For the Ones That Judge

Hello my friends. I have not written in quite a while. I apologize for that. I have been SO busy. We actually just got back from visiting Josie. We were in Maryland for almost two weeks again and although it was wonderful it was also hard saying goodbye once again. I took a short break from my “lifebeyondmommy blog”  but probably not for the right reasons. I am not very proud to admit this, but I stopped blogging because I have received a lot of scrutiny and judgment regarding my one post “I miss my daughter.”  It was uploaded to a site called Stumbleupon and it has been viewed almost 2300 times. I am glad it is receiving views, because I am sure there are other people going through what I am going through, but by the same token, it has been quite a large pill to swallow. I have received a couple nasty comments and a few nasty emails from people who don’t agree with my decisions and think I am “a terrible mother.”  At first I tried to just delete the nasty comments and move on about my day. But then the emails came so now I am writing this post. I have never shared the reason WHY I had to move away from Josie. I never felt it was truly necessary. I mean most of you have been amazing friends and supportive and just wonderful. Most of you didn’t need to know WHY I had to leave all you needed to know was that I was hurting and that was enough for you to show me compassion and support. This post it not directed towards you. This post is for those of you who have judged me. The ones who need to know the WHOLE story, the ones who think no reason in this world is a good reason to move away from your child. I am sure my reason will still not be a good enough one in your eyes but for my sanity I just want to share my reason with everyone. Perhaps I should have shared it earlier? It is not easy sharing your stories with the world. I started blogging for personal growth and in the hopes that my struggles would help others. I wanted to inspire other women, and for the most part I think I have done that. I want to continue my blogging journey. I want to keep searching for a “life beyond mommy,” and in order for me to move on I just need to get this out. Bare with me guys.

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I love my husband and my kids more than anything in this world. Let me clarify something, I would have NEVER left Josie if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. NEVER. My husband is in the MILITARY. He serves our country everyday. He is an amazing father and a wonderful husband. Yes, I knew he was in the military when I married him, but I also knew that he was my soulmate. He was the one I had been waiting for and I couldn’t live this life with any other being knowing they were not him. We married so fast because we loved each other so much. We never planned on getting pregnant right away. In fact, I was on birth control when it happened. Soon enough we found ourselves married with a newborn and Military orders for another state. My husband, who serves our country was being transferred to another unit, and no there was NOTHING any of us could do about it.

I had to make a decision. The hardest decision I have ever had to make. Yes, I could have stayed in Maryland by myself with our newborn while my husband moved away in order to continue seeing Josie on the regular. But what sense did that make? Who was I to keep my newborn away from her father and vice versa? Yes, I could have fought Josie’s father and drug them both through the court system so maybe I could take Josie with us. But who was I to keep Josie away from her father and vice versa? Josie has so many people in Maryland who love her. Her father and his family, and my family as well. It was not my place to take her away from everything she knew and everyone who loved her so dearly. Josies’ father is a GREAT father. He loves her more than anything, and he would do anything to ensure her health and happiness. Knowing this, I could never even attempt to rip her away from him. I feel so blessed to be able to say that my daughter is in wonderful hands. Most of you have absolutely no idea how hard this situation was and still is for me and my family. I have worried many times about whether or not Josie will be well adjusted. I have worried constantly about whether or not she will blame me for not being there or if later in life she will not understand why I had to leave. All I can do is try to make her understand as much as possible why things are the way they are. Josie knows that if as she gets older she wants to come live with us she can. Her father and I both want to make sure she is old enough to make that decision before she makes it. As of now though, she has never questioned anything. She has never demanded to live with us. She is happy in MD. She is happy surrounded by family and friends who love her. I am sure there will be times where she questions things, but her dad is there to answer any concerns she has, and we are only a phone call or skype call away. We ALL love Josie. All of us. Not just me, not just her dad. Her life is not trypical. It has never been typical. Her father and I have had joint custody since she was 2 weeks old. Joint custody is all she has ever known.

