Sunday, August 2, 2015

Feels Like Home

Last week, I wrote about opening the door to our future as a family of four and moving forward as we fill the void that my husband left behind.  I was riding quite an emotional rollercoaster as I penned my thoughts.

The following few days were filled with continued packing and moving.  Friday, after work, I was surrounded by the love of some family and friends as we broke open the storage unit where the belongings from our former home were kept, and then broke open the boxes containing countless items and many memories of the life we are leaving behind.  I was overwhelmed, and began to function on auto-pilot as a self-preservation technique.  I just wanted the boxes gone and this new place to look less like the storage unit and more like a livable space before my sons joined my daughter and I again.

My daughter was taken for an overnight visit with her uncle and "aunt," and I was left alone in the apartment that, as of Friday night, was almost entirely unpacked due to the help of my dear friend (the aforementioned aunt) who helped me trudge through the misery and unfold the layers of our life.  I laid in bed for quite some time, reminiscing of various items we found in boxes and in the storage unit, making a mental note of which items I want to rid my life of, and which to tuck safely away until either myself or my children are ready for them again someday.  I shed some tears, and finally fell asleep, surrounded by both new items and the items from my past that were less likely to haunt me and more likely to help us move forward in a somewhat familiar setting.

Saturday, she and I finished unpacking what we could before I make the trek to get my boys and bring them to our new home.  She blessed me with the gift of finishing as I drove, which I cannot thank her enough for.  When I saw my boys for the first time in a week, my oldest almost immediately asked if we could go home to our new apartment.  I couldn't believe how excited he was.  I was still in an auto-pilot mode, and not really that excited.  It was more just a matter of fact that we were living here now.  It was just a new apartment.

His excitement rubbed off on me as we drove, and by the time we neared the apartment, I was looking forward to letting them inside to see their new room, and hear what they thought of it all.  They ran as fast as their little legs could carry them up the deck stairway, only to be stopped by the baby gate that they couldn't climb over, until I could unlock the place and lift them over. 

It was like they had been here all along.  Somehow, they just knew were their favorite things would be stored and went immediately to them to drag them out.  They squealed with delight as their treasures were strewn about and they began to play like this was the apartment they had left a week ago, not really blinking an eye that it was actually quite different.  When their sister joined us, she giggled and struggled to get to them, and finally joined their side.  They all played in the boys room.

It was then that this place finally felt like home.  I needed to see them here, fitting right in, happy and laughing and comfortable.  Then, it wasn't just a new apartment to me.  Then, it became home.

We spent a full day here today, with the exception of church, and it really does feel like we've been here for much longer.  Ironically, it was three years ago today that we started unpacking our home that we last lived in with their father, before Collin was even born.  I have had a few moments of reminiscing and silent tears, but overall, today just felt right.  The stress of our last apartment was gone.  I feel like I can breathe here.  I feel like maybe I'll finally be able to sleep here (assuming the children start sleeping better, too).   We have had our blinds open all day and the sunlight just pours in.  It's still quite bright in here and it's nearly 9pm.  It's amazing how oppressing the rule that prohibited me from opening the blinds to let natural light in became.  In three short days, we have had more people walk through our front door than we had in the entire six plus months at the last place.

I realize that the last apartment, transitional housing, kept me feeling homeless.  It was a place to live, but it didn't feel like it was ours, at all, even though we paid to live there, and it certainly didn't feel like home.  While my friend was overwhelmingly gracious to allow us to stay with her for two months, that wasn't our home either.  It was hers.  For nearly a year, we've been at least somewhat displaced. 

But now, we are home.  This feels like home.

Last night, I sat with the boys after the littlest went to bed, and I whispered, "welcome home, buddy."  I received the biggest grin in response.

I guess this feels like home to all of us.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

One Door Opens


Tonight, I opened a new door. I stepped through the threshold and forward into my new life as a single mom. I signed some papers, received the keys, and unlocked the door to our future, literally and figuratively.  

When I heard that door click, a tidal wave of emotions overcame me.  Up until this moment, I was filled mostly with excitement.  Signing that lease and acquiring the keys was a huge step in the right direction, and I know that.  But that click struck me so hard I thought I might be sick.
 
