So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

I don’t ever want to get used to this.

The sight of you walking away, gear in tow.

The way it leaves me breathless. Standing, watching with what feels the weight of the entire world on my shoulders. The weight that is my entire world.

My knees threaten to buckle at any minute. But I swallow hard, choking back the tears, refusing to let them fall. Readjust my stance into one of strength and confidence.

RELATED: To the Military Spouse

I’ve caught my breath long enough to realize little hands have now released my own. My gaze turns toward our children as they wipe away the tears they have lost the courage to fight. Because of this sight, their eyes fixed on that green bag. As the familiarity of this sight sets in once again. 

Quickly I look back to catch one more sight, longing for closure that I know will never come until you’re in my arms again. Alive, well, and whole.

I despise this sight because I know it is the source of what is to come. I’ve seen it before, like a movie memorized word for word. The setting may have changed, the characters have developed and grown, but the plot is always painfully the same, and all too familiar. And what’s worse, it comes without the guarantee of a happy ending.

This sight brings sleepless nights, worry, and heartache. Because we’ve seen the way the movie has ended for those who have stood to the left and right of us as we gaze on. It has played out before us heartbreakingly in our living rooms, chapels, and communities. 

RELATED: 10 Things Military Families Want You To Know

In brilliant colors of red, white, and blue that shake us to the very core. We’ve watched as these ravishingly exquisite colors lined the highway overpasses in our hometowns, as a final welcome home. Cried as the signature colors of Lady Liberty adorned Harley Davidsons in a thunderous roar. Borne witness as they are eventually folded with unimaginable care to rest upon a bewildered lap. This sight makes us shutter, beg, plead, and pray that we will never be the one playing this lead, featured in this ending. The one of inconceivable sacrifice. 

I never want to get used to this sight. I never want it to feel easy or normal.

I never want to discount the magnitude of this sight, the one where you walk away from us, into danger.

Freely, Bravely, Strongly with such heartbreak and pride.

RELATED: Those Damn Boots

May we never take the plethora of pain, wonder, terror, grit, and dignity of this sight for granted.

Because we remember those for whom it was the last one. 

From a grateful nation, and the heart of this military spouse to all of our Gold Star families, “thank you” will never be enough. May you be comforted on this day as we honor your ultimate sacrifice. As we strive to carry the weight and responsibility of it well, as individuals, as a community, as a nation. 

Erika Bradley

Hope is a military wife, advocate, volunteer, and non-profit founder of Dependa Strong. She encourages military spouses to be unapologetically transparent about their struggles while using kindness, self-care, and community involvement as a coping mechanism. She believes raising awareness, telling her community's stories, combined with kindness and compassion for one another can help bridge the gap between our service members and civilians. 

Here’s to the Strong Ones Living with Type 1 Diabetes

In: Living
Pregnant mom on beach, black-and-white photo

This is a shout-out to all the sweet girls. The ones hustling so hard to live like normal. The ones with type 1 diabetes. Some of you have been living with diabetes as long as you have been breathing. Some of you are newly diagnosed and need to know someone who has been managing diabetes for years. I have been living with type 1 diabetes for 17 years, and I see you. Whether you have been diagnosed for 17 hours or 17 years, chances are I’ve felt what you feel too.  I’m here to tell you that type 1 diabetes...

Keep Reading

No Screens Before 7: How Our Family Broke Free of the Screentime Habit

In: Living, Motherhood
Kids using smartphones

“We still have three more minutes!” my 7-year-old says, bouncing with Christmas-like anticipation and excitement. “Well,” I say, looking from him to his 9-year-old sister, “what could you do for three minutes?” “Leg wrestle!” they exclaim and run to the carpeted living room. This life-filled exchange was not happening in my home just a couple of months ago.  In spite of my best efforts, screen time had taken over. Both the kids and I would slip into this zombie-like, space-time vortex. I would look up and know it wasn’t healthy, but it was just so easy to just keep on...

Keep Reading

You Don’t Have to Lose Yourself to Be a Good Mom

In: Living, Motherhood
Woman brushing wet hair

There is nothing wrong with losing yourself in motherhood. Diving in head first, serving your kids and spouse endlessly, never asking for a break, being proud for providing an amazing childhood for your kids, and allowing mom to become your entire identity. But what if you don’t want that?  When did this become the standard of motherhood we are all expected to achieve? Why does society say the best mom is the one that’s 110% physically and emotionally available for her kids all the time and never does anything for herself? Why are you less of a mom if you...

