3:12 am

When the sun is still sleeping and I hear “mama” from down the hall, I can tell you what I’ll find before I open the door.

A sleepy, dough eyed little girl, sitting straight up in bed, needing nothing more than the warm embrace of her mama.

At preschool drop off, Addison takes off with her buddies before I can even finish zipping her jacket. Leaving the park is like a game of tug-o-war with Elliette, who can move her little feet surprisingly fast when she wants to run away from me. I can’t name the last time I’ve used a public restroom without my little escape artists attempting to unlock the door or wiggle their way under the stall door. And a trip to any grandparents’ house always ends in puppy dog eyes asking “can I spend the night?” 

But when it’s 3:12 am and the wind starts rattling the windows, the neighbor hurriedly drags their garbage cans down the lengthy driveway, or the teens down the street race by with their radio cranked up, interrupting the dreams of princess dresses and fairy wings, there’s nothing more than a mama’s safe squeeze and slow, synchronized heart beat to find that comfort to drift off again.

To the one that made me a mom;

To the one that first made me a mom,

Thank you. Thank you for blessing me with your tiny presence, and becoming my entire world. Thank you for opening up the world of motherhood to me, long before I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Thank you for guiding me along the way. Your first day on earth was my first day as a mother. Thank you for growing with me, and loving me through the many trials and errors, and knowing that all along I was doing the best I could for you. Thank you for bouncing on my knees for hours as I hashed out homework assignments, only to get them in second before the deadline. Thank you for celebrating as we finished each final together, with Gossip Girl marathons and ice cream. Thank you for taking up 3/4 of the bed, so it didn’t feel so empty when daddy was working on the road for months. Thank you for placing your sweet hands on my cheeks and telling me “it’s ok, mommy”, on the days when I felt nothing would ever be ok again. Thank you for sharing me when you were no longer the baby of the family, a though forever my baby in my heart. Thank you for making me a mommy.

It takes a village 

If you were to stroll down any given kindergarten hallway, you may find a wall that reads “FAMILY” in large, die cut letters. Below you may find thumb tacked master pieces drawn by the school’s 5 year olds. Stick figure drawings of a mom, dad, siblings, and maybe even a super cool sun in the top left corner, sporting some slick sunglasses. In the mind of a 5 year old, that’s “family”. It’s only now that I’m a mother that I realize my family portrait should have filled that 8.5 x 11 sheet ten times over. Now that I’m a mother, I truly realize it takes much more than a mother and father to raise children, it takes a village, and I could never do it on my own. 


My children are very blessed. They have a wonderful, loving, supportive “village” that would go to the end of the world for their happiness and well being. These are the people that have brought my sweet girls up to be the beautiful, free spirited souls that they are today. Nana instilled a love of books from a young age, and enjoys Octonauts and toy trains just as much as my babies do. 

Tutu introduced the love of cooking and shoes, which would explain my 2 year old struts around in and apron and princess heels. And if Addison asks you “you count, I hide?” 12 times within the first minute of meeting, uncle Coleden is to thank for getting her hooked on hide and seek. Their love of birds, blueberries and the Beattles was contributed by Papa, and now just listening to In My Life puts Ellie right to sleep. Cappy provides the lawn mower rides and does nothing short of shower them in gifts every time he’s home. When it’s time for movies, snacks and snuggles, nana is the go to girl. Yes, my girls have TWO nanas! They are very fortunate. Auntie Brooke knows just how to get them wild and wound up, especially right before bed time!! But my 2 year old is now better at soccer than I am, so what can I say? Grandma Pammy and Lumber Jack embedded their appreciation for quads rides, barn cats and the great outdoors. A trip to their house is always a treat!

If I were asked now to draw my family, these are the people you would see. Our village. The ones that helped bring up bird watching, book loving, wild, cuddly, gourmet chefs that I am lucky enough to call my children. And for this village, I am forever thankful.



Let them be little.

As a first time mom, I was always ready for the next thing. By the time Addison was wearing 3 month clothes, I was bringing down the 6-9 months and putting them in the dresser. By the time she was crawling, I was ready for her to stand. We were so excited to take her to the children’s museum, and she couldn’t even walk at that time! As a first time mom, I was so excited to experience every age and every phase, that I was always looking forward to what was coming next instead of realizing what I had right in front of me, a beautiful little girl that was learning and growing every day.

Now Addison is 2 years old and I can’t even believe it. This time around, I appreciate every moment. I don’t know whether or not we will have more babies, so my little Ellie Button may be the smallest baby I will ever have again, and she is growing bigger every day. 

