In our family...

In our family....we do second chances...we do grace...we do real...we do mistakes...we do I'm sorry (and I forgive you)...we do loud really well...we do hugs...we do family...we do love.

Monday, September 29, 2008

When evil comes to visit

I know that calling a person "evil" sounds harsh...I know that evil is a strong word because it isn't just calling someone bad, it's saying something deeper then that. I have known my share of not so nice people...people that you would call "bad" but I also have known a few that I would call evil, because there was something deeper and meaner to their's something that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Evil in it's purest form comes as a disguise of niceness and love, when all along what lies underneath is quite the opposite. Evil tries to make you think they are your friend when they are not. Evil not only stabs you in the back but they go right for your heart. Sometimes evil smiles at you...sometimes they come bearing gifts...sometimes evil has a beautiful face. Sometimes we are related to them and love them.

For the last 5 days evil has been a guest in my my my safe haven. I invited it here to stay with us because I didn't want to believe that it is what it is...evil. I did it because I love her and want her to be a part of my family...mostly, I did it for my husband. My home has been invaded with evils ugliness and selfishness, clothed in all it's glory and it created an atmosphere of chaos and strife. Within 24 hours of entering our home, this evil, took over my two happy, well behaved little people and stole them away...not in the physical sense but in every other way. It left in their place two little people that I don't know anymore...two whining, tantrum throwing, screaming, baby talking children.

Little man, who hasn't wet in his pants once or wet the bed in 6 weeks, has been wetting his pants and wet the bed every night since evil came inside the door. Please know that in no way do I blame them for leaving, because I know they are just reacting to the evil that came to visit...I think part of me has been hiding away too. Evil bought many gifts while staying with us...made promises of ponies, puppies and kitties...evil smiled at me while making a mockery of all that we had accomplished in the last year and a half. Evil went against everything we asked of her.

Tomorrow morning evil will leave our home. Once evil is gone, I will walk through the house and pray...pray that any evil residue that she left behind will be absent from this home. And then, I will take my two little people into my arms and love them back to themselves...I will bring them back to the peace and harmony that they once knew. We will leave this behind us as we drive away tomorrow for our vacation in Florida.

Evil will not ruin us...will not stop us from moving on ahead. Evil taught us a lesson and in the days ahead when aunts, uncles and cousins are loving, playing and spending time with our little people, we will have time to catch up on the sleep we did not get while she was that we can talk alone, with clear and open minds. We will figure out how we will handle evil and to what extent she will be allowed into our lives in the future. Evil brought turmoil into our home but she did not win. Evil will not win.

****I apologize if I have been absent from reading or commenting on your blog this past week. This visit has consumed my life and I have had very little sleep since last Wednesday night.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I can do this!

In just 1 week, if all goes well in our travels with the little people, we will be in Florida and I will be hugging my youngest son! We will spend the day and night with him, before we make another 6 hour drive to my daughters. I will get to see his college and meet his girlfriend. I don't know who is more excited him or us!

My granddaughter(my daughter that is getting married, daughter)has taken to calling me numerous times a day to discuss all the things we are going to least all the things she thinks we should do anyways. Her and I have a special bond so getting to spend this time with her brings such joy to my heart.

My youngest daughter and her son are now getting to come for the wedding! They are only able to come for 4 days but I will take anything I can get. Earlier this week we found an inexpensive plane ticket for them which in the long run came out cheaper than if we took a few days and drove there to see them. Being able to have time with all of my children at one time is the cry of my heart so this makes me so damn happy!

These are the kinds of things I am focusing on as I head into our vacation. I will not let my body issues affect my joy of being with the ones I love the most in this world. For the first time in years, I have bought new Summer clothes to wear while we are there...clothes that show some skin. This is big for me because if you really know me, then you know that first of all I don't do shopping, secondly I don't ever buy new clothes for myself since I get most of my clothes second hand and thirdly, since I tend to wear clothes that are either too big or cover me up since I am so self conscious of my body. For the first time in years, I will wear a swimming suit...dear lord what have I gotten myself into?