I have spent most of the last 5 days or so sorting through our belongings, packing, purging, and loading up the van to move.  Today, I brought the first boxes and bags into our new home.  Somehow, through the last weeks leading up to these days, I had thought I would remain fairly emotionless, because I knew it was a great step, and I knew it was a necessary step in moving forward with mine and my children's lives as they now are.  I was wrong.  What I thought was going to hold up a cold and calloused heart, in fact, was the opposite. 
 
I've been having flashbacks to last fall when my husband left us and his responsibility to his family, and we lost our home and were sent on this stressful spiraling journey.  Last fall, I had the help of a few close friends and a family member or two to help pack up an entire house, sort through and separate our belongings, and move us into a temporary space until I could find a job and get us on track to be self-sufficient.  It was a dreadful, heart-shattering feeling to walk through, not knowing what the future held for my marriage- a sliver of hope that it could be reconciled and mended and my family would be whole again someday was present at the time.  I was kind of an emotional trainwreck at the time.
 
This time it's different.  I've been basically the only person in the apartment able to do any of the packing activities, loading up the van and such, so it's been a lonely few days, and therefore I've been isolated with my emotions.  I have found a few things of his or ours that somehow ended up here, and I thought I would just want to throw them out, but discovering them was paralytic initially and I couldn't even touch the boxes. The box of photographs from our years together was especially difficult to pick up and move.  But, for now, until I'm ready to share them with our children, when I am better able to explain to them what has happened to our family, I will bury them in a closet somewhere.  At least I will be better equipped to find them again.
 
I am excited about this new home, a real home, not a transitional one with tons of rules and the isolation that comes with their visitor policy.  I'm excited to be able to open my blinds and let some sunlight in, or open the windows and breathe the fresh air. 

But, this move is different.  It is the first move that the children and I are making where I know that the hope of our reunited family has been tossed to the wind.  I know that our family portrait we will eventually have on our wall will just be the four of us and never include their father.  I know that he has made his choices that have left my children basically abandoned by the man who wanted them so badly, and that is just how it is now.  It is brandished in my face with every box I move and every step I take.  My heart is very raw.
 
This move is different also, in that the children and I are surrounded with the hope of a brighter future.  We have all the love we need amongst the four of us, and we are enveloped in the love of so many others who have been supporting us along the way and making this entire move possible.  People we hardly know or do not know at all have been blessing us with love and prayers in ways I find hard to describe.  It's surreal that at the same time we can feel so discarded and worthless by one individual that we can feel overwhelmed with love by others.  It truly carries us through these transitions.  We were surrounded before by the love of close and trusted family and friends, but it was a much more private move.  This time, I broke down my own walls, and in response, have seen God here on earth in more ways that I dared to imagine.
 
So, today was a big day.  I've laughed and cried.  I've been terrified and excited.  I've been morose and joyful.  I've been defeated and overcome.  I'm sure the waves will continue for quite some time.  At least now I realize that my heart is as it always has been, not one of stone, and I'm better prepared to deal with the tides of emotions as they come.
 
In this current juncture, I have been quite humbled by the different forms generosity afforded to me and my children, in large ways and small, from the gift of a table to those who have spent time with my children.  Those who have known me well for years know that I am not one who enjoys receiving in this way, when it's always been on my heart to give and to help those I care about.  I've gone back and forth feeling ashamed and unworthy, to realizing that the tables are just turned for now and some day I'll be back on the other side of things, doing what I love to do by being that person for others.  I've still been there for others through it all, of course, but I feel like I haven't been as much as I would like to.  And having others there for me instead isn't an easy thing to embrace.  But, to all of those out there who have been there for us, thank you, eternally. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Where Angels Sleep

Just riding that rollercoaster...

This week was all about "getting stuff done" so the kids and I can move forward with our lives.  I got quite a few tasks accomplished, and by Thursday, I was feeling pretty excited and also a bit liberated.  Actually, since about last Sunday, for the most part, I have been in a positive place emotionally. 

