Growing Pains

What is family? The question seems simple enough, so why has it shaken me to my core? My parents divorced when I was four years old. I don’t remember the divorce, or much of it. I remember splitting school vacations between my parent’s houses. I remember being a teenager, and joking about getting two Christmas mornings with twice the presents. My point is, I wasn’t traumatized by the divorce, and I was surrounded by love. My mother remarried when I was six. My stepfather became the man of the house. He became family. At eight, when all hope for a sibling was almost lost, I became a big sister.

Blended families are never easy. We weren’t perfect, but we loved each other. Growing up I sometimes felt like an outsider in our home. Christmas cards addressed to “The Gilson’s” and other subtle details would remind me that I came before “our family”. It wasn’t that I didn’t belong, but I sometimes felt like an addition. I loved going to visit my father as a child, but I was always scared of what I’d miss at home while I was away. There is no doubt that growing up I had two fathers. I had two men I could have called if my car was in a ditch. I had two men looking out for my best interest. By the time I turned 27 not only had I gotten used to having two fathers, I couldn’t imagine my adult life without either of them.

Jake and I got married in June, and I now have a blended family of my own. I can’t say I’d be able to love another child like my own because there are so many layers to parenthood. Being a parent to another man’s daughter isn’t black and white, and I commend my stepfather for loving me the best he knew how. Recently at my sister’s boot camp graduation I looked over at my stepfather and saw pride beaming from his eyes. He couldn’t hide how proud he was of his little girl, as he should have been. I realized on those bleachers that I’ll never make my stepfather proud. I was sure he’d be proud when I was the first in our family to graduate college with a Bachelors Degree. I couldn’t wait to tell him he was going to have a grandson, because I imagined all of the manly things they’d do together. Both events left me disappointed, but I’ve grown to know the connection isn’t there, and that’s okay. It’s okay because he did the best he could.

The day after Jake and I returned home from our honeymoon I learned my mother and stepfather were getting a divorce. The house, the pictures, the snowmobiles, camper, and memories were divided. I no longer have a key for my childhood home. My school pictures aren’t on the wall. My kids toys aren’t tucked away in the corner waiting for a weekend visit. It’s as if a stranger lives there. That stranger is my stepfather.

Our relationship ended with the divorce. His silence is a concrete reminder that I was never actually his. I don’t mean his by blood, you can’t change DNA. I mean, I was never HIS. He doesn’t wonder how my day was. He’s not interested in his two gorgeous grandchildren. There are no plans to see each other. Occasionally a text is exchanged, but there is no heart involved. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit how much my parent’s divorce has impacted me even as an adult. It’s as if all of my childhood insecurities are resurfacing as I come to the realization that family isn’t always forever. Although our relationship was never perfect, My stepdad has been a constant part of my life for as long as I can remember, and rewiring my adult brain for a life without him is much harder than I expected.

So I’ll ask again? What the hell is family? And what do you do when someone you’ve grown to depend on, and love no longer wants to be family? When they decide they are happier without you and yours in their life?

You make your own damn family.

This year I’ve redefined what family is to the Girard’s. We were a family long before Jake and I tied the knot this summer. Marriage certainly doesn’t make a family, and neither does blood. The word “family” in this house has a broad definition. We blur friends and relatives together, because at the end of the day its the connections in our lives that matter the most. We choose the people that choose us. We know who is in our corner because they want to be, and my heart is extremely grateful for THESE people.

As I mourn the relationship I thought I had with my stepfather, and watch my mother piece together her broken heart, I try to remember the good times. And there were a lot of good times, which is part of what makes letting go so hard.

Uncensored 

The Daily show is my guilty pleasure. I watch it every morning before my children get up. It’s the quietest hour of my day. Just me, my cup of coffee, the keyboard, and Trevor Noah. He recently interviewed  America Ferrera, an actress best known for her role in the television show Superstore. Their conversation was centered around the “Culture Battle” the United States is currently going through. America stated she has a “responsibility to reflect the world as it is.” . She describes the challenge of being yourself AND being the person that mainstream America accepts. She compares the task of being her authentic self to a balancing act. I may not be famous, but that balancing act is something I can relate to. 

America went on to say, 

“If you’re born in America, and you’re not white, you are told and taught, even if you’re not told you see it…To be accepted into certain places, only this version of you is welcomed.”