This all came at the urging of my dear husband. He sent me out shopping one Sunday and I came back with nothing, so he suggested I start looking on-line since I hate going shopping so much. To be honest, I didn't even know how to begin or what size to order. I ordered a bunch of clothes with the idea of sending many of them back after trying them on at home. The clothes came and I was scared to even try them on, so one night my husband pretty much forced me to try them all on for him. To say that he loved everything is an understatement...let's just say that I am not getting to send any of it back. He is one very happy man about this.

My little man seen me in one of the dresses and told me that I look like a beautiful princess lady. When my Florida granddaughter heard about my new clothes she said that she can hardly wait to see me in the new clothes and to take my picture in them. Say what? Good grief I wasn't even thinking about pictures!

This is a big step for me. I am scared shitless about this but it's something I have to do. Just seeing how happy it makes my husband and my children, forces me to make this giant step. Like I said, I am not going to focus on these fears as I go into this...I am focusing on the loves of my life and all the fun and joy I will experience just being with them all. I can do this.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Finding the truth

Before I write anything more, I must say thank you to all of you for your wonderful supportive comments to my last post. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for not judging me. Your love and support is overwhelming to me. I hope that I will not lose you once you read what I have to say today....somehow I don't think I will because each one of you have shown such love and understanding in everything I have written thus far. Thank you for helping me on my journey.

What I am going to share in this post is very personal and something people don’t talk about very often or least I don't because of how ashamed I am. It’s about breast size or lack of breasts I should say. The fact is, I have never been very well endowed in the breast department and anything I did have was lost each time I breast fed. Growing up I was teased a lot for this. I always pretended that this didn't bother me but deep down inside of me it ripped my heart. I have always felt like this part of me was ugly and a defect.

While some people would never discuss or flat out say to someone, you are fat, those same people would see nothing wrong with discussing my breast size or informing me that my breasts were small, as if I didn't already know this. You would think that adults would not be as cruel as children but that is so not true.

In one serious relationship, with marriage even being talked about, he told me that he could not remain happy with me unless I had breast enlargement surgery…that the only reason he had dated me in the first place was because a mutual friend had told him that I had been considering having this done. He said that if I truly loved him and cared about his needs, I would do this. He asked me to promise him that once I got my workers compensation settlement that I would get big boobs for him. I could not go out with him, without him making comments about other women’s breasts to me and commenting to other women about their breasts and how he wished I looked like them. What really hurts is that I loved him and thought that he had loved me for me.

While dating another guy… he took it upon himself to announce at a bar one night that he was taking donations for a boob job for me…he then proceeded to pass his hat around the bar. I was beyond humiliated and ashamed. Not just over my body but how I allowed him to treat me this way. I didn’t stand up for myself and I don’t know why. Here was this person, that said how much he loved me and wanted me to marry him, but yet he could so easily point out my defects like they were a joke. What really hurts is that I continued to pretend that this didn't bother me...I either walked away or covered it up with a smile.

I shared these things with my husband for the first time last night and although he was appalled at their behavior, he was more upset that I allowed this…he wants to understand why I would let anyone treat me in this way…and he wants to know how I can see myself as defective. He wants to understand why I want to fix something, like myself, that isn't broken…at least not in his eyes.

As I struggle with my body image, I am exercising and eating healthy in an attempt to feel better about myself….yet there is nothing other than surgery that I can do about my breast size. That is a different subject that I won't get into today. I am working hard on being my authentic self…of living true to myself so that I have something real to give those around me. I continually strive to be the best wife, mother, grandma, friend and person that I can be. In order to do this, I am facing issues that stand in my way of living out my best…I am trying to figure out why my best never seems good enough for me.

The thing is I have so much compassion for everyone else…I see beauty in every person I meet. I tend to see more good in people then negative. I don’t focus on other peoples flaws, in fact I hardly notice them. Why can I not do this with myself? Why is it that I measure myself by a whole different that doesn't seem reachable? My heart and soul are screaming out for the answers to all these things. I haven’t been posting much because I am so occupied with reading and soul searching in an attempt to find fix my brokenness.

The thing is, this issue really isn’t about how I look, my weight, or the size of my body or breasts. What it comes down to is how I feel about myself. It’s about the negative messages I have been given about my body and the “inside“ me…the person that makes up “me“…it’s about me believing these messages and internalizing them in my core being…thinking this is my truth. I have based my value and worth upon these things that I believe to be true. The truth is, never in my life have I felt good enough.

