Learning to be tough..all over again | Personal

As I stand in the kitchen I hear the clonking of high heels. I look down and see a little brown eyed girl wearing my shoes, and my necklace.
“Wow, Miss Jenna! You look beautiful!”
“I’m playing princess.”
“Well, you sure do make a pretty princess.”
“Lauren, I need to tell you something.”
“Sure! What’s up?”
I start to laugh. “Did you forget?”
“Well…Ryan told me that he didn’t think that I was pretty.” She hangs her head.
I squat down and grab her hands.
“Jenna, you are absolutely beautiful. I’m sure he didn’t mean it. What did you do when he said this to you?”
“I was weally sad.”
“Can we have a big girl talk for a second? Look at me. Your whole life people are going to hurt your feelings. Even when you’re a grown up like me, people are still going to make you mad, or sad. They may even make you cry, but you have to learn to be tough, okay? If someone hurts your feelings you need to let them know and then you need to walk away.”
“Even when I’m as big as you?”
“Yep. Even when you’re as big as me.”
“You’ve cried before?”
“Wowwwww. Who made you cry?”
I start to laugh. “I’m not sure. I don’t remember. Okay, so if someone hurts your feelings you let them know and then you walk away. Got it?”
“Please use kind words though, okay? Just say, ‘That wasn’t very nice and you hurt my feelings.’
“Awight” She starts to walk away. “Lauren, I’ll never make you cry okay? I pwomise.” (Little does she know! ;))
“I’m sure you’ll hurt my feelings sometimes, Jenna. That’s okay though. It happens.”
“No, no, no. I weally won’t. Okay?”
“Alright, sweetie.”
About five minutes later I walk into my living room and I find Jenna dancing…
“Who’s that pretty girl I see over there?”
“ME! You’re talking about me!”
“You’re right! I am!” And I give her the biggest hug in the world…

Kathleen’s Bridal Shower | Personal

On the day of my friend Kathleen’s bridal shower I remember staring at my camera. “Bring it or don’t bring it?” Here’s the thing, when you’re a photographer your friends always want to know where your camera is. I can’t tell you how many times that I’m out and someone says, “We need to take a picture of this…Lauren, do you have your camera?” And whenever I reply, “No..” I get this look like I’m the craziest person on the face of the earth. The truth is my camera is my baby. If I’m not 100% sure it’s going to be safe, I’m not bringing it! 

I knew Kathleen’s shower was going to be a small, intimate affair. And I knew, obviously, that it would be safe. So, I thought this time I’ll shock them all and I’ll bring it with me. I had NO IDEA that her shower was going to be this beautiful. Of course I assumed it would be beautiful, but I mean really? When I walked into the Rice’s house I was in utter disbelief. The flowers, the candles, the string quartet..it was like a dream. I consider myself lucky, lucky to know Kathleen, lucky to have been invited to such a personal party, and ridiculously lucky to document it…
Kathleen's 5
The Rice girls had asked everyone to bring an ornament for Jon and Kathleen to add to their tree as husband and wife. What a sweet idea!
I really loved how they really made everything so personal to Kathleen. Including how her best friend and Maid of Honor gave her a Paris ornament to symbolize their trip to Europe together!
Kathleen studied Art History in college, so they incorporated frames…
I think Mrs. Rice had us all laugh and cry with her toast. :)
Jon’s mom made a really sweet toast as well. She wanted Kathleen to know just how “excited” she was for her to join the Ross family…
I love you Kathleen. Thank you for letting me be a part of your special day. TWO MONTHS until you’re a Mrs.!!!! And Rice girls, you sure know how to throw a party! I look forward to seeing you all soon!

A personal struggle.

“You’re a mean nanny, Lauren! You’re mean to me!” My stomach drops. I’m holding Jenna and walking her up the stairs. She starts to cry…and scream…and kick. It hurts…it hurts a lot. “I’m sorry you feel that way Jenna, but we have to go sit in time-out.” I set her down and close the door. I hear her scream, “PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME! PLEASE!”

