Tag Archives: divorce

Take Your Second Chances

Four years ago to almost the day, my parents took my family and my sisters family to Florida for a vacation. We had been planning it for years.. At that time in my life, I had lived my entire life as a pleaser and couldn’t disappoint any of them. I hated having that feeling I was disappointing someone. However, I already knew when we got back to glorious Wisconsin, I would be telling my husband I wanted a divorce. No way to sugar coat that..It was not the trip of a lifetime.

And now four years later,I am divorced and happy. I mean I have my moments but overall it took the last 4 years to get to this point. The point of life where I’m happy about my choices and happy about the life I’m living. I had my 3 kids for spring break so off to Florida we were going… This was my second chance.

I was so excited for this trip but also so nervous… I had to do all the planning and be responsible for getting 3 kids to Florida.. And just hoping my son didn’t put a so-called weapon into his pocket and we will be hauled off.. It was a lot of responsibility for all of us. I had to rely also on my kids to be responsible and help out when I needed. Moments before we left, I thought am I crazy to do this.

But once the trip started, it was amazing. This trip probably meant more to me than they anyone will ever know… to my kids it was 8 days in the sun.. and to me it was my second chance. This was my second chance from 4 years ago. It just showed me how your life can change… How we make choices, how scared we are at that time, and how in time it does work out. I could have never imagined all of the changes as a person that you go through in 4 years with a divorce. I finally got to be the person I wanted to be…

4 years ago, I would have been the mom that had the lunches packed the night before, been yelling at my kids to be up by 7, to be at the beach by 8 am.. and I would not have relaxed for a minute on a vacation. I did not enjoy being that person. I would have made sure I was pleasing everyone, just not myself.

Today, I am so relaxed. I am not worried about pleasing everyone. I am not worried about trying to do a million things in one day. I am not worried about seeing every attraction in Florida in 8 days. I made choices that have made my happy.

I took this trip day by day. I let my kids sleep til 11 and I got to go for morning runs. I got to sit and drink coffee in the sun. I got to think about my life and my future. We swam, we laughed, we had ice cream everyday, we stayed up til midnight.. We got to drive to the beach at whatever time we got up…and some days we just hung out. I have never seen my kids so relaxed or just having fun. They were happy, really happy. I think we all worry about our kids everyday and then sometimes you look at them and know they are really happy. I got to sit and watch them and just relax.

So yes, we get re-dos in life and second chances. We get a second chance to do it again.. maybe different or better this time. Maybe things weren’t as clear the first time or maybe you didn’t have the confidence at that time….but in the end take your second chance.

-Snarky Divorced Gal

The Only One I Know

The Only One I Know.

In 2008, my spirit was broken when my marriage ended after almost 12 years.   Literally overnight I became the single mother of a 2.5 year old daughter, uncertain and scared about the future.  It took nearly six months to finalize our divorce and now I faced the reality of what to do with our four remaining frozen embryos. I was awarded custody of the embryos, and would soon realize the only option available to me was to place them with a family through adoption.

I did an online search and learned about Snowflakes® adoption. I met with a counselor through my church and prayed ALOT. Over the course of those months, and the year in-between my divorce and the finalization of the placement, I came to realize I needed to do what was best for the remaining embryos, and me.  I firmly believe those 4 frozen embryos were not a mistake; they were created so God could give them life.  Once I really grasped this, it became clear I could do this – place my embryos into an adopting family.

I have struggled with control over the years. Can anyone relate? The control freak in me continued to try and figure out God’s plan for these embryos. For their first frozen embryo transfer the adopting family transferred two of the four embryos. My feelings ran the gambit. What if they had a girl? I prayed they would have a boy because I wasn’t familiar with raising boys.  A boy would be different. Easier, for me.

The adopting family’s son, J, was born when my daughter, S, was 6.  She was too young to understand all of the particulars, but I definitely began the process of telling her the story. I did not want either of us feeling shame for this choice. I introduced her to the family and to J through photos as close family friends that are like family. She saw photos and received updates about his milestones and was good with that.

I struggled. He was nearly identical to my daughter’s baby pictures! I found comfort in my faith and had confidence I had made the right choice.

In 2013, their second son, M was born.  The doctors gave him only a 20% chance of being born!  But he was absolutely perfect and healthy in every way. S was now 8. One night as we snuggled up in bed she talked about ‘the boys’ as they would affectionately be known forevermore and God facilitated a loving honest dialogue between us about her brothers. Tears come to the surface as I think of that sweet painful conversation.

