Making the most of my "Dash"

Posts tagged ‘Family’

The Newest Member of Our Family

Today was a wonderful day for our family!  We added a new member…Mugsy!

Mugsy!  No, he doesn't normally look possessed. Thank you camera.

Mugsy! No, he doesn’t normally look possessed. Thank you camera.

Mister finally gave in to his missing-a-dog-in-his-life feeling.  He had two Shih Tzu‘s for over 16 years, but they passed away several years ago.  From everything he says about them, as well as others who had the pleasure of knowing them, they both were absolute darlings.

Mister fell in love within the first 5 seconds, and same for Mugsy with Mister.  The minute I saw their connection, I was in love too!

Mister fell in love within the first 5 seconds, and same for Mugsy with Mister. The minute I saw their connection, I was in love too!

I have been catching him looking at rescue websites to see if there were any Shih Tzus who needed to be adopted.  This past weekend a facebook friend of ours posted some pictures of a sweet doggie, and that did the Mister in.  He spent the rest of the weekend searching for Shih Tzus in our area, and came up empty.  So, he posted a Craigslist ad asking if anyone knew of someone needing a home for a Shih Tzu.  Less than two hours later we received a reply!

The story is that Mugsy’s first home was with an elderly woman who became too ill to care for him.  Her neighbor took him in, but apparently wasn’t sure how to take care of him and maintain his fur, and so he ended up quite matted.  She gave him to a woman in Bullhead City who rescues dogs from kill shelters in surrounding areas.  She cut his hair and cleaned him up.  Her daughter was the one who replied to our ad, letting us know that she had planned on taking the dog from her mother, but wasn’t able to follow through.  She asked if we would consider him because her mother could no longer care for him, and so she sent us pictures.  Then, I fell half in love with the little feller.

We made arrangements to meet with him today.  The moment we opened the door and saw him, I fell completely in love.  Mister was only four seconds behind me with the falling in love part.  The dog’s name was Jaques, but they called him Joey as well.  He was a delight, running back and forth between all of us.  Playing, pawing at the ground, hopping around, and rolling over to let us pet his belly.  There was no way we were going home without him, and he immediately became part of our family!

All relaxed and enjoying his new home.

All relaxed and enjoying his new home.

We didn’t really like the name Jaques or Joey for him, and since he didn’t seem to respond to well to either name we decided to try Mugsy; short for Mugwump.  He has been responding to us just fine with that name.

We surprised the kids, as they each come home at separate times in the afternoon.  None of them knew of our plan, and were very excited to meet the little feller when I told him they were going home to meet their new fur-brother.  He LOVES the kids.  And by that I mean, this dog is seriously a kid lover.  I am glad for that, because Shih Tzu’s tend to be one-person dogs only, but this one seems to love everyone.  He may be a mix of some sort, and not pure-bred, which may be some of the reason he is doing so well with all of the people here.  The daughter, who contacted us, seems to think he is Havanese, or maybe part Havanese, part Shih Tzu, which is its own breed: Havashu.  Seriously.  A Havashu in Havasu, how funny is that?!

Anyway, he loves us, and we love him.  His first day in the house has been great.  He’s been relaxed, he’s napped, he’s eaten, and he’s done the potty thing in the right place. I am so glad!

Do you have pets?  How did they become a part of your family?

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Whoops!

In my haste to get my post published yesterday, and in an earnest attempt at keeping it short, I completely forgot about one of the highlights of 2012!

October!

Not only is October my favorite month of the year (Hello, Halloween!!), but it’s Mister’s birthday month.  So for his birthday in 2012 we planned a trip to Oregon to bring the kids there to meet his family.  We had such a wonderful time!

The kids were able to meet his mother.  We spent time  with his sister, Jan and her husband, Mike.  The kids loved visiting with them, and they really enjoyed getting to explore their beautiful back yard… Koi pond, garden, and sweet doggies too! I’d like to say that the kids were well-behaved and using their best manners at Jan and Mike’s house, but…

Josh decided to interrupt just about every conversation by popping in with,  “Just a random thought…” and then go on with some odd thought.  Mike and Jan also served lunch and set out a veggie tray around 11:30 am.  The kids, who had eaten heartily at the Residence Inn breakfast buffet acted like I had not fed them in two weeks.  There they were, three children hovering over the vegetables, shoving them in their mouths like they were marshmallows dipped in the chocolate fountain at the Golden Corral. I gaped at them for a moment before having to shoe them away like flies.  My kids don’t even LIKE vegetables.  I really think it was some bizarre plot to make me look like a bad mother who forgot to teach social graces to her children.

On Mister’s birthday we went to our favorite pizza place in the whole wide world… Padington’s Pizza.  His sister had planned a surprise party for the afternoon, so we let him think we were just going out for pizza and “dessert” at her house afterwards. We met Mister’s other son and a few of his children there, as well as Mike and Jan and Mister’s mom.  We had a delicious lunch (Whippersnapper…Yum!), then headed to Jan & Mike’s house.

