all the roads we had to walk are winding

The thing about having your oldest child start her junior year of high school AND turn sixteen in the same week is that it makes you a bit nutty. Or raving effing lunatic. Whatever. You’re a nut job that is sad and happy and certifiably crazy. You just never know what Jill you’re gonna get.

But here’s the thing: I’ve woken up a lot of feelings and emotions this year. A lot of it surfaced when I wrote my LTYM piece. And then it continued to surface as I faced things that I didn’t know I needed to face. Maybe even forgive people that I didn’t know I needed to forgive. Maybe people that thought that teenage mom me shouldn’t, perhaps, keep a certain pregnancy…or maybe that I shouldn’t keep the baby. That I should give her up for adoption. And even more people that thought I shouldn’t get married.

I always thought that I wasn’t mad. But maybe I was a little. Maybe a little bit more than a little.

There were times that I worried that I was going to ruin that sweet baby’s life. We were too young…we weren’t ready. We had a lot to learn about being married and being parents all at the same time. We were ridiculously poor sometimes. We sacrificed a lot. We couldn’t give her and her sister everything we wanted to. I still have guilt and regret over the times when I have failed miserably. I worried that all those people were right. The ones that doubted us the most.

But I think now is the time that I let that anger start to go away. The anger at myself. At the other people. Because the best part of proving everyone wrong? It’s her. It is all her.

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photo: sarah maren photography

I’d gloat about being right, but I don’t even know how. Because I’m just still in awe that I get to be her mom. Even after sixteen years, I can’t believe she’s mine. She is magical. She is a blessing. And she is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. And I would go through every bit of sacrifice and hard time if it meant that I could still be her mom. Every single bit.

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us…last year’s birthday party

I know I need to learn to let go. I need to learn how to let her grow up and be the amazing person that she is. But I can’t yet. I want to be selfish for just a little while longer.

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photo: sarah maren photography

Because with a kid like this? It’s hard not to.

Mostly I’m Just Happy to Have Working Internet Again

I promise that I’m not going to write a post about how I now have internet hooked up at the new house and how happy that makes me. (Although, for the record? I am SUPREMELY happy about having internet, my friends. IT HAS BEEN WEEKS WITHOUT REAL INTERNET. I’m excited.) The installer may or may not have laughed at me when I said “Hell, I don’t even CARE about the TV…I’m just happy for internet.”

(He also may have said that he’s never actually heard someone say that before. And, well, I’m kinda surprised by that and also his other clients must not love Facebook and Twitter like I do.)

(Did I just admit all that on the internet?)

Now that I’ve taken up so much of your time telling you about how happy I am to have internet, what I really came over here to say is that my first post is up over at HelloXOXO. Remember that awesome website I was telling you about? Well, there I am…talking about Campfire Wednesdays and summer memories and what not. But mostly? I’m just wanting to have a really great summer before my kids get too old to enjoy these summers like we can now.

I also wanted to tell you about the Listen to Your Mother videos being up. And, well…there are bunches of feelings surrounding that. I was kinda surprised by it actually, but I loved watching the video. And I think this weekend I’ll be able to tackle watching the others. But just in case you missed it, there I am. (I will embed that later when this works a bit better.)

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Also, I never told you about my logo. And how amazing Sarah is. But I will tell you more about that when I’m not so excited about having internet, and LTYM videos and HelloXOXO blog posts.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a softball game to get to and tons (TONS) of internet to use. Because I can now.

Have a great weekend!

 

A Letter to 19 Year Old Me

Several months ago, I started to write about letting go as your kids grow up. (Something I’m so very good at, obviously. Since I can’t even talk about sending my kids to college without crying. But whatever.) I started writing this story because I felt compelled to submit a piece for the Listen to Your Mother Show. For many reasons. But at the end of the day, I felt I had a story to tell about motherhood. As I’ve mentioned before, I started to write the piece I thought I was supposed to write about five or six different times. I couldn’t finish it. Because it wasn’t the story that needed to be told yet.

Thankfully, and because of wonderful friends, I realized that I was trying to tell the wrong story. And through some pretty deep soul searching, and some pretty hidden and tucked away memories, I found my words. I feel like I can’t keep telling my stories here without posting this. I’m the mom and the person that I am because of my story. And I think it’s time I told it here.

