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To My Strong-Willed Child: Only A Special Few Are Meant to Chase the Sun

My free-spirited, iron-willed child: They will stare, my darling, when you blaze ahead even when you’re told to stop and when you forge forward even after you’ve been warned—but I know your determination will lead you places few will ever get to reach. They will stare, my darling, when you scream louder, explode mightier, and cry harder than what others consider ‘“normal”— but I know the power within you will create passionate possibilities in life that few will ever get to feel. They will stare, my darling, when they assume you are too sensitive or too dramatic, too bold or […]

Of All The Things I Teach You, I Hope You Learn To Pray.

I prayed for you. For ten little fingers and ten little toes. For health and protection. I prayed for you. At every ultrasound, every check up, and every time we searched for that tiny heart beat. I prayed for you. Long before you ever were and every day since. Silently and out loud. Alone and hunched over the side of your bed as you slept so peacefully. I prayed for you. For health to return, and strength to remain. For wisdom and kindness to prevail. For love and grace to rule your heart and our home. I prayed for you. […]

One day you’ll want someone else, but today it’s still me

You’re getting bigger, my boy. Sometimes, long after you’re asleep, I find myself still rocking you. Getting to this point of the night is always crazy, and sure, I’d love to be spending some time alone for once. But the truth is, your face is changing faster than I can accept and some nights, I can’t bear to be apart. Because one day you won’t want me to rock you anymore, nor will I be able. One day this chair won’t fit the both of us. One day I won’t be the answer to your sadness. One day our breathing […]

We’re not perfect, baby, but that makes us free

The day is coming when you figure out I don’t have it all together. That I can’t fix everything and I don’t know all the answers. That I’m not perfect. I used to dread that day; the day you’d see through the fearless front I paint on and realize that I’m no more magnificent than the other moms, and in fact, I have a lot of flaws. But I was wrong (you’ll soon learn this is a recurring theme). You’re going to realize that I’m not perfect, and that’s okay. Actually, it’s great. I want you to see my humanity. […]

Parenting Through The Thursday-Night-Tired To Make A Memory.

By Thursday night I’m toast. Burnt toast. My inbox is overflowing, deadlines are looming, and I’ve spent countless hours in the car. Countless mostly because my brain is fried and I simply can’t do the math. I’m ready for sweatpants, solitude, and silence. But all that adulting tired, that’s not my kids’ problem. They didn’t email me once. Or make a project more complicated. Or cause a traffic jam. As preschoolers, they aren’t even asking me to do complicated math. Fortunately, their Thursday night expectations are low, not because of my work schedule necessarily, but because it’s a Thursday. Thursdays are […]

My Mental Illness Does Not Define Me.

I fear my mental illness, and often that fear makes it hard for me to cope with it. On Sunday, I woke up feeling a little off. I brushed it off and got dressed and ready to go to church with my family. We were scheduled to serve in the kid’s area that morning. I signed my kids into their classes and headed up the stairs to find a seat in the auditorium. As I was walking to the stairs, I felt the shift. I sat in my chair and tried to brush the feeling of panic away. This is […]

Dear Shawn Mendes, Thank You.

Dear Shawn Mendes, I can’t tell a lie. I wasn’t really excited to go when I first bought the tickets. I considered it a sacrifice of sorts: I can make it through the concert so that my girls’ dreams will come true. I saw it as a late night filled with loud crowds and an insane amount of midnight traffic on my drive home. But my girls, (insert tween voice and tone) they really, really, really, like, just had to go to the concert. Everyone else was going, ya know? They had been dialing (old-school style) every local radio station over and […]

‘Dance Like No One Is Watching’ & Other Lessons From A Great Vacation.

Have you ever cried mystery tears? You know, the kind that flow from your eyes as you’re feeling some overwhelming combination of happy, sad, grateful, and full of love? The ones for which you can’t quite pinpoint one emotion as the catalyst? Mystery tears glided down my cheeks as I sat in the theater of Norwegian’s Escape cruise ship on our last day at sea. I was full of emotion as the ship’s crew stood on stage and sang a cheesy yet touching song about how we were part of the Norwegian Cruise Line family, now and forever. A video […]

I Kept My Baby.

I kept my baby. Even though I was sixteen, even though I didn’t know how I would, I kept my baby. Even when everyone told me “kids shouldn’t have kids” or that I’d “ruin my life”, I kept my baby. I knew some would think I slept around, that I was promiscuous. I knew that girls would talk and boys would listen, but I still kept my baby. I knew there was a pill that could ‘take it all away’. “My ‘problems’ could be gone tomorrow if I just took it today.” But I knew that was a lie anyway […]

I Thought About Running Away ⁠— But Here’s Why I Stayed.

I got in my car and drove away from my family. I didn’t know where I was going. I just walked past the TV playing Mickey Mouse, and the mess on the floor, and my husband sitting silently on the couch. I was frustrated with my kids and mad at my husband. I just walked out the door and left. I started driving and I wasn’t sure where. For a split second, I thought what it would be like to just drive away, like far away, for good. It sounded like a good idea for a moment. But I found […]

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I Know What Causes Autism.

