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?