At Christmas we flew to meet the family in person. It was scary and magical, awkward and perfect all at the same time. J was 3 and M was an infant. We savored our time with them and marveled at their beautiful resemblance to my daughter. My mind turned to what I had learned from my faith: God works all things together for good.

I wanted to share my story because you don’t often hear about people who placed their embryos as a result of a divorce.  In fact, to this date I’m still the only person I know who made this choice as a single mother. All the stories I found were of full, happily married families taking this journey together. Of course, that only made me feel more isolated and alone. You see, when I made this decision I did not feel like my womb was closed. I wanted more children. While the choice to destroy the embryos was never a consideration for me, the thought of not being responsible for my biological children was foreign. Through the fear and uncertainty about the future I ultimately grew to know this was the right choice for all of us. My daughter has biological brothers who were adopted and we are loud and proud about it. While I have moments of sadness, those are overshadowed when I see the familiar eyes, smiling faces, and hear those beautiful voices say my name. It’s one of the sweetest sounds in the world.

~Snowflake Party of 4

Play Nice

I am currently sitting in my office processing the events of the morning. Trying to think of a careful way to share it with you all but not expose all the players. How do I play nice?

I have been divorced from my daughter’s father since 2012. Separated for several years prior to that. For the most part I have kept the why to myself. I have taken the high road. I haven’t shared much with anyone. When I’ve tried to those closest to me-at the time they  told me to just get over it.

I would love to. If only life worked that way.

But it doesn’t.

My reality was when I left, I left with G and not much else. I was told that since I made the choice that was how it was going to be. If I fought there could be consequences.

Throughout the years coparenting has been a rollercoaster. I am always wrong, I am a helicopter parent, everything is only about money.

Yet when my daughter asks why I am not with her Dad I say quietly- we were just very different,  your Dad is a good guy.

And he can be except when he isn’t.

So here I am trying to decide how to handle the latest untruth he told her about me.

I want her to have a good relationship with her Dad. It just sucks that it seems to be at everyone’s expense but his.

People tell you children hit an age where they figure it out. They realize the love and sacrifice you put forth. I’m hanging in there but MAN (!) there are days! I want to let fly and tell her how I still get anxious every day at 430. How I practically beg/chant “please stop”if I feel an argument brewing. I am still not strong enough to engage in any conversation that feels like an argument. I’ve been known to just leave. How it’s hard for me to trust. How I’m hypercritical of how I look. How I still worry all the time.

How sorry I am that we’re here. But I need her to know, more than anything what Happy looks like. What Love looks like. I need her to know she deserves the sun, the moon, and the stars. She deserves someone who loves her even when she is almost impossible to love.

As do we all.

Big loves Mommas

<3 Caprise

Dinosaurs Divorce

We are sitting under the glow of fluorescent bulbs, and I notice the book “Dinosaurs Divorce” on the play therapist’s wooden clipboard, an item on the evening’s agenda. “We have this book as a resource,” she says as I thumb through it. The book depicts Mommy and Daddy dinosaurs arguing with loud noises. Mommy and Daddy dinosaurs stewing silently. Daddy dinosaurs packing dinosaur boxes and placing them in the back of dinosaur moving vans. The therapist’s voice brings me back to reality: “Would you like us to go over this with Brennan? Or is it too overt?” Brennan is my 3-year-old son who isn’t familiar with the word “divorce” but has come to understand that he lives at “Brennan’s house” with Mama. I glance again at the glossary in the front of the book that explains the family law system to children in the way a biology textbook delineates the parts of a cell. My heart is beating fast. “Well, what do you think? Is this what he needs?” I ask her. I’m on foreign soil. She pauses and peers at me over thick-rimmed glasses: “You seem hesitant,” she replies. “Follow your instincts.” “Then, no. Not now.” No to “Dinosaurs Divorce.” No to pushing my kid off the cliff of childhood innocence with brute force.

It’s right after the Ash Wednesday service, and I am meeting my mom in front of Charming Charlie for the usual toddler trade-off. I climb cold and red-nosed into the front seat of her black SUV to sit a minute and turn to grin at my baby boy in the back. “What’s that?” Brennan says, staring intensely at the ashes on my forehead. “It’s in the shape of the cross…” my mother starts. I interject- “It’s just…it’s a religious…” my voice trails off. We move on to different subjects, and Brennan seems to adjust easily enough to the idea of a mother with an inexplicably dirty forehead. “Mom,” I say as we’re moving him and his accoutrements to my car, “I’m not ready to tell him about Jesus yet. I mean, I tell him that Jesus made us, and He loves us but not about His death. Not yet. Let’s just let him be happy. Let him be a kid.” “Of course,” she agrees.

