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Monday, February 14, 2011

Tomorrow is OUR Valentine's Day!

Yes, I know that today is actually "Valentine's Day" but John and I will have our own reason to celebrate tomorrow because it will be exactly three years since our first date.

Three years ago, I was newly single, having finally surrendered my hope of "saving" a man who was hopelessly addicted to drugs and alcohol. I had been married for four years, eleven months and twenty-one days. I had seen my first "husband" through 4 mental hospitalizations, three stints in residential rehab, 2 incarcerations, multiple court appearances and arrests, 2 DUIs, one "hit and run", and 3 months on life-support at Grady Memorial - all of which didn't serve to turn his life around like you might think. Three years ago, I had decided that I might not ever have the family I dreamed of, that I might be "DIVORCED" and unwanted for good. Three years ago, I bought myself flowers and candy and determined that I was okay just being alone in a small house with a sweet dog and fat cat, Law and Order reruns, and a purposeful career.  But you see, three years ago, I had been talking online to a blue-eyed man in Dahlonega whom I had yet to meet in person. He had an easy laugh when we talked on the phone, and I could tell he loved his children, but he seemed so busy that I thought we would never meet.  But that Valentine's Day in 2008, John mentioned that, he too was alone for the holiday of sweethearts. He had worked that night, and had gone home to eat a simple dinner and watch television. He asked me if I might want to have dinner with him the next day- February 15. I agreed that it was time for us to meet. We had talked online and on the phone for quite awhile, we had talked about our first "marriages" and about seeing our exes decline into instability and recklessness. We had laughed into the phone about funny videos we had seen, or about the crazy children in our lives. He had grown up just around the corner from my grandparent's house in Stone Mountain.  He had vacationed on the same little spot of deserted beach in Florida all his life, just like me. We had worked at the same mall all through high school, he was on the same trip to Washington DC that I took at 16 years old, and we had literally missed each other by inches all of our lives.

So John invited me to dinner on the Friday night after Valentine's Day.  I drove to his house, where he had cooked pot roast and green beans. He had burned a few canned biscuits, and had bought me a diet coke, having learned it was my favorite. After dinner we bowled on his children's Wii and played with his two dogs. We tried to replace the awkwardness of a first date with interesting conversation, and found ourselves talking about politics. He read different books than me - had experienced life in different ways than me - had three brothers while I had two sisters - was a Presbyterian at a tiny little church and for Heaven's sake- a Democrat! But the longer we talked, the more I realized that the things I once thought were so important in a partner were really minor issues compared to the compatibility of finding someone who loves the same Lord that you do, and lives a life of integrity, trying to be an example for his children.

When our "date" was over, I said goodbye to John and he walked me outside. I wondered if he was still interested in me, and what would happen next. He didn't kiss me or try to hold my hand, he just gave me a gentle hug and told me to drive safely. I drove home, and thought about our date as I fell asleep.  The next day, John called so say "I had fun last night."
"Me too," I replied, "Let's do it again sometime."
"How about tonight?" He asked. And we ended up seeing each other on February 16th, when I made homemade chicken and dumplings and he brought me peach roses. And again on February 17th. And again the next weekend. And the weekend after that . . . .

And eight months later, we married in a simple outdoor wedding at my Great Aunt's house in Covington. Amanda stood with me, and Georgia stood with John. The boys wore matching sweaters, and after the ceremony, John and I took 3 nights for a honeymoon in Dillard. And after this humble beginning, I moved into that house in Dahlonega where we shared our first meal together. I brought my household full of "stuff", my sweet dog, fat cat, and a whole lot of hope for the future.

And every day since then has been another day with the love of my life, my partner in this world . . . my best friend. Happy Valentine's Day, Bunky! I love you so much!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Don't come into my cave if you are afraid of the dark . . .

This is as real as it gets, so please don't read this and then post some silly comment about how I need to keep my chin up or "look at the bright side."  For those of you who might think I'm not looking at the bright side, let me assure you that I am over-the-moon happily in love with my husband, abundantly grateful for my ever-supportive and loyal family, and crazy about my step-kids and foster kids. But here goes:  INFERTILITY STINKS.  I would use another adjective besides "Stinks" here but it would not be very nice. 
Last week, I was talking with a little boy who is adopted. He told me that he will not have any brothers or sisters because "my mom's stomach is broken." It was all I could do not to fall into the floor in a heap of emotions and just cry for his mom. Because I know what it's like to have a "broken stomach" and feel the ache of longing to carry a child, but also feeling like a part of you is so damaged or broken (and not because you did anything to cause that) and it is a disgusting, lonely, and miserable feeling.
Yes I know- REJOICE ALWAYS... The Bible says so. I want to rejoice always, I want to be so happy for the 12 people a day that cross my path with their perfect ultrasound photos. I want to REJOICE in this situation that I am facing. I want to rejoice in the crazy misfit family that God has given me. 
But some days it is hard . . .
I've had Jeremiah and Peniel since June 22 of last year. I love them so much, and they have healed my broken heart in so many ways.  But slowly, they have begun having overnight visits with their mom. This past weekend was the third time they have had an overnight visit with her. When they came back to me, they were awful. From his car-seat, Jeremiah was throwing a fit and when I tried to correct his behavior, he shouted "I don't yike you, Meyissa! You are the WORST BABYSITTER EVER!"  And let me tell you, that remark did not sit well with me.  Of course, I didn't cry in front of him- I did it much later, in my bedroom with John lovingly rubbing my back and telling me that I am NOT a babysitter. Becky later pointed out that if I was a babysitter, I'm really getting the shaft.  I feed, clothe, and bathe this child - wash his dirty butt when he has diarrhea and frequently fall asleep with his toes stabbing my in the back because he wakes up in the middle of the night and comes into my room.  And I don't get paid a dime for any of that!
Samuel wrote a letter to his mom in jail and gave it to me to mail. It read "I miss you when you are in jail. You are the best mom in the whole world." If the irony of that escapes you, don't worry - it escaped him too.

Obviously the hardest part of being a step mom or foster-mom is the fact that I am a substitute for the real thing. It's like when you watch a soap opera and suddenly without warning your favorite character is replaced by a new actor. The narrator's voice announces: "The part of Dash Wellington will now be played by . . ." and gives the name of the new actor who will take the place of your old favorite one. The new actor can do all the same things, read the same lines, romance the same ladies as part of the plot - but in your heart he will never feel like the real Dash Wellington. Well, that's me . . . the babysitter with the broken stomach. To my kids, I am just a stand-in for the real thing. Or at least that's how I feel right now. I'm just down in the dumps- in my cave.  It doesn't mean I won't come out . . . and it doesn't mean I will be this way forever. I will come back into the light of day, I will hear the boys laughter and their arguing over who can fart the loudest. I will hear the girls talking about their guy troubles and discussion about prom dates. I will look around our crowded kitchen table and think about how blessed I am - how fortunate I am to share my lives with them, to grow and learn with them . . . to see their progress in life, and to hear about their adventures.
So, if you read this blog and you pray- please pray for me. Pray that I can rejoice in all things. Pray that I can see God's hand at work in this- that I can "let go" and accept things as they are, or find fulfillment in God's perfect will for my life- even if is disagrees with my own plans.