Friday, May 27, 2016

If It's Worth Doing

I had a dream once.

I had a dream that I was married---and I felt whole again, as if marriage is the only thing that could fix ALL of the other problems in my life.

I had a dream that I co-parented well and that my kids never had to feel split between their parents.

I had a dream that I never got upset with my ex-husband and that forgiving him is something I'm NOT still working on.

But in reality, I'm not married and I don't always co-parent well and I often get upset with my ex-husband. 

And I've been told on countless occasions by numerous different people that I need to forgive him and move on. In fact, over and over, I've convinced myself that I have fully forgiven him.

But I don't know if that's always true. 

I can remember when my husband first left me and I begged and pleaded with my family and friends to love and support him, to talk positively about him so that this would all be easier.
And I remember when I got to a point where I begged and pleaded with them to stop liking him so much, to focus on supporting me and my kids so that this would all be easier. 

'So that this would all be easier'

I guess I don't know what makes this all easier because it isn't easy. It's messy no matter what. And I'm still trying to figure out my relationships and boundaries and how to navigate a relationship with not only my ex-husband but also our shared relationships.

I get insecure about my divorce because of the little details, the memories from those first few traumatic months where I was literally just surviving day to day.

And I get triggered by the memories from my marriage, the memories where I look back and think, "I should've done something differently. I should've said more. I should've said less. I should've loved more. I should've cared less. I should've..." And I could go on and on with SO MANY things I should've done to change the circumstances of my life but I don't believe that actually would've changed anything.

I go through periods where I like my ex-husband and frankly, I go through periods where I don't like him.

And I'm not good at being an ex-wife. Oh my goodness, I'm not. In fact, I'm horrible at it. I am overly protective of my kids and I am not always patient and I let old memories dictate present situations.

I'm trying to work on it. 
I am working on it. 

But it's hard because I feel like if I can't step up to the plate as an ex-wife, maybe I wasn't a good enough wife. And when I start to think that, I have to remind myself that I'm doing the best I can. I'm trying to be a good person who sees others through Jesus' eyes and understands that we all act crappy sometimes and make mistakes.

But. It. Is. Still. Hard.

None of this is easy to explain. It isn't necessarily hard to talk about---I'm ok with admitting that I fail at being a co-parent or an ex-wife sometimes---it's just hard to explain in a way that dictates the things that I'm feeling.

The truth is that I still struggle with resenting my ex-husband for the choices that were made that got us where we are---and although I don't think about them often, I still find myself spiraling when I miss something in my children's lives because of the co-parenting situation we are in. I still get angry that I have to 'share' my children instead of us just being a family.

But that doesn't mean I don't love the life we are living.
My children are so blessed. I am so blessed.
We have SO MUCH.
We are thriving and for the most part, life is really happy. It's just that when it is hard, it is usually really hard.

But we are resilient.
I am resilient.

And someday, probably when I'm 80, I'm going to have this 'ex-wife' thing figured out.

But in the meantime, I am going to have to learn that it's ok to fail sometimes. 

I can remember back to two years ago, almost exactly, and sitting in a new therapists office (which I was really unhappy about because I didn't want to have to start all over) and telling her how fighting my eating disorder wasn't worth it because every single day, I failed. At that point, it had been MONTHS without even ONE day of success.
And she said to me, "Suzanne, is it worth fighting your eating disorder? Is your life worth the fight?" And I replied, "Yes." 

And she said, "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing poorly." 

I kept that motto close to my heart as I struggled to pull myself out of the hole I had dug. When I'd fail, I'd give myself grace and remember that if it was worth doing, I wasn't going to give up just because I was fighting poorly.

I was still fighting. And that HAD to count for something. 

So now that I'm here, in a completely different life than two years ago, fighting similar things but also some very different things, I have to remind myself that this fight is worth it---no matter how I fight it.

So maybe I suck as an ex-wife but it's worth it to me that I keep trying, that when I fail and I get angry or selfish, I take some time, pick myself back up, and try again the next time.

And goodness sakes, I am not the best at co-parenting. It's hard work! But when I fail, I am going to give myself grace and remember that I will have many opportunities to figure this thing out.

And maybe I go back and forth between forgiveness of the past and letting it trigger feelings inside of me in the present but that's ok because I am working on this every day of my life.

And this fight to understand others who have hurt me and feel compassion toward them? It's worth it. It will always be worth it.

And if it's worth doing, it's worth doing poorly. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Child Dedication + An 8 Year Old

 This is another one of those vulnerable-ish posts that I'm still a little unsure of how to explain but I'd like to try explaining...sound good?

When I left the LDS church last year, it wasn't abrupt and it wasn't out of hate and I feel like I need to express that second part over and over again when in reality, I don't actually have to explain myself---I choose to.

