Category Archives: Divorce

A Letter to my Children’s Step-Mother

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Today, on the Cincinnati Moms Blog my newest piece is published titled A Letter to My Children’s Step-Mother. Here’s a snippet for you to read:

“I’m not going to lie. When I first found out that my boys would have a step-mother, I wasn’t sure how to respond. I mean, I knew that this day would come at some point. But I also didn’t want another person in their lives. I had a difficult time seeing another “mother” who would help raise my children. I never had a close relationship with my step-mother, and I think that relationship clouded my vision. You truly care about my boys and love them. A hard pill to swallow at first, but easier now, as time has progressed.

It’s not easy sharing my amazing boys with anyone else. But I’m sure by now, after being in their lives the past 2 years, you are well aware of how amazing they are. You know first hand how intelligent they are, how loving and caring they can be, and how genuine they are.”

This took me a lot of time to finally put pen to paper on this topic. I went through several periods of grief, pain, hurt, jealousy, sadness, you name them. But just as any other writer would attest to you, putting down all those feelings on paper opens the floodgates of emotions, which eventually, at least in my case, will lead to some semblance of closures.

Co-parenting and dealing with step-families is not for the faint of heart some days. It’s obviously not something I would wish upon my kids or myself, but it’s the reality of our lives. So for my own sanity and those around me, I choose to make it positive. I choose to make it work. I choose to be thankful for everything that it could be and isn’t, and grateful for all that it is.

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To Everything There is a Season

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Three years ago today, I embarked on a journey of epic proportions. I started a new life. I was out in the world on my own. I was scared. I was weak. I was alone.

Three years ago today, I moved out of my home and became a single mom.

The last three years have been, to be blunt, mostly hell. Of course there have been highlights along the way. There has been a learning curve for life lessons and some failing grades as I’ve moved along through all the stages of this transformation. The financial struggles and trials and mishaps have been the most difficult adjustment. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a struggle since the day I moved. And maybe that’s how it’s always going to be, but I’d like to remain hopeful that one day it won’t be this hard.

I’ve been dealt the blow of losing family and friends over the years due to the decision that’s been made. But when it comes down to it, if you can’t support me, or heck, even acknowledge me in my time of change, grief, solitude, whatever you want to call it, then I don’t need that in my life. I need only positive reinforcements backing me up every step of the way. I’d rather be alone and KNOW that I’m doing the right thing and happy with my situation, then surrounded by mediocre friendships and back-biting relatives that are only out to serve their own selfish purposes.

It’s been three years of hell coming to grips that I only see my children half the time now. Their father and I have shared custody and while that’s honestly the most amicable solution, and only fair to the boys, this is one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with over these last 1,096 days. My kids are my life, they are my everything, they are why I exist. I was told I wouldn’t be able to have children, and after miscarrying twins, they are my miracles, and I don’t take that lightly. Time with them is precious so I value every single second with them.

It’s been three years of struggling to date again. This has been one of the harder aspects of “starting over.” I never dated all that much growing up, in high school or college or after college. I was (and am still) quite awkward in dating scenarios. My ex and I got engaged 2 weeks after we met and married 2 months later (yes, I know, a recipe for disaster as it were). I was never one to get asked out much and it was just always a crapshoot.

I do have to say that my foray into dating again did allow me to pursue a dream of mine that I wasn’t able to pursue much while I was married. I love to write (as I hope is evident in my blog) and I love to explore meanings and reasons of why things happen and really like to work on what I need to learn from all my experiences in life, good and bad! Maybe I like to write to warn people, “Don’t Do What I Did!” or maybe just to enlighten people to things that they might be totally unaware of in their given state of being.

Regardless, all my mishaps in life have opened up several doors to explore my writing, on a continued and consistent basis, with aspirations of more down the road. It all started in February of 2015 with my first OpEd being published in the Cincinnati Enquirer (Where Are Good Guys?). This led to me being on two local radio programs (Kidd Chris on 102.7 WEBN and Jeff and Jenn on Q102). That in and of itself was an interesting time!  But through that initial article I wrote, I was able to write 6 more articles for the Cincinnati Enquirer and now am a contributing writer for the Cincinnati Moms Blog HERE. So many doors have been opened because of my “struggles” that I was able to laugh at and find some humor in amongst the pain.

Next stop…..writing my first children’s book with my own illustrations that I draw for the boys….and as always, they are my inspiration for just about everything!!

