An Open Letter to My Children 2018

To begin this letter, I looked back at my previous open letters in 2016, An Open Letter to my Children 2016 and 2017, An Open Letter to My Children 2017…it is breathtaking, and I am so thankful to have this forum, to remember, to focus, to explain all the things in life that make this journey so magical.  My hope is one day my children will read these letters, and they will know just how special they are, how very much they are loved, and how very much I cherish this time I’ve been given to be their mother.

To Jace:

You are nine years old.  At times you seem so much older.  You have a maturity about you that is so far beyond your nine years.  This year you finished the third grade.  Brock Moehler was your teacher and you shared a very special bond with him.  It warmed my heart that he just “got” you.  You came home from school each week with stories of the jokes and laughs you shared.  You looked forward to gym class each week, where you made sure to wear your best running shoes so you could beat all of your classmates in whatever game you were to play that day.  You played basketball, baseball, and continued as a Bear in Boy Scouts this year.  You attended Cross Country Camp for the first time, and I’m not sure I’ve ever felt as proud as I did when I saw you running, with all of your strength and heart, striving for a good finish.  You have so much heart, it overwhelms me and I admire you for it.  You attended STEAM Camp for the first time too, and each day I heard stories of the projects you completed and how your design won each day.  You were so proud and excited, and I was so happy for you.  You’re still a total gear head and each and every day, you are telling me about one car or another….about the names, about the designs, about the prices.  You dream of getting a classic car and rebuilding it on your own.  I hope that someday you can make that dream a reality.  You have lost your zest for scary movies and prefer comedies lately.  You love to laugh.  You started your first paying job, mowing the neighbor’s yard, and you are completely motivated to earn money of your own.  You come in from mowing, dripping in sweat, red in the face, and I’m amazed by your dedication.  You want to be a surgeon or engineer, mostly I think, because you want to earn enough money to buy your dream cars.  That makes me smile.  You worry about some of your classmates who have started to cuss or bully other kids, and you try to be a good influence on your friends.  That makes me so proud of you.  You are pumped to be a big brother again, and are hoping for a boy so that you can share your room with him.  You are kind.  You have the best sense of humor.  You love and care deeply for others.  You are a good friend, and you’re a ton of fun.  I love to be around you, and I’m so proud of the young man you are growing into.  Thank you for being such a strong, loving, uplifting and understanding son.

To Jera:

You are six years old today.  You leave your dad and me speechless often.  You are witty, playful, hardheaded, and kindhearted.  You took Kindergarten by storm this year.  I was absolutely astounded when you picked up reading as though you’d been doing it since the day you were born.  You borrowed Jace’s books this year and read through them with ease.  I gave you the option to pick any fun activity to celebrate your report card this year, and you chose to go to the library.  I am so excited by your passion to grow and learn.  You enjoy the challenge of learning something new, and I know it will take you far in life.  You played softball this year.  I was amazed to see your competitive spirit.  You listened attentively to your coach and played so well, always putting forth your best effort.  You also began dance this year with a combination class of tap and ballet.  Your first recital was just a couple of weeks ago, and you literally brought tears to my eyes.  Your ballet number was set to the song Smile, and you were the most graceful and beautiful ballerina I had ever set my eyes upon.  Your tap number was set to the song Boogie Shoes, and there was a part in the beginning where you shook your hips with all of the sass that only you have.  I am so proud of your courage, and although you shared with me that being on stage scared you, you didn’t show it for a moment.  You have the best giggle.  It is the sweetest sound and it immediately brings a smile to my face every single time.  You have taken over your brother’s love for scary movies.  You can’t get enough of all things spooky.  You are completely fearless.  You are still full of kisses and hugs, which I’m still soaking in as often as possible.  You are beyond excited to be a big sister, and stop several times a day to give my tummy a kiss.  I took me two days, a week’s grounding from the XBox and iPad, and about two thousand reminders to get you to clean up your room this weekend.  We’re working on this messy thing….but we’re about progress, not perfection.  Maybe next time we’ll get it done without the two thousand reminders…but maybe not.  You are a bright, shining light in our lives.  You bring energy and excitement to all things.  You may be hard headed, but you match that hard head with an even softer heart.  You ask me to sing You are my Sunshine to you each night as you fall asleep. You like to read two books and have your back scratched at bedtime…and then somehow you still end up in my and your dad’s bed by 3:00 a.m. every night.  I love you wildly and deeply.  I see the all of the world’s potential when I look into your eyes.  Thank you for being such a wonderful, vibrant, amazing daughter.

