The Hardest Part(s)

It’s been a week since my mother died.

In that time, my 5 year old has wanted to talk about her grandmother at least 10 times a day. She’s filled with questions like, “Where is her body now? What is cremated? Why will she be buried under ground? How does she get up to heaven? Will she see her mom and dad?”

My 3 year old is handling it differently. When he saw his grandmother sick, when it was time to say goodbye, he wouldn’t go near her. She terrified him with her eyes, usually so warm and full of life, then suddenly closed and unable to open and look at him. She would, however, whisper “I love you” because nothing could stop my mother from telling her family that she loves them, even if she couldn’t tell who she was talking to.

My 15 year old is handling it the hardest, as to be expected. Since feelings are considered uncool, she is constantly pushing down memories of her grandma so she doesn’t have to deal with them. I think the words “feel your feelings” are used a hundred times per day. We tell her that it’s okay to feel sad… you can cry and laugh in the same breath, thinking about everything we’ll miss about her AND how she couldn’t figure out how to ring the damn bell after her last round of chemo and none of us could stop laughing (including the amazing nurses that helped take care of her).

The hardest part? I don’t honestly think that my son will remember his grandmother. I know the 15 year old will, I hope the 5 year old will, but my youngest won’t remember all the books they read together, all the toys they played with, or the secrets they shared. He won’t remember that his grandma was the one who bought him his HUGE car set that has been his favorite thing for a year. He won’t remember the woman who promised to be there for him forever. That’s the hardest part.

While I realize that there are far worse things that could happen (taking my mother to chemo appointments makes me feel very grateful for the healthy life I live- I saw many women with young kids going through treatment), I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Two of my children might not remember my mother, the person who has most influenced me to be the wife, mother, friend and person I am today. She doesn’t get to impact them they way she impacted me.  And that feels really shitty… but it’s important that we feel these feelings because if we don’t come together as a family and acknowledge just how shitty it feels, we could fall apart. And we need each other now more than ever.

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The 7 Parents You Meet at Gymnastics

Listen, all parents need to bond with with one another Whether it’s over lack of sleep, love of wine, love of Living with Landyn… whatever. We just need to unite.

That being said, I’ve noticed that there are a few different categories of moms and dads that you meet when you take your kids to an extracurricular during the day (which likely means that they’re a stay-at-home-parent). I am always one of the types of parents below … sometimes I’m more than one at a time (and don’t kid yourself, you’re one too):

  • The tired parent: this person can’t wait to tell you how little sleep they got, regardless of whether or not they know you. Today, one woman told me about how she has 2 toddlers and was woken up by each twice last night. Another woman with a newborn shared that she doesn’t sleep more than 2 hours every night. It’s not a competition, it’s comradery.

Tired mom

  • The Chatty Cathy: this is the parent that clearly needs some adult interaction. Many days- THIS IS ME PEOPLE. Craving adult interaction is totally normal when you stay home with littles all day. This person will ask you which kid is yours and then immediately talk about how cute your kid is. Then, they’ll quickly move into where their kids go to preschool, how long they’ve been doing gymnastics… whatever they can get out in the 30 minute class.
  • The parent who JUST WANTS TO READ THE NEWS—I’ve also been this mom before. There is constantly noise in my house and I never get a minute to myself. Those 30 precious minutes of quiet, where my kids are being supervised by someone else, are so infrequent that we need to make the most of it. To this parent, this is the time to get in touch with the world. You get 30 minutes each week—live it up.Woman on Phone
  • The one who brings a friend: there is always a set of parents that come together and they talk nonstop to each other but to no one else. This actually isn’t me… I like the quiet too much to sign up for a kids activity with someone else (let’s get real: my kids are WAY too badly behaved for my friends to see them on a weekly basis).

Young Women Travel Together Concept

  • The one with the perfect child: this is the person who literally stands at the window for all 30 minutes and is hanging on the teacher’s every word. At the end of the class, they march up to the teacher and ask how their child is doing… this person wants Simone Biles as their child. This person tells their friends that their 3 year old can wipe his ass already… I can tell you right now: this is never me either. Also, neither of my toddlers wipe their own asses. Add that to my resume.
  • The one who’s child has NO interest in the class. My son, Oliver, literally laid down during his gymnastics class when he was 2. He gave 0 fucks. I took him out after the second class because I wasn’t about to pay for him to lay down for 30 minutes. I feel bad for the parents whose kids want to go to the bathroom every 7 minutes just to spice it up a little. THAT WAS ME until I put myself out of misery.

superhero kid.jpg

  • Finally, the grandparent. This is the angel that was sent to rescue the stay-at-home-mom or dad and take their child to gymnastics. Who knows if the parent works full time or actually gets an hour or so to themselves (or, more likely, with their other children!).

