Today marks 13 years that you’ve been gone. So much has changed and yet so much hasn’t. Yesterday I found myself thinking about the day before I knew you in person and the horrible feeling I had knowing that you were not going to stay. That sick feeling, I had that this little miracle everyone talks about, that “little blessing” that was supposed to be greeted with open arms and smiles was not going to be happening.
Each year that goes by and you are gone just a little bit longer creates a slightly larger space that worries me. I worry that I will somehow forget that feeling and it will be like it never happened which means it would be like you never happened. But as your one day on earth approaches each year I am reminded how that is just not the case. That sick feeling is easily remembered how your life was not meant to be. The sick joke that was played on your Papa and me just months into our marriage-the happiest time in our lives together was robbed along with the happy experience of our first newborn baby being brought into our lives.
You forever changed me, Faith. You forever made my life even more different than everyone else’s. And what I wouldn’t give to get you back for just five more minutes. I hope you knew it was us who were holding you that day, I hope you knew we didn’t choose this for you, and although we were in shock when we first found out you were coming, that shock was not warranting an outcome like the one that happened.
You changed me Faith, that hollowed out feeling the night I went home from the hospital, empty and alone. And those weeks after you were gone I cried so much I eventually became numb, I thought I’d never feel again. You changed me Faith, you changed me.
Since you’ve been gone we’ve brought in three amazing children into this world, and because of you I can’t imagine my life without them, but that still doesn’t take the place of missing you. Just writing those words I am choking down my tears and my vision is blurred by welling tear ducts. You changed me, Faith.
I thought surviving a life-sucking eating disorder was the worst I’d ever endure. And I have to be honest, I was wrong. Your short life was a rip-off, a cruel joke on two young soulmates who would have loved you and given you nothing short of a backyard campfire, dirty feet, self-exploration, be your own personal childhood experience. You would have loved us as parents. It was a rip-off.
Still, to this day I watch others race to have babies, act like pregnancy is crappy, and moan about getting rid of their pregnancy body to “get back to normal”, and to those people I say, “you are missing the point.” Don’t chance fate and take for granted a healthy baby, the amazing miracle of bringing a baby into this world, and the privilege you get to become a parent to then raise those children. Your Papa and I will never know the joys of having a first born baby, and to be honest, it took until having your sister Meredith to get rid of the numbness and until Ivan to actually not relive in my mind the experience of having you.
But you changed me, Faith, because of you I am now stronger than before. I was able to prove to myself and others that I could forge into recovery fully and you gave me a reason to take even better care of my body and cherish my life and every life I bring into this world.
You changed me Faith, I now connect with yet another group of people, I get them, I know what they are feeling and I can help yet another group of people.
You changed me Faith, because of you I see life differently, I see sunrises, rainbows, and butterflies differently. Harper, Meredith, and Ivan look forward to your presence when they see a butterfly circling us-they jump for joy and yell to the trees that Faith is here. You changed me Faith, you changed your entire family that we see life and creation in a way only those that have held their baby in their arms and watched that little life leave earth can know.
You changed me Faith, each year on your “life day” I am reminded that I am a strong ass woman, that you gave up your life so I could have one, a debt that I will forever on this earth be repaying. A debt that I will die trying to repay. I don’t know if I can or will ever be able to be as selfless as you, as giving as you, as humble as you.
Many days I feel like life just isn’t’ getting me, that God just isn’t hearing my prayers, my dreams, my goals. There are so many days that I feel like people still just don’t get me, that they just don’t understand. And today as I write this letter to you I have come to realize that many never will. And I will waste much of my precious time trying to get them to. I know you get me, I know that you know my heart, my dreams, that you hear my prayers.
Today I am crying for you, not because you are gone, but because you gave me life.
I know that you’re here, and just last week we saw you for the first time in the back yard. Meredith squealed with joy as you danced with her in the grass.
You changed me Faith, I’m not a mother of three, but a mother of four. And although I never got to see you take your first steps, say your first words, ride a bike or one day, drive a car, graduate, get married and maybe even have a baby one day. All those things aren’t necessary to have made you real, to prove you existed. I grew you in my belly, I was your only life line, I felt your little heart beat to its last beat.
