Parents

Oh, my. 

What is this?

We are now our parents’ caretakers. 

How did that happen?

Who told us about this phase?

Ah, clearly the same who informed us of the mesh panties after birth. 

In other words, no one. 

It is for us to discover. 

And here we are. 

So, now what?

Much like motherhood, it is for us to figure out. 

To each their own. 

Cheers and Godspeed. 

Send prayers and wine. 

Patience and understanding.

Parents included. 

Dee Akright Photography

Lucky

I braced myself. 

Typically, it’s “You’ve got your hands full!”  Or “Wait until they are teenagers!” And “I hope your husband has a shotgun!”

But instead, this stranger at my door remarked, without hesitation, “You’re so lucky.”

And my heart smiled.  

The girls, never far from me, peeking from behind my legs smiled, too as I replied, “I really am.  I hit the jackpot!”

To be valued, to be appreciated, to be wanted- aren’t these all things that make us feel safe and joyful?

Getting my girls to the ages of 4, 6, 8 and 10 has been a rocky road.  In the back of my mind, I always held these particular ages up as the light to the end of my endless tunnel.  

And we made it!  We are here!  We are cruising and absolutely cherishing our baby girls.  

For the first time, I finally feel what mothers have been telling me for a decade now.  That it goes so fast.  That I’ll miss this time, one day.  Before, another baby always followed so I never felt like I had the chance to miss any phase. 

Now, I look at my eldest and I see her changing.  I want to bottle her up and cherish this moment in time.  But there she grows.  I find myself equal parts nostalgic and eager to continue to witness who she is becoming.  To know her. 

I’m no fool.  I realize the teenage years, especially with a house-full of girls (sharing one hallway bathroom with one sink!) is going to have its share of drama.  It already does.  

But I am actively choosing to focus on the light.  To focus on the blessing of their existence.  To feel lucky.  

Camille Vaughan Photography

Summer

Transitioning from three kids in school to all four kids home for the summer has an immediate effect on the state of my house.

The mess, the noise, the mess, the mess. Also, the “I’m bored, hungry, etc. etc.”

I present to you my very fancy summer charts.

The first, a list of things they can help themselves to when they are hungry and suggestions of what to do when they are bored.

The second, three chore stations labeled A, B and C. The three bigs each have a clothespin with their name on it. They will rotate each week between these stations and every day, they will move their clip from “needs done” to “done”. Completion will earn a weekly allowance of $5.

The last, a list of things that must be done before screen time is allowed.

Cheers to a summer full of laughter, chaos and cleanliness!

Stronger

Hold. My. Hand.

Let’s do this together. 

Lord knows, in these days we are ready to assign the responsibility. 

It’s somebody else’s. 

And yet, it so. isn’t. 

It’s still ours.

So, hold my hand. 

Walk with me. 

To your back bedroom, with the scary closet. 

To your government, with the problem. 

Let us not wait for somebody else to address it. 

Let us, instead, hold hands and walk together. 

For, always, we are stronger, together. 

https://www.everytown.org

Camille Vaughan Photography

Listener

Why didn’t anyone tell me this?

We spent K-12 in school learning the basics; 

Yet, somehow they missed informing humans that

They. Are. Not. Done. Growing.

We set a magic number: 

18. 

As if then, we are released to the world, ready to tackle it on our own!

What in the actual world??

Some of us go on to college, graduate or doctorate school. . . .

And some don’t.

Then, what?

We magically become parents who know it all?

No, no, no. 

The trickiest part of parenting for me is the revelation that I am growing right alongside with them. 

Who knew?

We are never done learning. 

There is no final exam. 

Just as they have their epiphanies, I have mine- only wishing I had mine first so that I could have led my children all the wiser.

Is this what they meant when they said ‘Life is not a destination, but a journey.”?

Oh. 

Perhaps, I should have been a better listener. 

Camille Vaughan Photography

Witness

Not for you.

Not in place of you. 

With you. 

My eldest is entering her tween years and as much as I want to save her from the harrows that lie ahead, 

I recognize,

It’s her journey

I’ve already lived mine.  

I wish I could change the hands of some times, 

But they’ve led me to this moment, right now. 

The time I let go and witness. 

Not for me. 

Not in place of me.

With me.

Us. 

Camille Vaughan Photography

Notice

Have you noticed?

