Life is heartbreakingly beautiful. And messy. Really messy. But, still beautiful. And here is where ours is right now.....
Our oldest son is a drug addict. He has suffered with addictions for a good part of 6 years now. His addiction has taken him to prison and taken him away from his family, true friends and children. He struggles with being accepted and loved for who he is, addictions, tattoos and all and it has broken him in many places. Just when he seems to be turning things around, he struggles. And his struggle is hard and it is real and it affects all of us. I know that he wants to break the cycle of addiction and be with his precious family, but sometimes what we want and what we choose to allow to happen are so different. I know that God's love is bigger than any rejection he has suffered at the hands of his biological father and his side of the family. And God is a loving Father that keeps His promises of redemption. I am believing with a mustard seed size of faith that God will save my son and allow him to be reunited with his family and have the future he was promised when I carried him in my womb. And for a job. He needs something he can be proud of for himself.
Our oldest daughter just started talking to us again after 4 years of a strained and broken relationship. It has been such a sweet thing to see her reconnect with her Daddy, her younger siblings and with me. She pursued us and desires for our family to be reunited and to grow. It will be a different growth process than we imagined as much time has past and much hurt has taken place, but she is in counseling and we have all had to set boundaries and begin to have a new respect for each other. The past has been placed behind us with a renewed desire for love and family. She is dating a remarkable young man and we are eager to see them continue to plan for their future. A 2016 wedding is in the works. And we are also eager for more grandbabies. Grandbabies are good.
Our middle son was just discharged from the Marines of his own volition. It became too hard for him to honor his commitment for four years and he asked his biological mother to hire him a lawyer that would advocate for his release. It took a few months, but he was released in September. Four months before his firstborn daughter will enter this world. At 19, he was without a job, but very much with a girlfriend and a child on the way. He has since moved back to MD, started driving school and secured a job, but is learning much about being in a long term relationship and becoming a parent. He also recently started talking to us again after a 2 month span of silence. There is much brokenness in his past as well and it was easier to try and bury it than face it. Now, we tiptoe through rebuilding a relationship with him and his gf, hoping for honesty and maturity as the guides for better, healthier relationships with me, his Daddy and his younger siblings.
Neither of my stepchildren want to rebuild any type of relationship with my son and at first, that hurt and I was angry. But, for now, I know that our family dynamic is not what I would want or what I expected, but it is what it is. We spend time with my son and his children and enjoy our time with them. And we are planning the holidays for the first time in years with both my stepchildren. And I am okay with that. Now. I want real, authentic time with my children and if that has to happen in different segments, that is okay. I didn't choose it, they did. Their choices brought us to this place, but I am thankful to have time with each of them. Whatever that looks like. No blame, no regret, nothing fake.
I am cautiously optimistic about the holidays and my realtionships with my adult children. Parenting does not end at 18 or get any eaiser or less complicated as children grow up and move away. Especially if you want to be a parent that is continually vested in your children's future and wellbeing. The love and worrying is intensified.
Our youngest daughter is a beautifully, artistic and complicated 12 year old. She is amazingly creative and talented. She attends a performing arts school where she is pursuing her love of music/vocal. She is loyal and fiercely independent and opinionated. She spends more than the suggested daily screen time on her iPod and this summer we found out that she was accessing inappropriate sites and had maintained a internet friendship for 3 years that we were unaware even existed. But, she desires to live purely and was so repentant and has made the proper changes with her internet access. She has tremendous compassion and such a tender heart. She cares deeply for her siblings and deals with depression at times due to our complex family dynamics and her obesity. She struggles with making the right food choices and being active. We do not help her, as my husband and I also struggle with obesity and being emotional eaters. She tries to not let it bother her, but most shopping trips end in tears. I want her to be healthy, not be concerned or consumed with the number on the scale. I want her to be content with who she is, who God made her to be, but we are doing her a great disservice by not pursuing a healthier, consistently active lifestyle for ourselves and our family. I feel the heaviness of the guilt of her weight gain. As a mother, I should have never let it get to this point.