“Going beyond race, as a woman I feel like when I walk into certain spaces, not just as an actress, and someone in the entertainment industry, but in the world there are certain ways women are welcomed into spaces”

“ There are things we’re asked to leave behind if we want to be accepted and listened to.”.
A strategically placed commercial break left me pondering America’s words. How many of us are censoring ourselves out of fear? Fear of making other people uncomfortable. America hits the nail on the head. As women in this country, and all over the world, we censor our conversation, clothes, mannerisms, diets, and so much more to match the bullshit, non existent, false expectations of others. 
I know, I just said these unreachable expectations are non-existent, so why do we do it? We do it because it’s easier. Sometimes it is easier to ignore the cat call walking into the store than to confront the situation. Hell, instead, we change our outfit to lessen the chance of being noticed. It’s easier to just nod, than it is to confront Grandpa about the sexist joke he just made. What if we just stopped to sugar coating the real us with the acceptable version of us? 
I’m constantly told that I’m too loud, a little in your face, and very outspoken. These are qualities that make people uncomfortable. People do not like having hard conversations, and I personally get off on the tension in the air when things get heated. I love the energy in the room when two passionate minds go head to head. At a young age I learned what pieces of me I should censor to be more universal, and well liked. I’d say it took me until I was 25 to realize nothing GREAT is universal and liked by everyone. And EVERY DAY I have to remind myself to be myself, and to uncensor myself. That’s how deep this negative juju is embedded in us. We as people, as women, are not meant to be liked by everyone. Let’s make it impossible for mainstream America to have a cookie cutter image of the American woman. When we censor our authentic selves we are giving the stereotypes power. We are feeding the beast. 
Be loud. Be proud. Be you. We owe it to our daughters. When you walk into a room don’t leave any part of you behind. Don’t censor your accent, your style, your thoughts, or your goals for anyone. If any part of you makes someone else uncomfortable that’s their problem, not yours. 

Motherhood Shame Game

I smoke marijuana. I can say it loud and proud now, but it has taken me years to have the courage to write those words. I’ve always been an advocate for weed, but after I had children I hid my cannabis use. The mom shame game is real, and I was embarrassed to admit to the world that I not only smoked weed, but I’m also a firm believer in the plant’s healing powers. Yes, I’m a pot loving hippie. Do you hear me world?!!? I’m a mother of two and I smoke marijuana! 
Okay, so I’m a ganja loving granola, but what does that have to do with you? Nothing, really. I’m not here to persuade you to use Marijuana… I’m simply sharing the main slice of my “mom shame” pie. 
My oldest child is five. I was 22 when I found out I was pregnant with, Saylor Jade. I was a “young mother” or at least that’s what I was told 254,856 times a day. Everybody, everywhere I went,  had advise for me. The last thing I wanted them to know was how overwhelmed I was feeling. I was (and still am) determined to be the best damn mother I can be. The difference between then and now, is then, I didn’t have the confidence to be myself. I was trying to live up to the endless expectations of motherhood. I was trying to do it all. I thought that wanting to smoke a bowl at the end of the night was a sign of weakness. The society I grew up in made me think that “doing it all” was not only possible, but necessary. A good, no, a great mother certainly wouldn’t smoke weed. I call bull shit. After a day of care taking for a newborn, a full time job, cooking, and maintaining a house,  it’s no wonder I couldnt wait to smoke a fat joint at night. 

I am not by any means condoning drug use ( if marijuana is even considered a drug, which is another topic entirely), but I am telling moms around the world that if you desire some green before bed, light that shit up with pride. I spent too long hanging my head in shame over the fact that I smoke marijuana. Why can’t I smoke pot AND be an awesome mother? Of course there is a time and place for everything, and moderation is key. I’m certainly not encouraging one to spark a joint on the basketball bleachers while cheering for your middle school point guard. 

I do, however, believe it is acceptable to smoke marijuana in front of my children. Before you freak out, no, I’m not hot boxing my kids while I smoke blunts and blow the smoke in their face. Let’s not be dramatic. Would I take a hit off of a vapor pen during an outdoor family BBQ…. absolutely. It is perfectly acceptable for Mr. Smith to step aside and have a drag of his cigarette, or Mrs. Stevens to be on her second glass of merlot, or Mrs. Clay to take prescription anxiety pills before the party, but it’s not okay for Mrs. Johnson to take a toke of green? We live in a world where alcohol, and prescription medication are completely acceptable, but if a mother takes a puff of cannabis the world loses their shit. 
How could she be so irresponsible? 

