Saturday, June 22, 2013

Lessons from Rwanda

This is not my story. I am simply a vessel, a way for a story to be told. I am merely a fragment of the story which I pray I can find the right words to tell.   It's a story of violence, anger, sadness, loss, strength, pride, love and faith all at once.

Ethiopian airport
As I was traveling toward Rwanda, I felt my material comforts were slowly being stripped from me.  Upon arriving in Ethiopia for a layover, I felt small and lost. Gone were comforts of an American airport, no familiar food vendors, dirty bathrooms, my language only spoken by my team members. No TV, no music that was familiar to my ears and my cell phone was useless. I was a minority and a stranger.  I was free.  Free of all things that we think make us American, and it was amazing. 

Our hotel

Rwanda welcomed us with open arms, literally.  Smiles and hugs were given easily, our guide Pastor Peter welcoming.  Our hotel seemed extravagant given the surroundings and I found myself feeling guilty.  Ezekial was the manager of this hotel and went far above expectations to make us feel comfortable. I have never stayed anywhere in the U.S. where I have experienced this much hospitality.  Given the friendliness of its people, I found it even harder to imagine the gruesome history of Rwanda.

Graves at genocide memorial

In April of 1994, Rwanda experienced a mass genocide where over 800,000 men, women and children were murdered.  I remember being 20 years old and this was simply a blip on my radar as Rwanda was a world away and did not affect me.  Our first day in Kigali, we had the privilege of visiting the Genocide Memorial museum.  I thought I knew the history, the story, the suffering.  What I found in that museum proved me horribly wrong.  The images of the violence will forever be etched in my memory.  Horrific details that we were spared by our American journalists were glaring.  I found myself crying out loud at the disbelief that so much hatred had occurred and we stood by.  Simple observers half a world away, I was ashamed.  We were given this opportunity to learn from their history and to see the miraculous change that has occurred in Rwanda, giving us even more appreciation of the people.  Along the streets of Kigali, we would see beautiful gardens with statues being tended to constantly.  These gardens mark the spot of mass graves and the ground considered sacred.  Driving by them was a somber reminder of what once occurred along these bustling, vibrant streets.  Rwandans express pride in how far they have come in 19 years.  They are not dwelling in the past but growing from their experiences.

Outside walkway and bedrooms
The orphanage at Kimisagara
Our first visit to the orphanage was the afternoon after visiting the Genocide Memorial.  I was already raw with emotion as I'm sure my team members were.  The climb to the orphanage was hard and consisted of three separate steep hills, the last one being the steepest.  My thoughts along those hills were of what I would see and how I would react once we reached our destination.  I knew I would see hardship and living conditions far below most standards. I felt I was ready for what was ahead and as we finally reached the top of those long hills, I quickly learned that I was not at all.  The building was very small and literally perched on a cliff.  There was no outdoor space except a dirt courtyard about the size of my living room for the children to play.  Smoke was billowing out of the small kitchen where the children's meal of rice and beans was being prepared.  As I entered the courtyard with my team members, I felt tears come to my eyes and I began to doubt I had what it would take to participate in our mission. 
Then I saw the children, so many of them at first wary of our presence.  It did not take long before we were all surrounded by children who were so excited to see us.  My fears and doubts quickly dissipated when little arms were reaching up and wanting to be held.  Without hesitation or
reservation, my team members and I held children, hugged older children and played games on the dirt floor.  We saw past the dirt, runny noses and stained clothing.  Instead we saw beautiful children who needed love and attention.  We were so ready to give it. We spent our days playing games, doing arts and crafts and singing songs.  The children were without so much but able to smile at the littlest things.  Bubbles and balloons entertained even the older children and little fuzz balls became prized possessions.  I left with my team every evening tired and covered in dirt.  It wasn't until I was away from the children that the enormity of the situation would overcome me and I would succumb to tears.

