Feet First

Life in our home has been extremely stressful, lately. 

And that’s saying a lot, considering the last four years with our youngest’s health issues.

When our Big Three returned to public school in January, we knew there would be a transition.

But I don’t think anyone could have fully prepared us for: 

The sickness: after living in a bubble for two years, this was inevitable but Lord, it has been relentless. 

The overwhelm:  “7 hours?!” They lament.  They are tired by day’s end and dreading the next. 

The pressure: to perform, to make friends, to survive. 

And yet, here we are.  Just beyond the Ides of March.  We are halfway there and I know we are going to make it after-all.  

These have been trying months. 

As much as I thought I would have “free time”, I have spent the last 2 months playing catch-up to all that I neglected while they were home the last two years.  

My husband and I look at each other and realize, 

There’s so much more to come.  

So, we hold hands. 

And jump in, 

Feet first. 

Here I am

“I’ll always love you but some days, I don’t like you.”  

I remember my mother saying this to me, as a child.  

It has never resonated with me more.

It sounds harsh, but as a parent myself now, I understand what she meant. 

One of our daughters has been having a really tough time lately and I’m going to be honest; spending time with her feels like work.

She’s struggling and her way of coping is to act out. 

This week my mom said, “They need the most love when they are the most unlovable.”

Ugh.  The ugly truth. 

She knows this from her experience of parenting me.

I was NOT an easy child.  Strong-willed, relentless, exhausting. 

But she kept on loving me.

Despite my outbursts and her exasperation, she held. 

I pushed, she stayed.

And here I am.

Exhausted and exasperated with my daughter. 

But I stay. 

I love. 

I hold. 

Like her behavior or not, here I am.

Camille Vaughan Photography

Let’s Go!

One year ago, in the face of a dooming pandemic, I made the difficult decision to homeschool.

I worried.

Oh, I worried. 

I worried about FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).  I worried about them becoming hermits, afraid of unfamiliar shadows.  I worried about them being taught by their mom, because as a former teacher myself, I know the power of a teacher’s ability to reach students in a different way than other teachers, parents or friends and I wanted that for them.

In all honesty, I still want to be that for other students.

I worried about them being left behind, especially as they witnessed their friends still attend our beloved, local school.  

Ultimately, I went with my gut and we had an incredible year. 

Spring arrived and with it, the hope of the pandemic’s near-end. 

I started to prepare the girls for their return to school in the Fall, casually mentioning how cool it would be to wave to their friends in the hallway on their way to P.E., Music or Art class.  Did they know the Fall Festival was already booked for this year?  Were they looking forward to the Fun Run?

But upon Summer’s dawn, doubt settled in. 

A vaccine, that I had traveled to another state to get just so I could get it as soon as possible, was available and yet, less than half the country had opted to receive it.  The country was split- my body, my choice/ our country, our responsibility.  

Now, variants are on the rise and social distancing measures, including masks are still required at school.  

Holding a Masters in Elementary Education, I am in a unique situation.  

My husband has worked from home since the pandemic began and I am able to stay home to teach with hired help to occupy the girls not currently in lesson.  

Moreover, apparently I made homeschooling too fun.  All three big girls have begged to continue; and while part of me felt that this was fear-based on having been away for a year, I couldn’t bring myself to convince them that their school could provide a better learning environment than what we had going on right in the Carawan Classroom.  

My *entire* experience as a parent has been blessed with the wisdom of my elders: Don’t blink. Cherish these days.  It goes by SO fast.  

Combine the pandemic, the pressure from my children, the wisdom of my elders and my innate joy in continuing to teach my daughters, and here we are.

That time we homeschooled (X2). 

2021-2022.  

Let’s Go! 

Camille Vaughan Photography

Breakthrough

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“You matter.  Your feelings matter.  I’m here.” I whispered to my fragile four-year-old after a meltdown over a band-aid.  A band-aid.

It took me a moment to realize this had nothing to do with a band-aid and everything to do with being the middle child.  Forgotten.  Lost-in-the-mix.  Something I swore would never happen.

Her older sister demanded attention based on personality alone.  Her two-year old sister threw daily tantrums to keep us occupied.  And the newborn baby was a constant presence.

Harper had merely slipped through the cracks.  Behaving, going-with-the-flow like she had never done before.  And before we knew it, 15 weeks had passed without much fanfare.

Until tonight. Until I looked into her little face and realized how long it had been since I had truly looked at her.  Held her.  Told her just how very much I adored her.

She wept.  Released the dam of tears she’d held back for so long.  I rocked her and cried right along with her, realizing my ignorance.

Four daughters.  One mother.  So little time for any one of us.

And yet each one matters.

Each. One. Matters.

Breakthrough.

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Camille Vaughan Photography