Taking Care of You

I thought I was mad at him when in reality, I was mostly disappointed with myself.  I was more concerned with taking care of his needs first and as a result, neglected my own.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of taking care of kids, spouse and lastly yourself. And it comes at a price.   Slowly, gradually you unravel until you get angry about things that have nothing to do with the real issue:  You let yourself down.

We both need a break.  We’re still in a form of shock over how drastically our life has changed in the past 5 years and it is not an easy adaptation.  We cling to an energy source that takes us out of our day-to-day reality.  For him, it is playing beach volleyball and basketball.  For me, it is going to church.  Unfortunately, they both occur on Sunday mornings and although I surely can take the kids to church with me, I’m terrified of nursery germs after our girls vomited for a combined 25 days straight last Fall.  With a infant in the house, it is a real fear.   So I gave it up completely, telling myself that at least Emmett was getting his outlet.

Fast forward to this past Sunday when I expected Emmett home from volleyball much earlier than he arrived. Maybe not as big of an issue for someone who works away from home during the week but for me, it was just another day at work.  No weekend help.  No break.*  And I unraveled.  As glad as I am for him to have that outlet, I was dripping with jealousy.  It took me a few hours and a conversation with a close friend who was having the same issues to realize that it was up to me to make it happen.  I had to start setting aside my time, instead of waiting for it to occur.  I had to BE ASSERTIVE and say “This is what I need!”  Why is that so hard sometimes?

So I did.  We agreed that we would take turn on Sundays (until I feel ready to take the kids to Sunday School).  This Sunday is mine and I cannot wait to go to church. To feel that center that I have been missing.  To reach beyond myself to that which is so much greater, putting me in my proverbial place.

And I didn’t stop there.  I realized that having quit my part-time job, which provided me a once-a-year conference trip away from home, I no longer have a “reason” to leave the house overnight, as Emmett does for his business trips.  So I created one.

I’m a *huge*Harry Potter fan.  I read an extremely limited amount of fantasy and it took years of convincing from my friends to finally agree to read the series, but these books directly caused me to fall in love with reading, ultimately become an English Major and then a teacher.  So I love them not just for their great stories but also for the gifts they have given me.

And since it’s creation, I have wanted to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.  Emmett has ZERO desire to experience this trip, and of course, my kids will be too little to enjoy for another 10 years or so.

So I’m going.  Solo.  To Harry Potter’s World full of magical wands, Butterbeer, and even a ride on the Hogwarts Express (@#$@$!!!!!!!).  My mom is gifting me this trip as a combined Christmas/Birthday gift and today we bought the airline tickets and reserved the hotel.  Two magical nights away from home to eat dinner by myself, walk the park at my own tempo and whim.  To browse crowded shops without my children.  It’s like a dream that I can now focus on.

I look forward to my soul revival this Sunday and I look forward to my solo weekend of fun in February to refresh, recharge, reconnect with the essence of *me*.  I’ll return with open arms, looking forward to seeing my beautiful babies, with a renewed energy to be the best mommy they need.  Taking care of me, to best take care of them.


* I have many friends who have deployed spouses and I bow down to you.  Away from family, no spouse to help.  Single Moms, too.  I kiss your feet and hope I do not come across as ungrateful!

The Great Escape

Runaway.  That is what I want to do.  They are all screaming and I can’t appease them at the same time.  I’m trapped.  He gets to go to work tomorrow; meanwhile, I look forward to a night of nursing an infant.  Runaway.  How ungrateful can I be for these beautiful miracles?  I shame myself at the thought and yet, long for freedom.

I reach for my book, for a moment to read, to escape to another world.  To imagine.

I look across the room and hear my children doing the same.  Imagining.  Making believe.  Perhaps we never lose this talent, it just takes a different form.

The great escape.  By car.  By conversation.  By imagination.  We escape in our own ways and yet eventually we return to reality.  In our moments of weakness, what do we do?  Do we run or do we stay?  Are we weaker or stronger as a result?

My words are my woods.  I run.  I feel the breeze, I inhale the clean air, feeling refreshed and ready to return.  Exhausted.  Invigorated.    But present.

I am here.  Here, I am.  I will not run.  I will stay, always, for you.


Running on Empty

Fumes.  That is what my energy tank is running on.  It’s not just today, this week or even this year.  I’ve been pregnant, breastfeeding and waking up every single night with young children for over 5 years now and I’m spent.  This is just my story but there are so many others who are also exhausted for different reasons:  A chronic illness, a divorce, work, poverty, stress or athletic training.  At some point, we all feel tired so where do we find the energy to soldier on?