His blue eyes stare up at me, long lashes blinking. “Is Da-Da home?” “No…remember, Da-Da lives at a different house now. He drives a big truck, and he lives with his friends. You’ll see him soon though!” I try to say it with cheer. “Oh yeah,” he replies with disappointment. I regret trying to say it with cheer.

As we drive, I glance back in the rearview mirror at a kid who is excited about driving over a bridge, and I pretend to get excited too. I know life’s not all bridges, but I want it to be. I want it to be happiness and every one of his favorite things. I want to shield him from the grisly deaths of Saviors and families.

I linger in these moments: they are uncomfortable places, sure. I think back to my first trimester of motherhood when the doctor called Brennan an impending miscarriage. In my fear and desperate longing, I spoke to him often. With a hand on my belly and a fierce whisper, I begged him to stay. “Life is not always easy, but it will be good. I’ll be a good mama to you, I promise. Please stay.” He stayed. And I try to stay true to my word, the best I can, here in this messy in-between. Even at three years old, life is not easy. Maybe all of life is a messy in-between. But still, I know: it will be good. It is good.

We get out of the car after another long day of work and play and commuting. It’s dark outside, but the sky is brightly lit. “Look, Mama!” he says. “The moon and the stars and the sky!” “Oh yeah! I LOVE the moon and the stars and the sky!” “Me too, Mama! I love them too!” And before we go into the house for another night of supper and bath time and bed, we stand for a moment and look up together at the big wide world- wild, uncontainable, beautiful.

~Mallory is a Mississippi mama who has been broken by life and softened by grace. She loves pine trees, poetry, and her friends.

An Omission Turned Admission

I was sitting on my living room floor folding laundry. Miles of piles of tipping laundry and unmatched socks sat in front of me. The kids were playing independently and the house was otherwise quiet.

Just me and my thoughts. A dangerous thing.

And suddenly I felt sick. Literally, physically sick. It occurred to me, the omission I keep making.

I will allow myself to feel this for a fleeting moment. I need to, so that I can continue to heal. This is just the beginning. I know this. I resent this.

I am so angry.

I am so sad.

And I am so lonely.

I catch myself looking at everyone’s left hand. The ring finger of even the 70-year old in the grocery store checkout line is not excluded.

Are you married? Are you happy? Does it feel good to sleep next to someone every night? Is it nice to have someone to call when your day is shit? How does it feel to hug someone tightly when you cry or even better, when you have the best news to celebrate? Do you feel a sense of security knowing they will be there day after day, night after night?

I hate everyone’s happiness. I hate the people who have someone to go home to. I hate all of your wedding rings and I hate all of your family pictures. I hate all of your smiles and I hate all of your photos of flower bouquets and sandy beach vacations.  I hate your Facebook questions about an anniversary dinner spot to reserve, or whether you should have another baby.

My wedding dress sits in a box in my attic. My rings, were so beautiful, and they sit in a safe that isn’t even in my own house. My wedding albums sit on a shelf. My dream of another child dashed.

There are two photos of him still in the house that just feel like too much energy to change out of the frame. His mail still comes to the house. I want to burn it.

I want to just sit and cry until I can’t anymore. Especially when people who don’t know, who will never know, hear that I am getting divorced and optimistically say “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that it didn’t work out.”

Didn’t work out?

It didn’t work out?

You must be f#%@*ing kidding me, right?

I gave everything to this man, and then some. A thankless, unselfish kind of love he will never, ever find again. And I got screwed, sideways, backwards and up the street. I was emotionally abused, abandoned, and ignored.

In return I have two, beautiful, healthy, awesome children.

I learned I have the strength of a warrior and an infinite capacity to love through hurt, betrayal, and loneliness.

But as I told him, so many times, I am not unbreakable. There is an end to my ability to bear the weight.

I am grieving the loss of what I thought my life would be. I am grieving the loss of love, a husband, and even a father to my children. I am grieving failure.

I gave it my all and I failed. I don’t fail. I don’t quit. And at this, this most important thing, I couldn’t fix it. Singular effort in a dual partnership just does not cut it.