It never ceases to amaze me how a split second memory, thought, statement, or song can trigger strong emotions.

The past couple days, my emotions have been unsteady.  This past week, I have had hard questions to try and answer for my four-year old, run-ins with judgmental people, and they didn't seem my to phase me so much as one title I saw online that had my memory reeling and tears flowing as I thought about happy times in the past, our whole family sitting on the couch together, going to church together, feeding the ducks together, visiting family together.

I suddenly was longing for those times again. It took my breath away. It was completely unexpected because I hadn't missed him in over two full weeks, and here I was, in the middle of the day, silently crying and trying to regain my composure.

At the suggestion of a dear friend, I prayed about it. Minutes later, I had a song stuck in my head. I wasn't sure why, exactly, as I hadn't heard in months at least, so I found the lyrics and read through them again.

After reading through them multiple times, I realized the song was telling me a couple things.

 The first that, although I had prayed to break off the soul tie I had with him, some lingering connection remains and always will. And it hurts, because part of me wishes it could just be erased. The unexpected pain could only be healed by letting go again, and I need to work hard at  that. I don't want what is going on now, I pine for the past I once lived as the present. And my mind knows this, but it's harder to feel with my heart 100% of the time.

"But I am alive and standing strong. I'm no farther forward, just farther along."

The second thing it brought to mind is back in March when the promise of redemption was before me, the promise of eternal love from my husband yet again, and the promise to leave the dark path he had chosen behind.  And while it may have been what he really thought he wanted, he could not carry it out. And it made me wonder about love. I know he loved me once and what we had was real. But does he truly know how to love now? Clearly, he knows not how to love me and our children, but also I question his love for himself, comparing it with unhealthy choices and habits that continue, as well as his potential love for others.

"I don't know why I always run. Is it fear of the fall or fear of the touch? And I don't know how to really love; I've never stood still long enough."

The even more complex part of this particular song being brought to my Heart is that it is a song that I first heard at an acoustic outdoor concert at a Christian music festival with my husband back before we were married. And that memory is powerful and fresh and wonderful and brilliant and one of those experiences I wish I could relive with him and my children someday. But it will never be, and that makes it bittersweet. I can bring these types of memories to my children, but I'm still grappling with the reality that my forever has changed and we are rebuilding. 

"It's taken ten thousand days to get stuck in my ways, and it offers no grace. I cannot stand this place. With love in my face, I walk away slowly."

Sometimes it is hard to think of the future and not be sad. Sometimes, it's empowering because I know I can and will love the mess out of these babies and we will thrive. Sometimes, I just can't see past the weekend. Most of the time, I am okay.


Tonight, I took out the Bible, and found this verse. It's exceptionally fitting, and I shall leave you to meditate on it for your own life, if you so choose.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Beside You

Spencer,

Tonight, for the first time in quite a long time, you were the last of the children awake at bedtime. It was quite a surprise when you, and not your brother, walked out of the bedroom at 10:42pm. I shouldn't have been surprised since you suddenly napped around 6pm after playing hard all afternoon making your sister giggle like crazy.

"Mommy, I'm tired," you spoke softly as you approached me. "Will you come lay by me?"

How could I resist? I dropped what I was doing and replied, "absolutely, buddy."

As I lay there, running my fingers through your hair as I have countless nights before, your eyelids started closing and your breath became more steady. It took only a few short minutes before you were sound asleep.

I stayed a while to watch you, to study your profile, and take in the quiet moment, just holding my baby boy.

I noticed I had the blanket tucked right up under your chin, and with the pale glow of the owl nightlight behind you, I had a flashback.

It was our first night alone together, November 2, 2010. You were one day old. Your dad had gone home for the night to tend to our dog, and I told him "It's okay. I got this." It was a long night, the first of many long nights, and you fought sleep like a champion. After I finally had you calmed down and dreaming, I placed your swaddled, tiny body in the bassinet by my hospital bed and took this photo to commemorate:



Tonight, not quite five years later, my tall, lanky, handsome little boy looked identical, in my mind, to your newborn baby self. I could see the same profile, and found it remarkable how you looked so similar and yet so strikingly different at the same time.



