Monday, December 14, 2015

Let them struggle together

Last week, my daughter went through spinal fusion surgery and was in the hospital the entire week. It was definitely an experience we'll never forget. 
We left our other children together at home, being checked on and fed by grandma and our amazing neighbors, friends and family. It was so important to me that my children be together to prepare our house for the homecoming of their sister, to support one another and to pray together. 
Wednesday was definitely the hardest and most painful day for all of us. Cami was experiencing much physical pain and that caused a lot of heartache for the parents. 
On that very bad day, someone tried to take two of the kids under the guise that it would lessen the stress on the children.  I was hurt and angry. I shouldn't have been focusing on this drama but I felt as if I had abandoned my other children as I sat next to my daughter, who was sobbing in her hospital bed. I wondered if my husband should have stayed with them or if I didn't really know what I was doing at all and was putting them under too much stress. I suddenly questioned my choice to allow them to experience this. I even found myself on the phone with Child Services over the ordeal.
I don't write this in hopes of getting sympathy or attention. The purpose of this post is to offer my fellow scolio parents and anyone going through a major change involving their children a bit of advice and here it is:
If you have other children, let them stress. Let them worry.  Let them be strengthened by the weight of those burdens placed on the family and let them see blessings that come from working and praying for someone they love.
I watched my children carefully settle their sister in the house and it was a strength to me, as their mother.  Her brother, Dominick hasn't left his sisters side, even sleeping on the couch next to her.  I really believe that if they hadn't been there when she'd arrived home, he wouldn't feel such a connection.  They were there to show love and support and they were the first people she saw upon her arrival. 
If I can offer anything to those of you going through this, it's the reassurance that your family is strong enough to handle it. Let them be uncomfortable together so they can celebrate the successes after the pain.  Don't let anyone take the experience from them. Don't let anyone tell you that they can't handle the stress. 
Through this, many people told me "You can do hard things".   I learned  that was very true, but even better, I learned that together we can do even harder things. 💙

Saturday, April 25, 2015

"A moms love is stronger than a stepmoms love"

"My mom said she loves me more than you do. She also said she loves me more than dad does. A mothers love is stronger than a stepmothers love. It's also stronger than a dads love. My mom loves me most."
My daughter really just said that to me. Not out of anger. Not out of frustration. Just because she thought I should know. She said it when I said "I love you most" so that I could understand that it couldn't possibly be true because someone she trusts told her. Someone she trusts said she she can only be truly loved by one person.  Someone she trusts told her she isn't my whole world. And she believed them.  When she said those words that I'll never forget (no matter how long I live), my heart broke. I was suddenly speechless. It was like my breath had been knocked right out of me.  The diapers I didn't change, the 2 am feedings I missed, the firsts I didn't get, these were not my choice. Loving my children is.
I don't have to tell Vanessa that I love her more than her mother does just to make myself feel like mother of the year. I don't want to.  She doesn't have to share my DNA, my eyes, or my smile. She doesn't even have to allow me to love her as my own because like it or not, I love her anyway.
I hope my children never believe that they can only be completely, truly, incredibly loved by just one person. I hope they know that their Heavenly Father made them to be loved endlessly. I hope they allow themselves to feel that even when people around them tell them otherwise, they are miraculous to every life they touch.  I hope they know they're mine, but more importantly I hope they know that I pray for them to be loved by their other parents and step parents because they're worthy of that love.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Peace vs Revenge

