14,981

14,980 days.

That’s how many days I’ve lived
how many mornings I’ve greeted
how many days I’ve laid to rest
how many days I’ve had a grandparent
alive and cheering me on

and for a reason I can’t quite explain
I’m not quite ready to lay my head down
and close my eyes on this day
not. yet.

see, today is the last day
that I’ve woken and lived and loved
on the same plane
as the ones who loved me like no other can

oof.

today is the last day
that someone remembers
what her daughter’s face looked like the day I was born

today is the last day
that someone knows
a hundred of my little secrets
whispered conspiratorially over the years
{are all grandparents great co-conspirators
or did I just luck up and get four?}

today is the last day
and tomorrow is the first,
a day I knew would come
but I wasn’t ready
quite. yet.

today is the last day
but tomorrow is the first.

So tomorrow I’ll open my eyes
for the 14,981st time
and we’ll gather
– though we may be few in number –
and we’ll sing the songs
and pray the prayers
and thank God for the moments we had
and for all the moments that will be

in memory of Barbara Layfield Atchison (1935-2020)


Year O’Magic

In 2019, Marshall and I both turned 40. As a gift to each other, we bought annual passes to Disney World for the whole fam damily. Our adventure started last Spring Break, and we were supposed to finish the Year O’Magic this Spring Break. Obviously, that isn’t going to happen.

I know that I don’t really have room to complain. We went at least once a month for the last 11 months (what the what??), but this trip was going to be ah-may-zing. The pièce de résistance. We had the best fast passes, the best resort, the best dining reservations. I mean…it was gonna be something, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve been throwing a bit of a pity party for myself today. I know, I know. It’s stupid. I know that. I know how bougie I sound. And I wish that I weren’t as sad about it as I am, but here we are.

I decided to go through all my old pictures and make a photo book of our adventures this past year, because we had some really, really good times and I want to remember it all. But my favorite part about all of our trips? Just being together. And even though we aren’t at the Mouse’s house, we’re all still together. And as much as I wish it were different, I have to admit that I’m enjoying these days at home together just as much (maybe even more than) as our time at Disney. If I could just get someone to cook all my meals…

I have over a thousand pictures from our Year O’Magic, but I picked a few group shots to share. °o° You’ve probably seen all these before on social media, but let’s face it; this is more for me than any of you anyway. 🤷‍♀️ 

more than I ever expected

I almost hate to admit it:
how happy I am to be at home.
No errands to run.
No running late for pick-up.
The only running right now is running out of napkins.
(Who knew those would be such a hot commodity?)

But people are dying.
More people are going to die.
It’s not that I’m happy about that.
I’m not.
But I am conflicted.
The world is falling apart
– more than ever in my lifetime –
and it’s tempting to watch the news
and stay online
and read all the things
in the name of being informed.

But my heart and my soul both know
that for me, for me
I have to stop.
I have to set limits.
I have to close my eyes
and stick my fingers in my ears a bit
And focus on the only things that I can do right now.

Stay home.
Wash my hands.
Love my family.

And that?
That I can do well.

These moments with my children
are filling my heart.
Laughing with them.
Talking with them.
Just being with them.
Without practices and lessons and games.
Without rushing from here to there.
It’s more than I ever expected
in so many ways.


Four-Seven-Eight

Today went surprisingly well.
I mean, no major melt downs
or bumps we couldn’t handle.
And yet…it still seems…

so overwhelming.

We have room to roam,
a parent at home,
plenty of food (and toilet paper) –
the best of scenarios for this moment.
And yet…it still seems…

so overwhelming.

I think coming to the slow realization
that this is the new normal
not just for a few days or a few weeks
is just…
so overwhelming.

And I’m not quite sure what to do with myself.

And so I watch my kids and marvel at their resilience.
I take a moment to soak up some sunshine.
Breathe in…two…three…four…
and hold…four…five…six…seven…
and let it go…six…seven…eight…

Well, they’re home. What now?

Many of my friend’s children started “homeschooling” on Monday. My children start today. Since we’ve homeschooled before, we’re a little ahead of the game, but things are going to be very different this go ’round. For starters, I am not the teacher this time. I am incredibly thankful for the amazing teachers we have that have worked so hard to have all the materials and plans ready for us. Our teachers have done everything in their power to make this as painless as possible, but I’m kidding myself if I think it’s going to be easy peasy. But we’ll make it, and so will you.

(Gratuitous photo of my children because their cute little faces haven’t been on this blog in so long and it’s high time to resolve that)

These are a few things I needed to remind myself about before we start this journey. Here’s hoping it can help you out a little, too.

10. Have a to do list, but keep it simple.
We’ll be using BINGO charts for each kid, and I’ll be doing my 3 MITs. At the beginning of the day, I’ll write down three of the Most Important Things that must be done. It’s okay if one of those things is “Take a shower.”

9. Take breaks when you need them, but set a timer.
It’s suuuuuuper easy for your breaks to run long. So, seriously, set a timer.

