I'm Right Here

One and a half weeks ago, on a Friday afternoon that was of little consequence to many other people, my firstborn graduated from college.

We were so excited. Like the people you see celebrating the very first person in their family to graduate from college. So stupid excited. She made it. Consequently, we made it. We got pregnant, young, unmarried, naïve, and we beat a boatload of odds. To the naysayers who bet against us, we raised a girl who grew up to be a fucking bad ass. She did it. We did it.

Yeah, we've still got two more in process, but let me just bask in this moment...for a moment.

As the processional of graduates entered the gym, I slipped down onto the floor to take a picture of my baby girl. She walked in, and I watched her face light up as she saw her dad, her boyfriend, her siblings, and then I watched her face go blank as her mouth formed the words, "Where's my mom?" I was literally 2 feet away from her, but she didn't see me because she was looking up. I said, "I'm right here, Beebs!" She beamed. I took her picture, and she said, "Go! Go!" I wasn't supposed to be on the floor.

It was another of those moments. Those physical representations of an emotional lesson I need to learn. It was my friend with her arms full of everyone else's shit. It was my daughter not seeing what was right in front of her because she was looking up.

I spend a lot of my life looking up, overthinking, improving, seeking, reaching and a lot of times missing the beauty of what is right in front of me. I've spent too much time not realizing that everything I have ever wanted and more is right here.

For as long as we've been a family, I've tried to make lots of fun traditions that will turn into happy memories for my kids. While I have some treasured memories from my childhood, too many are unpleasant. One of our traditions, picking out a Christmas tree, has gotten to be rather hectic since Chloe moved out. This year, in fact, it resulted in dragging the children out of bed and into the rain, and some tears--mine--and it crossed my mind that the memory they would probably recall in adulthood was, "Remember how Mom used to freak out and drag us to get the damn Christmas tree every year?"

And I realized that the traditions were as much for me as they were for the kids. I needed to make happy memories to replace the unhappy ones. But I don't need to force it, I just need to live. Our life is happy. Our kids are happy. It's not perfect. It might appear to be perfect on Facebook, but for every picture where we are all smiling, there are 5 where Lily is scowling or my eyes are closed or Peyton is making a funny face. And many of the ones where we are all smiling is a result of my screaming, "CAN WE JUST TAKE ONE NICE PICTURE?"

Still...when I was a little girl dreaming of how my life would be when I grew up? I could never have conjured up a life that even compared to the glorious craziness that is our Bellville. So on today's leg of the journey, I am reminding myself to look not up but at the blessed, silly, wonky-eyed imperfection that is right in front of me.

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