Thursday, July 31, 2014

While I Wait

While I wait for you to go,
I think of the metal glider on your porch where we would spend time swaying back and forth,
while singing along to the songs you played on your ukulele.
I think of your incredible ability to whistle any tune perfect-pitch. Even now.
I think of sneaking out into the kitchen at 6 AM so that I could share coffee and laughs with you before you would go to work, while Gran still slept in your bed.
I think of the Yo-Yo balls that you got us before they were even on the shelf.
I think of the Red, White, and Blue jellybeans you brought us, and how they were the best ever.
I think of packs of Bubble Yum bubblegum that you always brought us, and how you taught me to blow a bubble.
I think of you listening to me play the piano and recording it, all the while encouraging me in my playing.
I think of how you somehow managed to tie a rope swing up on a branch that was so high up I couldn't figure out how you did it, so that we could have fun out back.
I think of your ability to make plants thrive- gardenias, hibiscus,
I think of watching you at the age of 70 race up the street on a bicycle you built from scraps. The freedom you felt on those 2 wheels.
I think of how excited I was to receive a custom-made, custom-painted, and personalized first bike from you in the exact color I wanted.
I think of you playing the guitar in my living room with my dad, as you two sang sad country songs or old gospel hymns.
I think of the many stories you would tell us, including how your sisters ground off the tip of your finger in the meat grinder when you were little, making your fingertip a little rounded nub.
I think of all the times you helped fix anything and everything around our house. You always had just the right tools.
I think of playing cards- Kings in the Corner, Rummy, Uno, Rook, or even Old Maid. You always played with us and taught us new games.
I think of the time you snuck your big rig down our neighborhood street, so that you could see us in the middle of your day and we could see what it was like in that big cab.
I think of all of your Cadillacs and the way we would turn the emblem as you left the driveway as a prank, and you would honk your musical air horn at us.
I think of silly-looking gnomes with fuzzy hair hanging from your rear-view mirror in your truck that Gran wanted you to get rid of, but you refused to sell.
I think of trips to get ice cream and to visit your family and friends that you wanted to show us off to.
I think of the first time you held my firstborn- just a day old he was, and how you loved him at that moment.
I think of the countless hours you would rock, dance, hold, and sing to my sons to get them to sleep during nap time visits.
I think of hours of watching trains go by, because you knew that's what the boys loved.
I think of how you became the best PaPa ever to my sons, even learning to play video games on the Play Station just to be with them.

While I wait for you to go,
I think of the first time I saw you after Gran left this Earth. The sadness in your eyes as tears welled in them and you told of how you tried so hard to save her that night.
I think of how we lost you, too, in a sense. You couldn't bear to be around as much, it was too painful, you said.
I think of how I came home from work and found an unexpected flower- a gardenia from your tree- on my porch and I knew it was your way of saying you still loved me.
I think of when your mind started to fail you and how we were told you may not know us, but how excited we were that you did.
I think of the first time I sat with you and you didn't know me. You knew we knew you somehow, but to make the connections was just too hard for your mind. Even so, we saw parts of you that we recognized.
I think of you, the only PaPa/Grandfather that I ever got to know,and I thank you for always being the best you could be! I will love you, Forever!

Tonight they said it won't be long now.