8. Do work when it works best for your family.
We’re not morning people over here, so I expect we won’t start “school” until at least 9, maybe later. (Some days? Probably much later). If you have to work all day and your care giver can’t help with school work, try doing the “easy” stuff after work and save the “hard” stuff for the weekend. (Also, see number 1).

7. If you have multiple children, encourage them to help each other.
Older kids can help younger kids in obvious ways, but, believe it or not, younger kids can help older kids, too. The best way to learn something is to teach it, right? If an older child is struggling with one of their concepts, have them explain it to the younger child. Being forced to “dumb it down” is sometimes exactly what you need to make it click! If you don’t have multiple children, call us. I have plenty of extra children to share via FaceTime.

6. Dance breaks are a must.
You don’t have to be a good dancer. As a matter of fact, it’s a bonus if you’re not. I promise you’ll have even the most stoic teenager smiling if you shake that groove thang hard enough.

5. Remember that every child is different.
Some kids are going to fly through all of their work and ask for more. Other kids are going to take 2 hours to write 10 vocab words. I have one of each of those, so I know how easy it is to compare them. I promise it’ll be a lot easier on all of you in the long run if you don’t.

4. Celebrate the big stuff…and the little stuff.
Set goals and celebrate them. The super-speedy kid? Give them accolades for finishing all their work in a timely manner, but don’t forget about the kid doing 10 vocab words in 2 hours. You may need to try doing a little dance or cheer or song after every word.

3. If something’s not working out, stop and come back to it later.
If you’re trying and trying and trying and it just.isn’t.working. Just stop. Change gears. Do something different, and come back to it later.

2. Get the work done, but don’t freak out if you don’t.
While continuing education and learning is incredibly important, the main goal right now is to stay healthy. That means physically as well as mentally.

1. Remember that you are not alone.
For all of the trouble it can cause, I really think social media is going to be our lifeline during this time. Ask if you need help.

I know that every situation is different, and that for some folks it won’t be all that hard to slow down and enjoy this time with their family. But I also know that there will be many people who are having to work overtime, and it will be an incredibly difficult season. I see you. I am praying for you. I am here for you. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

P.S. I forgot one thing! The best part about schooling at home is that you don’t have to put on pants(!!!!), but in all the excitement of that, don’t forget to brush your teeth and put on deodorant.

no one ever told me

you hear all about the moods and the ‘tudes and the eyerolls
the angst and (perceived) agony are no secret to anyone
but there’s one thing that caught me off guard,
that stole the air from my lungs and left me struggling to breathe
grief
no one ever told me about the grief
no one warned me that it wouldn’t be just she who changed,
but Me
and Us
no one prepared me for that

One Thing

One Thing happened and then another and another
stacking, no piling haphazardly a top each other,
ready to crash down in a pile of frustration.

I wanted to hide, to slip away for a minute or maybe two,
but there was already someone in the staff bathroom
and there’s too much stuff under my desk for me to fit down there.

So I sit back down and look down at my MIT list*,
no idea where to begin.
“What’s the best way to eat an elephant,” I ask myself and laugh.
And I start to take the first bite.

“Ms. Ivey?”
A little head pops in my door.
“Hey, buddy. What’s up?”
“I just wanted to see if you were in here,” she says.
“Welp…I’m here!
And I’m glad you’re here…
but where are you supposed to be?”
“The library,” she says with giggle.

She goes, and I go.
Both of us doing all of our Things.
Busy, busy.
So many Things.
And my phone buzzes a reminder of yet another Thing to be done.
But this Thing?
This Thing is something I want to do.

My girls’ group.
Oh, I love my girls.
Not our usual day or usual time,
But we’ve claimed it as ours this week.
And so we gather.
And we talk.
And we laugh.
And I sit with a comb and brush all the bits of straw from her jacket
as she tells me stories of rolling down the hill
while the others color quietly.
And I sharpen color pencils as they ask for each one.
And I staple the pages of our books together juuuuuust right.
One Thing after another after another.
But these are the Things I don’t mind.
These are the Things that matter.
These are the Things that make up my days.
And, to be honest, I’m pretty okay with that.


*Most Important Things. MIT just sounds better than To Do, right?

seven of them.

Seven of them were 14.
One year and one state away from my baby.
I can’t take it.

In the atmosphere of our current situation,
I feel as if I’m always on high alert.
And before one thing can be behind me,
Another thing crashes into reality.
I’m angry,
But I’m tired.

I can’t listen to the debates anymore.
I can’t stand to have one more platitude thrown in my face.
I try to be open, honest, and willing to hear the other side,
But dammit, y’all.
Enough is enough.
I’m angry!
Really Angry.
But I’m tired.

We drag mental illness out like a limp, dying horse
And we beat him until he is no more.
I don’t know this kid.
Maybe he is mentally ill,
But maybe he just angry and broken.
Maybe we – the collective we – broke him over and over again
Until he was beyond repair.
Maybe if he’d had a little more love…
Maybe if he’d had one solid person to be there for him no matter what…
Maybe if he’d had someone to simply say, “You are more than your circumstances.”

