Monday, November 30, 2009

And here I thought my days of finding random love notes around the house were over...

Junior has always been a basically thoughtful, sweet boy, but since learning to write and sound out words phonetically on his own, there have been no stopping the love notes I get around here. I can't get enough of them. Junior has become less demonstrative or vocal in the last year or so, and I really treasure each little love note (and gift) he leaves for me to find. These are just a few...

He made these bracelets out of pipe cleaners for me and was kind of bugged that I don't own a jewelry box to put them into. I told him I would wear them to church on Sunday.

Non-phonetically spelled, this note is a bit of a backhanded compliment. It says "I love you how madder you are" i.e. I love you even when you are mad. We have had to have a lot of talks about how I still love them the same even when I have to get mad at them for something. There have been a lot of breakdowns and "why are you being so mean, mom's" lately at the slightest amount of discipline. I don't think my poor boys are quite sure of either of their parents right now. But it is nice to know he loves me back even when I am mad at him :-) you would never know it by the things he actually says on those occasions!

Unfortunately, he has also learned to wield his pen for bad as well as is evidenced by this note I caught him trying to tape to Bubba's back the other morning after they got into a fight. It says "Loser, I don't like you."

Maybe what Bubba can't read won't hurt him? And I don't think you are ever too young to learn the fine art of writing censorship, Junior...

Open Those Forwards...

I generally am not a huge fan of email forwards, but I usually read them anyway since every once in awhile you find a real gem. A very good friend sent me this one today and reading it made me cry (not like it is hard these days, but still... :-) Instead of forwarding it on to all my acquaintances who are also leery of forwards, I am posting it here for the edification of you all. Maybe it will hit you the way it hit me and maybe it won't, but it improved my perspective on a day that was not shaping up to be that great. I am coming off of a really lonely, quiet weekend, have a messy house, I need to go to the store and the post office, I have articles to be done, a Christmas dessert to make for a church function, three sick children plus sick me and a trip to take them all to the Pediatrician tonight all on top of the usual routine of putting one foot in front of the other and just breathing and not crying in front of the kids :-) I was seriously considering getting back into bed and not coming out until after the holidays. Then this arrived. If anyone has perspective on life, it would be a 90 year old. I particularly teared up at #15, #31 and #38 (don't quite agree with #12). Thanks Amanda, you made my day!

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16.. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come...

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What I got...

I have to admit I have spent a lot of time this last few months thinking about all the things I do not have. I don't have my best friend anymore. My children don't have the father or home life and consequently the mother they deserve. I don't have much confidence in my future. I don't have a lot of happiness these days even though I am really trying.

I was going to write this on Thanksgiving but spending the first real holiday in my new situation just kicked me flat and I wasn't good for much of anything on that day much less counting my blessings. I have to admit, it is hard to think about what is great in my life when I am so constantly reminded of my own personal hell by the most innocuous things. It's hard to get away from it. The boys have been with their dad for the last two days and I have missed them horribly. I am one of those moms who doesn't sleep well away from their kids even when I know they are just fine. Having them gone is not a break, it is more like a horrible indication of what the rest of their childhood is going to be. Here, there, here, there. I'm already tired of it and they ask all the time "why can't dad just come here?" and I'm running out of answers. But the last few days has given me a little time to think and to remind myself that although things legitimately feel awful right now, I do have much to be grateful for. So here goes:

I am grateful that my children are healthy and that they love me and frequently tell me so.

I am grateful that I have been entrusted with their precious souls in my keeping. It is no small honor to be their mother and to get to love and raise them and I always know this even when I am ready to lock them in the backyard.

I am grateful I can have the knowledge that I did my best for them even though it stinks to have to watch and treat the fallout from all this.

I am grateful for the gospel and for the moments of peace when I know I am being carried along in my worst moments.

I am grateful for very kind ward members who genuinely want to help in any way they can.

I am grateful that we still have a home at the moment and that I do not yet have to worry about how to finance our life.

I am grateful for a good head on my shoulders. I know I can trust my instincts.

I am grateful for the fact that ultimately I know I am worth far more than he has made me feel.

I am grateful for kind, wonderful friends and family who are doing their utmost to help fill this huge gap in our lives and genuinely wish they could take my pain away.

