Happy Birthday, Emma

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Dear Emma Lynne,

It has almost been one year since the day you were born, and I have spent time over the past twelve months searching for the words with which to share my feelings and love for you. This entry is just one small attempt to make that happen, and I hope your parents will welcome my thoughts.

Two weeks before you were born, I found out that I was pregnant. Having known your mama in high school and college, and knowing that she was pregnant with you, I took a special interest in your story and her journey. I loved that you were a surprise to the outside world. I loved that your mother shared pictures of her growing belly so fearlessly. I loved that you were going to be born at any minute, and I was one of the people checking social media to make sure I didn’t miss your arrival. All of these things were helping me with my transition into motherhood, as my own nugget was still very tiny, new, and a secret to the rest of the world.

And then, I woke up on that day last September, and read your mama’s post about your birth with a smile on my face. You were a girl, your name was Emma Lynne Maclaga, and on the day you were born, you had also died. My smile turned into tears, and I couldn’t help but sob. My reaction and feelings will never come anywhere near what your parents must have felt, and still feel to this day. However, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “how could this happen?” I was devastated, and angry. How did God allow such a sweet innocent life to slip away? It wasn’t fair. I couldn’t wrap my head or my heart around your passing, and I felt as if I didn’t deserve to have my baby still growing inside my womb while your mother only held you in her arms for a short while.

After asking all of those questions, it slowly became clear to me that God had a plan for you, and for your parents. Your mother, with such courage and honesty, began writing about you. She shared, what I can only imagine to be a fraction of her deepest feelings and heartbreak. She wrote about you and your beauty. It is through her words that I found a connection with you, and it is through her words that you’ve had such a profound impact on my life. With more grace and strength than I could have ever managed, your mother gave your life a purpose, and began the process of healing herself and other women who’ve also lost their babies.

The first time I saw your picture, I was blown away. You are gorgeous. Your soft, dark hair and perfect button nose made me wonder what my little one was going to look like. The day my sweet baby was born, I thought of you. When he first opened his eyes and looked at me, I began to cry, and I felt your presence with me. He was with me, and you were in heaven.

Five weeks later, I went to see your mama tell your story. Oh sweet Emma, she brought you to life with her voice. I have never been so moved. My heart felt as if it would burst right out of my chest. The room full of people could feel you with her, there is absolutely no mistake about that.

I believe that someday, you and your parents will meet again. Perhaps, you will have younger siblings, and I hope that you know you will always be their big sister. My wish for you is that you continue to watch over your family here on earth, as they will long for you the rest of their days. My wish is that your story continues to touch and heal lives. My wish is that your mother and father continue to find hope and strength, and that they feel you with them as they do.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl. You are loved from near and from afar. ❤

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The First Day of School

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I am going to start this post with a disclaimer: if at any point, my words or ideas seem discombobulated and sporadic, it is because my brain is currently in that state. I sit here and write this as Harvey is spending his first day in daycare. I am floating back and forth between confidence and tears. I knew it would be hard to leave him for the first time, and I knew that I wanted to write while I did so. I have to capture these feelings in their rawest form, so please hang with me as I try to make sense of this new time in my life.

This August, the first day of school has a whole new meaning in my life. For the past 22 years, the thought of school starting has made me excited, a bit anxious, hopeful, reflective, nervous, but overall happy for another year of learning and friends. As a teacher, I feel all of those things still, and I would argue even more so than I did when I was a student. This year is no different. I feel all of those things the same way I used to, but… there is a new spin on it. For the first time, I am walking into my building as a mother. A mother who is leaving her child in a day care facility. A mother who would give anything to live two lives. You see, while I wish I could stay at home and raise my child, I also wish I could go to work and teach. Honestly, what I wish I could do, is bring Harvey to Leesville with me, haha! Let me do my best to articulate my feelings about this… because I’ve been thinking about it a lot over the past few months, and I know there are a lot of moms who have to make a lot of different decisions about their own children and their own jobs. It is hard, and there is no right or wrong answer. However, I do think that we are all filled with different questions/doubts/fears/etc… that part is for certain.

I love my job. It is the only job I have ever wanted to do. I also love my baby, and knew that someday I would become a mother, and it would be one of the best things that ever happened to me. What I never really thought about was the day I would become a teacher AND a mother. For the first time, when my classes start filing in the room on the first day of school, I will know that every single one of them is loved by their parents the same way that Nick and I love Harvey. Wow… what a wave of emotion! To every parent who has ever trusted me with your children on a daily basis, thank you! I can now tell you that I have a renewed sense of purpose in my task as their educator and role model. Honestly, when I think of some of the best teachers I had growing up, and when I think about some of my coworkers who I look up to everyday, I think of a very important detail they all have in common… parenthood.

I can tell you right now that I have always wanted my children to see me work. It is important to me. When I was growing up, my mom worked. She helped provide for my family, both monetarily and physically. However, I can’t help but think sometimes that I am working so that my money can help pay for childcare. Obviously, other moms who work think about the same thing… but that expense is not my entire paycheck. You should also know that I am not a teacher because of the money! I find fulfillment in my job, and in being a mother. It is also important to provide for my kids in as many ways as I can. There are a lot of things that Nick and I would not be able to do if I stayed at home… like buy a new house, travel as much as we do, and expose our kids to new experiences that sometimes cost money. It is a double-edged sword, but not one that we have to fall on, you know?

I am not trying to rationalize any of this (although I knew this entire post would be a back and forth with myself over my decision to return to work). I am a teacher. I am a mother. I am a coach. I do not have to pick one. And do you know what? Mamas who stay home with their babies, are also teachers and coaches and mothers. Having spent the last 5 months at home with my nugget, I now know this. I know so many stay-at-home moms who’ve raised beautiful kids. I also know so many working mamas who’ve raised beautiful kids. I don’t view this as having to “pick one.” I truly believe we can be both! I also know that the grass is always greener. There will be days where I wish I was home with Harvey. There will be days when I can stay home with him (because teaching schedules are pretty dang awesome when you consider all of our breaks) and I will wish I was at school.

I will check back in once the school year is underway, but just know for now that I am torn. I can’t wait to start school, and I can’t wait to see Harvey at the end of the day. I am in love with my job(s). I am a mom and I am a teacher. I would love to hear from some of the women and men in my life who have to do both. How do you cope? What are your thoughts? Any advice moving forward? Send me some positive thoughts and vibes throughout the next month… I am definitely traveling uncharted waters!

PS – Harvey has started eating a few solids and rolling over! I included a picture and a video for your  viewing pleasure 🙂