I believe in Karma 100%  
Last year evil knocked on my door. That evil tried to take away the family I've worked so hard for. It was truly my darkest hour and definitely a make it or break it time for my family. I watched my husband turn to The Lord as I focused on the incredible pain and depression that turned into anger and hate.  I wanted revenge. I needed revenge. I would not stop until justice was served.  I could not stop because I felt it my duty to protect other families from that same evil that had invaded my home. My family. My life. 
For months I waited for the perfect moment, the perfect mistake. The person responsible hid like a coward, lying about her involvement until the agency involved made a huge mistake and I discovered details that uncovered the source of all that had transpired and changed my life forever.  
And I made sure she knew that I knew. She knew that I was angry. She knew that I would take away her happiness at any cost. My children saw and experienced the situation and the reality of the unfairness of life. They asked to testify. They asked to yell at her and make her realize what she had done. They felt the pain and saw the tears and wanted her to feel what we had felt. We all wanted her to feel unsafe in her life. Unsafe within the walls of her  own home, as we did ours. 
But I couldn't do it. I promised her I would make her life miserable. And I realized the poisonous hate I had for her was consuming me. 
So I sat back and decided to let Karma take care of her. Karma gives back what she is given, and I trusted her to do the job better than I ever could. And as a bonus, I wouldn't have to feel guilty because after all, Karma was causing the pain, not me. 
Then in December, the plot took an unexpected turn. Just days before Christmas, I was given the perfect opportunity to help Karma in this situation. All it would have taken was one phone call and I could make this woman feel the terror a mother feels at the possibility of losing her family.  I could make her sorry for what she had done.  I wanted to make her sorry. 
But I didn't. As difficult as it was to do, I just let it go. This woman had brought a lot of heartache to my children's lives and hurting her would hurt them again. Watching me cause pain in someone else's life would have taught them that hate and revenge are more important than forgiveness and kindness. So I didn't make the call. I DID let her know that I could invite the same evil into her home that she did mine. And once again, she cowered. She hid her face, offering no apology for her actions, no thanks to me for walking away from the revenge I'd been waiting for. 
And now, Karma is paying her a visit. Her bad choices are coming back to her. Her life is slowly falling apart. This is where I finally believe I can find peace and assurance that she deserves the discontent in her life, her marriage and her home, right?  Where I can rest assured that Karma really will do a better job than I could.... right?
And I don't. I don't feel justified. I don't want to sit back in a comfy chair with popcorn and  soda watching this story play out. I don't find peace in knowing that she did this to herself and I didn't have to get my hands dirty. Instead I feel pity for her. I feel sadness for the way it will affect my children. I feel guilt for wishing misery on her. 
And this is where I find my peace. I find relief in the knowledge that the hurt in my life hasn't poisoned me to the point of wanting to watch someone hurt, even someone as selfish as this woman.  And I feel gratitude  to my husband, who didn't let this consume him and led by example. My husband, who turned to prayer and scripture study when I couldn't. My husband, who has fought  his own demons and will always do so, but asked for peace instead of heartache. He's learned through experience what it feels like to be the cause of someone else's pain and  although he's not perfect, he tries. He's been shown love and forgiveness when he didn't feel deserving of it and he wants to pay that forward.
The effects of this experience will last the rest of our lives and it'll be a long time before we feel safe again, but knowing that we could have caused hurt but chose to focus on our family and on creating peace in our lives instead of hatred and revenge toward the one and only person I've ever hated in my entire life is what I believe to be the first step in the healing process. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

We don't fit the Mormon mold. But we'll pray for those who do.