A few months ago, he made a point of it to hurt me and tell me: “You were not good enough.”

It hurt to hear him say it, and his intent behind it. I know this is not true. But it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t sting. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get replayed in my head in the quiet of the night. In the quiet of folding laundry on a Tuesday afternoon.

There is still an indentation on my ring finger. I find myself reaching to spin my rings less and less. But my finger still feels naked, and so do I. My flaws feel exposed, my emotions feel heightened, my hurt feels raw and misunderstood. My trust and my belief in people…broken. I am sorry in advance that I will not believe you will follow through. I will always wait for you to be the one to break my heart.

I feel like I will never be as important to someone again, as he was to me. I grieve the idea that there is a possibility that I will never be loved that way that I love. That is real, that is honest, and that is heartbreaking. It may not be true, but right now, it is the truest statement I can make about what it feels like inside.

Everything hurts. And no one, not anything but time, will make it better. Please hide all the clocks and wake me when it’s over.

-Jessica: Awesome Single Mama

The Empty Field

The Empty Field….

It was a simple task. Fill out your user profile in the new expense system at work. Verify name, address, phone number, date of birth.

Marital Status.

There is not a drop-down for “f you” or “none of your business.”

There is not an option that says “Divorce in progress.”

I need a gosh damn yield sign because the next question is even better: Emergency Contact Information.

Can I put a coworker? Is that weird? Who would I like you to call in case I break a leg, get in a car accident, or worse, die? Shall I also put my life insurance policies into the comments field, as well as their distribution amounts?

I was so proud to be a wife, and I wasn’t just proud to be the noun, I was proud to be his wife. It didn’t care if you were the mail carrier, the grocery store employee, the doctor, the co-worker, the playdate counterpart I just met. I was proud to take his name, be his association, be his person.
He was supposed to be my person. The one who listened to my bad day, who knew how I liked my coffee, who could identify my mood based on the appearance or disappearance of a beauty mark on my face, who knew the right spot on my neck to kiss, the jokes to make me laugh, the right amount of time to hold me before he pulled away.

He was supposed to be the luckiest man alive whether we were together in a room of 20, 200, or 2,000 people.

He was supposed to be my forever emergency contact. The person whose heart would cease to beat if mine did.

He was supposed to be the one they called if something happened to me.

My mouse cursor slowly blinks at me, patiently but passive aggressively waiting for an answer, kind of like how I waited for him for so long and I am reminded.

I am reminded I am my own person. He isn’t my person anymore.

And when the coroner called to announce the death of our marriage he didn’t answer the phone anyway, and his voicemail box was full of all the preliminary warning messages he never wanted to listen to.

The mouse cursor blinks on.

-Jessica: Awesome Single Mama

My First Date Post Marriage

My first date was with a guy from Tinder.

Don’t read that twice.

I did not expect that one date would turn into a dozen dates. I did not expect that he would make me laugh so hard my stomach hurt or that I wouldn’t even eat most of my meals we shared because we would be talking so much. I did not expect that when we would go places he would grab my hand, kiss my forehead, or pull me into him while waiting in line. I didn’t expect that I would love nothing more than walking into the door and seeing his face and wanting to literally wrap up in his arms. I didn’t expect how easy it would be to not only be emotionally but physically drawn to this man.

My therapist warned he was a rebound. Rebounds never work. I nodded, secretly thinking this could maybe be different. I justified that my husband was actually the rebound as he was my relationship right after my high school boyfriend. My therapist glared at me.

“Jessica, he is a rebound.”

One session he asked me very frankly what he was like.

“He feels like one gigantic sigh. I walk into his presence and I immediately relax. I am not a mom, I am not a manager, I am not an ex-wife. I can just be a woman and I can say and do as comes naturally, and I just…exhale.”

He was, and is, my first relationship post-marriage fail and he was…and still is…a great, big, sigh.

I love being a mother. I love my job. I adore my friends. I have a wonderfully supportive family. But I had no idea what I was getting into, what my actual intensions were for the long-term. I just knew what I no longer wanted and that was to feel like I was invisible and unimportant.

I liked having someone ask me about my day, my job, my children, how I slept. I liked having someone really look at me as they talked. Hell, I even liked when he pointed out stupid shit I did, like when I would walk to another room of his apartment and begin talking, totally facing the opposite direction of where he was located and expect him to hear me. The things he noticed made me laugh.

He loved how my eyes squinted when I smiled.