To everyone reading this today, please know I need no sympathy. To those reading this today that have lost a child, that have watched an innocent child leave this earth-it does get better. Some wounds never heal and I think some just aren’t meant to, but you can choose to use your child’s life to bring more life to others. I choose to believe that my daughter chose this life, she chose this path and me too. Today if this message touches even just one person then that is one less person that has to be stuck in grieving longer than necessary. One less person that feels like they can’t move on.
I still remember the first time I told a family member that I am trying to “move on”. They didn’t get me or what had happened from my perspective and told me “well you don’t’ just forget about her”. I still remember yelling at her in my head, like “are you kidding me!?!!?!… How could I?” So to all those out there trying to be a support to someone experiencing loss, just be a shoulder, let them know you are there, they most likely don’t want to hear about your passing Grandma or your lost dog. They don’t want to be told it will get better, or how sorry you are. They just want to have support, they want to have a shoulder without a mouth, and when they are ready they will talk, they will reach out, and when they do you’ll be there.
We received dozens of cards those first few weeks, and of the dozens, I kept only a few, and of those were two unexpected cards from two people who briefly shared their loss of their child. I re-read those cards several times, reading those helped me feel like I wasn’t alone, reading those cards helped me feel that someone out there did understand exactly what I was going through. So to those reading this, I get it, I’ve felt the heartache, I’ve felt the unbearable emptiness, I’ve experienced the fits of rage, anger, and hostility, and I’ve felt every tear you have cried as my own. I get it and I’m here. You’re not alone. Please know this. You will survive and you will find happiness again. Just know it will be a different happiness than what you have felt before-and that is O.K.
Happy 13th life day Faith…
That’s all I have to say… Until next year… I’ll be seeing you in the sky.
Some say nothing is forever anymore, and maybe that is true, but then again, maybe someone said that who would have rather given up then figured out a solution.
Fourteen years is a long time…I guess.
Fourteen years seems short when you see others married 30, 40, even 60 years. I love the dance at weddings where couples get up and dance and as their year of marriage gets called they have to sit down. I always try to guess how long the last couple will be married. And at the last few weddings (well the last few pre-COVID-19 weddings), I have been blown away at the years together: one was 56 years, another 63, another 60! How amazing, and the best is when they dance, they look so happy! But truth be told, I’m absolutely sure not every day of their married lives were a walk in the park, was as blissful as that one moment I got to see.
This year marks FOURTEEN years of marriage for my husband and me. I guess considering we are only 36 that is a long time, but then again I’m still 45+ years away from those happy dancing couples I saw dancing last year.
Marring Brian was easy, I knew I was going to marry him when I was twelve years old. How? I’m not really sure, just a part of me knew that. And just when I thought I’d lost my chance, I went all in, and yep, as the story goes, at 17 we became high school sweethearts.
We’ve only been married for 5,110+ days, but I assure you, we know commitment. Life is not easy and when you combine your life with another, well let’s just say it gets more complicated. Day after day, after day, you have to continually consider the other person’s needs, wants, dreams, hopes, even shortcomings, and character defects (because hey, we all have them) and that is in addition to still trying to live your life and do your thing and follow your path.
That commitment pushes your buttons, that commitment warms you up, and in a moment’s notice pours cold water on you. That commitment is confusing, frustrating, and unfair (at times), I bet no one wrote that into their vows.
But commitment is also reassuring, loving, comforting, and supportive, and for me, it feels secure, it feels safe, it’s the biggest promise I will ever make.
I’ve grown a lot in the past fourteen years and I’m sure Brian will say the same, but that growth is kinda part of the ride, like a road trip so to speak, you can plan all you want but the trip usually doesn’t go as planned, and if you get too attached to the plan you will probably always end up disappointed.
So in 14+ years both Brian and I have moved through recovery from an eating disorder, lost our first child, grieved the loss of our first child, opened up a business, took on several other business endeavors, had four kids, bought a house, and are still busy working towards a future together hopefully for many more years to come.
