Just Me

I was born a fighter.  I’m sure God must have known what I’d endure over my lifetime and He just decided to build me to last.  I can remember the exact day life as I’d known it had changed.  I was in seventh grade and I just knew.  That morning, I woke up a confused, withdrawn, sad and very angry child.  That was all I could think to be at that time.  I had lots of questions but no one I trusted to answer them so I learned to be silent.  I let my attitude and anger speak for me.  I often heard people say, “what’s wrong with her”, yet no one asked me directly.

Adults are funny that way.  Instead of facing issues directly, they make excuses for why children behave a certain way or they choose to ignore it altogether.  Getting to the heart of the matter may shine light on their own insecurities so they teach children to be quiet and what children learn to do is suffer in silence. What we all end up with are generational curses that span decades.  Children who learn to be silent become adults who often suffer through abusive relationships, allow anger to fuel promiscuity, develop mental heath issues or other toxic, unhealthy problems.  The cycle continues until one brave soul decides to break the curse.

 

Very few people know my story.  For me, there has to be a need to share it.  I have to know that the person who hears it will benefit from it in some way.  Other than that, they are mere words spoken with no direction or path.  As I’ve gotten older and have had the opportunity to share my story, I usually hear one of two things, “how have you not lost your mind” and “you should write a book.”  I always laugh because there was a time when I thought I had “lost my mind.”  In order to cope with all that I had endured up to that point in my life, I simply became someone else.  Due to the fact that I’d lost my identity at such a young age, through my anger and frustration, I learned to be the person everyone expected me to be.  Yet, I never felt quite right.  I didn’t have balance.

I lived my life in this crazy limbo until I was twenty-eight years old.  I had the privilege to meet this great lady, whom I affectionately refer to as Shug, at a point when my anger and false persona was causing more grief than help.  She literally spoke life into me.  Over the course of about a year, she changed my life and opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that I’m still riding today.  She gave me direction which is something I hadn’t had since I was about twelve years old.  She asked the hard questions, expected truthful answers, pressed and pushed until I was ready cut her out of my life forever.  I am thankful and grateful that she never quit.  Prior to Shug, I thought my anger made me a fighter.  She helped me to see that my true resilience, perseverance and innate ability to believe that there is more to me and my life than what people see or may perceive is what makes me a fighter.

It’s just in me to keep pushing.  I don’t quit.  When I look back over my life and reflect on all that I have lived through, the fires I’ve walked through and all those who told me I’d never amount to anything I think, “wow, look at that! If that didn’t stop me…nothing will.”  And I don’t quit!  Everyday is not my best day and I’m not always as positive as I should be.  I have my moments.  I cry, scream and if you catch me on a good day, I might even throw something.  However, I’ve learned not to stay in that place of anger because no one can get a level head when they are fueled with anger.  When my anger begins to subside, I pray, listen and plan.  (I’m learning to pray in my anger.  Not all the way there yet.)  I encourage myself and remind this girl that she is a fighter.

Through it all, I’ve always come out better than I went in.  Tension, challenges and struggles will produce growth if you don’t quit.

Planted but not buried…😊

 

Blended Success

The dictionary defines family as a basic social unit consisting of parents, their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not…the traditional family.  That’s nice.  Growing up, I had this particular type of traditional family.  My household consisted of my mom, dad, brother, sister and me.  This is the way I understood a family to be.  Today, my current “family” looks a tad bit different from the one I grew up in.  After my son was born in 1993, I spent much of my time focused on being a good mom to him and finishing college.  When people asked if I wanted more children, I’d laugh and say, “if God wants me to have more children he will send me a man who already has some.”  Funny or not, God answered that prayer in 2006 when I met my love, my best friend, my soulmate and beautiful father of five.  The youngest of the five, currently still home with us were three (twins) and six at the time we met.  Fast forward about ten years and we are now a blended family of two thirteen year olds (one is lovingly sassy and the other, my sweet, gentle giant) and one half pint, feisty sixteen year old.  These little people have become just as much mine as they are his.  They may not have been born from me but they are definitely born of me.  I feed them, clothe them, help them with their homework, drive them to dance, football practice, cheer leading and basketball.  We take family vacations, have weekend stay-cations and monthly dinner outings to a restaurant of their choosing.  In every essence of the word, we are a successful blended family.

Our success, however, has not come without a multitude of challenges and small fortune in legal fees.  You see, our three children happen to not share the same mother.  Hey, it happens.  What I have learned and seen over the past ten years is that my partner in crime, my ride or die and my children’s father is a great dad.  Unfortunately, his greatness is often overshadowed by the ugly stereotype that plagues most “single” fathers…DEADBEAT!  While our kiddos have not always lived with us full time they’ve always been a part of our home.  I have watched as their father worked and continues to work fifty to sixty hour work weeks to ensure that his child support is maintained and that our own household does not suffer because of it.  I have watched the love of my life deal with court case after court case just for the right to be in contact with our children, to be allowed to have them stay the night and to simply keep them safe from harm.  I’ve held his hand going into court and wrapped my arms around him after a frustrating court defeat.  I’ve watched him be taunted and called names in front of friends, family and coworkers by the mothers of our children.  I’ve seen his heartbreak after being told he will never see his children again.  From the day I met him, I’ve always known that our children are his priority.  There are times that I truly wouldn’t have thought any less of him for wanting to throw in the towel but even today, with two court cases still pending (one regarding the child support he still pays even though the children live with us), he refuses to give up.  Now, am I saying that my baby daddy has been perfect?  Absolutely not!   As with any of us who have children, when we look back over our times with our children and their biological other parent, we see areas where we could have said or done something different but we learn from our mistakes and try to do better the next time.  His experiences have taught him well and he has grown tremendously.  I could not be more proud of him.

How do I handle all of the baby momma drama you ask?  My place is to stay neutral and to support him and our children in the best way possible amidst the chaos.  This post would be entirely too long if I took the time to tell you just how and why a judge decided that for the best interest and safety of the children, they should reside with us. But trust me, it is for the best.  I struggle with understanding how or why a person, in my case the mothers of our children, would use or hurt the children they say the love all in an effort to intentionally damage the relationship they have with their father or me.  I can’t count the number of times our children have said to me, “I just want to be able to see my dad” or come home frustrated because of something that was said or done that negatively impacted them while on a weekend stay with their mother.  Our twins constantly worry about what to say or not say and our sweet sixteen year old tries to block it all out.  She just wants to be a kid.  I pray for them often and God hears my prayers because despite all that they have been through we have three of the most loving, respectful, well-rounded children in the world.  Believe it or not, we also pray for their mothers.  We have to because no matter what happens in a court of law, children will always be connected to their mother as well as their father.  For us, our only hope is that a mother will simply learn to put anger and deceit aside and put the children first.

 

For all of our babies, ages 23, 22, 19, 16, 13, 13 & 3