I am grateful for all the kind messages from friends and from those of you who have come out of the woodwork to share your kind thoughts. Even when I don't get to responding to every one, I feel your prayers and good wishes and I am touched.

I am grateful that I am still standing (no small feat at the moment).

I am grateful that I have a loyal heart. That hasn't been taken from me in all of this.

I am grateful for those around me who listen to the promptings of the Spirit and seem to come to my rescue right when I need it.

I am grateful for the wisdom and experience of those who have already walked this rough road and who show me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel even though I can't see it yet.

I am grateful to know that I am watched out for both in heaven and here on earth and that I am promised peace and a better soul if I endure to the end.

I am grateful that I know I can do hard things, whether by choice or by compulsion.

I am grateful for the good times I did have in my marriage. The memories of them hurt at the moment, but I hope they won't always.

I am grateful for freedom in this country.

I am grateful for chance I have to spew my random stream of consciousness out into blog world and actually make friends from it (if I have made enemies, please don't introduce yourself).

I'm grateful for the capacity to hope for better things, whatever they may be, even when they seem so far away.

I'm grateful that there is always something to be grateful for.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Everyone, please turn to...

Jacob 2:22-35
(Book Of Mormon)

Because sometimes I forget that I am never forgotten...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"White" or "Cold"

Junior always greets the arrival of snow with a snowman. Immediately upon getting home from school on Monday he requested a scarf, gloves and a hat for his creation. Given the small scraping of snow that was left in the yard, I was a little worried that the snow man of his reality would not quite reach the epic proportions of his dream snowman (although for the record, he and his dad have built some pretty awesome ones in the the past, courtesy of dad's willingness to stack large boulders of snow. I have a feeling I am not quite that willing - or able, actually). He scraped together a little snow mound and unearthed a pointy rock from his secret box that he had been saving for a special occasion as the nose. He couldn't find any rocks that were quite right for the eyes, so he improvised with string.

When he was done, it looked more like a snow penguin, which when I pointed that out delighted him and made him comment several times on his own brilliance. When I asked my brilliant boy what the snow penguins name was he paused and hesitantly said "um, white? No, no cold.." It's always hilarious to me that my boy who is so imaginative in games and so very creative on paper cannot for the life of him come up with names for his pets and creations.

I give you, Junior and "White" or "Cold" (jury is still out...)

Aren't they cute?

And this is Bubba, refusing to pose for a picture in the snow where he lasted only about 1/8 as long as it took to get him ready to go out in the first place!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Like Dragons

I spent some of yesterday boxing up any remnants of family life that needed to be put away until they could make me less sad. I think I may have boxed up my set of scriptures because last night, I could only find the set J had used on his mission. Instead of picking up where I left off before (because come on, like I remember exactly where I was?) I browsed through it reading his notes in the margin and reading the scriptures that he marked either for class or because they had touched him in some way. Last night I focused in on this particular scripture since he had both highlighted it and underlined a section of it (the parts he underlined as well are in red):

And it came to pass that the people of Limhi began to drive the Lamanites before them; yet they were not half so numerous as the Lamanites. But they fought for their lives, and for their wives, and for their children; therefore they exerted themselves and like dragons did they fight.
Mosiah 19:20-11

I loved the imagery of fighting like dragons even when outnumbered because they were fighting for the lives of their families. It's like Braveheart Book of Mormon style :-). I could tell he also liked the imagery at the time and I imagined him telling himself that he too would fight like a dragon to protect his wife and children from any threat.

We are always told to liken the scriptures to ourselves and it was surprising how relevant this particular scripture seemed to today. In a way it felt like a warning. The fathers of today do not need to fight marauding Lamanite armies. Although fathers are still responsible for the physical safety of their families (one of the daddy duties I feel far less equipped to 'take over' every time I have to grab the baseball bat and investigate a suspicious noise, which so far has always turned out to be Jack the cat). What are even more threatening to their families today are the forces that would take them away from it. Families are traditionally set up in a patriarchal order and and fathers are charged to provide and be an example thier kids can emulate.

Satan is becoming very, very good at getting past that first line of defense.