Here’s the thing, I struggled to discover who I was early on in our marriage, I hadn’t really known me for a long time and as I became more myself each day it slowly changed my perception of marriage. I used to think that when you married someone you both then were to be walking one path together. But I would think about that concept often and it just wouldn’t make sense to me and I would be left with confusion as to how this would all work. But then I had a wave of relief one day and for the last thirteen years, I have worked to live my life this way in our marriage.
Married or not, you walk your path, each day you discover more of who you are and what you believe in, how you will help the world. But when you marry, your path aligns with another’s, you don’t walk each other’s path, you don’t block, hurt, or hinder the path of the other. You walk parallel, and when your partner happens to fall behind, you lead, you reach out your hand and help. And then when you find yourself to have fallen, your chosen partner will be there to reach out a hand, to stand strong while you are weak, and lead. Neither person is better than the other because your paths aren’t the same. The roles you share are just that shared. It may be years you carry certain responsibilities and at a moment’s notice that role shifts and the other takes hold.
Marriage is a balance of give and take, there is no room to be selfish, and no matter what there will always be temptation to try to steer you off your path, but one thing Brian and I have talked about is “choice”, everything in life is a choice, and fourteen years ago we made a choice to walk side by side one another through thick and thin, for richer or poor, in sickness and in health, and yes till death do us part. In marriage you learn to ride the wave, if you fight it you’ll end up unhappy, but if you learn to ride it, it becomes just that – a ride!
I don’t know what the next 40 years will bring, heck what the next year will bring, but that is kind of the point. You will never know it all, but as we grow side by side it’s like a new relationship each day, and each of those days is an opportunity to be the best version of ourselves both for our own sake and each other. And that “newness” is a push to learn new things about ourselves, an encouragement to move forward rather than be left behind. Marriage is a balance of all of that and more…
To many more years.. xx
Each day I realize my kids are only getting older and
soon they will have their own opinions and ideas they already have their own opinions and ideas!
What was once scheduling naps and changing diapers has now become everything school-aged children.
So now that I have 3 grade schoolers, days are longer (even if some are still doing virtual school), sitting still is a requirement, and the joys of studying for tests and homework loom our household. I have found that being a parent is a combination of doing the things my parents did that I loved, doing the things I wish they would have done, and doing the things that are necessary for each of my kids individually, depending on what they need.
Just last night I was helping Harper study for a religion test and what is he doing: trying to sit still at first, then making silly faces, rocking on the stool, standing on the stool sideways, running and leaping over the stool to see how far his long jump can stretch, pretty much just not paying attention. As I attempt to wrangle him back in and realize this is getting nowhere, he proceeds to tell me he just can’t seem to remember the names of the people and the answers to some of the other questions. I can see he’s distracted and somewhat uninterested. Because heck, are you wanting to talk about work after a full day at work?
I was initially frustrated with him like it was his fault he didn’t know the answers, but as his parent it is my job to help him, guide him and find his strengths and show him how to use them. A big parenting lesson for me continues to be don’t take my frustrations out on my kids-they are just kids.
So I took a breath and stepped back.
Because if Harper was me when I was young, I probably would have been told to knock it off, sit down and focus. But how can a very active boy focus by sitting still at 6 O’Clock at night when his sit-still-juice has already been used up at school?
It occurred to me a while ago that as a parent I can either do what has always been done and what most others are doing: make a flip chart, or a red, yellow, green light reward sheet for my kids so that they “behave” when I want them to, so that they can learn to suppress their inner energy and need for movement to appease me. Or I can show them how to use their strengths, understand their emotions, and learn right from wrong with always explaining why.
At our house it’s not just studying for a test, homework, daily reading is approached with a get it done attitude but one that asks my kids to be themselves and move. Doing sight words Harper struggled for a while and so while doing them every time he got one right he’d jump up, and soon he was jumping up the entire deck of 50+ cards. When doing a worksheet, I break it up and give him a 30 second to one-minute break to go be silly. The emphasis on doing that gets him jazzed up and so when he comes back he wants to focus so he can do it again.
So where am I going with all of this?
