Tuesday, May 15, 2018

When Mother's Day is Hard

From the very first Mother's Day I celebrated, it has not been easy. It is hard to celebrate when you are a single momma and your child is young. My parents, especially my mom would always try to make sure my son made me a card and bought me a gift. But, it was still bittersweet. When I got married, it was hard to be away from my mom on Mother's Day and celebrating with my MIL and SIL was always a struggle. My husband made the day special, though and since I am not high maintenance, a low key day was always my favorite way to celebrate.

Breakfast with ice coffee, lunch at home, a nap and dinner and dessert made me feel special. Cards and a gift were a bonus, but not a necessity. Flowers for the porch, a baseball hat or a coveted book are a few of my favorite gifts.

Once the older three kiddos were out of the house, it got hard again. A card sent for a step mother one year, followed by years of no calls, no cards, not even a text. I didn't expect calls from Josh since he has been incarcerated for the past 4 or more Mother's Days. Devin and Cody will acknowledge a woman who abused them, allowed others to abuse them and did not desire to have custody of them over someone that tried so hard to fill in the gaps of a woman who never really wanted to be a mother in the first place. Was I perfect? Far from it. I allowed my expectations to cloud my judgment and my actions many times, but I loved them with the same love I have for my biological children. I still love them. Many times, I fought for them, cried for and with them, allowed them to tear our family apart more times than I can count and yet.....

I never wanted to replace their mother. Even as dysfunctional as their relationships are with their mother, I never wanted to replace her. I wanted to redeem a broken situation. And they allowed me to think that I could, that I was, but when things got ugly and hard, I was the one they blamed along with their father who fought for them and still fights for them even though it hurts and breaks his heart. We wanted to show them how a marriage should look, how a family should be and what love acts like in true, Godly fashion. And yet, we are the ones to shut out of their lives, to blame.

I guess we are the easiest ones to blame. If they blame her, she will stop loving them, stop financing them. We have shown unconditional love time and time again, covered in forgiveness, longing to be loved and forgiven.  And they can not be to blame because then they have to face the reality of their choices and actions and their responsibility for them.  Ignorance is bliss, I guess.  But, I cannot live that way. I have soul searched far too often, asked for forgiveness and now need to move on. Each May, I rehash the same feelings and thoughts, wondering what I should have done differently, could have done differently and the conclusion is always the same, even if it is not easy.       

I am not their mother even if they called me Mom. I am not their mother even if I made them breakfast, washed their clothes, kissed their boo boos and helped with their homework. Cheering them from the sidelines and the audience, making them dinner, tucking them in.....none of it makes me their mother. Shopping for her first bra, attending his boot camp graduation and taking them to the doctor's doesn't make me their mother. My definition of mothering must be very different from theirs. So, maybe I need to let go of the expectation of a card or call on a day set aside for mothers because I am not theirs. And never will be.

But, I am the woman that loves their father fiercely and will do whatever I need to to protect their siblings and our family. I will not allow them to hurt their siblings or their father anymore. Because even if I am not their mother, I am Kari and Noah's. And even though I am no where near perfect, I am pretty good at it. That is where my focus needs to be. On my family that is under my roof right now. Because they made Mother's Day amazing! 

     

Monday, March 12, 2018

Kicking Back

This new semester has been kicking my butt! It started in December and ends in May and I still have three classes to finish. I completed the first course pretty quickly and then life happened and illnesses happened and depression reared its ugly head and an anxiety diagnoses for the youngest boy was given and a 3 year long jail sentence was handed down for the oldest boy with 7 more court dates and charges to go and depression tightened its grip and.....

Homework and classwork has been really hard to concentrate on in the last few months. There has been a lot of hard - physically and emotionally and I have not handled it well. I tried to stay focused and keep busy, but I keep coming back to sad. So sad I am missing church and Bible study and seeing the physical and mental toll it is taking on me. I joined a grief and loss support group at my church and that has helped when I have been able to go, but sometimes, it is too much to get myself up and out the door.   