He loved my smile.

The way he caught my attention was by sending me a message that said something to the effect of “How many children do you have or do you want to show me your pile of mismatched socks and I’ll guess?”

A man with a child and a man who also had a pile of socks that never matched. You could have even called it foreplay.

An odd revelation I quickly had upon seeing him and emotionally finding myself positively smitten was that I had no idea how to have a relationship with a man and not be his wife.

I didn’t know how to not be someone’s wife.

It scared me. I didn’t know what dating was. I didn’t know what sex with a new person was. I didn’t know what you were supposed to say, or not say, how often to call, or text or see each other. So, I was myself.

And I felt alive.

I loved the way he listened to what I said and I loved that when he asked me questions he seemed to actually care how I replied. I loved the way he touched me, I loved the way he hugged me, I loved that he was well read, cared about current events, and history. Call him a humanitarian or a socialist, a man with a dry and crazy sense of humor, but just be sure to call him mine.

I loved the way he kissed me even though he kissed me differently than I’d been accustomed for twelve years.

Do you know what your first kiss is like after you thought you already had your last first kiss of your life a dozen years prior? Totally terrifying. Scarier than sex. It was a moment of no going back. My life had changed. It wasn’t ever going to be what I thought it would be when I walked down the aisle. The act both saddened me and freed me.

I was nothing but myself any time I was with him or spoke to him.

Within 90 days of saying goodbye to what I thought my life would be, I regained my life. I lost, and regained my home, traveling to stay between a half a dozen places with two children and two rabbits, living out of suitcases and laundry baskets for almost two months. My boss resigned. I helped host the largest, most important, global, annual event for my company. I assumed 100% financial accountability for every aspect of my life. I didn’t jump out any windows, run over anyone in a parking lot, stomp my feet and ugly cry in too many public forums, completely change my appearance or buy a one-way ticket to a mental institution. I had been through a tornado of hell and still managed to find my way in a relationship with a man who I found myself trusting, opening up to, and falling for.

I will admit it. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t like it. It feels uncomfortable for me. I like companionship. I like love. The house feels empty. So does my bed. This is what is supposed to happen to you after the last chapter ends.

This is the pain, the thrill, the punch in the gut after the curtain to one life closes and another opens.

I am just beginning a relentless journey toward simple, honest, uncompromising happiness.

Either hop in for the ride or get out. Because I deserve so much more than where I came from.

-Jessica: Awesome Single Mama

I Knew Then

I knew. I knew a thousand times over.

I promise myself that I will write this once. I will write and I will leave it. I won’t retouch it or second guess it. I will not apologize for it.

I won’t forget it but I will not live in it. I will not bathe in the sadness of it. The anguish of the emptiness that defines this part of my life.

This hollow part in my center.

I have not allowed myself to really feel despair to this point. The literal mourning to my core that makes me question, can I do this today? Can I do this life?

I spent years, ten of them married, making sure that someone else was OK. I lived for it. I lived to take care of someone else. I felt responsible. I never felt trapped or obligated. I never felt stuck or unsure.

If anything, I was sure. I was certain. I was certain that if I tirelessly loved this man without end I could make him better. I could make him love me the way that I loved him.

I could make him love being a father. I could make him love being a husband. I could make him love his life. I could wait him out. He would return to me.

I really did believe that.

But underneath, I knew.  If I replayed all the things he’s said or done to me that he’s long forgotten, or buried in shame, I knew a thousand times.

We stood outside all that.

I loved him relentlessly through everything.

I loved him through addiction. Recovery. Relapse. Unemployment. Bankruptcy. Home loss. Mental illness. Lying. Betrayal. Loneliness. I had such an uncompromising determination to believe that so much was out of his control to the point that no matter the amount of hurt it caused me, it suddenly occurred to me that it would never actually end.

I clung to small moments of happiness like a child clings to their lovey in their sleep. I carried them around like fragile pieces of glass, and they got me from minute to minute, month to month…year to year.

I know what it feels like to love someone so loyally and unconditionally that I overlooked and compartmentalized so much and so well that I literally drowned in my own care giving. I drowned out everything I ever wanted, everything I ever thought it would be, everything it should have been because I believed that somewhere, deep down, the man I married was inside.

