Meet Me Halfway

It’s that moment no one wants to admit. 

The one where you know you wanted it more than them. 

I could argue I spent my entire childhood in this state. 

The one where I was the bastard child, and they were the full-blood. 

The one where I was lucky he wanted to keep in touch with me. 

Yes, in my child’s mind,  I had to be worthy. 

And it never left me. 

I’ve lived a life proving myself worthy. 

And you know what?

I’m tired. 

I’m too tired. 

I. am. worthy. 

If you want me, then meet me halfway.  

I’m worthy. 

Camille Vaughan Photography

Forced Meditation

Here I am. 

Lying on the floor. 

Next to my daughter’s bed. 

A reminder of my failure to get her to sleep on her own like her three big sisters. 

Have I become a statistic?  The youngest gets whatever they want?

Or perhaps I am just too tired to fight. 

Ha- let’s not play ignorance- they are likely one in the same. 

I am tired and she was born to fight out of necessity. 

So, here we are. 

Prisoners in our own way. 

Dependent on one another. 

I remember convincing him that if he agreed to the fourth, she would be “mine”. 

I took full responsibility, although he would never agree to anything but equal, which made me love him even more. 

And yet, here I am.  Lying next to her bed and as much as he has literally and physically attempted to take my place, there is no substitute for her of me. 

I lie next to her and think, how I can make the most of this quiet time?

Unfortunately, it is forced, which is not a lovely place to be when you are trying to meditate. 

So some days, I sleep.  Others, I seethe in resentment of being on my 16th hour of parenting while he lounges on the couch.  

And sometimes, I think, one day, I’ll miss this. 

They won’t let me in their room. 

Their room won’t be here. 

I lie and wait.  For that heavy breathing. 

I leave, relieved, both for that she breathes and that I have the chance to catch my own. 

Camille Vaughan Photography

Appreciate

He said, “I appreciate you, babe. I see you, and I appreciate you.”

After a long day, hell, a long 8 years, there’s nothing that man could have said that would have felt better to hear than that.

It was just the right thing to say.

He wants to be able to take more of the load off of me, but the fact of the matter is, I’m the momma.

I’m the teacher.

I’m the one they want in the middle of the night and, honestly, all day.

No, he can’t be me.

But he sure as hell can see and appreciate me.

And that’s all I need.

Dee Akright Photography

Push.

Here she is.  My eldest.  Refusing to look at me as I encourage her to put the book down and get back in the ocean.  The ocean with yes, fish.  The fish she fishes for.  The fish she eats.  The fish she sees at the aquarium.  The fish she has become suddenly fearful from touching her.  

I get it.  It’s unusual.  It’s unique.  But it’s not a reason to sit on the sidelines. 

So, I push. 

No treats the rest of the day unless you get back in. 

You don’t have to go for long, but you have to get back in. 

Tears. Exasperation. Begging. 

In she goes. 

You can’t see me having fun, she says.

Oh, but I can. For the next five hours straight.  FIVE HOURS in the ocean. 

No one prepares you for that in parenting. When to push, when to hold.  

My husband didn’t want to make a fuss, but I wanted to make a point. 

Our fears are not the end. 

Yes, we must listen, but we also must know when to overcome. 

And boy, did she overcome. 

In spite of my insecurity – was I being too hard?- I realized, yes, I listened to my instinct and momma knows best. 

This was a time to Push. 

What I Want You to Know

What I Want You to Know

Is that in spite of my stubbornness, I am good and kind. 

That I am worthy of your love. 

That the reason I acted out is because I adored you and wanted your attention. 

That even as a mother of four, I still need my mommy. 

That I don’t want to fight. 

That no one can hurt me like you can because I care about what you think the most. 

That you built me to be strong in the face of adversity. 

And here I am. 

Take me as I am. 

Love me as I am. 

I am yours. 

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Love and Loss

“Unable are the loved to die.

For love is immortality.”

-Emily Dickinson

Looking around, questioning the validity of everything I sense.  What it must feel to walk on the moon. Like I’m floating out of this world.  Not really here, but watching from the outside in.  This is how it feels to live after loss.

And the more I realize I’m actually here, and she’s not, the more painful the reality becomes. Words like unfair.  Too soon. And Why plague my mind.

The phrase “Be Kind for everyone is fighting a hard battle.”  takes on a new meaning.

Suddenly, that asshole on the road is just another poor bastard doing the best he can.

And my child’s fit, is just that: a fit that will pass.

Love and Loss like spaghetti and meatballs, peanut butter and jelly- one not without the other.

And for a time, Kelly and Lauren.  Best friends forever.

Rest In Peace my sweet friend.  You are loved.

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Catch and Release

Crumbling teeth.

That which has been haunting my dreams, lately.

A feeling so visceral, I wake up in disbelief that my tongue meets more than gum.

Later to learn these dreams are associated with the loss of control.

Ha!  Tell me about it.

I endured a childhood in the backseat and, as a result, made a career of being the only driver.

Until I wasn’t.

Until it wasn’t my car and I watched at the mercy of others.

Desperate to regain control, I reach.

Options. Opportunities.  Possibilities.

Catch and, in time, release.

Catch, Lauren.

Then, Release.

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Camille Vaughan Photography

Here I Am

The fourth was supposed to be so easy I wouldn’t even notice her.

Except she demanded recognition at 15 weeks in utero- small. Too small. For good reason.

She was a sick baby and required monitoring the entire pregnancy.

I foolishly believed things would improve once she arrived earth-side, but they only got more complicated and she never wanted to leave my side: ever.

I had never had a newborn that would not sleep in a cot. She had to be touching. It was always this way.

Fast-forward two years- sick babe, exasperated mom, lost older siblings.

I lie face to her face- I touch her cheek and she, mine.

We smile.

An understanding.

A need met.

Although I feel like I have nothing left to give, I find my reserves and

Here.

I.

Am.

Here I am, Child.

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Camille Vaughan Photography

The Ghana Chronicles: Reflection

August 8, 2020

Dear Journal,

It’s been 20 years since I spent a month in Ghana, Africa.

Life has never been the same.

How could it be?

In honor of my time there, I chose to share my reflections but if I may be candid, I cringe.

What a new 17-year-old I was! Naive. Privileged.

But you know what?

What a BRAVE girl. What a KIND girl. You GO, girl.

Enough of this.

Here’s the real story:

When I was three years old, my step-dad moved in. He had lived in Africa for almost 7 years and so, our walls were surrounded with the most beautiful African paintings that captured my heart.

I had to go. There was no choice. My heart spoke.

And I listened.

I longed for Kenya but Ghana was as close as I could get at the time so I took it and ran.

Honestly, when that lady showed up and presented her opportunity to live with a host family in Ghana, I would have left the same day.

Instead, I applied with photos and answered questions of my dedication and good intentions.

I arrived in New York and met 27 other strangers who shared the same random dream.

We learned a few new words and set off on a plane to meet our new families.

The reality of arriving on a separate continent hit me hard, but in time, I learned.

I learned lessons I’m not sure I could ever teach my children without encouraging them to take a similar trip.

STEP, child.

TRY, child.

You, were meant for more.

Look inside.

Discover.

Recognize and Realize.

Live and Share.

What a BRAVE girl. What a KIND girl. You GO, girl.

Love,
Lauren

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Camille Vaughan Photography

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