What about the kids? 
No, seriously, what about the kids? 
Am I implying I’m high around my children. Yes. In the day time? Yes. If I smoke a bowl during my son’s nap time, and shortly after he wakes up, I’m ten times more likely to put down the dishes, and play with trucks on the floor. 
Cannabis makes me a better mother.

I can hear it now… “she needs to smoke weed to be with her children?” And “That’s ridiculous”. Hell no, I enjoy my children regardless of my medicated status, but cannabis helps me to be in the moment. It helps me relax. It helps me slow down for a few moments to enjoy my children.
Motherhood is exhausting. Motherhood is demanding. Women in our society are not only told they CAN have it all, but we are EXPECTED to do it all. We are expected to bring home an income, raise a family, and maintain a home. Gone is the time where women dreamt of being “mothers” and “house wives”. Now, we are lead to believe that being a mother and house wife isn’t enough. Who is this super women who does it all? And without losing her shit once in a while? I’d like to meet her. 
We are constantly comparing our lives to others. Okay, I can’t speak for all mothers, but I know, I do. Sometimes it happens without me even noticing. For example, at school pick up on my daughter’s first day of kindergarten I caught myself standing small in the corner. I was leaning against the wall, legs crossed, and shoulders hunched. As if, suddenly in this room full of strangers I’m less of a mom because I’m wearing worn out TOMS instead of scuff free white boat shoes. It’s not that I can’t afford boat shoes, I can, and I’d never had the desire to buy them before, so why then, in that moment, was I second guessing my comfy leggings and loose flowing shirt. As if the shirt, and the TOM’s defined me as a person, and a mother? I think not. I’m a smart woman, I know better. I’m a damn good mother. So why do I constantly find myself participating in this shame game? 

I’ve spent the last year with my face buried in self help books, and I’m by no means an expert on emotions, but on my personal development journey I’ve been focusing on mastering my thoughts. I’m learning to catch myself thinking these negative thoughts, and rewiring my brain with positive self talk. Sounds easier than it is, believe me. At my daughter’s school for instance, once I noticed my posture I corrected it. I stood taller, uncrossed my legs, and straightened my shoulders. I caught myself thinking, “Oh dear, I bet she only feeds her kid organic food”, and ” Not a single woman in this room has made eye contact with me, or met my smile with one of their own”. I pushed those thoughts out of my head and replaced them with “There’s a mom in this town that’s been waiting for a friend like me!” and maybe I could learn a thing or two from Mrs. Organic.”. It is so much easier to project fear onto others and shut yourself off than it is to be vulnerable and welcoming. It’s no wonder though, mom’s can be so cruel. 

I’m a millennial mom, and technology makes motherhood even trickier. One article says to make sure you get in the photos, so in 20 years you have something to look back on. But a little further down your newsfeed you’ll read about millenial moms narcissisticly taking selfies. What is it? Do you want us in the photos or not? If we breastfeed in public we are granola and out of touch, but yet the nurses look at you funny when you say you want to formula feed.  
Here is a glimpse of our world:

“How dare you give your kid that much freedom, aren’t you scared he’s going to hurt himself? 
“Jeeze will you let that kid breath? You’re such a helicopter mom.”
“I can’t believe you made your daughter something different for dinner… Back in my day we ate what was cooked and we didn’t complain. ”
“You let your son do dance?”
“It’s been hard losing the baby weight, huh?”
“Wow, you’re too skinny… Do you ever eat?”

“Did you just let your kid eat a Dorito off of the floor?”