Mister is a big Jimmy Buffet fan, but he’s never been to a JB concert.  So, I bought tickets and a room in Vegas for an upcoming concert, and let Jan know what I planned.  So she decorated her house in a tropical theme and had Jimmy Buffet playing in the background when we got there.  Mike made this huge palm tree decoration, it was incredible!  I wished we could have brought it home, but there was no way to take it on the plane.  Funny thing is, Mister didn’t even put together the tropical theme or Jimmy playing in the background until he opened his present from me and saw the tickets.  Frankly, I was a bit puzzled at his initial reaction, because he did not look excited at all… more confused.  Then he admitted that he thought I was buying him tickets to Atlas Shrugged Part II in Vegas (Wha?! Seriously?!), so he was a bit uncertain as to what the tickets were.

Anyway, we had Jan’s delicious cake with a mexican chocolate mousse filling (to. die. for.), and had a pretty fantastic day.  The trip went by far too fast for us, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was such a treat for the kids to get to know his side of the family and see how kind and amazing they are!

Ready to eat some yummy food!

Ready to eat some yummy food!

The other fantastic part of October was… The Jimmy Buffet Concert!! BOY HOWDY, did we have fun!!  A couple of weeks after our Oregon trip, we drove up to Vegas in the morning and I took Mister to Margaritaville for lunch.  I mean, how could we go there for the concert and NOT go to Margaritaville to eat?!

Hangin' out at the pre-concert pool party.

Hangin’ out at the pre-concert pool party.

After that we headed over to the Flamingo pool for the pre-concert party.  That was so much fun we had to take a little nap before the actual concert!  Then, it was on to the MGM Grand Arena and the concert of a lifetime (to me anyway!).

Proudly sporting our fins!

Proudly sporting our fins!

I wore my styrofoam fin hat with pride, and a whole lot of giggles.  I think Mister and I laughed and smiled and danced (he doesn’t dance normally, but everyone else was too busy dancing to notice him anyway), and laughed some more.  What a fantastic day!

Whew.  Good thing I made a separate blog post.  I am WAY too wordy!  By the way,  I changed the blog appearance.  I thought it needed a fresh look.  I hope you like it!

Have you had favorite birthday or concert experience?

I’d love to hear about it!! 

A Past Due Thanksgiving post…

Thanksgiving with two of my favorite people!

I didn’t have too much time to write about the holidays this year.  I’m a little behind, but I plan to catch up now!

 

Jill and I in downtown Vegas

This past Thanksgiving was my best one, ever.  Brian and Jill, Mister’s son and his wife, came to visit for the week.  We were SO thrilled to have them here!!  We picked them up from the Vegas airport, and stayed the night there.  Brian and Jill took us to a wonderful dinner at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, and we spent the rest of the evening at the penny slots in our hotel.  Way too much fun was had by all!

The next few days were spent where we live, in Havasu.  We drove them around the area one day, and took them to the infamous Sno-2-Go.  Jill LOVED their unique ice/cream treats.  We already knew Brian loved the place, and we all promptly promised the owner we would be back the next day for more.  And…. we were!

Jill and Brian on the way to Havasu Landing

We visited our little casino across the lake too.  There’s a great little ferry that will take you across to Havasu Landing.  It’s free if you get the little tickets from the paper.  So, we went to the store and I bought several papers.  And then looked inside to find NO coupons.  Of course.  Turns out the paper doesn’t print the coupons during holiday weeks.  Whoda thunk it?!  We all “splurged” on our $2 tickets and spent a very enjoyable couple of hours over there at the penny slots.  We’re cheap like that.  We also like to leave with our money, which we did.  Bonus!

Everyone ready to eat, but I made them take just one more picture

Thanksgiving dinner went along without a hitch!  Everyone got to sleep in, take our time getting ready, and dinner seemed to cook itself.  Okay, not really, but I had a schedule (with instructions!) written down to the minute!  I did note on this handy-dandy little schedule that someone needed to carve the turkey, and it wasn’t going to be me!  I told Brian that neither his Dad nor I were going to carve the turkey, and he graciously offered to do it for us.  No *hint-hint* or anything like that there for him.  I think he just wanted to eat the turkey, and he knew someone had better take a carving knife to it before we all ended up like little Randy on a A Christmas Story when his mom asked, “How does Mommy’s little piggy eat?!”

We spent a lot of time out on the back porch, relaxing and chatting.  And isn’t that the best part of any holiday?  Getting to spend time with family you love and respect.  Completely relaxed, comfortable, and enjoying each others company.  Not to mention chatting up a storm, and laughing until your sides hurt!

Thank you, Brian and Jill, for sharing your holiday with us.  When I think of my many blessings, and things I am most thankful for, your friendship and love is at the top of my list.  We love you both so much, and appreciate you!