But when the divide between two people in a queen bed is so wide that being in the same room literally gave me panic attacks, or when reaching for your lover’s hand and they don’t respond, or worse, pull away, you know. When they lie in the dark and whisper “You deserve better than I can give you” and roll over to the other side. When you glance in their direction across the room, and they look away…every time. When you send the kids for a sleepover so you can eat a meal that consists of something other than fish sticks or pancakes and make love all over the house, or dance in the kitchen, or get silly drunk on the deck or go for a walk and be quiet…and none of that actually happens and instead you end up on two different couches, in the dark, dying inside.

That is what the part before the end feels like.

I remember following him out to his car one morning before work. I didn’t have shoes on and the driveway needs repaving. The gravel hurt my feet. My insides hurt more.

I said “I just want you to see me. I just want to be seen. You look right past me.”

He said nothing. And left.

This is how countless conversations went. Words came out of my mouth and into the air and disappeared.

I disappeared. Figuratively, then literally.

I left him at a wedding.

I could not bear the thought of sitting quietly with a smile plastered to my face congratulating hopeful, joyful newlyweds, while my marriage made its final descent.

I wanted to scream my vows in his face until my voice was hoarse:

“Today I am certain.  I am certain that you are the man that I was meant to live my life beside.  I stand here and I see our lives before me.  I see lazy Sunday’s and crazy work weeks, love notes taped to doors and good night kisses, stolen covers, and missing socks.  I see family, and children, and laughter and a love between us that is too big to measure.  I look forward to a life full of the planned, but mostly the unexpected. My love for you finally leaves me speechless.  Undoubtedly, from this point forward, I give you my hand to hold, and my heart to keep.”

I left the hotel room and looked back only once. The space where I wished he was standing was empty.

And I knew. It was the final time that I knew.

I took a $93 taxi and an hour drive back to what was once our home and slipped my wedding rings into my purse. As many times as I had thought about that moment before, when it finally came, it hit me like a thousand violent waves.

It was the most freeing heartache of my life.

Jessica-Awesome Single Mama

An Open Letter To My Daughter

Daughter,

When I told you that your father and I were getting divorced it was probably the saddest thing I have ever had to do. We were in the bathroom. I sat on the closed toilet lid and you were across from me on a step stool. I don’t know why I chose that moment. Maybe because it was quiet, because you seemed like you were paying attention. I didn’t think about what I was going to say before the words escaped. I wasn’t prepared for the questions your 5-year old self would ask. I just dove in, head first into concrete, because I needed you to know. I needed you to know why we weren’t sleeping in our own beds and why your clothes were in a suitcase and why I would cry while I ate dinner, or dried my hair, or did just about anything. I needed you to know from me, from my words, that our life was never going to be the same, me and your Dad. Because telling you made it final. Telling you that I had failed, I had failed my one big job, was something I could never take back after I said it and I knew this. I knew that telling you would mean I would never turn back.

Then, I needed you just to know we weren’t going to be married anymore.

Now, I need you to know it wasn’t your fault.

And in the future, I will need you to know why.

You wept. You didn’t just cry. You threw yourself onto the cold, tiled floor, and yelled at me.

“But why, why can’t you just stay together? Why?”

I bit my lip and I thought carefully for a pause.

“Why can’t you just love each other? Why can’t we just be a family?”

How could I tell you that the reasons why I can’t stay are heavier than you, taller than you, bigger than you, older than you? They are heavier than I can carry alone, and I carry so much. I am tired.

You made it sound so simple and yet this decision, this life, is so complicated. I made myself believe, I convinced myself with such will, that this could be simple. It was simple to uphold vows and forgive.

But the cost, it was so high. I tried to tell him. I tried for so long and he would never hear me. Or maybe he did, and he just didn’t want to anymore.

You asked very grown up questions for a very little person.

You asked me if I was angry with him. You asked if I would always love him.

You have asked me this many times over, many nights later. My answer is always the same.

“No, I am not mad at Daddy. Yes, I will always love him.”

This is a truth; this is also a lie.

You see, I am not mad at your father. I am mad at the man that was supposed to be my husband. He let me down in small and large ways that cannot be undone. This is for me to hurt from. This is for me to learn from. This is for me to try and protect you from.

I will always love the man I once knew, the man that gave me you.

Without him, I would never know what tiny fingers wrapped around my necklace felt like. I would never know your big, contagious laugh or the sound of your off-key singing. I would never see your big, scrawled handwriting and doodles with hearts. I would never know that you think your eyes are the color of chocolate and mine are the color of blueberries. I would never know how to remove permanent marker from skin, or nail polish from carpet. I would never know clumsy hands braiding my hair, or stinky feet in my face in the middle of the night. I would never know what it felt like to love something more deeply and more naturally than I do you.

