I see my siblings, my mom, my friends, and I think about how incredibly lucky I am to have those people in my life.

Tomorrow, I may be standing too close once again. I’ll be back to the day-to-day grind where I’m sometimes unable to see the oversized, beautiful scene right in front of me.

Yet for today, I have to say: this life, these kids—it is so beautiful from where I’m standing. I am so thankful for it and everything it has given me.

I hope that you, too, get a minute or two this week to stop, step back, and see the masterpiece of your life. It’s right there in front of you, right under your nose. You just have to step back to see it.

(Pic of Monet’s gardens at Giverny because they’re beautiful, and I’ve loved Monet’s paintings of them ever since I was a kid. Maybe one day I’ll make it over to France to see them.)

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Grief Cookies + Carrot Cake

Grief Cookies + Carrot Cake

As I think about tomorrow and his birthday, I again find myself asking what to wish for. Do I wish to remember everything about him, even though it is so hard, knowing he’s not here? I do. I wish for that. Because the alternative, to not go through that pain of remembering? That is to forget or disregard everything about him that was funny, loving, and wonderful. I will wish to remember all those little things that made him great, and I will wish that my kids will know those things as well, even if they don’t actually remember him.

All They Want Is You, Mama

All They Want Is You, Mama

n that moment, I thought about how my kids love every last bit of me. They love their impatient, frustrated mama who sometimes yells too much. They love their mama who tells them no and enforces rules. They love their mama who tells them “time for bed!” even though they want to play a little longer.

They don’t want a more organized mom. Or a more patient mom. Or a mom who never yells. They don’t want another mom, period.

They want me, as I am. All of me.

Parents: If You Need a Reason to Clean Your Car, This Is It

Parents: If You Need a Reason to Clean Your Car, This Is It

And then I noticed the first carseat. The carseat cover had been pulled back and there were bits of crumbled Styrofoam all over the seat. I looked back to the other three carseats (yep, so many kids), and two of those were the same.

Who or what had gotten into the van?

I backed up from the van, still puzzled, when I saw little paw prints all over the window. And then it hit me like the smell of one of those forgotten sippy cups of milk.

Lost and Found: Mom Edition

Lost and Found: Mom Edition

I remember the first time it happened. It was a quiet, icy morning in Washington, D.C. in 2008, and we were driving home from the hospital with our brand new baby girl. Our first baby girl. The trees, the sky, the streets all looked the exact same as they had two days before. But for me, the world had shifted on its axis. Suddenly, I was someone’s mom, which was surreal and overwhelming. I knew who I was as an attorney, a wife, a sister. But as a mother?

Blooms

Blooms

“They’re beautiful,” I said to the florist as I burst into shoulder-shaking, heaving tears. It was real. It was happening. My Dad had died, and we were getting the most beautiful flowers ever for this, the saddest day of my life. How could something so beautiful exist solely to celebrate such a tragedy? They were such a beautiful monument to the grief I felt that it seemed surreal. 

Summer. Is. Here.

Summer. Is. Here.

I have in my head all these awesome plans for the summer, complete with lots of reading, nutritious snacks, and quality family time.  I know, are you laughing, too?  Because it's comical to think that's how it'll go.  I think the reality is more likely to be moments of fun sprinkled into a batter of exhaustion, frustration, and sleep deprivation. 

Choosing Joy over Worry: When A Friend Gave Me Advice I Didn't Know I Needed

Choosing Joy over Worry: When A Friend Gave Me Advice I Didn't Know I Needed

My friend held up his hand to stop me before I could spit out another question. He smiled and said calmly, “Wait a minute. Has anyone told you that it’s awesome having triplets? Has anyone told you how much fun it will be? Has anyone told you that maybe everything will be just fine?