To Baby Hafele:

You are the size of a peach this week, week thirteen.  You are so small, and yet, you have totally and completely changed my life.  Someday you may read my blog “2, 4, 6, 8…Nah 2” and I wonder what you’ll think about the fact that we thought two children were enough….and here you are, surprising and wonderful number three.  What can I say?  What words are there to explain all of the thoughts, decisions and feelings that come with bringing a child into this world.  I was scared.  I should explain that.  I wondered if I could do it, be a great parent to three children, build an amazing career, pay all the bills, clean all the house, do all the laundry, balance all the life that came with having three children.  I was also scared of having another miscarriage.  I hadn’t told anyone that.  You, Jace and Jera should have an older sibling, but that was not meant to be.  I felt blessed to have two healthy pregnancies after suffering the loss of my first child.  I worried if I tempted fate, if I tried again, I may have to go through that suffering again.  But then, you came.  You came without any stress, without any trying.  You are this wonderful gift in our lives.  And with your arrival, all of the worry left me.  I have been lifted up to a place of pure confidence, where I know I can do this, together with your dad, we can do this.  We’re so excited to meet you, to have you in our family, to get to go through this amazing experience one more time.  I’m moved beyond words in this moment.  I’m brought to tears.  You are the piece to the puzzle that we didn’t know was missing, that I know could not live without.  I thank God that he knows exactly what he is doing.  What an amazing, beautiful ride this life is.  What an unbelievable gift you are.  I am undeserving, but so thankful.

To my readers:

Make time today.  Write down the wonderful things about your children.  Tell them out loud.  They may not understand yet, but someday they will.  If life ever changes and we can’t tell them anymore all of the joy they bring to us, they’re left with the written things we leave them, with the spoken words we shared with them.  I encourage you to bare your soul when you can.  Be an open book.  Life is too short to keep all of the beautiful things hidden inside.

Full Circle

Parallel lines…two lines traveling side by side, having the same distance between them. Tonight I’m thinking of all of the parallels in my life. There are so many that I know there is more to this life than chance.

I think of the moments. The moment at 17 when I was falling madly in love with the man that I now call my husband, and we were dating only a few weeks when we realized we didn’t yet have a song. We were in his truck, a tan and brown Chevy S-10. I have no doubt that there was some type of rap playing in the background, and for no particular reason, we both decided that “Time After Time” by Cindy Lauper would be our song. I think about that conversation and that decision, what made us arrive at that song choice, a song that was every bit of 15 years old at the time. I know it’s what we wanted, for one another to be that person, to be there for one another, to pick each other up when we fall, to ground one another for a lifetime. And by some miracle of fate, that is what we got. But in that moment, there is no way we could know what that song would come to mean to us.

Some nine years later, we rushed to an emergency room. I had been carrying a high risk pregnancy, and I was miscarrying. There was no doubt. We arrived, we went through the motions, we sat in a waiting room for a doctor, and the world went silent. And then, over a small radio left playing in the room, Cindy Lauper came on the line, and she sang to us, “If you fall, I will catch you. I’ll be waiting time after time. If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me, time after time.” In that moment of tragedy and simultaneous comfort, I knew we would be okay.

In that moment of tragedy and simultaneous comfort, I knew we would be okay.

Then there are other, lighter moments. Like the moment when my husband and I were still in the “getting to know you” stage, and again we were cruising around in my 1994, forest green Camaro (we both lived with our parents and therefore spent a tremendous amount of time in our cars!). I had Prince’s “Kiss” blasting, and was quietly amused that my sweet boyfriend wasn’t turning the song or horrified by my off-key singing. When we began to enter the city limits, he leaned ever so casually forward and very inconspicuously adjusted the volume down. I smiled to myself. I’m not sure exactly what it is about that moment that made me fall more in love with him, but it did, and that memory is still extremely vivid for me.

Today, 16 years later, as I drive my kids to school every day, my 5-year old daughter picks out a song choice and then begs me to “turn it up how she likes it!” Which I of course oblige. And then, as we make a left onto my son’s school’s road, he so quietly leans forward and adjusts the volume down. I smile to myself. I look to my passenger-side seat, and I see his father there, some 16 years ago, and I love them both, my boy and his dad, just for being who they are. It melts my heart.

There are so many parallels from the past to the present. The way my daughter consistently puts the emphasis on the wrong syllable when she speaks, and her brother can’t help but giggle and point it out (much to her astonishment, as she is certain that she is correct, and he in fact, is wrong), much the same way that I had not the slightest clue that I wasn’t saying the words Tylenol, elephant and volume wrong, until I met their father, and he couldn’t help but grin every time those words came out of my mouth.

There are so many small moments that are of little significance at the time, but then later, I find myself coming full circle. It is truly amazing. Albert Einstein’s said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” (Smart guy…)

I see miracles every single day. I see them in the most ordinary moments, in the moments that a stranger would be completely blind to, because I have the gift of history. I can see how every moment in my life brought me to this day, to these every day little miracles. The parallels between who I once was and who I am now, between the small moments then that are playing back into beautiful moments today, the parallels in what I once was blind to, but today have the gift of sight. I’m blessed to see so many things come full circle in this life, and it is a miracle each and every time.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

– Albert Einstein

I hope you see a miracle today, in your life, in yourself, your partner, your children. I hope you can open your eyes to see that this life is a beautiful thing.