It is important to note that we have tried and continue to try to get stationed as close as possible to Maryland. We travel there as much as physically possible to see her and she comes her as much as possible as well. I know this is not the ideal situation, but it is OUR situation so we have to handle it as gracefully as possible. I have tried to make the best of this for everyone even though it literally kills me inside everyday. In my heart I believe that the decisions I have made for Josie have been the best decisions for her. Do I want to see her everyday? YES. Do I wish we lived in Maryland? EVERYDAY. Do I miss her? Do I cry for her? ALL OF THE TIME. Just because some decisions seem like they may be the best for ME, that doesn’t mean they are the best decisions for her. I had to do what was best for her even if it killed me. Trust me when I say ripping her away from her father, her friends, and her family that loves her so she could move to another state with her new stepdad and I would NOT have been best for her. I pray everyday, and I have faith that she does and will always understand why her situation is the way that it is.

I know that I do not owe anyone an explanation for why my life is the way that it is. I know I do not have to explain to the world WHY I have made the decisions I have made. I am a person and I do have feelings. There are many things that I struggle with on a daily basis and being away from Josie is one of them. I knew when I wrote that post that there would be many people who judged me. Perhaps I should have prepared myself better mentally for the negativity. I have missed blogging and I don’t want something as small as this to effect me or keep me from doing something I love to do.  I guess I needed to write this post in order to move forward. Thanks for reading!

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Self Reflection is Hard

SELF-REFLECTION

DAY 22

The past week has been a tough one. I have really been missing Josie. I have been thinking about her nonstop since we said goodbye. I realized today how selfish I have been, and I feel so awful about it. I always knew that not having her here with us effected everyone, but I never realized how much until now. My little Lily, who is six, has cried for Josie this week many times. Some things are just impossible for her to understand right now. I have tried my best to comfort her, but my words do not matter. She wants her sister, and I understand.

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That is a picture of Josie and I when she was just a couple of months old. I remember being terrified when I was pregnant with her. I was 19 years old. Now that I am older, I can see just how young 19 is. I remember how scared I was of becoming a mother. I wanted her to have the best, and I wasn’t sure if that was me, but something amazing happened the day she was born. I may have only been 19, but I will never forget how naturally being a mother came to me. Everything came so easily. Breastfeeding, soothing her, even the sleepless nights. I knew how to be her mother immediately because I was meant to be her mother. There is not a doubt in my mind, God granted me the wisdom and the patience I needed. And believe me, at 19 I needed both of those things.

I knew once I had Josie that being a mother was the greatest thing I would ever be. A parent has a very special kind of love for their children. It is unconditional and it is undying. I believe that a parents love is the most genuine, most pure form of true love that there is. For a mother, once she begins to grow life in her belly, her life is changed forever. As parents, once you hold your baby in your arms, you know your life will never be the same again, and that is ok because you don’t want it to be. You have never loved anything or anyone in this world so much, and you never will……until you have more children of course. As your family grows, so does your heart and so does your love. I have four daughters now, and I can honestly say that being their mother is my greatest accomplishment in life so far.

I love my children more than life. When they are hurting, I am hurting. There are certain things I can fix, with a Band-Aid or a kiss. Lily wants Josie, and I can’t fix that. Pretty soon, they will all want Josie. They will all have questions, and they will not understand the answers that I give. Even if they can’t understand why things are the way they are, I hope they all understand how much I love them, and why I made the choices I made.

As you all know, I am on a journey of self-discovery. I am searching for myself, among other things. I have vowed to lose weight. I have vowed to explore my artistic abilities, and to write more. Today I am vowing to be the best mother I can possibly be, so my children never have to question my love for them. Don’t get me wrong, I am a pretty awesome mother already. However, I am human so of course there is always room for improvement. It is amazing the things you learn and how much you can grow if you allow yourself to truly self-reflect. This is so hard, but I know that I will come out a better person, mother and wife when I am finished. Thanks for being there guys!