Ok, it's been just a little while since I've blogged and for whatever reason I find that today I'm sorta sad but I don't particularly want to blast it all over social media. Instead I shall blog about it like Mormon women tend to do, attach a link to my Facebook and rest assured knowing that most scroll right past as I generally do when a blog link ends up in my news feed. Anyone who takes the time to read this is either bored, concerned about me, or a stalker like George's ex-wife and her family (stalk away, heaven knows I do the same to you)
The topic of today's blog is very close to my heart and very misunderstood by those around me. At this point I've shaved part of my head (how could I possibly turn down a dare from my teenagers?). I have what should have been 9 new ear piercings, but my most favorite one ever fell out and I had to remove the stud from my tragus as I pierced too close to my face and ended up piercing the muscle, this causing irritability when I smiled.
Three new tattoos have appeared on my body and a the moon and stars on my ankle that was chosen from the wall of a filthy tattoo parlor in 2000 has been modified to include the birthstones of all six of my children. The tiny stud I loved so much once again sparkles in the perfect place on my nostril.
And (brace yourself)... I skipped church today. (Seriously, as I typed that last sentence, the bishops grandson stopped by for fast offerings and I noticed him at the door just as I screamed "SHUT UP!!!" At the dogs. The poor kid looked terrified). Don't fret, I am just down with the flu. I'll be back next week, sticking out like a sore thumb.
Have I apostatized? Am I leaving the church?  Um... no.
HOWEVER... (That's a very big however)... Many people might at this point.
Why? Because Mormons pity those who don't meet a certain standard. Yes, they pity. They pity the body that was given to me by my Heavenly Father because they see the ink in my skin, the adorable flower shaped studs in my ears and  the missing hair on my left side that I've grown so fond of. They pity my girls because they see their side-shaves as unfeminine, thereby a mockery of their role as clean, socially acceptable, righteous and good LDS girls.
And how do I know they pity?  Maybe I don't. Maybe it's in my head because I'm on the wrong path, not living up to gospel standards, not being a good example to the youth of the world, etc. I've heard it all. I've pitied the Mormon women who didn't fit the mold. I've prayed for them and found strength in knowing my sisters in the church were praying for them as well.
Don't think the church has been a negative in my life. We saw a lot of good. A LOT OF GOOD. And we will never forget the good. We'll never forget the neighbors helping when my brother had his seizure. We'll never forget the meals brought in when mom had her surgery. We'll never forget the Christmas parties where we were loved by Santa just as much as the other kids in the ward were. The list goes on and on.
That doesn't mean we don't remember the bad at times. And when I see the girls in my ward smiling at my daughters in the same way one smiles at a homeless person on the street, it reminds me that I got those looks too. And it hurts like hell. When we go to church functions and eyes flicker to the new tattoo that I couldn't cover because it was still healing, I instantly think of who I was ten years ago when I fit into that mold. What would I have thought? Would I have prayed for the poor misguided soul? Would I have counseled her through private messages or cowardly texts to remove the ghastly piercings, cover the tattoos and grow a beautiful mane of hair to fit in?
I would love to say no. I would love to say I wouldn't have been a part of the crowd ignoring the outcast. But I don't think I can. And I don't know how I feel about that. I really truly don't. Because I was so very happy at that point in my life. Probably more so than at any other point. But the big question was, how happy did I make other people by pitying them and making them my lds project, to be drawn back into the fold?
With all of that in mind, I now watch my daughters at the ages if 16 and 17 deal with the same issue I have. Especially Camilla. Her Mormon friends don't want a girl with a side shave. No Mormon boy would go out with a girl who so obviously puts the worldly trends before what's accepted in  the Vernal, Utah Mormon standard.
But her standards are high. Too high for the "other" kids. She lives like a Mormon girl, but doesn't look like one. And I see her suffer for it. I see the pity in the eyes of the young women. My girls hear their whispers. And I don't want to take her. Not at all. Not to Sunday meetings. Not to weekly youth activities. Not to any of it.
But I do. Because she believes the teachings just as much as I do.   While getting ready for church last Sunday, my Seritta made a comment about feeling as if the other girls would stone mine given the chance.
And yet, we go. We love this gospel. We love the teachings. We love the temple. We love the amazing people in the ward who love and accept us. And once again, I will pray for my sisters. For those who have taught their children to shun kids who don't uplift them, rather than uplifting the girls who may need it. I'll pray for the moms who shit talk me and my kids in front of their children. The children my kids have to go to school with. I'll pray for those who have "left the flock" by being unwelcoming and judgmental.
And I'll hope that what I've taught my girls will pull them through the frustrations of living in a religion where those who should love you most, simply don't. That harsh reality will forever be a part of our church and it's so very heartbreaking to me.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Soapbox of a stepmom

Since so many people ask how I can get along with my kids "other mother" so naturally and easily, I'll take a moment to explain.
First and foremost: my ex-husband and I both knew that in choosing divorce we were allowing someone else to parent our children. For me, this someone else would not be chosen by me, but by their father. I could love her or hate her, but its a choice I made my deciding to leave the marriage rather than save it. Fortunately I loved her from the moment I met her.
Second: She NEVER acted like the stepmom. And she never tried to one-up me, never tried to make me jealous, never  called the kids HIS kids. Basically, she loved my kids and accepted me as their mommy with all of my flaws and misgivings.
Third: I didn't treat her like the stepmom. I didn't throw my ex-husbands past sins in her face, I didn't tell her that there were duties that were mine and mine alone as their "real" mom and that she had no right to do them. I didn't use her husband as a manipulation tool, nor did I use the kids as leverage. I welcomed her as their family, their parent and their friend.
The fact is, she's important to them. Are there times they confide in her more than me? Absolutely. Are there times they prefer her house over mine? Of course. Sometimes she out-Chrismases me and out-birthdays me. She takes them to the doctor and the dentist when they need it and sometimes she does it without calling me to make sure I approve (gasp!).  They say she's awesome, and I don't resent her for it. They call her mom and I encourage it.  They love her, not almost as much as me, but the same. And she couldn't love them more if she'd carried them for eight months and been there from day one as I had.
My point is you can love the co-parent or hate them but I know from experience as a bio-mom and a step-mom that the way a woman treats her children's stepmother from day one will affect the way co-parenting is done for the rest of the children's lives, the rest of the new mommy's life and the rest of YOUR life. So mommy, be good to the stepmom because she loves your kids just as much as you and there's nothing you can do to change that (and chances are she has enough dirt on you to make your life miserable).