You do see the pattern, right? There is no right answer. We are set up to fail. With every choice comes a critic. I am trying to get to a point where I can sincerely respect someones opinion, regardless of how different it is from mine, and turn it away at the same time. I used to believe that rejecting someone’s thought or idea was like rejecting them, the person. This is not the case. If what they are saying doesn’t jive with you… let it go. And sing the Disney song in the process if it helps push the negativity away. This goes for everyone in my life. It doesn’t’t matter if my boss is bringing me down, my friend, the troll online, or a family member. For example; I love my mother deeply. Over my adult years she has grown into one of my dearest friends. I tell her everything (well almost). I respect her, and her take on the world. However, her and I are very different mothers. We are different women with different goals. Accepting this simple fact has allowed me to listen to her, her advise, and appreciate it as hers. Hers. Not mine. Jen Sincero says something along the lines of, you have to want to be happy, more than you want to be right, in her book “You’re a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life”. From the second I read those words they have stuck to me. I use them to remind myself that I am in charge of my happiness. I am in charge of my greatness. My worth does not come from the opinions of others around me.
Personal Development is a constant process. There is no end result. I plan to live a lifetime of learning. The journey involves being vulnerable to those around me. It is impossible to be vulnerable with a big cloud of shame hanging over your head. So how did I shake the shame storm motherhood had me caught in? I started with the biggest cloud in the sky. I wrote down the reasons I felt shame regarding my cannabis use. I wrote about my fears and concerns:
Would Mr. So and SO still allow me to watch their child? 
Will my daughter be asked to go to her classmates birthday party if her parents know? 
What will my high school English teacher (who happens to be my friend on Facebook) think? 
And what about my religious aunt? 

The list goes on…. and on…and on…
I then listed the reasons I use cannabis. I wrote down why I believe in the Marijuana plant. I believe with every inch of my being that Marijuana has a lot to offer the medical world. I believe it is on this planet to help. I believe there are some people high up in our society that need to write down their own fears about cannabis and reevaluate.
We live in a fear based society. We are taught to be cautious. People judge what they do not know out of fear. Hell, if I only knew what my 5th grade D.A.R.E class taught me about weed, I’d be scared of it too. Instead of hiding my cannabis use and falling a victim to the shame I decided to stand proud. I chose to start educating those around me. I am passionate about three things; My kids, my writing, and cannabis. Once I got over the daunting feeling that someone I respect may think I’m a lazy stoner I began to breathe easy. If they believe the stereotype without any investigation of their own, that is not someone I want in my life. Anyone close to me knows I’m an active person, and an active mother. People who know me know that my children are well rounded, taken care of, and engaged. If someone judges me purely on the fact that I use cannabis it says more about them, than it does me. 
Growing comfortable in my own skin pushed me out of my comfort zone. It forced me to stick my neck out and meet people who had similar styles of parenting, and family values. Yes, I found other granola parents. I found mothers who share my passion for cannabis, and the outdoors, and we do rad shit with our kids. I found friends who even if they pass on the cannabis infused vapor pen at the beach they don’t judge me for inhaling it. I surrounded myself with people who are intrigued by and support my ideas. I found friends that are on their own personal development journey. I surrounded myself with motivated people. Positive people. As soon as I let go of the shame I associated with Marijuana the universe rewarded me with new relationships, a new found confidence, and an inner peace, that is indescribable. The instant positivity prompted me to address the other clouds in my shame storm. 
It’s been one hell of a “let go” journey. An endless journey for sure, but each day I get a little better at being me. I stand a little taller. I toke a little prouder. I mother my children my way. A wise woman (Who? I have no clue.) once said, “You’re the only one who can give your children the gift of a happy mother.” And what a magical gift that is. If smoking a bowl after the kids go to bed relaxes you, and allows you to refocus then damn it, light up. If you’ve been dying to try that new stripper pole exercise class, but you’re terrified of what your mother in law will think… Go! Climb that pole, woman! Taking time for ourselves makes us better mothers. Taking care of ourselves (like we take care of the rest of the family) isn’t selfish it’s necessary.
The next time you catch yourself participating in the motherhood shame game, politely bow out. We are all on the same team ladies. 

What It’s Like to Love Someone in Recovery…

Being in a relationship with someone in recovery isn’t perfect. But I dare you to show me a perfect relationship. I’ve never been a fan of perfection anyway. I prefer real. I prefer someone who has the courage to confront their imperfections. As a society we ignore the elephant in the room. Addiction is a silent sickness. Every day the silence destroys families. So, I’m going to talk about it. I’m going to write about it. I’m going to make people uncomfortable because that is how change happens. People who are in love with a recovering alocoholic or an addict of any kind need to know they are not alone. Anyone facing the demons of addiction need to know people are in their corner.