I need to vomit this from my soul…all this hurt and humiliation, that comes with the self-loathing. As much as I want to figure out how it all got here, I want to figure out how to get rid of it. I don't want to be broken...I want to be able to look in the mirror and not just see the defects. I want to look in the mirror of my soul and see true inner beauty. I want to be free…to find what is true and good in me. I think what scares me the most is finding out the truth.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Self-loathing is ugly

For the last week or so, I have been taking a deeper look into why I struggle with my self image. Ever since I wrote that on my list as one of the things I want to change about myself, I have been researching how to improve it and to just accept myself. In my reading, one of the things suggested was to take a week and just observe habits, the way I think, my self talk, what words come out of my mouth, my day to day activities...ect. Quite honestly, I don't like what I observed...and honestly, it makes me want to throw in the towel and take this off my list. More than anything I have come to realize that this issue filters through all areas of my life and really, it's been debilitating...and it's about time it's put to death.

I need to vomit this out of my life, not just for me but my husband and children as well, because my eyes have been opened this past week to how much this affects all of us. Part of getting free or coming clean of this, is that I am suppose to admit I have a problem and be held accountable to those around me. It almost sounds like I have a drug problem again. The thing is, when I was in my early teen years, starving myself and making myself vomit, there really wasn't a name for it back then, let alone help for it. Reality is, I never got help when I probably should have. Even though I no longer starve myself to that extent or make myself vomit,the root issue is still here inside of me. I now do other things, that really are no better.

This self loathing that I feel is an ugly thing that leaves me feeling ashamed and more than anything wanting to hide from the world. And here I am exposing it to all the world. I have suffered in silence with this for way too long. I know that in sharing openly like this I risk judgement. I also realize that in choosing to openly admit this and making the decision to do something about this, I am leaving the safety net of my own little world. I have grown used to being this way, so this means I will need to break old habits that run deep.

My new, dear friend, Claire, sent me a book this past week and in this book it describes self-loathing as an ugly bruise that erupts on the surface of our lives; a warning sign that something serious is happening on a deeper level. We bruise when we bleed within. Self-loathing is the silent hemorrhaging of the soul. My soul is crying out for a change, yet my mind is the battle ground. Right now I can choose to keep on covering up the bruises and pretending they don't exist and hope no one else sees them or do what it takes to stop the bleeding inside my soul. I choose the later.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Preparing for a trip

**Before I get in to what I want to write about today, I want to say thank you to everyone that commented to my post about my step daughter coming for a visit. Your support and words of wisdom are very much appreciated. In response to your comments, I want to say that, yes, we are setting up very well laid out boundaries for her visit. She will get here next Thursday night while I am still at work, so my husband is planning on having a heart to heart talk with her and letting her know what these boundaries are so she knows what to expect.

Two weeks from today, we will be somewhere between here(Minnesota)and Florida, as we set out the last day of September, with our two little people in tow, to drive to the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area for my daughters wedding. Although I am very excited to be going and getting to spend two weeks with my children and grandchildren, part of me is sad because my youngest daughter and her son are no longer able to go. I was looking forward to being with all of my children and grandchildren at one time, which is a rare thing since 4 of my 5 children live in different states.

We have rented a house for 10 days, that is big enough for all of us to stay together, and it is pretty close to the beaches. This is our first ever vacation and the honeymoon we didn't get...who are we much of a honeymoon can it be when your with all your kids and grandchildren? Our only consolation is that I know my children will watch our little people so that we can go off by ourselves at times and I also know that my children will pretty much take over with them quite a bit...they are so wonderful with them and the little people adore all of them.

I am excited to get there, it's the long trip that has me a little fearful...traveling with a 2 and 3 year old will be quite interesting...and quite long. We are trying to prepare ourselves for this trip, to make it go the best that it can go, while traveling with two little people....two little people that are newly potty trained! We are planning on purchasing a portable DVD player for the those of you that have one of these, any suggestions or things I should be looking for when I go to buy one this weekend? I have a back pack for each of them and have been filling it with things for them to do on the trip. Other than books, color books, markers and crayons, movies, music Cd's, special snacks, I don't really know what else I should be putting in there. Any suggestions? Any helpful hints you can throw my way would be greatly appreciated.

