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My twelve year old stayed up late with us last night, and then was a little afraid after the show that we watched. We made room for him to snuggle into bed with us. (Okay, I just snuggled him, while my husband slept with his head down the opposite side of the bed to make space. He’s a good man.)

As we settled in, my son sighed and said, “today was fun. Our family loves each other. We’re really lucky.”

Hours later, I woke up to his same voice, but with all of the disgusted alarm of someone who just found a tick on their favorite blanket. Which he had, in my bed, at seven in the morning.

And I thought, huh. Such a brilliant metaphor for our family and life in general. There is so much good, so much to be thankful for, so much light and happiness – but there are also seven AM ticks – the wrenches in the works, the gut punches, the moments of uncertainty, fear, hurt, disgust, confusion.

Because, this is life:
Snuggles and bugs.

Yesterday was for walking and swimming and ducking for cover from a fast moving thunderstorm. It was for eating ice cream and watching our children put on skits for us in an old barn, all hopped up on the sugar and the surge of summer vibes coursing through the warm breeze.

Today, has been the opposite. It’s a tired day, where I’m left alone to be quiet with my thoughts. It’s a day of slowly unpacking emotional baggage from the past week.

I tend to keep my mind focused on happy things, on the memories that serve to keep me positive and that remind me of the good places I’ve come from. Of course, this is how I leave myself open for the next wind-sucking punch, the reminder that forgiveness is a blessing and a curse, and to forget altogether is worse.

And so, I’ve been thinking about family, about friendships, about love and relationships, past and present, and about who it’s okay to be not okay with – but also, who have proven themselves to be worthy of letting you down – because you have let them down too (and likely will again), yet they stay.

More than stay, they hold your hand and walk with you through the mire. Perhaps, because they know that you’re their person, their family, their tribe, and they know as well as you that for every perfect afternoon of ice cream and rushing for cover from thunderstorms to eat grilled meat from a bucket in a van full of towel-clad kids in uproarious laughter – there’s also always going to be ticks.

My son said it best, and I’m going to hold the memory of sharing that space with him last night forever in my heart.

Our family loves each other. We are really lucky.

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Writer, Photographer, Wife, Mother to four rambunctious and amazing children.

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