While I wait for you to go,

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Little Things Change Lives

The past year has come with many financial hardships. I've been through hard times before, but none to the degree that I've experienced this year. I debated whether or not to share this story with the world, because- well, I always like it to look like I have it all together and everything is fine. I'm good at putting a smile on my face and masking the reality of life. Why tell it then? Well, tonight I went to the gas station. I could only afford to put $10 in my car, and pray I can get back and forth to work for a few days. If things don't go well next week, I really can't even afford that, but even so, I came across someone going through an even harder time than me.
While I was preparing to pump gas into my car, a stranger from the run-down, old car beside me approached me. "Maam," she said, "Is there any way you could help us? We have no money for gas, we are digging through our car looking for change, and just don't have enough."
My first instinct was to come up with a plan in my head, if this woman was going to do something to get my money, as I had my baby in the backseat. Then, I stopped, took a deep breath, and said to myself, "How many times have you been in her spot this year? How many times have you had to come up with excuses to cancel plans because you didn't have the gas money to even get across town? How many times have you been on empty and gone through the piggy banks for enough change to get 2 gallons of gas? How many times has someone shown you mercy or blessed you when you least expected it? Just because she doesn't look like you, and just because you were taught to be cautious of strangers asking for money, doesn't mean she isn't being honest. Even if it is a lie, what if you did this simple act of kindness, and put $10 in their car, too? You never know how you might impact someone's life."
I put $10 of gas into my tank, then I drove to the front of the store. I got my baby out and walked in and purchased a $10 gift card for them to use at the pump. I really couldn't afford the sacrifice it was going to be, but the thought that ran through my head was from a passage in the Bible I was taught as a child about doing unto the least of these, you never know when you may be entertaining an angel. I handed them the gift card, and the gentleman, in his dirty work uniform, thanked me. "I get paid on Thursday," he said. I told them I had been in their position several times myself, as a single mom of 4, and so I could understand. They said they had 4 kids, too. I granted them blessings before I drove off and said a prayer for them as I drove away.
What's my point in this? You don't have to be rich to have compassion on a fellow soul. You don't always know the circumstances behind someone's life. You can't judge someone by their appearance, masks are everywhere, and there are MANY hurting people out there- whether that be financially, emotionally, spiritually, physically. Sometimes $10 can bless someone as much as $1000. Sometimes, just being real, and letting others know that they aren't the only ones who are going through a tough time, may give them just what they need to go on.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Why Do We Do This to Ourselves?

Recently, I had a conversation with another single mother near my age. She was talking about a trip she took to New York City to meet the man she had been online dating for several months. Their conversations on the phone and the internet had been fantastic. They had connected and things were moving along. She spoke of how she was so excited, and had taken off work for the week and arranged for her children to stay with her mother. It seemed like a dream come true, until the plane landed and the obvious disappointment was seen on the man's face.

He didn't have the guts to tell her what he was thinking, he took her home, and proceeded with their weekend. She kept getting strange vibes from him, as if something was wrong. He even retreated to his room a couple times during a dinner with his family. My poor friend was aware that something was off kilter, but she obliged his intimacies, and she kept to herself the devastation she was feeling. She was self conscious about her body, and didn't want to be seen. He made a comment after one of there moments together about how she couldn't help it, she'd be big forever, it was the way she was made. What he didn't know was that she had already lost over 100 pounds. Her weight bothered him, but he didn't state that to her directly. Instead, he took her shopping for her kids and sent mixed messages.

Finally, she boarded the plane and flew back home, at turmoil with her emotions and frustrated with his lack of communication about what he was really thinking. When she got home, she decided to email him and ask him about what had gone on in NYC. She asked him if her weight was an issue, and finally he admitted that it was. This made her angry. She promptly told him that he should've immediately addressed his disappointment when she landed, rather than drag her through a week of emotional hell, and let her go home to her family. She told him of her amazing weight loss in the past, and that she "didn't give a damn" what he thought of her size. She didn't need such a person in her life. She'd lived this long without him, and she could continue. She informed me that she was, in her own words, "a bitch" in her response to him. The results, however, were surprising. He immediately apologized for his insensitivity and inappropriate actions while she visited him. He begged her not to leave him, and said he would love a second chance to recover what damages he'd done when she visited.

She spoke to me for a long time about how we, as women, tend to think we need to settle. We get lonely and tired, and we think that means we have to give up on our needs. We tolerate bad behavior and excuse it, in the name of finding love. We are willing to overlook major descrepancies in order to have someone beside us at night. The biggest thing, is that we fail to see our own incredibleness! We fail to see that we are intelligent, strong, compassionate, independent people! We deserve the best! We deserve to have our needs met by someone who can see the whole of us, and love us as we are! We shed too many tears over men who don't deserve to be in our lives.

