Father of five

Father of five

Dale was born to be a daddy. His heart and soul live for his children. He knew I was pregnant before I did almost every time, and I was pregnant a lot so that’s really saying something! He could see the small changes in me within weeks, and start hopping like a kid who’s turn it is to open a present. He would grin from ear I ear and fall all over me with sweet little things like hand picked flowers, ice cream, cannolis from Mike’s in the North End, and build me nests of pillows for my growing belly.

He would get home in the early morning hours from the restaurant and spend an hour talking to each child inside of me while I slept, feeling the tiny elbows and heels as they responded to his voice and pushed back.

He was tirelessly devoted to walking the floors with children “resisting a-rest” (his favorite way to describe reluctant sleepers) even if he had just walked through the door from a 12 hour day. He just loved holding his children. He still does, and it brings tears to my eyes to witness our bear sized, bearded “men” openly pull their dad into their own arms and hug him long and hard every time they see him.

He gifts each of us with his deep love and devotion, his quiet counsel, his endless enthusiasm, and yes, the awful “dad puns and jokes” he is famous for. We are blessed beyond measure with this amazing father of five.

Happy Father’s Day to the man who made it all possible and wonderful!

Hangry and tired Ellie

Hangry and tired Ellie

My day has been a marathon at work so the first break I could grab was 7 hours in.

I forgot my lunch at home so I had a great big plate of absolutely nothing, with a bottle of water and for dessert I had a very decadent ice packed second bottle of water.

I’m driving directly from work to pick up my daughter from her lacrosse practice so I can trade her at home for the son I am then going to drive three hours round-trip to stay with one of his friends for the weekend. But I get to sit in the back seat with the dogs the whole way.

It’s national donut day and all of you are posting pictures of gooey and amazing donuts and I just want to point out that water and ice taste absolutely nothing like donuts no matter how hard you try to pretend…

The pieces that leave and still stay

Hellos and goodbyes. Gains and losses. Beginnings and endings. Pieces of you that leave and still stay in that part of your heart that love never leaves.

Love fills empty spaces. It can start smaller than a mustard seed, slip slender roots into tiny cracks, and spread wide and breathlessly through you.

You can love someone who you’ve never seen. A child. One who comes unexpectedly into your life. One you worry over and try to make room for when you have begun to believe that it is impossible . Just as suddenly, the one you felt terrified to meet, the one beating inside leaves.

Once you have felt, heard, seen and truly understood that reality is growing inside of you, you will never be able to separate entirely. Even when you have to say goodbye.

Life is so beautiful, so breathtaking, so unexpected and full of grace. I have more blessings than I deserve. More grace filled moments than I ever dreamed possible. I have a life filled with joy and love.

There are pieces of me that I have been able to let go and only smile or be grateful for the wisdom and lesson.

And there is a piece of me that left and still stayed. I can’t think of this piece without my throat closing or tears rushing to fill my eyes. I can be happily engaged in any number of blessed moments and suddenly a wave of grief engulfs me and it is all I can do to breathe and slow my heartbreak and my thoughts.

This piece is one known only to very few people. It has been entirely too massive to my heart and soul to put into writing, to open myself to the soft and concerned looks, the ones that actually bowl me over and send me rolling with the wave.

It’s mine. I have guarded the knowledge jealousy and fiercely because I could not bear to share this piece. I have this small heart shaped glass heart to honor this child. To hold in my hand when I need to hold him. My own glass heart always shatters too easily. I whisper a name.

Today I’ll celebrate the overwhelming and wonderful blessings of the more than enough ones who I am able to be with. I will smile and laugh with genuine joy without being diminished. There will forever be the empty chair at the table, the pieces of me that leave and still stay.

The broken ones

A wise person once said:

“Broken people hurt others with their sharp edges”

It’s possibly the most wonderful pearl of wisdom ever dropped in my heart.

I have the privilege of working with broken people and being broken so many times myself. It is rewarding and exhausting and sometimes comes at a price. Whatever injuries I may sustain, I am always drawn back by a passionate desire to prove to that person that no matter how hard they may have fallen, they are worth coming back for.

The difference between empathy and sympathy lies in our brokenness. It is our ability to truly connect through wordless and shared pain, to bridge chasms and forge hope.

I have an amazing and agonizing and brilliantly gorgeous job. It’s more of a calling to be truthful.

I meet people at low and desperate moments, and in dark places. I don’t have a cure, I have only a candle with a thin and vulnerable flame.

As each person shrinks and backs away for a moment, the strains and pressure of the world around them, I stand shoulder to shoulder, plant my feet solidly, press my back firmly against the storm, wrap my arms around them and hold that space as long as it is needed.

I have needed that often in my own life, and been so grateful for those who stayed beside me through that brokenness.

It is a simple and basic act, to lift another up, to be silent and still and with that person completely when they are most alone. It is not about fixing, or curing, rather kneeling next to another when they are down, picking up the pieces that can be found, and seeing the wholeness inside of the broken ones.

The monday-est Wednesday ever

Today was the Monday-est Wednesday ever. Monday’s have a reputation for dragging you kicking and screaming, nails clawing desperately at the weekend past in an attempt to cling to that effortless joy of a lazy Sunday, and into the bleakness of the workload and worries ahead.