And to that end, without your father, I would never know just how badly it must hurt to know that the two people who were supposed to love each other as much as they loved you, shouldn’t stay together.

But, my little girl, know that I thought about this long and hard. And when I thought about leaving my marriage, the last person I thought about before I did…was you.

I thought about what I want for your life. I thought about the kind of man I want to love you, take care of you, hold you. I thought about the kind of smile I want you to have not just on your wedding day, but on an ordinary day. I thought about the unending respect and independence I want you to have for yourself; the inner strength to know the difference between enabling and empowerment. I thought about how much more I not only wanted, but expected for you and I realized that in order for you to recognize and chase these things, I had to want them, demand them, for myself.

And yes, I thought about what it would feel like to sit at your wedding and watch your father-daughter dance with a man who would no longer be my husband. The thought of disappointing you put a pit in my stomach. Disappointing you for expecting more for your life than I had mine. I feared what you would have thought of me twenty years from now, knowing I devoted my life to teaching you to be more than me, all the while expecting less than for myself.

Someday we will talk, woman to woman. But for now, know that this was not your fault. Know this. Hear this. Believe this.

I did my very best.

Know this.

Hear this.

Believe this.

I loved your father with a love that was more than love.

In the end, my love for him was not a reason to stay.

My love for myself was a reason to leave.

My love for you was a reason to keep moving.

Know this.

Hear this.

Believe this.

~Jessica-Awesome Single Mama

Life Ain’t Always Beautiful

 

 

I’m the baby of five children with eleven years separating me from the youngest of my siblings.  You can rest assured that I’ve been asked at least fifty-eleven times if I was a mistake.  The short answer is no.  Have you ever known me to stop with the short answer?  Okay, so you know that this time is no different and you know that I have a story to tell.

My grandfather, my Mom’s dad, was an electrician, and they moved around quite a bit.  When they lived in Kentucky though, they lived about a block and a half away from where my dad grew up.  My mom and my dad went to the same school during those years and walked the same sidewalks and my dad thought my mom was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I made my mom tell me this story.  She was so very shy.  She knew that Dad had a crush on her and so she would see him coming and she would cross the street to the opposite sidewalk to try to avoid running into him.  Lord knows that every socially awkward statement that has ever come out of my mouth was the exact reason my mother opted to go with avoidance.  I regret nothing.  I wish.

By high school, my mother was living in Michigan and my dad was in a military boarding school.  Their lives had moved in totally different directions.  Mom graduated from high school and got married.    Mom had four children in a very short period of time.  Which is why when I say she was always the most patient person alive, I can speak with confidence.  Dad joined the Army, got married and when the Vietnam War began he found himself in Japan.

Then the unthinkable happened.  My mother’s first husband was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident.  My mother was a widow and my siblings had lost their father.  I can’t imagine what that time was like for my mother but she ended up packing up her four young children and moving back to Kentucky.  Around the same time, my dad was newly divorced and also making his way back to Kentucky…

So this is NOT where I’m going to pretend that their marriage was magical or perfect or even hard in the way that every marriage is hard because I don’t think that would be accurate or fair.  I think it was pretty difficult.  But I also think that my mom really, really, really, loved my dad, (and I know she still does), and I know that my dad really, really, really, loves my mom and always has.

Dad is in the hospital.  It’s becoming the norm lately.  I guess that’s how it is when you have stage four cancer.  I have sat with him through appointment after appointment and over and over I have heard doctors ask him what he wants.  What his expectations are.  What his concerns are.  What questions he has.  Over and over I have heard  his answers begin with, “My wife has Alzheimer’s…”

Tonight was no different.  The cardiologist asked him if he wanted them to try to resuscitate him if he coded and Dad began with his usual, “My wife has Alzheimer’s.”  Then he continued with the same responses I have heard him give every single doctor since he was first diagnosed.

My wife has Alzheimer’s.  She’s in Calvert City.  I just want to be able to drive there to see her.  I don’t want to be too sick to do that.  I just want to be able to see her as long as I can.  She looks forward to seeing me.  She has the biggest smile when I walk in.”

Their marriage wasn’t perfect, but maybe love doesn’t have to be.

Life ain’t always beautiful, but it’s a beautiful life.

<3 LA

You can see more of LA at https://sweeterinthesouth.blog/