The days spent at the orphanage went by at lightening speed. Every day we became more attached to the children and their caregivers. There is so much love at Kimisagara as the older children love and tend to the younger children.  Our mission was to hug, hold and love on as many children as we could.  Whenever the opportunity arose we prayed with the children.  I tended to stay near the younger children and would often sit on the floor so that I could hold as many on my lap as possible.  Sometimes I would whisper a prayer in a little ear not knowing if it went unheard or understood.  Then one day I had my answer.  Jesus was already at Kimisagara.  The children had as much faith and love of Jesus as anyone I have known.  It all became obvious because of a little sidewalk chalk.  All over the walls they wrote affirmations of Jesus.  Some even wrote wishes for God to bless us.  I was overwhelmed with emotion as a person new to faith.  The children had so little, material things virtually nonexistent, but they were so rich in faith and love.  I felt as if we were suddenly somewhere so holy and that we were given the gift of sight.  They had nothing.  Nothing to stand in the way of their faith.  I couldn't help but think of our society and how when we don't get what we want we tend to lose faith or doubt God.  I was humbled by what the children showed me.  Something I will carry with me forever.

All too soon, it was time for us to go home.  I was definitely ready to see my family but so sad to leave the children of Kimisagara.  Each of us had a child or a group of children that "claimed" us each day that we were there.  The bonds were strong among all of us.  The last day, Pastor Peter spoke to the children on our behalf, telling them that we were going to be gone but that we will continue to work at home for them. Together we bowed our heads in prayer, tears flowing, hands held. We were a family.  Leaving the orphanage was probably the hardest thing I have ever experienced.  Sabina, who had become my little girl during our time there, would not let me go.
I noticed that my team members were having the same troubles.  When we walked out of the orphanage for the last time, we were sobbing out loud.   Once again we were sweaty, smelly and covered in dirt and hand prints, yet none of us were ready to wash it away.

My heart still hurts today.  I have been home for a couple of days now. I have not been able to talk about my experience with anyone besides Adam and those who were there with me.  My team and I have forged a bond that will last a lifetime.  What we experienced together was hard and amazing at the same time. They get it.  I feel as if verbalizing my experience will belittle it somehow, make it less important.  I hope writing conveys what I am feeling better than spoken words.  I went to Rwanda to help the broken.  Turns out it was me that was broken and the children of Kimisagara have left me whole.

I would like to send my love to Kara, Ryan, Molly, Lynett, Julie, Craig, Dieudonne, Lonnell, Martha, Manya, Peter, Kayla, Brad and Abigail. You will forever be in my heart.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Coming Home

"And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears,
And Love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With Grace in your heart..." ~ Mumford and Sons

I have gotten over my hill.  Yes, I am getting older, but that is not of what I am speaking.  Today I signed a Statement of Faith.  I first laid eyes on this statement shortly after I accepted an invitation to visit orphans with Visiting Orphans, which is a Christian based organization.  My first hurdle was the application process, which I struggled to bring myself to fill out.  Of course, I have always wanted to go to Africa, and my heart longs to serve those in need.  What was stopping me was the request, "Describe your walk with Jesus."  I had nothing to say.  I did not feel worthy to answer the question as I watched my twelve-year-old daughter answer the request with such ease.  My heart was heavy because though I wanted to go on this mission, I did not want to go as a fraud.  How could I share the love of Jesus when I didn't know that love myself?  Conflicted, I wrote the only answer I could think of..."seeking."  And then began the most incredible journey.