It’s not often the subject of happy love songs or ideal moments. It’s the equivalent of the universe flipping you the bird.

Tuesday can be cruel but you’re sort of catching your breath and finding a groove. Tuesday still leaves you with lingering memories of how great it was not setting your alarm, and leisurely strolls from the couch to the fridge for binge worthy snacks to accompany binge worthy shows.

Wednesday is hump day. A unanimously agreed upon game changer for your mood (only two days until you can return to your natural state of gluttony and sloth) since you’re half way through. I can do two more days! Helllllooooo HUMP day! Someone needs to turn the volume up because this girl can almost taste Friday!

This brings me circling back to the present and how totally not like a present it was. Every kid at work was spring loaded for action and bouncing off of walls and each other, which, while tolerable if you are the bouncer feels intolerable if you are the bounced upon.

I was very bounced upon.

Then there was the “fresh air break”. In sideways, misting, curly haired horrifying, damp to the bone, wet socks in wet shoes “fresh air”. Please understand I LOVE what the rain does for the earth, but I’m not overly fond of what it does to ME. At least not when I’m going to spend the many hours after it squelching along hospital floors in my wet socks and wet shoes, while children cower and cry at the sight of my antagonized tresses. It’s not me at my best. It’s not even me at my okayest.

In the hours following I averted meltdowns, I soothed meltdowns, I managed meltdowns, I documented meltdowns for posterity and then wanted to meltdown standing ankle deep in a mud puddle getting out of my car while simultaneously being muddy-pawed eagerly by my dogs.

It was the Monday-est Wednesday ever and I’m taking my ball and going home. I’m done adulting for the rest of the week. Wake me for the weekend.

Date night and other disasters

The faucet started dripping two days ago and increased steadily over the course of the hours to an open pour. At some point late in the afternoon the faucet exploded so we shut the water off to the sink.

I walked into the kitchen to find the kids had pulled a garden hose through the house for washing the dinner dishes.I can not make this stuff up.

A beleaguered hubby turned to me and suggested perhaps we should spend the evening installing the new faucet he had just run and purchased from Home Depot.

Like it was a hot date.

I told him to go ahead and get started and I would go and slip into something more “comfortable”, wiggling my eyebrows suggestively.

It took him quite a while to figure out that something “more comfortable” was the bed, and that when I said I would be back downstairs, I meant in 8-10 hours.




Living loud anxiously

All evidence to the contrary, I am a very shy, introverted and anxious person. In person. On paper, in texts, over social media I am brash, outspoken, uninhibited, wildly impulsive and loud. I over share. I flay myself publicly so others know they aren’t alone. I’m loud about my life. Above all other things I am LOUD. I am a force of nature that wants its path no matter what stands in my way.

The thing is, I am most often the thing in my way. I am the wall I come up against when the flying free me wants to explode into the air in a colorful burst of sound and fury.

I have lived with intense social anxiety since I was a kid. There are days when it’s manageable, and there are days when it feels like there is an invisible wall between me and my life and trying to push past it takes Herculean effort.

I can look out the window and have every part of me yearn to be able to simply just go for a walk with my dogs to feel better but I’m frozen. It makes me feel simultaneously trapped and yet intensely driven to beat it.

School was terrifying. In classes I was ok, I could focus on work and my studies. I sat in the front of every room so I couldn’t see the other students and I would pretend it was just me and that teacher.

Passing between classes, going to recess, and lunches were quite another situation. College was no different. Parties took the place of those recesses. They required conversation and solid self esteem and a thick skin. I spent a lot of time waiting things out in stalls or strangers bathrooms.

Adulthood meant interacting with other adults at kids play dates, concerts, games, open houses, in staff break rooms, annual parties, and a million other equally terrifying places. I swear I had so many kids because they formed a human duck blind to hide behind as I navigated such treacherous landscapes.

If my life has a sound track, it’s definitely from Jaws. Thank God I like sharks. Just not too close to me. In fact, I like them best when they’re far, far away from me. Like everything else!

I am supremely uncool. I’ve been this supremely uncool for ages. It takes a lot of energy and distraction techniques to master this level of uncoolness. My coping skills are mad strong. Like so many people who struggle with anxiety, I use a combination of avoidance and humor to survive myself.

If I can avoid a social situation you can be absolutely certain I will. If I can’t, I’ll come in swinging with funny stories, self deprecating humor, and do whatever it takes to keep those laughs coming until I can escape and go back into hiding. I may have loads of anxiety, but I sure as hell don’t have any shame, a personal point of pride.

So I’m loud. I openly confess and display my messy mind to the world deliberately. I challenge myself to strip away the mask of laughter, and I hold my feet to the fire by letting people know upfront that I’m trying, I’m struggling, it’s hard, I’m dying inside when I’m out there face to face, but I need to be out there face to face if I want to truly engage in my life. And I know that I’m not alone.

I know there are so many people out there, looking at everyone else and wondering why they feel so alone, wondering why it looks so easy and feels impossible. And so I am loud.

I shine a light on the dark places inside of myself. I want people to look at the magnificent hot mess that I am and understand that they are not even remotely alone. We are all in this together.

And so I am loud.