Hayley was 7.5 at the time and I was super panicky about her baptism age approaching and how this change would affect her. I wanted her to have her normal routine---and so I kept going to LDS church on the Sundays I had my kids. And then when I stopped going altogether, she went with my best friend's family for a while.

But she was 7 and her testimony was more cemented in her parents faith than her own---as it is with the majority of our children.

I left the baptism choice up to her and she went back and forth with it.

She came to the conclusion a few months ago that she wasn't ready but asked if I'd buy her a big white dress as a birthday present because she didn't want to miss out on that present.

I spent the majority of my nights in April praying over and over that she would be able to feel loved and included and special when it came time for her big 8th birthday. I asked God what I could do to take the pressure of baptism off of her shoulders and I firmly believe that He followed through and answered that prayer because shortly after, my church advertised child dedications that would be happening on Mother's Day 2016.

I felt very strongly that this was a gift from God to us because instead of putting the pressure on Hayley, the dedication puts a healthy amount of pressure on me.

If you're not familiar with dedications in a Christian church:
"Child dedication is not a sacrament like baptism or communion—you won’t find instructions for it anywhere in the New Testament. There’s nothing magical about it—it doesn’t save your child or guarantee that they will eventually come to trust Jesus as Savior and Lord. However, child dedication can serve as a powerful moment, for both family and church, as both parties commit to working together to raise the child in a way that honors God." source

So on May 8th, 2016, I made a promise to raise Hayley and Andersen with a knowledge of who their Heavenly Father is. All of the vows had meaning and were important but my favorite was #4:
"Do you dedicate yourself to raise your children with biblical love, instruction and discipline? Will you take every opportunity that life gives you to diligently teach your children to love the Lord Jesus and observe all that he commanded, knowing that your primary responsibility as a parent is to train your child to be Jesus’ disciple?"

Friends, it was a beautiful day and we were so thankful to the people in our lives who came and supported Hayley and Andersen. In fact, I'm just so grateful for everyone who supports and loves Hayley and Andersen! 

And with that explanation out of the way, I need to acknowledge the fact that I HAVE AN EIGHT YEAR OLD CHILD!!!!!!!!! 
From the time she was little, Hayley always had this huge heart. She was this tiny little girl who would feel compassion toward others. Often times, when she'd hurt her brother or someone else, she would end up in tears because she felt bad for the choice she had made.
Hayley was also born with a lot of sass. She pulls off the duck face better than anyone I know and likes to snap her finger and raise her eyebrows at me---and usually it isn't when she's arguing, she just thinks it's funny.
Hayley is so very, very bright. She loves to read and does really well in school. (Besides homework...homework is another story but she promises me 3rd grade is going to be different.)
Hayley is not only a talented dancer, she is a dedicated dancer. If you ask her, she'll tell you that, yes, she is quitting dance and trying a new sport---when she turns 18. She says up until that point, she won't be quitting dance. :) She works hard to get new tricks and has grown leaps and bounds on RMDC's dance company this past year.
This last picture is of Hayley on her birthday at ages 6, 7, and 8. My goodness, this girl brightens my life.

She is very responsible and gorgeous and happy and compassionate, among SO MANY OTHER amazing qualities.

I am so lucky that God blessed me as the mother of this darling girl forever and ever. She is one of a kind and anyone that knows her knows it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Andersen Swallowed A Magnet

Oh, Andersen...

I love you. 
I really, truly do. 

Even on the days when I want to hide in a corner because you're not listening to me.

And because I love you, I'd do anything for you. 

Even if that means spending my morning off of work getting abdominal x-rays with you because you swallowed a magnet.

A magnet, dude? I'm trying to picture a scenario where you would've thought to put a magnet in your mouth. And even though I can't, you did indeed swallow a magnet.

And your first thought wasn't to tell mom. Nope, your first thought was whether I'd be upset so you kept it a secret.

Weeks went by and you didn't tell me there could be a magnet inside of your little tummy.

Until last night. 
Last night, you came over to me with those huge puppy dog eyes and said, "Mom. I have to tell you something..." and then you told me how you had swallowed a magnet a few weeks ago and now you were scared because your stomach was hurting really bad and you thought it was the magnet.

Little dude, I just love you. I love how worried you get and how compassionate you are. I love how you make me laugh and comfort me when I cry.

So because I love you and would do anything for you, I don't mind spending the morning getting x-rays with you. In fact, I loved our morning together while sister was at school. I loved listening to you tell me story after story after story with some of the greatest details.

I love you a billion trillion infinity and I'll always be here for you. On your good days and your bad days, I'll always be near.

I love you, Andersen. So very, very much, I do.