Keep Reading

Witch, Please! Hocus Pocus 2 Release Date Means the Sanderson Sisters Countdown Is ON

In: Living
Bette Middler in Hocus Pocus 2 on Disney+

“Lock up your children!” screeches Winifred Sanderson (played by Bette Midler) in the teaser trailer for Disney’s long-awaited Hocus Pocus 2 movie. But I say, “Mark your calendars!” Disney revealed the release date for this much-anticipated sequel and I’m happy to report that the Sanderson sisters will be flying above Salem and to your Disney+ stream on September 30th! The countdown is ON! Check out the trailer and get excited! But first, a confession:  I have to be honest, I was 16 when the original Hocus Pocus came out, but for some reason I never saw it until I was...

Keep Reading

Good Dads Make Great Grandpas

In: Grown Children, Living
Grandpa walking with two grandsons, color photo

This is not only written for my dad, but for all the dads out there who aren’t the typical, everyday dads. The hands-on dad, the dad who goes on bike rides, the dad who watches his grandbabies. The dad who creates a legacy whether he realizes it or not. The world needs more of you.  It’s not every day you get a dad who enters a diaper changing contest and comes in second place. Yes, that happened to my dad. He would take me up to the local mall to walk around and one of the stores was holding a...

Keep Reading

Dear Friend, I Don’t Want To Lose You

In: Friendship
Two women smiling, color photo

I’m sorry I don’t text you like I should. I’m sorry I don’t call you like I should. I’m sorry I don’t check in to see how you are. I’m sorry this friendship can feel one-sided at times. I’m sorry I’m so distant. The truth is I’m struggling. I’m struggling with life. I’m struggling with finances. I’m struggling with trying to please everyone and do everything. RELATED: Check on Your “Strong” Friend, She’s Faking it The problem is I try to please everyone—everyone who doesn’t matter. My problem is I’ve gotten so content with our friendship that I know you’ll...

Keep Reading

I Want You To Miss Your Childhood One Day Too

In: Kids, Living
Kids jumping off dock into lake

What I miss the most about childhood is owning my whole heart. Before I gave pieces of it away to others who weren’t always careful with it. And some, who never gave the pieces back. I miss my knowing. My absolute faith that my mother’s arms could fix just about everything and what her arms couldn’t, her cookies could. When my biggest grievance was not getting my way. I miss feeling whole, unblemished. Before words cut me. Before people had taken up space in my mind, created permanent movies that were ugly and still play on repeat at times. Before...

Keep Reading

I Traded My Body for This Full Life

In: Living, Motherhood
Happy family smiling

It was supposed to be the happiest time of my life. I was cradling my firstborn child—my rainbow baby—tenderly in my arms as she contentedly nursed. I looked down at this beautiful miracle, unable to mirror her blissful content. Six weeks after the birth, I was still feeling like garbage. Being a first-time mom, I figured the fatigue was par for the course. My other symptoms, however, were suspect. Will I see my daughter grow up? were my thoughts as the streams of grief flowed, pooling on her swaddle. At my medical check-up, I brought my concerns to my doctor...

Keep Reading

The Truth is I’m Drowning

In: Living
Woman with hand on face sad

I find myself sinking. Really disappearing. Everyone around me sees me. They see my smile, my involvement, my willingness to please and participate. No one notices how easily I shift between despair and real tears and conforming to what the situation requires of me. Sometimes this shift happens within the matter of minutes.  Not waving, but drowning. I’m on a weight loss journey. The scale told me I am down just over four pounds. And I feel really good about that. I know I have another 15 to 20 to go, but I am four down. I made a promise...

Keep Reading

Older Kids with Special Needs Can Get Overlooked, and it’s Lonely

In: Living, Motherhood
Two hands held together next to a wheelchair, black-and-white photo

Middle school is tough. I have three girls—two of them now teenagers—so I know firsthand how tween insecurities can quickly spiral into friend drama and subtle bullying. I’ve watched my girls get left out and left behind, and we’ve had lots and lots of talks about what it means to be a good friend. And as much as I want to tell you it doesn’t hit differently with my third daughter, I can’t. Because it does. When your tween daughter is in a wheelchair and has endured—and is still enduring—health and physical challenges that would destroy an adult, a mama’s...

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime