Tuesday, February 7

On raising up strong girls

     Being blessed with four daughters has definitely been such a wonderful combination of joy and terror. Right now they're 6, 5, 3, and 1 1/2 (these pictures were taken by Justin Hackworth in 2014), and having them at such different stages certainly brings many different adventures and challenges. There are days already when I can load Ellie and Soph into the car and make a Target run to go pick out nail polish, and then I walk past the training bras or the feminine products and my heart just drops into my stomach.haha Thinking about the chaos and drama in my house growing up and even reaching adulthood as the youngest of 6 girls, I'm dreading the teenage years quite a bit, especially in the world we live in now.

     After Marty passed away, I put everything I had into focusing solely on my children, especially on my older two girls, as they needed the most attention and help with the transition into a life without their father. Partly it was to avoid falling too deep into the darkness that was pulling at me, but also because I felt that my only purpose left was to be the best mother that I could, that because so much of me had died with my sweetheart, that I needed to lose the rest of myself in making up for the lost time with the children. For those 15 months of babysitters and weeks away from them, microwave meals and endless TV while I spent every minute I could with Marty, traveling for treatments, researching, doctors visits, trying to memorize his face and his voice, making the most of what time we had left of our life together, taking the best care of him that I could.

     Since Richard has joined the family, there's even more focus on that transition for our family and for the girls than there ever could be before he came along. I could finally start letting myself feel deeply and not worry too much about the consequences, or about who was going to feed the kids or take them to school if I became too lost in my own grief. Since the two older girls are the only ones likely to have any memories at all of their dad(and even now they don't remember a time when he wasn't sick and hurting), it became (and has continued to be) a beautiful part of each day when we can share those sweet memories together, when I can tell them stories they've never heard about their dad and our life together, when they can show Richard mementos and things that make them think of Martin, when I can hold them and we can cry together. I could finally look through old pictures with them and listen to Martin's favorite songs with them without completely falling apart, because I had back-up:) We've been able to keep up regular visits and meals/holidays with Marty's sweet parents and siblings as well, and spending more quality time with them has been great. And because the kids see so much of their dad around the house and always will, they can know that he'll always be a special part of our lives forever. I never try to turn off their tears or shut them down. We cry and we laugh, we miss him fiercly, and then we remember how much he was hurting for so so long, and we feel better about him being in heaven. We've continued to visit the cemetery each week together, and since his headstone was put in last Fall the kids all love finding their names and placing their flower on their spot.

     There's a beautiful book that my sister Jordan gave to us before Marty passed away called The Invisible String, and I actually just bought all the kids a copy and wrote them a note inside. We read it every night during his last days, and it's still a favorite. Basically, it talks about how when we love someone dearly, that no matter how far away they get that we're always connected to them by an invisible string of love. That no matter if they're across the world or deep in the ocean, or flying high in the sky with the angels, that they can never be separated from us. I ball every time I read it, and it's not just geared towards death so I highly encourage y'all to get a copy for your family. I added their books to a memory box that I bought for each child. Each box is a small trunk with a latch, and inside they each have albums of photos, the newspaper with his obituary, copies of his funeral recording and the program that I made, beautiful photos from the funeral, little things of Martin's that meant something special to them, a copy of his novel, the music he wrote, his poems, an article of clothing or scarf etc, the letters I typed out for each of them as Marty weakly told me what to say, the little things they made for him for father's day, a dried rose from his casket spray, etc. I have the boxes on a shelf for when they get a little older, and whenever it think of something else I add to them. I expect that sometime soon I may have to get them bigger trunks:)

     Just as I feel I'm at my weakest while simultaneously being at my strongest, I think the same thing is true for the girls, because while losing their dad at such a young age has been hard for them to understand and go through, they'll always have this time to remember that if they can go through that and keep their sweetness, that they can go through anything. I want my girls to know that, and little John too:) 

    I want to teach my daughters what it means to be a strong woman, especially with the recent women's' march and everything it meant to people. I want to teach them that they don't have to follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing, but that they must also never give up love and respect for others that make choices differently than we do. There are so many dark forces at work in the world to tear our little ones down and tell them they're not good enough, and it's our job and privilege to tell them that they are so much more than good enough.

     I want my daughters to know that I believe in them. That when no one else thinks they can do it, that I know they can. That I support them and want them to succeed, and that ultimately everything I try to do as a mother is to keep them safe and healthy and happy. I want to expect more from my girls, so they expect more from themselves. I want to let them fail so they will learn vital lessons about working for what you want and not giving up. I want to encourage their quirks and unique character traits, so they know that it's not only okay to be different, but that it's their differences that make them beautiful. I want to work on my own confidence and to always remember that my daughters are watching, that they're learning every day from the way I treat myself and what I say to the woman in the mirror. I want my daughters to know that when it may seem like everyone in their lives is telling them what they're doing wrong, that I will try to always be the one to tell them everything they're doing right. I want my daughters to see that when all else fails, kindness always wins out.

