The Sisterhood

Yesterday, I became a lifetime member of an exclusive sisterhood. 

Don’t be jealous. 

Joining this sisterhood is not like joining a sorority where you’re bonded together by a common goal and a mission statement. 

It’s not as glamorous as becoming a member of an exclusive country club. 

Unfortunately it’s not even as beneficial as belonging to SAM’s or Costco club. 

I don’t know of anyone who anxiously waited to join the ranks. 

No one is sitting around contemplating what to wear to the nonexistent induction ceremony. 

There’s no welcome party or monthly meetings. 

This sisterhood is composed of girls and women who have lost their mom’s. 

The ones who no longer have that earthly  representation, in human form, of life that gave them life. 

I didn’t want to be a member. I never signed on the dotted line. 

But now I’m here. 

It’s official. 

I am now a lifetime member of this exclusive club. 

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Her

I’ve known her for a long time

No matter how much I try 

I don’t like her

When I see her walk in a room

I cringe; I frown

“Did you really wear that today?”

“Look at your hair.”

Everybody seems to like her

She smiles with her eyes

She lives a carefree life

I’m jealous

Her life reminds me of my pain

Her dreams are ones I never dared dream

Her friendships are deeper

The way she loves is meaningful

I’m worthless

I never had the opportunities

I was afraid to believe

I picked my path

When I see her I don’t see me

I wanted to be a wife

I would like to live her life

I’m hurting

I refuse to hug her

Not one word of praise

If I loved her she might think she’s better than me

I’m withdrawn

Everything I’m not is in her

Places I would like to go she’s been

I will not acknowledge her accomplishments 

I will point out her flaws

If I can make her doubt 

I’ll feel better

“Your children are high maintenance”

“How dare you breastfeed your child in my presence?”

I will neglect her

I will not protect her

I’m helpless

I didn’t have a protector

Nobody loved me

I refuse to love her

I’m lost

“You act like your father and he was nothing.”

When I see her

When I hear her

When I think of her

I’m left wanting

She calls me a name 

The one that cuts me deep

It’s a constant reminder

I glare at her as she begins to speak

“Mom…”

I Am My Mother’s Child

There is nothing that brings you to the reality of your life like a court ordered social study. If you read March 5, 2014 then you know that the ex husband decided to have me served. Somewhere along the way he decided he wanted 50/50 custody of the kids. 

He remarried about three years ago. He moved into her house with her and her two children. No big deal right? Her house is 23 miles away from my house. The same house I intentionally selected because it was less than 7 miles from his door to my door. My goals in selecting a house were a good school district, a sense of community and not far from their dad. I never wanted him to feel like his children were to far away. But then he moved. Our youngest were attending a charter school that was in another city  about five miles from my house. I made the decision to move them to the zoned school in our district. He was not happy about my choice and he said I was moving them further from him so he hired an attorney and I was served. 

Back to the social study. After several months of court dates, attorney’s fees and tension between us the judge ordered a social study as requested by the ex. 

A social study is conducted by a social worker. They have you fill out pages and pages of documents listing everything that has happened in your life. It’s your autobiography. This document is scrutinized and judged by the social worker. They come to your house and interview everybody who lives there. They walk through your home taking notes on everything from the items on your refrigerator, safety of the neighborhood and overall opinion of your home. The social worker also interviews friend, doctors, teachers and family members. 

The document… Geez… The document. It took me several days to fill out the document. For me, it was the equivalent of standing naked in front of strangers who had magnifying glasses and were intent on viewing every flaw. It was hard. As I said it was an autobiography of my life. The questions were invasive and at times difficult for me to answer. You see, I am like many of you, I have tucked the disappointments and heartaches of my childhood away in a place that I don’t like to visit. But here in this document I was asked about things I don’t like to discuss with close friends let alone a stranger.  But I answered honestly. 

After a few weeks I received the results of the social study. This was the document she would present to the judge. The judge would use this document to assist with his final ruling. As I read her report I cried. I cried because here was a stranger summarizing my life in a 15-20 page document. 

My life  started out as a potentially tragic story. I was born the youngest of three. My mother was about 21 when I was born and had birthed a total of three children in less than four years. She was the true definition of a single mom. My father was around but he wasn’t present. My mother worked very hard to provide for us but she wasn’t home with us. I was molested as a child. I started drinking as a teenager and drugs, although I did not partake, were readily available. 

I continued to cry as I read the document. My ex husband’s life looks wonderful on paper. He grew up in a two parent household. He has one brother and they had a dog. His mom stayed home for the most part and his father was an engineer. He was raised in a Christian home. He and his new wife both had stellar up bringing. They are the ideal American family when you read about them. As I continued to read and cry, I was sure I had lost. How and why would anybody in their right mind select me over them? As I reached the last couple of pages I realized I had been holding my breathe. There were about ten numbered items. These were the things the judge wanted to know. This was her final assessment. This was decision. 