OK back to Harper’s homework and studying for a religion test. Harper is a highly active boy, he loves movement, he’d climb onto the roof if we’d let him; that being said, when I stopped trying to do what my parents did, and stopped asking something of him that he is not capable of (Well, he is short term, but all day? Come on) and started making the times that he needs to focus be active, the homework and study time at the Krebs household changed.
I allow Harper to sit down and focus when he needs to think, and when he needs to walk around he does that too when he gets an answer wrong last night I had him doing jumping jacks as he repeated the question and answer three times. Then when I asked it again and if he got it wrong- back to the jumping jacks. Once we got through the entire sheet without jumping jacks he was done. There was no yelling, no arguing, no complaining, he got his needs met, he thought it was fun and when he moves, especially in a repetitious way he focuses way better.
I could have very well flipped the card on his chart at home (that doesn’t exist) and tell him he’s not making a good choice and ask him to sit down and listen (which I’ve done before with limited success). But flipping a card doesn’t teach him how to manage his energy, channel his emotions and create new skills to one day manage his own life.
Now I know when he is an adult I’m pretty sure he’s not going to do jumping jacks when his boss asks him to remember something. But what I hope will happen is he will remember the actual skills he was taught to deal with stress, deadlines, and time management. That it’s OK to move, to be yourself, and do what you need to do for you because it’s right and it gets the job done.
So this morning at breakfast I asked him randomly the questions he struggled with last night and without hesitation, he got them right. I praised him for an amazing job! And then asked him how he remembered them, he said the jumping jacks.
Remember it’s OK to parent outside the box. Heck parent nowhere near the box!
The joys of having a baby is more than anyone can ever describe, and as a mom of three, myself, I have found that unless you consciously choose to incorporate your little yogis into your practice, we often then choose not to practice at all. And for others, the choice is to practice (exercise) without that little ball of joy nearby or incorporated into that very important part of your life.
Yoga is a huge part of my life and my family’s life. From day one my kids became my little yogi buddies and walking buddies, they did (and still do) everything I do. Because to me, my mindset was my kids were going to be a part of my life, a part of my practice, and a part of my studio, I wanted them to know no different. Some parents want their kids to learn a certain prayer or family tradition, I wanted my kids to learn to live a holistic-yogic lifestyle from early on.
Like many, exercise to me is important, but a mindful practice where it is a part of your lifestyle is even more important.
Here are some examples: We all go for a walk (dogs, kids, and husband) and we talk about why fresh air is important and how Mother Earth loves that we enjoy her and that we don’t litter (we usually are on a quest to pick it all up) and why that isn’t a good choice. I have taught my kids how to breathe and how they can use their breath to help them in stressful situations. I have a yoga room and my children adore spending time there, we take turns using my reformer, weights, and yoga mat, we teach each other poses, bounce on the bosu and I explain how bouncing is healthy for the lymphatic system and stretching is good for your muscles and mind, and building strength will help you get big and strong like your Momma and Papa.
For some in today’s society, the parents may be healthy but they keep that to themselves, for many, eating salad and lean chicken at dinner, but then feeding the rest of the family greasy foods. Or going out for a hike or tending the garden but leaving the kids inside watching T.V. At my house if I want to practice yoga (while my kids are awake) or go for a walk it’s either with them or nothing. And more important than me staying physically fit, is for them to see me take care of myself in all I do and incorporate them into it; so as they get older it’s no different than brushing their teeth, reading books, and taking a bath. To them, it is simply how things have always been, and these skills are skills that can and should be taught by the parents.
Now sure my little yogis crawl all over me in plank and slide down my back in Downward Dog, and that at times gets to be a little much, but that won’t be forever and yoga to me is more than exercise it’s tapping into the inner self and connecting, isn’t it for you?
From even before I had kids I knew several key points that would become the cornerstones of my parental approach. I feel very passionate about my kids seeing themselves as unique (like most parents) but in that uniqueness I wanted them to understand what it was like to develop individual skills and interests before engaging in the big wide world of pee-wee sports. We chose to skip the pee-wee games and guide our kids towards self-confidence using self-discovery and independent activity development. That meant family fitness activities. I know this is not for everyone, but for us-our kids getting down and dirty means playing in the mud, dancing in the rain, and walking in our woods searching for deer tracks and turkey feathers. I believe whole heartily that this is the foundation of childhood and developing into an independent-thinking adult. Yes, that’s right, family fitness is a foundation for our kids.