I have always been a skeptic, perhaps even cynical.  I have always relied on my own strength to get me through life, though I would acknowledge a higher Being, but could not (would not) give myself over completely.  Honestly, I viewed faith as a sign of weakness, but mostly I did not feel I belonged.  The few times I have attended church I felt uncomfortable, an outsider trying to get into an exclusive club.  I prided myself on not needing this Love, this community or their compassion.  I felt that if I was meant to be a Christian then I would already have faith and that it would come easily.  I believed that Jesus was merely a great man, philosopher and teacher.  Then I received a book that would forever change my life.  "Mere Christianity" was written by C.S. Lewis.  He was an atheist that became one of the greatest Christian advocates of our time.  I accepted this gift with an open mind, but it was what I read inside those pages that opened my heart.  Lewis quotes nonbelievers as stating, "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God."  He refutes this by stating, "That is the one thing we must not say.  A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell."  Wow.  I had never thought of that way before and suddenly I found what little foundation I had shaking under me.  There were so many parts of this book that I felt reflected my thoughts, my struggles and yet made having faith seemingly attainable. Where do I go from here?  I had a choice.  I could completely let go of the teachings of Jesus and hopes of faith.  Or I could do what I stated on that application, I would seek Him.

I was invited to join a small group that attends Christ Community Church of the Nazarene.  Annabelle has been attending this church with the Braatzes for many years.  I accepted this invitation with some trepidation.  I knew the Braatz family loved and accepted me despite my faults, despite my doubts.  I was afraid of being scrutinized for my lack of church attendance, lack of biblical knowledge, my lack of faith by the other members.  Instead I was greeted with love and understanding.  We began discussing "The Good and Beautiful God" by James Bryan Smith.  I enjoyed reading the book and was amazed by what I found.  I had expected to hear words of living up to God's standards, why I am a sinner and how I should be ashamed and repent.  Instead, I heard nothing but words of love.  Love!  How incredible that even someone like me could be loved by God. That God so loved us so much he gave us Jesus. To save us from our sins, to be our salvation.  That Jesus seeks me like I am seeking him.  That He came for the weak, the weary and the broken. That He wants us to live in peace.  To live as we were meant to by God.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I did not have much to offer during our discussions those first few months. There were no human words for what I was feeling.  I was afraid to put my growing faith into words, that it would make it meaningless somehow.  I felt my growing faith was fragile and if I spoke of it, it would shatter.  I knew I had to keep feeding this faith to allow it to grow.  I continued to read books about Jesus.  I reread the "Case for Christ," and it was as if I were reading it with new eyes.  I believed the arguments for Jesus. I read passages of the Bible, especially the Gospels.  I began to feel a peace within me and at times would be moved to tears when I least expected it.  Yet, I could not bring myself to say it aloud to anyone and was still unsure of where I stood.  I began to wonder how I would know that I believed.  Would I wake up one morning and just know?  Would there be some kind of sign?

It took a national tragedy to solidify my faith, but not without first testing it.  The shooting at Newtown was hard for me, as it was for many.  I couldn't stop crying; seeing patients that day was difficult and I often had to leave the room to go wipe the tears away.  I couldn't understand how God could allow this to happen. I returned to my readings looking for solace and answers. I was shaken and was afraid that all that I had gained would be lost. Then as I was discussing it with my husband a few days later I said: "I have to believe that Jesus was there. That He was taking those babies into heaven.  It's the only way I can get through this."  A revelation!

I confessed my love of Jesus to a friend at First Watch.  Not a church, not to a pastor or even to my small group.  It was not planned and it was very unexpected.  My friend was asking me about the spiritual journey I was on and for the first time I finally felt I could put it into words.  I told her that faith does not always come easy, that Jesus wants us to seek Him.  That with seeking Him and believing in Him, we will have all the answers we need.  I confessed, "I am a Christian and I hope to be baptized in His name."  True story.

This past Sunday, I was driving home after making rounds at the hospital.  Instead of taking my usual way home, I took a path that led me past Christ Community Church.  I felt compelled to enter those doors, to hear more of Jesus and to feed my soul.  It was after the service had started so I had to park at the farthest point of the parking lot.  As I got out of my car, the church greeter spotted me and starting waving to me.  It was as if he knew I was coming and was waiting for me.  When I entered the church I was overcome by a sense of peace and tranquility.  I did not feel awkward or uncomfortable.  I looked toward the cross, fought back tears of relief and knew I had come home.

