styleberry BLOG » where pretty meets practical

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It’s been six long years. & at the same time, six wildly fast years. They have been quiet and rich. Loud and empty. Happy and exhausting.

& I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Having my kids with me all day, for every single day of their first three-ish years, was wonderful. It was hard work and it was rewarding work. (& sometimes thankless, but thank you can be taught quickly & easily, with sign language even before words, right?!) And I can proudly say that they are my very favorite people on the planet to be around. Molding and shaping them and at the same time learning about them and creating a unique environment to help each of them grow has no doubt, been the greatest work of my life so far.  Now, as I gently ease them into school, I get to watch what we’ve spent so much of our time cultivating at home be released into the big world. & that is pretty neat.

styleberry copyright_1 styleberry copyright_4 styleberry copyright_2 styleberry copyright_11 styleberry copyright_10 But, now, after six years of parenting 24/7/365, they are gone. & it is silent.

Like, I am home in the middle of the day and no one needs me.

And it is quiet.

And I am alone.

& it is so, so weird.

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I fantasized about this moment many times. Those times with tired, sandpaper eyes when I felt like I could fall asleep standing up. When I just could’t take the arguing one more second. When everything I just cleaned became a disaster within seconds. I used to daydream about actually finishing a load of laundry without being torn in a million directions all at the same time. What would it look like if I could just have two hours to do chores. Oh, what I could accomplish!! 

& here I am, six years later. I am home alone.

And it is quiet.

& as I am finally left to sit in my own thoughts for more than a second, I can’t help but think…now what?

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styleberry copyright_9 The first day I walked away from school without anyone holding my hand was more emotional than I ever imagined. I was driving in the car. (BY MYSELF!!) Quiet, which I long wished for, was uncomfortable. I was overcome with sadness. Where are my little people? Where do I go now? Who is going to be my buddy? Who was I going to talk to at the grocery store? There was no one in my cart to squeal about yemons and yimes. It was sad. I was sad. & at the urging of one of my dearest friends, I spent that first day embracing the sadness and letting it all out. I took the journals that I write to my kids over to my favorite coffee shop and through tears, put it all on paper. What I adore about them, what frustrates me and what I miss terribly, now that they are both away from me for a small part of the day.

& then, for the first time since before Everett was born, I unwrapped a journal of my own. Not for anyone. Not to anyone. Just mine. A place to organize and plan and accomplish what I kept meaning to write down between wiping noses and making lemonade and reading books. & books. & more books.

I took deep breath after deep breath and just wrote. & planned. & mind mapped (remember that?!) I have ten months left in this city and I have things to accomplish. & for the first time in a long time, these things do not include my children.

How. Weird.

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It is time to work on ME. To find that part of myself outside of the role of mother, which is honestly, the most natural and comfortable place for me to always be. It’s really easy to let that mothering role I love be everything. But there is an itch that I haven’t scratched that is bugging me more & more lately. I feel like I am on the brink of some clarity regarding what is next here in St. Louis, and beyond that. What comes after our next move, where we put down some deeper roots. & I am prepared to work through that & blog along the way. But that part of me that makes me uncomfortable–where I push myself to do things that scare and inspire me and excite me–that’s what it’s time to think about.

I am a mother. & more. I…am…more. & I have to do more. I want to do more.

& this, is a really exciting place to be.
styleberry copyright_8 All of the images in this post are credited to my dear friend, Kate L Photography, who stepped into our crazy life for a weekend and gave me the absolute most precious gift of capturing our perfectly imperfect way of living. Kate, I am forever grateful to have these images to share with my children when these memories aren’t as vivid for them as they are for me. We love you!! 

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  • Amber Berkoski - A few years ago (was it years? I don’t know anymore) I had the privilege of being one of the followers you kept on IG (I’m aberkoski) after your privacy was horribly invaded. Ever since I have been inspired and humbled by the example you have set with your kids to be truly present with my own. We are in different places, mine are long in full day school (10 & 8.5) but the message is the same. Where am I when they need me? I am working, most of the time. But that doesn’t mean that when they have me, that they have to share me with: my treatment plans, my case notes, my PhD dissertation planning, my advocacy work – they get JUST me. Even if that means that I have to pull an all nighter on the other side of it, they get ME.

    I hope you know the profound influence you have had on many, through your business and your brand but also through your person to truly touch the lives of people that see your true heart. I don’t even know you but I know the Mama you are to your kids. You don’t need my (growingly) advanced degrees in human behavior to know this. You exude it, along with its challenges.

    And I applaud you.

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  • Jenny busbey - I am SO happy about this :) I am still in the thick of caring for my 2 little ones- one now in kindergarten… And a third on the way. I envy your silence but at the same time feel a little sorry for you! I know I will miss this craziness too when it’s gone! :)ReplyCancel

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  • Erin - please keep posting as you move forward – my youngest starts preschool next week and my oldest is at school. The idea of being alone without someone needing me is actually scary. I also wanted just a few hours to myself, for soooo long, but now I’m not sure where this leaves me. Who am I if not looking after my children? Sigh.ReplyCancel

  • Julie McCuiston - OMGoodness! Your words could have been mine 40 years ago. I remember the day I walked our “only” to school that first day. It took all my fortitude to walk away. It is funny how I can still remember kicking the early fall leaves as I walked home by myself….without that little hand in mine that nested in mine when we ventured out into the world. I cried every step of the way home. I retreated to our apartment and sobbed most of the day. The long awaited quiet was an insult to my senses and I couldn’t wait to hear about his day at the new adventure he was starting.

    WHen he went away to college I was a basket case. I cried every time I walked by his empty room. I would lay on his bed and cry myself to sleep. It took a good nine months (gestation?) to adjust to that new normal. Truthfully it has been a lifetime and I still worry about him.

    At age 39 he was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer and that event literally brought me to my knees. We were lucky enough to be able to fly to any US city to explore treatment plans. He was lucky to have insurance that allowed him to have treatment at any facility in the US. I remember the call from him when he said he needed me to fly with him to see about his diagnosis. I remember the oncologist giving us the dreaded news.The words numbed me into a zombie like state. My world stopped. I remember sitting on the floor of the DFW airport calling family and friends to share my anguish. I am sure that I was sobbing so hard they could hear very little besides the “C” word.

    Three years later he is doing well. He seems to have adjusted to the permanent colostomy he begged the surgeon to NOT put in. He doesn’t complain about the ravages of chemo and he kept his gorgeous head of hair. Still, every time he wings his way away from me I say a prayer for his continued remission. I pray he lives a long and healthy life. I pray that he outlives me and his dad. I rejoice in our life together and let him fly away with the promise of his return to us again.ReplyCancel

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