Another Moment to Cling To

Another Moment to Cling To

Another Moment to Cling To

“We should go on a walk after dinner.”

The kids sat at the dining room table, chowing down on pizza from our favorite local joint, their fingers covered in greasy, saucy goo. The adults stood around the breakfast bar, equally covered in a delicious saucy mess. I looked out the window of the dining room at the unseasonably warm February evening and decided, yes, we should take a walk after dinner.

We frequently take post-dinner walks once evenings start warming up in spring, all through summer, and as long as we can in autumn. Of course, when a rogue warm day presents itself in the middle of winter, we take advantage of it to breathe the fresh air, stretch our legs, and “blow the stink off.”

So nothing really seemed out of the ordinary that one of my children suggested we take a walk.

Except that the child in question was my daughter.

— __ — __ —

We’ve found a new rhythm to our visiting schedule, one that allows us to visit with more regularity. Those first few years of elementary school for their family and then our family made it rather difficult to mesh schedules. Our calendars haven’t suddenly opened up, but life changes currently work in our favor and we’re taking full advantage of the extra time together.


It means a lot of our visits right now fall on the side of short right now, which kind of stinks for children who just desperately want to spend more and more time with their sibling(s). We’ve explained that lots of shorter visits mean more frequent contact. We’re working on some longer visits during the summer. But still, hugging your sister goodbye just 25 hours after she arrived feels kind of awful.

— __ — __ —

The boys ran up and down the hill on the side of the road. They squealed with delight and chased their sister down the road. The three of them raced ahead, knees and elbows askew, heavy breaths and giggles floating through the evening air. Us two moms followed behind, talking about life in general, watching pieces of the family we’ve created kick rocks into the creek at the bottom of the hill. The space between the three kids moved freely, their words piling on top of one another in the way you expect brothers and sister to talk—over and under and around one another. They played with echoes in the hollow.

And I breathed it all deep into my soul.

As we trudged back up the hill, kids still trying to race up the steep hill that gives me problems on my best of running days, I felt caught off guard by the normalcy of it all. Here we were, two moms walking with our shared daughter and her brothers. Here we were, a birth mom and and adoptive mom sharing a friendship, a business, a life forever intertwined.

Knowing things wouldn’t always feel as easy as this moment—sun setting, kids laughing, heart so big and full—I used my photographic memory to record the way the horizon looked pink and the moon hung directly over a neighbor’s barn. Her wild leggings; their shaggy hair. Three pair of Chucks. I want to easily come back to this place, a safe place, when things get rough—when they feel too hard, too big, too gut-wrenching. I want to recall how easy everything felt in this one moment on the days and nights when I’m left wondering how and why my genetics suck so badly, when I feel absolutely helpless due to our distance; when I miss her so much my heart seizes. Stops. And starts yet again.

Another Moment to Cling To

I look forward to our next short visit, for another random moment like this with wild children running down the road in front of me; for another moment to cling to when nothing else seems to make sense.


Shop Chloe + Isabel

It’s Okay to Give Up

It's Okay to Quit

It's Okay to Quit

“It’s okay to fail, but it’s never okay to give up.”

I heard this today while leaving my sons’ school. It gave me pause as I climbed into my car, and it’s poked at my brain all day long. While I was working my day job; poke, poke, poke. While I was running; poke, poke, poke. While I ate dinner with the boys; poke, poke, poke. While I worked on some inventory; poke, poke, poke. And here I am.

First and foremost, I believe it’s okay to fail.

I can’t even believe I just wrote that.

There was a time, not even too long ago, when I couldn’t have typed those words. Physically unable. Cannot even. A lifelong perfectionist, I oftentimes refused to start things out of fear of eventually failing. It resulted in a lot of inaction.

It also resulted in beating a lot of dead horses.

Because, as a perfectionist, I also believed in the concept of never giving up. Never. Not once. Giving up actually meant failure in my mind at the time, and since failure wasn’t okay, I couldn’t give up once I started. I was Dory but with more focus and less, “Ooh, shiny.” I kept swimming, just kept swimming, swim swam swum, even if it meant drowning as my energy for whatever task slowly leaked out of my body.


I stuck with It one too many times, whatever It may be. By the end of high school, I had amassed quite the load of extra-curriculars as I consistently added them to my list but didn’t remove any; never give up. In college, I did the same thing and it resulted in a burned out, overwhelmed, shell of a Jenna; never give up. In my professional life, I’ve always been known as the one to get things done, but sometimes that has come at the cost of my mental and physical health; never give up.

When you combine the two issues—afraid to fail so don’t start new things with never give up—you end up with a woman afraid to look for new job opportunities, afraid to put herself out there, scared to death of what rejection might mean, so she just keeps putting her all into places it is no longer appreciated.

I changed last year.

I quit one job and started looking for a new one with no actual plan overlapping the two. The unknown still felt big and scary, but I knew the time had come to start working on myself, start working through the reasons I won’t start, won’t try, or won’t let go; never give up. Slowly letting go of perfectionism feels one hundred percent awful and one hundred percent freeing at the same time. I’ve done some really big things so far in 2016 because every time that little voice in my head says, “Ooh, I don’t know… do you really want to risk putting yourself out there?” I respond, “Yes. Yes, I do.” And I do.

There are some things in our lives which will cause us to give up, to raise our arms and say, “I’m done.” To say, “Sorry, not sorry.” To walk away from things that no longer serve us, no longer bring us joy and peace, no longer lift us up.

I’m not saying that when the tough gets going to run like mad in the other direction. No, I’m still stubborn and determined and can fight my way through some pretty mucky situations. What I’m saying is this: Knowing when to wash your hands of a situation, of a person, of a dream is an important life skill. The ability to look at something and realize you’re better off counting your losses and starting again somewhere else is key to growth.

I’ve grown so much since late 2014. I’ve also failed approximately a billion times over… because I dared to start new things and recognize when I’d failed others.

When it comes to my sons, I’ll make sure they realize it’s not all or nothing. You can quit things. You can quit soccer. You can try tennis. You can decide that Harry Potter just isn’t your cup of tea. I hope to teach them that their physical and mental well-being are more important than “never give up.” I want to teach them how to tell when a situation warrants more hard work and when it’s okay to say, “You know what? I’m done here.” I don’t want them to get stuck in a sick cycle of perfectionism like I did for the majority of my life.

It is okay to fail. And it’s okay to leave behind that which no longer serves you. The key is to try.