But the last three years hasn’t all been filled with hurt and pain and struggles and depression. SURE! I’ve had my moments of constant “fill in the blank” problems and issues, but I’m TRYING (trying being the crucial word) to find the positives, despite everything working against me. Some days, it’s really hard. I mean, almost impossible, and that’s to be expected. I was starting over again. Starting over in pretty much every aspect of life: Social, Economical, Spiritual, Physical, Relational and the list goes on and on!

I’ve found out who TRULY is in “Camp Abby” and who is just a wishy-washy friend and relative. I have lost several “friends” over the changes in my life, but I just have to keep reminding myself that a true friend would have stuck around no matter what. They would have been by my side through all the trials and tribulations. No, they don’t have to agree with me, or my ex, or either. That’s not what is at the core of this all. A true friend is one that is going to stick by you and support you, regardless if they agree with you or not. They are going to be an advocate for you despite what is thrown your way or theirs. That’s what it comes down to at the end of the day. And sadly, several family members have chosen to not support me, regardless.

Blood, my friends, is NOT thicker than water. I have some pretty amazing friends that have been supporting me, regardless, and have stuck around, and been strong for me when my supposed supportive family have all been knocked to the wayside. I’ve come to the realization that I don’t need that in my life, and I’m not going to let those people determine my self-worth or bring me down. Yes, it’s a work in progress, but it’s something I’ve been slowly becoming more and more comfortable with over the years.

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I rediscovered my love for baseball. Now this might seem trivial to some, but it’s been an amazing thing for me and my boys as well. We have something that is unique to us. Something that we can share as a family and something that I can instill into my boys’ lives. This has made a huge impact in our lives, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything (despite the losing seasons we’ve experienced)! I was even fortunate enough to have an article printed during the All-Star games last year in Cincinnati that you can read HERE. This tradition has been reestablished in my life and I wouldn’t want that any other way!

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I’ve discovered that money is NOT everything. My marriage had a lot of financial difficulties. Difficulties that I’m still paying for, literally, three years later. The lure of materialistic gain and prosperity won out over practicality and living simply. For that reason, we went through a bankruptcy. Because of that, I’m still paying that off (Chapter 13 repayment) and cannot currently get a car loan, credit cards, rent a car, or even a mortgage (if I ever wanted to go that route again which I really don’t think I want to!).

BUT, despite those financial hardships, I have learned to be more frugal, I have been able to teach my children the value of money and the thrill of saving up for something you really want and paying for it in full. I’ve also learned the drawbacks of my situation.

  • I don’t have the nicest, newest vehicle. Heck, my jeep is 13 years old with almost 170,000 miles on it!
  • I don’t have brand name clothing or shoes or the most expensive handbag. I shop at Goodwill on a consistent basis.
  • I am not able to attend all the cultural, theatrical and artistic events I did once before.
  • I can’t travel to the extent that I would like nor have much hope for a “regular” vacation like other families.
  • And to be honest, if I get the opportunity to remarry, I don’t see myself being able to afford any type of wedding.

And over the last three years, I have learned a valuable lesson in letting things go. And while I am nowhere near where I need to be in this area, I’d like to think that I am a LITTLE bit better. I’ve had to deal and learn and “get over” so many things. So many more things than people can even imagine. I’m not going to sound petty, and please don’t think I’m judging anyone, because I’m the last person that wants to judge someone, but there are some people who have NO idea. There are people who cannot even begin to fathom everything that I’ve been through the last three years, and I wouldn’t want to wish this on anyone. But it’s not been a cake walk, and moving out and taking the route that I did has been anything but easy. It’s been quite the opposite, and now three years later, I still find myself “suffering” at times and trying to pick up the pieces from what destroyed me in the past.

  • I’ve had to see my kids going to Disney with their father and new family. That was the family vacation we planned while I was still married and was something we were going to do one day.
  • I’ve had to see my children’s father get remarried and have a wedding (which he didn’t want to have with me) and reception. It’s something I always wanted.
  • I’ve had to see my children gain a step-mother and two step-sisters and a whole other extended family.
  • I’ve had to cash out my 401K just to be able to get a reliable vehicle and am slowly rebuilding my retirement funds.
  • I’ve had to eat green beans from a can for meals just so that I can make sure my kids are fed and taken care of.
  • I’ve had to borrow money from my mother just so that I don’t “go under” some months. This is a humbling scenario since I am very proud and hate asking for any kind of help.
  • I’ve had to tell my children no on so many occasions when it comes to them asking for something. It kills me that with me, my children have to go without sometimes, unlike when they are with their father.
  • I’ve had to literally cash in pennies so that I could “cushion” my bank account so that I don’t go into the negatives.

