The Undercurrent

For a month or so now, I’ve felt a sort of emotional undercurrent. I’ve had the sense that at any given moment, regardless of what is happening in front of me, I could burst into tears. It wouldn’t take much- a Hallmark commercial, flowers, even a sweet “thinking of you” text from a friend… tears are always possible. When I sit quietly after Landon goes to bed, attempt meditating or during that last ten minutes of yoga when you lie still … I immediately lose the battle with tears.

Don’t get me wrong, there are wildly joyous things in my life. Most recently in finding great love, I have also fallen in love with his daughter. My heart has instantly and dramatically expanded to include them both. While rising in love, he and I have waded through the chapters containing our complicated stories. Opening those rooms in our minds and hearts that were firmly shut years ago- spilling memories that are bittersweet and certainly rife with emotion.  There are tears of happiness and tears of past pain that is yet to be forgotten. It’s a new life full of love, laughter and no shortage of emotions between us.

With all that’s happened in just one year’s time, a few members of my tribe have quietly and sweetly asked if maybe a therapist is in order. Maybe, but it feels like the 10 + years I spent in therapy already have prepared me for this particularly complicated year. I know how to sort through the emotions, I have navigated these halls before and know the best way to evaluate and analyze what’s in front of me. And most importantly… I know that I feel this way because I have been living vulnerably

Vulnerability is not something I’ve ever been comfortable with before. When I was hurt in the past, walls immediately went up. As I’d slowly bring them down, it was my experience that I would be hurt again… and again. My heart was a bit battered. I couldn’t or wouldn’t trust, so being vulnerable wasn’t even an option. Now, in this kind of new awakening in my life, I’ve found the purest, kindest and most patient kind of love. Love without pain and love without strings. And without even thinking, my heart and mind are vulnerable. They are open with no walls in sight.

Being vulnerable is required for true happiness- in finding love in another as well are pure love of oneself.

The tough part about being vulnerable is as my role as Landon’s mother. We visited a playground the other weekend and a tween decided to glare at her. Not stare, curious and innocent, but GLARE. You know what I mean- glaring with her face turned up. Glaring without realizing that there was a mama bear ten feet away that was ready to pounce. It was as if I was living in slow motion. A burning desire to protect or even seriously overreact emerged. I felt my face flush and I was instantly glaring back intensely with the meanest of mean looks. My reaction was the OPPOSITE of everything I stand for. This is the reality of my current vulnerability. I feel this more. I feel like I have to protect every child with any difference. It’s absurd, but that’s the honest truth. Vulnerability is tricky business.

Right now, I’m letting this newly found vulnerability settle in. I’m growing more comfortable being uncomfortable. I’m trying to embody what Brené Brown more eloquently says in Rising Strong:

“Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am brave and worthy of love and belonging.

“We are the authors of our own lives. We write our own daring endings. We craft love from heartbreak,  compassion from shame, grace from disappointment, courage from failure.”

I have come to accept that fear is a natural reaction to my past 35 years. From a complicated relationship with my father to the numbing pain I felt off and on over the last 10 years with Bo, until now I had accepted that painful love was the only kind.  So how do I not allow the fear to win? How do I now love wholeheartedly? How do I teach Landon to love and see the world without fear in her heart? I’m learning that it all starts with being brave- especially when it’s hard. And recognizing my immense gratitude for the love I now have which allows me to be vulnerable and honest.

As for teaching Landon, I’ll remind her to love herself. To be continue to be brave and open to everything life offers. To make sure she recognizes the light and pure joy she brings to those around her. Today she told me that I was beautiful. When I asked her who else was beautiful she simply said “Landon.” Who wouldn’t cry at that?

Cheers to you for living openly, accepting your entire story and loving vulnerably.

XOXO,

Eloise

A picture says a thousand words…

This picture probably does say a thousand words. This picture is one of the most important photos I’ll also probably take and share with you. This picture is of a family, plain and simple. But it’s not that plain and it’s not that simple. This is a photo of us six months into divorcing. But this photo wasn’t hard to take. And it wasn’t hard to post.

