We Get By With A Little Help…

On the morning of February 15, 2012, my life was pretty darn perfect. Happy marriage, perfect 6-month-old baby boy, and a sweet and silly boxer. We’d enjoyed a nice Valentine’s Day at home. My husband, JP, gave me a beautiful bracelet embellished with a small heart. I’d braved the cold to grill steaks. Our son, Max, slept while we ate. In the morning, JP told me to stay in bed while he walked the dog – normally something I would do while he dressed for work. I remember being so appreciative of that gesture. And then at around 4:30pm, I got the call that turned my entire world upside down. By 6:30pm, I’d said my last goodbye to JP, whose heart gave out – in a cruel coincidence – the day after Valentine’s Day.

There I was, suddenly and unexpectedly completely alone with a baby, no job, and no clue how to function. I won’t try to explain what I went through from a grief perspective during that first year. Suffice to say, I was a mess. I made a bajillion mistakes, and could have used quite a few do-overs. But we got through. Not alone – not even close! Because, of course, I was not alone after losing JP, and haven’t been since. “Lucky” is not a word I would use to describe myself in any context related to being widowed. But “grateful” is one I’ll wear out from overuse. I am grateful for the friends and family who jumped into action, and pulled me through. I am eternally grateful to my parents, who moved in with me and Max to take care of us. They were there every step of the way as I went through some major life chances in quick succession. Within one calendar year, I became a mom, was widowed, sold my condo, moved to a new place, went back to school for a Master’s, and began a new career. On top of that, the dog developed some major health issues. Because you know what they say, when it rains it pours.***I’m currently reading Tribe, by Sebastian Junger, which explores the psychological benefits of tribal communities, especially when dealing with trauma. War is the focus of Junger’s book, but the topic of tribal living struck a chord with me. We all have our tragedies, our traumas, our losses. This is mine. There are layers, and ripple effects, and the impact will change over time but JP’s death will always be a presence in our lives. I’m fortunate to be part of an incredible tribe, one that reaches coast to coast (and beyond), and is continuously growing. While our family dynamic/living arrangement might not be the norm these days, I don’t know what I would do without my daily support system, and multi-generational cohabitation definitely has its benefits.Co-parenting with my parents has been a blessing and, as you might imagine, extremely challenging! When I could barely get myself through the day, I relied heavily on my parents to care for Max. And guess what? Six years later, that hasn’t changed. It’s different – now, instead of being a grief-stricken zombie with a new baby, I’m trying to balance full-time work, a social life, and raise a gentleman. As for Max, he considers himself lucky because he lives with his Nana and Papa. That’s pretty cool.

Having the ‘Granny Nanny’ has afforded me some freedoms: not having to worry about childcare costs, the ability to go to the gym, to get out of the house. It also means getting real-time “feedback” on my parenting. My mom is always there to tell me where I’m doing well and where I’m falling short. My dad, everyone’s favorite neighborhood urgent care doctor, is all-in on being a father figure and role model for Max. From scootering to the bus stop, to teaching him the rules of football, to hours spent on playgrounds, he does it all. His nickname when I was younger was “The Prince of Fun,” and he still lives up to it.My parents handle the lion’s share when it comes to the daily grind. But despite not being responsible for the day-to-day items (getting Max to school/lessons, grocery shopping, cooking), I wouldn’t say I have it easy, even if I sometimes joke that I do. The reality is that I struggle with heavy stuff regularly. A lot of it is not specific to being an only parent, or a widow, but when I hear married friends talking about similar feelings, it’s clear that when you’re in a partnership, you experience everything through a very different lens.

