Everyone has before-and-afters in life. Little did I know, in spring of 2014, my life would be defined by two before-and-afters that occurred in the span of one month.
We were intimately in tune with each other's struggles and victories, both the big ones and the small ones. And so, during those years, we carried each other through the best and worst of things.
Every time we travel with our six kids, I have this moment of panic where I ask myself:
What have we done?! What WERE we thinking? Why did we come to the beach/the zoo/Grandma’s house/Disney? We’re never traveling again.
“Oh, they don’t talk to me. I’m not one of the cool girls.” My heart sank when my nine year old made this comment about some of her classmates.
We sat watching tv and sipping wine as I searched for flights for a spring trip.
Could we go to Dublin? We always talked about taking the big girls when they reached the golden ages of 5-9…. Would the flights be outrageous? What about the babies? Could I leave the babies?
“Water broke. Need you here,” wrote my sister’s husband, Joe. I stared at my phone, trying to comprehend how so much grief and sadness could be packaged into such small, simple words. How could so few words say so much? How could they completely eviscerate all hope?
“But then I don’t get her feet or legs!” shouted my four-year-old to my eight-year-old. I had been reduced to body parts by my children. Pieces of myself for my kids to fight over.
Entering our seventh week of summer, I’ve hit the wall. The summer wall. You know how when you are running a marathon, and around mile 21 or so you hit a wall of fatigue (or so I'm told) and you feel like you cannot run one more step?
DO some pre-trip strength training and conditioning. Disney is a strenuous trip. You should prepare for it by strapping all your children and luggage to you and running around your yard. Or, if your gym has a sauna, strap weights to your chest and pace back and forth while you shout, “no this way! We’re going to the Magic Carpets! Stay with us!”
Here's my (not remotely) modest proposal for my dream parents-only year-end party.
With time and distance, I felt myself appreciating the full spectrum of emotions that came with my experience of having a high risk pregnancy and preemie babies. Thinking about how easily we could’ve had a different outcome. Thinking about how grateful we were to have our three girls. Thinking about my sister. Thinking about Elise.
12. It means that “coming home day” actually involves going back to the hospital to pick up your baby when she finally leaves the NICU.
We were in the middle of meat section at Costco when Lucy declared “it smelled like Grandpa.” Which was rather bizarre because, first of all, we were in Costco. Second of all, Lucy was only six when my dad died—did she remember what he smelled like? What did she think he smelled like? As I bent down to pepper her with questions—I smelled it. The familiar scent of Skin Bracer aftershave. It was the same after shave my dad had worn for decades.