 

Do you think you’re better than me?!

Mister bought Dr. Keith Ablow‘s book, Inside the Mind of Casey Anthony: A Psychological Portrait.  Not because we have a sick interest in this family, but because of the psychological profile this forensic psychiatrist presents about this family.  Mister is always very curious about how people work, and what makes them to decide to do the things they do.  I find psychology equally fascinating, and have started reading this book as well.

There have been quite a few things that have struck me as I was reading.  One was a recollection Dr. Ablow had of a patient of his [to make a parallel point related to the Anthonys].  He was talking about a young girl who was convinced her parents had bugged every wall/room wherever she went, because they knew what she was thinking.  He told her that the situation was much worse than she thought, because the simple solution of removing the listening devices out of the walls would not solve the issue.  Her parents didn’t need to plant bugs, because they already knew what she thought and what she would say about almost anything… as they had convinced her of what thoughts and actions were allowed.  They happened to be only the ones that pleased them.

Whoa.  While I never reached a point where I was paranoid that my parents had listening devices everywhere, I had learned that doing and saying what made them happy was the only correct course of action.  When the patient asked Dr. Ablow how to get her parents out of her head, he asked her to remember the first time she decided it was too much trouble to resist them.  I immediately thought of this post I had written, where I had realized that my thoughts weren’t wanted or valued.

I had one other major incident as an adult that reinforced that my parents ‘wants’ came first.  I’ve had this particular thing thrown back in my face several times too.  My mother had made a comment sometime before I got married that she had gotten the “baby itch” a few years prior.  Dad had reminded her that I would be married soon and having babies.  She decided to wait for me to start having children so she could enjoy the joys of babies again. When my oldest daughter was born, she was the first grandchild for my side of the family.  I lived about three hours away from my family, but visited them almost every weekend with the baby.    Over the course of a year my then-husband and I had some friends that made the observation that my parents would never accept a “no” from me/us.  I laughed and told them that was not true, but deep down I knew they were right. A situation presented itself shortly thereafter that let me see whether my friends were right or not.

When our daughter was born, my parents told us that they would understand if they asked to have her for a visit and we needed to tell them “No”.   That they would accept that answer and not cause us any grief over it.  Fast forward.  This was our daughter’s second Christmas.  My parents asked if they could have her for the week (she was 19 months old), while my husband and I were working.  It was too difficult for my husband and I to get time to take our daughter to up to my parents’ house, not to mention the gas money involved.  I also wanted our daughter to be with us, until it was time to go up and visit them on Christmas eve/day a week later.  I told them No.  I explained why (because I thought I had to).  They “counter-offered” with an offer to pick her up themselves.  I said No.  This was unacceptable to them.  My dad called back and told me I had upset my mother.  That all she wanted for Christmas was to have her granddaughter, so she could have her at the Church Christmas dinner.  For pictures with Santa.  They couldn’t understand why I would not agree to this, because they had even offered to come and get her.  I was being stubborn, unfair, and unreasonable.  I had really upset them, but I stuck to my “No.”  My husband did not have my back.  I dealt with this alone, and the stress it caused for me was awful.

When they pressed me further to let them have my daughter for the week before Christmas, I blurted out what our friends had told us about them.  That despite what my parents had said, they would never accept a “no” from us.  My parents responded that they knew I had done this only to make a point, and that my friends (who they did not like) had pressured me to do so.  I was so upset, because my friends had not pressured me to do this.  They had made an observation, and I had a real life situation that proved they were right.  This became a joke in my family.  “The time Christine decided to say “no” to test her parents…and ruined a church christmas dinner for her mother”. Mental notes made from this experience: 1. They do not mean what they say; 2. It’s just easier to do what they want so there is no conflict or stress to deal with, and so you don’t have to hear “about the time you….” whenever they want to remind you that you were acting inappropriately.

Remembering that situation reminded me of other times as I was growing up when I would start to speak up to my parents.  I would start to exert my thoughts or opinions that might have been contrary to theirs.  I might have simply been standing up for myself.  I don’t remember the situations exactly.  What I do remember is that if I upset mom, sometimes she would directly ask, “Do you think you’re better than me?!” When that happened in my adult years, sometimes I would get a phone call from one of my sisters saying that mom told them I was acting like I was “better than everyone”.  Never was that my thought, or intent.  It was a slap in the face to hear this, and I would feel horrible and upset with myself for conveying that thought.  I would immediately back down and get back “in line”.