Guilt – for not being as involved as I’d like. When I am with Max, we focus on having fun…and he doesn’t see me as an authority figure but rather an equal, or co-conspirator, with my parents being in charge. Sometimes this is fun, and I feel like we’re bonding in a way we missed out on before because I was dealing with grief and loss, and then school and work. At the same time, I feel like I’m shirking my adult duties. I may never stop feeling guilty, but at the end of the day I remind myself that I’ve ‘outsourced’ parenting to people who, in my biased opinion, did a good job on their first tour of parent duty and whom I trust completely with anything and everything related to Max’s well-being and development.Sorrow – I’m sad Max doesn’t have his dad in his life, and will only know JP through stories and pictures. I’m sad for the siblings he doesn’t have; every time I watch him insert himself into games with kids at playgrounds, or take advantage of dads playing with their own kids, my heart breaks a little. I’m sad for my own loss, and I’m sad for JP, who doesn’t get to share in all the little moments.Exhaustion/overwhelmedness (is that a word?) is familiar to every parent, but on top of everything we’re all trying to balance, I have constant reminders about the hand I’ve been dealt. Sometimes I joke that I don’t understand how couples who both work do it – we have a ratio of three adults to one kid, only one adult works full-time, and we’re ALL always exhausted trying to keep up. But we’re also constantly renegotiating roles & responsibilities in a situation initially envisioned as more temporary than it’s turned out to be. And then there are the events I attend alone, decisions that must be made by a me versus tribunal (I hate making decisions, even small ones), going to court for Max’s tuition money, and any time I meet someone new and tell them my story…it’s tiring! Add the ‘dating game’ on top of that, and I’m telling you, I was very much ready to say, “thanks, but no thanks” to that whole activity. Between not wanting to spend free time making small talk with strangers, not believing I would find love again, and the awkwardness of dating while living with my parents (oh, so many levels of awkwardness)…it was just not particularly enjoyable.I am now at a point where I’m trying to navigate bringing someone I care deeply about into Max’s life and my own. “Simple, not easy,” is one of his catch phrases, and boy does that apply here. The simple part is, I am in love and happy in a way I didn’t think possible. For the first time, I am excited about envisioning a change for my tribe. But it won’t be easy! From the “sharing” issues we’ve already encountered to a potential seismic shift for everyone, the whole thing is rather intimidating. I don’t expect everyone to be happy with the change as we go through it, but I do intend to architect it thoughtfully if it comes to pass. I’ve already started to think through the logistical items I’ll need to take on. I know it’s impossible to predict the future, but at least I know that Max and I have a tribe that will be there for us in some capacity, no matter what the future holds. And truth be told, I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to wear my “mom hat” more often.

by Life of Mom’s Journaling Motherhood contributor, Eden

A Mother’s Grief

During my sister’s recent trip out to visit, my oldest just instinctively knew “Favorite Aunt Jean” needed extra love and hugs💜 
She spoke often about her big cousin Kimmy like my littles often do about their baby angel brother and Grandma Barbara. Their innocence and natural inclusivity of our guardian angels was a welcomed surprise to my sister, a grieving mother.

Almost 2 years ago, my beautiful niece Kimberly Rose was hit and killed tragically by a truck on her way to work, leaving behind 2 children. 
When my mom passed away to cancer at 77 it was devastating…but our family took comfort and peace in our hearts knowing that she lived a full life.

But my sister’s daughter who was in her late 20s, with 5 and 1 year old girls…well our family felt much different.

This gorgeous young mom was robbed of a life full of love and memories with her family. Life can be so brutally unfair.
What is so tragically sobering is the fact that this could have been anyone of us… So we do all the things to keep our guardian angels in our hearts. We talk about them, we plant (purple) flowers, we cry and when words fail us…we give big, giant bear hugs

The Mom on the Other Side of the Lens

This photo captures a boy running towards his mom…upon zooming in, mom notices the boy’s expression is one of sheer joy. Now on the other end of this lens is not a new toy or a cupcake…it is the moment upon seeing his mom. Truth be told, mom had only stepped away for literally 10 minutes to walk the beach with his grandpa. But in those fleeting moments, this boy managed to garner up enough excitement waiting, anticipating the return of his mom. 
Now his mom knows full well that 5…10…15 years from now, the chances of him being this excited to see her will be slim to none. 
So how do you savor this moment?! Well the plan is to blow this photo up to a 16×9 and plaster it on the wall during his teen years. 
A reminder that for a brief MOMent in time, this boy thought mom hung the moon.

This boy’s mom is me.

Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder

#lifeofmom

Why I Do What I Do!

