Happy Birthday, Mommy!

At 29 years old I still call my Mom "Mommy", something she insisted on for as long as I can remember.  She also insisted we keep our rooms clean, help around the house, finish our dinner and our homework, get good grades and make good choices.  We had many struggles, fights, yelling matches over some of those expectations over the years.  We have similar personalities but differing viewpoints.  Years after leaving home, I don't remember too much of that.

I do remember her coming into our rooms to help us set up giant barbie houses.  She made us tiny furniture out of all sorts of things.  Taught us how to braid their hair, and each other's, and detested naked barbies- they always had to be clothed. 

She would let us dig through piles of her old dresses and dance costumes and helped us cultivate our endless imaginations as we pretended to be anything from fairies to dancers to southern belles.  She would leave the sheets attached to the rafters in the garage (when we had garage sales to keep people from seeing everything we stored in our garage) for days.  Perfect curtains for endless plays that she patiently watched and seemed to enjoy.

She didn't worry about us getting dirty.  We would spent our days in our mostly dirt backyard, barefoot and wild.  We climbed trees, walls and swing sets, explored the mesa at the end of our street, rode bikes all day, played in the amazing playhouse my grandpa built.  We spent our summers camping where she would take us on hikes and teach us about nature.  Sometimes we would get so dirty she would have to hose us off in the backyard before we came into the house- pretty sure she grinned at our squeals in the cold water.

She brought music into our lives.  Something that I cherish deeply.  My childhood was filled with sounds of her and my family, even my Dad, singing and playing all our different instruments.  She started teaching piano lessons when me and my friends lost our piano teacher.  Music was almost always filling our walls.

She taught us to be spiritually strong.  To find what you believe and stick to it, unwaveringly.  I am daily grateful for her example of living what we believe.  For having a strong testimony for me to lean on until I found my own.

She was always there.  She was at every band concert, almost every marching band performance, and was a band Mom.  She was also at all my siblings sporting events, concerts, plays.  Anything we were involved in, she was involved in.  Anytime we needed to talk, she was there to listen.  How she has done that for all five of us is something I still can't figure out.

She is very crafty and handy.  She can do anything from sewing, drawing, scrap booking to building walls, tiling, gardening and beyond.  I have always been amazed at what she can do with her hands.  I got some of those traits, but not all of them.  Mostly I'm grateful to have been taught that hard work is a part of life, and that you can figure most anything out if you try hard enough.

My youngest brother is still home, living out his teen years.  Almost four years ago I made my Mom a grandma.  She holds both titles in high esteem.  My kids love her.  She is amazing with children.  Imaginative and patient, but firm- most of the time.

She has been through many hardships in her life.  Though she is far more emotional than me, her strength and faith through her trials is amazing.  She is too hard on herself, always.  So I want her to know that one of the things I admire most is her strength and her faith.

As an adult I have gone my own way on a lot of things, but she is still the rock that I lean on when I need to. She is still my roots when I'm trying to test out my wings.  I can only imagine how hard it is to let your children go and live their own lives, respecting how they live them, and still mothering where you can.  I think most of the time she hits that balance well.

Living far away from my family is hard, and I miss them so much.  I am grateful for the Internet and for phones and how they make that distance not feel so large.  I am grateful to have a place of my own on the Internet where I can celebrate her life thus far.

Today is her birthday.  I want her to know I am beyond grateful to have to her in my life. To be able to turn to her when I need her, or be there for her when she needs me.  I am grateful for her involvement in my kids' lives, and for her support of my decisions for my family.  I want her to know that, especially now that I am experiencing motherhood for myself, I think she did a great job of raising us.  I also want her to know that she is stronger than she gives herself credit for.  She has gone through so many changes the last few years and I know she can keep going.

Happy Birthday, Mommy!  I hope you know how much I love you and how much I wish I could be there to tell you all this in person.  I hope you have an amazing day and that you remember how many people love and cherish you!

Lessons Learned

The last few weeks I have been training for the local Susan G Komen Race for the Cure going on here next Saturday.  I am really excited to run it, especially since I discovered that I can actually run 3.1 miles without too much trouble.  This is no small matter to the girl who had trouble getting through all four laps to make up the required mile in my physical education class growing up.  I guess it just goes to show that size isn't everything.  Skinny doesn't always equal strong or in shape, any more than having bits of fat makes me weak.  This is an important lesson I have learned. 

Something else the last few weeks have taught me is that I need a goal to stay focused.  Losing weight isn't a goal, it's a benefit of living a healthy lifestyle- which is now my real goal.  I'm starting to not focus on the scale so much as focusing on making sure I stay active and try to make good, nutritious food choices.  I'm not perfect at this, and I've learned not to expect perfection.  Striving for perfection will get you nothing but failure.  And failure bites.  The result of this new mentality is that I'm happier with myself and my progress- which has also helped me in my relationship with Matt.

Since we decided to work things out and get remarried, I have been quite happy.  We keep working on things and they aren't perfect, but that's ok.  It's very normal and that is a good thing.  When we first got back together it was like we had just met all over again.  As time went on, I realized there was always this teeny, tiny fear in the back of my mind that it wouldn't work out in the end.  I have been struggling with that little fear off and on for almost a year now.  Matt has been so supportive whenever that fear surfaced. 

Having been reassured so many times, you would think the fear would go away.  It's hard to explain, but every time we had a conflict and feelings similar to the ones I had when things went south came back, I freaked out.  I brought up the past.  I worried that just because one or both of us were upset that we would be back where we once were.  I worried more about my appearance.  I did all the things you're not supposed to do in a conflict.  He would calm me down, we would talk it out and I would feel better again. 

A few weeks ago, Matt and I were talking about something and the subject of our future came up and he told me he wasn't going anywhere, that I would have to be the one to leave for us to end.  It may seem silly to some, but that was sort of a turning point for me.  The last little piece of my heart I realized I hadn't given back to him was suddenly his again.  My soul is calmer, my heart is sure, and my self-esteem is mine to deal with again.  Our love has grown deeper, and it shows in the little things we do for each other.

That man loves me, and I love him.  I gave him my heart almost 9 years ago and it has been his ever since.  We have our bumps and bruises, but they do heal.  We have been brought together so many times now that I truly believe we were meant to be.  Life teaches us a lot of lessons.  The most important one I have learned is that I can never take anything for granted.  Not health, not friendship, not money and especially not love.  Having the love of a man who gets me so completely, who makes me laugh, supports me and makes me feel beautiful in pajamas and yesterday's make-up, is something I will forever be grateful for.  I also have to remember to love myself.

I want to thank our families, friends and all the people who read this little blog for supporting us as we travel our many journeys together and separately.  The other day my in-laws thanked me for taking Matt back.  I was touched by this, but didn't quite know what to say back.  I will say now that I loved him nearly from the day I met him and I never stopped.  It was hard to figure some things out, but deciding to try again wasn't hard at all.  I know I made the right choice the first, second and third time I said, "I do." 

Marriage isn't always easy.  Life isn't easy.  Changing is especially hard.  Everything we do, our goals, the relationships we have- they all take work.  Nothing happens in life that we don't put a little effort into.  We just have to trust ourselves, learn from our mistakes, stay focused, follow our hearts and surround ourselves with people who support and empower us.  I believe that to be true of everything we do. 

What is your favorite relationship advice?  How do you attack your goals in life?  Who is your best cheerleader in life?  Have a great weekend!