That is because it’s all about HER. 

Just saying that “you’ll put the kids first,” isn’t enough. You have to practice that sentiment. You have to live it out loud, and then you have to remind yourself of it even on the days it feels impossible. Yesterday, though, it wasn’t hard. Yesterday was her birthday. And on her birthday I want her to deeply feel that her parents love her more than anything.  It’s about making sure she sees us sitting at a table, enjoying a meal, all together. STILL. 

There will always be two homes. She will always have two rooms. But she will always have two parents who will work as hard as possible to show her love has many forms. If we can take this photo now, at this juncture, I feel she will see that love doesn’t stop when divorce happens. It opens windows to a new kind of relationship. One where she continues to be the focus, because as I continue to tell you… she is the light. 

This picture does not say we have it all figured out. Hardly. We are parents and we have been through this very hard thing while raising a toddler. But… I’m proud of this photo. I’m proud of myself, frankly. I want to show Landon that women are built of really strong stuff. We can be survivors of disappointment, sadness and pain. We can and will get ourselves up off the mat and treasure the things and people that make us smile again. We can also see the best in others… even our former spouses. 

This picture is also for Landon when she’s older. I want her to see the genuine smiles on all three of our faces and know… that joy in our faces exists because of our love for her. Joy from all that we’ve shared with her, all that she’s given us. I want her to know that although it may feel like everything has changed, THE most important thing of all… our love and intense support of her will never waiver. 

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Happy Sunday, friends.

xoxo,

Eloise

THREE

Dear Landon,

Today, you are three. Three whole years old. This past year has flown by. I remember your second birthday like it was yesterday and marveling then at the little girl you’d suddenly become. And now… you seem grown up. Too grown up for my liking. You are tall, beautiful, unique, silly. stubborn, funny, loving, and have the world’s best laugh. 

This past year, you’ve started two different schools, learned how to ride a tricycle, developed an intense love of trains, discovered their cousins trucks and cars, learned the alphabet, how to count to thirty, and fostered a love of dancing with your entire body including your toes. Your lamb Lenny still gets top billing in the bed, but Thomas the train isn’t far behind. You like to sleep on top of all of your (very hard, plastic) trains and anything with wheels. 

Your girlish, tomboy personality makes me so very happy as does your new found love of carrying around my lacrosse sticks. I hope with everything I have that you remain as unique and different as you are today. May you continue your love of building things, studying how they are built and using your princess castle for a parking garage. May you always ask for a hug when you are upset or nervous that you’re in trouble. May you always be fascinated with animals, dinosaurs, bugs, and lizards… even if I can barely stomach reading about them. 

May you always have this particularly bright and beautiful spirit. You are changing the world Landon. Everyone that knows you, loves you and knows you will do great things. 

You are brave and have taught me how to really live. You are my light. You are my joy. 

I love you, sweet girl. Always. 

“I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart.”

xoxo,

Mommy

The thing about Wonder

So I finally did it… I finally read Wonder. I just sat down on Sunday morning while Landon nuzzled next to me on the couch and read it. For years now, when folks hear about Landon’s syndrome, most people offer “have you heard about the book Wonder?!”. This question is sometimes accompanied by an I’m-so-sorry-for-you glance or even a I-know-how-hard-this-must-be stare because of this book.

But until now I just didn’t want to finish it. I started last summer. I cried at page 3 and thought “Nope, not going to purposely make myself cry anymore right now.” Part of me didn’t really want to read it because living it was certainly different than a tale of fiction. The other part of me hesitated because this was written by a random author, NOT by a real parent or family member or person with Treacher Collins. When I heard that the author simply saw a child one day with TCS, and she and her family fled from the store prompting her to reflect and then write the book… I had a hard time even looking at the book on my shelf.