Our conversation made me think, too many nights I've tortured myself, believing that I don't deserve to be happy. I wait by the phone, hoping it will ring, devastated when it doesn't. I allow myself to make excuses for being treated as an afterthought. I place so much value on what "he" thinks, and fail to see the truth about myself. I recognize I have a pattern of settling. Due to the humiliation of two divorces, I believe I'm lucky if anyone ever loves me. Who would really want this single mother of four? That's what I continually ask myself, as I cry alone. I've become so used to trying so hard to make a man love me, that I sacrifice my own integrity. I give up so much of myself, in hopes that he can't live without me. I don't communicate how I'm really feeling on the inside, for fear it will chase him away. I put my needs aside, and I suffer the torment that churns inside me, as I wait for him to define me as acceptable. If he doesn't, then I figure he must be right.

What I fail to see is that I am incredible! I manage to work full-time, go to school full-time, parent four sons from the ages of 1 to 16, keep a roof over our heads, and all of this by myself! My body may not be perfect, but I'm not looking too bad for a mother of four! I am an awesome mother, who loves her children with all her heart. I have a great sense of humor. I love sarcasm! I am intelligent. I have a way of reading other's emotions and being sensitive to them. I am creative. I am good at my job. I am well-rounded. I have many great qualities to offer. I don't need to settle. I don't need to second-guess my worthiness or sacrifice my heart to someone who doesn't appreciate it. I don't need a man to define me. I want a man that can compliment my qualities, and grow with me. Come on ladies, let's stop the nonsense and wake up to how marvelous we really are!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Giving Myself Permission

Lately I've found the need to take a break from people in my life who I know I just can't please. I am at a crucial turning point in my life where I am going to be required to make some decisions that will forever impact my family. Most likely these decisions will result in even more difficult decisions needing to be made. The last thing I need is to have people demanding that I keep them happy with the way I am living my life. When does it all just become too much?

Saturday, August 14, 2010


It seems as if everything I once believed in, is now just a burst bubble. I was having a conversation with my mother today about being true to one's self. It's amazing how much that has changed over time. I wanted to scream into the receiver- who I am now is not who you want me to be, and I'm okay with that. What I believe is not what she would hope. I just couldn't verbalize to her what I know would disappoint or devastate her. I am no longer naive enough to trust that even she won't let me down. That's just not the way life works. We are human and we fail sometimes. What I consider failure may differ from what you consider failure. We all have to live our own lives.

In searching my inner most thoughts, I've discovered some truths:

1) I am alone in almost every aspect of my life. I don't have someone waiting for me when I get home to make sure I walk in the door. I don't have someone to assist daily with parenting my sons. I don't have someone I can tell everything to. I don't have someone to share meals with that isn't dependent on me to feed them. I don't have someone to hold me after a bad day or love me for who I am. I don't need people as much as I once did. I am really alone. Part of me is okay with this. I've loved and lost very painfully, and I don't miss that hurt. The other part of me, though, is very lonely. I don't get to look forward to a future shared with someone. I will most likely die alone. I don't think I'm capable of ever believing in love again. It's because of this jaded view that I have settled for less. I've been willing to be the exact person I would judge the most. Why? Maybe because I feel I deserve it after making bad decisions. Maybe because it's easier than having to really care and risk getting hurt. Maybe it's because I know expecting someone to love me now is asking too much. Whatever the answer- I am alone.

2) I am tired of life the way it is. I am tired of every facet being a struggle. I am tired of taking a step forward only to be trompled and thrown back. I am really struggling with understanding why it is that some people get everything without any effort and then others of us have to struggle to survive. It's exhausting and I have to fight not becoming any more bitter than I see that I already am.