I would like to thank Kara, the Braatz family, my small group and especially Adam for supporting me on this journey.  I thank God for believing in me..

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A long December..

..and there's reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last. ~ Adam Duritz

Now before I get started, I would like to acknowledge that many others have suffered great losses, homes and jobs.  My struggles are mine alone and by no means do I mean to compare or belittle anyone else in their personal experiences.  I am merely grateful that my hard won lessons were learned without extreme damage to my family, especially my children.

As many of you know, one year ago Adam and I came across "a deal of a lifetime."  We had an opportunity to move to a bigger,"better" house than the one we live in now.  We made a deal with a builder that sounded too good to be true.  As it turns out it was..  We lived in that house for seven months, looking back they were the longest seven months of my life. How can that be you say?  I lived in a house that had a walk-in pantry, huge kitchen, a jacuzzi tub and enough bathrooms and space that we never needed to cross paths in the crazy morning.  The space was blissful and yes, I miss it.

It's what happened in those seven months that give me pause to this day.  I became increasingly uncomfortable in my own skin.  I felt like I was trying to live up to an image that wasn't me.  Adam and I made numerous trips to lenders, trying to find that perfect loan so that we could officially buy our "dream house."  Every rejection only stressed us out and made us feel imperfect.  It became increasingly evident that to keep that house I would have to continue to work two jobs.  Teaching at KU had been a for fun job, I never wanted it to be a requirement.  That made me bitter.  Our children became increasingly aloof and Zach became prone to extreme tantrums and anxiety.  To top it off, we became stuck in this house as the summer led to a horrible drought and heatwave.  It's like we were in hell and we had made a deal with the devil.  It became more and more apparent that we had been lied to and that we were naive in thinking this was meant to be.  It also became more apparent that our new mortgage payment would be nearly twice what we were used to paying and we were crunching numbers to try to make it work.  I refused to leave that house, it was my dream and I had worked so hard to get there.  Or so I thought..

During all of this, I had been invited to visit orphans in Rwanda with one of my favorite people.  I also had the opportunity to take Annabelle with me, an opportunity of a lifetime.  I knew I had to work hard, save and fund-raise to be able to go on this journey.  One day, during our many financial discussions where Adam kept telling me that we had made a mistake and we should go home, and me refusing to leave, he made a profound statement.  "If we stay here, Sarah, we will not be able to send you to Africa.  There will simply be nothing left."  That was like a dagger to my heart.  How could I live in excess when there are many with nothing?  How could I sacrifice a chance to hug, hold, show God's love and give the gift of time to an orphan?  What kind of example would I be showing my children?  That was enough for me and the decision was made to return home. 

We moved home on our 14th wedding anniversary and it was not easy.  We were raped by a moving company that took full advantage of our situation.  The day was long and full of heartache.  What had I done to my children?  Would they be alright?  I couldn't help thinking about all I could have done with all the money and time wasted on trying to stay in that house.  My children's reaction to being home was what healed my heart.  As we came into the doorway, they each started talking about memories they had shared here.  We have lived here for 11 years, all of their lives.  What was I thinking by trying to "improve" their lives by moving them to a "better", bigger house?  They had all they needed all this time and so did I.

Our decision to move back became even more validated for me yesterday.  We were putting up our Christmas decorations and I thought I could put the tree in a new spot.  Annabelle reminded me that it had always been on the other side of the room.  I was going to not put up the cheesy, light up Santa that sits on the mantle, until Amelia asked for it.  My heart was full when Zach stated, "I'm happy that we came back in August, so that we could have Christmas here."  This is their home. 

So this Christmas, I challenge you to think about what you really need.  What does this season really mean to you?  Practice living in contentment, I'm doing it now and I feel richer than I ever have before. 