The answer is: Each other.  We lean on one another.  Tonight, when my children wouldn’t go to bed, my husband took them from me, recognizing my exhaustion level.  Other nights it is reversed but the bottom line is we lean on each other.  When he is not home, a phone call to a friend sometime suffices- they encourage me, make me laugh and tell me to quit whining and get back to work.  We were not meant to live this life in solitude.  However scared we may feel by sharing our weakness with someone else, we must do so in order to find the strength to carry on.

Sometimes it’s tough to trust someone else with our feelings, particularly when others from our past have let us down.  But we must recognize that when we fail to try again, we are allowing fear to dictate our well-being.  When we live in fear we are not living as our authentic selves and that is supremely exhausting in and of itself.

In the back of my mind, I know there is someone I have neglected to trust for fear of being duped, fooled, and let down.  I can trace the root of my apprehensiveness to my childhood but at what point do I make peace with this and stop allowing it to define my present and future?  I keep waiting to feel “ready” as if it is going to resolve itself.  Deep down, though, I know progress is not made for those who wait.  It is made for those who seek.  They seek treatment, forgiveness, peace, stability, courage, and improvement.  They seek hope.

I don’t feel “ready” but I feel exhausted and in my heart, I know what is missing above all else.  As much as I try to rationalize, dismiss and avoid, I know I am missing a relationship with my God.  I fear He doesn’t exist.  I fear putting my faith into something that isn’t there just to make myself feel better.  I fear being let down.  And yet, every. single. time. I have attended the church I grew to love last year, I left service feeling uplifted.  I felt hope.  I felt amazing clarity.  I felt humbled and I felt an immense amount of love and kindness surrounding me.

I’m running on empty and its because I have failed to fill my tank with the one Being whose energy and love has no bounds: my God.

We weren’t meant to do this alone.  We look to each other but above all else, we look to our Creator for there is no one in this great, big world that knows what we need more than Him.

I kneel down.  I ask for forgiveness in thinking I could do this on my own.  I ask you to hold my hand.  Fill me with gratitude and grant me the energy to carry on.  In your name, I pray.

Dee Akright Photography




Slow it Down.

Museums, Aquariums, Zoos, Trails, Beaches, Farms and Libraries.  For the past 4 years, I’ve exposed my daughters to a plethora of stimulating experiences.  They’ve seen more in their short years than many children have in their lifetime.  And while that is great and something they will see in our family photos for years to come, deep down I know that is not what they will remember.

On any random day, my eldest Aurora will say, “Remember that time when I crawled in your bed and you pretended your hand was an alligator and mine was a crab?”  Yes, I remember it but only because she reminds me of it all of the time.  It was so insignificant; at least it was to me.  But that is what she craves.  That is what she treasures- an intimate moment, unplanned, unremarkable to anyone else’s standards but something just between the two of us.

I realized, recently, how much I have depended on using external stimuli to parent my child.  This is hard to admit, but it is the truth.  I used to marvel as I watched my Mother-in-Law capture Aurora’s attention by slipping pine straw through the cracks in our deck.  Aurora was in complete awe and wonder for 30 minutes.  No toys.  No music.  No playmates.  Just whatever was around.  I envied my Mother-in-Law and didn’t believe I could do the same so I looked everywhere else to replace the one thing my daughter wanted most:  me.

You can find zoos, aquariums and parks anywhere in the world but you can’t find another Momma quite like your own.  So for the past two weeks, I have stayed-put at home.   We’ve colored, crafted, swam in kiddie pools, read books, and role-played.  I’ve never felt so close to my children before and yet I’ve been “home” with them since they were born.

I’ve recognized, there is a difference between being physically present and actively engaged.  I used to be around to supervise my children having fun at or with XYZ but now I’m having fun with them.  And in such a short time you can feel the difference.  The length of Harper’s hugs when I say goodnight and the meaning behind her “I love you mom.” She means it.  She always has but recently, she’s really feeling it.  And so am I.

I’ve listened to my elders warn me that this phase passes quickly, that one day I will yearn for these exhausting days to return.  So I’m slowing it down.  I’m soaking it in.  I’m giving my girls what they’ve wanted all along-  My love.  My attention.  My precious time.  Me.

Camille Vaughan Photography