Posted in Happiness

If My Memory Should Ever Fail Me

If I was gifted the ability to stop time for twenty-four hours, what would I attempt to accomplish?

Without hesitation, I would spend those hours writing a letter to myself in case my memory ever betrays me, a letter I could hold in my hands, something tangible to prove that I had truly lived.

If such a letter could dislodge even a fragment of memory, it would have been worth every moment spent writing it.

I would attempt to capture…

…what it feels like to be loved unconditionally.  I would write about the relationship that I have built with Craig and what it feels like to hold his hand in mine. I would write about the soapy smell of his skin, the feel of his stubble on my cheek, and what it feels like to hear his thoughts as we drift off to sleep each night…what it is to know true contentment.

…how comforting it is to know that a promise for forever is exactly that…to know that I can breathe and just be, without worry.

…what it feels like to have chosen a man who is such an amazing father, who knows such random, yet important, things as how to do Katie’s hair, how to assemble a preschooler-friendly, healthy meal, and how to comfort Matthew when he’s teething.

…how much being a mother to Katie and Matthew fulfills me…that although I am exhausted much of the time, my heart stretches as I close each of their doors at bedtime, knowing that they are safe and happy.

…the way Katie’s gentle golden curls frame her face, how she wakes each morning full of things to say, brimming with excitement, and eager to learn what I have planned for her. I want to remember the way she smells like a mixture of Play-Doh and blueberries and the way she gleefully sings If You’re Happy and You Know It while spinning in circles on tip toes.

…the way Matthew goes limp in my arms at bedtime and how when I shush him and ask him to put his head on my shoulder, he just melts into me.  How he wraps his still baby fingers in my hair and pinches the skin under my arms.

…how it feels when Katie looks me in the eye and says, “You’re so nice, Mommy.” I pray that I remember the way she fits into me right now, how her long arms and legs wrap around me and the way her hair tickles my face when I hold her.

…that Matthew lunges for me when he catches sight of me, the weight of his soft body in my arms as I nurse him.  I long to remember the way he lights up when I do The Itsy Bitsy Spider on his belly…how his impossibly-long eyelashes flutter as he drifts off to sleep.

…that I was not me before them.

…the happiness that this life brought me…from the small things to the big things.  From the moments to weeks to months to years to a lifetime.

..the gratitude that I feel for having been given this opportunity to hold happiness in my hands and that I never took it for granted.  For even one second.

And if my memory does truly fail me, then I would hope that I could at least read this letter and be comforted by the fact that I had been a part of such a family, a family that knew joy and appreciated the smallest of moments.

*This post is inspired by a blogger I met through Kris at Pretty All True.  She is new to me, but I was so moved by her post that I’ve thought of little else since I read it.  Please read this powerful post, The Weight of Tears.

**I am also over at my friend Abigail’s today, sharing my dreams in a guest post, “It Isn’t That Simple,” please come by and say hi!

Mama's Losin' It

Stuck

After two terrible pregnancies, I want another baby.

I’m certain that I am one of the worst pregnant women ever.  Morning sickness kicks in for me at 6 weeks and doesn’t stop raging until I give birth.  Not a mild, “my belly feels off” feeling, but rather an “I think I might die” all-day sickness. With both children, I was on anti-nausea medicine until they were born and still vomited often.

Knowing that I was carrying a child, who was thriving and growing because of me, provided a tremendous sense of purpose. I pray that I never forget the feeling of having my two newborn babies placed on my chest, skin-to-skin, still slick yet beautifully sticky.

I want another baby.

I went into labor with Katie for the first time at 24 weeks.  I was ultimately put on full bedrest and still went into labor and delivery eleven times, where they had to work to stop my labor.  Thankfully, I was never on bedrest with Matthew, but the contractions began in earnest at 26 weeks.

I will never forget their first kicks, those tiny flutters that proved they were there.  I will never forget delivering them.  Their births were perfection.  Absolute perfection.

I want another baby.

When we brought Matthew home, I cried every night, worrying that I had selfishly turned our world upside down.

Now, when I see them together, I realize that those fears have washed away.  Katie adores Matthew and clamors to comfort him or make him happy.  They giggle together and their connection deepens each day.  It is clear that they have grown to need each other.