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A letter to my mother

The call came in early on Monday morning.   I have always wondered how I would feel when I found out you died.  I figured I would feel indifferent and often wondered if anyone would remember to call me since I had not had contact with you for ten years. My sister had called me a little after 5 in the morning.  I admit I ignored the the ringing phone when I saw who it was.  Nothing good ever comes from random phone calls from my sister.  I waited for it to go to voice mail so that I could decide when to call her back.  "Sarah, our Mom died, please call me."  I was surprised by my child-like tears and wails that poured out of me the moment I heard of your passing. I felt like a small child that had lost her mother, then I realized I was a child and I had lost my mother.   That day it was forever and that hurt so much, there was no going back since I had already lost you so long ago.

I became frantic.  I began trying to grasp memories of us together, GOOD memories and nothing would come to mind.  I gathered what few pictures I could find of you that I had and announced to the world that I had lost my mother.  I needed to get it out and over with so that I could do what I have been doing all my life..moving on without you.  I couldn't do it, I couldn't stop crying, couldn't stop feeling guilty that I didn't reach out.  Feeling sad for opportunities lost.  I'm glad you will never know that I was within 20 miles of you in June.  I was attending a conference in Long Beach, the same town you lived in.  The whole time I was in Long Beach I thought of you.  I had my daughter with me, my Amelia.  My mini me.  I watched her playing on the beach and imagined you watching me playing on those same shores.  Did I once make you happy?  I wrestled with the decision to call you, let you meet my daughter but feared rejection for me but mostly for her.  Now I will never know.

Then came the condolences.  I felt like a fraud when people offered hugs and support and, "sorry for your loss."  While I appreciated all of the outpouring love, I couldn't shake the feeling of being something I'm not.  I am a grieving daughter but not in the sense anyone else might grieve.  I grieve that I cannot remember anything exceptionally happy about what little of my childhood I spent with you.  I feel guilty that I feel I should write a tribute to you and can't think of what to say.  So I'm going to be honest.  Mental illness or were a horrible mother.  I know some of it you couldn't help but it doesn't make the hurt any less.

This is the house that we last lived in together. It's less than two miles from where I live now.  I pass by this house frequently and think of our time there.  You had left your husband in California, my step-dad.  It was just you, me and my sister.  You worked at a bar and was gone a lot.  I remember you yelling at us to get out of bed on school mornings, screaming at us to be quiet while you continued to sleep.  My sister and I would get ourselves ready for school.  Often, there would be no food in the refrigerator and we would go to school hungry.  I'm guessing that this hardship was what led you to your next decision...

The picture is grainy but if you look close you can see the steps outside of the house by the front door.  Remember? This was my grandmother's farmhouse, it is also about 2 miles from where I live now.  When I was six, you started dropping us off there on weekends to reacquaint with my Dad and his new family.  Every Sunday you would come back to get us and while our lives in that little house was hard, it was our life.  One Sunday, I sat there for so long and you didn't come.  You had decided that it was best if my sister and I lived with our Dad.  You didn't say good-bye... my six year old heart still aches sometimes when I drive past this house.

After your death, I became desperate to know that you thought of me sometimes.  My sister had talked to you the night before you died, the first time in two years.  She does not say that you mentioned me.  I asked my step-father if she ever talked about me.  You would think a white lie would be appropriate at a time like this, but to no avail, he said no.  I asked him if she ever regretted leaving me that day at the farmhouse.  According to him, she had not, she had moved

My comfort came to me a few days after you died.  I was talking to my sister and she was telling me that she was already up the morning that you died and she got the call.  I too, had been awake it was 430 am and I thought I heard a sound, felt something.  I got up and wondered around trying to figure out why I was so awake while 500 miles away my sister was doing the same thing. We later found out that this was around the time they think you died, 230 am, California time.  I believe you were healed at the moment of your death, Mom.  I think you came to tell us that you were okay and that we are loved. I am grateful for that moment. I will see you again and all our grief will be erased.  Until then, rest in peace.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My kind of midwifery

Future Midwife?

