The Funny Thing About Vows

Drew, Robert, Heather, and I are the proud parents of a 6th and a 2nd grader. Girl Child and Boy Child started their year on Monday, at two different schools now, in a flash. My 6th grader ran off into the school and it was over in a flash… just, over! I plan to take her out, maybe this weekend with the big camera and do some portraits of her. What a whirlwind it has been…  I am optimistic about this year for my boy, thankfully.

Onward…

I have never written my vows before…

I acknowledge that I have been married before, however, I have never written my own vows. My ex-husband and I had a pre-defined set of vows that were read for us, pieced together by myself and the Reverend, but nothing like what I will be up against in 45 days. (Yes, all, 45 days… 10-4!)

We decided, with the help of our officiant, that we are designing a secular wedding with our vows being a letter to one another.

How do you write a letter to someone on your wedding day and have it mean something? How do you put into words how much one person has changed the trajectory of your entire life, and cured so much sadness, loss, betrayal, and hurt? How does one put that into words?

I will admit, I have put in roughly 130 work hours in the last two weeks of business days, so I have been trying to find pockets of time to get away from the office to take back some me-time, mostly because I *need* it. I have come to a point in my professional life where I need to mentally recharge alone, whether it be with a book and wine on our deck, or at home zoning out on my laptop, or running, or watching mindless television, or even working on some crafty art stuff. I used to love doing art, but it seems that work and various other commitments (but a lot of it has been wedding stuff) have been drawing my attention away from it. It is peaceful to me… So, in my attempts to get away from the office and take some me time to recoup the many hours I have spent compiling data and working on reports – I have been trying to sit down and write my letter to Drew.

How? I have started writing and backspaced a million times… “This sounds too cheesy. This sounds too intimate… this is an inside joke that none of the 200 people in the crowd are going to understand. This is a run on sentence built on emotional spew. Nope, this has to go because its going to make me cry, well hell, I’ll already be crying. I will probably walk down the aisle crying because of the song.”  And then I stop… The person who blogs often, the same person who has written articles for the Associated Press before, writes restaurant reviews almost like its a St. Louis Religion — cannot accurately put her feelings in to words. He deserves it. He deserves this. He didn’t get forever with the person he thought was forever his first time. I feel like I need to one-up the woman who got to walk away from a marriage for selfish, inexcusable, reasons. I have to make sure that I overwrite any memory he has of those vows. He meant it, she didn’t. I think we all go into it thinking we mean it. I don’t do the “‘Til death do us part” nonsense. I do… “I am going to try harder than I have ever tried before and I am not going to give up unless I simply cannot bare to go another day.” Because life happens. But, that being said, I need these vows to mean something. I need them to be powerful enough that they will make Drew laugh, even cry, and remember them for the rest of our life together. How on Earth does someone do that???

I cannot simply go up there and say “I love you more than anything on the planet. You are my favorite person and my closest friend and I wanna hang out with you more than I want to hang out with anyone else. The End”

In lieu of writing these vows, I have to finish spraying all of the vases… go back for my final dress fitting…see the first draft of the floral bouquets and get those perfect… Wow. Weddings are lot… I think it will ultimately be worth it – but they are a lot of work.

So, yeah, here we are… 45 days out, and we still have to get our vows finished with the officiant and I am sure Drew is reveling in the fact that I, the TYPE A queen, is still pussyfooting around with finishing my letter to him.

Perhaps, they will start — “To the man who changed every aspect of my life for the better…” but then beyond that, is a work in progress…. Maybe I will draw some inspiration from our engagement photos. I normally never take photos with my hair up, but it was 90 degrees in St. Louis and I had a pretty stylish pony tail thing going on… It worked out.

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                         We love our Photographer, Serendipity Photography.

Being the Mom who Asked for a Divorce…

Ok, yeah. So, I was the one who went to my Children’s Father, my dear husband of 9 years, and asked for a divorce…

That was, indeed, me. I told him this was what I needed to make my life come full circle after marrying him at 17. I do not, really, regret that decision. My ex-husband is a great father, a kind human being, and I have found that I like him so much more when we are not romantically forced to be involved.

I would go to the ends of the Earth for my ex-husband. Yes, you read that correctly. I would. When I heard that he was in a car accident a couple weeks ago and his future-wife was in a frantic rush to collect our children to get to him – I was closer, I said. “I’ll go, I’ll meet you, just take your time.” I got to him. He is the father of my children. I love him in a way that is not comparable to the way I love Drew. I love Drew in this mature, long-term, passionate, “We are truly compatible and meant-to-be” way. I see Drew as my partner, and the person I look forward to growing old with the most in this world. Truly. I look over at this man, every single day, and go “This is exactly what my life has been building me up to. To be with this amazing person who brings my whole life full-circle and shares all of these common interests and personality traits. This is my guy. No doubt.” Different, see?