Last week I was surfing the internet and came across a headline proclaiming autism and circumcision are linked. I couldn’t help myself. I laughed out loud. In no certain order, I have read the following explanations for autism over the years: Autism is caused by mercury. Autism is caused by lead. Autism begins with poor maternal bonding. Certain pesticides may trigger autism. Plastics. Gluten aggravates autism spectrum disorder. People with autism should eat more strawberries. Too much automotive exhaust is a leading cause of autism. Chemicals found on non-stick cookware may trigger autism. The one about maternal bonding is sort of painful for me. The […]

I’m A Blind Mom Parenting 2 Blind Children — It’s Beautiful, Difficult & So Worth It.

I was born three months premature; I weighed all of two pounds and one ounce. My parents were told I wouldn’t live. I kept on living, though, and after a good amount of time in the NICU, came home. It didn’t take long for my parents to realize that I was blind. Now, considering how small I was and that NICU technology was still being fully developed, to only have blindness to deal with, was a pretty amazing gift. So I grew up the only blind member of my family. I learned to read braille, use a cane, and other […]

I Hope I Loved You Enough Today, My Baby.

As you lay sleeping in your bed, the weight of today lifts from my shoulders. The struggles of the day are quickly forgotten and I find myself looking at you in wonder. Memorizing your face and the dimples in your fingers. I want to rewind the day and tell you how well you did. How proud I am of you. I hope that I loved you enough today. As I drive you to school, I catch a glimpse of your sweet face staring back at me in the rearview. I replay the morning and find myself wondering. Did I love […]

Parents, Tell Your Children These Things Until They Believe You.

Parents, tell your children how much you love them, why you love them, and that you will never stop loving them any chance you get. Tell your children what parts of who they are make them special, what aspects of their character make them unique, and what sounds of their voice make them authentic. Tell your children that you notice how hard they try, that you see how resilient they can be, and that you are proud of how much effort they put into certain parts of life. Tell your children that there is no limit to your support, there […]

My Life After Being On “The Bachelorette.”

Our stories are the same… you and I. We both met someone we loved, started a family, only to have love transform into something deeper. But it wasn’t magic. Not the miracle of birth. Or watching my son take his first breath. Not any one breath made the transformation… but all of them put together. Now, with greater depth and focus, I’ve moved from reflecting on love to being engaged in it daily. And this is where you and I differ. You see I did my self-reflection in quite a unique way, on quite a unique stage, oftentimes in quite […]

My Mom Had The Best Response When I Was Scared Of Losing My Rainbow Baby.

Sometimes you just need someone to be scared with you. And to recognize that certain situations generate more fear than hope. I’ve never been more scared than when I was pregnant with my rainbow baby. I knew that a positive pregnancy test didn’t equal a positive outcome. I knew that the fragile baby I was carrying might vanish before I could hold him in my arms. After all, I’d hoped to bring home two babies prior to that pregnancy, but they hadn’t survived. So, naturally, I was afraid to tell anyone that I was pregnant again. I was afraid speaking […]

Dear Daughter, Don’t Let Anyone Label You.

You’re only 11 years old and yet I am beginning to see the bruises left by society’s labels for girls; from comparing yourself to others and deciding you don’t measure up, you aren’t as good. And it breaks my heart. But I am resolved that it doesn’t have to continue, that together we can demolish the world’s benchmark and bust out of that box you are trying to put yourself in. We can drown out the voices of others so you can hear just one voice, the only One that matters. Because I have my own scars from years, and […]

“It Only Takes Two Minutes To Alter Someone’s Day.”

Sister, it’s time for a movement. A cultural shift. A paradigm. And it’s going to take all of us. It has become far too easy to hide behind a keyboard and spew hate to strangers. We argue over parenting styles, politics, religion, race, and everything in between. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for freedom of speech, but when that freedom crosses a line of pure unfiltered hate – we have a problem. What happened to love? What happened to kindness? What happened to building bridges, instead of putting up walls? I know there is evil out there, sis. […]

This Picture Of My Daughters At The Beach Has My Heart.

This picture. There is something about this picture of my daughters at the beach that tugs at my heart. It could be how small they seem against the vast, picturesque backdrop. It could be how independent they appear, out there in the water, far from me and the safety of shore. It could be the story behind the picture. That this vacation was the first time I felt comfortable letting my kids go so far from the shore without me. At one point, it was just me sitting on the sand watching my three kids out in the water, without overwhelming […]

The Invisible Hero — A Poem From A Soldier To His Child.

I wasn’t there to see your world debut I didn’t watch you take your very first breath I won’t be around to tickle your tiny feet Or give you kisses on your little head   I won’t be there to hear you say your first words Or teach you how to throw a ball You will never take your first steps towards me I won’t be there to catch you if you fall I won’t pack your lunch on your first day of school Or sing silly songs while on the way there I can’t tell you bedtime stories Or […]

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My Life After Being On “The Bachelorette.”