The invading army of today can't be beaten with clubs or bows. It comes in the enticing form of alcohol, drugs, pornography, pride, selfishness, addictions of every kind or that pretty/handsome co-worker or friend you are spending a little too much time with, while Satan cleverly whispers thoughts in your ear about how they are superior to your spouse. Everyday, fathers are falling. Fathers who should be fighting like Dragons to keep their homes and wives and children safe against 'armies' that most definitely outnumber them. Is it daunting? Absolutely. But the men of Limhi WON in the face of terrible odds because their focus was on letting no harm whatsoever come to those they love most. That is a strength in itself. Not only are fathers falling, many of them are joining the army of destruction and selfishness and are so entangled they don't even know they switched sides and in many ways are fighting against their own families. Every person is endowed with the option to fight or flee, but too many are losing faith in the weapons they once trusted.

Fathers lead the family and should consider themselves the first line of defense knowing they have precious souls counting on them to be strong. I believe that is why Satan often strikes there. The amount of single mothers are climbing every year and every time a father leaves his family without fighting like a dragon for them, he statistically increases the chances that his children will also see divorce as a way to avoid working hard for something. Anytime a mother has to take on the father duty as well, their own divine role is often put on the back burner as basic needs have to met and the rent has to be paid. Just by lack of time, it is that much harder to give their children the guidance and time they need and were designed for. Before you know it the family is in 'danger'.

I thought about the wives mentioned in the scripture. Surely they also knew their men were outnumbered and that they needed to have a plan B. Were they going to run? Hide the children? Try to fight? Each of them must have been so grateful for the man who was out there willing to stand between them and destruction so they could comfort and care for the children. Wives, do we take for granted the many battles our men fight daily to remain a worthwhile leader in the home? Or do we only notice when they lose one?

I married a man who once ranked among the most honorable warriors out there. I felt so safe and it has been devastating to see my hero fall. Even when I know he was up against terrible odds, I also believed he could ultimately defeat them. I still think he could at any point but it is up to him to find his own strength now (or not). No one can really fight another persons battles. That's agency for you

In the meantime, I am the second line of defense for my family and I don't actually know what my plan B is. This is a role I genuinely never expected to have to take on. My future has never been so foggy. All I do know that the effort will require fighting like a dragon and that I too have a choice.

Hear me roar!


The boys and I spent several hours yesterday finishing winterizing the back yard.

Traditionally, winterizing the yard is a job we loathed and put off as long as possible (a procrastination in which two of our trees in the yard obliged us as they do not shed their leaves until the last possible second before snow. I'm pretty sure the very last leaf fell when it heard there would be snow today). Two things motivate me. The memory of the first year after we moved in (November 7th four years ago) and like ignorant first time homeowners did not rake up or pull up or trim down anything in our beautifully landscaped yard, thinking it would all somehow disappear. Come spring, the work still needed to be done, however by then it was soggy and rotting and very disgusting (and I was very pregnant). Not a fun job. This second thing that motivates me is the view of my elderly neighbors yard. This man spends hours on his hands and knees weeding out any errant crabgrass with needle nose pliers (I am not kidding...) and no weed is allowed past a baby stage before it is uprooted with the ruthlessness of a bounty hunter. He is a friendly guy but can't hear a word anyone says. He likes to offer us pointed tips on our own yard, which we most often ignore. Every year I strive to get my yard as beautifully done as his until last spring when I decided to just get fence slats instead (so the sight of my yard wont mar his...). Below is a picture of his yard and my yard as of yesterday. Most of his grass is still a velvety green while mine has been fairly brown for a month or so now when the city turned off the secondary water and I decided watering was done for the year and amen to that! Guess which side of the fence is my yard?

Anyway, disliking winterizing the yard is so rampant around here, I am not positive that J didn't set this whole thing up as an elaborate scheme to get out of it (because I have considered it myself). Now that it is done, he will probably be back any day now... :-)

Every year as I rake, I have to remind myself how much we appreciate the shade of the trees in the summer. We had a massive pile, much bigger than years past because in the past I was more on top of the leaves as they fell. Keep in mind that this pile could have been even bigger since it was on top of a large dip in the yard. The boys both worked industriously with their rakes and were very good helpers. Then we played:
The boys jumped in the leaves, while Sis jumped in her own way and observed (this is her "I just woke up and I am not ready to smile or jump, mom" face).