3) I am not the person I dreamed I would be. Once upon a time, I was this positive, naive, bouncy little creature. I thought everything would be peaceful and harmonic and all would be good with the world. I waited on everyone and I did everything to make people happy with me. I couldn't stand for anyone to be disappointed in me. I saw my future as a happily married mother, baking cookies, and helping with homework. I felt it was my duty to tolerate being mistreated by my husband, because that would be the "Godly" thing to do. You know, submission to the supreme being known as "man." If I prayed hard enough, things would change, I thought. If I didn't drink or cuss, things would go well. If I gave the church money, I wouldn't struggle financially. If I went to church every chance I got, joined every Bible Study and prayer group that I could fit into my schedule, and still spent time watching ministers on TV, somehow I could earn a better life. For 15 of my adult years I tried this. Nothing got better, though, only worse. On top of it, I faced new persecutions in the name of the Lord. It took several years to allow myself to get out of a horrible, abusive relationship. It's taken several more to adjust to the new hardships of being alone. I'm still in the process of dealing with all the anger I have because life hasn't turned out how I expected.

4) I am not sure how I feel about God right now. I have enough brainwashed guilt to keep me from saying I don't believe in Him, but enough bitterness to say I don't understand Him. God is love the Bible says, yet it seems that I have everything but that. It seems as though believers show everything but that. Even now, as I'm typing how I really feel, I am fearing a repercussion for even stating such thoughts. I can't help it, it's how I was raised. Punishment, doom, gloom, and destruction are the effects of such thoughts. On the flip side, fully believing doesn't seem to have any brighter an outcome. Instead it's full of testing and perseverance building experiences. Struggle after struggle after struggle and you still may never get to the Promised Land. Where's the love in that? Yet, I also have to admit there have been moments where I know it was divine intervention that either protected me or someone I loved. It was divine intervention that caused my ex not to see me hiding from him just a few feet away in plain sight. I believe it was divine intervention that saved my life that night.

5) I am really tired of people who don't keep their word. One's word is all they have. Integrity means everything. Don't say something unless you mean it. Don't lead me to believe something if you have no intentions of fulfilling it. Don't make promises you can't or won't keep. I don't have the luxury of depending on someone's word, only to be let down, without it having negative consequences. If you say it, I believe you and I depend on you. You don't owe me anything, but if you promise me something, I expect you to keep your word. Otherwise, don't even say it.

Being real, being honest, being open, is frightful at best. I have been all of that tonight. Don't judge me for stating my own personal truths. Don't expect me to change them to suit you, either. I am being true to myself, who I am, at this very moment.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day to Me

This is only the second Valentine's Day in 19 years that I have spent alone without someone to send silly intimate messages to, go to dinner with, get flowers from, and snuggle up to at night. Both of them being the February after my December divorces. The difference this year is that I woke up this morning to my dog Harry being super silly and making me smile first thing, knowing the day was mine to do whatever I wanted, and saying to myself this year I am going to be my own Valentine. All the love I would want from someone else today, I decided to give to myself. I made myself coffee with a favorite creamer in it, turned on the iTunes I love the most, stayed in my PJ's and did laundry, checked out FB, chatted with a few friends, received a Valentine's wish from someone close in the same boat (no not an ex), played on the floor with the dogs, took a nap, and made myself a whole tray of my favorite addictive candy right now- candied pecans which I intend to eat while reading a book tonight. It's amazing how peaceful my day has been. I feel content.

No- there were no flower deliveries like there were for others at work. No- there were no chocolates. No- I didn't get any Valentines in the mail. Yet, I realized the biggest loves of my life, who were having a weekend with their father (and I'm okay with that), are the heart of me. Even more I need to be the heart of me! I need to make for myself what I would want them to make for themselves. It doesn't take someone else to make me special. I already am. Not that I don't need friends or relationships that are close, but I don't have to have a significant other.

It's funny, I heard from my ex-husband twice today. He stood up for me with my sons yesterday after a really bad day with them, and he kept his word and gave me the paperwork I need to renegotiate child support. He didn't try to pull me into getting back with him, but he told me about who he is dating. He let me know he wants to help out more financially here for the boys. He offered to write me a check Sunday until we get all of the terms negotiated with support. He is going to take our son to baseball practice for at least the next month, and hopefully after, if they start late enough for him to get up here. It made me happy to see that maybe he was going to be there more for the boys. He spent today with our sons and his parents instead of leaving the boys home alone and going out for the first time in months. This was the best gift to me to know my boys weren't left alone again while there. It brought me peace that I could enjoy my downtime this weekend. After all of this, I realized I was relieved to have my freedom. I was happy that my relationship with him could be on a different level than significant other, and focus on the boys.