Blessings in Disguise???

Wait…what?  It’s only Tuesday???

This has already been the longest week…ever. I was coming off the high of a wonderful, fun-with-my-kiddos, relaxing, house-in-order, everything-right-with-the-world kind of weekend on Sunday evening.  It was about 10:30 (which came too soon with this wicked ‘spring forward’ time change).  I realized that my husband had never returned my keys when he had moved my car into the garage that afternoon.  Trying to be sure I would be ready for the rush to the door on Monday morning, I decided to check with him, “Where did you put my keys?”  He had thought he had set them on the kitchen counter.  He was wrong.

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An intense search ensued; we looked for my keys until midnight.  We never found them.  This shouldn’t have been a big deal, right?  I mean, I can always pull out my spare set, right?  WRONG!  My spare stopped working about six months ago (darn computerized cars) and I never got it fixed.  Ugh.  Hind sight really is 20/20.

That was Sunday and it is now Tuesday.  Still no keys.  Still no car.  My car has been towed to the  mechanic’s.  It’s been there since Monday around 3:00.  I have realized a lot of things over the last two days while not having a car.  a) It’s stressful…planning for dropping my kids at school and childcare…getting to work…coordinating car seats with those who are kindly willing to help you out.  It takes a lot of planning.  b) You never want to go anywhere until you can’t. c) I’m glad I live two blocks from my work.  d) You are really happy when it’s sunny out when you don’t have a car!

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I also woke up late on Monday (most likely due to the late night search party Sunday night and time change) and I missed my workout entirely.  Tuesday I also woke up late and only got in half of my work out.  Things are super crazy at work and I’m working as hard as I can from the moment I walk in the door to the moment I leave.

These things…these little things are what have made me feel undone this week.  These are the moments I said to myself “You have got to be KIDDING me!!!”  And now I sit back and gain some perspective and I realize they are nothing.

You see, my son has to be at the hospital tomorrow at 9:30 to register for his first surgery.  He is having a tonsillectomy.  I fought having this done for a while but after six separate strep infections over the last year, I gave in to seeing an ENT.  When the specialist shared with me that the real danger of strep is that the infection can pass to a heart valve and it can then be deadly, my heart skipped a beat.  I shared with the doctor that Jace actually has a heart valve defect and he responded that Jace’s defect is all the more reason to move forward with this surgery.  So here we are, three weeks later and tomorrow is THE DAY.

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As I spent this evening with my son, I let him play a little longer outside before making him come in.  When he asked to go for a bike ride, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.  I brought him to the movie store and let him pick out all of the movies and games he wanted (these should come in handy during his recovery).  I surprised him with a walk to the ice cream shop and I listened intently as he jabbered to my husband and me all the way home.  And now at this moment, up past his bedtime, he’s playing a video game and I can’t muster the courage to make him go to bed.  I know I don’t want him to lie in bed and think of tomorrow the way I will when the lights go out.  So I’ll just let the bedtime thing go for tonight.

I know Jace will be fine tomorrow.  There are risks anytime someone is put under for a surgery and I don’t take that lightly.  Jace’s heart defect and the fact that we have to have a letter from his cardiologist before the ENT will perform surgery on him, makes me uneasy.  But honestly, if Jace’s heart was perfectly formed, I would still be nervous.  No one wants to see their baby in pain.  I’m nervous and my heart hurts just thinking that he will have to endure the fear of the unknown and the pain that I know will follow (I had my tonsils removed when I was seven…I know!).

As I reflect on my stressful week, on all of the moments I wanted to pull my hair out and didn’t, as I think about all of the quirky things that have happened this week to keep me distracted, I am starting to think that this chaos was a gift.  I didn’t have time to think about Jace’s surgery, about tomorrow.  I didn’t have time to focus on my troubles.  I was kept on my toes by one twist in my week and then the next.  Have you ever thought that?  That maybe the adversity you’re facing is a blessing in disguise…that maybe without the misfortune you wouldn’t make it through something even more challenging?

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In the moment, I didn’t think that my week could get much worse.  And then, just like that, I was strolling down the sidewalk with my son, ice cream in our bellies, and my heart was so full that I couldn’t even recall what I had been stressed about before.  I’m so thankful for my son.  He is my first born.  He’s so different than I ever expected him to be when I became a mother…he’s so much better, more beautiful, more amazing.  Tomorrow we will go through another new and, most likely, unpleasant experience together.  There are no words to express how I wish I could shield him from this…but I can’t.  So instead, I will be there for him.  I will hold his hand.  I will pray for him and anxiously wait for the doctors to return him to me safe and sound.  The past two days were challenging, but none of that matters.  If you have your health and the health of your family, you have everything to be grateful for…tonight, even with no car, even with slacking on my workout routine, even with getting a little behind on my housework, I am the luckiest woman in the world because I have this sweet little boy by my side ready to watch a movie with me.  Looks like we’ll be missing bedtime by quite a bit tonight!