Free Write:::From the Heart

{Feeling like it’s been some time since I posted from my heart, from the right now parts of our life, the real and honest parts of our days and nights, the in betweens, I sat down in the corner of our living room and wrote exactly what had been spilling out in tears these last few nights.  This post has no edits, no days spent with hmm, should I post this?  I’m feeling a lot about summer coming, before the fall that will have two of my babes in elementary.  So before I close the book and smile and say, oh yes first grade has been great, which indeed it has, I need to get a little out, set loose the words I have tucked away.}

_MG_7014Seven and a half years ago, when my husband placed our firstborn in my arms, no one in the room told me what had been taken from me.  No one said, a piece of your heart is gone and she will carry it with her always.  Those words were not whispered in the stillness of our home when our second little lady floated her way to the birthing pool water’s top, nor were they spoken in the early hours of Halloween two and a half years ago when our third daughter was placed in my arms. 
As I slipped into the newness that is early parenthood and grew to say the words my daughter with regularity, just as I rose to the call of Mama in the night, I didn’t have to prepare myself for the growth.  I knew I would wear my heart on the outside of my body; it’s growth too large to be tucked away.  I could sense the arrhythmia during first words, first steps and, later, first books read aloud to little siblings. 
I wasn’t prepared for the pain I would feel from the parts of my heart each child had taken.  I wasn’t prepared how irregular my own would skip as I sent them into the world, away from me and our home and their blankies and into classrooms, recess yards, birthday parties.  I wasn’t prepared for how it would feel to hug her at school yard’s edge as she shook, tear stained saying she never wanted to go back. I wasn’t prepared for how it would feel to hear that time and time again.  Oh, I needed those days almost more than she did when she’d run to the gate, giggling with stories from the day all the while clutching her amazing work, simply beautiful creations from her day.
I believe this oldest girl of mine will grow to wipe the tears of others, helping injured kittens or neglected elephants.  Yes, she so will.  She will grow to do impeccable things with that heart of hers, that heart that swells with the social injustice around her and while that one, giant piece of my heart squeezes with love right out of her, seen and felt in drops and drops of tears. 
First grade has been amazing for her.  Yes, it has.  We weren’t always certain it would be phenomenal for her, but we believed in our awesome community’s public school.  She entered not being able to count to thirty and leaves with a solid number sense and a number scroll penciled past 1,000.  She’s done well; chapter books tucked under one arm and an oral fluency that would make any slam poet proud.  Her teacher is amazingly kind and thoughtful.  It’s the bigger picture of life’s lessons that sting, that’ll make her stand so tall like her Daddy one day.  But each lesson hurts.  I wish I could honestly say as this year comes to an end that the good and the bad, the smiles and the tears have been perfectly balanced.
No, says the space in my heart; no
I will not sit my second daughter down and tell her soon, boys will only play with boys on the school yard, but they’ll gladly come to your house and play the way you know them so well.  I will not tell her a group of three girls is often hard, because one might sometimes or hardly ever or often feel a bit left out.  I will not tell her that when a boy she doesn’t really know spends entire recesses chasing her and pulls on her braids during circle time it really is because he likes her a whole lot.  Some things are better left discovered all on our own.  In the fall, when she enters kindergarten, she’ll have to figure out that some people are just plain mean, and some people just rub us the wrong way.  She’ll have to deal with it, with grace and head held high. When I think back to every job I ever had, there was always one person that didn’t jive with me and I’m glad I had learned how to smile and bear them, letting my mouth fill with joy when the timing needed it so. 
So when my eldest says she sometimes spends recess waiting in line the entire time, not knowing who to play with, not wanting to walk up to someone new or someone so totally familiar and lovely but all the while busy and ask them to play fairies or wild ponies and she cries and tells me how much she missed me, well, I wasn’t ready for how much that would hurt my heart.  I’m still not ready for how much it burns to hear that someone said something mean while she sat there, in her favorite tiger shirt eating a peanut butter waffle sandwich while someone laughed at her shirt and her sandwich bread all the while wearing my heart inside her chest.  Yes, this right here, right now, that other week, this week is the hardest part of parenting.  I’d gladly take more sleepless nights, childhood boogers that turn into my own fevers and ailments left over from pregnancy to ease the heart pain from the social order of the school yard.  


  • Yesterday, Malcolm was trying to play with older kids in a park. It was a small park. And the children were already doing their own thing. He's so much smaller. They didn't notice. But he didn't care. He kept trying. He kept attempting to include himself. In their games. In life. I learned a lot from him yesterday. Persistence. That is the key to life. He makes me want to take new steps. And try new things. Your post is beautiful. Thank you Jen.

  • Katie says:

    Beautiful, Jenn. Raw and real – so much love for these little ones yet no way to protect them fully. It is a real blessing and gift that you are a mama to 3 lovely, strong, smart girls. I know you will guide them well and give them tools to navigate those odd and sometimes cruel times. Just beautiful, friend. xo,k

  • Greg Hertel says:

    All these things await your girls: the mean spirits, the cruel 'friends', the jealous hearts. But with those will also be unexpected kindness, true friends, hope, and love. You walked that path successfully, so will they. Not without some pain and some tears but so will they:-)

  • PKJ says:

    oh the schoolyard breaks all our hearts. it's so hard when there's nothing you can do to protect them from it. But yes, I think they do learn how to handle difficult people which is something we all must do. Hope things get easier.

