Carousel

merry go round

Each time the carousel would come around my mom would hold up McKenna and wave her little hand to Anna. Anna had a huge smile on her face – pure delight!

As Anna moved out of sight we would look at each other and laugh. The things we do for our kids and grandchildren.

Thank you mom for ALWAYS being there for me and for my kids. We are so blessed by you!

Milkshakes in Heaven today in your honor!! Happy Birthday!

Tami’s House

tami and girlsI remember feeling sick on the drive home, my heart hurting, thinking that working was going to confuse Anna.

I had just picked her up from child care and, upon leaving, I witnessed as she said Mama to the wrong person. She was just learning how to talk and of course I was always trying to get her to say Mama, pointing at myself and saying, “Who’s this?”

As we were about to leave she looked at Tami and said “Mama.”

I was a single working mom with limited options to stay at home with my child. That was bad enough – and now Anna was calling the wrong person Mama. Of course I was worried and my heart hurt.

After lots of processing and prayer it finally hit me.

To Anna I was Mama first and foremost. I was the person who cared for her, loved on her, set boundaries for her and picked her up when she needed love. I was there, always, when she needed me and when I wasn’t I provided her with someone who would love her like their own and provide her with all the love she needed while I was working. My name was Mama, nothing else.

Tami loved her, cared for her, set boundaries for her and picked her up when she needed love. She was there and I knew Anna was in the best hands possible while her and I were apart. By calling her mama it didn’t mean she was confused she was just solidifying the fact that their relationship was solid and she was happy to be there.

All I wanted was Anna to be happy and in the best possible hands while I was working.

Today would be the first day back to work for me and it would be Anna’s first day back at Tami house. Since she didn’t start school until a week after I started work she would spend that week with the friends she grew up with, Tami’s Littles.

The friendships she had at Tami’s house were solid and I know that I was one blessed Mom to have such an amazing place to send my child while I was working. Anna was loved by many but with Tami it was different.

That bond was solid – I knew that, Tami knew that and most importantly Anna knew that.

Their relationship taught me so much about being a mom and how important it is to have other people in your child’s life that will be there for them. It showed me that I didn’t always have the answers ~ if Anna needed to go somewhere else for comfort that it was ok and didn’t mean that I was any less of a parent to her.

Anna had so many strong women in her life, Tami, her step mom, all 4 of her grandmothers, her aunts and all the wonderful friends that I have that would be their for her in a heartbeat. These women helped raise Anna to be the amazing little girl that she was at 6 years old and no words can begin to express how grateful I am for the influence they had on my daughter.

This morning I sat in prayer reflecting on how grateful I am that Anna and I found Tami. She was there for Anna and then for Abigail, providing love and guidance in all areas of their lives.

Thank you Tami for loving our girls as your own and for always being there for them.

 

Sitting on Abigail’s Bed

Upstairs in our house there are two very sacred spaces. These two spaces, my girl’s rooms, are where they would spend hours listening to music, playing dolls, writing, drawing, “hanging out” with friends or just sitting on their beds thinking about life. When I’m in their rooms, which I find myself going to a lot, I have a sense of peace. Sometimes I wonder if I could just spend the rest of my days engulfed in these spaces, surrounded by the contents that remind me so much of my girls.

Yesterday I found myself sitting on Abigail’s bed thinking about life and how it’s changed so much over the past months.  My mind drifted to before they went to Heaven, as it usually does, and I started thinking about the difference between my girls and how the gap in their ages was taking form. Anna’s room filled with American Girl Dolls, picture books, dress-up clothes and make believe and Abigail’s filled with pre-teen goodness – magazines, art supplies, journals full of her writings and book two of the Hunger Games series.

Abigail entering her new room for the first time after a makeover.

Abigail entering her new room for the first time after a makeover.

Abigail’s space in our house was hers and she cherished that space. When Tom and I met, she was sharing a room and had done so since she was little. When we reconfigured, everyone got their own rooms which made Abigail very happy. She finally had a room of her own to personalize and spread out in.

As I sat on her bed and looked around I smiled, her space is so Abigail.