I feel like there is just more and more to grieve. I look for the hopeful and the joyful and then there is just more sad and disappointment. I know that is not where God wants to keep me nor does He want me to stay there, but I am getting used to, almost very comfortable in the valley. Like that is where I feel I belong and where I know God can meet me and understands if I am there. So, I stay. 

I have also been subbing in an alternate curriculum classroom and it is hard. The physical and emotional demands are constant and overwhelming at times. And the reason I am there is sad and hard. An accusation, a lie, an investigation, a career ruined, a classroom changed. It has just been too much.

And on Friday I found a lump or a mass or something on the right side of my rib cage and the concern is back and the emotional drain that comes with what if and what now and how much more.

But....I have completed several modules for science and the work on my first task for my next class as been started and I feel like I am kicking back a little bit.

And I will rest and I will wait and I will look for the good and the truth and the redemption that always comes and is promised.

The promise of spring break and a weekend with the grandkiddos and a women's conference and donuts and coffee with ladies that want to champion for the cause of life and dates with my husband and shopping with my girl and practicing lines for his play with the boy. And letters to the detention center with pictures. And phone calls from the detention center. And money raised for the trip of a lifetime. And free coffee coupons. And worship songs and prayers of friends. And the strength of my husband to uplift me and keep things running in the household when I can not get out of bed.   

I am starting to feel the kick back.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Selfish

I know this might sound a bit crazy, but I am choosing to be selfish this year.

I am choosing to put myself and my family before things that are insignificant and unimportant to what God has for me and my family.

I am going to say no to things that stress me out or make me anxious.

I am not going to apologize when I take a nap or skip a social event to have family game or movie night.

I am going to surround myself with people that encourage me to live out my calling in Christ as a mother, an educator and a voice for the unborn and the mommas and daddies that choose life for them.

I am going to be more intentional with my words and my actions.

I will not allow anyone to make me feel guilty when I do not live by their expectations.

I am going to do brave, bold things that scare me and stretch me and allow me to be used by God.

Yes, I am going to be selfish and I am not going to apologize for it.   

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Love Yourself

Yesterday was a bit hard on this Momma's heart. I finally took Noah to a PT to have his toe walking issue evaluated. Seems his muscle tone is in the negative and he will require ten weeks of intensive therapy to rebuild and strengthen muscles that he has either not been using or using incorrectly. Nothing says Mother of the Year like someone telling you your son has been misusing his muscles for 4+ years and that there is significant damage. What I thought was merely a habit when he was not wearing shoes has been detrimental to his development. Thankfully, the condition can improve, but it will not be easy. He was so exhausted after the evaluation yesterday. But, the other alternative is surgery, which he is not at all thrilled about, so I am hoping he is cooperative with the daily exercises and stretches and bi-weekly therapy sessions.

When I got home from his eval, Kari expressed how awful her allergies have been making her feel and how her current meds are not working. Looks like I will be scheduling an appointment with an allergist to see if there is something else we can be doing so she is not suffering so much during the high pollen seasons. Which in Maryland seem to be every season, but winter. And of course, she has been telling me about her discomfort and asking me to schedule an appointment with an allergist for a few weeks now. Again, Mother of the Year 😍

I was suppose to meet up with a friend for coffee and to discuss an upcoming NoonDay Adoption Fundraiser I am hosting for our worship pastor and his family at the end of June, but we had to cancel. I was really tempted to just stay home, but instead I did not tell the kiddos she cancelled and I went to Chipotle all by myself and had dinner. Alone. By myself. I can remember when Josh was little and my grandparents came over to watch him while I worked my part time job as a receptionist for a podiatrist. They showed up a bit early and my grandmother handed me some money and happily said, "Here's some money for you to go treat yourself to some lunch before you head to work!" She offered it to me like it was a gift and it felt like it until I sat in the restaurant all by myself. As a single momma I was vividly aware that I was very alone. Eating by myself felt like a punishment or failure of some sort. Like only losers eat alone.