Our first destination will be Gainsville, Florida, to see my youngest son, that is attending college there. I miss him so terribly much that I can hardly wait. We will spend the day and night with him before heading to my daughters in Ft. Lauderdale. She is in her 6Th year of teaching 2nd grade there and her daughter, my eldest granddaughter, is in the 4Th grade. I am very close with her (actually both of them)so plan on having her with me as much as possible! My daughter is getting married to a wonderful young man who is from Chili and will be a wonderful addition to our family.

As I am preparing for this big trip, I would appreciate any advice or suggestions from all of you. Even though I have left the state of Minnesota a few times, I have rarely traveled so I am really looking forward to this. It has been starting to get cool here...actually cold in the evenings and mornings...every year at this time we battle when we should turn the heat on. So far we haven't but I know people that have. So, it will be nice to go some place warm and get to enjoy a little more sunshine before our lovely long winter starts, which is always way too soon.

So, bring in on people...give me your travel secrets!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Visiting interruptions

We found out recently, that my step daughter, the mom to the little ones we are raising, is coming for a visit at the end of this month. She has not been here in a year and now she is coming with her new baby, our new grandson. Our relationship with her has been strained, to say the least, which is understandable with everything that has gone on...through the trials and tribulations of these past 2 years we have persevered, yet it has left us worn out. Although we have rejoiced in getting custody of our two little people, it breaks our hearts more than you can possibly imagine, that we even had to go through this fight...that we even ended up in this place of raising our grandchildren. This victory is bitter sweet.

For the first time in two years, she will stay in our home with us. We have agreed to give her another chance to come into our lives and earn our trust. This scares the hell out of me. To give you an idea of why this scares me, you could read this post called I am not an evil step mother. This will give you a little bit of the history I have had with her.

More than anything in the world, I want us to have a good relationship with her. More than anything else, I want her to get her life together, which up to this point she hasn't, but is now saying once again, that she wants to. We have said all along that once she is ready, we would be here with open arms to her. Up until now, she has rejected our open arms. So now she comes with another baby in her arms...our grandson. As much as we celebrate his life and already love him, we struggle with her choice to continue to bring children into this world without being capable of mothering.

Most people that know our situation, are fearful of her motives and worry that she is going to bring us more heart ache and cause more problems. Some people think that we will let her into our lives and that she will manipulate us once again and in the end, be left with another child to raise. Maybe I am being naive, but honestly I don't think that is going to happen. To be perfectly honest, none of this, is really what worries or concerns me the most, even though it is in the back of my mind all of the time.

What I worry about is my little people. They don't really know her anymore...little lady was 10 months old when she moved out of state...from the time she was born, she has spent most of her life here with us. She doesn't know her. Little man's relationship with her has never been a real mother son relationship, even though he knows her as mommy or as he calls her his "other mommy". She calls him on the phone and promises him everything...that she is going to buy him a puppy and kitty...lots of candy and toys...that she will let him do pretty much anything he wants...all of their conversations are centered on this.

When she did live here, his behavior issues were almost unbearable at times because she could not, would not, ever, tell him no or take one ounce of authority with him. Because she didn't give him appropriate attention, he would have outbursts almost continuously, while in her presence. When she did give him attention it was teaching him inappropriate things. We worked very hard on these behaviors and I am happy to say that these behaviors are but a distant memory now. The wonderful changes that have taken place with our two little people, over the last year, have been very noticable to those around us. We have worked hard to get our little people to this point and now we fear that this stability is going to be shaken up by her coming...and coming with a new baby.

It's hard because just like with parenting, there is no manual, that tells us how to do this. My heart feels torn by everything we have gone through and wanting to do the right things, by all those involved...especially the little people. It feels like I am inviting the enemy into my home, yet this is my husbands daughter and someone I love. I know that we will have to deal with her hurt feelings when she gets to see first hand, how much they have naturaly bonded with us and call us mommy and daddy. Even though she knows this already, I know that this will hurt her. Which in our defense to this, we did not ever tell them to call us this, they did this all on their own. She will see that their lives have went on and the truth of this is going to hurt her and I wonder if she will be able to cope with the truth.

