Our Perfect Wednesday: Cookies for Two

William and I love to bake together. As I type this, I’m eyeing the brown bananas on my counter with glee, knowing that some banana bread is in our future. Baking is our special time. We measure and mix, chatting the whole time and just enjoying each other.

One of our favorites to bake is chocolate chip cookies. I don’t know what it is about this particular recipe, but it always gets rave reviews!

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 12 oz package of chocolate chips

Instructions:

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter (I prefer salted, but it’s up to you and your taste buds), granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. This is a great time to add any additional ingredients- I love to add oatmeal! Drop on to ungreased baking sheets. 

Pro tip: This is one of the best wedding gifts Jeff & I received. It’s a cookie scoop from Crate & Barrel. I love it!

BAKE until golden brown. I bake mine for 8 1/2 minutes, but generally anywhere from 9-11 is perfect. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes; remove and put on wire baking racks to finish cooling. 

Then hide them all because they go FAST.


The Twisty, Turny Cycle of Trauma

Jeff gave me a book to read this week. Once More We Saw Stars, by Jayson Greene. It’s getting wonderful reviews and is a beautiful, achingly powerful book.

Greene shares the journey of losing his two-year-old daughter, Greta, in a horrible incident. She is with her grandmother and a piece falls off a building, striking her in the head. The book goes through their experience with grief and finding happiness in life again. I’ll leave it there in the event you want to read it.

I’ll also leave it there because I’m going to confess, I couldn’t finish it. I made it through the first two sections of the book before I was stricken with such a horrible, visceral reaction that I couldn’t keep reading. I laid in bed last night with Jeff, crying, practically sobbing. My heart was broken- for this family, but also in thinking of my own.

When Ben had his accident, he was only two weeks old. What has haunted me ever since was the idea that he almost died, in my own home, the one place I could keep him safe. What if… When if… When.

I’ve lived, waiting for the other shoe to drop for nearly two and a half years.

When you experience trauma, there is a cycle of grief. Like anything else, I think, you travel through these stages. We all know them– denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I’ve often wryly told people that I’ve been through these stages with Benjamin, and sometimes all in the same day. I’ve also added a sixth stage to my own grieving process, and that is fear.

I live with a fear that it will happen again. That this time, Ben will be taken from us. That when he gets old enough that he begins to venture out on his own I will receive a call that he is gone.

Trauma is never far.

What I’m trying to learn now is how to process that trauma so while it’s always a part of our story it isn’t who we are. That the accident is merely a moment in time, but the journey is the mark we make upon the world because of it. It isn’t easy to not allow yourself to become defined by a life course-altering second.

That’s one thing that has amazed me about Jeff from the very beginning. Once we were out of the woods and knew that Ben was going to survive, he has been nothing but optimistic. To him, Ben is limitless and he has this ability to live without the gut-crushing fear. For Jeff, Greene’s is a book that allows him to be grateful, for me, I succumb to the fear that is never far.

I straddle a tightrope between the trauma of an accident- the indelible print on my heart and mind that it leaves- and the promise that Ben has shown. The meaning he gives and the joy he brings. As I continue my own journey through grief, I look to my husband and young son for guidance on how to power through.

In the words of Jayson Greene, “this is going to feel like it’s going to kill me, but all I have to do is step into it and it won’t”.

And it hasn’t.

A Letter to My Son on the Last Day of Preschool

Dear Son,

I am writing this while I look at the flower you made me for Mother’s Day two years ago. Two years. The time has flown in the blink of an eye. It’s so true what they say- the days are long, but the years are short.

The OG Mother’s Day Flower, Circa 2017

You are my love, my life, my sweet little one. I look at you and I see all the wonder that is in the world and everything beautiful and kind.

Today, your journey as a preschooler ends. We have the summer and then off to kinder you go. It’s what is supposed to happen, I know this. But while it’s a beginning, it’s also an end for your old mom. You’re a full-time kid now.

I remember when you started preschool. You were so sweet and shy, curling up in the corner of the classroom with a book, quiet and not quite ready to explore. You have grown so much- that shy little guy has been replaced by a smart, chatty, kind boy.

Gone are the days I pop out of my office to see your sweet face over lunch or you sneak in to craft something out of my office supplies. It’s time for you to spread your wings a little. It’s time for me to cry a little.

We’re growing and changing. But no matter if you’re half my size or towering over me, you will always be my little boy. My firstborn- love of my life.

Be great, sweet son.

Always,

Mom

Mothering Without

Most days the loss of my mom is back of mind. It’s been over ten years now, so I have somewhat adapted to the loss. On Mother’s Day, it’s hard not to think about it. How I’ve grown as a mom without her presence, and how I miss her.

My first-ever piece on Her View From Home, back for this special yet sad day.

Knowing When to Say When

The last two years have been full of ups and downs for our family. We’ve been riding a roller coaster of emotions- the highest of highs and some really dark lows.

I’ve been open about my struggles with PTSD and anxiety- until lately. I was doing great, and when I wasn’t I was ashamed to share it again, thinking that I’d failed. I felt like I was out of the woods, and suddenly here I am, waking up before sunrise every morning, anxiety gripping at my insides, sadness and shame forcing me out of bed to start my day.

I know that anxiety and depression is a lifelong struggle. But like many people who fight it, I forget. I will feel great for a while, think I am cured and get cocky. I’m healed! Self-care be damned! Take on all the things! Lean in!

It’s not true, friends. I’m scared all the time. I feel like one of my worst nightmares happened in my own home and while Ben is doing amazing, I can’t protect him. I’ve gotten so anxious that I’ve turned into a tyrant. I don’t take the boys to the playground for fear of injury. When they kick the ball into the street one too many times I force us all inside because I know that a car will come whipping around the corner, injuring one of my precious babies. I yell. Will tells me I’m mean. I cry. Too often.

I’ve become someone who lives in a box of fear, and that’s no place to be.

So, what’s next? I confessed to Jeff all that is ailing me, and while he doesn’t understand it, he does his best to support me. He listens, he reads up on anxiety and depression (nerd), and he stands beside me. He is a big dumb guy sometimes, but he is also my biggest champion. And he knows that under this shouty woman is a wife and mom who is scared, whose lunacy is rooted in a of love.

I’ve turned to my psychiatrist for help, and I’m on the hunt for a new therapist. I’ve learned over the years that I’m better medicated, so we are working to find the right cocktail of drugs to help me even out, so I can attack the anxiety demons. #xanaxismyfriend

I need to find a way to balance the fear with reality. To know that I can protect my boys, but that I need to allow them to spread their wings. To realize that after darkness, there is dawn- and you must embrace that, not live in fear of the next storm.

And I share. With all of you because we are better together. I’ve hidden behind a mask of fake happiness too many times, and I know so many other mamas who do too. I’m not sure which is scarier- sharing or hiding. But I share because I know I am not alone, and I want to lend my voice to those other friends struggling in silence. Fighting the fight against anxiety is exhausting, but I’m worth it. My boys are worth it. We are ALL worth it.

Learning Valuable Lessons When They’re Young

The value of work is what we’re talking about today. It took me awhile, but my hope is that our children learn a little sooner. I’m very grateful for everything my parents provided for me, but I want my children to understand the value of hard work.

Visit me here at Reality Moms to learn what I mean.