I already felt a bit of a misfit in this family.  We joked about “white-trash” behaviors, but honestly I felt like sometimes [most times, if I’m being honest] we were.  Sometimes I was called a Miss Goody-Two-Shoes or Miss Manners, because I would get so embarrassed at restaurants by what I considered impolite behavior (and it was!).  Maybe one family member would talk really loudly, or someone else would be eating and talking with their mouth full of food.  Sometimes  my parents would bring in cans of soda to drink, and even if it was at a fast food restaurant it embarrassed me.   I was made to feel as though I was being “too good” for the family for acting embarrassed.  So when I was asked if I thought I was better than my mom, it just made me feel worse.  Because I knew that no one should ever feel that they are better than anyone else. Especially your parents!

As I’ve been mulling these things over in my head this week, I had quite a revelation.  Specifically about the “Do you think you’re better than me?!” statement.   While I had realized in the last year or so that particular statement was simply projection, and had NOTHING to do with me; the other day it hit me that what parent DOESN’T want their children to be better than them?  I mean, isn’t that what our job as a parent is?! We tell them mistakes we’ve made so they can learn from them.  Aren’t we supposed to raise our children to make better decisions, do better things, be better people than we are?  We should be encouraging our children to do their best, be their best, and hope that their best is better than ours.

I have shared a lot of my parent-issues lately.  I told myself I would not be writing about these things on my blog, because my blog is not about these things.  It’s about me, and my life now.  However, I’ve come to learn that I’m still growing.  My growth seems to come in spurts, as I do things that jog a memory loose here and there.  Growth comes from revelations like these.  While these experiences are in the past and not something I particularly want to delve into, I appreciate the opportunity given to me to mull them over, gain some insight, and move on as a better person.

Gaining insight as I live my dash,

Christine

Begin Rant

<rant>

I have had this rant in my head for a while.  It may not make sense, it may be unresolved at the end, but I must stop the words from swirling in my head, keeping me pissed off.

I have long contemplated how to if I should write this post.  It is really difficult for me, because it most likely will offend some people.  I have wondered if maybe the offensiveness may not exactly come from the fact that I wrote it, but rather themselves?  Then I tell myself that sounds fairly judgmental, and it is not a nice thought.  But, I must be honest with the fact that the thought is there.

I’m about to say things that I am not supposed to say out loud.  These things are not supposed to have their “covers pulled”, so to speak.  They are things that some people say, but never really do.  And, it delves into family and religion.  Are you about to hit the red X button, since I mentioned the word religion?  If so, please wait. I’d ask for your indulgence, and for you to stick around for just a bit, as I’m not about to get all preachy on you.  Just state some observations.  About families. Possibly about religion.  But mainly about “religious” families. But first, I have to talk a bit about my background…

I grew up in a conservative baptist home.  So conservative, in fact, that Southern Baptists are viewed as being too progressive and broad-minded.  I wasn’t allowed to visit any other churches, should my friends invite me to theirs.  There were two exceptions, and I’m fairly certain it’s because my parents were tired of hearing me ask if I could go to a church that a friend invited me to.

I grew up knowing one thing as an absolute.  If you did not do what God wanted you to do, he would take away something you loved to “get your attention.”  That particular belief followed me into adult hood, and was my motivation for anything church related.  If I missed any church service, then I would figuratively cross my fingers and hope that I wouldn’t get into a car accident that harmed my children.  I would also get a phone call from the parents on Sunday afternoon, asking making sure I went to church that day.  If I hadn’t gone, and didn’t have a justified reason for non-attendance… well, lets just say a bit of a talking to ensued as well as guilt for possible harm to my children.

Given that particular “belief” as a guideline, I did everything I was supposed to do as a “christian” woman.  I also knew what roles my parents wanted me to have in church, and so I did those as well.  I’m a people-pleaser, and the people I wanted to please most were my parents.  It was easier to keep them happy than to deal with their disappointment and guilt.  It was a life of people (parent)-pleasing service to the Lord.  And, boy, could I fill bunches of those church roles well.  Go, me!  The “perfect Christian!”  Exactly what God wanted from me… Um… no, not so much.   A couple of years ago, as I was going through a separation, I realized that I was doing it all wrong.  It dawned on me that if I believed God has given me a free will (I did, and do), then why on earth would He punish me by harming someone I loved for not doing what He wanted me to do?  Doesn’t that take the very essence of “free will” away?!

Here’s where the family/religion stuff collides.  For some reason, some families will not accept other family members choosing to live life their way in a different way.  This is so unacceptable to them, that they feel it necessary to interject their beliefs in whatever way they can.  Whether it’s appropriate or not.  Whether it’s hurtful and undermines other family members in their role as parents or spouses.  And I get pissed off when I see that happening, as I’ve been there, done that, got every damn t-shirt on the rack. I hate to see this kind of behavior rearing its ugly head again, in another place, trying to get people I care about to collect these same t-shirts.

WHY do people do this to those they “love”?!  Why do they feel they have the right to undermine a parent in the way they raise their child?  Who gives them the right to step in and then say, “well we did it for their own good…” after hearing that their actions were inappropriate?  And, when called on their behaviors, why do they make lame excuses instead of saying, “I’m sorry.”  Not, “I’m sorry what I did offended you.” or “I’m sorry you viewed what I did as inappropriate.”  Just… “I’m sorry.”  Which means… “I will not do it again.”

