Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I'm not afraid of your life

This is sappy, but whatever. Move your little eyes someplace else if you don't wanna read it. Brice and I are in love, and I don't care who knows it.

I knew he was perfect for me almost instantly. We were just magnetized. People tell you you'll just know, and I guess they're right. I never believed in soulmates, true love, my knight in shining armor, any of it. But then there he was, and he was all of it in one very real, very amazing person. Finally, someone who can keep up with me and can handle my zest for life!

He continues to do and say wonderful things that both reaffirm my initial impression of him and deepen my admiration, just totally without even trying. He is 100% himself, and I appreciate 100% of who that is. I told him he makes me want to write, and here I am writing.

And so you know, I have his permission; I'm not goin' rogue here. Brice is a super private and modest person, and he would never brag about himself. I want all my friends and family to see just how great he is, though, especially since he hasn't gotten to meet any of y'all yet, so I'm gonna give you a little feel for how he treats me.

I can talk to him about anything, and he doesn't shy away from the tough stuff. Instead, he says things like this:

"I'm not afraid of your life, Kelsey. I will be there through every stressful thing, and we'll go through all of it together."

Those are swooning words. That hit me right in the feels. This is by far the most meaningful, powerful thing any person on this earth has ever said to me. "I accept all your baggage and chaos and your insane amount of stress," basically. I have a pretty strong fear of abandonment when the going gets rough,  I guess, because my life is full of little fires that I'm constantly putting out, and I'm often completely frazzled and overwhelmed.

But even more powerful than hearing those words is experiencing how it feels when Brice stands behind them and proves that he's there, steady and strong, willing to listen, willing to help me through it (even when I don't even know how to ask for or accept help). I don't know how he does it, but he doesn't even falter. I mean, have y'all met me? I talk a lot. But there he is...even through all the screenshots I send him of annoying conversations with toxic people and huge essay-length texts venting about everything on my mind. I send a lot of texts (our count is 1,615 of them since August 4th when this month's phone bill started over). Nope, doesn't even phase him.

He just accepts me and all that I come with.

I've been missing him big time since Colorado last month, and he and Kimmy both talk to me about how they're itching to meet each other. So I decided Kimmy and I needed a little weekend getaway to San Antonio to make this happen!

"Kimmy and I are coming to visit you in Texas later this month, Brice!"
"I'm so excited! Does she need a car seat while she's here?"

Yep, his first thought once we locked down plans was my daughter's safety...whether Kimmy would be safe in the car while we're there and what he could do to make sure she was.

He also bought her a birthday present. He also talks to her on video chat and texts emojis with her and sends her silly snaps and includes her in all our conversations about what the future looks like. He also makes me laugh and calms me down and calls me beautiful and talks nerdy to me (hah!). He is a good, good man. He makes my heart happy. I am so thankful I found him.

To be continued.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Yesterday was my Kimmy Jarae's 5th birthday. She's 5! I really can't believe it. I am shocked that my little toddler got replaced by a big kid.

She had school yesterday (her 3rd day of kindergarten), but I still tried to make her day as special as I could. She got to wear her new My Little Pony (current obsession) shirt with Rainbow Dash on it. I gave her Starbursts for breakfast (well, pre-breakfast, since we're cashing in on the $1.10 breakfasts at school). I sent cupcakes and flowers and a balloon to her school (judge me all you want, but my child is not spoiled by material things. So I went all out for her birthday). After school, we ran to the grocery store and then came home to make dinner together.

We made gumbo. Kimmy's been begging to try gumbo for months. She loves okra, and when she learned that it's a key ingredient in Tiana's dish in Princess and the Frog, she latched onto the idea of making it for dinner sometime. We got tons of fresh veggies from the farmers' market this weekend, including the okra mother lode, so we were all set for gumbo cookin'. I thought her birthday was the perfect occasion!

I love being a mom, and I know I'm a pretty good one. One thing I seriously struggle with, though, is active listening. I'm so exhausted in the evenings and overwhelmed with managing a routine, cleaning, getting everything ready for the next day, doing homework, keeping some semblance of a social life, and getting enough sleep, that I generally do a terrible job listening, being patient, sticking to one task at a time, and sitting down to spend relaxing time with my Kimmy-girl instead of bouncing around the house like a pinball. I catch myself saying, "Mmhmm. Oh, that's great," to many of the things Kimmy tells me (or tries to tell me) in the evenings. I have horrible mommy guilt over it, and I resent single parenting for making it my reality. I'm the only person Kimmy has to talk to, and I ruin it a lot by being so lacking in energy. I'm just spread so thin that there is no way I can hit the evening portion of our day with a full battery. I get really down about it.

So last night I put my phone down and spent some real quality time with my baby. We (mostly she) talked, and I listened. She took me by surprise several times throughout the evening! I was so astonished at how much she knows and has been learning lately. Even the way she forms sentences now...it's like she's a grown-up trapped in that little girly-girl frame.

While we were prepping our veggies for cooking, I was dicing an onion. When I moved on to the garlic, Kimmy said, "I already know what that knife move is called, Mommy." I said, "Oh, you do? What?" "Mincing." I literally had no clue she knew that! She said she learned it from Princess and the Frog when Prince Naveen is mincing mushrooms. And then she helped me mince.

Next, she started munching on a green pepper--a favorite snack of my brother's when he was Kimmy's age. She said she loved it, and I told her she was awesome and brave to always try new foods.

The evening was interspersed with random friends and family members calling and sending messages to wish her a happy birthday like Nana and Papple and Nate and Brice, but we still got to talk to each other a lot. Probably my favorite part was when we were sitting at the bar together just digging into our bowls of gumbo when she finally opened up to me about how school was going. I've barely heard a peep about school since the first day, and it had me kind of worried.

We had a nice heart to heart about her class and teacher, her new best friend Averi who sits at the table next to her, how it takes time to learn new names and make new friends, how her school is pretty big compared to my grade school and how I think she's showing a lot of courage by not being intimidated by being around so many people. She told me her favorite part of school is that she's going to learn to read, and her least favorite part is not having nap time. (Cue the mommy guilt for her having to go to Latch-Key before and after school while her momma goes to work, which makes for 10-hour days.)

We finished up our evening with blackberries sprinkled with sugar, and I got my 5-year-old sidekick into bed only about a half hour late.

Kimmy's final thought before bed? "I have a question. What if we could swim in clouds?" She might be growing up quickly, but that mind of hers is still wild, innocent, free, and full of dreams. I love her so.

Parenting never feels better than when you're connected with your kiddo without distractions. My favorite ways to get there with Kimmy are camping, vacationing, and cooking. I need to make a point of it more often! But what would parenting be without lots of mini failures, right? I need grace. Lots and lots of grace. We've made it to age 5 with smiles on our faces, and we can make it much farther!

I love you, Kimmy Jarae-jee Jay-jee Jarae.