These last few days, I have been praying for my own heart to be softened towards her and that I will continue to forgive her for the hurt she has caused our family. If I want her to be part of our family, I have to be willing to offer her the gift of grace.

This interruption to come, has left me distracted and unable to focus on much of anything but this. I feel like a mother bear that wants to protect her young. That is pretty ironic, when I am not really their mother and the person I want to protect them from is their mother.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Interruptions of the worst kind

At one time in my life, I used to be the best list maker. I had lists for everything from meals to chores to personal goals. The thing with lists is that they taunt me endlessly until I can honestly cross them off. A long time ago I stopped making lists, to quiet the perfectionist side of me, that just needed to stop driving me and everyone else around me, nuts. Last week when I wrote about the legacy I want to leave my children and things I want to change in my life, I began immediately to make a list of those things in my head. Even though I didn't write an actual list until last Sunday, those 10 things, were already imprinted in my big fat head...that never stops thinking.

I actually decided that day, to take action with the goal to spend more alone time with my husband, by asking my sister to watch the little people, so that we could get away for our first weekend away together EVER. That's right people, my husband and I have not ever had the pleasure of going away. Just. The. Two. Of. Us. It's not like we haven't tried but that's a whole different story. The plan was for us to leave after we signed the custody papers at the lawyers office. I had us all packed...even had to dig out our cold weather clothes because the days of reaching 70 have pretty much passed. The little people were extremely happy about going to their aunt and uncles for a weekend of fun...we were extremely happy because not only was this legal mess coming to an end once we signed the papers, but we were also getting away for some much needed alone time.

Everything was good. Well...not so much. About 15 minutes into our 45 minute drive to the lawyers, little lady started blowing chunks. The poor thing vomited so much that we had to keep stopping and cleaning it up as best as we could...but we had to keep going because these papers had to be signed by 5 '0 clock. We made it there with 10 minutes to spare. Needless to say, our weekend blew chunks and it was instead spent taking care of sick little people. Our lives were once again interrupted by having to do the right thing and stay home. On the bright side I did get to put in some good quality time on my exercise goal and eating healthy.

On Monday evening my husband mentioned that he didn't feel good, which doesn't happen very often. I, being the lovely wife that I am, gloated in the fact that he was getting sick and I wasn't. This was after he had predicted that I would get really sick, because whenever I get sick it's to the fullest extent and rarely just a little sick and that he rarely, if ever, gets sick...which I guess, really is true but I hate admitting that. I don't have time to be interrupted with getting sick...I have things to do, like working on my new list...yeah right. I should never gloat because it almost always comes back and bites me in the ass. That very night I started feeling nauseous and I being a person of great denial put it off as being from the pain I was in, because when I am in a lot of pain like I was, I get sick to my stomach. Wrong.

While my husband sweat out the damn bug and woke up all better Tuesday morning, I was so damn sick and got to enjoy trying to take care of the two little people while spending most of the day in the bathroom. It has brought everything to a halt around here, from getting anything done around the house to writing on this blog to working on my list. Damn interruptions.

Yesterday, I felt much better but this nauseous feeling has stuck feels more like morning sickness...which believe me when I say I know what morning sickness feels like because I had it(to such an extent that I had to be hospitalized for 2 weeks) from the moment I got pregnant til the moment I gave birth, with EVERY pregnancy and you know I was pregnant more than once. I can assure you that I am not pregnant unless of course under some divine intervention, I have now grown a uterus. And I can not believe for one second that God would do that to me. I know He has a sense of humor but that would NOT be funny. On the bright side to all of this, I have been too sick to smoke, so that helps with my goal towards quitting.

Thank you for your encouragement and wisdom on my list of goals. I really am trying not to obsess about these goals I have made in the form of a list. I also know that life's interruptions will come and go and my list will still be here. I will keep taking these baby steps and just like a baby, I know I will fall down...but, I will keep getting back up. I am a work in progress...and on the bright side, I know I'm not pregnant!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My list

In the last few days, I have been working on making a list of those things I would like to change or put back in my life. After coming up with many things, I narrowed it down to ten.