A picture of her BFF sits on her nightstand along with little clay figurines she would make at bedtime and a little jar of bubbles that contained soap she made her sister eat while videotaping. Her favorite hat hangs off the corner of one stereo speaker, her cool shades sit on the other. Her earring collection, bracelets, folded up notes from friends at school and other favorites all spread out over her desk. A bobcat foot key chain, which she loved to put in my face and gross me out, is tucked behind her stereo. Hanging from her window are paper cranes, CBAP name tags and finger knitted scarfs made during play practice. A picture of her older sister Taylor hangs behind her desk.

On the walls are her drawings and paintings hung by fancy duct tape that was used by the Duct Tape Divas when making their goods to sell at the Farmer’s Market. Those goods can also be found under her bed and in other corners of her room along with detailed plans on what she was planning on making next. One of “Abigail’s trees” is drawn on her chalk wall along with a little owl and some flowers, a drawing that was created in early October and will remain there forever.

Lists, lots of lists, can be found in her journals and on random pieces of paper. Favorite things, important people and all the plans she had for her life. Where she wanted to travel, who she wanted to travel with and what food she would eat when she got there. Insights that she loved to share both in her writing and with her family.

One consistent theme in her writing is that her life was wonderful and she was happy. My girl, my pre-teen, was happy.

Over the past three years Abigail and I developed a bond that I will cherish for the rest of my life. This girl, that I did not give birth to, was my daughter in every sense of the word. I took care of her and she took care of me. She kept me on my toes and loved me with all her heart. I know this because she told on a regular basis that she loved having me as a mom even though we had tough patches; when being a mom and being a pre-teen were challenging, our loved prevailed. We were learning the ropes, working it out together and I was looking forward to seeing my beautiful 11-year-old turn into an amazing teenager and then a young lady.

I remember once when we were having a hard time, hormones raging, she stormed upstairs really mad. We both had to cool down a bit and I admit, at that moment, I really thought the next few years were going to do me in. I called Tom, hiding away in the laundry room, debriefing what I should do next. He always knows how to calm me down.

I remember walking upstairs, knocking on her door and peeking into her room with a bit of fear that I wouldn’t have the right words to make things better for the both of us. I was the mom, I needed to teach her something or help her through this time but really had no idea what to do. I sat on her bed as she explained that sometimes she just needs space and then she can talk with a clear head. So wise beyond her years. We made the agreement that, from that point on, if either of us were feeling frustrated with the other, we would let each other know and then take a break. We weren’t allowed to stomp up the stairs or yell but rather just calmly let the other know and then find space.

This conversation ended with how much we meant to each other and how we were both committed to getting us through her teenage years. Our journal started the next night, a notebook put under her pillow to let her know that no matter what I loved her with all my heart and that I was there for her through thick and thin. She responded with the same – through thick and thin.

I miss my pre-teen challenges, the days of wondering if I was doing right by her, the roller coaster of hormones and the wise words that were always exchanged, leaving us both content in our mother-daughter bond.

I would love to wrap my arms around my girl, squeeze her tight and tell her that I love her! I would bring her into my room and give her one of my favorite necklaces to wear and send her on her way.  I am so blessed to have had the time I did with the coolest pre-teen ever and be her Susan/Mom.

I miss her so much and I smile at the thought that she may have been a bit frustrated that I was sitting on her bed yesterday reading her some of her beautiful writings.

Love pre-teen attitude.

Absme beach

Heartbeat

I love putting Anna to bed at night, the questions, the stories and the screaming “I love you to the moon and back” as I walk down the stairs after a hundred kisses to both my girls.

Tom would read and talk with Abigail, I would do the same with Anna, we would swap and then swap again. Both girls knowing the love of both of us but also feeling that special bond they each had with just one of us.

I’ve been going through some old pins I’ve made to Pinterest and found this.

il_fullxfull.331081649

It is so perfect because Anna and I would lay on her bed at night face to face, snuggled, as close as we could be and used to talk about how she once heard my heartbeat from the inside. I love the face she made when she wouldn’t understand something at first, then processing it, and finally asking questions. I told her it was simple, she was the only one in our family that ever lived inside me. She laughed and hugged me tight. It was our special bond and we were both proud of it.

I think I’ll find some wood, stencils and some paint and start making one of these to put in her room.

Yesterday evening, when Tom and I came home from dinner there was a little package on our door step. Inside was a beautiful wrap that I absolutely love. The note was beautiful and anonymous with reference to this space of mine.

Thank you anonymous friend for your gift. I am currently wrapped in warmth and love because of you and yes it does remind me of sushi.