This is why I do what I do🙏 Last week, I shared with my incredible Life of Mom community that it was 10 years since my mom passed away. I spoke about how much I missed her and some of the silly things she used to say to us kids, like “when I die, I’m going to come back as a seagull!” So for the past 10 years every time my sisters and I see a seagull, we yell “HI MOM!” In loss, I think it’s natural to cling to the signs that present themselves. In a song, in a rainbow and yes, even in a seagull. And there was something about my mom being gone 10 years that just hit hard. I cried a lot last week. 
Today, I’ve spent the day cleaning and folding laundry and going through a week’s worth of mail I’ve been avoiding because they are mostly bills I need to pay…then I came across a handwritten letter. It was from a Life of Mom community member, Melissa Whipp. Her words and sentiment stopped me in my tracks and filled my heart with so much gratitude it could have burst❤️ I often say how proud I am of the moms in my virtual village called Life of Mom but this just proves it🙌 Immediately I pinned it to my vision board, “a sign” to serve as a reminder that I am so blessed to be surrounded by some of the most beautiful souls and mothers 💙
Melissa, I am forever grateful for your kindness🙏
#lifeofmom

“Mom’s Away” Cruise

Sometimes you just need to trade in piles of laundry, wiping butts and stepping on legos for a few days of fun in the sun☀️ .
A girlfriend invited me on a “Mom’s Away Cruise” this past weekend and I hesitantly obliged. Now I would not categorize myself as someone who likes to cruise. Nope, not one bit. I’m more of a lounge by the hotel pool or beach type. But my husband was down with me going and well…I’m not about to pass a ladies trip my husband has signed off on. Plus I thought, “It’s a perfect few quiet days away to work on my book.” So let’s cruise🛳

There were about 15 moms attending but I only knew 3 of them. Now you all know 15 moms with different personalities could totally head “south of the border” quick. (pun intended)

The happy surprise was the cruise ship was the only thing that went south of the border🇲🇽 .
(See also: Gigantic Mexican flag pictured here.) .
.

It was true, we all had extremely DIFFERENT personalities with unique stories to tell. Yet, we all shared the SAME reason for this trip. .
.
We all wanted to sleep as much as possible and eat meals that were prepared for us without doing dishes.

We all wanted to have fun, wear straw hats with cheeky sayings and be served fruity cocktails 🍹🍸🥂🍾 .
.

We all wanted a minute to care for ourselves…which on the surface level looks selfish but deep down, is the most unselfish thing you could do for your soul. A well rested mommy who has spent the weekend laughing and bonding with friends actually makes for better moms and wives! We all work incredibly hard to be our best selves for our family but how can that happen if mom doesn’t take time for mom?! Whether it’s a spin class or a long nap or a good book or yes, even a “mom cruise”

As we sat around a long table sharing our favorite MOMents of the trip, we all wanted the same thing… VALIDATION🙌 “You are not alone.” “I’ve felt that way too.” “My cheekbones hurt from laughing.” “Wow, that must have been so tough.” Moms have the hardest, most important jobs in the world yet rarely receive the validation they deserve. One by one, we bonded over the need to feel loved and the need to feel less isolated.

We all received VALIDATION ❤️ #lifeofmom

LIFE OF DOG MOM…MOM’S BEST FRIEND

This post is sponsored by Mirum, but all opinions are my own.

As many of you know, our family recently grew by one when we adopted a Saint Bernard puppy! Suddenly, I find myself back to parenting a toddler…following around this crawling, drooling, adorable puppy that puts everything in his mouth and wakes everyone up at 4am crying to get out of his crib, I mean crate.

But we are absolutely in love with The Duke and Duchess of Riles!

Seriously though, how awesome are dogs?! No matter the scenario; if I’m having the worst day, or my threenager is melting down because I won’t give her a 3rd cookie, or my big kid starts blaming me for “losing” his homework folder 4 minutes before the first bell rings, I take comfort in knowing my dogs always have my back. No demands, no tantrums, no blaming…my dogs love me just the way mom is.

Now it’s only natural that I make sure my dogs receive the absolute best care. Here is some advice that I would share with new pet owners hoping to raise happy, healthy dogs:

❏ Use a monthly application to fight off fleas and ticks. Personally, I love PetArmor Plus which is used for protection, prevention and/or treatment of fleas and ticks. If you treat your dog with this each month, you can stop infestations and help prevent reinfestation. And I’m super excited PetArmor Plus is now conveniently available at PetSmart stores or PetSmart.com And since that’s my go-to store for buying dog food, treats and excessive amounts of tennis balls for my Lab…I enjoy a one-stop shop like PetSmart. Receive $5 off PetArmor Plus for Dogs or Cats, 3ct (valid March-September 2019)

❏ Make sure they are always up to date on their shots and Vet check-ups. It’s best to ask your local friends who have pets what Vet they recommend. Sadly, there are some clinics that are ridiculously overpriced. And honestly, if you use PetArmor Plus monthly, there are less reasons to go to the Vet, which ultimately saves you money. I simply set an alarm on my phone every month to remind me to apply PetArmor Plus treatment.