Not last night, though. Last night felt like a gift and it was. I gave myself an hour to just be. No conversation, no sharing my chips and guacamole. I didn't do anything, but eat my dinner and drink my Diet Coke and people watch. The couple next to me were on their phones the whole time. Two sets of girlfriends had very different conversations. One belly laughed and talked loudly. The other set whispered phrases of what she said or what she did and I heard, "Well, don't tell anyone, but...." more than once. Two employees ate together and two gentleman ate alone like me. One looked to be taking a dinner break before heading back to the office, while the other one seemed a bit confident in his aloneness, like he'd done it many times before. Me? I was just giving myself an hour to breath before heading back home for bedtime rituals and chores.

After having to take the whole day on Sunday to rest and let my body recuperate after prepping for the yard sale and working in the yard sale and allowing stress to cause my muscles to tense and my mind to tire, I realized that it is okay to incorporate self care into my routine. I shouldn't feel guilty for taking time to be alone and allow my spirit to be quieted.

It truly is a gift.            

Monday, May 08, 2017

A Day in May

Only 24 days left of school! Then I will have an 8th grader and a 10th grader! And Kaysen turned 7 today, while Kiyah turned 5 on May 3 😄 Time does not slow down and everyone is growing up and changing. Kari is counting down the days until she can get her learner's permit and until her trip to Peru. Noah is excited to be so close to having only one more year of middle school left. Kiyah will start kindergarten in the fall. Sigh. It all goes by so fast.

It has been over a year since Devin and Austin moved to TX and Cody and Brianne stopped talking to us. It would be harder to deal with their ignorance of us if they still lived in MD. Having them in TX makes it a bit easier to deal with, I guess. It is still hard only seeing pictures of the girls and not even being able to meet Dakota, though. We have a box of their video games and some other things to ship them this summer. Not sure if that will help or seal the fact that they are not speaking to us. It is really hard on Rick and I hate that Cody will not reconcile with him, at least. Praying that some day it will change.

Josh will be home soon and is looking into the Helping Up Mission. I know he is concerned about committing to a program for a year, but I have been praying for this for so long. I pray he goes and stays. It may be the only thing that keeps him out of trouble and from being incarcerated again. I know he is tired of living the way he has been living, he wants to see his children and he wants to change. I pray this is the catalyst that allows him to get his life back.

This weekend we are heading to VA for our nephew's wedding. Thankfully, we found someone to sit with Jack for the night that we will be gone. He is used to being alone during the day while we are work and school, but has never been left alone at night. And Ellie, the hedgehog will need her water and food changed.  I am looking forward to spending the night in a hotel and having free breakfast on Mother's Day 😍 Noah is excited about the indoor pool. I have a lot of cleaning to do in preparation of having someone stay at our house. The dog hair alone could bury someone. LOL

I am thankful for the unseasonably cooler weather right now since our AC is still not working. Praying Rick's friend can fix it on Friday since we leave to go out of town Saturday morning. If not, I am glad that the weather is suppose to be in the low 60s this weekend.

Can not believe it is almost the middle of May.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Comings and Goings

I can not believe that it is March already! 2017 has proven to be fast and furious. It is so crazy to think that before I am ready, the school year will be over and summer will be here.

November and December proved to be emotional and tiring months. It has been hard to not see the grandkiddos and Josh at the same time. We went to Janie and Steve's for Thanksgiving Day and Black Pie Day. Rick's pie won again this year. Kari entered a pumpkin pie she made completely from scratch - crust and all and it was delicious. We had 2nd Thanksgiving at our house, but were not able to have the kiddos over this year. Praying next year is different. God would have to move mountains, but thankfully, He is in the mountain moving business.

Christmas was different this year as well. Noah was sick and my parents when to Nicole's, so we did not host our annual Christmas Eve Brunch. It was a very quiet holiday and break, but what we needed. We weren't able to see the kiddos until the end of January due to sicknesses and schedules. We FaceTimed with TX family, although we were not allowed to see Hayden or Dakota. Dakota is grandkiddo number 4 and arrived on December 1. Thankfully, we receive pictures from Rick's sister, Krista.