All of these things would put to shame so many people who think “they have it rough” because they can’t get the newest Coach purse or have to wait on the newest phone upgrade for 6 months or that they have to get a “used car” that is from 2014. To those people I just want to say, “SHUT UP!!” Not really, but kind of. I just want to encourage people to put things into perspective when it comes to all of these things.

I can only hope that I can encourage others that might be going through a similar situation or know someone who is through my writing and my example. Through my trials and pain and hurt over the last several years, if just one person could be helped or encouraged to just keep going forward and do what you need to do to be in a better situation, then I can consider it a positive. It may take a year, it may take five it may take a decade. But don’t ever give up!!

And I’d be remiss to not mention a part of my life that has been one of the most positive things…and of course, who doesn’t like an upbeat, happy conclusion?! I did meet someone, a man, who I am deeply in love with and am happy and content with. I had to have my heart broken many times in order to find the one who would heal and work on sealing the cracks that almost destroyed my heart over the last three years. And I will be the first to tell you that I’m not perfect. I’ll also be the first to tell you that my boyfriend is not perfect, and that our relationship is not perfect. But I will tell you that it’s been worth it. The best relationships are those that come when you least expect it. They happen to those that work at it. Relationships are not easy, as evident in my three year journey. But when you work as a team, constantly trying to better yourselves, better each other, and lift each other up and encourage each other to be the best person they can be, then that right there is your perfection.

The last three years have been rough. It’s been painful. It’s been a learning experience that I’m not sure I would ever want to repeat. But in the end, the last three years have made me into the person I am today, and while I know that sounds cliché, it’s absolutely true. And while I still have a ways to go in all honesty, I’m much further along in my journey than I ever thought possible. I’m stronger than I ever believed myself to be. And if it took those three years of heartache and pain and constant growing, then it’s worth it in the end. It is what it is, and I can only push forward, making myself a better me with each passing day.

And maybe the next three years won’t be as bad. Maybe the next three years will bring only positive and enlightened paths for me to follow. And if that’s the case, I will follow that path and take each new day in stride and push forward without any regrets or misgivings.

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The Tender Hearted

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My 6 year old is such a sensitive, caring child. Tonight while putting him to bed, he said he wanted to tell me something but he was afraid it would upset me. Oh boy!…..(I think to myself and gear up for something drastic!)

So I told him it was ok to tell me and I wouldn’t be upset. He told me that his step-mom is a really great step-mom. He told me this while crying and said he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. He told me I’m still the best mom but that she’s ok too.

Of course that brought tears to my eyes. Not because he had those feelings towards his step-mother. In all honesty, I’m glad that he feels this way towards his step-mother since he’s with her and his dad 50% of the time. But it brought tears to my eyes to see that he had such a keen awareness of my feelings and that even at 6 years old he is that concerned with how things will affect me.

I’ve had a lot of rough days as of late, in life, in dealings with issues with the boys, with my health, with my finances, just everything it seems. But hearing him say that to me tonight just put so many things in perspective to me.

So many things in life will try (and oftentimes succeed) to bring me down. Doing this whole raising kids thing on my “own” is not a walk in the park. It’s not a path I would have set out to choose, obviously, but it’s the path that I’m on. And there are so many times that I feel that I have failed my boys or that I just am not equipped to do this. Or that I’m going to screw up the boys’ lives. That I’m just a “bad mom.”

But then something like this happens. That little twinge of hope. That spark of recognition of my efforts and that yes, my kids are going to be ok. That reassurance that I’ve not totally messed up their lives. That my boys, deep down have good souls, loving and caring hearts, and the tenderness to know how to show others that they care.

That in and of itself is more than I could ever ask for. I am blessed beyond measure with these two boys, my miracles. I may not be a perfect mom (FAR from it), I don’t have all the answers and have even far more questions it seems. But these boys are proof enough to me that we’re going to be OK, no matter what is hurled our way. We have each other, and there is so much love resonating around us, that there is nothing we can’t handle together.

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What a Difference a Day, Er, Two Years Makes

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Two years ago I got something in the mail that I dreaded receiving.
Two years ago, my life as I knew it came to an official end.
Two years ago, everything changed because of one envelope.

