Dear Tessa: Happy 7th Birthday!

Dear Tessa,

My bedroom door slowly opened up this morning while I was feeding Dax. Your face peaked around the corner while you held onto the door handle. “Is it my birthday today mom?” I smiled and nodded my head yes. “Yay! It’s my birthday! It’s my birthday! I love you!” I watched as you jumped up and down and gave your daddy a great big hug.

You excitedly climbed up in my bed and laid down next to me, describing the kind of birthday cake you wanted. First it was Trolls, then emojis; ultimately deciding on a giant Frozen cake topped with whipped cream and ice cream. The good news is that your dad already bought you an ice cream cake, complete with whipped cream topping. Technically a frozen cake but without all of the glitter. We opted for this route because as you’ve told us before, you’re “not a big fan of cake.” And we all know ice cream is the best way to your heart.

Happy seventh birthday. How in the world are you seven years old? I swear I just brought all six pounds of you home from the hospital yesterday.

First off, I am just going to go ahead and own that I dropped the birthday ball this year. August 15 snuck up on me this year, and I failed to plan a single thing for your special day. We will celebrate with a few of your friends next week. Which means I had to slightly let you down today when you asked what time your surprise party would be. Seriously girlfriend, you can’t go expecting surprise parties until you’re twenties or thirties like the rest of us.

I know kids grow faster than parents realize, so it shouldn’t surprise me but it always does. Every birthday arrives, and I’m all like hold on a hot second…you can’t get any bigger, ok? I try to convince you to stay the same age just one more year, but you won’t have any of it.

Seven feels like a big one. Still a kid, but becoming more of a big one. Your baby face I smooched on for so long now has less chubby cheeks. A few freckles now rest below your piercing blue eyes. The short bob that frames your face complements your bold personality. Your smile is sporting two brand new front teeth that are just about all the way in, and the hot pink glasses add the perfect amount of sass. Country music has recently rocked your soul thanks to Chris Janson. Expressions and opinions about the world you live in are more prevalent as your interests broaden.

While so much of you is changing, a lot remains the same. Your love of milkshakes and your beloved “Malt Man” (AKA Dad) is as strong as it gets. Books are still your favorite way to relax. You appreciate a good Caesar salad. Music and Netflix could entertain you all day long. As of yesterday, ranch dressing is still your “jam.” And my favorite… pretending to not know how to do certain things just to get mom’s help. The perfect blend of old and new to ease the bittersweet stages of watching you grow up.

In a few weeks, you will start second grade. A socially defining year for kids your age. Real friendships begin to form as common interests intersect at recess and lunch. As your mom, I wonder what these friendships will look like for you. Will you be loved and accepted for all of the wonderful things that make you, you?

My hope for you, even more than making friends, is that you are never afraid to be yourself. That you continue to explore the things that bring you happiness. Most importantly, that you remain kind when others may not be in return.

Happy birthday sweet Tessa Bug. We love you lots and hope you enjoy your special day.

Love, Mom (and Malt Man, too) ❤️

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Summer Break

The middle of August means that summer is on its way out for the year, and the start of a fresh school year is just a couple of weeks away. Our summer bucket list was non-existent this year. We spent most of our days at home; sleep deprived and super laid back thanks to our newest and sweetest addition, baby Dax.

Our summer has been full of therapy appointments, summer school, doctor visits, baseball games and deadlines. If it isn’t in mom’s Google calendar, it ain’t happenin’ kids. *Insert shrug emoji*

Adding a new baby into the mix has certainly kept our days (and nights) even more full outside of our already packed schedules; leaving little time for epic memories moms often feel pressured to provide their kids with over summer break. And guess what? The children have survived without a full-fledged family vacation or so much as a day trip to the zoo, beach or water park. Maybe next year when life settles back down. You know, when the baby is one; likely walking around and getting into everything.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a nice, stressful family vacay just as much as the next parent; but it wasn’t happening this year. To be fair, our kids needed a summer like this. They’ve had it real good in their short lives and have enjoyed plenty of special trips and events. It is okay for them to understand that mom and dad are not the sole creators of good childhood memories. That they can do so creatively without leaving home or spending lots of money.

Summer break this year is nice because I am on maternity leave, which means lots and lots and lots of time for me and the kids to spend together. And by nice, I sort of mean crazy. It is absolutely bananas around here most days; good and bad. Occasionally I’ll respond to yet another round of tattling with phrases like “I don’t care,” or “…figure it out yourselves.” Anyone else or just me?

It isn’t that I truly do not care, it’s more so that we have all been home together for several weeks on end and they have been tattling on one another for the same stuff every single day. Also, have I mentioned I’m currently functioning on little to no sleep? I don’t think I need to intervene because one sister called the other a “poopy head.” That can be handled amongst themselves. I have real poop issues to tackle with the infant of the house.

I’m going rogue over here, ya’ll…

We have reached the do-whatever-you-want phase of summer; where it’s all running through the sprinkler in their clothes, premade cookie dough, eating popsicles in their undies out on the porch, not always fitting veggies into the meals, constantly sporting mess faces, 4 o’clock naps, literally never wearing shoes and staying up way later than they should instead of trying to get into school bedtime routines.

Based on how happy they are, perhaps I should have ran out of sh*** to give as soon as school got out. But you know, mom guilt is a real thing. As an avid planner that struggles with anxiety, letting things happen candidly isn’t always easy for me either.

In light of this revelation, we’re riding this chill train straight to the end of summer. Because dang it, it feels good. It’s the kind of summers I often grew up having and actually really appreciate now that I’m a mom.

While we didn’t deliver on big moments this summer, there was no shortage of little ones. And that makes this mom’s heart sing all the feel-good songs.

Hang in there guys. One day we will be wishing for all of this again.