My ex-husband, I see as this person with whom I, essentially, “grew up with”. Imagine your best friends from childhood and growing up and always being eternally connected to “Man, I really wonder how so and so’ is doing. I really miss them!” That is how I feel about my ex-husband. We grew up together. I care so deeply for him, and trust him so much, that I don’t feel like I have to hide who I am as a person, or as a mother – because he trusts me.

When I began dating Drew my ex-husband told me to “Be careful”. Because he KNEW after our divorce I had some REALLY bad experiences, one with a man, who cheated on me, and repeatedly reminded me how “less than” he thought I was for over a year. “I know, I know! YADDA YADDA BLAH BLAH!” I didn’t want to hear it… but he was right. Even though we were no longer capable of maintaining a romantic relationship that saw us through to adulthood… we cared about each other. I *still* care about his well-being… and when I pulled up on the side of the road where his car was all smashed up after being violently rear-ended by some Wichita – Kansas – Shocker’s fan’s RV… I went into protective mode. He is the person, that at some point, I chose to father my children and my job is not to make him feel like he failed our marriage, like I sometimes felt I did, but to make him feel like “Hey, I’m still in your corner. As long as you care about me, us, our kids, I’m *IN* your corner.” Hell, I’ll defend him and his soon-to-be wife, because he CHOSE her. All of that, I’ll defend, because to me – we are a team raising a family together. I never feel as though Drew and I are the sole decision makers, sole parents. We always say to others, to ourselves, etc… “We need to consult the other parents.” Because they deserve that respect, these are their kids, too. End of story. I had to learn to share mothering with another woman. Hard stuff…

But yeah, I was the “Mom” who was the one who asked for a divorce… I told him I knew what I had been feeling since a year after our smallest baby was born. I didn’t ask for that to happen to me… it just happened- not overnight – but a slow and then fast progression that told me that the love I was seeking that would take me into my old age, was not this one.

I asked… he reluctantly rebelled to the idea… I persisted… because I *knew*.

He knew what I was seeking in love, and in life, and he knew (knows) my vulnerabilities. He knew I was vulnerable to believing the many promises that men can make to a woman and be completely false. I didn’t want to listen. We carried one another through our divorce and into dating other people. We were codependent. But after we were no longer romantically connected I was able to put it in perspective. We were 17 and 20. I’m pushing 30 in a very real way and it just NOW that I really know what I want… what I truly need in a partner for me as an adult.  Holy shit, what do 17 year olds know about anything at all about anything?

Now, fast forward to raising two children who are the product of divorced parents. I absolutely refuse to say “Broken home”. We are not a broken home. We are two separate, awesome, loving homes. Period.  I never ever say a cross word about their father,  because even when we disagree – I don’t feel like its anything catastrophic, or more the less, anything I ever would say in front of people who love or care for my ex-husband. Nothing is ever that big of a deal. Robert and I, we will get over it. End of story. We are grown enough and mature enough – we will ALWAYS work it out, so long as we do not have to be married or romantically involved. Sounds strange, but with that removed – we can co-parent really well.

The pieces of being the “Mom” and the “Wife” who asked for the divorce is a whole lot of blame…Painful painful blame.

We have an eleven year old daughter that is incredibly impressionable and sometimes family “units”, that she trusts, tell her things that are not true…

Recently, they  said some things that, had Girl Child not known better, it might have made her look at me in a very poor light- or think I loved her less because my Facebook doesn’t have any public photos of my children. (Because somehow this is a measure of how much you love your children apparently.)

First of all, if you recognize on this blog, she is Girl Child. I don’t post her name on here. Nor do I make many photos on Facebook with my children public. if so, RARELY… because there are weirdos out there.

However, if you are my Facebook friend; you see taco nights with my kids, funny videos, sports photos, silly face selfies, family events, family vacations where the kids are all present in photos on my Facebook. They are my life – but they are not all of my life.

I have had to face that people who, duped me into thinking they were “Always going to be my family…” and I would “never lose them – no matter what”…, were going to attempt to convince my impressionable eleven year old that I loved her less, or cared for less, her father cared for her more, etc.  I have also allowed several people to stay a part of my “online social identity” because, quite simply, I have nothing to hide.  I am acutely aware that they are connected to my online social identity solely to pass along information. I have no concerns. I have had to answer some really hard questions, and let me tell you, always terribly, painfully, honest. I won’t lie to her.