Addiction has played many roles in my life. Family and friends have let this disease destroy their lives and hurt the ones they care about. As I sit here watching my two healthy children play I can’t help but reminisce about how I got here, and all the things I’ve learned along the way. I’m humbled by the universe and how it teaches us. I have never been under addictions fire, but I have loved (and love) someone who is. I say “is” because addiction never goes away.

Addiction stole the life of my first born’s biological father. Before addiction took his life, it took his soul. We were young, and it certainly wasn’t a forvever type of love, but without the cloud of addiction hanging over him I am confident things would have been much different. For a long time I resented him. I blamed him for walking away from his gorgeous little girl.

It’s been two and a half years since his death. I still see his face when I look at her, and that’s okay. I’ve learned to not be ashamed of the ways addiction has shaped me. We need to stop pushing this illness under the rug and pretending it doesnt surround us. It doesn’t go away if you ignore it. Addiction is everywhere. Addiction does not discriminate. We all need to know how to support those we love, and ourselves when it comes to this nasty disease. Let’s stop treating people like it’s the plague. The more people feel shunned the less likely it is they will seek the guidance  they need. And who does that help? Nobody.

For the past four years I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster. It’s been both the best and most challenging time of my life. With Jake’s blessing I’ve decided to share my side of the story. I want you to know the ups (yes, UPS) and downs of loving someone in recovery.

It is so crucial for love ones to realize an addict has to want their sobriety as bad as you do. Until they choose to become sober nothing will change. You can preach it until you’re blue in the face, but they have to want it. Be there to encourage them. Help them try to see the light, but remember to love yourself during the process. My every thought used to surround Jake’s drinking. What can I do? Why us? Can’t he just stop? Doesn’t he love his family more than alcohol? Certainly all of these are logical questions, but addiction has NOTHING to do with logic. These worrisome thoughts will consume you if you allow it. Be supportive, show love, do not make excuses, do not enable, and take care of you!

I remember looking into his eyes some nights and thinking “Who are you?”. He would be standing right in front of me, but yet totally absent. The morning would bring tears, apologies, and promises I know wouldn’t be kept. I could spill our stories on to the page, but they are not important. What’s important is how Jake took control of his life, and chose to face his addiction head on.

October 21st, 2016 is the day that gave me hope. A switch flipped in Jake and he suddenly saw himself with the eyes of an outsider. He saw the illness for the first time. He saw his excuses, the damage and a way out of the madness. He had to come to terms with his alcoholism on his own, and once he did our reality changed.

Together, we have learned to take sobriety one day at a time. This journey has taught us to see the beauty in the small things. It has reminded us of what’s important in life. We have learned to talk about the darkness, and in turn lessens its power over us. We acknowledge addictions power, but also the strength that lies within us to fight it. Sobriety has brought new people into our lives. It has strengthened old bonds, and it has set us free from relationships that don’t help us grow. Jake’s sobriety has taught us both how to live life on purpose. It has opened our minds to the endless possibilities around us, and to be present in the moment.

Although relapse is a very real part of recovery, it too is a learning experience for all involved. Don’t think of relapse as failing, but as a tool to help you succeed. You only fail if you quit. You must stand up after you’ve been knocked down.

My relationship with Jake has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Not only is he an amazing father to both of my children, he teaches me every day to love myself and to be grateful for the life we have. The bad days are just as important as the good. You can’t have a rainbow without the rain, right?!

Don’t get me wrong, the challenges are real. Sometimes it’s a total mind fuck. Sometimes I question myself, him, and our love. At the end of the day loving someone in recovery is a choice. It may not be right for you,  and that’s okay! However, we are proof that there is hope. There is a way out. I am so grateful I stayed. I’m so happy I realized Jake is more than his addiction. I would have been the one to miss out on an amazing man, father, and friend had I walked away.

Addiction and recovery will be a part of our daily life, and I’m okay with that. I know there is no such thing as a perfect relationship. We are all fighting our own battles.

Every day I choose to love a man in recovery. I’d scream it from the rooftops if I could. I’m so damn proud of him. I know I’m not marrying a perfect man. I also know I’m marrying a man who fights a battle I know little about every day because he loves me and our kids. I know I’m marrying a man who is loving and kind. I know I’m marrying a man who works his ass off for us. I’m marrying a man who brings me ice cream in bed and doesn’t let me pump my own gas. I am marrying a good man who happens to be a recovering alcoholic.