I don’t get why, with our families, we can be hurtful, insulting, mean, and then justify that with, “I thought I was doing what was right.”  We would never dream of walking over to the neighbor’s house to straighten out their kids’ beliefs/actions/thought processes when their parents went out for an errand, so why would we do that to our own family members?!  Why do some people feel their way to raise children is the ONLY way; and if you aren’t doing it right, we’ll make damn sure we fix it when you’re not around to stop us.

I could go on and on with my rant, and these are not exactly the things that have happened in my life.  But, the manipulation is the same, the intent is the same, and so is the attempt at guilt…. “You’re not doing it the way we want.  We have to fix it, because we can’t fix you.  So, we’re going to get away with fixing as much as we can (in your children) until you call us on it, and then we’ll all be so hurt that you saw what we did as malicious.  And we’re sorry you feel that way, but we really know best.  And…. if you wouldn’t have said anything to us, then there would be no problems between us right now.”

Since I stopped going to the churches I was raised in, I have gained a much different perspective on religion.  I was sucked very much into the ritual of doing things the way others said I should.  I lived my life according to their standards, and I did things so I did not have to deal with any judgment, manipulation or their attempts to guilt me.  Sadly, I’ve seen better “christian” behavior from others outside of those churches. Don’t mistake me, I know that not all people attending the churches I grew up can be categorized that way. I know some amazing people, who are incredibly kind and loving to me and others, because they live what they believe.  But I’ve been exposed to a lot who are sadly lacking in the “live what you speak” category.

I remember Mister putting a rather blunt comment on my FB page when I was going through a lot of the garbage with my family.  He’s rather blunt, never side-steps issues, and has no hesitation in calling people on their behaviors.  He basically said that he was sorry my life had been exposed to people who were not behaving in Christian ways, despite their claims otherwise.   A few days later, he told me he got a notice that there was a facebook message from a particular family member. (To keep this in context: At this point, all family members were no longer speaking to me, nor was I speaking to them.  None of them had ever met, spoken to, or corresponded with Mister.) I told him that she was one of the greatest Christian women I knew.  Then he opened facebook and read this message:

Subject: My mother raised me to believe if you can’t say something nice about someone say nothing.

[Body of Message:]  “Nothing.”

Mister and I just looked at each other.  Clearly, my opinion was wrong.  He said, “I’m NEVER setting a foot into one of those churches, if this is what they call “Christian” behavior.”  I agreed one hundred percent.  How could I argue with that, given the result of behavior from someone who lived their entire life attending that kind of church?!

Some family members will always feel they have a right to be harsh, and mean, and manipulative if it serves their wants and needs.  All of these experiences have made me realize the kind of “christian” woman I do not want to be.  The kind of mother I do not want to be.  The kind of family member I do not want to be.  I want to love God, love my family, and treat them all with respect.  If I disagree with someone, I disagree.  I will strive to not make my way the only way.  Because we’re all different, we’re all human, and we all make mistakes.  And we learn from them.  And we certainly don’t need some family member trying to live our life for us.

</rant>

A letter to my Daughter: I know what it’s like…

I’ve been wanting to write this post since I started this blog.  But, it was “heavy” and the words never seemed to want to come out easily.

A few months ago I walked into Megan’s room and noticed she was very upset.  I asked her what was wrong, and as the tears welled up in her eyes she said, “Nothing.”  My first instinct was to MAKE her tell me.  I’m the Mom, she’s the kid, she’s hurting, and I want to know what’s going on RIGHT. THIS. MOMENT.  I had to resist the enormous urge of falling back into the familiar pattern from my childhood of the parent making the child spill her guts immediately.  Instead, I chatted with her, asked probing questions, and  realized she really wanted to talk about what was bothering her, but she was afraid of getting a bad reaction.  A MOM reaction.  An overreaction.  Given what I have learned from my own experiences, I assured her there was nothing she could say that would upset me so badly that I would freak out on her.  I promised that I would calmly listen to what she had to say until she was completely finished.

That’s when she willingly spilled her guts.

Honestly, I did not envision my 15 year old daughter being confronted with the situation she told me about.  She’s a good kid.  She hangs out with the good kids.  When she spends time at her dad’s house, she’s with good “christian” kids.  So when she told me what had happened, my head almost exploded from trying to keep my promises to her.  When she was done I told her three things:

  1. “Friends” DO NOT put friends in the position she was put in. EVER. Period. Full Stop. End of Story.
  2. “Friends” DO NOT attempt to manipulate us with emotional blackmail when we do not respond as they would like us to.  Attempting to control anyone in that way is one of the worst things you can do to another person.
  3. She handled the entire situation with more maturity than I would expect from an adult, and I was SO PROUD of her.