I've thought of the past year, and all the difficulties, and was thankful that some of those difficulties were no longer my worry. I get to focus on how I want my household to run, where I want to go professionally and educationally without someone else's input, I can do kind and charitable things if I want to, and I can reconnect with old friends and laugh at moments that still are funny when recalled. I've stopped searching for love, and have instead sought the love of those I already have in my world. I can celebrate that my dearest friends do have that amazing kind of love to share with someone special. I know how important they and their significant others are to me, and how much I love them!! So I say, "Happy Valentine's Day," to them and to myself!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sorry after 21 Years....

One of the amazing things about online sites where you can get reacquainted with people you haven't seen in years is that you get the chance to say as an adult things you wish you had said in younger years. In this case, "I'm sorry for...," whatever it was you did to hurt someone else. This in no way means to excuse the actual harm that was done, it means letting maturity acknowledge that you wish you hadn't done what you did. There is no mandate stating that forgiveness must be granted, but having the one who wronged you actually acknowledge their role does matter.

Let me start with a story from my own life where I did the wronging to set the scene for what happened tonight. In my own life, I wanted so badly to apologize to a girl whom I had hurt deeply. I went to a Christian school that was just getting going, and many of the things that would be no big deal in a public school were major issues at this private school. The truth is, I was jealous that my best friend my Junior year, Angie, was becoming closer to the new girl, Sarah, than to me. I knew Sarah needed friends, and truthfully, they had more to relate to in each other than I did to them, as their lives growing up were similarly difficult. I was feeling like the oddball out. At the same time, I began hanging around with some friends who didn't like Sarah much, and began spreading stories around about her- some true and some exaggerated. I didn't at this point do any spreading, but I listened and laughed or began to harbor the information internally for later use.

When Sarah began dating the boy who had just broken up with me, my jealousy just increased with their happiness. A letter was found between the two of them, and its contents became public knowledge around the school. The Administrative Staff felt it necessary to take the occasion as an oppurtunity to separate the 9-12th grade boys and girls for a three hour discussion on "appropriate behaviors between young Christian couples." At this point in my life I was the biggest "tease" in attendance. Guys knew I wouldn't do things with them, but I knew exactly what to do, how to walk, when to stretch, and how to give a certain look to attract their attention. I could make them believe I was interested in activities I had no intention of actually participating in. I was 5' 8 1/2" tall, weighing 125 lbs.- taller, thinner, and built more well-endowed than most of the girls. As guys caught on to the fact that I was only a "tease," their interest faded and they sought girls who would participate. Instead of dating these guys, I became best friends with several of them. This gave me a place the other girls didn't have, and the oppurtunity to hear exactly what the guys were thinking.

Through this, Sarah became a target. One day, I was walking with my guy friends and we passed Sarah on the steps. Winter was upon us, and we bagan to say, "Ho Ho Ho- Merry Christmas!" We knew this wouldn't be strange to the administration, but Sarah would get the point. After all the fuss that had been raised over the letter between she and her boyfriend, and comments being made already about her by others, our jesting was the final straw, and she burst into sobbing tears and ran into the office. My friends though it was funny, but I immediately felt a pang of immense guilt inside. I knew we had just hurt her deeply, but instead of feeling triumphant or justified, I felt awful! Of course, I didn't say this to my friends because I wanted their acceptance.

I didn't see much of Sarah after that. She would come to school on some days and stay home on others. She withdrew from everyone except for Angie. The next year Sarah didn't return. After I graduated the next year, I left and never looked back. I didn't keep contact with most of the people I knew. A couple of years later, I ran into Angie and she gave me an update on both she and Sarah. At the mention of Sarah, I would have flashbacks to that moment on the stairs of the school. Too proud to say anything about feeling bad or apologizing, I let it go.