Tonight was one of those nights, except that, I have finally accepted that I cannot change those people who talk about me to my daughter. She has told me they are “Her family” but she “Does not trust them” because “What they say, doesn’t sound right, and makes her uncomfortable.”  I can, however, show my daughter the truth. I handed her my phone after what she told me her family member said about me.  She scanned through the photos of herself and her brother and us as a family and giggled and asked questions about the photos and recalled funny memories. I realized that no matter how hard these people try to poison her… she knows that I am her mother and I will always tell her the truth.

“Why do they hate you so much?” she asks.

Well, because they believe that by asking for a divorce I deeply hurt someone that they love. And I did all of those things…but…I was hurt, too, and for that I make no apologies.

At eleven she recognizes the people who are respectful, and considerate, and do not ever speak poorly about me (from her Father’s side of the family) — she sees that there is an entity that is completely different than any other family she associates with. She questions this relationship and this trust scenario and knows she has had to lie to that entity before in order to prevent the ambush and narrowing eyes upon her.

She is told things that I am able to disprove with documentation in a matter of seconds, which makes her immediately distrust that family member and question why I don’t “Do something”. Well, because, I know better. I’m grown, intelligent, and the truth is  – if someone loves you – trusts you – all you have to do is tell them the truth. So, I did.

When you are the Mom/Wife who asked for a divorce… these are the challenges you face. If you are terribly lucky (like I have, mostly, been) there are family members who still care enough about you that you will make certain that you pen them into your wedding invites because they aided in molding you into the human being you are… (and, also, the father your ex-husband is)… But then there are some questions that you must sit across the dinner table from your eleven year old daughter and answer painfully about yourself, and your history, because someone she trusted planted it in her head. While all of this is happening, you watch her squirm with upset. I grew overwhelmingly angry. How dare they make my child feel “in the middle”!!? I hear my Drew, softly in the background, “Stop, you’re better than this. You know the truth and that is all that matters.” And I reel myself back.

Make no mistake. They are in the middle. Someone will find a way to place them squarely in the middle due to their own anger, their own confusion, their own desire for drama.

I have to trust that I have taught her well enough to know better. Tonight, after she told me everything she had been flood-walling to protect herself from being ambushed, and slack-eyed by this party. I said. “Girl Child, do you know how much I love and care for your father?”

She nodded. Yes. She knew! Even though she had been TOLD some rude and unflattering things about her Mom, by a person she trusted  — she still knew who to trust. Myself and her Dad. I am so grateful that even though our pre-pubescent relationship is a strain – she knows who she can trust – and its not the constituents that degrade her mother and tell her fallacies. I have done SOMETHING right!  She recognized, that even though those people are CLUELESS, how much her father and I care for each other and that was the only “song” she needed to listen to. You know, kind of like a baby Whale. They know the song their mother Whale sings. They know to follow it – even if the waters are cold, scary, and rough. Girl Child knows the song to follow. I knew that meant that getting on the horn and puffing out my chest and yelling at that person for lying and portraying me poorly did not matter – because my own daughter had removed that constituent from the “Trust Tree”. She took her own power back, and with that, she took mine back, too.

I know it seems odd, but I will call this day a success. My Girl Child looked me in the face and told me she trusted me to tell her the truth, even when another entity tries to convince her that because I could no longer romantically love her father, that somehow translated into not loving her. She hears my “song” and she knows better.

As the divorced Mom/Wife, especially if you were the one who asked for the divorce, gear up for this. People whom you believe loved you and had your best interests in mind will turn on a dime, and sometimes will possess the ability to make your children feel so deeply conflicted, and doubtful, that they don’t know whom to tell about the injustice.

You know you don’t need to angrily exact revenge when your daughter looks at you and says she knows to trust you… her Dad… and both her step-parents, first, before anyone else.

“Mom, I am sorry that what I told you, that they said about you, hurt you.”

“Girl Child — they didn’t hurt me. They made me angry – but to hurt me would mean that I would have to care enough to be sad. I am not. You know. I know you know.”

Girl Child: “I know. I trust you.”

I am doing something right… even if I am the mom who asked for the divorce and had to deal with the backlash. I have instilled her with intuition and that is not something that can be replaced with false memories and lies.  Kids are resilient and I don’t regret one minute of the last handful of years of our lives together, pre- and post- divorce. We aren’t broken. We are beautifully replaced in differently situations. And to me, that has not been a bad thing – but we have been better at navigating it than others who are desperate for someone to blame.

Girl Child makes me proud – even if she is still grounded! ;)