1. Exercise-I feel better when I am working out and it helps with the pain. Yet I struggle because some of the exercises I want to do makes my pain worse and how hard I am able to work out is limited because of my injury. I did start yoga which I am loving and would like to pursue this further.

2. Eating healthy-I feel so much better when I am putting good things into my body. I have not drank pop for 3 weeks and have once again started drinking a lot of water.

3. Quit smoking completely-Even though I have cut down considerably in my efforts to quit. It is my number 1 stress reliever. I started smoking when I was very young and have quit for as long as 10 years. I started up again when things got very stressful this past year. It’s the first thing I go to when I am stressed and I need to find some other way to de-stress. As much as I hate smoking, part of me loves it still. I know this is not a good example for my children so I hate this factor the most.

4. Start a hobby. Everything I do pretty much is centered around being a mom, taking care of a house and my job. I never really have had a hobby EVER. In my eyes, the only things I have ever been any good at are caring for children, cleaning, cooking and laundry. I started this blog in order to start doing something I have always liked doing, which is writing. I am enjoying this and the many awesome people that I have met in the process. I know I need some other outlets though, but seriously, I don’t even know what I could do or would want to do. I have to be good at something other than cleaning toilets and changing diapers.

5. Work on my self image. I am very critical of myself and how I look. This should probably be at the top of my list of things I need to change because it hinders me in many aspects of my life. I know it frustrates the crap out of my husband and kids, because they look at me and see nothing wrong with me…they don’t see what I see. I seriously struggle with seeing myself in the same way that they or others see me. I have struggled with this for as long as I can remember but it seems to have gotten worse after I started going through menopause. I know I need to accept what giving birth and breast feeding multiple times did to my body…and that I am getting older. In no way,shape or form does this come from my husband, because he is very accepting of me and how I look. The thing is the root of this goes back to the days when I was starving myself as a young girl. I have never liked mirrors…never liked looking at myself. I know this is an issue but one I try to avoid and hate admitting to. Honestly, I don't even know how to go about changing this but I need to explore various avenues towards self acceptance.

6. Reading-I need to start taking the time to read something I enjoy…besides the zillions of children’s books that I read to my little people each day.

7. I need to have more time with just my husband. My husband is this amazing man and every second that I get to be with him is a gift to me. We get along very well and I think it has a lot to do with that we “get” each other. Time for just the two of us needs to become a priority for us because we don’t get time away for just the two of us. We took on our two little people at the start of our marriage two years ago and this has consumed our lives. In spite of how tough things have been at times in the last two years, we have made the best of things and stuck together as a team. We have a great relationship and we want to keep it this way. This means we need to start finding babysitters.

8. I would like to start volunteering again…to take the time to give of myself towards something that would be of benefit to others. I have had thoughts of starting a support group for young parents since this is a passion of mine. I also have thought about starting a pain support group as this would also benefit me. There are no such groups for either of these things in the area I live in but a great need for them.

9. Make connections with people. I have talked about being lonely and I need to do something about it. I used to make homemade breads, cookies and meals and then deliver it to people, as a way to reach out to them. I need to take the risk of stepping out of my comfort zone and start doing this again. I need to start putting myself in situations where I can meet people again and reconnect with those from my past.

10. Back to positive thinking. I am an optimistic person for the most part but in the last couple of years have gotten to thinking negatively…not always but way more than I like. My negativety tends to be directed at myself the most. I am going to start using positive daily affirmations to get back to a positive mind set. I am going to start a gratitude journal.

There are many more things I wanted to put on this list but realize that I can’t change everything at once and that some of these things need to change first, before I can take it to the next level. If any of you have any wisdom to share with me, that would assist me in working towards these changes, I would greatly appreciate your feedback.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What legacy will I leave behind?

This past year, someone dear to my heart, passed away. He was in his late 80's and had lived a good life. While he made a big impact on my life when he was alive, even in his passing, he impacted my life. I was asked to speak at his funeral so as I was preparing what to share about this man and his life, it hit me that he had lived life in such a way that he had left behind a legacy worth passing on...not the monetary or material kind, but how he lived as an authentic person, how he loved unconditionally, how he treated and what he did for others, and how he simply lived true to himself.