This time around, I’m in no hurry for her to start solid foods, because once she starts eating solids she will be eating them for the rest of her life. So I enjoy her nursing while I can. I’m in no hurry for her to crawl. Once she starts crawling, she will never sit still in my arms again! So I enjoy the snuggles before she’s big enough to crawl away from me. And I’m in no hurry for Addison to potty train. For now, I’m happy with her helping her baby dolls use the potty. Once she’s using the toilet, she will be doing in in her own for the rest of her life (I hope!). When the girls start kindergarten, they will be in school for the next 13+ years of their life. So I’m in no hurry to put them in school. When they’re in school, they’ll have to brush their hair and wear matching shoes every day. So if Addison would rather not have her hair brushed, and wants to wear a pink shoe and a brown shoe, I’m going to let her, because she’s little. And if she wants to splash those mis matched shoes in the puddles, heck I’ll splash right with her! Because that’s what you do when you’re little.

Before I know it, Ellie will be a toddler, running around in princess dresses like Addison is now. In the blink of an eye, they will be in school, and wanting to spend time with their friends and at sleep overs. Some day my baby girls will be in the big world on their own, and maybe even give me grand babies some day! And part of me can’t wait for all of it, to see the little women they grow up to be, but for now I’m going to enjoy every moment and let them be little.

  

Two under two.

There are 2 tones that I would hear a lot when I would tell people that I had 2 children under the age of 2. There’s the “damn girl, haven’t you heard of birth control” tone, and then there’s the “oh honey, let me pour you another drink” tone. This is because, at least in my case, having 2 under 2 means having 2 children in diapers, 2 children that are still nursing, 2 children that need to be held and snuggled to fall asleep, 2 children that wake up throughout the night, 2 children that would rather be carried than walk. And I’ll admit, it’s exhausting. But having 2 under 2 is so much more than that.

Growing up, my step brother was 1 month older than me, and my step sister 16 months older. And it was awesome. We were thick as thieves. We would put on plays and puppet shows for our parents together. We would have “garage sales” where we would go to each other’s rooms and buy each other’s junk with nickels and dimes. In elementary school, my sister would sing me to sleep and in high school she would yell at me for taking her clothes. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Zack and I always knew that we wanted a sibling for Addison that was close in age. Elliette was born 3 weeks before Addison turned 2, and we could not have planned it any better. 

When I found out we were having a second girl, my mind started running wild planning the shared birthday parties, dance classes they could take together, and how to decorate a little girls’ room for them to share.  But having 2 girls less than 2 years apart is so much more than that too.

As excited as I was, there were times when I would worry. I loved addison so much, how could I ever possibly love anything in this world as much as I loved her? I worried that I wouldn’t have enough time and attention for both her and Elliette. I worried that I was forcing her to grow up too fast, and that she wouldn’t be my baby anymore.

 I remember looking at Addison sleeping the night before I went into labor, and thinking about how small she was. She was my little baby. I couldn’t imagine bringing home a human smaller than her. 

Two nights after than, we welcomed our 7lb 9oz Elliette Poppy into the world. Addison was in awe. “piggies!!” Was Addison’s first reaction to her baby sister, when she realized that her baby sister came with baby toes! It was then that I started to realize how grown my toddler was. Her little fingers and little toes were much bigger than the 10 little fingers and 10 little toes I had counted over and over in the hospital, almost 2 years before.

  
In the 4 months since then, I’ve realized that having 2 under 2 isn’t about the shared birthday parties or dance classes. It’s about your toddler sharing her princess dresses with her baby sister. The same dresses she will wear for 48 hours straight and still freak out if you even think about taking it off of her. It’s about the mornings when the first thing out of Addison’s mouth is “baby sister!” and telling her “baby sister is sleeping honey” and yet somehow, 3 minutes later Ellie is awake because Addison wanted to give her a gentle kiss. It’s about watching them nap together and having to wipe away tears because there is literally nothing in this world more heart warming than the love that the two of them have for each other. And in those moments, I laugh at myself for ever worrying that I wouldn’t have enough love for the two of them. Because in those moments I know that the love I had for Addison didn’t shrink, but my heart grew when I became the mother of 2 under 2.

   
   

Coming home.

For 2 years, I was a single mother with a husband. That doesn’t sound right, does it? Kinda like saying “my husband is coming to visit!” But that was my life. My husband would be gone for months at a time, and not even be home long enough to spend the time unpacking before he would leave again. 

My husband is a hard working man. He would do anything to provide for us. Even if that meant working on the road, thousands of miles from your family. It meant missing first steps, first birthdays, and the first broken bone. 

When people would ask what state he was in, I would reply “somewhere East”. Living in southwest Washington, I couldn’t really be wrong. I couldn’t always keep track. Every day it was somewhere new, a different hotel in a different town that wasn’t ours. He switched companies a couple times, all with the promise of more time spent home, and yet he would be needed in Houston before he was done in Charleston and there was no time to come home.

Meanwhile Addison was growing up, learning new things every day, and realizing that her daddy was never home. From the day she was born, Zack would sing the song “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” to her, and when he was away she would listen to that song on repeat. We face timed every chance we got, but it didn’t make up for the absence of her daddy.

