Saturday, August 20, 2016

I get by

This morning, early, I found this picture, opened Facebook, and started typing.  These words are what flowed out of my fingers.  I wanted to add it to the blog for "Safe Keeping" and so I could remember what this morning felt like.  So, here is what I wrote...

Woke up this morning feeling overwhelmed. Looked in the mirror and seem to have aged 10 years in the last 3 weeks. But God (my 2 favorite words, BTW. Listen to Steven Furtick talk about those 2!) showed me once again how blessed I am. Our friends have come from every corner to support Britt and I, listen to us vent and hold us as we cry over the turn of events our family took this month.

Personally, I am overwhelmed, and so thankful! Young Mommas with the "I can't even"s (yea...h, me either!). Moms of my girls peers with the "I couldn't do it"s. And my veteran Mothers, you guys are inspiring. With your "Gods got this" and "Here's what happened to us"s. Dads too. Brothers, Aunts, Childless friends. Everyone. So much support. So much love. So. Many. Tears. I have cried a river. And you guys! You guys built the bridge to get me over it!

Don't get me wrong. I'm not there yet. This is a long bridge. But 2.5 weeks ago all I saw was the abyss. Now I'm on the bridge. Looking over the railing. Absolutely terrified (I've always hated heights - Edges and ledges more specifically) but knowing that I've got the most wonderful friends and support group. Messages, texts, phone calls, visits, hugs, knowing looks, ALL OF IT!

Thank you is grossly inadequate and not nearly enough to express my love, but it's all I've got. So thank you. Thank you ALL! And if I cry when I see you, know it's because you showed me love, and I love you too!

(And if you have no idea what I'm talking about: READ HERE)


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Wings to Fly

I originally wanted to title this “I’m only going to say this once.”  But as I have had time to think it through and process it, I decided that was a bit harsh.  One moment in time can change everything, but as the sting wears off, and life moves forward, God grants us the peace to help us understand, and reminds us that grace always wins.

The question of the hour, that I’m hearing more and more each day, is “Where is Emma going?”  Short answer: Nowhere.  And EVERYWHERE!  (That solves the mystery, huh?)  But of course, because none of life’s big questions can be answered that shortly, there is a long answer.  That’s the one you really want to hear.  That’s the one I want to share with you.  But it’s hard.  One of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  I want to respect Emma.  I want to respect our family. But I’ve always been an open and honest person, so I will tell you.

As a young mother I was told that having a child is to “forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”  I used to think that a kind of odd quote.  But it has been true a few times in the past 14 years.  And never as poignant as this most recent season we’ve been in. A few days after my step-grandfather died (this has been a ROUGH summer filled with several personal tragedies), my oldest child came into my room late at night, sat on the end of my bed, and said, “I need to talk to you.”  The air left the room, and all I could feel was the stillness.  She was nervous, but managed to ask me a question that in that ONE MOMENT changed our family forever.  She asked if she could go to school in a different district and subsequently live with her dad (my ex-husband) and his wife.  There are no words to describe what that feels like to a mother. Gut punched.  Shocked.  Scared. Hurt. Confused. But willing to listen.  And to consider her thoughts and wishes.

Nothing much was said by me that night.  Emma stated her reasons, and told me she was serious about it. (While Emma was in my room talking to me about it, Lara had gone out to the living room where Britt was to tell him what was happening.) I listened to her for what seemed like an eternity, but never said a word – just let my heart broke tears run down my face.  I had told her I would think about it, talk to her dad (Britt) about it, and talk to her later.  After we sent the girls back to bed was when my breakdown occurred.  I think I cried 7 gallons of tears and I know I didn’t sleep much.  My mind raced with all the self-deprecating questions you can possibly imagine, and all the wandering thoughts of “what if?” and “what now?” 
Before she was given an answer, Britt and I talked for hours about it.  We even set up a meeting with the girls’ dad and his wife to discuss what they thought and some beginning logistics.  Honestly, at one moment during all of this I felt like it was a no win situation for me as a mom.  If I made her stay here with us in Stillwater, she would resent me and be miserable.  If I let her go, I would be miserable.  But then, God worked on my heart.  Reminded me this isn’t about me (as much as I still think it is at moments!).  This is about what’s best for Emma, and letting her grow.  No matter what roof she lives under, she’ll always be my daughter and I will always be her Momma.  So, I told her she could go.  (Then cried some more.  For like the last 2 weeks. Every. Single. Day.)

So, last Thursday, we enrolled Emma in High School at Mulhall-Orlando.  She is a Panther.  She can’t wait to sport the Gold and Black at her new school.  She will be a part of the FFA and 4-H there and has decided to play basketball.  She will be living with her family on their small ranch where she can see and ride her horses every day.  She is close to her school and is excited about the small class size and one-on-one instruction.  She already knows many students there from FFA and just from being at her dad’s house on a regular basis.  When we enrolled her, the principal asked about Lara – and I know you’re curious too. 