Saying Goodbye

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SELF REFLECTION

DAY 21

For those of you who don’t know, I have joint custody of my oldest daughter, Josie. She lives in Maryland with her father, step mother, and new little brother. I live in Rhode Island with my husband and three other daughters. Please read the entire story here. We have just returned home after spending eight days with her, and it has been quite an emotional roller coaster for me. Our visit was wonderful yet bittersweet. The time we were able to share with Josie went by entirely too fast, as it always does. I am still recovering from having to say goodbye.

My heart is hurting. There is no other way to put it. Saying goodbye to Josie after the summer and after each holiday is always hard. However, saying goodbye after our 8 days together was even harder. We had an amazing time, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the word, but this visit for me was one of the most difficult we have ever shared. I have this sinking feeling that from here on out my visits with her are going to get more difficult for me. I say for “me” because Josie is well adjusted. She is happy, she does great in school, and she has many friends. As she gets older, she seems more and more unphased by our custody arrangement. Joint-custody is all that she has ever known. I have had so many doubts about our situation over the years. So many times I have questioned my decisions, and so many nights I have cried myself to sleep. I feel beyond blessed to be able to say that even though her living situation has not been normal, Josie IS a normal child, and she is happy. I am happy that she is happy, but my heart is still breaking.

My daughter is growing up. She is no longer the four year old little girl that she was when we first had to move. I can not believe she is ten years old. I feel like all I did was blink and six years went by. For those 8 days that we were in Maryland, I was able to be active in a NEW part of Josie’s life, a part that I usually don’t get to experience because I only have her summers and holidays. Our visit was a brutal reminder of all the moments I have missed out on. The little things are the things that hurt the most. Things other parents probably take for granted. Taking her to and from school everyday. Getting up with her in the mornings. Brushing and braiding her hair. Making sure she is completely ready for her school day. Helping her with her homework everyday after school. (except math, “common core” and I are not friends) I was able to meet her friends from school, and let me say, I am so happy with the kind of ladies she has chosen to surround herself with.

On Friday, she was in the talent show. She preformed a dance with two of her friends. I was able to take her shopping to pick out her dance outfit, and I got the pleasure of doing her hair and  getting her ready for the show. You have no idea how much all of this meant to me. Not only being there to support her, but also taking part in preparing her for it. I was an emotional wreck sitting in the audience, but I never let it show. Honestly, I was a wreck before we even left the house. I was so nervous, the talent show was the first school event that I have ever gotten to attend. It was the very first time many parents and teachers got to see “Josies’ mom.” I was so worried of what they would think, and I was scared they would judge me. I spent all day trying to find the perfect thing to wear. Looking back now, getting as worked up as I did seems a little silly. I just wanted to be the best me I could be that night, for her. Does any of this make sense? Please believe me when I say, I was the proudest parent in th crowd that evening. My eyes filled with tears many times, but I did not let them fall. I never wanted that moment to end. I wish I could have stayed there in that moment a little longer, and I wish our week with Josie had gone by a little bit slower. Do you know how much it hurts to have a taste of this wonderful part of her life, then have to walk away? For one week I was finally the mother to her that I have been longing to be. I feel empty now, but I am trying to stay strong because I have to. I don’t have a choice.

 

When You Realize Bloggers Are Amazing People

SELF-REFLECTION

DAY 20

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On my last day of self-reflection, I wrote a little bit about having joint custody of my oldest daughter and what that has meant for my family. I opened up about living in a different state than her and some of the effects it has had on me. I would love if you read about it here. It was not an easy story for me to share. I found it very difficult to write.