I was so proud of Junior. He has not shown himself to be adept at hard labor in the past, but he really was a trooper this year. He raked and fetched and carried and held the bags while I put leaves in (while making chomping sounds on the bag's behalf). Bubba was not inclined to help with that, but did his own part by standing barefoot at the back door and shouting things like "Mom, it's cold.." and "Mom, are you done, I'm starving to play with you..." Helpful stuff. Sis just jumped. She can help next year. Afterward we went inside and had hot chocolate with marshmallows and spongebob candy canes.

All in all, I tried to enjoy it more this year. If it's the last thing I do, I want to be long out of this house by next fall and my yard gets truly gorgeous in the fall. I wish I had gotten more pictures of it in all it's glory, but was too distracted and my camera sucks. I had planned to gather and press some of the flowers in the yard to make into wall hangings so I could pass them on to Sis one day and tell her that they bloomed the spring she was born, but know. I was a little distracted then too. I really wish I had. I kind of hope that if my boys only remember one thing (if they remember anything) it is the annual leaf jumping. And I hope that we find a new place with trees even if they involve more work. Isn't that what 10$ an hour deacons are for?

Look - Not a moment too soon...

I wish my boys were here this weekend to make the first tracks in the first snow of the year

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Muppets Rock!

I'm always a little frustrated with the time between Halloween and Thanksgiving. In my book, Thanksgiving kind of kicks off the actual holiday season, or else you get burnt out be New Years Eve (and if you are us, the holiday season gets a serious extension because we make a party out of Valentines Day, and are among the 10 or so people in the U.S. who actually celebrate St. Patrick's Day by doing more than wearing green.) Easter celebrations are a given and by then and I am shot. I'm not even ready for the 4th of July when it comes around. But by Halloween...

Anyway, what do we call this in-betweener time because it definitely feels seasonal, yet I can't quite bring myself to get out the decorations or turn on the Christmas music. I do go so far as to dust off our copy of Muppet Christmas Carol and we start watching it with a vengeance. Last year we got smart and bought the soundtrack as well and rock along to it everywhere we go in the car. As I listened to it this year, I was reminded of this story from last year, which is probably one of my all time favorite JS stories. I'm glad my kids are so entertaining. It's much cheaper than TV, except I can only prove it by recounting it here on the blog because every single one of them is like the Warner Bros. frog that sings and dances until the minute the audience is around. My kids are like that with the video camera. About 99% of our videos of them show stony-faced children and one of us explaining in the background "he was just doing/saying/ was really funny!"

So, we all take turns in the car picking a song and the boys like the one about Marley and also the Scrooge song (only because at one point a little poor mouse says "Please sir, I want some cheese..." and his suffering is hilarious to them for some reason.) However, I am partial to the Tiny Tim song. If you can disregard that it is being sung by a little green frog (although I prefer it actually :-), it is quite beautiful and a good lead in to whatever the pre-thanksgiving season is...

Bless Us All
Life is full of sweet surprises, Every day's a gift.
The sun comes up and I can feel it lift my spirits.
Fills me up with laughter, fills me up with song.
I look into the eyes of love and know that I belong
Bless us all who gather here
The loving family I hold dear.
No place on earth, compares with home
And every path will lead me back from where I roam.
Bless us all, that as we live
we always comfort and forgive.
We have so much, that we can share
With those in need we see around us everywhere.
Let us always love each other, lead us to the light.
Let us hear the voice of reason, singing in the night.
Let us run from anger, and catch us when we fall
Teach us in our dreams and please, yes please
Bless us one and all...
Bless us all, with playful years
With noisy games and joyful tears
We reach for you, and we stand tall,
And in our prayers and dreams we ask you,
Bless us all...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Everything

Incidentally, how cute are my kids!? Go on, tell me about it... :-)

What do you know? The writing muse struck tonight, which is weird because it is late and all my body is asking for is a long bath and mental oblivion in the really long series I am re-re-re-reading. It has been that kind of week. The kind where I lay in bed and wonder if I can do this. If I can keep my cool enough and be a good mom when I am so emotionally and physically worn out. It's weeks like these that I am acutely aware that I have to be everything to these kids. Mom, dad, good cop, bad cop, cook, teacher, potty trainer, homework helper, cleaner, referee, chauffeur, counselor, disciplinarian, etc. etc. All the little things that the kind offers of help are going to be unable to take off my plate for me. I'm just not used to juggling everything. And it feels so daunting.

