Today has been one of thoseĀ Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but only slightly. No, we haven’t experienced a major catastrophe, meltdown, illness or otherwise majorly stressful event. Rather, it’s been one of those days that wear you down, drop by drop, like a slow leak in your roof that’s hard to pinpoint. It’s hard to fix, because you can’t nail down the source.

After failing to get the mower started, and giving up on getting anything done outside (this God-forsaken Kansas wind!!!), I let the girls stay on our covered front porch to play while I went in and did dishes. I turned the AC off, and opened the storm door glass, so I could still hear them through the screen.

“Oh, hi sweetie. How was your day today? I …

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This was one time I was happy to have clothes all over the floor.

Black plastic trash bags, old cardboard boxes, these packages of promise would arrive, usually during the summer, from distant cousins who were finally near on a much-anticipated vacation. “We brought Catherine some hand-me-downs. Take what you need!”

When I overheard these words exchanged between two coffee-cup holding adults, my juvenile heart would leap. Clothes. NEW clothes! You see, I never perceived we were poor or did without growing up (except that time some friends of my mom sent her home with bags of food). I always felt taken care of, though going clothes shopping at a retail store was a rarity. That was only for special occasions, or shoes. Good Lord, shoes. I think I was in a size 11 by sixth …

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Sharp, tiny fingernails scraped into my neck, collar bone, and the bony spaces of my chest. My heavy, nerves-on-fire, newly lactating breasts ached to fill my daughters stomach as much as she ached to be full. Frantically, she clawed at my body, gaping mouth probing for sustenance. My milk was on the verge, not quite completely in, just needing some coaxing from the mouth of a hungry babe. Tears fell and sweat pooled as I paced with her squirming body around our living room, desperate for the crying, the screaming, the ear-piercing noise…to stop.

“Just be patient, baby,” I pleaded with her. “Mommy needs you as much as you need me. Just stay on baby. The milk will come. I promise it will. Please, baby, please.”

Time and time again, I would gently tug on her tiny …

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My little fam headed into the greatest show on earth.

“Mommy, where da elephants?”

As my toddler sat patiently in my lap while the ceremony began, I found it very odd that she would ask this question. We were, after all, not under “the big top,” but in a large auditorium watching not red-sequined trapeze artists, but red-gowned future graduates taking their seats. I could see how she might be confused though. Just a week ago, we sat in a large arena, waiting among a crowd eagerly anticipating a fantastic event.

As the pomp and circumstance began, I kissed her auburn hair, and let my mind linger back to a magical family moment at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus at Intrust Bank Arena. I was happy to receive tickets from …

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