Together

It was an innocent assignment; written in the curriculum years before the pandemic even began. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote a letter to children in 1947 and now it was my child’s turn:

“Write a letter to children in the future describing what life is like today for your family.”  

She began with the simple facts:  her age, family and hometown.

But by the second paragraph, my nine-year-old froze.  

Covid-19.  Living during a pandemic.  

And just like that- it was all too much to bear. 

It’s one thing to survive on a daily basis. 

It’s another to face it in words.

The fear, the masks, the social distancing.

“Mommy, I don’t want to do this.”  She cried.  

I held her, told her to take a break and later said, 

“We’ll do it together.”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we cannot do it alone.  

We do it together. 

Camille Vaughan Photography

Moving Beyond The Page, Epiphany Curriculum

Change

I can feel it in the air. 

Can you?

Change is a-coming. 

Tonight, one of my daughters wondered aloud how it could be so dark when it was “only 7 o’clock.”  

It seems like yesterday that it was light at nine.  

And yet, here we are. 

The constant we can always rely on: 

Change. 

Just as we adjust. 

As soon as we settle in. 

Change comes in like a thief and reminds us that if there were ever a thing to depend on it was her all along. 

Change. 

I can feel it in the air. 

Can you?

Camille Vaughan Photography

Get Back Up

Ever feel like it’s too much?

Do you feel like you’re not enough

When you feel like it’s gonna take forever?

Yeah, I swear I know what it’s like

To feel alone at the end of the night

Maybe you don’t know it, but it gets better

It’s gonna be alright

I’m never gonna leave your side

It’s gonna be alright

Everybody falls down, all the way down

You just gotta hold on tight

You gotta get up, gotta get up

Gonna make it through this time

-“Falls” by Odesza

Recently, our family has faced some very trying challenges, leaving my husband and I to throw our hands up and wonder how we can possibly get back up and keep going. 

It’s been a minute since I’ve ridden my Peloton bike but today, motivated by a friend, I got back on.  When this song played, I burst into tears and rode through them, letting the music and lyrics wash over me and plant its wisdom deep within my soul. 

Feeling like an outsider? 

It’s gonna be alright.

Feeling overwhelmed?

You just gotta hold on tight. 

Feel like giving up?

You gotta get up because you’re going to make it through this time. 

Camille Vaughan Photography

Mother

“And yes it makes me crazy to think that my kids can go days-or maybe weeks-without me.  If I’m not needed, if I’m not busy, if I’m not an overstretched, overwhelmed, underslept, (…) mother . . . What exactly am I?”

I snapped a photo of this quote from Kristin Hannah’s book Fly Away as I thought, “I don’t want to be her.”

I don’t want to be that person so consumed with her kids that she has no sense of self, otherwise.

And then I thought, 

Who am I?

What defines me?

What do I want to define me?

The truth is, they are my muse. 

And I have learned more about myself in the role of “mother” than I could have ever hoped to have learned in a lifetime. 

I thought I knew the depth of Love’s Well once I met Emmett.

But I soon learned it ran much deeper upon the birth of our first daughter, Aurora.

I thought there could be no love greater than that of our first child, 

Until I had my second, then third, then fourth. 

My children have humbled me, sometimes out of sheer necessity.

Because of them, I will always fight over flight. 

I don’t have all of the answers but I do have a greater will than myself to live. 

What am I?

I’m a mother. 

And there ain’t no shame in that. 

Camille Vaughan Photography

Listen and Learn

If I had a dime . . . 

For every time I heard a senior tell me to cherish these days . . . 

After awhile, I just started listening. 

In the end, aren’t we yelling at our children for the same infraction?

LISTEN. 

Why do I gotta wait until I’m 70 to learn?

Instead, let’s do this now!

Not miss a beat. 

Not miss a moment. 

Let’s enjoy these days to their fullest.  

Like they always said we should. 

Let’s listen and learn. 

Letting Go

Well, that was a first. 

My child had a full-blown panic attack. 

I could feel her fear when she said she couldn’t breathe.  

That her heart hurt. 

She was climbing onto me, spiraling out of control, desperate for me to save her. 

“You aren’t dying.  I know it feels like you are but you aren’t.  This is a panic attack.  Look at me.  Take deep breaths.”

Ironically enough, her father and I had just spent an hour the night before discussing the need for our family to spend more time listening to one another. 

Sure, we go, go, go!  We love adventures and experiences.  We spend quality time swimming, playing and exploring. 

But how much time have we set aside for listening?

We are living during a historical time- a pandemic- yes, this will be one for the history books. 

As much as we all have tried to buck up and just keep on, keepin’ on, many of us are silently suffering. 

And you know where it shows itself?

At the zoo.  Late for a train. 

Suddenly, it’s just too much. 

And we cannot any longer. 

So tonight, during our first, nightly family meeting, we opened the flood gates- offering our girls to let it out. 

It’s a process. 

When you’ve spent so much effort keeping it all in, it takes time. 

But we are committed to giving our children and each other the space to do just that. 

Let It Out.  Let It Go. 

Camille Vaughan Photography

A Story for the Ages

Did I tell you about that time I was robbed in Italy?

This morning my second daughter asked if Olive Oil tasted gross, since it is the only oil I use to cook our fourth daughter’s meals. 

And with reverence I exuded my enduring love for olive oil, ever since visiting my family’s olive tree farm in Calabria, Italy.  

I wish I had words to describe the experience of existing amongst an olive oil tree farm, being in the presence of literal tanks of fresh olive oil.  Olive trees as far as the eye could see.  

When I took my first taste, life, as I knew it, would never be the same. 

Think, eating a fresh tuna off the boat versus tuna fish in the can. 

There is no comparison. 

I was 18 and for my graduation, I had asked my biological father to take me to his homeland. 

I had never lived with him, we had shared a roof only one weekend before but it was important to me to know my roots. 

He was first generation American and I had never known my grandparents. 

So, he agreed. 

Our first hotel in Rome was a closet.  Talk about zero to one hundred.  We had rarely spent a night together, nonetheless nearly touching!

I love yous had never been said, instead, as a child, he would grab my ear lobe and look at me with endearment. Like he loved me so much he couldn’t even believe I was real.  

But there we were.  Father, Daughter. 

We traveled to Naples and Pompeii and then on to the olive tree farms in Calabria, meeting my grandfather’s relatives.  

They, speaking only Italian, welcomed me like they had known me my entire life and served me a lasagna for a table of 15 that I will never forget.  

My cousins threw me on the back of their motorbikes and whipped me around the mountainous roads as I learned to scream, “ay-aya-aya-ay!!!!!”.   

We left in our rented, bright-blue Mercedes for my grandmother’s homeland of Licodia Eubea, Sicily with only a few days of our trip to go. 

I stood in the room my grandmother was born.  

I am 38.  My dad is 90 this year.  My grandmother was born in the 1800s. 

This was major. 

And then we were robbed. 

We were lost in an alley in Sicily when a motorbike blocked our rental car’s way, while a thief on foot opened our back car doors and stole our backpacks containing nothing but nine rolls of film, my journal and a legal pad with the names and contact information of all the relatives we had met along the way. 

In other words, our memories. 

We left Italy with one roll of film. 

And a story for the ages.