Why is this article titled as it is? Because after reading her summary of my life I went back and rewrote my life story. I needed to add in the side notes and I needed to understand my life from the view point of a young twenty something raising three kids on her own. I needed perspective. I needed to understand that the social worker’s summary was not the final say on my life. Through tears and fears I read my life story to three friends of mine. I felt the need to say the words out loud. I’m front of people who love me. We are often judged by our past. We judge others based upon their past. But I realized that I’m more than my childhood. Like my mother, I am an overcomer. Our stories don’t read the same but the common thread is do the best you can and overcome obstacles. 

The social worker’s assessment was in my favor. My children are still with me the majority of the time and I changed their schools. I don’t hold a grudge with the ex.  

Write your own story. Statistics and opinions do not have the final say. Write your own story and release  hope. I rewrote mine and am confidant when I say I’m an overcomer and my mother’s child. 

Come Get Your Kids

“Come get your kids” is a phrase that anybody who has spent any amount of time with me has heard. It’s my mantra concerning the Fan4 regarding visitation with their dad. Soon after he and I divorced, I adopted this expression, I live by it and I whole heartedly mean what I say. Come get them, please. 

I love my children with all of me. They receive more of my time, energy, effort and money than anything else in my life including me. But that’s nothing new. We, as mothers, tend to sacrifice everything for our children and we have a sense of ownership when it comes to them. We put ourselves in a position of dictatorship and determine we have absolute control regarding the children. After all “mother knows best” right? 

For some mothers “best” is never seeing their fathers. Oh they have a litany of reasons and excuses. When they begin sharing their list they sound very convincing. The father of their children is a terrible person and should never have access to the children. That’s right! Keep your children safe and sound from the monster who broke your heart, left you for another woman, doesn’t dress the correctly, never combs your daughter’s hair just right, wants to bring that woman around, lives with his mother, lives in a neighborhood you don’t approve of, doesn’t pay child support, refuses to get back with you, doesn’t consistently show up for visitation, has other children, is a terrible cook, has them sleeping on the floor, only has a one bedroom apartment, refuses to buy organic, gives them sugary sweets… You get my point. It doesn’t take much for the tzarina to pull the plug on visitation. 

If the guy actually has any knowledge of his rights and refuses to bow down to her then she adjusts her tactic and becomes combative. When he shows up she’s gone because she forgot he was coming over. She refuses to open the door. She complains about everything he does or doesn’t do. She tells him he can only have his visitation  with the children at her house for a limited amount of time. She teaches the children to fear and or distrust their father. She encourages them to disrespect him. Her intent is to sabotage the relationship between father and child. After all, she is constantly making sacrifices on the alter of motherhood and everyone must bow down to acknowledge her supremacy, control and fear. Yes, fear is one of the driving factors, a broken heart / rejection is  another. He was the reason their family is no longer in tact. It’s always his fault. 

I was talking to the mother of a male toddler not long ago when she went through her well rehearsed list of why her son would not be allowed to spend time with his father. One of the many reasons  she listed was he’s incompetent and doesn’t know how to be a father. So I asked her, why did you marry and create a baby with a man like him? I informed her, from my perspective, marrying him was a reflection of her character and decision making ability. 

Can I be honest? I mean really honest? I don’t believe that a woman has the ability to be mother and father. I refuse to say Happy Father’s Day to any woman. It doesn’t matter if she’s  widowed, divorced or never married she cannot be a father to her child(ren). There is a different dynamic and perspective that men bring to the relationship. Women don’t have the ability to duplicate a male’s thoughts or actions. I try to temper my offense when people wish me Happy Father’s Day. I’m not a man. On my very best day and his very worst day, my ex is still more of man than I’ll ever be. 

I’ve heard people say they didn’t have the same set of circumstances as I do with my ex. I work hard at this, very hard. I make sacrifices. I negotiate. I keep my opinions to myself at times. I ask him for his input. We make some decisions together. When it comes to extracurricular activities, we have a conversation about them because it requires both of us to commit to games, practices, camps, tryouts etc. 

Am I able to do life with the Fan4 without their father? Heck yes! Do I want to? No! I like having time to myself. I’m not sure I would have began a master’s program. Juggling four children is a lot of work. Knowing that they would go to their father’s house every 1st, 3rd and 5th weekend from Thursday until Monday gave me the time I needed to study and complete projects. Having them gone gives me time with friends. I can’t tell you how many things I do when they’re gone. I would have missed out on a lot of events I attend out of state because I would not have been able to fly all of us and I refuse to drive more than 9 hours with them. See how I made visitation about me? Come get your kids!! Free childcare!! Yes, sign me up. Do they always want to go? No. Do I care? No. He’s providing their basic necessities in the form of food, clothing and shelter. Do I cringe when I see them with uncombed hair, in dress clothes that are wrinkled, wearing clothes that are too little and with ashy knees and elbows? Yes! On my gosh yes. But I get over it each time. 

