Our Way

I’m not sure if it was the package of Bertie’s Every Flavor Beans or the recent memory of Halloween, but when one of my daughters asked our youngest if she wanted to try a questionable jelly-bean and I hesitated, not knowing the allergens involved, I saw, for the first time, our youngest change. 

She understood and was affected. 

Rather than ignore, I followed her into her bedroom and quietly conversed, “Hey, how are you?”

Forlornly, she looked at me and I knew the jig was up.  

There was no more fooling this three “and-a-half” year-old.  

I decided to meet her where she was.

“Are you sad because you aren’t able to eat the same things as your sisters?”

It was a first admission of mine. The terrible truth almost always substituted or downright avoided. 

Instead of answering, she buried her head into my shoulder and wept.  

What is a mother to do?

Pancakes, muffins, cupcakes, waffles, even popsicles I can substitute.  

But jellybeans on the fly?  I’m out of my realm.  

She’s too old to fool. 

Instead, I meet her. 

Yes, this sucks. 

No, this isn’t fair.  

Yes, you can be sad and angry.  

And together, we will find your way, child.  

We are more than the worst thing that has ever happened to us. 

We will find our way.  

Help

Lately, one of our daughters has been suffering from extreme anxiety.  We’ve been in counseling and seeing her pediatrician on a regular basis.  I’ve also supplemented my daily reading with a plethora of parenting books and podcasts and today, I wanted to share some resources that have been particularly helpful.  

1).  It all began with this book my friend, Leslie, recommended.  Sissy Goff is a Christian counselor MEd, LPC-MHSP based out of Nashville, TN.  She works exclusively with young girls who are suffering from worry, anxiety and/or depression alongside a counselor for boys, David Thomas, LMSW and Melissa Trevathan, MRE who started their practice Daystar Counseling in the 1980s.  This is a workbook designed for a parent to work through with their child and it has been an absolutely wonderful resource for our family.  

2).  This is the companion book to the workbook above, also by Sissy Goff, intended for parents to read as they support their daughter through worry and anxiety.  I have underlined half of the book. 

3).  This is the INCREDIBLE PODCAST that I have been listening to with counselors Sissy, David and Melissa.  Each episode is only 20-30 minutes and is PACKED with useful strategies, many of which I have implemented that very same day!  Season 4 Episode 7 is specially about worry and anxiety and depression and since it was recorded so recently, it really discusses the effect the pandemic has had on our children.  I cannot recommend this entire podcast enough, but particularly this episode!  If you do nothing else on this list, listen to this.  

https://www.raisingboysandgirls.com/listen

4). Season 4 of the Raising Boys and Girls podcast is centered around Sissy’s newest book, Modern Parents, Vintage Values which I have in my reading pile but haven’t started.  Everything they discuss in the podcast is right in line with our family’s values so I cannot wait to begin this book! 

5). Finally, this is another book co-written by the same three counselors and another in my “to read” pile, by my side as I type.  

Philosopher Plato once said, “Be kind.  Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Happy photos on social media tell only one side of a story- a book with many chapters.  My hope is that in sharing a battle our own family is fighting, you will know you are not alone in yours.  I hope these resources are as useful to some of you as they have been to us.  ❤

Camille Vaughan Photography

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

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

Live

First, it’s a bump.  A setback. A hinderance. 

Then, quite suddenly, a demand for attention. 

We explore options.  We’re optimistic. 

Sure, we stumble, but who doesn’t? 

And then, 

it’s different. 

It’s not a challenge to overcome anymore. 

It’s a new way of life. 

One we never asked for, nor wanted. 

We’re faced with a Dead End. 

Or, are we?

We stop.  We cry.  We lament. 

Then we retrace our steps and get our asses back on the 

Right. Damn. Track. 

Because when faced with a dead end, 

Other than dying, 

What are we supposed to do?

Live. 

We live. 

Camille Vaughan Photography

Character Flaw

Oh, my!

The labels.

The reasons.

The excuses why we aren’t already who we aren’t meant to be.

What does it take?

Truly.

What is it going to take?

To be true.  To be real about who. we. are?

When will our “character flaw” stop becoming our excuse?

When will our excuse stop being our character flaw?

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Camille Vaughan Photography

There She Is

4 A.M.

And the moment I’d been dreading for 39 weeks.

No movement.

I sat on the side of my bed, sobbing.  Begging my husband to get the baby to move, knowing I had waited one day too long to induce.

See, the day before had been my daughter’s spring concert and I figured delaying a day wouldn’t make much difference.

But in this moment, I regretted it all.

In a panic, I called our doula and midwife first and next, our neighbor.

She arrived within seconds. I folded into her arms, scared of what we would find when we arrived.  She steadied me, reassuring that our three daughters at home were safe and off we went to find that baby Elizabeth was indeed alive and well.

Fast forward 18 months.

Same kitchen, same neighbor.

Our friends left and she stayed to ask the simple direct question: “Are you OK?”

“No.”

No, I wasn’t and all it took was for someone to ask.

I unfolded right in front of her, releasing the floodgates and once again, she took it.  She held it.  She steadied, reassured and stood me upright.

She looked me in the eye and said, “You are going to be OK.”  And then she followed through.

She called to check on me.  She invited me to run with her.

She held my hand.

And because of her, I made it.

There she is.

My superwoman.  My angel.  My friend.

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Hurricane

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Like, seriously.  What in the actual $*&% am I supposed to do.

A real hurricane is headed our way and yet, I already feel like I am in one.

How many fires a day can one firefighter endure before she needs a break?

So many little personalities, so many big needs.

The demands seem insurmountable.

Until I remember where I’ve been.

And how much more challenging it truly can be.

So, I cry.  I mourn my inability to juggle it all.  To feel like a “good” mom.

And I focus, instead, on what I do have.

A family.  A free country. Health. Resources.

I exhale.

And I begin again.

Groundhog Day

Repetitive.  Monotonous.  Tedious.

Have you ever felt like you get up and do the same thing every day?   You wake at the same time, with the same morning routine, the same route to work or school  and the same way home.  You shop at the same stores, buying the same things and you wonder, “Is it Groundhog Day?”

I’m 7 years into parenting four young daughters.  As exciting as it is to witness our 9 month-old baby reach her developmental milestones, there’s a part of me that feels tired and worn.  Sure, it’s her first time, but it’s my fourth. Likely similar to how the doctor performing my gallbladder surgery this past summer felt: she had removed thousands of gallbladders over the years but not mine.

The question I’ve been asking myself lately is how do I get out of this rut?

Just as you aren’t going to quit your job or change your route to work, I’m not looking to give up my children or start a new career.  The changes I seek are small, not drastic.

Introduce a new breakfast.  Start a new exercise routine.  Schedule time during the week just for myself.

When I’m feeling out of control, I recognize that it is time to get back in the driver’s seat and make positive, healthy changes for my body and mental health so that I may approach the same old things with a fresh, new mindset.

Because when Elizabeth takes her first steps in the coming months, I want to celebrate that milestone with her with the same sincerity that doctor reassured me with minutes before my surgery: like it was the first time and not Groundhog Day.

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Camille Vaughan Photography