Two year ago, my divorce was final.

In the past two years, I have been through so much. I honestly don’t know how I’m still standing and pushing forward. Maybe because that’s the only thing I CAN do. But regardless, my world has been rocked and pushed off its axis. And not only MY life, but that of my children as well.

They’ve been two years filled with hurt.

Two years filled with concern over the well-being of my children and myself in all honesty. There have been many moments filled with self-doubt concerning that.

Two years filled with a constant worry. Worry that I’m not good enough. Worried that this failure will always be who I am. Worried that my children’s lives are irreversibly harmed. Worry that I’m not going to make it on my own, physically, emotionally, financially, and everything in between.

Two years with much confusion and uncertainty. Sometimes uncertainty if I was going to be able to feed my children that week. Occasional confusion about decisions. Oh, who am I kidding? CONSTANT confusion about decisions.

The never-ending “What If’s?”

 

Over the past two years, there have been countless times that I honestly just wanted to curl up in a ball, crawl into bed, and not come out for weeks. Not so much for the physical exhaustion factor, although that played and still plays into that concept big time, but more so just to get away from the madness and hide.

But I couldn’t. I still can’t. Even when the desire to do just that feels overwhelming as if to swallow me up in a tidal wave of solitude, I have responsibilities. I have my boys. I have to be strong for them and pretend to be strong for everyone else.

The past two years have been filled with me telling everyone I was fine, and that I’ll get through the seeming hurdle (said, MOUNTAIN) and that “It was all good” and “I’m OK” and “No Biggie.” Things happen and you just have to learn from your mistakes and decisions, yadda yadda yadda.

But I wasn’t OK. It wasn’t all good. It was a biggie. And honestly, there are still moments I feel like that. But if I admitted that while it was all going on (in my mind), then I was weak. My facade of being the strong, stubborn mother, taking charge, handling whatever problems are hurled my way with grace and the knowledge to knock over a 20-day jeopardy champion. . .. . was just that, a facade. Fake. A Lie. Wrong.

Over the last two years I have seen how truly weak I am. I’ve been burdened down with so many things. Instead of the load being lifted day by day, it seemed to just get heavier and heavier. Sometimes I just cannot cope with even thinking about this let alone live with it.

The last two years have been filled with so many things to think about that I didn’t think would ever come into play in my life. Too many things for me to process. Heck, sometimes it’s too many things for a team of people to process. At times, there was just too much to make sense of. And over the last two years, I wasn’t sure that I could do it. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know if I could. Honestly, there are still times that I’m not sure I can do it.

So much has changed over the last two years.

I’ve dealt with housing changes, from a huge house to a small apartment.

I’ve dealt with car issues beyond comprehension, but still managed to have transportation (by the grace of God and my generous mother).

I have been run through the gamut with learning how to date and be in a relationship again (which is still a work in progress if I’m going to be honest, just ask my boyfriend)!

I have had to see my children be introduced into a new family.  And with that, I’ve had to learn how to adjust my life (to an extent) to another woman in my boys’ life. A step-mother, step-sisters, and an extended family. One that I’m not part of. And I’ve had to learn how to “deal” with that. It’s not been easy, but it’s something I knew would be inevitable when you deal with a divorce.

But I’ve also been able to learn more about myself in the last two years. I’ve been able to work on “finding” myself. It’s not always easy and it’s oftentimes painful, but it’s necessary. There’s no way I can move forward in my life if I’m still dwelling on the past. If I’m still questioning and doubting all my decisions in the past, I’m in a chokehold without hope of release. And I want to be able to breathe freely, and move forward knowing that what is in the past, is the past.

So yes, today might be the “anniversary” of my divorce. It might be the anniversary of the day my world got flipped upside down. It might be the reminder of the day my life changed. But it’s also the day when I knew I wasn’t going to be the same person I was prior to that. And looking back on that, I’m ok with that.

Without all those changes and various paths I’ve taken over the last couple years, I’ve become who I am today. And for the most part, I’m pretty happy with that person. And not only am I happy with the person I’ve become, I’m pretty proud of the person I am today. I’m more than just an “ex-wife”. I’m a new person, filled with the hope of future possibilities. I have a new outlook on so many things in life. I’m excited to see what the next two years brings my way. Yes, two years isn’t a lot in the light of eternity, but so many things can happen in two years.

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