Our youngest son is a quirky young man with a bent for anime, video games and art. He is crazy talented and can draw like nobody's business. He has applied to attend the same performing arts school as his older sister. He is also wicked smart and enjoys science, technology, engineering and math, prompting him to also apply to the STEM program at my husband's school. I am praying he gets into the STEM program, as I think it would help the somewhat strained relationship that my husband and son have. My husband has a natural bent toward athletics and our youngest son does not. Although, he does like to dance like nobody's watching. He struggles with his emotions, wearing them on his sleeve, being overly sensitive at times. He feels very intimately and in such a big way. He is my snuggling buddy and very much the baby of the family. He loves his blanket, even at 10 and is offended when it is washed or left behind during an outing. He lives a very black and white life with not a lot of room for gray. He values honesty and expects promises to be kept. He is loyal and loving, as long as you are just as loyal and loving to him. He apologizes readily, but is not always as forgiving of others' mistakes. His lack of athletic prowess as caused him to gain some weight as well and he has become an avid snacker even with his newly diagnosed corn allergy.
My husband is the rock that this whole dysfunctional family rests and depends on for stability and all the answers to life's daily problems and math/science homework. He is a dedicated husband and father, an intensely hard worker and wicked intelligent man. He is currently teaching three classes with no curriculum as a long term substitute and is doing a better job than the veteran teachers at his school. He is highly admired by his administrators and colleagues, alike. But, he struggles balancing work, home and leisure. He is also struggling with his weight which is affecting his health and energy levels. He desires to give 100% and is able to juggle his responsibilities most of the time, but has struggled with mild depression and become overwhelmed with being all for everyone lately. I see it, know it and yet struggle myself with motivation and desire to do well domestically and in my career, so I find myself judging instead of helping more often than not. The struggle is real. And marriage is hard, but we are dancing this life with each other and even though I forget to let him lead or step on his toes, we are doing it together and it is still beautiful. And he is good looking and awesome in bed, so balances out pretty well. He is also a man if integrity and does his best to lead us spiritually. He is also in his last semester of college. He is an inspiration for pursuing his dream to teach well after some would say he should be in school. He is such a great example of determination for our children.
And then there is me. My misplaced expectations has caused me to miss some pretty awesome parts of this 14 year journey that my husband and I have been on with our blended family. I was sure I could make sure everyone was happy and healthy, loving the Lord and changing the world. I never expected out story to include such brokenness. I thought the brokenness had come before our marital union. I was sure God was going to allow me to see that my children saved, sane and successful. But, I needed to get out of the way and let God doing the moving and the changing. I ignored my own brokenness and vulnerability and found myself depressed, bitter and riddled with guilt. It was all about me - my fault, what I didn't/did do, what I couldn't change/fix - such selfishness that caused me to sleep more than engage in my older and younger children's lives. And my weight got out of control and I allowed myself to pass the blame from myself to God. God and I have been there before and He is so gracious. I am slowly, but surely coming back to a right relationship with Him, realizing that I am the one that needs to change. By His grace and mercy alone.
I am currently working as a teacher's assistant and enjoy it, but secretly desire to be a stay at home momma. I know that is not an option for now or the near future and at times it angers and stifles me as a mother and wife. I know that where we are physically and financially is our doing and that there is a way that we are working toward to change it all, but it takes time. And I may never be able to be at home full time. But, I also know that my gifting is teaching and oh, how our world needs teachers dedicated to shaping our students for the future. I am afraid I will fail them, just like I have failed my own kiddos and that it is too big a task. Again, forgetting how amazingly big and awesome God is. He has a plan, is still writing my story and I need to actively get involved in it. I need to get back to school, get my Master's, start writing my book, finish my wedding scrapbook, develop that film....go back to living even when it is painful. There is beauty in the broken.
Every time I update this blog, I feel stressed and get a headache. Getting my story out is exhausting. But, worth it, even though I am pretty sure no one is even reading here anymore. Maybe someone who needs to know they are not alone in this blended family journey will providentially find my blog. Someone needs my story. Not just me.