I am a wife to one husband–Kevin, and a mom to 3 mildly feral children–Carson, Zoey, and Piper. My kids are extremely silly, busy, active, funny, sweet, smart, and well…intense! We took this photo right before Carson was heading off to his first overnight camp.

I have a constant internal struggle–how I want to raise my kids and how anxiety wants me to raise my kids. Carson BEGGED me to let him take a photo of me with my professional camera. Trying to trust him and let him experience things, I let him. But see, he didn’t just take one photo–he kept taking more and more. And the more he took, the more I felt my eye twitch.

Also, unknown to me at the time, Piper was wanting a turn too, you know, if I was just handing them out.

THROWBACK–Me, with my brother Zac, circa 1997. “Pretend like you LIKE each other!” my grandmother would say sing-songedly to us, while also sounding like she was reaching the end of her rope with our antics. She loved adventures, and took us on many throughout our childhood. This was outside of her condo, where sometimes alligators would hang out and sun.

Apparently, my parents put me in some sort of pageant when I was a toddler, and I won? I always find this funny to think about because I am not one for frilly dresses and being dolled up. I look happy enough though, so I guess I didn’t mind!

Kevin, somewhere in the 2005 range, sitting in his Volvo. We started dating in 2004, and got married in 2010. Bought a house in 2008. Had our first baby in 2012. It’s hard to believe we have been together about half our lives. I’m not sure that he knows it, but he really is my rock.

Me, around 5 years old. My mom had this massive pin collection that she kept on a long, striped, bean filled sock thing. I remember thinking it looked like Tigger’s tail. I always found it fascinating, and I can almost “feel” the texture of it when I think about it–it had this funky way that it crunched. I kept it for a while, brought it from apartment to apartment, and then our house when we got it. Over time however, the pins got really rusty, and eventually I got rid of them.

Back to the present, or at least, more recently.

This is our tiniest one when she was 4 weeks old. Piper was born with half a heart–DILV (double inlet left ventricle)–but what she lacks in anatomy, she makes up for in her spunky spirit. She is quite the talker, and wants to do everything that Carson and Zoey do. When Piper is happy, she sings passionately to her favorite songs, which yes, by the way, is just absolutely adorable coming out of her tiny, 2 year old self.

Dinner time. Always an event. Always overwhelming. The kids are cackling and joking and kicking each other under the table. Piper is shouting and singing, trying to fit in with all of the other noise. Meanwhile, Kevin and I are just trying unsuccessfully to talk over the cacophony to share details of our days with each other. I know, I know…one day the meals will be silent and we’ll miss the chaos.

Piper stays up sometimes after the big kids go to bed–she still naps, so she’s not quite ready to sleep until after 9pm usually. I always say that everything I do “costs” me something. With kids, there is this “price” I pay to get something accomplished. This is what it cost to fold laundry one evening—Piper dumped water out of the dog’s bowl (a favorite activity of hers). I asked her to wipe it up, which she was happy to do. Forty-five towels later, the job was finished.