And then I realized, this author, this book, this story that “teaches kind” is exactly what this world needs. It’s THIS book that may change each and every middle school out there. THIS story that might make school life for Landon happier and more full of kindness.

Now, I’ve spent time with the story. I’ve cried with the characters and the painful words the children call Auggie. I really marvel at how much research this author must have done. And I now love that she took her own missed opportunity for a teaching moment with her kids and is in turn teaching the world how to choose kindness.

This book also provides peace of mind for us “special” parents. We face this vast unknown in sending our kiddos off to school. With headlines about bullying and remembering how tough middle school even was for ourselves, THIS book now gives us some solace that KINDNESS is being taught in the classroom in a really cool way. It’s prompting discussion and debate and they are spending time on this during the school year. THIS is huge.

My heart will break 1,000 times before she even reaches middle school. When every child stares and points, when every parent shuffles them by while glaring themselves yet not choosing to teach their kids better. When kids are mean to her face. I will now think of this fictional boy who is teaching the world SO much love. This book is teaching us the basics and what it’s like to choose kindness at such a young age. And I marvel at what this book can also teach adults.

So, my friends, please read this story. Please read it with your kids when it’s time. Talk about how it made them feel. Talk about how it made you feel. And then pay those feelings forward.

xoxo,

Eloise

Working It…

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The art of being a working mother is probably the hardest thing I’ll most certainly never master. I can very honestly and frankly admit to y’all that if I am excelling in one area, then there is a 90% chance that the other areas of my life are “suffering”. Suffering is probably not the right word. Landon is not suffering because I work full-time & out of the home now BUT my perception of myself as a mother is suffering. My heart hurts off and on throughout my work week because I am not seeing her as often. This is made more complex when I think about the speech therapy sessions I miss, what her face looks like when she runs away from me into the class each morning, or better yet at the end of the school day running toward me.

For me, it’s not about achieving a level of perfection in either area, but to find a balance that I’m most comfortable with. Women are constantly juggling an identity crisis after having a child. We are constantly explaining ourselves if we work OR stay home. Neither seems to fulfill us completely or feel 100% satisfying on both fronts. Perfection should never be the goal. There isn’t a scenario that would ever qualify. What we need to do is just let ourselves off the hook. Feel complete as an individual and as the complete package we offer our families, our work product, and any combination of the two we have.

I write a lot about what we women struggle with or how we should cut ourselves slack more often. I know that men have similar struggles as well and do not mean to leave y’all out.

This journey has given me the gift of connecting with y’all as well. Of hopefully lifting up any of you that are frustrated, sad, tired of the work/life balancing act, who have just felt loss of their own. As I tend to remind you… you’re not alone. There is love and strength out there amongst this tribe of mothers and women.

Happy weekend warriors.

Love,

Eloise

Closing one chapter…

Last week we closed a very large chapter of our lives, although it only spanned a single year. In many ways we restarted our lives after leaving New York. Nestled in a quite beach town, we resurrected so much of ourselves.  As I’ve mentioned many times on here, I left New York a little broken and bruised. After one year with Bo’s parents, running along the shore and watching my bug thrive, I feel like myself again. We feel like ourselves again as a couple. And Landon… is amazing.  

I know that had we moved straight here, we wouldn’t quite be as great as we are after that year. We needed the peace. We needed the quiet. We needed that time to rediscover how much we loved each other and how much family means to us.

There is also such healing power in water. In living in a place where family, health, and being outdoors are paramount. In feeling supported by new friends as if we’d known each other all our lives. Our move away from Pawleys is bittersweet, but it is intended to feed all three of us with what we need long term. The doctors Landon needs. The bustle and culture that Bo and I crave. The therapy options and schools in Landon’s future.  It’s the right place. But Pawleys will have a big piece of my heart.

So for now, before I start to share stories and images of our new life and digs, enjoy these photos from our last night spent amongst the sunset and waves. 

xoxo,

Eloise