Many of my new jobs are things I did anyway, but with the benefit of another pair of hands. It's hard to fix dinner when the baby needs to be held or entertained. It's hard to clean or work when someone is always needing something. There is no one to pick up the slack of things like discipline and bedtime when you get sick and need a pass. I wonder regularly if my everything is going to be good enough for these kids that ARE my everything. Just keeping it together is a triumph for now but I am certain that this excuse is not going to hold water for too much longer.

Awhile ago, when J and I were still in "negotiations" he gravely told me in an effort to explain his decision to choose her over us "I feel like losing her will be losing everything." Nothing he said before or since horrified me as much as that statement. His 'everything' so far consisted of an untried relationship, emails and texts he should never have sent, illicit meetings and lies (probably to both of us). This was compared to a complete home, a life we built, two hilarious boys and a sweet brand new baby daughter, a wife that was willing to go to the moon and back to keep us all together, and every option for a happy future. As tired as I am with the daily grind, I think I can be more sorry for his situation. He surely has "lost everything" by his own choice and wont realize it until it is too late. His children, pure love, light, the chance to serve those he loves daily, self respect and peace are very close to being lost to him. His 'everything' will turn out to be dross he has willingly traded gold for. It makes me sad for all of us, but especially for him. He doesn't get to have the resignation that I do in knowing I gave it my best. He does not get to have that feeling at the end of the day that he triumphed one more time even when the effort was brutal. He has lost what should have been most precious and has gained a lifetime of regret.

I wish he had chosen differently. I'm certain somewhere in him is a better man than that.

He is not a deadbeat dad. He was always the most excellent of daddies while he was here and one of my greatest joys was in watching him interact with our boys. One of my deepest sorrows now is that I wont get to watch him win the heart of our girl. I know for sure that he loves his children as much as he is capable of right now. I used to believe his love for them was as boundless as mine, but his brand of it these days is hurtful and confusing and has sapped all of us of self confidence. Love should make you feel safe. Our children feel anything but safe these days. The nightmares and random concerns have quadrupled. Most nights see a scared boy dashing across the hall to mom's room to get comfort from a bad dream. It happens so often, I cant help but blame our situation. My children deserve real love. Real love puts others first, even when it is hard and you can't be sure you will get anything back from it. The secret though is that when you are willing to love that way, you always get rewarded in turn. There was a time when I would have sworn on my life that he would never make a decision so selfish and that ultimately he loved his family more than himself. I'm still shocked.

More and more I am realizing that my everything will have to be enough and I have to hope that my capacity for it will strengthen like a muscle. Right now it feels like every day is a series of battles to be fought. Some are as mundane as the massive piles of laundry I still haven't quite caught up on since he left, and some are more emotional, such as waiting until the kids are in bed to let the tears go. But I like to think I am winning against the hard things overall, even on weeks like this. I can't afford not to. I can't stick my head in the sand and soothe myself with lies about how everything "is going to work out better this way" just because I wish that my situation was different. My children's father did not want to do what was hard, which means that his children and I have to. But the hard things won't kill me. My everything has to make up for two of us and then some in order to recreate that happy future and I think with some more time and patience and perspective I can do that. I have to.

My everythings deserve it.

This is what I get...

...For driving home too late at night from Grandma and Grandpa's. Just getting them in from the car (all asleep) about wore me out. I would have taken pictures of the next step, which was putting them in jammies and encouraging potty breaks, but I passed out from tiredness...

Aren't they cute though...?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Words To Live By

This is my new favorite quote for 2009. I don't have the exact wording, but this is the gist:

When things feel great, I am committed to my spouse.

When things feel just okay, I am committed to my marriage.

When things are not going well, I am committed to my commitment.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Good Girl!!

Sis just recently figured out that the jumperoo is for jumping and fun, not for "hanging there baby torture." The little princess has not shown any interest in putting any weight on her legs (she has been checked out and is fine - just not interested.) So when she finally began to give tentative little hops in the jumper, she got lots of enthusiastic praise from whoever was closest (Good Girl!!!). Now that she is a pro jumper, she tends to jump for awhile and then wait for encouragement which she takes as her cue to go nuts until she has to stop for more encouragement. She has been getting some serious air over the last few days!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Decide Now

Excuse me for a moment while I climb up on my soapbox here so you can hear me better. It's too bad I don't have a street corner to preach from as well, but this will do.