Lara was given the choice to move, too.  She chose to stay in Stillwater and be a Pioneer.  She likes the life she has here with her friends, her dance studio, and the opportunity to be on color guard.  Or as she puts it, she’s a “city girl” and Emma’s a “country girl.” (No one tell her Stillwater is not a city. LOL!)  This is a whole new adventure for Lara as well.  She gets a room to herself, but will definitely miss her womb-mate and roommate, twin sister, best friend.  She's not excited about the first few days of school and all the questions she'll get about where her sister is.  I told her I would make her business cards to hand out that say "She lives with our Dad. I don't want to talk about it." or maybe a T-shirt... The next few weeks will be a HUGE transition for both of them.  Please pray with me for their tender hearts.
As a big family, there were lots of people and emotions to consider when making this decision.  While we didn’t really involve the boys in the decision making process, we of course had to tell them what was happening, and help them sort through their feelings and reactions as they processed this new reality.  But, they’re young boys, so you can imagine what that’s like.  Jake says he’s OK with it.  But we know he’ll miss his partner in crime.  The Jake/Emma combo was the one to be afraid of if you left them alone together.  They fought a lot, but they also schemed and dreamed and came up with mischief together.  Finn is 4.  A baby.  I think about the fact that he’s so little he probably won’t ever remember living with Emma as his sister in the home together, and that makes me sad.  He just keeps asking me if she has moved out yet.  I’m sure as it sinks in and school actually starts they will both have questions and new reactions, but for now, they’re just waiting for her to move out.  She moved some of her stuff last weekend, and will finish up this weekend.  We’ll take her to Orlando on Sunday afternoon and say our goodbyes as her school starts this coming Wednesday.  Pray for the boys so they can understand what's happening and can sort through their feelings.

This whole event reminds me of an encounter I had with a gentleman I didn’t know when the girls were tiny.  They weren’t even school aged yet, and I can’t remember the circumstances behind the meeting, but I met a dad from Enid with high school aged twin girls.  I think he had stopped to talk to me because of my stroller full of pink twinning-ness.  Anyway – he told me his twin baby girls were in high school now – a though at the time I couldn’t even fathom.  But then he told me the weirdest thing (to me anyway).  He told me they went to different high schools in Enid.  One went to Enid High, and the other to Oklahoma Bible Academy.  I remember wondering 1,000 questions about why and how.  But today, I get it!  Thank you God for putting him in my path so many years ago to help me though this difficult time.  Thank you, sir, for showing me how to let each of my twins be an individual.  I love it that this encounter stuck with me until I needed it again.  God is so good.
At the writing of this, only a small handful of people know this story.  Immediate family, close friends.  As it gets more and more "public" (the girls started posting on social media, so I knew I could tell people), it feels like it's really happening.  The start of school is very soon. Rumor mills are harsh and hard to stop, and the "silent shame" about our parenting choice that people will look upon us with will not go unnoticed.  One of MY biggest fears is what other people will assume about this situation and then pass along as “truth.”  After praying this one through, I remembered my God is bigger and it doesn’t matter what other people think.  This was a personal and private decision made inside the loving boundaries of my unique family.  Another thought was about the endless questions people might have.  This writing is my answer to that.  So even though my title changed, my reaction has not.  Any questions brought to me after I have poured my heart out probably won’t be answered.  Unless you gave birth to one of my kids, raised them, lived with them, held them when they were hurt or disappointed, or disciplined them on a daily basis, you just can’t understand. Pray for my husband and I.  This one stings.

Someone said to me this week that “you have to let them go sometime.”  I was slightly taken aback.  It’s not like she’s 18 and I’m moving her in to her dorm room (which so many of my friends are right now!  KILLING me!  So bittersweet!). She’s FOURTEEN, my little girl, and I’m being asked to let her go.  It’s rough.  It’s not my timing.  It’s not my wish or my dream. I feel like I did all the “hard” parenting (diapers, middle of the night puking, doctors appointments, spelling tests, daily battles of clothes, dirty rooms and homework), but now I’m missing out on the “fun” part of being there with her in her high school years.  But it is hers – her wish, her dream.  She has committed to a year to see if this is what she really wants.  At the end of the year, I will be here with open arms.  To either welcome her back, or to congratulate her on a decision well made.  We want her to FOLLOW HER ARROW.  Britt and I have worked so hard to give her the roots she needs to be grounded, and now we are letting her spread her wings to FLY!  Fly high, Baby Girl.  We love you!  God’s got this!