I suppose self-reflection is not meant to be easy, it involves opening certain doors. Doors that I have kept closed for a long time. The responses I have received from all of you have changed my life. I need you to know that your kindness has made a difference, and in this moment I want to thank each and every one of you. I can not believe how much support and love you have all shown me. I feel so blessed that I am able to take this journey with you by my side. Thanks to you, I do not feel alone. Having this blog has already made a huge difference in my life. I am more confident than I have ever been. I am actually growing and changing as a person, for the better. This “self-acceptance” would not have happened without you. Every kind comment you have left me has made me a happier person. Every piece of honest advice you have given me has helped me better my life. Your words of encouragement have given me strength. You have never been judgmental. You have only been genuine and understanding. You are all such amazing human beings. I know I still have quite a ways to go on this journey of mine, but as long as I have you wonderful people here, I know I will somehow come out on top. I wish I could hug all of you.

Please know, I truly mean every word I have typed here. You have had an enormously positive impact on my life. I feel like I can finally face the world, and I have you to thank. Thank you all.

I Miss My Daughter

SELF REFLECTION

DAY 19

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This is a very difficult post to write. It leaves me feeling vulnerable. I am sure some of you will read this and disagree with my decisions. That is ok. I am reflecting on my own life. This is my story. These are my memories. I owe myself acceptance and closure.

I do not have full custody of my oldest daughter Josie. Her father and I have joint-custody. We have always shared our time with her. If you are interested, you can read part of that story here. When Josie was little, we split the days of the week evenly, so she would have equal time with both of us. We would alternate weekends, and that worked for us. For a while anyway. When she was three, love found me when I least expected it, and it turned my world upside down.

My husband and I have an amazing love story. I’ll try to keep it short and only explain how we met. My brother introduced us in 2009. I had just reached a point in my life where I thought I would never fall in love again, and I would quite possibly die  alone. At first I was not interested in him at all. I knew he had to move around for work, and having a long distance relationship was not something I wanted. Also, I had a daughter. I was in no position to be traveling any time soon. Four days was all it took. We fell in love immediately. We were crazy about each other, head over heels, inseparable. ( by the way, we still are) We were married three months later, and eight months after that, our daughter Lily was born. Soon after, we got the news that would change everything. Our family was going to have to move from Maryland to Texas. We had three months to prepare and get our things in order.

The news crushed me. In my heart I had always known this day would come, I just didn’t expect it to be so soon. I had Josie. What was I going to do? I was so angry, and I took my anger out on Josie’s father. I yelled at him. I wanted her to stay with us. I threatened lawyers and court, the whole nine yards. I was in an endless amount of pain, and in no way was I prepared to handle the inevitable. We were going to Texas. We had no choice. I remember praying harder than ever. I remember asking for peace and guidance. I knew I needed to take a step back and assess the situation. I needed to look at the entire picture. I needed to think of Josie and not just myself.

Josie’s entire life was in Maryland. Her father and I had been raising her together since the day she was born. Both of us and our families loved her more than anything.  Everything and everyone she knew reside in Maryland. Including her school, her friends, and her family. Her father was in Maryland, and he really was a great father. Although he was not always my favorite person in the world, there is no denying that he has always been a wonderful father to Josie, and he loves her more than anything. Knowing all of this, what kind of person would I be if I took all of that away from her. My heart was breaking, but I never felt that taking her away from her dad and the only life she knew was the right thing to do. I soon came to the conclusion that I would have to leave my four year old in Md. while I moved to Texas with my husband and newborn. We both decided I would get Josie summers and holidays. My parents would be able to get her on the weekends.

I  cried the entire drive to Texas. The next couple of years were the hardest in my life. I fell into a deep depression. I was riddled with guilt and I felt like a terrible mother for leaving. I blamed my husband, and our marriage suffered. So many days I wanted to run away. I thought of taking Lily and moving back. What was I thinking!? I loved my husband more than anything. He needed us, and we needed him. I was just hurting so bad. It was so hard to function without having Josie. I thought of her every second of everyday. I cried all of the time. I was physically ill. Anxiety took over my life. We skyped a lot, and we saw each other summers and holidays. Eventually, with time, things started to get better. Josie was doing great. She had adjusted so well. She was happy. I told myself that as long as she was happy, I could be happy too.