I wrote a letter to my 19 year old self. Because that’s when I became a mom. And there were things surrounding that time that needed to be written-needed to be told so that I could let it go. And, in a way, I have let go. Writing that letter healed a piece of my heart that I didn’t know was still broken.

 

Dear 19 year old me,

I know you’re scared. I know you think you’ve ruined everyone’s life. But you haven’t. You’ve made a very brave choice. I know it doesn’t feel brave right now. You feel like a failure. You can see the look in everyone’s eyes.

I wish I could find a way to go back in time. I would hold your face in my hands and tell you that it is all going to be ok. I wish I could hold you in my arms to tell you that your story turns out pretty great.

I want to tell you about it. I know I can’t and I know you have to go through so much sacrifice and hard times to get to this point. But if I could, I would tell you a little bit about our story.

You know the beginning. The timing sucks. And the not being married and not being ready sucks. And the college drop-out, teenage pregnancy label sucks. I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong.

But you both come from good families. They’re doing the best that they can to deal with their own sadness and disappointment. It will take a couple of years, but everyone comes around. And you’d be amazed how everyone is rooting for you.

I know it sounds weird, but you’ll be out of town when that sweet baby is born. She’s born a month early, but she’s absolutely perfect and wonderful. Being away from it all is actually a good thing. You guys have a chance at being a little family before introducing her to the world.

The two of you get married a few months later. You wear your sister’s wedding dress.  The one with all the buttons. You’re more nervous about being a breastfeeding mom with all those buttons than walking down that aisle. There is so much stress and anxiety – it really IS hard to remember anything else about that day. You’ll pretend everyone is happy for you both even though you’re pretty sure that not one person in the room expects you to stay married.

I have to tell you…there are some really hard times ahead. Marriage is hard. Being a parent is hard. You both get good jobs and you, thankfully, have benefits. But making ends meet is difficult. There are a lot of sacrifices and humbling moments over the years. But you do make it through. I promise.

You both work hard and don’t give up. Your stubbornness is a blessing. Stubbornness and faith push you through so much of those hard times. And then all of a sudden, you’ll realize that you’ve been married for 15 years and that your family is pretty damn great.

I wish you could know what great parents you turn out to be. You always knew you wanted to be a mom. Life’s events aren’t what you planned, but being a mom is as amazing as you thought it would be. And, oh my goodness, your kids are so fantastic. As it turns out, you get the privilege of being the mom to two beautiful girls. They are so great, you will wonder daily how you got so lucky.

Believe all the clichés. Time flies faster than you can even imagine and that sweet baby from the beginning of our story turns 16 this year. Sure there’s the excitement of driving and fun, but she’s so responsible and sweet and wonderful. She’s so…good. And she still wants us around. But I’m not going to lie to you, knowing that you have to send her off to college in two years is harder than you could imagine. You’ve already arranged support groups with all your friends because you know that you’ll need it after you move her into that dorm.

Knowing how wonderful life is, I wish I could go back and mend your broken heart. You worried so much about everyone else that you never made sure your heart was okay. There has been so much forgiveness and yet you haven’t ever forgiven yourself. And you won’t be able to explain how you could be so proud of every member of your family and still not be proud of yourself. Maybe this is what helped push you to be strong and accomplish so much. To prove anyone who doubted you wrong. But somehow, even after sixteen years, you’re going to feel like you don’t deserve all these amazing people and experiences in your life.

I hope writing this letter helps you begin to heal. I know I can’t go back and change anything. And I wouldn’t. Even if I could. My only wish is that we both can see how just because life doesn’t go as you planned, the choices that you’ve made will lead us to the most amazing and hard and worthwhile life we could ever imagine.

Be proud.

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box of balls of brave

I love people. I love our differences. I love our similarities. I love learning from other people. I love laughing with people. I love it when other people touch my life and make me see something in a different way.

I love people.

But I wish there was a way for us to build a giant ball pit just like this. I wish we could create opportunities like this one that helps us to find our commonalities. To learn about some pretty fantastic things about people we may not have talked to under normal life circumstances. This video brings a lot of joy to my heart and tears to my eyes, because HOW AMAZING ARE PEOPLE. How amazing are YOU???

