kids, Parenting, Uncategorized

Guess How Much I Love…My Bunny

There are certain items that bring a sort of nostalgia of our childhood. A favorite toy, story, or memory that we hold with us. A moment we can still recall vividly. Recently, as I laid my little man down for a morning nap, I became overwhelmed with emotion. I stared at this perfect little being as he snuggled a small little bunny and that sense of nostalgia consumed me.

From the outside looking in, it appears to be just that, a child’s bunny. Meant for bedtime snuggles, to provide a sense of security. But to me, it represents so very much more. That bunny is more than the character it represents from my favorite children’s book, Guess How Much I Love You. It is more than a security blanket. For me, it represents a special bond between my mother and me. A bond that, I hope, my son and I will one day have.

Growing up as a child, my parents were both teachers. They had the same schedule, for the most part, as my sister and I– school breaks, snow days, and summers off. It was all we knew. Then, one day, my mom was offered the opportunity to become a school consultant, taking her out of the classroom and allowing her to travel to other schools outside our small town of Indiana. It was an opportunity of a lifetime–one that she had to pursue. While it was exciting, I had little idea of how much it would truly shift my whole. My mom wouldn’t be home every day after school like I had been used to. We didn’t have FaceTime and Skype to stay connected. Instead, we had a Little Nut Brown and a Big Nut Brown– the two characters from my favorite storybook.

You see, my mom would read the storybook Guess How Much I Love You to me at night as a child. One day, before her trip, she left me the Big Nut Brown stuffed animal, the one whom represents the mother in the story, lying on my bed. The note attached, reading that she’d always be with me each night, no matter where her travels that week would take her.  Packed in her suitcase, was Little Nut Brown, the child in the story. Each time she traveled, she packed Little Nut Brown in her suitcase. I snuggled Big Nut Brown each night she was away. It was our bond. Our way of being together, no matter how far away we may have been. On night’s when I would miss her, she’d remind me that she was right there, snuggled up next to me. I’d find comfort in that.

Our bunny bond didn’t stop once I grew up and graduated high school. How could it? I was moving away from home for the first time. So, as I packed for college,  Big Nut Brown ame along. She sat on a shelf in my college dorm–watching over me each day. I never shared the story with friends, or felt the need to explain why I had a stuffed bunny sitting on my shelf when I was twenty years-old. Did I need to still snuggle it each night? No. But on the hard days when that math test just didn’t go right (and let’s be honest, with math, it never did!), or I was cramming to memorize those last key pieces of information for my final, that bunny provided comfort, reassurance. I could look at it and feel my mom’s encouragement. I could see her face, smiling. I could hear her voice, cheering me on.

Through graduating college, moving out on my own, and getting married, that bunny has been along for the ride. I’m not sure that there will ever be a day that Big Nut Brown doesn’t stay. Today, he sits in our son’s nursery alongside the book that started it all. And as I stared at my son that morning, snuggling his baby version of the same stuffed animal, I couldn’t help but be overcome by emotions. It was then, as a parent, that I realized that sometimes it’s the smallest acts, such as reading a story, that matter the most to a child. That one story, that one stuffed animal, has meant more to me in the past twenty years, than any other gift has.

So while that bunny will always hold a special memory for my mother and me, it now also serves as a reminder of the kind of parent I want to be. Twenty years from now, I can only hope that my son will look at his bunny, the one he used to snuggle to sleep, and be reminded of his mom. Not for the many things that she bought him, but for the memories that together, they made. The stories. The snuggles. The giggles. The playtime. The class parties. The ball games. Simply, the time we spent together.

 

 

Advertisements
kids, Parenting

The MIA Momma

In the past week, I have spent more time with or talking to my friends, than I had in the past two months combined. I have actually gotten out of the house regularly. I have worn jeans more days than I have worn leggings. Some of you reading this will think, “And your point is…”

I thought that, too. I thought I was doing great. I was enjoying my maternity leave time at home–the perfect excuse to stay in my sweatpants or leggings all day, throw my hair up in that messy bun, and conquer the craziness that is new mom life (really, just mom life in general.)  Afterall, having a new baby was the perfect reason for excuse after excuse of why I couldn’t leave the house that day– “Little man needs a nap,  he won’t take a bottle (well that’s an excuse AND reality!), we don’t have anyone who can watch him…” I found that the longer I was staying at home,the easier it was for me to make an excuse not to leave. The easier it was for me to become an MIA momma.

It took a few regular days of me getting out of the house this past week, actually following through with plans I had made with friends, to realize that I was beginning to fall off the grid. Is it nice to stay home and tackle that to-list? Yes. Is it nice to NOT have to get dressed up, blow-dry that hair and put on real clothes (only to have to change again later after you find yourself covered in spit-up)? Yes. Is it necessary to stay home sometimes in hopes that you can MAYBE get just a few minutes of rest while your child, who was up all night, rests? Yes.  But you know what I discovered this week? It is also extremely important to make time to continue to build on those momma friendships. Not just for you, but for your fellow mom friends.

As I sat across the room and across the table from my mom friends this past week, I realized how important it is to have a tribe of women who truly are there to support you–not to judge you, not to gossip later about you, not to further encourage your anger or frustrations, but to truly just listen, love, and support you. For four months, I hadn’t made that a priority. I hadn’t made an effort to really just talk AND listen. Sure, I responded to the group text messages and tried to be supportive from there, but it is profoundly different to truly be there with a person. Why? Because a text message doesn’t include the tone of despair that you can hear in a friend’s voice as they talk with you about a deeply emotional issue they’re processing at the moment. An emoji doesn’t show the pain hidden in your friend’s eyes–the pain only you, as her friend, can recognize. A GIF only hides your friend’s anxiety, the anxiety they feel every time that group message goes off and they’re left feeling like maybe they’re the only one in the group that’s struggling, that just can’t seem to get a handle on this parenting gig.

Parenting is hard. Balancing your marriage, the household, work, and your kids is hard. It is a 24/7, 7 days-a-week job. It is exhausting. But, this week, this MIA momma has been found. I was able to realize how crucial it is to not let your mom friendships go to the wayside as you navigate balancing it all, but to instead lean on them. Be willing to be vulnerable, to admit that you don’t have it all figured out, that you’re struggling with something right now, that you need help and advice, that you need your mom tribe. Suck it up and put on the jeans. Blow-dry the hair. Make the drive to your friend’s house or the coffee-house. Don’t make the “busy” excuses– because EVERY momma is busy. Instead, make time to be PRESENT with your friends.

It took me finally making those choices for me to realize that I needed that. I needed my friends to hear me out, to know my struggles, and to support me. And to my surprise, they needed that from me, as well.

I pray that each of you are able to find support in your momma friends like I have. That you find time–no, that you make time– to foster those relationships and to lean on them during the highs and lows that life throws you. This week, I  challenge you to make an effort to do so. Don’t allow yourself to become the MIA momma.