This is when I began to ask myself what kind of legacy I would leave behind...if it would be worth passing on someday. This opened the door to all kinds of inward reflections of who I am and what I want to leave behind when I pass from this world. What will they say about me? What kind of mark will I have left on this world, if any?

I came to the realization a long time ago that I don't want to live my life in survival mode. I made it my goal to be be true to myself, so that I could live an authentic life. I don't want to live my life haphazardly with no purpose or focus. I want it to mean something. But, it seems that I find myself in this survival mode from time to time, forgetting about my dreams and losing my focus of the bigger picture. I'm not sure why this happens. I catch myself falling into the trap of just getting by each day, feeling stagnant from lack of purpose.

In an effort to step out of this survival mode, and start living a life of purpose again, I am going to start making a plan to put those things back into my life that I have somehow lost...Those things that make me feel good and bring me joy so that I have something to offer the outside world. I am also making it my goal this week, to make a list of those things that I want to leave behind as a legacy to my children, my grandchildren and their children...and to all those that will have known me.

Do you think about the legacy that you are leaving behind? What do you want to leave behind? What are things you do to live a life of purpose? What helps you stay on track? Please share with me your wisdom and insight. I honestly want to know so that I can learn for my own journey.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Children have a voice

I once again want to say thank you for all the wonderful support and prayers that you all have given me. You have no idea how much this has helped me to remain strong through out this. This past weekend, my step daughter, told us that she will now sign the papers...that she will now contact our lawyer tomorrow and make arrangements to sign them. She has also agreed to follow the plan we gave her, in order to get them back. This will give us custody and the power to keep them until she gets her life together. This will also keep us from having to go to court. We are relieved and happy to some extent but she has agreed to this in the past and not followed through. We will not relax until they are actually signed. Once she has signed the papers, we will finally breathe a sigh of relief and stop walking on egg shells. Then it's up to her to do what she needs to do to get them back....and yes it will be a long hard road.

I have been thinking today about this ordeal that we have been going through...this whole subject of grandparents or relatives raising children that are not their own...having to step in to protect children and in doing so, most often have to go up against their own children. When children are neglected, abused and abandoned, it is many times the grandparents or another relative that pick up the slack or the raising of them. In order to keep their grandchildren out of the system, they take them in without any help or knowing any rights that they may have.

Many grandparents and relative caregivers are threatened by their own children to not make the arrangement legal...they hold the children's welfare over them, by saying "if your going to do that, then I'm just going to take them back."...which almost always wins because the grandparents know what would happen to these little ones, if they were to go back. So, many grandparents, like us, live a life of fear of their own children...not to mention the guilt we as parents feel for the choices our children make...add in the loneliness and isolation that many of us feel because there is not a lot of support or awareness in our communities. Many grandparents, like us, fight alone, against our own children and a system that was not built with this in mind.

There are not many laws that protect or honor these people that give up their lives to take on such a task. Instead, they live at the mercy of their own children, with the hope that they can continue to protect the lives of these children that have become their own. Depending upon the state you live in, grandparents or relatives have little to no rights...we do have some rights but it's finding a lawyer that knows and understands them that can be a problem and then you have to figure out a way to pay this lawyer, with no guarantee that you will win in the end.

Those that try to speak for the children that have no voice, get lost in the laws that are suppose to protect these little ones they fight for. The happiness and safety of these children are second to the rights of their parents. What about the rights of these children? What about their voice? Children should have a right to a voice and to be heard.

I believe that things happen for a purpose in life. I still don't understand fully, the purpose of this journey besides loving and caring for these two little people. I know my life has been blessed from having them here and I know I have gained much more wisdom from this experience. Maybe some day I will have the opportunity to get more active in the fight to raise awareness of this epidemic of grandparents raising grandchildren and to help get more laws changed to support relative caregivers. Maybe I will be able to use what I have learned to support other grandparents that find themselves in this situation. All I know is that I will walk away from this journey a much wiser and a much better person...all because of two little interruptions.

Has it been worth the interruptions of my so called life? A thousand times yes.