     I'm so proud of my little ones. I'm so proud of their strength and their tender hearts. I hope someday to help them see how much they've taught me, and how they gave me purpose to keep going when I didn't think I had anything left to live for. To fight for. I hope that they'll always remember that they are braver than they believe, stronger than they feel, smarter than they think, and loved more than they ould ever know.

Alright that's the end:) 
ttyl

50 comments:

  1. Beautiful and inspiring, Emily. ❤

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  2. So beautiful. Thank you for sharing so openly about your process with grief and how your family is embracing what has been and what is to come.

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  3. Yes, yes, yes!

    Powerful post for your little girls to read in the near future.

    Keep your head up; the internet haters and trolls HAVE NOTHING on you, Emily.

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  4. your so strong Emily. I look up to you. your posts always seem to bring tears to my eyes.
    Whitney

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  5. I love the idea of the boxes you have made them Emily. Those sound very special and I am sure they will be cherished so much. You are such a strong, thoughtful Mama.

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  6. Beautiful post. Yes strong women and they don't need to follow the crowd. Be you. Beautiful you!

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  7. I truly appreciate and love your words! Your website creates an uplifting atmosphere for any and all that read it. That's been my goal as my husband and I ventured and started our own blog. Please check it out and see if we can add goodness and positivity to your life as well!
    http://www.beingbolens.com/

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  8. Your life has changed so much since he passed away last June! I don't know how you've managed to do so much.
    So much travel and life changing events! And you're nearing the halfway mark to your one year wedding anniversary now too!

    I have no idea how you manage so much.
    God bless you and yours!

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  9. Dear Emily, I've been following Your journey for about two years, but it's the first time I decided to leave a comment. I've just always felt that everything I wanted to share has already been said by other ppl following Your blog and You already have waaay too much to do than to read another comment... Anyway, I'm a mum myself, my daughter's about a month younger than Your Evelyn,and of course my heart broke for You and then bursted with true joy, when I found out about Richard. Today as I read Your post and tried to understand Your constant struggle I just wanted to say that You truly inspire me to not only be a better mother, but a better person. Thank You for having the courage to go on, share Your life against all odds and everything You've experienced. Lots of love from Warsaw, Poland! Ewa

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    1. Sending even more love from Poland, this time from Kraków! Emily, you inspire people from so many different corners of the world, thank you for being a light in the dark!

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  10. This is beautiful. My tears are flowing. ��

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  11. Emily you wrote such an beatiful article. I can feel the love for Martin and your Kids in every word. Your the best mother for your littles and a strong person. Keep on going you are the best example for your Kids. And it's great that Richard is there for Even more Love and support. Still waiting for some more about your Story.

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  12. This is beautiful x (and a great read for me as we are about to welcome our third daughter into the world - and my older two are also Soph & Ellie!)x

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  13. Thank you so much for the YouTube video 😘
    It was so good to see you again my Sweetest Emily. Just a thought ... I would love to see a video introducing each child. Their likes and dislikes and about their personalities. Watching them grow has been both wonderful and sad. They are growing so fast.

    I've missed every instastory because of time schedule so seeing you again was such a treat. I love seeing the snow pictures it is so beautiful.

    Thank you for raising such wonderful children. I have 2 boys and it is so hard raising them as a single mother. Being responsible for every aspect of their lives. But I can only do my best and pray it's enough. They have the same birthday but 2 years apart and they are ever so different from each other that's why I would love to see a video with each little one showing each different personality. Love you so much and I've followed you for years and just want to thank you for being such a strong inspiration.

    I followed you during Martin's battle and cried when he passed. I was on vacation and when I saw his battle was over it was so heartbreaking but also knowing he was no longer in such pain gave me some relief. I'm not sure if that is the correct wording but I'm sure you know what I mean. I lost my daddy to cancer and I couldn't handle seeing him in so much pain and confusion.

    Anyway my love may your future hold only the best and stay blessed 🐬

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  14. Doggone it, Emily. I WASN'T GOING TO CRY. What a beautiful, beautiful soul you are. Your children are very blessed by you.

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  15. You are doing a wonderful job. Sending so much love to you!

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  16. Wow this is your best post EVER!!!! I am so wishing that I had had a mother like you, instead of having to figure all this stuff out by myself over the past 65 years. Your girls are so fortunate to have you and John too ��

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  17. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your heart.

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  18. This is very powerful. I think it will be helpful to other young grieving mothers, and I hope they find it and give it a read. It was even inspiring to me as a mother to a fierce young girl who definitely does not go with the flow.

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  19. I love this Emily! You are such an inspiration! No doubt you will raise beautiful, strong women :)

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  20. Such beautiful words! Thank you for sharing such tender feelings, I couldn't help but cry as I read them. As a momma of four girls I too share your worries, hopes, and dreams. You inspire me to try a little more each day.

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  21. Oh Emily, I couldn't help myself but to go back and look at yours and Martin's memories over the years on the blog this morning after reading about the memory boxes. I found myself sitting at my desk with tears in my eyes. Your strength is so admirable and your children are beyond lucky to have you. I am so glad you documented these memories in such detail and can reference the sweet love you and Martin shared. There is not a week that goes by that I don't think of your strength and wish your family every happiness in the world.