I want you to consider for a moment what you would do if the person you love more than anyone and committed yourself to tells you that they are taking their life in a direction that most definitely does not include you (or your children). Please put away what might be your immediate thought that it could not happen to you. It could. Anyone can fall. To my detriment, I did not give this idea enough respect.

Chances are that you would not do what you think you would. "I would have kicked him out right away" is what I have heard countless times from people who are slightly dubious about how I chose to handle my situation. Would you? Decide right now how far you are willing to go for that person who you at least pledged to love and cherish for life if not for eternity. I hope you never have to hear words that I did, but if you do, you need to know how humble you are willing to be and how much you believe in the power of forgiveness. It would be a lie if I said that asking him to leave was not an option I considered often and it would have felt better in the short run, but in the long run I would have wondered if I gave as much as I felt was due to my marriage. I don't have to wonder forever and I can look my children in the eye and know I gave them my best. I gave our family the only shot it had when he put us on this path. It did not work out in my favor in that he left anyway despite my best efforts, but wondering if I did the right thing is NOT going to be one of the things that keeps me up at night now or in the future. I believe it will haunt him forever.

Pride masqueraded as my friend a lot over the last few months, but anytime I gave into it, it turned its teeth on me. Humility on the other hand became my friend. There is nothing quite as humbling as having your husband earnestly try to assure you that you will "find love" someday. Humility reminded me that the man I was having painful conversations with was not the man I married, but a man who allowed other emotions to turn him into someone entirely new.

Decide now how hard you are willing to fight for your family, for the companion you swore to be with forever, for your own dreams. Decide now how much humble pie you are willing to eat for a chance to keep your kids lives from being broken by divorce. Decide now how you are going to choose to let a horrible experience shape you and your future. Decide now that you are going to be a person whose self worth will be defined by your ability to heal, to change and to offer forgiveness, rather than a desire to soothe your pride. True humility is strength.

For me, my actions were not about desperation. They were not about being afraid that I wouldn't find someone else or love anyone else. I know my own worth and he is missing out to not be able to see it. It was about being a Warrior Mama who would fight to the last breath for the well being of her family. It was about being a devoted partner who saw that her beloved companion was walking straight into a fire he couldn't even see. It was about going toe to toe with the adversary who wanted nothing more than for our family to be torn apart and for me to become weak too.

It was about fighting Hell itself.

I did not "win" in that sense. My little family is currently without a father in the home but I am winning in that I am still fighting for my family and will never stop. I have not and will not be dragged down by this. Every hard thing I do shows me what I am capable of. I may not have the greatest attitude every single day about the unfairness of my life now, and I have moments of depression and anger, but the goal remains the same; a happy family. I believe that I will be blessed with everything I need to make my home the safest place it can be for my kids. J has taken himself out of the realm of ny care but not my concern. I will never hesitate to throw him a rope if he wants one regardless of where I am in my life. My children will never hear me speak disparagingly about their father. It is crucial for me to feel my independence right now, but I will not let pride govern me or my actions in this, regardless of how temporarily soothing it would be to give into it.

Decide now how much your family and your spouse means to you and exactly what your limits are on "for better or for worse." I believe that if forgiveness was not an option for the human race, we would not have been given the capacity for it.

Decide now what kind of person you would be in a hard, humiliating situation. I know I am all the better for taking the hard road and I am not afraid to take that road again should I be presented with a choice.

Why yes, actually I do get angry...

Why aren't you more angry? People ask.