Recently I was in a parking lot waiting to get into my car.  I proudly display a bumper sticker that declares my passion to serve women as a midwife.  I was eavesdropping as a woman getting into the car next to mine was explaining to her daughter what a midwife does.   I was glad to hear her speak so highly of midwives, but when she stated that midwives deliver in a home birth setting or birth centers, I felt I had to enlighten her.  "We also deliver in hospitals."  She turned to me with what seemed to be scorn in her eyes and stated, "Not if you are the right kind of midwife."  Ouch.  What does that mean?  How can there be a right or wrong kind of midwife?  Doesn't the word itself imply that if we call ourselves midwives we believe in caring for women?  I know, I know ... there is the age-old argument about training, education, certification and location.  That is all worthy of debate, but that is not what I'm here to discuss.  It's what midwifery is and can be regardless of location.  For me and many of my sister midwives, it goes beyond the birth experience.  Midwifery for me often has nothing to do with birth.

She sits on my exam table.  Her eyes are sad, her shoulders sagging and her demeanor darkened.  I pull up a chair and look at her.  Most times, I don't have to say anything.  She just starts talking, weeping or getting angry at whatever situation is bringing her down.  I don't counsel, I just listen.  I hold hands, hug or offer a shoulder on which to weep.  I midwife her the best I know how.  Sometimes their sadness becomes my burden for a short while, but it's worth it to me.  I cannot solve the emotional pain or tough situations that some of my patients are going through, but when they stop to thank me for listening ... that is midwifery.

I get to talk about sex.  A lot.  More than most people would think. I suppose people think since I know how to get babies out, I must be the expert in the act of conception.  I am glad women feel comfortable asking me the tough questions about libido, orgasms and proper lubricants.  I just wish I had all the answers!  The freedom to discuss sex and contraception should never be taken away from women, and I feel my job is to protect women's sexual freedom ... that is midwifery.

The above picture is Louise.  Her father took this picture, and her mother said I could use it.  She is one of my mini-midwives.  I love siblings.  Forget sibling classes, I feel the best way to prepare siblings for the arrival of a baby is to bring them to as many appointments as possible.  I love to include children in measuring Mommy's belly.  I take their little hands and show them where to feel for head, feet or bottom (I often get giggles when I say "bottom").  The best part is letting them try to find the baby's heartbeat. And sometimes I feel sibling rivalry starts young, as the babes in the belly will wiggle as in protest to their older sibling finding them.  If I get caught up in my routine of questions and concerns, and start the exam without the help of my mini-midwives, I am quickly reminded.  "No, Midwife Sarah, that's my job..."  By allowing children to be a big part of the prenatal visits, we help them welcome their new siblings into their routine ... this is midwifery.

The woman in the parking lot made a snap judgment about me based on a location.  Midwifery is so much more than location, so much more than birth.  Midwifery is about sisterhood.  Midwifery is about humanity.  Midwifery is "with women" no matter where they are in their lives.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Family Affair

Dear Baby Girl,
It's me, your midwife. I first met your mother when she came to me suspecting she was pregnant. An ultrasound showed a 10 week little you with a strong, steady heartbeat. While you were a little unexpected, you were very wanted. Over the next 10 weeks, your sister Hannah prayed you were a girl. I had the pleasure to watch the video of your sister cutting a cake that would be either pink or blue...the squeals of joy were priceless as she yelled, "I'm having a sister!" I have grown very fond of your mother and your siblings, as they were able to come to a few prenatal visits. I did not get to know your Dad very well until your birth day, but I can tell he is an awesome father. Now let's talk about that special day.