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sprinklers, lightning and fireworks

Just when I hit the 2.5 mile mark in tonight's run, the sprinklers came on at the Family History Center.  I let out a Michael Jackson-ish squeal, threw up my hands and danced through the water while lightning cracked the sky to my right and fireworks went off to my left.  At that moment I was ever so grateful for sprinklers, fireworks, and a reminder in the sky that life is about more than any of the many worries that ran through my head today.  It was a happy ending to a rather hectic week :-)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

One year. Wow!

Wow, it's been nearly 3 months since my last blog post.  I was once told by a friend that he knew someone whose activity online directly reflected her somewhat messed up relationship with her husband and that the more unhappy she was in her personal life, the more she looked for validation on the internet.  While that is not the case with my blog absence, I will say I find that the happier I am, the more I forget about my phone, facebook and blog.  So, in a nutshell I am happy.  So happy that sometimes it feels like I've borrowed someone else's life and I don't want to give it back :)
It's interesting that today is the day I finally took the time to blog, because today is one year from the day that I moved back from California. I moved home broken and full of heartache with two plans.  One was to stay single and trust no one for a long, long time.  The other was to elope with my former fiance and ask the Lord to make it work, even though he had already made it known that he disapproved.  I never thought that in less than two weeks I would meet the man I want to spend forever with, or that I would fall in love with him so fast and so deeply.  And I would have laughed if someone told me that I would marry him in 7 weeks.  And that he was one of the few people I know who center their lives around Christ completely and that he would become my hero.
My hero got his patriarchal blessing last week and I was able to be there with him.  I love taking these steps with him and I feel bad that I'm sort of grateful for his years of inactivity in the church so that I can be with him for his blessing, receiving the Melchizedek priesthood and his endowments.  The blessing was beautiful and the day he goes to the temple will be amazing because he's preparing himself and trusting in the Lord to get him to that day.
George baptized our little Vanessa on the 19th of this month.  It was incredible watching them together making a special memory that they will both cherish for the rest of their lives.  I love my crazy family so much!  Her grandpa Leo confirmed her and just as he started the blessing, Vanessa opened her eyes and looked at me through a little space between two of the men in the circle around her.  I mouthed "I love you" and smiled at her and she smiled and mouthed the words back to me.  At that moment my heart exploded!  These six kids are mine.  This family is mine.  And for some reason they know I'm theirs and they love me.  I am truly the most blessed woman in the world!  I hope someday I feel worthy to be their momma, but until that day I'll just be grateful that they keep me.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Day 11 pt 5: The Industrial Wonders

Another installment from my Bucket List.  The 7 wonders of the Industrial world.  Sadly, even if I had the funds and time needed, I could only check off 6 of these wonders as the last one listed, the SS Great Eastern is no longer around.  I could visit the mast, which was (or is, I don't know) used as a flagpole for a stadium in London but quite frankly I have no desire to.
The Hoover Dam, Arizona and Nevada

The Panama Canal

The First Transcontinental Railroad, USA
The London Sewerage System
The Brooklyn Bridge
The Bell Rock lighthouse
The S.S. Great Eastern, of which only the mast remains


Day 11 pt 4: The Modern Wonders

This list is the 7 Wonders of the Modern World.  Although I would really like to check off these 7 items, I'd have to say this is on the bottom of my "7 Wonders" lists.
The Chunnel
The CN Tower
The Empire State Building in New York City
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA
Itaipu Dam in South America
The Delta Works in The Netherlands
The Panama Canal

Day 11 pt 3: The Natural Wonders

The Seven Natural Wonders of the World.  This is the second on my four "7 Wonders" lists.  I haven't seen any of these yet, and I've been to or seen at least one place on each of my other three lists.
Victoria Falls, Southern Africa
Paricutin Volcano, Mexico
Aurora Borealis
Mt. Everest Himalayas
Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Grand Canyon, USA