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  22. My hat go's off to you and you're family. It must be one of the hardest things to go through especially with little ones. You are one heck of a wonder woman!

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  23. it goes off to you, you are one heck of a Wonder Woman to go through all of that with all those little beautiful children and continue your blog. it's amazing!

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  24. I'm sitting behind my desk crying... again. I was fortunate to march with my Mother. I'm one girl of three boys and my parents sometimes faltered in that (when I chose a more competitive career I believe my Mom asked me if I wanted children... I asked her if she asked by brothers that). Mostly though they reinforced by curiosity and I don't blame them for their occasional slip ups...
    I want your daughters to have a better world than we have. So we will keep showing up. You do your part raising strong smart girls and I'll do mine... demanding we give them all opportunities, and recognize their beauty, and intelligence Brave people have children... it's our job to support them

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  25. I love the idea of those boxes, what a treasure!
    I would really like a blogpost that just shows a regular day for your family.

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  26. I have three daughters. This post is beautifully written. Thank you for being so open. <3

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  27. Love reading your words. I always get so excited to see a new post from you! Keep writing :)

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  28. Great post and I'm so glad you were able to carve out the time to type it out! So important that having Richard to lean on means that you don't always have to hold it together. Sometimes I think I'm a calm parent, until another adult comes on the scene and I realize I have just been internalizing the stress! So great how you and Martin were able to put aside some mementos for the kids. Wishing you and Richard plenty of wisdom and grace as you continue the journey.

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  29. This is so beautiful. You are so strong and inspirational and all of your children are so blessed to have you as their mother. <3

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  30. I bawled reading this. <3 My Dad died five days before my third birthday and we buried him on my third birthday. I love how you keep his memory so alive.... I'm so touched.

    Great, now I have to explain to my husband why I'm a crying mess! Lol!

    Take care sweet Emily. xo

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  31. Hi Emily :) I have been reading your blog for a little while now, and I am constantly inspired by your strength, gentleness and grace. As a 16 year old girl myself I think that you are doing a fantastic job raising you little girls! I am definitely no parenting expert, but from the perspective of a teenager I think that if you keep doing what your doing, they will turn out to be beautiful, strong young women just like you! I love your heart and your attitude towards life, NEVER change it :)
    Love and prayers all the way from New Zealand xo

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  32. Tears in my eyes while reading this. Beautiful written and so true. x

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  33. I follow you on FB and came over to read your post. I have followed you here off and on. You have a beautiful family of girls, and I'm so sorry they will only have memories of their father. I wrote a post today I thought you might enjoy, because it touches on how we need to raise girls in this society...http://www.cozylittlehouse.com/2017/02/boys-will-be-boys.html
    My heart is with you as you raise these gorgeous little ones!
    Brenda

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  34. Beautiful post. I too have a daughter that I want to raise to be a strong woman someday. Thank you for sharing your story. I can't tell you how glad I am to have found your blog. I'm also a widow with small children and to hear how others are choosing to continue is a breath of fresh air. Your story and relationship with Richard has given me hope that I will tuck into my heart and pray that the Lord will be working in my life to bring beauty from ashes. Blessings to you and your family. Wish we lived closer. I would LOVE to be friends!

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  35. Your story is absolutely beautiful...

    One thing you can teach your daughters is to have a growth mindset...It will help them throughout their lives...My own growth mindset has helped me through many challenges and has helped me to become a strong woman...

    http://www.nearariver.com/think-your-way-to-success-no-matter-what/

    BJ Rae
    Author, Near A River
    nearariver.com

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  36. Your story is absolutely beautiful...

    One thing you can teach your daughters is to have a growth mindset...It will help them throughout their lives...My own growth mindset has helped me through many challenges and has helped me to become a strong woman...

    http://www.nearariver.com/think-your-way-to-success-no-matter-what/

    BJ Rae
    Author, Near A River
    nearariver.com

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  37. Hi! I just wanted to say I loved this article and admire your strength and how you're raising your daughters. The trunk idea is beautiful! Wish you all the best in this world. Thank you for inspiring the rest of us. *

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  38. Question: did martins book ever get published or did he ever self publish via ebook or something?

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  39. Hi. I have signed up to follow your blog on bloglovin. Purely because I loved your and the kids'lovely red hair. I have two gingered boys myself. I have only today read your story and I want to thank you for inspiring and reminding me to be thankful!

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  40. Your story is so unbelievably touching + how anyone could be born w/such stunning hair {this includes your little ones} is just purely unfair to the rest of us:)

    Please keep sharing glimpses into your beautiful family -- they are so inspiring to your readers. Xo

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  41. You are really working great to raise your children. I would like to appreciate you. You are an amazing and wonderful mom.

    Ashley Sewell
    The Academic Papers

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  42. You are a great mother who blessed with four angels. Hope you are celebrating your life with little princesses.

    Essay writing service

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