In the middle of our conversation, I told her that I had been meaning to write a list of things that I have experienced that were difficult to get through.  I wanted to present it to her as a ‘Letter To My Daughter’ sort of gift when she graduated from high school and was beginning to live her own life.  I wanted her to know that if she ever experienced any of the same type of things, that she wasn’t alone.  She looked at me, with tears falling down her cheeks and said, “I wish you had it for me right now.”

That was a knife to my heart.  I felt that I had failed her, because it had been on my mind to do for quite some time (clearly for a reason).  I just did not think she would need it yet.  Then I remembered some of what I experienced in high school.  I remembered the situations I was in, and how mean others could be.  I realized that I, too, could have used this advice at that time in my life.  So, with that said, I am finally getting around to doing what I should have done months and months ago.

Writing a letter to my daughter.

(A lot of this is deeply personal, but I’m putting it out on the blog just in case anyone else out there may be  experiencing similar things, and might feel very alone.  You need to know… you’re not.)

Dear Megan,

As you go through life, you are going to have some amazing moments!  You will celebrate, you will be excited, and you will share that with those around you.  You’ll have some normal, every day moments and those you’ll share with your close friends. You’ll even share the irritating, piss-you-off stuff too. But, you will also have really bad moments.  Horrible, gut-wrenching, how-do-I-get-through-this kind of moments.  And you may feel like you have to hide those.  I know, because I’ve had some of those myself.  And, while your experiences will not be the same as mine, I hope that simply knowing that someone else has gone through difficult times will help you too.

I want you to know, you are NOT alone.  You aren’t the first person in the world to go through difficult things, and you won’t be the last.  You need to remember that there may be several million other people that might be having the same difficulty as you, at the same time as you.  I do not ever want you to feel like there is no one who could possibly understand.  I don’t want you to be afraid to tell anyone what you’re going through because you are afraid of how others will respond.  Of whether they will ridicule and reject you.  I especially do not want you to be afraid of me and how I may respond.  That’s why I need to share some of my darkest moments with you.