Your Mom opted for a natural childbirth. She also wanted your brothers and sister to be present during your birth. She prepared your siblings so well by describing the all the sounds and sights of a birth. She had them watch a few birth videos so that nothing would too much a surprise. This would be a first for me having a 10, 8 and 6 year old in a delivery room. It takes a very poised Mom to pull off giving birth without scaring her other children...something I did not feel I could do almost six years before with the birth of my own son. Your Mom made it look easy as she rocked on the birth ball and would become silent with each contraction, then flash a reassuring smile to your siblings when it was over. Your oldest brother Jacob, would come over every now and then to whisper into her ear, "Are you okay?" He would also be the one standing outside the bathroom door and peeking in while I sat with your mother while she labored in the tub. At this point, we knew you were close. Your brother would look at me with a little man's eyes full of concern but amazing calm.

All the births I attend move me and I feel so lucky to get to be a part of something so beautiful and miraculous. Your birth is one I will not soon forget... Your mother had moved back to the bed to birth you. She was surrounded by so much love as your siblings and Dad stood around her head. You did not take long to appear but in that short time there was enough love to last a lifetime as your sister whispered to your mother, "You are doing so good, Mommy" as your oldest brother put his hand on her forehead as if to comfort. Your other brother William made me chuckle as he looked on through his fingers as he covered his eyes. Your Dad of course, was the rock that held you all up. There was not a a dry eye in the room as you made your grand appearance and I had to choke back my own tears so I could focus on my tasks. Your new little cries were met by laughter from your siblings, as Hannah exclaimed, "That's my sister!" As I placed you on your mother's abdomen, you were enveloped by eager arms and hands. So much love and joy.

Happy Birthday Lucy, you are one lucky little girl.

As always, this was written with permission.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Darby three

This time of year is exciting, new and sometimes a cause for anxiety..mostly for the parents. It's the return to school. While I am ready for more of a schedule, earlier bedtimes and structure, my heart is slightly heavy. I know I am not alone in my feelings, many mothers will be sending their children to school for the first time or as in my case also to a new level of school. As some of you may have read on Facebook, I had a major meltdown when I enrolled Annabelle in junior high a few weeks ago. As the summer days wind down I catch myself looking closer at my children as if I am trying to capture moments to sustain me for the fast years coming at me.
Annabelle~ This morning I snuck into your room while you were sleeping. I hardly recognized the woman-child sprawled across the bed. Your feet are now bigger than mine and your body is beginning to reflect the woman you will become. I lay down beside you, curling my body around yours noting how your length is so close to mine. For a few moments I listened to your breathing and remembered a time when I could hold you close to my heart your little body laying across my as I folded your body next to mine for a few stolen moments of snuggles..I shed a few tears. I am so excited for you and your new journeys but often wonder where the year have gone.
Amelia~ You are an amazing girl. I feel like I am still getting to know you while feeling like I have always known you. Everyday it seems I learn something new about you.. This summer has been a huge summer of growth. You are able to speak your mind and choose to do more often of which I am pleased. You bless me with hugs and words of love at moments when I seem to need them the most. I am excited for you to have a few years of school without the shadow of your sister around. I know you have struggled and sometimes feel like you can't compete or succeed against Annabelle's accomplishments. I hope you know that you already have in your own way...
Zachary~ Six years ago as I dropped your oldest sister off at kindergarten, my heart was happy knowing you were on your way. In fact, that first day of school was when I saw your heartbeat and was reassured that you were fine. You were my security blanket of sorts since I was losing your sisters to school, I knew I would at least have a little you. How you have betrayed me. This year we will send you to kindergarten and I can hardly believe we are at this moment already. You are so ready! You are already reading and I worry that you may be a little bored at school but I'm sure your teachers are used to busy little boys. You have a smile that warms my heart and you proclaim your love numerous times throughout the day. Sometimes you will slow down long enough for a few cuddles but mostly with your Dad since you seem to worship him now. That's will come back to me someday.
I have taken the first day of school off mostly so that I can be there to celebrate their big moments. A little so that I can celebrate the end of summer and gaining a little freedom. Mostly, so I can privately shed a few tears...
Good luck to all of you sending your babies off to school!