The Paver

Over the years, quite a few friends, especially those moving, have asked me how I’ve managed to make new friends.

The answers always results in a chuckle and long-winded story of me racing on my bike, knocking on doors, or running down full-term pregnant women to find a connection.

Any connection.

I’ve since realized my spider-webbed childhood is to thank.

4 half-sisters, 1 half-brother, 1 step-sister and 1 step-brother will do that to you.

Fit in.

Make peace.

Be the connection.

Pave the way.

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Camille Vaughan Photography

When You Can, Do

With a 1, 3, 5 and 7 year-old daughter, it’s a common theme in our house: frustration.

We want to be able to do it all, and yet we are confronted with relentless obstacles.

Siblings, spouses, co-workers.

Physical limitations beyond our control.

Emotional capacities we are incapable of attaining.

Situations we couldn’t have fathomed.

The question is not, which wall we will hit, rather, what will we do with it?

This is the lesson I work to teach myself and my daughters.

When you can, do.

We’ve all heard it: You Cannot Do It All.

And yet, like it or not, that’s the relative goal.

It looks different for each, but it all means the same.

Too much, too soon.

We want it now.  We wanted it yesterday.

We want what is unattainable, and want it anyway.

We want love.  We want things.  We want time.

Our desire is the same but our nature demands:

When you can, do.

Do as much as you can, when you can.

And in the meantime, grant yourself and others, grace.

When you can, do.

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Camille Vaughan Photography

 

Learning to Live with Gratitude

I had a “Come to Jesus” moment with my eldest daughter today.

I had just picked her up from a surprise playdate at her best friend’s house and was immediately met with discontent and complaint after complaint.  In less than five minutes, she had racked up six grievances.

I hit my limit.

This “ungrateful heart” is nothing new with our privileged child.  The majority of the time, she is sweet, imaginative and fun. She plays outside more than in, reads more books than she watches a screen, and is a stranger to none.  She has always been the teacher’s favorite- kind and a rule-follower.

But when she gets home, she lets herself go.

Upon entering the house, I listed the six things she had managed to complain about in the 90 second ride from our neighbor’s house in one column, and sat down to have her list what she could have and excuse me, should have said instead.

I drew a picture of a half-full glass of lemonade and discussed its meaning in detail.

It’s difficult for a child that has so much to understand what it means to be disappointed. But it does not excuse her from living with an ungrateful heart.

I vow to do more community service with her.  If she is always fed, at least she can help serve meals to those who are not.  If she is always under a warm roof, at least she can hand a blanket to someone who isn’t.

In the meantime, as long as she is under this roof, she will recognize her actions and strive to do better.  To say thank you often– to the cashier, the mailman, the janitor, the nurse, the teacher, her friends and her family.  To be aware that although yes, the glass is half-empty, to focus on the half that is full.  To live with a grateful heart.

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Once Upon a Time . . .

there were two inseparable sisters.

20 months apart one had never known life without the other.

Until there were three.

The second, no longer only the shadow of the first, had a choice.

Follow or lead?

The third met the fourth.

And life changed.

 

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Camille Vaughan Photography
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The Bigs by Camille Vaughan
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Camille Vaughan Photography

 

My Name is Lauren

My name is Lauren, but I almost forget that when all I hear is “momma” these days.

As a child, I was seriously invested in the welfare of others.

My step-dad had previously lived in Africa and returned with dozens of paintings peppering our walls, sparking my obsession with Africa and all of its wonders.

I wanted to be a National Geographic Photographer and I wanted to join the Peace Corps.  I came as close as joining the American Field Service (AFS) at 17 years old, living with a Ghanaian family for a month and working in two orphanages.

As a child, I rescued birds, dropped from their nests. I used heating pads and eyedroppers to try and care for them.  I taped plastic containers on top of the sand mounds the ants made along the short walkway to our home, so that they would be safe during the rainstorm.

I worked closely with the homeless at soup-kitchens and inner-city teenagers through a missionary church.

I dressed my dachshund and walked her in my babydoll stroller.

I published my very own magazines, full of articles and quizzes (“Does your dog a: run out and pee b: walk a short distance to pee or c: sniff each and every blade of grass, peeing on everything in sight?!)

I never wore shoes outside and gained notoriety for this (even today for my total lack of a shoe collection).

I played “teacher” and “store” almost every single day, complete with tests and inventory.

I played the piano, easily.

In high school, I was the lead in three school plays.  And I was good.  

I was smart, but unpopular.

And now, I am a mom.

Trying to teach my four daughters everything I ever learned while still learning on-the-go.

Trying to witness and support their innate gifts, while wondering where the hell mine went.

Wondering how I can lead by example, when all I seem to do these days is serve.

My name is Lauren, and I’m still here, somewhere.

I just have to make time to find her and teach my daughters to do the same.

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Follow Your Heart

It’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to write.  And don’t we all experience those phases in life?  The tide that ebbs and flows.

I was chatting with another mom earlier about the prospect of my daughter joining a competitive athletic team.  She shared the benefits: learning how to lose, how to win, how to handle disappointment and support others, among other things.  They were great, valid points and I appreciated her input.  I always love a different perspective than my own.

But my response was, “eh”.  I like vacations.  I like lazy Saturday weekends as opposed to rushing to the field or meet.  I like dancing in my jammies with my kids in the kitchen while making pancakes in place of best times, trophies, baskets or goals.  I’m sure she does, too, to an extent.  But it all begs the question: To what end?

For her, the sacrifice of the initial investment is worth the long-time payout.

For me, the gift of today calls me.

I believe in trying most (good) things, at least once.  I believe in trying again, when you fail or are fearful.  I believe “real” work doesn’t truly begin until you push yourself out of your comfort zone.

It’s my responsibility to encourage my child to come into her own and to provide the resources available to help her achieve her goals.

But I also believe that we are each born with our innate gifts and it is up to us to listen to those gifts speak their truth.

So even though my daughter is gifted at the piano, I allow her to quit when encouraging her to practice overpowers her desire to play.

And when my other daughter has an anxiety attack over performing in the holiday production, I hug her and reassure her that, IT’S OK.  She doesn’t have to sing.

Because, at the end of the day, what is the End Goal?

For us, it is health, happiness and confidence- the ability to tune in to our heart- to pay attention to when it whispers and listen to when it roars.

Our hearts speak.

And it’s our job to listen.

If only, we could listen.

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Camille Vaughan Photography

 

 

Solidarity

“We should have stopped at three.”

I stood motionless.  Awestruck at what this mother had just admitted, so honestly,  to me.

It was the exact opposite of what I wanted to hear when I asked the question, “What’s it like to have four?”

But like spinach stuck in teeth, there it was.

The ugly truth.

I wanted to hear how much better it was to have an even number of children; how life seemed incomplete until the fourth arrived.

I wasn’t seeking her truth- I was seeking validation for my relentless desire.

Until I had my fourth.

After which, I understood how much easier it is to reflect and regret, instead of look forward and wonder.

This mother wasn’t a monster.  Of course, she loved her fourth, she explained.  But life with three was busy enough.  Four felt unsustainable.

Horrified then, I now feel gratitude for her veracity.

Solidarity.

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