Our stories are the same… you and I. We both met someone we loved, started a family, only to have love transform into something deeper. But it wasn’t magic. Not the miracle of birth. Or watching my son take his first breath. Not any one breath made the transformation… but all of them put together. Now, with greater depth and focus, I’ve moved from reflecting on love to being engaged in it daily. And this is where you and I differ. You see I did my self-reflection in quite a unique way, on quite a unique stage, oftentimes in quite […]

To My Daughter With Down Syndrome, You Are A World-Changer, An Eternal Supply Of Love.

Dear sweet Hannah Grace, My beautiful daughter, my life changer, my literal gift from God. I want you to know some things about yourself that others may not know. I want to tell you how you’ve impacted not only mine, but so many lives around this whole big world. I want to tell you about the special way your Creator knitted you together. I know you’re only 3 years old at the time I write this, but when you’re older you will understand just how amazing you really are. One day I may not be here to tell you how […]

The 5 Little Words My Son Said That Made Me Rethink My Self-Worth.

I threw a pile of dirty clothes over my shoulder as I searched through my son’s closet for his left tennis shoe. If you would just put your shoes in the right spot when you come inside. If you would just use your dirty clothes basket. If you would just listen. We had 30 minutes to get to the pediatrician’s office, which was a 20-minute drive away. And I hadn’t even gotten myself ready. I’ll get up earlier than usual. Then someone gets up with me and I’m sitting on the toilet with a toddler in my lap. I don’t […]

I Know What Causes Autism.

Last week I was surfing the internet and came across a headline proclaiming autism and circumcision are linked. I couldn’t help myself. I laughed out loud. In no certain order, I have read the following explanations for autism over the years: Autism is caused by mercury. Autism is caused by lead. Autism begins with poor maternal bonding. Certain pesticides may trigger autism. Plastics. Gluten aggravates autism spectrum disorder. People with autism should eat more strawberries. Too much automotive exhaust is a leading cause of autism. Chemicals found on non-stick cookware may trigger autism. The one about maternal bonding is sort of painful for me. The […]

We Are Forgetting About Our Boys & That’s Not Okay.

I’m fearful that we forget about our boys. That may be a convicting statement to lead with, but it’s something that concerns me, and I bet it might worry you, too. Each day, I scroll my Facebook newsfeed and scour the internet and I find article after article about our daughters and how dire it is for us to raise them to be strong, self-sufficient, and capable. How crucial it is that they are encouraged to use their voice, own and tell their story, and never cower in the face of a man — one or many. As a mother […]

To My Husband, I’m Sorry For A Lot.

I’m sorry, babe. I’m sorry that, more often than not, my hairy legs resemble a tiger’s back; that most days you see me in high-waisted, black leggings; that on the rare occasions when I do get dressed in “real clothes,” they are typically the same three maxi skirts on rotation; that I typically smell like sweat, poop, vomit, boogers, or just “yuck;” that I haven’t worn a real bra in about five years; that my hair is almost always in a messy ponytail atop my over-stressed, anxious head; that, most days, I am in my PJs and makeup-free by the […]

Palliative Nurse Shares The Number 1 Regret Of The Dying & Here’s How To Avoid It.

Palliative nurse Bronnie Ware has captured hundreds of regrets from terminally ill patients. They are the great common denominator — no matter race, color, creed — they’re the one thing we universally try to avoid with the time we’re given. The pursuit of such avoidance is often on our mind and always on the clock. Bronnie Ware, author of “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying,” has seen that clock run out all too often. Working closely with patients who were in their waning days of life, Ware was gifted with insight beyond her imagination. The palliative nurse developed relationships with countless dying patients, hearing […]

I’m A Psychiatric Nurse & I’m So Glad You’re Here.

Today was the day. The day you felt the overwhelming urge to be done with this life. Suicide felt like the right decision. As a relief from pain, you have been desperately trying to escape. There was a flaw in your plan, though. Fear, family, friends, or fate caused a pause in the plan you were going to play out. You ended up in the hospital. But I’m so glad you’re here. I meet you when you are broken. I’m the nurse that is going to be caring for you in the first moments of a night you did not want […]

I Hope I Loved You Enough Today, My Baby.

As you lay sleeping in your bed, the weight of today lifts from my shoulders. The struggles of the day are quickly forgotten and I find myself looking at you in wonder. Memorizing your face and the dimples in your fingers. I want to rewind the day and tell you how well you did. How proud I am of you. I hope that I loved you enough today. As I drive you to school, I catch a glimpse of your sweet face staring back at me in the rearview. I replay the morning and find myself wondering. Did I love […]

The 7 Words My Husband Said To Me That Changed My Life Forever.

I used to care so much about what people thought of me. I always tried to be kind, I tried to not step on anyone’s toes. I minced words. I was selective in my responses. It bothered me when I found out someone didn’t like me. I agonized over the why. Was it something I said? Something I did? The anxiety of it all was eating me alive. Why did I care so much?! And then one day, my husband looked at me and said, “Who cares if someone doesn’t like you? I like you, and that’s all that matters! Forget everyone […]

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