And within those independent activities, I wanted to be able to spend as much time with them as possible because there will come a day that they don’t think I’m top dog and will want to join the other team. But from the start, the team we wanted them to know they are on first is team “Krebs”.
Fitness is essential to me, and family fitness is even more important. The idea of keeping my kids active might not be what you are thinking because my suggestions won’t reference tee-ball, soccer, or dance. My suggestions are practical. They are beneficial, hopefully, to celebrate the little things because the little things are the foundation for your child’s future and who they will become as an adult and maybe one day as a parent.
Every movement matters.
In our house movement is super important. Now that my kids are school-aged, I recognize the extended periods of sitting and studying mean we need to prioritize movement once school activities are complete! I try to have them soak up every hour of daylight outside possible: jumping on the trampoline, climbing on the playset, chasing chickens, riding bikes, and making up games. And as easy as it is to send the kids outside, when you make an effort to go out with them they are not only more likely to explore, but it will make an impression that parents play too. I want to encourage you that if you tend to be a “go play outside parent” to set a timer for 20 minutes and go play with them, and then see what happens. I bet you that 20 minutes will quickly turn into an hour, because in the grand scheme of things- dinner can wait.
Family fitness walks.
Those in town who know me will vouch to say that they have seen me with my red stroller, two dogs, and two kids on bikes all over town. I need my movement, and because I work from home means I’m with my kids almost 24/7, so where I go, they go. And this has its perks. I used to fight for my personal time (I still get it but in other ways), but then I realized that the message I would be sending to my kids was exercise and fitness for adults is always separate. And after ten years of following this philosophy, I can honestly say it has paid off. I have gotten so much out of our walks together and I know I am planting the seed for years to come; plus, my kids love coming, they love my presence and I theirs. I use this time to talk to them about health, staying active as well as singing and playing eye spy. This is one of my most cherished non-winter experiences.
Family chores can be fun.
We have a very large backyard and woods and with all the tree cover a light breeze will drop tree limbs and black walnuts in an instant. My husband and I are not able to pick up this all ourselves and if we did we’d have no time for anything else. Staying active is super important to me and my family, but learning life skills is too. I know that when my kids become adults the impressions I set on them as kids will heavily impact the choices and decisions they make in their adult years. Picking up sticks is always a family affair, and I have to be honest they don’t always love it, but the older they get they realize: it’s not going to change anytime soon. Being outside in the warm sun and fresh air we race to fill our buckets first, who can pull the most roots, who gets the most walnuts and we often celebrate with lemonade and lunch outside afterward! We can easily spend two to three hours together (and don’t get me wrong there can be a fair share of complaining, but that is also part of the process) and after my husband always thanks them and asks them to look out and see what a great job they did. Seeing my kids notice their hard work and efforts and see them as they receive positive praise for helping in the household is a huge bonus too.
Encourage your kids to get dirty.
As parents we often let the end result cloud our willingness to let our kids run free. Stains on their pants, the time needed to then bathe, the worry of if they will get hurt, and the age-old excuse of not enough time. But I have to be honest, there is nothing more liberating than getting dirty with your kids. Sliding down the dirt mound outback with them. running barefoot in the rain, building sandcastles and mud pies at their side. When my husband and I get down and dirty with them, I get to see their eyes light up, not because of the dirt (although that is a big factor) but because we are dirty with them. I can feel the connection between us and our kids grow stronger and for me, it’s liberating as an adult to give myself permission to be a kid again and not try to be perfect all the time. When we get dirty we are reminded that life is messy. The mess is part of the experience.
Now these might not be wild and crazy ways to have fun, but they are free, fun and family orientated. When we instill in our kids that fitness, health, and fun cost money and require fancy equipment or continuous social engagements, we are limiting them in their own self-discovery process and creative development. Plus the time we get with our kids when they are young and we are the greatest thing since sliced bread is limited and I refuse to limit that even more.
Now go out and enjoy some family fitness!