I Know What It’s Like…

  • I know what it’s like to hold all of your feelings inside because you don’t feel you have the right to really and truly say what’s on your mind.  Do not do this.  It is dangerous, because in the end you will become angry and bitter; or you will end up sacrificing your wants, needs, thoughts, and opinions in favor of others.  And you will lose you.
  • I know what it’s like to put myself in a potential date-rape situation.  I attended a high school birthday party sleepover where there was a lot of alcohol.  I had a few drinks, and put myself in the very scary position of being taken advantage of by a college aged boy.  I was fortunate in that I was coherent enough to say NO, and even more fortunate that he listened.  (This was one of the scariest things I did in high school, and something I’ve not told anyone about until writing this blog.)   Looking back, I know how badly that night could have ended.  I regret making the choice to drink, to not keep complete control over myself, and to have become so vulnerable as a consequence.  However, I learned a life-long lesson from what happened, and I would rather you learn by reading about this now and choose not to make such a bad choice as I did, rather than learn this lesson for yourself.
  • I know what it’s like to have lost a best friend.  You must remember that many friends will come in and out of your life, and their purposes are all different.  Sometimes they need you, sometimes you need them, and sometimes you need each other.  A Best Friend loves you as you are.   They’re the ones that know when you are troubled, even when you keep lying to yourself and everyone else.  They are at the ready to help in whatever way they can, and sometimes they have the difficult task of telling you that you need to help yourself. They’re honest, even when they know it hurts, but they will help you through the hurt.  When you have this kind of person in your life, be there for them in the way you want them to be there for you.  Remember that it takes two people to have a relationship.  Don’t abuse each others friendship.  Know that sometimes these kinds of friendships do end, and if that happens, do your very best to make sure you end it on good terms.  They may come back into your life.  Either way, you will have no regrets.
  • I know what it’s like to have gone to a four month ultra-sound check up during a pregnancy, and find out that my baby had been dead inside of me for a month.  When I decided to wait for my body to “naturally” go through the miscarriage, I emotionally and mentally flipped-out after waiting for two days.  I also know what it’s like to have the doctor have to surgically remove the baby, and that was psychologically one of the hardest things I have ever gone through.  I felt every little tug throughout the procedure, and my heart wrenched and the tears streamed down with each one. I also happened to be in a car accident the same day, at the beginning of the three-hour drive to the doctors office.  Later, as we were almost there (and in a different vehicle), one of the tires had a blow-out.  Remember, life is going to throw you curve-balls and sometimes they will all hit you all at once.    And you will learn that you ARE strong enough to get through them.
  • I know what it’s like to be so angry and yell at God. Out loud.  After losing my baby I had so many questions.  I was so angry at having to go through that kind of pain.  My mother immediately told me to never blame God or yell at Him.  I wasn’t blaming Him, but I absolutely was yelling.  I was questioning.  And while it might not be the popular thing to do, you need to know that God can handle what you throw at Him.  He’s big enough, and strong enough. If you need to yell at Him and question Him, then you do it.  And then… YOU wait and LISTEN for His answer.
  • I know what it’s like to be so overwhelmed at a job, and intimidated by the people there, that I wanted to quit.  I felt miserable, inadequate, and like a complete failure.  This was one of the hardest things for my ego to deal with, because I thought I could do everything well.  I decided to learn as much as I could from others around me, and do the best job possible.  I overcame the difficult obstacles, and ended up being promoted.  Don’t quit when things get hard.  Do the best you can, and see what happens!  If it turns out your best is not good enough for a particular job, then you can leave and move on knowing you gave it your all.
  • I know what it’s like to tell a family member some of the most embarrassing, humiliating and painful experiences I have endured, and later be told, “I just didn’t believe you, until [someone else] told me it was true.”  It hurts to feel like you’re screaming at the top of your lungs for someone to care, and find out they never even really listened to begin with.  I hope I will always hear you, Megan.
  • I know what it’s like to be told, “It’s just too much work and too hard to try” by someone who was referring to maintaining a relationship with me.  Relationships take work.  Sometimes it’s easy work, sometimes it’s hard work, but it always requires both parties to work at it together.  Love is so many things, but to me these are some of the important ones: Love is an equal partnership.  It is putting the other person’s wants and needs first, knowing that they are putting yours first too.  It is apologizing when you are wrong, and receiving apologies from the other person.  It is not keeping score of all the hurts you’ve felt, and then slamming the other person with them.  It is not harming the other person physically or emotionally.  It is not manipulating them to get your own way, and it never, ever, uses emotional blackmail.  It is constant communication, even when you don’t want to be in the same room with them.  It’s finishing arguments before you go to sleep, and then holding each other in your arms.  It is tender touches, looks, and kisses.  It’s respect for each other, always. And the moment someone in a relationship with you hits you or attempts to hit you, it’s over.  No second chances, no “they didn’t mean it”.  You walk away that very moment, while you still can.  It may save your life.
  • I know what it’s like to be so depressed that I didn’t care about anyone or anything.  Including my own children.  I wanted to be left alone.  I started to drink alcohol with the misguided thought of easing my pain.  I woke up in the morning wishing it was already 6:00pm and I could have a drink.  Alcohol is not the answer.  It is seductive, and is too easily abused.  Make it a rule to not ever drink when you are sad or angry.  It will not make you feel better in the long run.  It compounded my depression and I started lashing out at those around me. You probably remember that more vividly than I would like.  It took a long time for me to realize something was wrong, simply because I was locked in the “I am Super Mom/Woman and I can do EVERYTHING” role.  You must realize that taking on too much will eventually overwhelm you and may send you into a spiral.  You are not required to take on 500 different roles at once. Give yourself permission to say NO, especially to those who are closest to you. They are usually the ones to put the most pressure on you.
  • I know what it’s like to have felt so much pressure, and felt so hopeless, that I thought suicide was the answer.  Suicide is NEVER the answer, but when you are in that place it may seem like it to you.  It’s a dark and hopeless place, and it feels so overwhelmingly lonely.  But you must REACH OUT to someone.  Get help! Remember that there are people in the world who deeply love you, and losing you would be devastating.  You kids were my reason for crawling out of that hole and going to counseling.
  • I know what it’s like to have been so hurt and devastated that I felt like I could not breathe.  There will be times when you may be so crushed that you may feel that you can barely move.  You may want to crawl into bed, curl into yourself, and feel like you want to die or just sleep it all away.  You need to know that it’s ok to do that… Give yourself time. Grieve, cry, push it out of your mind and allow yourself to rest.  However, you CANNOT let yourself stay down.  Once you have regained your strength, you must get up, get out of bed and face it head on.  Do not run, do not hide. You absolutely MUST deal with whatever it is that has knocked you down.  Because it will follow you.  It will dog you until it drains every last ounce of energy and emotion from you.  You will probably need help getting back up and dealing with it. Get it; whether it’s a friend, minister, therapist or all even all of the above.  And know that you will survive it.  I promise.
  • I know what it’s like to have lost almost everyone in my life because I chose to no longer live the way others expected (and, I daresay, demanded) me to.   You know the difficulties in our family.  If this happens to you (I pray not), such a thing will cause you to lose your balance.  You need to know that you will find it again on your own.  It is your life, after all.  You will discover how strong you are, what YOU really think and believe, and where you really and truly put your faith.  My goal is to parent you in a way that you discover those things in a healthy way, without losing anyone around you.
  • I know what it’s like to have serious lies said about me by a family member, and upon correcting them, be told by another family member to “Take your lies, and sell your story elsewhere.”  Know that many people can be part of the same experience, but have completely different perspectives regarding it.  It is important for you to remember this, as it will help you put yourself in other people’s shoes and be able to understand them during difficult times.  It will help you to not hold anger and resentment against others.  You also must remember that you need to be true to yourself, should anything like this occur in your life.
  • I know what it’s like to have moved to another state with three kids and started life over.  Sometimes you may have to start over, from scratch.  Doing anything new can be difficult.  Being on your own can be scary. There may be a lot of obstacles, but if you know it is right, then you will do whatever it takes.  And you will be ok.
  • I know what it’s like to realize that I did not agree with some of the religious belief’s taught to me since childhood, to change churches, and then face such disappointment and anger from others.  Megan, you must serve God because you WANT to, not because someone else wants you too, or because you’ve been taught that great harm will come to those you love if you don’t do it right.  I don’t believe God wants you in church if you’re there for any other reason than because you want to serve Him.  God wants you to want a relationship with Him.  He is not going to force you into it, or threaten to harm your loved ones.  I believe He will be disappointed if you don’t want a relationship with Him, but He gives YOU the choice as He promised you a free-will.  I know you love God, you let Him guide you.

