These Days

I do not have a plan.
 
Let’s let that sink in for a minute.
 
Tomorrow is Monday.  I am a previous elementary school teacher with a Masters in Pk-6 education and a doctorate in perfection and I have no idea what I am doing tomorrow.
 
I do not have a beautiful color-coded schedule from 8-5 of what the heck my kids will be doing tomorrow.
 
In fact, as I type, my 1 year-old is completing losing her mind on the baby monitor because she is smack-dab in the middle of a nap and overall-sleep-for-the-greater-good-of-human-kind strike.
 
I’ve vaguely discussed the lack of school for the next month with my kids. I entertained the idea of me becoming “Mrs. Carawan” to the point that they want me to dress the part.
 
Yes, I know from experience that kids thrive on schedules.
 
But life with 4 kids?
 
Is anything but.
 
If I am being completely honest, schedules and expectations let me down these days.
 
Best to make loose plans and adjust as needed.
 
In fact, isn’t that what the world needs most now?
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Camille Vaughan Photography

Waves

It’s a little window of time.

Filled with excitement, mixed with worry, mixed with wonder.

Waiting at the airport.

Waiting for the call.

Waiting for the kiss.

Waiting for the letter.

Waiting for the pass.

Waiting for the decision.

Waiting for the ring.

Waiting for Santa.

Waiting for the next contraction.

Waiting for the fish.

Waiting to begin the journey.

Waiting.

Anticipation.

And then . . .

and then. . . .

it’s over.

Until the waiting begins again.

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Camille Vaughan Photography

Momma

 

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Camille Vaughan

Hey, little girl.

Soak it up.

All that love shining right towards you because

It’s real.

I’m your momma and I love you through and through.

There may be other babies but to me,

You are you.

And I love you just the way you are.

I’m your momma.

And I’ll never stop loving you.

Daddy

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Camille Vaughan

I feel the same, little girl.

You can touch him.

He’s real.

He’s not just the man of your dreams.

He’s your daddy.

And I chose him just for you.

He will show up.

He will know your favorite color.

He will teach you how to fish and how to garden and pass a ball.

He will tell you he loves you and even better,

He’ll show it.

He’s a good, hard-working man.

And he’s your daddy.

Matter

30 miles from the nearest stoplight, I breathed a sigh of relief and the scent of fresh manure.

It was Thanksgiving and we were in the country.

No Wi-Fi and spotty cell-service, I celebrated the disconnect.

Forced to focus on the immediate needs of our immediate family, I found myself face-to-face with an uncomfortable reality:

How often am I looking for distraction?

On top of a baby with special needs, our just-turned four-year-old has been increasingly demanding of our attention this past year, pushing us past our breaking point.

And yet every time I look for a solution, I find her need to connect more with us- her parents.

Third-born, she craves it.  Her behavior refuses to be forgotten.

And yet, exhausted, how much more do we have left to give?

The answer?

We have more.

Dig deeper.

Try harder.

Find patience.

Because when everything else fades away, aside from the manure, nothing else matters.

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Big Picture

I felt the familiar pull.  The downward spiral. The fall. The loss of control. The pieces of my life that remained in the wake of my breakdown.

Too much, too soon.

I wanted it all and I was tired of waiting so I forged ahead at a breakneck pace, shattering ceilings along the way.

I gave up my career as a teacher to stay home with our first daughter but picked up a part-time sales consulting job when she was just 6 months.  I was successful and I felt driven, until it was more than our family could handle.  I gave it up when my third daughter was 6 months.

Three years passed and I felt restless, eager to grab an opportunity to work as a consultant for a publisher of children’s books that I adored.  I reassured myself and my husband that I could manage it all,  but I failed to consider my innate drive to share my passion, gaining business and momentum along the way until it became more than we could manage.

That’s when I plummeted.

Feeling trapped.  Unable to explore my professional potential.  And guilty for feeling that my children were getting in the way.

Until I remembered that moment in our kitchen when we chose to try for our fourth baby.

I realized that in that choice, I was choosing her.  I was choosing my family.  That I’ve had control all along.

I just needed to see the big picture.

These days feel long but the years are short.

I didn’t give up my profession.  I chose one: Mothering.

And how lucky I am to be able to make that choice.

Big Picture.

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Just Keep Going

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Believe it or not, I was the captain of my Varsity Cross Country Team in high school.  I attended a tiny, all-girls boarding school just outside of Baltimore, Maryland, filled with rolling hills and scenic trails through deciduous forests.  I like to tease that I led from the back because truth-to-be-told I struggled and wasn’t all that good.

Our coach was a Vietnam Vet and also our American History teacher who completely filled the giant wall-sized chalkboard with keywords he would use to tell the story of the battle, using a broken golf club to whack the board and grab our attention when necessary.  He walked with a limp, a war injury, and during our running practices would scream, “UP THE HILL, DOWN THE HILL, CAN’T GO THROUGH IT, MUST GO OVER, JUST KEEP GOING.”

I found myself chanting this long after our meets were over.  After high school, after an abusive relationship in college, as I worked 60+ hour weeks into the weekend as a teacher, during labor, and now, as a mother of four children with a marriage, house, and part-time sales job to tend to.

Do I want to quit?  YES.  So many times!  So many days!  I’m too tired to get over this damn hill and I just want to sit the hell down.  But in the midst of consideration, I can so clearly see and hear Mr. Bailey barking orders at me.  I can only imagine what he endured to conquer his hills and in my weakest moments, I scrape the barren remnants of my energy reserves and find the strength and will to carry on.

To Just. Keep. Going.

Because the view from the top, I know, is amazing.

 

Camille Vaughan Photography

 

The Calling

It’s that little voice.

You know the one I’m talking about.

The one that won’t leave you alone.

That red flag.

That green light.

That nagging feeling.

That encourager.

The relentless pusher.

Lord, you are so annoyed by it sometimes.

JUST GO AWAY.

I don’t want to try something new and different!

I don’t want to leave what I’ve known!

I’m afraid.

But there it is and here you are.

That new job.  That new relationship.  That child.  That move.

And, so long as it is in the direction of progress, it’s our job to listen.

If only we could trust . . . and listen.

 

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Camille Vaughan Photography