I have confused a lot of people with my reactions in this situation. Friends and family have commented frequently on my lack of screaming obscenities and hurling dinner plates, which is what they assume they would do themselves. I'm here to tell you that I actually do get mad. A lot! Most of the time, anger gets eclipsed by larger bullies like "humiliation" and "heartbreak" but when those guys take a break, anger is right on hand to whisper mean nothings in my ear. For instance:

I'm angry that I have been so deceived.
I'm angry every time one of my children brings up the situation and needs reassurance.
I'm angry that I have to be the one to deal with the acting out and repercussions from them because of their father's selfish choice.
I'm angry that I have to feel so humiliated for doing what I was supposed to, which was love my spouse with everything I had, and that I feel humiliated for not being able to turn those strong emotions off like he was able to.
I'm angry on weeks like this when I am sick and still have to go through the routine, daily care of our children without a break or the benefit of a helpmeet.
I'm angry that I haven't had a reasonable night of sleep in five months and it has nothing to do with the baby in the house.]
I am angry that he helped to build our little family and has now left me to raise three young children alone.
I'm angry that he genuinely thinks that parenting his children from a distance will be enough for them.
I'm angry that they do not have a father who can be a good example to them.
I'm angry that I have to swallow my hurt and misery and see the object of my heartbreak every week without getting a chance to heal.
I'm angry that when he walked away without trying or sacrificing anything, he took with him this family's best option for happiness.
I'm angry that despite all the love and advice and promises that were made to him, he still feels like his happiness is above those he had stewardship over.
I'm angry that, although I was not perfect, I did things right and was faithful and loving and I'm the one who gets no control.
I'm angry that I have to be afraid for my future and for my children's.
I'm angry that have to now doubt my ability or desire to give as much love and loyalty to someone in the future because it did me no good in this marriage.
I'm angry at myself for not doing something about certain issues five years ago instead of sticking my head in the sand.
I'm angry that he led me on that we would have a future together and now I have a hard time even going to my hometown because it holds so much history for us and we always talked about settling down there.
I'm angry that my days are full of triggers and it is easier just to stay home every day because I never know when something random is going to bring me down.
I'm angry that I am surrounded by reminders of our life together while he gets to have distractions that have nothing to do with us.
I'm angry that I have had to spend the last five months waking up multiple times a night and feeling like I got kicked in the stomach when reality rushes in.
I'm angry that fond memories have now become torture.
I'm angry that he has taken the identity that I wanted and has turned me into a person who has to rely on people around me for things we need.
I'm angry that he has caused us both to be an emotional burden on people who love us.
I'm angry that he has chosen to give in to this worst version of himself and I know that the man I married is a much better man than that.
I'm angry that I have lost both my husband as well as my best friend.
I'm angry that I still have so much love for the person who has been the cause of the most loneliness and worst feelings that I hope I ever have to know.
I'm angry that I have something that will cause me regret for the rest of my life.

Satisfied? I could go on, but you get the picture. Judging by this list, it sounds like I spend my days being angry. I don't. Some of it is fleeting and some of it keeps me awake at night, but like I said, it takes a far back seat to all my other emotions. I am willing to feel it, but I refuse to let it rule me.

So, consider these as verbal dinner plates thrown.

Monday, November 2, 2009

My Sunshine

It's amazing how quickly time can fly in some respects while dragging on in others. It feels like I have aged fifty years in the last five months, while it seems like only yesterday we brought Sis home. Five months ago today, little Sis joined our family. Five days later, her father stared at the ground and said words that would hit my soul with all the force of an atomic bomb. It was Sis who was cuddled on my lap when he said them. Many of my initial frantic thoughts included her and how she was not even a week old and her life was already shaping into something far less than she deserved. She was my warm, sleepy companion as I sat up all night long on the couch and cried and tried to make sense of what I had heard. As the days went on I reflected on many things, one of which was the unfairness of the timing. I don't suppose there is ever a good time for your spouse to tell you he has checked out of your relationship, but I worried that all memories of that precious time with my newborn would be forever sullied by the fear, sorrow, confusion and humiliation of those first weeks and months. I worried that when I looked at her baby pictures, that would be all I would remember. To be honest, I do remember all that when I look back at photos of my sweet girl. What I didn't expect were the small mercies and blessings I didn't know to ask for but got anyway. I realize that even though thoughts of her babyhood are always going to be reminders of this painful time in my life, I also remember her as a comfort that I doubt I could have gotten any other way. I could hold her and cry and not worry about holding in my emotions the way I had to do for the boy's sake. I was comforted in knowing that my state of mind was not a burden to her. She would blink up at me with her wise, old soul eyes and just snuggle closer. She rarely cried and she slept so much we worried that there might be something wrong with her. When my horrible nightly dreams would waken me, she was a comforting presence who asked little and loved me unconditionally. I found myself carrying her around a lot just to have her sweet presence close, yet she never got spoiled by it (the poor child is so used to having her bottle propped for her, she can't actually drink a bottle held by a person. Give me a break! There is only one of me :-) She became my warm, squeaky security blanket and I know we were blessed with a calm and content baby because I needed it. And I believe God gives us what we need.