We moved to Rhode Island a little over a year ago. We are a lot closer now, and we are able to visit MD a lot more. We all miss Josie everyday. I still cry. Being away from her is one of the hardest things I have ever done, or will ever do. I struggle daily. When I look back on things, I know that I made the right decision. I would make it again if I had to. As hard as it was, I believe in my heart that as her mother, I made the right decision. My decision was selfless, and I did what I thought was best for her, not what  was best for me. We are leaving for Maryland this weekend, and seeing Josie will be the best Valentines gift ever.

I feel like whenever I share this story with others, they judge me. Hell, you may be judging me right now. Us relocating was out of our hands. Even though I am her mother, it was not my place to take her away from her father. I believed that then, and I believe it now. It has been six years. We have made it work. It has not been easy at all, but I stand by the sacrifices I have made.

We Live and We Learn so We can grow as a Person

SELF-REFLECTION

DAY 5

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I feel like I am staring down this long hallway that never ends. Each door along the way opens a different chapter in my life. We may not always realize it, but these “chapters” in our lives are stepping stones. They pave a path, and this path is what makes us, “us.” The thoughts in my head are all jumbled around into one big giant puddle of confusion. Yet, even in all of this commotion, I see it. The first door, a door I really do not want to open. A place I really do not want to re-visit. Here I go anyway.

I am 19 years old.  I am pregnant and I feel so alone.  There is a boy.  I say “boy,” because that is what he is.  We are only 19.  I am only a girl.  He is my first love.  My on again/off again since the seventh grade.  At first, he wanted to marry me, by the next day he wasn’t answering my calls.  That escalated quickly.  I dropped out of school, and now I am looking for a full time job. I will do it alone, if I have to.  After all, I am the pregnant one. At the end of the day I am STILL pregnant, even without him.  I told both of my parents separately.  First my mom, then my dad later on.  They are very different people, and they each handled my news differently, but their reaction was exactly the same.  Disappointment on their faces, and sadness in their eyes. I can see their concern for me. They never stop trying. They never stop being my parents, and they never stop loving me.  Sometimes I fear they may resent me, but they help me push forward, and with their help, I do.  The boy is sorry, and we get engaged.  I have hyperemesis.  I am very ill and cannot keep a job.  The boy and his family help me.  They help me obtain a great job, a career if I wanted.  The boy continues school and I work weekdays. He works weekends.  We find a place to live, but nothing seems right.  Our engagement seems forced.  We break up.  He doesn’t call.  I am naive, and I tell myself when the baby comes everything will be fine.  Fast forward.  J is born Sept 4, 2005, twenty four days before I turn 20.  She is here, and my love for her is endless.  I am a mother.  This is what true love feels like.  My life will never be the same, and I don’t want it to be.  I take her to my parents house, where we will live until the boy comes around.  Two weeks later, I was served papers. The boy wants custody and child support.  The boy had a lawyer.  Confusion.  What is happening?  What does this mean?  How do I get a lawyer?  Do I need a lawyer?  I am hyperventilating.  I am 20, with a newborn, in the middle of a custody battle.  Fast forward.  Judge rules joint-custody.  Stop.

I became a mother at 19.  I was so young, but so was the boy.  He was a father, and he was 19 like me.  He caused me a great deal of pain, but I hurt him too.  None of that matters now.  He was a boy and I was a girl.  We were still growing, we were still learning and we were both clueless and scared.  What matters, is we have a beautiful daughter who needs us both.  We have made mistakes, but J is OURS. Not mine, not his, OURS. We have grown over the years, we have both changed. We have evolved into new people. Better people.

If you don’t get anything at all from this post, please get this: I would not be the person I am today if it was not for that boy.  I would not have J, if it was not for that boy.  Sometimes when you feel like your life is ending, it isn’t. It is actually beginning.  Even though your life may not be where you expected it to be, have faith that it is where it is SUPPOSED to be.

The boy is a man now and he has a family, just like I do.  We raise J together, and we do the best that we can. We are only humans after all, and being human is a complicated thing.