HOW TO APPLY: Simply squeeze the tube firmly to your dog’s skin on their back between the shoulder blades. Keep your dog apart from other pets and your kids for 24 hrs after treatment and until it is dry.

❏ Make sure the dogs receive ample exercise and a healthy diet. Labs are especiallyactive and needs her daily run or game of fetch. If I take the dogs on a hike or to the dog park, I don’t want to worry about something they could potentially be exposed to, PetArmor Plus gives me that piece of mind. Oh, and if we don’t run out my Lab daily, she walks around the house with a tennis ball in her mouth, which is her passive aggressive way to guilt mom. Yes, even dogs can give you mom guilt!

❏ When introducing your child to your new pet, make sure this is a lot of interaction between the two with a parent always present. With that said, never leave your child alone with your pet. It takes months and months to establish trust and a bond between child and pet. Some will warm up sooner than others, it really depends on the child and pet’s personality.

❏ Just like kids, I find routine and habit helps my dogs thrive. My husband and I make sure to feed the dogs at the same time each day. Shortly after eating or drinking or waking up from a nap, I always let my puppy outside to pee immediately. And until fully house trained, our puppy sleeps in a crate. Dogs are less likely to pee or poop in their crate because that is where they sleep. This helps train the pup to hold their bladder for longer stretches of time.

❏ If this is your second dog you are adding to the family, which is the case for my family, allow plenty of adjustment time for your older dog. My poor girl Duchess took weeks and weeks to warm up to Duke. After being snapped at by a few dogs, she was terrified of other dogs, even a puppy a fraction of her size. Our family made sure to pour a ton of attention and love onto our first born pup. She gets to sleep in the kid’s bedroom at night and has exclusive rights to all post-meal scraps. Puppies are simply irresistible, so it was paramount that we match that affection for Duchess too.

❏ Teach your children that pets are valued members of our family that we need to love and care for. It’s also a great chance to teach them responsibility and chores. Each child will take turns feeding the dogs, making sure water is always in their bowls and well, if they don’t clean up their toys, there’s a good chance it will be chewed up by the time they come home from school.

But “fur” real, here’s my closing thoughts…

I grew up in a house with 12 kids and we always had 2 to 3 dogs at all times. Whether they were Black Labs, Great Danes, German Shepherds or my favorite, Saint Bernards, we loved our dogs like family…more than our own siblings at times. The dogs always looked after us kids and we in turn, looked after them. When I was a toddler, my Saint Bernard Gretchen and I would share tubs of peanut butter and ice cream…which I credit my rockstar immune system to. Years after that, my Black Lab Pal would walk me to elementary school which was 5 blocks away and then turn around and walk home. Safe to say, I was taught at a young age the value of having a pet by your side. It’s one of the earliest lessons I learned on compassion, loyalty and the importance of companionship.

My family circa 1973-ish. When there were only 10 kids, not 12.

If you ask my 88 year old dad, a Korean War Veteran, who grew up during the Depression and raised 12 kids with my mom, his high school sweetheart “What’s the secret to a happy life” he always says,

A soft chair.

A cold drink.

And a loyal dog by your side.

Cheers to that!


by Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder

The Motherless Mom


My mom was my best friend,
My advocate, my rock.
She loved us kids through our faults,
In her children, she took stock.


Then she got the call

That the cancer was back,
With tumors in her lungs and brain.
No treatment could save her,
So it began...the dreaded waiting game.


Nine months after being diagnosed,
We said goodbye to a living Saint.
A devoted wife, loving mom & grandma,
A talented Artist, man oh man,

Could she paint!

It’s been 10 years since
Cancer took away my mom.
And if this time has taught me anything
It is that you ALWAYS need your mom.


No matter how old you are.
No matter how much time has passed.
You need her on the happy and hard days
You need her in your future,

Present and past.