  • Maggie says:

    Beautifully written. You are a tender, empathetic, mama bear. Your girls are so lucky. I remember spying with my aunt on my baby cousin at his first kindergarten recess. He hung his head, stared at his feet, and kicked wood chips the entire 30 minutes. This was before I was a mama, and I thought it was the most pain my heart had ever felt. Little did I know… I hope your mama heart can heal up fast!

  • MJ says:

    Thank you Jen, for putting so beautifully much of the mixed, complicated, and mouthful of feelings I've been having lately. With my two in school now (2 months and finished tomorrow), I have been re-experiencing this sense of loss, especially with my younger, a feeling that I haven't experienced since 4 years ago when my first went school. Even today when I dropped them off, with only one day of school left, my youngest squeezed me hard and said “please stay…”. It's true, we give so much of ourselves to them, not just pieces, but our whole heart. But that is what makes us mamas warriors I think. It isn't until we give our whole heart away do we realize what our lives are really worth living for. We are the examples to our children that everything will be okay, no matter how many tears are shed, feelings are hurt, or hearts are broken, we will always be there for them, and we will all be ok :). Thanks for the reminder dear friend, much much needed…

  • angie says:

    excellent post. It is sooo hard raising these little people we love so much. I find myself constantly challenged with new questions, and find raising a girl both amazing and super scary at the same time. At almost 12 we are entering into a whole new world that is both entertaining and tough for both of us.

  • Tracey says:

    Jenn, I am sitting here with tears steaming down having read your post several times! Your my dear are one amazing woman and how blessed those three babies of yours are to have you! Hug them tight!

  • Beautiful photo, tear-jerking post. And here I thought last night's fever was hard. Shit.

  • Oh this is me right now, feeling that ache as I leave my baby each morning knowing the ups and downs that come with school. Somedays wishing that home schooling was for us but knowing the local school is what is really best. Wanting to scoop her up and hold her close and protect her from the world. Oh being a mother is so hard some days. Luckily the weekend is here – time to recharge for next week.

  • I get all of it! I had a VERY (very, very) hard time in school and I still can still vividly recall the pain of it today, at 40.
    Luckily, our oldest, who is in Kindergarten, has no issues with school so far… (If she went through an ounce of what I did, I would pull her out and homeschool so fast.)

    It's so intense to love someone more than life itself. And it is also so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart! I think most mamas can understand exactly what you are saying here.

  • Elissa says:

    the old cliche is true. little kids, little problems, bigger kids, bigger problems. and, it seems (stupidly and unnecessarily so) it is almost always infinitely more complicated with girls. my baby girl starts kindergarten this fall and I just pray she has enough of her big brothers in her to just tell anyone who is mean to her to shove it!

    as always, beautiful words you tippity type onto my screen. and always true and insightful and real.

  • oh jen, this got me all teary eyed with you. especially, “No one said, a piece of your heart is gone and she will carry it with her always.” that hit me straight in the heart, no one told me either, and there were people that knew, that should have known, that should have prepared me for what to expect.

    and yes, i'll never forget how my heart broke for my girl the first time she came home telling me someone was mean or made fun of something that made her uniquely her. it's the hardest part of parenting, letting them navigate the playground, the bullies, learning along the way. It hurts my heart I can't always be a buffer for mine.

    Beautiful, heartfelt writing Jen.

  • “Thus too shall pass.” This is one of my favorite quotes of all time. It applies to so much in life. Miss and love you all!!

  • Manic Mama says:

    Oh my, you captured it perfectly. I have started to feel this with Maggie too and it brings back the raw pain of friends breaking my heart when I was young. It makes you who you are but I wish they would never have to endure it. So well written!

  • Amy says:

    i never felt a sadness to deep and raw until i saw one of my children offer her heart to another only to have it trampled on. simply the worst feeling ever. you wrote about it truthfully and beautifully.

  • Amy says:

    So freaking bang on.
    Two weeks ago, I witnessed for the first time, my almost 3 year old be picked on by two boys she didn't even know, while at a wedding. The called her names, they told her they didn't want to play with her, and that she wasn't even allowed to play near them. It almost killed me to see her have no idea what they were talking about and have no idea what they meant and not understand even a little bit why they wouldn't want to play with her. Almost killed me. And let me tell you, I wanted to verbally assault those 4 year olds like you have never seen before. BUT, I am an adult, so I didn't.
    Nobody told me how hard it would be.
    Thanks for these words, it is hard and it is nice to see a community that feels the same way.

  • FINALLY made the time to sit with this and really read it without distraction.

    Jenn, I LOVE raw and click post writing. It gets harder, doesn't it? To write that way? When we gain readers and our stuff is a bit more out there — for criticism, for differences in opinion and the opportunity for that difference to be spilled into a comment that might stick with us — it get's harder to not edit, to not think about what that person who feels a different way *might* say that will sting, when we wrote vulnerably.

    It's a lot like the kindergarten playground. There are lessons there: be yourself, move with grace and authenticity, learn and roll on, allowing ourselves to feel what we need to feel but not allow ourselves to personalize other people's shit.

    Love you and your family.

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