The Fan4 come back home today after spending two weeks with their dad. I have come to appreciate and even look forward to summer visitation. They are gone for a total of 30 days. I know some of you just choked on the air you’re breathing. I’ve loved every minute of the time they were gone. I haven’t cooked more than four meals, my grocery bill was nonexistent and I didn’t have to wonder about them. I know they are safe with their father. 

When you change your mindset you change your actions. When you change your actions you change your outcome. A change in your outcome is a change in your child’s present and future. 

13

That’s the number of years it’s been since I first laid eyes on her. My daughter, my honeygirl, my image, my hope realized. I love her with all of me. I love all of my children but my relationship with her is different. She is my only daughter and we “get” each other. We talk with our eyes, slight head movements, half smiles and certain looks. We speak the same none language. We are not best friends. I’m her mom, her guidance, her boundaries, her gauge, her disciplinarian and her sounding board. I’m honored that she wants me in her life. She insists that I become friends with the moms of her friends. I’ve heard her tell friends she has the best or coolest mom ever. 

I didn’t have a great relationship with my mom growing up. I would never have referred to her as the best mom ever. I was never sure I could get this mother daughter thing right. Right for me was better than what I grew up with. But I’m getting it right. We are getting it right. I cherish every moment I get to spend being her mom. 

Happy Birthday Honeygirl!

Peter, Paula and Mary

Peter:
I had that same dream again. The one I’ve had so often I’ve memorized the dance of the leaves as they sway in the wind. It’s the same dream everytime. I am walking through the park. It’s a great day outside. The sun is shining, the clouds are soft, white and look fluffy. I gaze over at the bench and there she is. She’s always there. After 20+ years of knitting the same sweater you’d think she would be done. But, she’s never any further along. We make eye contact and she slowly rises off the bench, calls me by my given name and gives me a big hug. She steps back and looks at me and asks where I’ve been. Then I wake up. I never get to tell her what happened when my boat landed in America. I never get to mention how I searched for her for years but could never locate her. I never get to tell her about my devoted wife who’s carrying our first child. I never get to tell her because I wake up.

    Paula:
    He must be having that dream again. Sigh. When will it ever stop? He came over alone from Vietnam. He was supposed to meet his mom under the rainbow in the market. They had studied the map for weeks. The route was laid out, he knew where to stop for food and drink as he journeyed to the meeting place. She could not greet his boat because it was arriving under the cover of darkness and they didn’t want to draw attention to its arrival. There were no streamers or people gathered to welcome them to this new land. He didn’t know his boat was reported lost at sea but the boat and all seven of the passengers made it through the tumultuous storm that attempted to rob them of their future. They were a week and a day late but he knew him mom would wait for him in the place marked on the map. 

    Mary:
    I went to the market every night for a week. Finally someone told me the boat was missing. Missing?!? Aaaaahhhhhh!!! I cried out in great despair. No matter how much the tried to console me or hush me I could not push my pain down. It wanted to be released into the universe and so I let it go. I don’t know how long I laid there. In my mind I saw his sweet face smiling and waving at me telling me not to worry. He would be fine. For some reason they split us up. They insisted I go first to find a job and make a home. Why did I listen to them?!? This journey was for him, his future, his opportunity to be more than a poor village kid. Looking around the market and seeing the rainbow was too much to bear. I moved to another city far far away from my regrets and pain. 

    Peter:
    I rub my wife’s back and apologize for waking her. The further along she gets in the pregnancy the more she enjoys the back rubs. I suggest we take a walk in the park. It’s supposed to help with circulation. Besides, I like walking through the park I designed. The market was abandoned years ago. I was commissioned to design something that would continue to knit the community together. My immediate thought was a park. On the very spot where I was supposed to meet my mom I placed a bench. It was the same bench from my dream. I had hope I was aligning the stars and helping my dream become a reality. 

    Mary:
    After many years of running from my pain I moved back to the place where it all began. I needed peace. I needed to embrace my past and emotionally bury my son. The last time I saw him he was wearing a red sweater. I wanted to knit him a new one and bury it in the park that now stood in the place of the market. I planned to bury the grief I’ve carried for over 20 years. It was a beautiful place. Even though it was full of people it was still serene. I found an empty bench and continued knitting the sweater. I decided to make on the perfect size for a baby. I couldn’t bring a shovel with me to dig the hole. I wanted to be discreet as I held a short memorial service with one attendee. 

    Paula:
    I saw her first. Just as we rounded the bend on the walking path. She was just as he had described her in his dream. 

    Peter:
    Are my sleepless eyes providing me with a mirage? Am I at home in my bed sleeping? It’s her!! It’s really her! We make eye contact and she slowly rises off the bench, calls me by my given name and gives me a big hug. She steps back and looks at me and asks where I’ve been.