I do not consider myself a “current’ person but if you are on any kind of social media these days you have witnessed Ryan Reynlod’s reaction to his wife Blake Lively’s dress transformation. 

It’s straight out of one of his movies. 

Moving.  What dreams are made of. 

The moment was magnificent.  They are both extraordinarily beautiful, stunning people.

But what about the rest of us?

I vacuumed out my disgusting van while also prepping lunches, dinner and teacher gifts.  

He mowed the lawn, took out the trash and fixed Harper’s fan.

And yet I did not stop dead in my tracks to ogle him. 

Welcome to reality. 

It’s not extraordinary or sexy. 

It’s so completely normal that I am literally closing the stinky trash-can lid as I type.  

But the fantasy has us. 

And what’s wrong with that?

Because without fantasy, what have you?

Reality. 

It’s easier to dream than live. 

Have you noticed? 

Camille Vaughan Photography

40

I started and stopped. 

Some things are just too complicated to try and explain. 

But he looked at me and said, “Talk to me.” 

So, I told him. 

I explained how I had spent a lifetime trying to make sense of who I am today, based on my upbringing. 

I grew up dead-center-middle of a fractured family and as a result, I had built a life of trying to prove myself.  

I did this by being whatever the other person needed me to be. 

In other words, I had never found myself because I was too busy trying to be what anyone else needed. 

And this carried on through adulthood. Through friendships.  Through motherhood.  Through marriage. 

Oh, how easy it is to get lost in being whatever your children need.  Why else would there be an “empty nest syndrome”? 

But it was the marriage that had me, at the current moment. 

“What do you love about me?” I point-blank asked him. “Aside from the fact that we have similar interests and I don’t complain about you fishing . . . “

I asked him not to respond right away because I wanted a genuine answer. 

Do you love me because I am who you need me to be?

Or do you love me because of who I am?

In other words, do you see me?

Even when I can’t?

I’m soon celebrating the Eve of 40- an age I cannot *wait* to reach because finally, you just don’t give a damn anymore.  

And I. am. so. ready. 

To stop trying and to start just being. 

Camille Vaughan Photography

Tiny

Lately, bedtime at our house has been a scene of chaos.  

Commands of “Brush your teeth!  Get your jammies on!  Go potty!” are blatantly ignored, while my and my husband’s patience are next to nil.  

The littles go on the offense:  running around the house, slamming their legs down repeatedly on their beds as if they are mermaid tails or tossing stuffed animals back and forth all while incessantly giggling. 

This would be funny if it weren’t 9 PM and their parents weren’t desperate for a moment of peace and quiet. 

But it is and we are.  

Threats of no treats are empty, worthless ammo, so last week, I spent an hour reading articles about bedtime routines.  

I have to admit, since this isn’t my first time at the rodeo, I felt a little foolish having to research something I feel I should have nailed down.  For a time, I did but with the addition of each daughter, the loss of control has humbled me.  

Upon reflection, I recognized that if I want my children to be calm, I, too, must model the same behavior. 

Like most things, when it comes to solving problems, the change begins with me.

My days are spent in constant motion.  Even when they are at school, I am cramming in chores, particularly those which are easier without their presence like grocery shopping and laundry.  Throw in after-school activities, dinner-time and homework and next thing you know, it’s time to get the kids ready for bed. 

There’s very little time to wind down, for all of us.  

So, I asked myself: “How can I make them look forward to bedtime?”  Instead of this battle of wills, how can I get them to buy in?

Enter this article by Nurture and Thrive and this one by Picklebums.  Their suggestions include lullabies and massages, something I used to do when they were babies but have since stopped.  

I approached that same evening with a zen-like calmness rivaled only by Buddha himself.  

Instead of yelling at her to brush her teeth, I grabbed her hand and gently led her to the bathroom to begin the process.  Instead of picking up her room as fast as possible while tossing her the jammies, I sat down on the floor and helped her put them on.  I read her books, as usual, and stayed on the edge of the bed to sing a lullaby while scratching her back.  I then repeated this to some degree for three more children. . . . 

It seems like it would take longer but in actuality, my children were left calm and relaxed and thus, for the love of all that is holy, stayed put.  

Thank you Jesus and internet blogs.  

Slower motions.  Lower frequencies.  Tiny changes make the biggest difference.  

I approached that same evening with a zen-like calmness rivaled only by Buddha himself.
Camille Vaughan Photography