More time passed, and then about five years ago, Angie called me. I hadn't heard from her in years, but she turned to me at this particular moment.

"Sarah's dead," she said.

"What?" I responded.

"It's complicated," she continued, "but they rushed her to St. Luke's Northland in Kansas City, and she died. Things weren't going well in her life. Her little girls are with her mother, as they have no one else."

I took a deep breath and all the guilt poured out in tears, "I am so sorry!"

I knew I meant this in so many ways. I was sorry to Angie for losing her friend, I was sorry to Sarah for never being a big enough person to apologize, and most of all I was sorry that Sarah's life was gone so young. If only I hadn't said what I had to break her, then maybe she'd have gone a different path in life. I was unable to attend her service, but was able to arrange for beautiful flowers in her honor to be sent for Angie, to know that I supported her and cared. It was the only gift I could give to Sarah at this point, too. I asked if I could do anything for the girls, and asked Angie to keep me updated on things. I told Angie about the horrible thing I had said to Sarah, and how I wished I could take it back. I told her how I had for years wanted to apologize to Sarah but hadn't. Now it was too late, and all because of my pride.

I haven't heard much from Angie since then, but I've never gotten over the guilt and I have used this as an example in my life for taking caution and care in my actions and words to not cause pain. I wish I had said, "I'm sorry, Sarah. I was a jerk. Please forgive me!" I wish she had known that I meant every word of it before she had died.

I tell this story to set up tonight's story. Late last night I was reacquainted with someone who had hurt me both emotionally and physically my Sophomore year, at a different Christian school. He was a Senior, and I was smitten with the idea of having an older guy for a boyfriend. I was willing to tolerate being mistreated, not only by him, but his best friend, as well. They would slap me across the face and say mean things as they walked by my cubicle. Then, he would be kind and want to take me out. It was always a yo-yo of behaviors.

On one such occasion, I had begged my parents to let me go with him to get stereo speakers at the mall, and then to his mom's house to hang out. They had hesitantly agreed, as I had convinced them that things would be fine, and we wouldn't do anything we shouldn't. We did go to the mall, and stop by to see his mom shortly, but then we went and picked up his best friend. At this point, he changed into a bully. They drove me to a neighborhood I really wasn't familiar with and knew no one in. All I knew was that it was a dangerous neighborhood. They drove to a school that had an unlit playground. They pulled me from the car and tied me to the domed jungle gym. They slapped me and told me they were going to rape me. I began to cry and was terrified. This made them laugh. I begged them not to hurt me, and they said they would leave me alone tonight, but that they were going to leave me tied up there for whomever came along. It was so dark, I could hardly see the houses. I was shaking and sobbing. At that time cell phones weren't in, so I had no way to contact my family and tell them where I was. They got in the car and drove away. They were gone for about five minutes, and then they reappeared and untied me and shoved me in the front seat between them. They told me that I had better not tell anyone or they would really rape me next time, and tell all my friends things. I cried and promised not to. They drove me around until I calmed down, and then dropped me off at home, where I was forced to kiss this acquaintance goodnight.

My parents were already in bed asleep when I crept in and climbed the stairs to my room. I tried avoiding seeing anyone so that I wouldn't have to talk about the night. I believed the threats they had made. I never told my parents what happened. My dad would have retaliated with violence.

I never asked to go anywhere with this particular guy again, but his buddy was my daily ride to school. He enjoyed taunting me about it and I could say nothing. They would continue to walk by me at school and slap me when the adults weren't around. School ended shortly after that for the year and they graduated. I decided not to return to that school.

How does this all play into the first story? Tonight, after 21 years, this particular acquaintance apologized to me for how he had treated me back then. He shared that he was a husband and father of a son that he wanted to set a good example for. He hadn't had a father around growing up. See, I realized that he was carrying around the guilt of his actions for 21 years, and I could understand that need to apologize. I understood the sincerity of his adult apology, and because of this I could say to him, "I forgive you for anything that happened back then."

He got the chance to apologize before it was too late, and because I understood both his guilt and the need for grace, I could forgive him tonight.....after 21 years.