Or maybe I’m just making things up to make myself feel better,
To make myself feel like I can say those things and be that person for someone else.
Maybe I’m making this about me when it’s about so much more.

And maybe in trying to help, we’ve lost sight of what matters most.
Maybe all our plans and policies reduced him to sub-human standards.
Maybe we stripped his humanity away one layer at a time
Until it was no more.

Or maybe I’m just projecting my reality into his.
I see it every day.
That one child who bites and kicks and screams.
The one who looks you in the face and tells you that he hates you.
The one who mirrors at school his terrifying truth, his reality.
The one who doesn’t know how to love because he doesn’t know what love is.
I am angry.
And I am tired.
But I must go on.

You can’t save the whole world, they tell me.
And I know that it is true.
But maybe…maybe I can help one.
I may not be able to change what will be,
But I can sure as hell try.
So I have to keep going.
You have to keep going.
We have to do this thing together…
Whether we like it or not.

I’m angry.
And I’m tired.
But I’m willing to try.
Are you?

always and forever


She wanted to go shopping.
For clothes.
A change from using her money to buy crafts and games.
A change at the beginning of many changes.
A change from little girl to young woman.
And I’m ready for it, really.
Mostly.
And yet not.

As we are homeward bound, one song ends, and another quietly begins.
From the driver’s seat, I see her watching me,
Really studying me.
And I hold my breath so as not to break the moment.
Don’t look.Don’t look.Don’t look.

“Thanks for taking me, Mommy,” she whispers.
And I take the chance to look at her eyes and I see myself,
My melancholic, nostalgic, sentimental self.
And I can tell that she’s drinking it all in –
Just as I have done with her a million times.
Mental pictures filed away,
Ready to be pulled out on a rainy day.

We needed this,
She and I.
Laughing together
Without distraction.
Talking about school and friends
And thoughts and dreams.
So many things that get lost in the shuffle.
(There’s always shuffling with a family of six).

And then our song begins to play.
{Go listen to it.
No, really. Go}

And though I may will let her down sometimes,
I hope she always knows that I have her back.
That I’m always here,
Waiting and ready,
When she needs someone to believe in,
And is reaching for a hand to guide her home.

Always and forever, my sweet girl.
Always and forever.

 

I don’t care so much…

There was a “Stand Against Hate” rally in my town tonight. I had every intention of going, but this damn cold has knocked my feet out from under me and after a full day of work I was worn out. I crawled in bed to read for a few minutes before dinner, and a little person came and snuggled up next to me. The next thing I know I’m blinking awake with bleary eyes and feeling the ins and outs of her breath on my back. 7:03. I could have hopped up, thrown on some clothes, and rushed to the rally. Instead I sat there, just staring at this beautiful, innocent little face.

I wonder so, so often if I’m doing it right, this whole parenting thing. This whole life thing, really. Am I showing my children how to be brave and speak up against injustice? Oh, I tell them, for sure, but what is it they see in me, from me? Is it enough to talk to them about racism and sexism and other inequalities that abound in our world? Is it enough to not hide the news from them, to not shelter them from the hate, to let them see the sadness and the anger and the hurt that even my grown heart sometimes can’t handle? Is it enough to look at the news and denounce the ugly that they see? Is it enough to share the stories that have been shared with me from my friends who are people of color, and to talk with them about how and why things could and should be different?

I wanted to go. I wanted to take them, to show them activism in action. I wanted to show them that it’s not okay to crawl in bed and cover up your head, which I ended up literally doing. I wanted them to know that supporting the good things and condemning the bad is about more than just words. I wanted to show them that there are no excuses to not stand up for what is good, what is right. And yet…here I am in bed.

I haven’t written here in so long. What has driven me to write now? Maybe I’m writing out of guilt, trying to convince myself that it’s okay we didn’t go. Maybe I’m writing to fill the void that’s left by my inaction. But I like to think that I’m writing because I’ve remembered that words are powerful, that words can change the world. And yet…and yet I can’t help but wonder if maybe I’m being a bit selfish, and I’m writing instead of rallying because this, this moment with her beautiful little eyelashes resting gently on her still-baby little cheeks, seems like the most important thing in the world in this moment.                                                                         

Tonight I’ll sit and wonder if I’m doing this right – this parenting thing, this living thing? This being a grown-up stuff is kinda tricky sometimes. Head and heart (and health) sometimes clash. And the parenting gig? Whew! I never knew quite how hard it would be. But I hope and pray that my tiny(ish) humans will one day look back and know that I tried – with both words and actions – to teach them how to love each other and to share that love with the world. I hope they’ll remember the words they so often hear me say: “I don’t care so much about what you become, but who you become. I don’t care so much if you are the best or the smartest or the fastest, but if you are the kindest and you show love to others and always help when you can.”