You can choose to see the bad, or you can choose to see the good. I’d choose him, and our life a million times over.

If you, or someone you love, is fighting addiction talk about it. Write about it. Let your voice be heard. Make people uncomfortable. Silence helps nobody.

photo credit: Silverbell Photography

Wait! I didn’t mean that!

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I laid there for half of the night wondering where he was and if he was okay until I finally drifted off to sleep. Around 2 am I rolled over and felt an arm next to me. My eyes immediately opened as I remembered our argument and his departure. “Where were you?” I asked in my sleepy daze with no energy to fight. “I was on the other side of the parking lot, facing the apartment, keeping an eye on you guys. I never went anywhere”. “Good, thank you. ” I said as I squeezed his arm and fell back asleep.

 

This argument got me thinking about the things I say and don’t mean, and I don’t think I’m alone:

 

1. Let’s start with the obvious one. Pride is a funny thing. I’m a bit dramatic when I’m angry. Jake and I aren’t perfect (as you’re all well aware) and I can remember more times than I’d like to admit when I’ve told him to take the high road during a fight. It’s like I’m challenging him to leave when the deepest most secret part of me wants him to stay, and just squeeze me instead. I can blame it on whatever childhood memory or subconscious reasoning I’d like to, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s unproductive, and not at all helpful to the situation. I can’t think of one time when he has left that I actually felt better, and more at peace with him gone. His exit normally just brings the argument to a whole new level… very productive, NOT. As I’ve grown aware of how ridiculous this is of me, so has Jake, and now he just pretends to leave. I’m working on it, I swear 😁.

2. I’m also kind of a control freak. Jake’s easy going personality meshes well with this trait, and for the most part we balance each other out. In the bedroom it’s a little different. I don’t want to be the boss. After a five am workout, 10 hour workday, a missing shoe crisis, dinner, dishes and the kiddos bath time if he asks me “Babe, do you wanna?” the odds are not in his favor. So on more than one occasion I’ve said something along the lines of, ” if you want it TAKE IT” and “don’t ask me, throw me on the bed”. Fast forward to last Monday night. I had just laid in Hendrix’s bed with him for 45 minutes because he refused to sleep, and cleaned the cat puke off the floor before climbing into bed. Not one second after my head hit the pillow Jake was taking what he wanted. Just like I told him to over and over again. I quickly snapped, “Can I relax for one second before you’re taking off my underwear?!”. The poor guy can’t win. He quickly reminded me of my past words of advice, and I had to eat my words.

3. “Go ahead Babe, buy another gun”. This one I’m not sorry about. Why the hell do we need ANOTHER gun? Unless there really a zombie apocalypse coming that I don’t know about. So why say yes? Because I’m sure he feels the same way when I say , “Babe can I have these wine glasses?!” and we already have 16 in our cabinet. “We don’t even have 16 friends” I remember him smugly saying before he said, “but why not? Go for it.”.

4. It’s a struggle in our house during hockey season. The Bruins games often gets in the way of my Survivor addiction and there is only one T.V. with cable. On the horrible nights that Survivor and the Bruins are on at the same time I try to be fair, “Sure babe, we can watch the Bruins game instead”. What this really means is I HATE this, and if you forget to switch over to CBS during the commercials I will fight you.

5. Finally, the oldest one in the book. “I don’t want anything for (insert holiday here)”. This statement is a trick. I do partially mean it. I’d rather the money be spent on the kids, or put towards the house fund, BUT I still want something. I want effort. I want a handmade card with stick figures, a cute sticky note on the mirror, weeds the kids picked, or my toenails painted by non-other than you. I want you to cook dinner instead, or for you to draw me a bubble bath and take the kids for a walk. I want something money can’t buy, something simple, or something straight out of a Nicholas Sparks novel.

I’m sure if I put my mind to it I could come up with another 4837567246476 examples of things I say, but don’t really mean. However, this is good for now!

P.S. I am very grateful for my man, and that he lets  me poke fun at our relationship online for the world to see 💜.

His Second Chance

I know, I talked a lot of shit. I stand behind every word. I chose to share my heartbreak with the internet in hopes that at least one woman would gain strength from my words. I want other women in my shoes to know that it’s okay to walk away. It’s okay to put yourself first, and most importantly it’s okay if the world doesn’t agree. 

