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Monday, August 28, 2017

Maybe

Dear Darlings,

Sometimes people suck. Sometimes you wish a zombie apocalypse would just come and wipe out the idiots, the bigots, the hypocrites, the lazy, the mean...But sometimes you see something so good in humanity it takes your breath away and stays with you for days, enveloping you in the glory of goodness.

Claire and I were in the middle of rural Virginia. We were low on gas so we stopped at this little station. A pump was open, but the car on the opposite side was parked nearly in the middle of the lane. I tried hard to not get irritated that someone would be so inconsiderate and make it nearly impossible for another car to fit, but as I was pulling in the man who owned the car came over and said, "Oh, I'm so sorry. I'll get out of the way so you can fit." "No worries," I told him and went on to fill up the car with much-needed gas.

While I was standing there soaking up the glow of courtesy and manners another even more amazing thing was taking place on one of the other gas lanes. As an aside, before I get into the meat of this story I want to just say how infrequently I do this. I very rarely delve into a potentially political piece. I try hard to keep my blog to my thoughts about raising my family, love and sappy stuff. But is too good not to share. Keep in mind, too, that these are my thoughts and opinions and this might get a little messy as I traverse things like race, stereotypes and labeling people. Trust me, I'm not judging, just painting a picture.

Now, onto the meat...

Her shiny silver hair glinted in the sun. She kept tugging the waist band of her saggy, washed-out jeans up as she paced and crawled in and out of her old, beat up Toyota Prius. She looked exactly like I would imagine hippy turned grandmother would. The hood of her car was open and three men crowded around the engine block. The man who apologized and moved his car for me was there, hunkered down over the engine. He was a short, stocky African-American man with wiry black hair and dark brown skin. He was immersed in trying to figure out the problem. The man to his right looked to be of Middle Eastern descent. He was tall and lean with black hair, and light brown skin, heavy eyebrows and dark, piercing, hooded eyes. He stood to side, as if not quite sure what to do, but wanting very much to help. The third man...well, he was a white guy. Full beard, greasy hands being repeatedly wiped on an even greasier rag. His baseball hat was pulled down low, the brim was well worn from years of use. He looked like Zach looked after his summer away from VMI...as country and red-neck-y as can be. And in that instant of watching these four people who couldn't look anymore different from one another, I fell in love. In love with them. More in love with America. And totally in love with humanity.

To me, that little snapshot represents who are. That story represents America. The stories we're hearing in the news are awful and horrific and heartbreakingly sad. Rallies where people are voicing their opinions should never cause someone, anyone, to run over another human being. Ever. And in no way, shape or form am I trying to down-play the significance of these news stories, but rather I'd like to refocus us. We are given so many freedoms in this country. We are given so much. It's time to stop the madness. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave. This is America. The land that I love.

My wish is that we would stop tuning into these news stories on a 24-7 basis and start watching humanity around us. Perhaps my wish is Pollyana-ish and naive. But maybe it's not. Maybe if we weren't so focused on the media we wouldn't see as much negativity, instead we might see some good old-fashioned greatness in our fellow human beings. Maybe then we'd remember that we're all made up of the same stuff. Blood and bones turned into hearts and love. We all seek the same thing from this life...to love and be loved. Look around there's so much of it out there. So take some time off from the news and go find it.

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Love...from the middle of rural Virginia. It's what the world needs more of.

xo,
me

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Stop. Just love.
xo, America


PS. I hesititated greatly over posting this, but yesterday when I stumbled across the giant LOVE in the middle of rural America, I knew it was a sign.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Soar, little Eagle, SOAR!

Dear Darlings,
We just dropped Lucas off at the University of Mary Washington. This is the letter that my heart wrote in the still hours of the night as I contemplated life without Lucas around all of the time…
To my sweet, blond boy,

It’s 4:15 in the morning. I’ve been awake since around 3:30 with thoughts of you swirling in my head. Thankfully, you are tucked up in your bed, snoring peacefully and dreaming big dreams of the adventure that awaits you when you wake up. 

Today you embark on a whole new chapter in your life. A new path. A new start. I couldn’t be more proud of you and who you’ve become. When I was pregnant with each of you, I would try to envision who you would grow up to be. Those dreams can’t even begin to touch the reality of who you are. But there is more in store for you. Your new adventure lies in front of you, and I can’t wait to see all of the great things you will accomplish in this big, wide world of ours. 

Your life is, and always has been, an empty book. Up until this point we’ve been helping you hold the pen and guide your story. Today, we turn over the pen to you. Today, you become not only the hero of your story, but the sole author as well. The sheets in front of you are blank and ready to write your story. And I can’t wait to read it!

As you begin to write this next chapter in your life, I want to make sure you know a couple of things. Things I’m sure I’ve told you before, but want to make sure they’re written down, in black and white…

I am so very proud of you. You are a young man with a heart of gold. You see the best in everyone and are a champion for your friends. Your loyalty never waivers and for that my heart bursts with pride. I hope your heart is always protected and you never lose that core part of who you are. 

Be the leader. Keep being the example for others to follow. You’ve worked hard in so many ways this past year. Take those lessons learned and pass them on to you fellow students. 

Learn. Work hard. Strive for excellence. You deserve every opportunity this new chapter has to offer. Run with it.

I’m going to miss hearing you yelling at your computer. I’m going to miss seeing the mischievous sparkle in your eyes as you try to sneak a peanut butter and nutella sandwich past me and into your room. I’m going to miss the hugs I’ve been stealing from you more and more frequently. I’m going to miss the day-to-day of having you here. But it’s time for you to go experience life without the day-to-dayness of being at home. 

I know I promised you I wouldn’t cry in front of you, and I’ll try hard to keep my promise. I’ll keep reminding myself what I’ve been trying so hard to remember all this time…”I’m happier for you than sad for myself.”


Today, as we move you into your swanky new digs, aka your dorm room, know that all of us are proud of you! We all see greatness in you. I want to read your story, hear your adventures. I want you to go forth and set the world on fire! I want you to soar! But know…we are here for you. Always. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

My heart is full

Dear Darlings,

His packing is nearly complete. The target bags full of notebooks, pens, pencils, toiletries, snacks and his very first set of "dishes" stand ready for departure. His bedding is washed and folded in a box. The suitcases are next. They'll be packed with whatever clothing items he'll need for the first six weeks of life at the University of Mary Washington. Lucas is leaving in six days.

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This past Sunday, Big Red rumbled in the driveway, stuffed to gills with clean clothes which were shoved into laundry bags, boxes full of all things academic, shoes, boots, back packs and every other conceivable item Zach will need to finish his last year at VMI.

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Last weekend we celebrated us, them and our family in my most favorite way. We spent time on the water. Together. All of us. For one last time before the boys head their separate directions, and Claire becomes an only child for a while. And my heart nearly broke open wide almost spilling its contents.
During our weekend of family time, I realized something. In this moment of letting go, my heart is full. So very full. I watched as Zach showed me time and time again what a mature young man he is. His soft, brown eyes sparkled with pride as he skillfully navigated his way through the water, mastering the art of driving a boat. I watched as Lucas and Claire lounged and laughed and teased and tormented each other. Both of them enjoying the other's banter. I can't ask for anything more. My heart is full.

I know this letting go thing sucks. My throat involuntarily constricts when I think about leaving Lucas in his swanky new dorm room, or Zach finishing his final year and graduating. My head knows it's all part of the master plan, it's just still hard to fathom. But in this moment, my heart is full. And I will be forever grateful for my time with them. I learned something so very valuable. They'll be back. I saw it this weekend. They may fly, but they know there is a perch here at home for them. Always.
xo,
me