Three months later, her father chose to devote himself to a life far less worthy than the one he had and again she has become my constant companion when I find it hard to sleep or feel comfort. She has learned to smile and it is gratifying to see that I am her favorite. I need that right now. We all fight to hold her and get her smiles. She has both brothers wrapped around her finger and she feels like a warm ray of sunshine in the storm that has broken over this home.

Nightly, after putting the boys to bed, when the demons of memory and reason come out to torture me, I have only to walk by her as she sleeps peacefully to feel a little calmer, a little more hopeful, and little more sure that this marriage resulted in some great things, regardless of the road we are on now, or the choices another has made for us.

I still worry on her behalf a lot. I am sorry she will not have the relationship with her daddy that the boys got to have for a few years and should be able to enjoy for life. I worry about the damage it will do to her relationship with him in the future when she becomes fully aware that he traded her security and happiness to follow his own and was not willing to attempt hard things for her sake. I worry about her having a conflicted sense of loyalty if/when a new daddy enters the picture and her feelings of abandonment if one doesn't. I will always worry but my worry for her is down the road. Of my three children, she is the only one who is unaware of the rotten situation we are in. I can love her and save my energy for the children who are affected and sad and confused now. At the moment, I do not have to have with her the daily discussions about why daddy cant/wont/doesn't come to live in our house like he used to. She isn't acting out or telling me that I am meaner than dad because I constantly have to be the 'bad cop'. I know she loves me because she lights up when I walk past.

All my kids are comforting in different ways and I am sure my girl will have her moments in the future when I am ready to sell her to the gypsies, but for right now, she has been the saving of me. As people find out the time line of my marital troubles, they are disposed to feel sorry for me for having a newborn to care for along with my broken heart and two sad children. I am realizing though, that she hasn't been extra work or extra stress. She has been some of my only real comfort and joy. She is one of the only features of my life that I don't associate with a happier past and she has her own place by being the most comfortable part of my present. I will be forever grateful to her for that and to God for sending her to our family when we needed her most. I would have hated to go through this ordeal without her. What could have been a burden has become an amazing blessing.

Happy 5 month birthday Sunshine!!


Since the boys were going to get candy for Halloween, I decided to treat Sis to her first taste of cereal. She looks unimpressed in the pictures, but she actually gobbled it down.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Past

Whew! We made it through Halloween, didn't we?! This is always a good time of year for Junior, in particular. The boy loves Halloween more than Christmas or his birthday and it doesn't really have anything to do with the candy. He loves the ghosts and the bats and the witches and the "scary" aspect of it. I was getting nostalgic about our past Halloween celebrations and I thought I would share my trip down memory lane by showing your our (albeit short) catalog of past costumes (although, don't look at them too closely. I made most of them and I am not a sewer by any means. I just make it up as I go. My homemade costumes last the night and that is about it :-)

2004 - there was only one thing for "the monkey man" to be that year!

2005 - Junior's bright eyes, big cheeks and poky ears made him perfect for Dopey.
2006 - Two pirates and a Parrot (yes Suzi, I stole the idea from you :-)


2007 - Winnie the Pooh and a very sad Honey Bee!

2008 - Batman and the Hulk teaming up for one night and one night only!

2009 - Ghost, Darth Vader and Mouse

Top 5 moments of Halloween 2009

1 - Sis trying solid food for the first time
2 - Junior "staging" pictures, including this one of him 'going through the wall'
3 - Junior crouching down, popping up at every door and shouting "BOO!" (Bubba would pop up and shout "Darth Vader!!")
4 - Bubba thanking people at each door by saying "Bye - I love you..."
5 - Sis cuddled up and sleeping like an angel mouse the whole time.
*Bonus: Going to Walmart earlier in the day and genuinely not being able to tell if about half of the people there were in costume or not. You think I am kidding? Check out this website:

The boys came home with so much candy, I think we will likely just hand over the next paycheck directly to the dentist to save ourselves some time.