I remembered those words. "It's okay. I got this," and tears welled up in my eyes. Perhaps, they are more poignant and applicable to our lives now than they were that first night together.

I remember telling your newborn self that you were the best thing that had ever happened to us.

I still tell you that you're the best thing that has ever happened to me. I whisper it at night sometimes when you're falling asleep. 

It's still true. You (and your brother and sister) very much are my greatest blessings.

You've recently started saying it back. It caught me completely off guard the first time, and each time after, I think my heart skips a beat.

We are in this together, buddy. We are in it forever. You made me a mommy, and we are learning as we go. But we will conquer the battles that may lay before us, and we will build a house filled with love.

My firstborn baby boy, (how dare I call you that, right? You're a big boy now...) I love you.  Thank you for asking me to lay beside you tonight, and therefore, unknowingly reminding me that "I've got this" and life will be okay, even if it's vastly different from how we began our journey together.

-Mommy

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Just living with Love.

There have been numerous people who have contacted me in the last few days, having come across the story of my marriage falling apart, possibly being mended, and ultimately that being a farce, and now the children and I are moving forward. 

These messages seem to have similarities. 

First, let me state that there is no need for anyone to apologize or regret not knowing, noticing, or reading my prior blog post. Everyone is busy with many things in their lives, and I am not one to believe that reading my blog should be anyone's priority, nor should stalking my Facebook or Instagram and trying to read between the "missing" stories and photos portraying the life we once had. I am not at all offended if people didn't wonder or ask about it.  In fact, up until recently, I had attempted to be fairly quiet and private about it all, because I wasn't in the right place in my heart to be open about it yet.

So please, no apologies necessary.

Now, many of my friends and family have commented on my strength or my "wonder mom" skills. While it's quite flattering, I feel silly reading those things. 

Most of the past year, I didn't feel as strong as people seem to think I was. In fact, up until the past week, I think I shed at least one set of tears every other day or so (some days much more frequently). I felt overwhelmed and confused often. I felt like I couldn't tackle these obstacles, wall this road, and make it through smiling. I honestly don't think I've ever been so exhausted on emotional, mental, and physical levels in my 31 years. It's been a challenge. And I didn't do it alone. God brought many people into my life to support me and my children as we navigated it all, as I am certain He will as we move forward.

I find it hard to believe I am any sort of "Super Mom." You should see me try and get three kids into daycare most days of the week. They're all independent and I only have two arms! 

But really. I'm doing nothing crazy or super. I'm just loving on my kids, providing for them as best I can, and praying that I can help them grow into being loving, kind, intelligent, humorous, humble, loyal, God-loving individuals. It's not easy, but most days I think I'm doing a pretty good job. Then, of course, Spencer will whap Collin on the back and Collin will shove Norah to chase Spencer and then Norah will scream and cry and take their toys in revenge and they will tattle on her before taking them back and they all three end in tears... And then I wonder if I'm doing a good enough job or if they're all headed for disaster. 

I kid. Sort of. Barely.

There's nothing I feel is extraordinary in anything I do. I am not prideful in saying that. I'm stubborn by nature and don't easily accept help (why yes, I will carry two upset children at once just to save time, and no, it's okay, I can actually open the door too!) but I'm working on it. I'm trying to show my kids (and myself) that it's okay to have help, accept it graciously, and not feel bad. Because honestly, I WANT them to come to me for help when things are just too hard. I'm really working on this with myself- leading by example.

I digress. 

I'm just loving on my kids and trying to provide them with the best life I can, minimize their heartache and confusion, and enjoy what time we have together. I try not to sweat the small stuff, whether it be Collin opening the fridge while I use the bathroom so Norah can open all the yogurts with her teeth, or Spencer washing the bathroom mirror every day with hand soap making it hard to see clearly. There's just little room or reason to get too upset about the piddly little things. I try my best to explain why I think those are poor choices and what would be better and hope that eventually it will sink in. 

That all said, I want to thank you all for your continued love and support!