Megan, I want you to know that I am glad to have had these experiences.  If given the opportunity for a do-over, I would do them all again.  However, I would change my reactions in some instances.  I would take more time to think things through.  But, as Mister always says, the sum of your experiences has made you who you are today.  And I wouldn’t be the person I am without having gone through these things.  Even you have recognized and told me that I am a better mom to you, because of many of these experiences.  Only through adversity will you see who you really are, and what you are capable of becoming.  Without pain, and without suffering, you will never fully appreciate the good times in your life.  Or know the kind of people who you want to be in your life.

I also want you to know that when I felt that most everyone around me let me down, and I knew they felt I let them down, I always knew that I had never been completely abandoned.  I knew God was always there.  No matter what you do, or where you go, He will be there for you too.  My wish is to also be there for you, when you need me.  So many times I have tried to think of anything that would make me not want to have you in my life.  There is nothing, Megan.  I’ve imagined the most horrible things, and still, I love you so much that nothing I can think of would make me want you out of my life.

This is your life, Megan.  I will disagree and disapprove of some of the things you do.  I may express that to you.  But I will not force you to live your life my way.  I will honor your personal rights.  I will be here for you, I will encourage you, I will cheer you on, and I will do everything in my power to understand you.  And…I will always love you.

This is your dash. I hope this helps you to live it well.

Love,

Mom

I am Thankful

Several of us who have pages on Facebook have decided to post something everyday in the month of November that we are thankful for.  Diary of a Not So Wimpy Mom started this, and so many of us loved the idea we decided to join her and do it as well.

For November 1st, I posted that I was thankful for Mister, and November 2nd I posted how thankful I was for the people who have joined my  Facebook page.  However, today’s post was going to be a bit long for a Facebook status, and it is something that I really felt the need to blog.

For November 3rd, I am thankful for the fact that my kids love their Step-Dad, and that he loves them in return.  Anyone out there who has a blended family knows how amazing this is.  Introducing a new person into the kids’ lives, and making sure they understood that person was NOT a replacement for one of their other parents was quite a feat.  We worked very hard to make sure they knew that no one was going to require that they have any kind of affection for Mister, as well as letting them know that it was ok to have more than two parent-type adults in their lives.

Now, they all don’t outright say “I love you” to each other very often, but you can tell they feel that way.  Every night the kids give us both Goodnight hugs, and sometimes the younger two will give him a little kiss on the cheek too.  As they skip off to their rooms sometimes they’ll holler back, “Love ya!”  to both of us.  And the other day when I was introducing Mister as the kids’ step-dad to someone, Josh threw his arms around him and said, “And I love him SO much!”  That just melted my heart.

Mister & the kids at the Grand Canyon

I know how much Mister loves them, simply by how he treats them and helps to parent them.  They know it too.  Megan, the teenager, considers him her ally when she feels I am being unreasonable.  They all go to him with any serious questions or concerns.  There was even an incident about 6 months ago when Megan had finished a conversation with her Dad and immediately asked if she could speak with Mister and I afterwards.  When we asked her what was going on, she turned to MISTER, told him her issue and what her Dad had advised her, and then asked him what HE thought of it.  The kids all know that he is reasonable, fair, and they all know that he will give them an explanation if they ask for it (and many times even when they don’t!).  We never say to them, “Because I said so” although sometimes I am sorely tempted to!

I could not have asked for a better relationship between the kids and Mister.  I am so glad that they all do care for each other so much, and that they all respect each other.  I know all of that has come from no one feeling pressured or forced to “like” the other person.  It also comes from the kids having the knowledge that they have the freedom to say what they think and feel, and that they may respectfully question us, and our rules, and we will respond to them and their concerns just as respectfully.

I am thankful for this family!!

Our Family

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