I want another baby.

I will be (gulp) 40 next year.  We’ve been so fortunate to have two healthy babies, but with each passing year comes higher risk of us not being so lucky again.

I believe that it is because I started so late that I am a good mom.  I am more patient, more aware of what matters in my life.

I want another baby.

We are fifty percent of the way through potty training.

When am rocking Matthew to sleep at night, I can’t fathom that he’s my last baby. His skin is so soft, his flesh still so squishy, so yielding to my touch.

I want another baby.

There are days when the two children that I already have completely wear me out.  Most nights, I fall into bed and I can barely stay awake long enough to say goodnight to Craig.

In the morning, the sight of Matthew’s face, his immediate desire to nurse, and Katie’s exuberance and delight in starting a new day, bring me joy and purpose like I’ve never known.

I want another baby.

There are days when I am short of patience, when I have to count to ten and remind myself to just breathe.

But, if there is anything in this life that I am certain of, it is that I am a good mother…that I am patient more often than not.

I want another baby.

There are Sunday mornings when I dream of sleeping in.

Then there are Sunday nights, filled with tickles, hugs, laughter, and the knowledge that we are good parents, giving our children a safe and happy childhood.

I want another baby.

Neither getting pregnant, nor staying pregnant come easy to us. With parenting comes never-ending work.

But the nurturing and loving part more than balances it out.

I want another baby.

But do I need another baby?

Here’s where I’m stuck…how do I differentiate between want and need?

How do I know when to quit while I’m ahead?  I have two lovely, healthy children who bring me tremendous happiness.  I get to sleep through the night.  I didn’t get a single stretch mark from either pregnancy.  Surely if I have another baby, that will catch up with me?

How do I know whether or not I’m just being greedy?  If two is wonderful, is three necessarily better?

Would another sibling be a gift to Katie and Matthew, or would it result in them having less? Less time, less opportunity?

Will I regret not having another?

I’m stuck.

And time is not on my side.

Where I’m From…

I am from steaming breakfasts of golden, crispy bird’s nests with magnificent runny yolks, from impossibly weak Maxwell House coffee and pre-dawn moments of true connection.

I am from the salmony pink-shingled house on the corner, drafty, sunny, and melancholy. Three front steps, ever in need of fresh paint, slightly wobbly from the destructive frosting and heaving of the long and brutal winter.

I am from the unkempt clusters of lilacs, scattered dandelions gone to seed, tendrils of fuchsia bleeding hearts, stolen  and fragile jack-in-the pulpits, and haphazard bouquets of fringed chrysanthemums.  

I am from high school diplomas and honest work, from Robert and Max and Judy.  Vegetable gardens of diligence and abundance, encouragement and acceptance, freedom and wild brambly raspberries.   

I am from delayed gratification and inherent guilt.

From uncanny paternal resemblance and from the weight of the loss of my father placed upon my childhood.  A stand in, but never a replacement.

I am from bean suppers on Saturday evenings. Cream pies, Jello salads, blue hair, and integrity and kindness.

I am from the intersection of Catholicism and Northern Baptist. Where the Trinity meets God and Jesus.  Where faith meets practice.

I’m from New England, Maine, Fairfield, tourtiere pie and sticky, chocolatey whoopie pies.  

From the legacy of my father’s senseless murder, my Pépère’s faintly beer-scented breath, his ever-present and lovely banjo, Hawaiian melodies, and his tender and loving soul.  

I am from the cedar hope chest, tiny golden key, idyllic dreams, childhood report cards, penmanship awards, and two unlikely college graduation caps and gowns.

Over Here, Just Shitting Rainbows

This morning I read a blog post that made me feel all bristly.  (If you don’t like reading blogs about blogging, I apologize, and would love for you to go over to read about this trashy, fabulous purse.)

Aunt Becky, over at Mommy Wants Vodka, offered up a thought-provoking / feather-ruffling post today.  In Why I Do What I Do, she suggests that where bloggers once bared their souls for their readers, there is a new trend in blogging where bloggers completely sanitize their thoughts before hitting publish.  I am admittedly horrible at summarizing, so I know I won’t be able to do her argument justice. Please go read her post (and also the post by Cecily that Aunt Becky references) and come back.  I promise, I’ll be right here waiting for you…

…okay, good!  You’re back. 