I walk halfway down the steps and I sit there. The house is completely silent except for her scream. I cry myself, Does she really think I’m mean? Doesn’t she know how much I love her? Doesn’t she understand that I only discipline her because I DO care about her? We just had a special lunch today. I even bought her a special snack. She doesn’t even appreciate me. Does she really think I’m mean?

Then I hear John, “Stop saying that Jenna! I love Miss Lauren. She’s nice to us and she doesn’t even make us take naps!” I laugh…a little. “Thanks bud.” I say. Then, I hear my thoughts, GET IT TOGETHER. You’re an adult. Why are you even listening to her? She’s three. These aren’t your kids. 

Here’s the thing. I am an adult. She is three. I don’t have to listen to her. And you know what? They aren’t my kids. However, I love them with every ounce of me. They’re these little people…looking for guidance. I realize that I’m shaping them. I want them to feel independent, and be successful, but I also want them to know that they’re safe with me, and that I always have their back. I struggle because sometimes, I don’t know how to balance this. I love looking in my rear view mirror and seeing them there. Laughing. Talking to each other, or to themselves.  I love that John asks me what time it is at least 50 times a day, and that he always wants to know how much gas is in the car. (He’s convinced I’m running out one day). I love that Jenna always wants her window down and the music turned up as loud as it goes. Because I do love them, is why it hurts so much. When I have days that I feel like I’ve failed them or myself, I become so upset, and I don’t know how to turn it off. I think about it, non-stop. What can I do better? What if I had said this? Maybe I should keep her in her room longer? Maybe I shouldn’t put her in her room…maybe that’s not even helping?

Then it happens. I have this thought. If they aren’t even my kids..if I can’t even handle them 10 hours a day, how will I ever be able to handle my own? Maybe I just shouldn’t have them. Maybe I’m just not made out for kids. Maybe I’m nannying because I’m not going to have my own because I just can’t handle it.

Jenna comes down the steps, she sits right on my lap and sniffs uncontrollably.
“Are you sad?”
“I am sad, Jenna. When you yell at me, and you kick me, and tell me I’m mean, it makes me sad.”
“I think you owe me an apology.”
Then she looks at me with her big brown eyes and puckers her lips. Her eyes are still full of tears and she has snot everywhere, but she doesn’t care…and honestly, neither do I. She just wants me to kiss her. I do, and then she runs down the stairs like it never happened. As the day comes to a close and she hugs me goodbye, it’s always followed by, “I’ll miss you…” For whatever reason she’s convinced that when I leave I’m never coming back.
“I’ll miss you too sweet pea, but you know what!? I’ll see you as soon as you wake up!” And she smiles the biggest smile.

I sit here tonight still hurt. I’ve expressed it to friends and family. “She called me mean. She said that I was mean.” Even typing the story, I cried. (I’m pathetic, I know.) The truth is, 98% of the time, I’m really happy, but that 2%..that 2% feels awful.

My final thoughts are that I’m being challenged for a reason. I’m not sure why yet, but I’m certain that I will understand one day. Parents out there, you have a tough job. I’ve never underestimated that job, but man…the admiration I have for you is outrageous. And teachers…wow. I know that you definitely know how it feels to have someones success weighing on you. I have many friends and family that are teachers, I think I love you now more than ever.  And Mom and Dad, I am SO sorry for all the times I said, “I hate you.” Yes, I’m admitting that I use to say those things. Between the ages of twelve and sixteen I’m pretty sure my parents wanted to put me up for adoption, and I’m pretty sure that I don’t blame them. I love you. Finally, I personally feel that it’s God’s plan whether or not I have children, but I pray that if I do, that if I’m given a gift like that, that I’m also given the courage and the strength to take it on full force, and hopefully I will be “good” at it. For lack of a better word. ;)

As I lay here, about to fall asleep I think of something that was said to me earlier,“Everything you do you feel…you do it with all your heart. Whether you’re mad, or happy, or sad…when you feel, you do it with all your heart. That’s why people love you, Lo, but that’s why you take everything so personally.” So hopefully, this compassion that I have, that’s a blessing and a curse, is for a reason. The upside? In my opinion, is that I feel something. Which is something I like to say a lot. “At least I felt something!” So, thank you John and Jenna for making me feel something…all the time.