How I wish she could have met my babes.
You see, I became a mom after she died.
I can just picture her,

Holding her namesake,
Squeezing my littles tight,

Beaming with pride.

This makes me cry.


The thing about losing a parent...
Unlike other losses, time doesn’t heal.
You are simply forced to deal.


I miss my mom today
Just as much as I did 10 years ago.
Life doesn’t get easier,

You just get stronger
Is how I’ve learned to cope.


So I love my kids through their faults,
I play the role of friend and advocate.
Sharing stories of their incredible

Grandma, her compassion, her strength
And immeasurable wit.

I’d like to think I’m making her proud.
But I’ll never know for sure…
Until I see her again on the

Other side of that majestic cloud.

Love you forever Mom


Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder

Heart Mom

The term “Heart Mom” refers to a mother of a child with a CHD (congenital heart defect) Children born with CHDs are as common as 1 in 100 births. Some are diagnosed in utero (which was the case for me) or not until after birth. The journey for families affected by CHDs is an emotional one. You never quite know what’s waiting for you at the next appointment…

thankfully today, my brave little heart warrior received a clean bill of health and cleared for another year🙏 This is not always the case for heart families and these appointments may not always have clear EKG and echocardiogram results…

I do not for one second take for granted days like today, a clean bill of health, a strong beating heart. After all, I am a Heart Mom who has watched as my daughter flatlined…I have watched my daughter’s beating heart as her chest lay open covered by a transparent type of tape…I have felt her life inside of me❤️

9 years later and I am still brought right back to that time. The girl in this photo is the strongest person I know!

Cancer May Have Taken My Mom, But I Refuse to Let it Take My Joy!

I was compensated by Med-IQ through educational grants from AbbVie, Astellas, and Genentech to write about managing distress for cancer patients and their caregivers. All opinions are my own.

In June 2008, my mom was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic melanoma.

In July 2008, my mom’s youngest child, her 12th child, was married. That child was me.

In March 2009, cancer took my mom.

In June 2009, I found out I was pregnant for the first time…my due date was my mom’s birthday.

It’s a great debate in my family whether or not my mom knew her cancer was terminal before my wedding…but let me ask you this: if your youngest child was weeks away from getting married, would you announce you’re dying of cancer?

Would you want your child’s wedding day to be a joyous one or feel more like a living funeral for the Mother-of-the-Bride?

Exactly.

Now that I’m a mom myself, I would have handled it the same way. I’m fairly certain she knew her fate in June, but it wasn’t until early August when my parents shared the news with my siblings that she had less than a year to live. They intentionally left me out. I was on my honeymoon. My mom’s plan was not to tell me…she wanted to “protect” me in some way. As the baby of the family, shielding me from all the family drama was a common move. My mom didn’t want me to worry, she didn’t want this newlywed stage to be tainted.

Well I ended up finding out about some “secret family meeting” that took place while I was away. In a big family like ours, secrets rarely stay secrets. I confronted my mom, sobbing while I begged “What is going on? Stop protecting me. No more sugar-coating. I need you to be honest with me.”

After that, my mom told me. “Lucy, I have less than a year to live.”

There I was, begging for the truth, but as soon as she uttered those words I wanted to go back to living in denial. Deep down, I knew back in June this was it. This cancer was going to kill her.

Every month for the next 9 months I flew home from LA to Chicago to spend time with my mom. And every month I said goodbye to my mom as if it was our last goodbye.

I was sad ALL the time. I was a new bride with no joy. How could I have joy? My mom, my best friend, my biggest advocate was dying. Every time my phone rang, I panicked “Was this it? What did this test result show? How much time does the doctor think she has?” Living so far away gave me tremendous anxiety. “What if I need to get home? What if it’s too late? What if I don’t get to say goodbye?”

These thoughts consumed my life and sabotaged my first year of marriage. It’s safe to say I was not the person my husband signed up to marry…far from it.

This was exactly what my mom was trying to “protect” me from. And now that I’m a mom, I’d do just about everything to protect and keep my children happy.

(Mom, I get it now. You were right…you were always right.)

It was only recently that I realized there’s an actual term for what I was feeling at that time. It’s called “cancer-related distress.”

Cancer-related distress is any unpleasant feeling or emotion (sadness, hopeless, powerless, uncertain, guilty, etc.) that affects a patient or caregiver’s quality of life, how they cope with cancer and how they interact with others. It can be mental, physical, social or spiritual suffering. This type of distress can actually make it harder to cope with having cancer, its symptoms or its treatments.