So why did these posts fire me up and make me all itchy? 

Because sometimes I’m one of those people out there, just shitting rainbows.

But, I haven’t always been.

It took me decades to reach this place–this place where my life is so good that I often feel obligated to apologize for my happiness.  And, when I’m not feeling overwhelmed by the need to apologize, I’m busy worrying and obsessing that I’ll let my guard down for just a moment and something will happen to ruin it.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know a little of the difficult stuff. You know about my dad and our struggles to have a child.

There is much that you don’t necessarily know yet, but you probably will learn over time.  There is a lot in between that I haven’t had reason to share yet. But it’s there and it makes me who I am today.

And now?  I have a husband I adore and two children who make my heart nearly explode. 

Do my kids ever make me angry?  You bet they do!

Is my husband ever less than perfect?  Yep.

Are all of the relationships in my life easy?  Not even close.

But those imperfections, though they exist, do not define my life.  They are a part of it.  These imperfections make the beautiful parts even better.

When I was growing up, my mother always taught me that what happened in our home was to stay in our home.  We weren’t to air our dirty laundry to others.  There are blogs out there that reflect this ideology.  I read and enjoy some of those.

There are also blogs that go to the other extreme.  They bare all and then some.  I would suspect that those can’t be easy to write. But, I read and enjoy those, too.

Neither is inherently wrong.  Personal blogging is an expression of self.  We all come to this blogging table for different reasons.

Perhaps blogging trends are like a pendulum.  We’ve seen scores of bare-all blogs and now we’re seeing a plethora of sanitized blogs.

Personally, I think that somewhere in between — not necessarily exactly in between — is a lovely place to shoot for.  There are many of these out there, too. 

Thank you, Aunt Becky, for getting me going this morning.  I do so love you.

And now that I’m done with my mini-rant, please go read the trashy purse story!

*As a side note, it nearly killed me to use the word shitting in this post.  There are some words that I have a hard time using and this is one of them, but there was just no other word that worked.  Don’t worry, I have no problem with the F word, the D word, and loads of others.  ;)

How Do I Do This Again?

I have sat down to write no fewer than what feels like a thousand times and I can’t formulate my thoughts into a whole.  My writing has become stream-of-consciousness at best.  I sit down to write, I struggle through a few sentences, and then I walk away.

So, in an attempt to get back in the swing of things, I’m going to just go with my stream-of-consciousness writing and I’m hoping that you’ll all bear with me.

I feel like I’m betraying my mother-in-law’s memory by blogging so soon after her death.  How can I write about everyday things when I have the gravity of her death on my mind?

I want to be able to write about the joys of summer, ice cream sandwiches, kiddie pools, and bike rides, but my mind is consumed with the fragility of life, fear of more heartache, and ways to hold my family even tighter.

I was lying in bed last night, thinking about how much fun it would be to go camping.  My mind wandered to when the kids are a little older and I had visions of them wanting to sleep in their own tent.  My heart started to race and I nearly had a panic attack lying there.  I realized that I truly doubt that I will ever be able to let them have that kind of freedom.

When we were at the dentist today for Katie’s check-up, the dental hygienist led her out of the room without me to choose a reward for being so well-behaved.  Anxiety gripped me immediately.

I’ve always struggled with anxiety, with fears of the worst possible thing happening and I’ve spent my share of hours talking to a professional about it.  But now, I am feeling that familiar panicky undercurrent, nipping at my feet and it scares me.

My mother-in-law had struggled with health problems for quite some time and I think in some strange way, we took for granted that she’d always get through her challenges.  She was so upbeat and determined.  The latest hospital stay and her subsequent death truly caught me off-guard.

Now I’m feeling afraid of my own shadow.

I want to be carefree, I want my to make my children laugh, and I want to loosen my hold on them just a bit.

I want to blog again about happy and trivial things.

I’m going to keep writing and hope that little by little, I’m able to breathe a little easier and laugh a little quicker.

Thanks for hearing me out.

About me

Nichole Beaudry @NicholeBeaudry Location: Northern California
Each and every day, I strive to appreciate the wonder, beauty, and whimsy in the small moments, the moments that, when strung together, form a lifetime.
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