Pretty damn amazing. And I love you for it.

It’s a funny business, having a blog. You would think I would be good at sharing my words. Sharing my feelings. Sharing my opinions. But it’s amazing how many words get stuck in my own heart and brain because I’m too scared to share them. I’m scared of the response I’ll get. Or I’m scared of being judged. I don’t know. I honestly don’t have all the answers. But the more I think about it, blogging is a lot like sitting in an amazing box of balls and answering questions.

If we’re brave enough to do it.

I was brave recently. It was hard to write my story. The story of how I became a mom and the events surrounding that. But I wrote about it. And then I submitted it. And then I auditioned by reading it. And then I read it out loud to a room full of women I didn’t really know. And the more times I let those words fly, the more they didn’t scare me to share. Or it didn’t scare me as much. And then all of a sudden it’s the night of the show, and I sit on the stage of an empty theater and I take it all in. Yeah, I kinda sat there and cried for a little bit as I thought about what I was going to share and who I was going to share it to, but I took it all in. And then it wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be.

Somehow, standing on a stage in front of a few hundred people, I wasn’t nervous as I read my piece and owned my words.

I had invited all those people into my box of balls. And I was able to share with them a little story about myself. And you know what? There were a couple of people out there that had a similar story. We found our commonality.

Because we were brave enough to be vulnerable and say it out loud. We were brave enough to share.

I’m not always brave. But believe it or not, writing and blogging shows me that sometimes I am.

And every once in a while, I’m reminded just how big my brave is.

 

 

 

Nora, thank you for sharing your box of balls.

Sarah, thank you for reminding I have brave.

Listening To My Mother…And Others

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Everything I write today, I erase.

Every time I try to explain how amazing Sunday was, I stumble over all the words.

When I try to explain how I feel about this all? Delete, delete, delete.

I know why. It’s because I can’t write about the amazingness of Sunday, and our first Listen to Your Mother table-read, without admitting that I feel completely out of my league. I can’t write about these STUNNING and wonderful women without telling you that I sat at that table wondering why in the hell I was even part of this group.

And I don’t want to type those words at all.

Because typing those words takes away from the fact that this group of women is inspired. Each story…each piece of their soul that they are so beautifully sharing? Perfect pieces of a puzzle that is meant to be shared. The fact that I feel like I’ve known them my entire life after just meeting them? MIND BLOWING.

You guys, this show is amazing. I can’t say it enough…it’s AMAZING. And there isn’t room for my insecurity. Because it just doesn’t belong there. Vulnerability, yes. Insecurity? NOPE. It needs to stay the hell away.

And I’ll get there. I will. But right now, I’m going to feel my fears and acknowledge them. And then find a place for them to go.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I still don’t feel completely out of my league. But I know that I’m supposed to be a part of this.

And that helps.

Listen to Your Mother

Last weekend I had the opportunity to audition for Listen to Your Mother Sacramento. And I am part of this year’s cast. My heart started beating faster as I typed that.

I’ve never done anything like that before.

I’ve had some sort of blog for almost eight years. But I’ve never pushed it beyond a “place where I ramble and tell stories about my family”. Anonymously. I’ve never been ready to become more open and honest…more transparent.

More Jill.

Having the opportunity to write something so personal and healing has sparked something inside of me. It opened this creative side of my brain that has been dormant for a very long time. And because I’m my own worst critic, I’m both insanely proud of what I wrote and also I worry that it’s complete and total crap. Because of course I do.

I feel so humbled to be a part of this show. I am excited, of course…but humbled to share my story. And hoping that I honor the words that I wrote and that I honor the spirit of this amazing cast and show. These stories were first lived before they were ever written. And each story deserves an incredible amount of respect and love. My story is so important to me, but I can’t wait to extend my support to all of the wonderful people who submitted their own words. Because at the end of the day, this is what we’re here to do. Support those around us. Help them tell their story. Love them for having the courage to share a piece of themselves with all of us.

I’m so proud to be a part of Listen to Your Mother. I’m in awe of Nichole and Margaret and all that they have done to bring this to our community. I can’t wait to celebrate motherhood. I can’t wait to listen to the words that this cast has written. And I can’t wait to love each and every one.