How To…. Create a Farmhouse Centerpiece Box

So I’ve been searching for a rustic centerpiece box for years now and couldn’t find the right one. They were too perfect or too rustic (as in, my children’s hands would bleed if they got too close!) and I had pretty much given up.

Then, randomly, I was in Hudson, WI and stumbled across an antique shop there that had the most incredibly unique gifts. They had amazing jewelry, furniture, trinkets, books and….. a CENTERPIECE BOX! I instantly fell in love… it was rustic and grainy without having splintering wood, and it was the perfect size! I immediately snatched it up and ran to Michael’s.

Here’s the thing: I am a plant person: I have an indoor herb garden (for a later post!) and half a dozen plants throughout my house; however, most plants that need zero light aren’t that pretty… and when you have a super rustic centerpiece box you want to make what is inside of it feminine and pretty (i.e. FLOWERS!). Having that “rustic glam” look is easy…. just make sure and mix the masculine with the feminine.

Centerpiece 1

 

Here’s a close up of the box after I decorated it. Of course, I can’t find the “before” picture and I’m not about to go back in there and reorganize it (I AM a mom of 3….) so here ya go.

I always keep stacks of Mason Jars on hand because I love the rustic feel they can give to anything! So, on my Michael’s trip, I grabbed plenty of filler (Moss Filler for the base of the box) and a lot of green florals. I also grabbed another jar of stone (filler) to anchor the plants. I put it all together in a way that balances out the colors and textures and I staggered the mason jars to give it some dimension…

Centerpiece 2

 

It should be symmetrical but not matching exactly. Don’t go too crazy with color because you want it to be simple and cohesive.

Voila! You’ve updated your farmhouse dining room table to rustic glam!

 

Centerpiece 3Dining Room

 

I had to post the last pic because Zelda photobombed…. THAT FACE!!!!!

And I Haven’t Looked Back…

I’ll never forget the look that one of my friends had when I told her I was resigning from a job I love. She said, “Stevie…. You could be throwing your career away. Is that what you really want?”

The answer, my friends, is of course not. My mom was diagnosed with Stage 3 Lung Cancer last year… after one round of chemo she was in remission! YAY!

And then it came back…. Fast. Stage 4. Due to a million other things happening in her lungs as well, she stopped seeking treatment because the chemo was putting her in the hospital and she was unable to enjoy the life she built for herself with her family… her kids and her grandkids.

My mom is the best person I’ve ever met. She constantly puts others before herself, never asking for too much. She’s truly a Minnesotan because she’ll never actually tell you when she’s disappointed. She’ll just keep inviting you until you say yes. My mom is also the strongest person I know… in the last 5 years that woman has been through hell and back and she came back with a smile on her face. The most important thing to her is family and her grandkids adore her.

When we found out the cancer was back, I thought I could do it all. I could be a great wife, mom, stepmom, daughter, and leader at work all at once. Unfortunately, something had to give. I was leading an incredible team that I loved and I couldn’t give them my all. I was missing doctors’ appointments with my mom and I was missing time with my kids. My mom has been living at my sister’s house and EVERYTHING fell on my sister’s shoulders because I was too busy. I don’t know how my sister did it for so many months.. I knew one thing though: something had to give.

I quickly realized that I couldn’t stop being a wife, mom, stepmom or daughter… I had to resign the job I love. The strangest part? I wasn’t sad at all! I still love the position I held and I love the team but I knew for a fact that it was the right call for my family. You can always return to your career when the timing is right… you can’t choose when to be there for your family.

What have I learned? At the end of the day, literally nothing matters besides family. And I mean that. Clothes, THINGS, eating out at restaurants, going to the movies, vacations…. All of the things that come from extra income: none of it matters. I’ve quickly learned that my love language is quality time spent with my family. I spend WAY more time with my kids and I’ve been able to spend WAY more time with my mom, my sister, and my nieces and nephews. I’ve learned that THIS is what matters.

And I haven’t looked back.