When Zack was home it was better than Christmas, both for Addison and myself. It was like the two of them would pick up right where they left off, like they were never apart. We would make the most of every second we had together, because when it was time to leave again, we never knew how long it would be for. Addison began to understand when he was leaving again. Saying goodbye was so hard on her that zack began booking his flights early in the morning, before she would wake up. But the mornings were hard when she would go through the house opening doors, calling “daddy, daddy”.

  
When I became pregnant with Elliette, I really started to question whether this was a lifestyle that I wanted to live anymore. I was afraid Zack would miss Elliette’s birth, and all her firsts as well. I was afraid we would live this lifestyle forever, and that he would have to say “take lots of pictures for me” before every dance recital or first day of school. 

Not to mention our marriage! When would we ever have time to be husband and wife? Our relationship consisted of him leaving a voicemail every morning before work, so that I could wake up to his voice, and face timing when he got off work. Occasionally he would stay up until after Addison went to bed so that just him and I could talk, but with a time zone difference, working a 12 hour shift that day, and looking forward to a 12 hour shift early the next morning, these calls were few and far between. We made the most of his time home, but those days went by all too quickly.

My pregnancy with Elliette was difficult and high risk. I had a sub chorionic hematoma, meaning she could arrive at any time, even months early. This terrified me. At that point, I had come to terms with the fact that I would be in the delivery room alone when the day would come. I just hoped he would make it home within the same day. 

We got ahead on bills so that zack could take off the maximum amount of time his company would allow. But 4 weeks just didn’t seem like enough. At 34 weeks pregnant, I was in a hit and run car accident and was in and out of the hospital after that. Zack was anxious to come home, but we both knew that every day he spent home before Elliette was born, meant one less day spent with her before he had to leave again. Then one night, when I had once again ended up in triage, Zack bought a flight home without my permission. I was so upset. I was afraid it wasn’t time yet, and he would waste all his time off before Elliette was born.

He landed back in Portland on a Tuesday afternoon. Thursday morning, my water broke and we had a beautiful little girl the next night. I don’t know how he knew that it was time, but he did and I’m so grateful. He was there through my 33 hours of labor and emergency C-section, and he was there to hold our baby girl when she was born. I don’t know that I would have made it through those days without him.

 
    
 
We were still in the hospital when Zack called his boss and said he wasn’t coming back. He had missed so much of Addison’s firsts, and was not about to make the same mistake with Elliette. He had worked so hard to make sure that Addison would never go without, yet she was going without something that meant so much more than any material item.. Her daddy. At the time, we didn’t have a plan for work. But he wouldn’t miss any more birthdays, Halloweens or first words. Daddy was coming home for good.

  

Motherhood is messy.


Looking at this photo, what do you see? I don’t mean the two little girls on a blanket. Looking past that. What assumptions can you make?

When I see a photo like this, I think “man, that mom has her shit together.” Coordinating outfits? Half the time my flip flops don’t match when I walk out the door. A toddler with brushed hair AND a matching hair bow? Who is this mom, super woman?! If my hair is even washed by noon I consider it a successful day. And that toddler looks like there’s nothing she would rather do than lay in the shade and snuggle her baby sister. How sweet. Motherhood must be a beautiful thing, full of butterflies and rainbows.

Well if that’s what this photo is telling you, the photo is lying.

Those are my girls. And what you can’t tell from the photo is that I had to put Team Umi Zoomi on so that I could even run a brush through the toddler’s hair. First time all week that it wasn’t a complete rats nest. And those coordinating outfits? I had to bribe her with fruit snacks to take off the Little Mermaid dress that she’s had on for over 30 hours now. You can’t tell that while taking this, I’m wearing my husband’s tee shirt because all mine are dirty between being spit up on and leaky boobs, and I got a nice big deodorant Mark up the side of it but atleast that means I remembered to wear any today. So if you’re assuming this mom has her shit together, you’re wrong.

So then why do I try so hard to capture photos that portray a completely different moment than any real moment in our days? Maybe so I can put it in the girls’ scrap books in hopes of them remembering me as a mom that had a better grip on things. Maybe I just want to hang it on my wall so that when guests come over, I can say “see my children don’t always run around in just a diaper”. Maybe for a second I just want to forget that motherhood is messy. I want to forget about the popcorn in the carpet, and the mountain of laundry that seems to grow no matter how much I fold. I want to forget that I’m not the mom that has her shit together, and that’s ok.

This is what motherhood looks like. It looks like trying to squeeze your infant into a too small outfit, because you were so excited for the day she was big enough for it, and by the time you remembered it was in the closet, it’s too small. It looks like laundry on the kitchen floor, because your toddler decided in the middle of breakfast that she no longer wanted to wear pants.  It looks like your toddler carrying around an entire bag of popcorn, but it’s healthy popcorn so it’s okay, right? But that’s ok, because motherhood is messy.