January seemed like a bit of a blur. We celebrated Christmas with the kiddos at the end of the month, but were not able to have the spend the night until their visit in February. Unfortunately, Josh was incarcerated on February 12. Fortunately, we were able to spend the following weekend with Kaysen and Kiyah. Prayerfully, this summer things will be completed for Josh's legal woes and he will be able to start visitation with the kiddos. Once that happens, we will see them more as well. I know it will be hard for him to wait until the summer, but by then he should be in a better place to be able to see them. I know they want to spend time with him and it has been hard on all of them. It has been over a year since they have seen each other. I am hoping to get pictures taken of them since the ones on the wall are several years old. I can not believe that they will be 7 and 5 in May.



We also celebrated Jack's 9th birthday. We got him a bacon bone topped with whipped cream and a candle. We sang "Happy Birthday" and he enjoyed a new ball. We are so thankful he is part of our family.



One of Rick's 8th grade STEM groups had their group project, BEE a Hero chosen as a top ten finalist for the state of MD in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest. They won the state competition - earning 25,000 in technology equipment - and then went on to be entered into the national competition. They created a website and fundraising page, presented their project to Senator Sarbanes and to Chinese diplomats visiting MD and visited a local apiary to learn about the beehive/honey making process.. Their contest video was innovative and informative, but unfortunately they did not make the top ten in the nation. They will continue their research and hope to see a bill presented to Congress this year to stop using pesticides in the nation that are killing the bees. Here is the link to their website - BEE a Hero



Kari and her best friend, Kaitlyn are raising money to go to Peru with her graduating class in the Summer of 2017. So far she has raised over $1000! Thankfully, she was given a scholarship, too, for being among the first five students to enroll for the trip. She is very excited about the trip and is babysitting as often as she can and planning to get a summer job to save money for lunches and souvenirs. Rick took her to a Peruvian restaurant the other night to try some of the cuisine. She is not too excited about trying the guinea pig that is delicacy in Peru. Here is the link to her fundraising page - Kari's trip to Peru!



Rick is still waiting for things to fall into place for his certification. Doors have opened recently that have then slammed shut. I know he is growing weary, but is ready for whatever he needs to do to get certified and stay with Lindale's STEM program. We are attending a graduate studies open house at Towson State University tomorrow to see if they will allow me to enroll in their graduate program under their exceptions policy. If not, I will not continue to pursue certification. I do enjoy being a TA, I will continue to do that and maybe work on my writing more seriously. I am looking into attending a writer's retreat in July in Kansas City, MO.  It may be a long shot, but I may get that speaking career after all.

I am really looking forward to spring break in a few weeks, to take a few day trips, spend time with the grandkiddos and maybe get a new car or two. Both of our vehicles need to be serviced or replaced. It may be cheaper to replace them than service them. I cannot wait to have working AC and power steering 😊  



      

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Woe to October

I am not a big fan of October. I mean, I love that the weather gets cooler and it ushers in all things fall and pumpkin-y, but that month itself kind of sucks.

It is a reminder of a relationship that didn't work out. And an insulting conversation that took place. And a failed marriage for one of my best friends. And the homecoming of my amazing grandmother. And Rick's scary hospitalization.

It is just a hard 31 days.

But, we are trying to turn it around a bit. Venturing out into an opportunity that will be life changing for our family. Adding a sweet pet that has filled our 12 year old boy's heart with overwhelming love. Focusing on the times we get to spend with our grandkiddos and family instead of with the ones that we don't.

Months can become hard reminders of unexpected happenings that have changed us in ways we couldn't imagine. And they can also be redeemed and remind us that God will use our brokenness to heal us and help us to see the joy in life again.

Maybe next year, I will title a post Whoa, October instead.

When Mother's Day is Hard

From the very first Mother's Day I celebrated, it has not been easy. It is hard to celebrate when you are a single momma and your child ...