If you think you or someone you love has “cancer-related distress,” here is a list of symptoms that the patient and/or caregiver might experience:

-sadness, fear and helplessness

-anger, feeling out of control

-questioning your faith, your purpose, the meaning of life

-pulling away from people

-concerns about illness

-concerns about your social role (i.e. mother, father, caregiver)

-poor sleep, appetite or concentration

-depression, anxiety, panic

-frequent thoughts of illness and death

It’s been almost 10 years since my mom passed away to cancer, yet I can relate to almost every one of these symptoms during that time. I battled with depression and anxiety issues for years. I lost so much weight from the stress that it actually triggered me to develop hyperthyroidism. To date, I’m still treated for thyroid and anxiety issues.

But something significant has changed. One thing has returned…and that is JOY. The girl that my husband signed up to marry has returned. The fun mom I hoped and dreamed to be for my kids is alive and well. Cancer may have taken my mom but I refuse to let it take my joy!

Here are some tips to taking back your joy!

This applies to cancer patients, caregivers, family and loved ones who have been affected by this horrible disease.

Do the things that bring you joy. Say you love spending time with your grandchildren, maybe you like taking your daughter to the theatre or taking your dog to the beach… Whatever brings you joy, do it as often as you can.

Ask yourself, what are you hoping for? For my mom, she knew being cured wasn’t an option so she took the least invasive, most comfortable treatment plan. Even towards the end when she was in hospice, it was her hope to be at home. So each of her 12 children and spouses took turns caring for her on different days. Since I was the only one out of state, I would come home every other weekend for those final 3 months of her life and care for my mom. It was her hope and an honor for all of us. She taught us grace and beauty and dignity even in her death.

What are you worried about? (What is causing the distress?) Whatever those worries are, acknowledge them and then take action…make a plan to try to minimize the distress in your life as much as possible. I wish I had done this. I did not take care of myself physically and emotionally. I wish I had made that a priority.

Get out! Go to the movies, schedule a lunch date with a friend, join a book club…whatever you can do to get out of your head (and home) to forget about cancer for a few hours.

Update everyone all at once! Your family and friends love you, so they will want to know how you are doing…but that can be very straining to emotionally “go there” time and time again. If you have ongoing health updates to report to loved ones, send it out in a group email or post. This helps keep them informed and minimizes the stress on the patient and caregivers.

“Caregivers, put your oxygen mask on first.” Basically, you are no good to the patient if you don’t take care of yourself. Go get your doctor check-ups, workout, schedule a spa day or an appointment with a therapist so you too have an emotional outlet. Self-care is so important!

These tips were provided by Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, ONN-CG, University Distinguished Service Professor and Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

HELP and SUPPORT*:

Cancercare.org is a FREE hotline made up of 43 social workers specifically there to help cancer patients AND caregivers.

Cancersupportcommunity.org

NCCN.org/patients

Cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/emotional-side-effects/distress.html

*These links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they are not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice nor are they endorsements of any healthcare provider or practice. Med-IQ bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of the external sites or for that of subsequent links. Contact the external sites for answers to questions regarding their content.

Med-IQ is an accredited medical education company that provides exceptional educational experience for physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. I decided to work with Med-IQ because I want patients/caregivers/mothers/daughters to be aware of the signs of distress and anxiety. I want them to know they are not alone. No one should suffer in silence. I hope my story can help other families be more proactive in curbing cancer-related distress and finding joy whenever possible.
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It’s just us. She and I…

This is how she always sleeps, chiseled into my neckline and chest ever since she was a newborn and still does 3 years later. With the right position in a dimly lit room with a fan going, she’s sound asleep in less than 4 minutes. 
I’ve officially mastered the nap. 
Now bedtime is another story… my husband has been pushing to eliminate her naps… but he’s also at work in the late afternoon when she rages from exhaustion if she doesn’t nap. Easy for him to say! 
But in all seriousness, she’s my last… my baby. I’m not ready to give up those quiet afternoon cuddles, the calm before the “after school” storm. 
It’s just us. She and I… and I’m just going to savor these MOMents for a little while longer. She and I… my rainbow baby of hope🌈