There is no such thing as a perfect family. He made a mistake, and he will have to live with that. I’m certainly happy it isn’t me with that on my conscious, but I’m no angel either. Our love has been a roller coaster since day one, and at times the chaos is what makes it amazing. As two fulltime working parents we struggle balancing parenting and our relationship, and I’m sure we aren’t alone. At the end of the day it is me who has to live with my choices. My neighbor, best friend, mother and co-workers all have their opinion on what they would do in my situation, but it’s me who has to live it. Truthfully, I don’t know what the right answer is. I don’t know if I can forgive, but I am going to try, and here is why:

 

1. Saylor Jade and Hendrix Jacob. A lot of my happiness has to do with my children. I come from a divorced family, and I’m just fine. I do not believe my parent’s divorce hindered me at all. Had my parents stayed together, I would not have my little sister and I cannot imagine my life without her. I know it’s foolish to believe Jake and I will survive if the only reason we are together is because of the kids, which is why the list does not stop here.

 

2. We are more than his mistake. Whatever way you spin it, it sucks. Her name and face will be in the back of my mind for a long time, maybe forever, but there are other memories that stand out more. For example; the look on Jake’s face as he helped deliver our son into this world. I can still smell the crisp air at the bottom of Sugarloaf mountain the first time he told me he loved me. I feel his beard on the back of my neck even in my dreams when he is nowhere near me. I see his wrinkled face sitting next to me sipping coffee when we are eighty.

 

3. He brings something to the table. In the past five months Jake has done some soul searching. Him having the children alone every other weekend certainly opened his eyes to all I was doing alone, even when we were together. He realized he has a woman who not only pulls her weight financially, but is one hell of a cook and mother (not to toot my own horn or anything). He has realized this isn’t 1950 and men do dishes. I have also realized a couple of things as well. I’ve learned that nobody is going to die if the dishes aren’t done. I’ve come to terms that men just don’t see a full trash can, and I will forever have to tell him to take it out, but that’s okay. Jake is an easy going man, and I fell in love with that characteristic. I have learned to appreciate it, even when I want to strangle him. I truly believe this crazy life is about balance, and he is my balance.

 

4. Jake is my best friend. After the rage faded I missed our friendship. He knows what I’m going to say before the words leave my mouth. He can read my moods better than I can, and he knows me inside and out. In a silent room we can have a conversation with head nod and coded glances. This of course makes it easier for him to push my buttons, but isn’t that part of it all?

 

Nobody else has to understand or agree with my reasoning to give Jake another shot. Will we make it? Who knows. Can I forgive? No idea. We have our good days and our bad days, and every day we continue to grow. Some days I want to smack him, and others I cannot keep my hands off of him. I do know is my heart explodes when I see the way he looks at our babies. I know his hairy chest peaking through the v-neck on his black t-shirt turns me on, and his corny jokes make me laugh. I know that even if our jounrey doesn’t last forever, that it isn’t over. I am hopeful that we can overcome this, and continue on this rollar coaster together.

I’ve got this, damn it.

“Saylor, could you please pick up the DVD’s off the floor, so Gypsy doesn’t eat them while we are gone today?” I ask my three year old as I put her little brother in his car seat.

“Sure” she agrees, “This is yours and Daddy’s movie. You guys will watch it when he comes home again” she casually continues not knowing she is stomping on my heart with every word she speaks.

“Why do you think he is coming back here to live, baby girl?” I ask.

“Because he told me he is.” She continues, while we put on her boots.

I picked my not so baby girl up, and brought her over to the couch with me. This is the part of parenting that no book could have prepared me for. With a heavy heart I told my innocent child that Daddy is not coming home. He isn’t coming home now, in a few weeks, or in a couple of months. Daddy isn’t coming home. “Daddy wants to come home” she said over and over between her tears. All I could do was hold her, and try my best to fight my own tears from falling.

The entire ride to daycare my blood was boiling. I held it together long enough to bring my kids inside and kiss them both good-bye, but I didn’t even make it to my car before I caved. Remember how I said the pain comes in waves? Well today I’m drowning. I didn’t ask for this. Today, I don’t want to be super woman. Today, I want to lay in bed with Ben and Jerry’s and watch a full season of Greys.

Instead, I’m sitting in the parking garage at work writing this. I’ll listen to one more Tom Petty song and then I’m going to make this day mine.

I’ve got this.