We fought her, and then we fought FOR her. She’s amazing. She’s brave. And I don’t deserve her.

Brave. Not a word I would have used to describe my oldest daughter only six months ago. With a mental disposition much like me, I feared she would follow in my anxiety-laced footsteps. Her fear made me fearful. My nerves made her nervous. We’re a sometimes-challenging duo, her and I.

You see, I don’t want her to be like me. I want her to run through the sprinklers of life instead of skirting the edges. I want her to be Ria. I want her to live with less fear, but I know she’ll never be completely free of anxiety’s bonds. Or will she? Will she break free of the walls within own mind…and mine? …

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A Boy to Dance With

All motion. No insecurity. My daughter dances to the beat of her own heart, and may she always.

As our small town’s annual Fall Fest approached, my 31-year-old mind slipped back a few years and I was reminded of the insecure adolescent I used to be. Awkwardly tall and skinny, I wasn’t exactly the most sought-after girl on the dating scene. Also considering I’m related to half the population, my choices for potential suitors grew even slimmer. But still. There were boys. Boys whose hands I longed to hold. Boys whose smile would make my bony knees wobble a bit. Boys who might actually notice me if I wore the right jeans, a bra with enough padding to build several squirrel’s nests, enough Cover Girl makeup to conceal my God-forsaken acne, and a nice big …

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Your adorable little self at 18 months old. Prophetic t-shirt? I certainly think so.

Hey baby, it’s mommy. You can’t hear me right now. You’re sound asleep in your bed, Frances the bear tucked under your arm. You had a hard time falling asleep tonight, and I can’t blame you. You’re a little nervous. Mommy is too. Tomorrow is your big day. The day you start Kindergarten.

I can tell you’re excited, and I can see a little bit of uncertainty in your eyes. Will you like your teacher? Will you make new friends? Will you know what to do?

I remember the moment I first saw your face. Your red, naked little body was placed on my chest, and I stared deeply into your wide open eyes. You looked strong. And I could tell you were …

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Sisters strolling in the park. I pray they’re always this close.

 

Last night was a doozie. One of those evenings where every button is pushed, and by the end, every hair is pulled out. Tempers flared. Words hissed. Patience broke.

My youngest has been particularly difficult lately. Every other word is spoken as a whine, and when all 42 pounds of her 3-year-old body decide they don’t want to do something, it’s a back-breaking exercise in frustration. And she thinks it’s funny. And I used to let her get away with too much because, well, she’s my baby. And her older sister had me so wound up with her melodramatic preschooler-acting-like-a-preteen drama fests that I quite welcomed a different kind of naughty. But now? Now? My oldest has entered a “mommy’s little helper” phase while my youngest is …

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If hearing voices makes me crazy, so be it. After all, I’m in good company.

Sometimes, internal voices happen outside my mind. Words are spoken, and received by my ears, rather than merely bubbling up in my brain. Who do these words belong to? Me. But not me. Both a better version…and a worse one. The proverbial devil and angel. The cartoon characters dressed in red and white perched atop opposing shoulders.

It’s simple, really. The devil with the red dress on is selfish, easily agitated and aloof. The ethereal one speaks softly, reacts slowly and remains engaged at all times. To be honest, sometimes she annoys me. Sometimes I just want to hang out and wallow in self satisfaction with the one in stilettos. But I can’t trust her. She doesn’t have my best interest …

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When momma loves herself, daughter will follow.

Patterns, habits and long-term environments mold so much of who we are, but I’m convinced simple little encounters are powerful enough to change our outcome–for better or worse. Like this morning. As I was stepping out of the shower and scurrying to the bedroom to get dressed on time, my 4-year-old daughter made a comical observation. Giggling and wide-eyed, she pointed her little bird-like finger and said,

“Momma, your bottom SHAKES when you walk!”

Now, I could have responded with embarrassment, frustration, anger, or any combination of negative reactions. After all, as women we’re trained by society to do anything but embrace the jiggle. We’ve come so far with encouraging acceptance of fuller figures (and still have so far to go), but we rarely talk about the movement of these …

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