Today was like…

…an emotional roller coaster. It’s Father’s Day, and I usually spend the whole day pretty sad missing, and thinking about, my dad and everything he’s missed out on, and everything I missed out on. But today was different. In fact, I didn’t get sad or teary until about an hour ago. I had other things on my mind. 

For the past few days I have been anxiously waiting for a childhood friend, Nicole, to make it to Vegas so I could drive down and see her. We met in 6th grade. We went to school together and were best friends, hanging out every chance we had. We bonded over the loss of our fathers, and our tough/harsh maternal figures, and NKOTB (what were we thinking?!?)…our lives were very similar back then, with some minor differences. The summer between 9th and 10th grade my family moved out of state. I hated my mom for making us move away (I had no concept of financial hardships at the time) and I vowed that I would make her so miserable that she would send me back “home”. Little did I know how devastating our move was to Nicole. We were inseparable, until our move separated us. We returned to our hometown for a visit the following summer. I don’t remember how long we were in town, but it wasn’t long enough. I was able to get in a visit with Nicole, and wanted to go back every year to visit her. Neither of us knew that we would not see each other again for 25 years. 

We lost contact after that visit. Many years passed and my mom contacted me to let me know that a letter had arrived at the family home for me from Nicole. I got the letter a few days later and responded. We wrote back and forth for a while, and talked on the phone occasionally…and then life happened. We lost contact again. I would occasionally look for her on Facebook, but didn’t have any luck. Just a few years ago she sent me a friend request. Life kept us both pretty busy, but we were better about keeping up with each other through Facebook. Our lives had taken parallel paths, both of us having many similar experiences, even our ex’s share the same first name (yes, I think all men that I have encountered with that first name have been asshats). We are both in a better place. 

I was so stressed out about seeing her today, the first time in 25 years, and I have changed a lot, I guessed that she did too. What if we don’t recognize each other? Which is kinda dumb because we see each other’s pictures on Facebook. What if she doesn’t like me anymore? What if I don’t like her anymore? What if we have nothing to talk about? J and I arrived at her hotel and she was coming down to meet us. As soon as we saw each other we smiled and hugged. It was so great to see her face light up, and I was put at ease. I couldn’t see myself, but I think I lit up too. We walked around trying to find a place to eat and talk. When we finally found a place we started talking like we were picking up where we left off. J said she heard Nicole say things and she thought to herself “That’s exactly what mom would say.”, and she’s right, it was what I would say. We talked about our kids and how both B and J were named after her. We talked about family and struggles and blessings and progress and church. An amazing visit, and the food was good too. We had to say goodbye too soon, but we both agreed to not go so long before seeing each other again. 

As J and I drove home I was replaying the visit and past things people have said to me about every friend I made after her. I have had some real doozies. I have picked some “real winners”. I suddenly came to the realization that I had never had a friend as true, loyal, reliable, understanding, compassionate…the list goes on…as she was to me. In every relationship there is some give and some take. For the majority of relationships I have had, there has always been more giving on my part and more taking on theirs, but not with Nicole. I think we both gave back as much, if not more, than we took. I cannot think of another friend who has been that way with me. 

Forward to an hour ago when I started texting my brothers to tell them happy Father’s Day, since I was traveling, catching up with Nicole, and having dinner with Jay and J, and by the time I got the chance to call the boys, it was too late. I got more emotional as I wrote each text. I made sure to let them know how much I look to up to each of them. I am sad that I don’t have the close relationships with them that I wish I had, and the ones I feel close to, I struggle with because of my emotional hurt. I have to find a healthy way to release grudges and hurts so I can move past the hurts. I miss my dad. I remember being a daddy’s girl. Maybe I remember right, and maybe I don’t, but I remember his love for me. I’m heartbroken, grateful and happy this Father’s Day. Happy Father’s Day to the many men in my life, present and past, who have had a positive impact on my life and the woman I’ve become. 

Life changes. Experiences change us. We change. Friends come and go from our lives. True friends may leave our lives, but reconnect as if no time has passed. True friends are selfless and love you for being you. I’m lucky enough to have one. 

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Suddenly it’s a great idea to foster…

…because it’s his idea. I have been very vocal about my desire to have more kids, just as I have been very vocal about everything important in my life. When Jay came to me almost 2 months ago with the suggestion that we should become licensed foster parents my first thought was “Yes! Of course! Finally!” That night, I couldn’t sleep. The foster process is long and difficult, but in my mind totally worth it. I started to get angry. For years I have tried to have more kids, using donors, looking into adoption and fostering…but I felt so alone. Everything I tried, every step I took, I was alone. Growing our family was important to me, and it was painfully clear that it was important to only me. It was clearer with ever effort that he wasn’t a willing participant in any of my attempts. 

After my hysterectomy last November I worked hard to overcome the extreme depression I fell into almost immediately after surgery. It was so painful to accept that I will never again carry a baby inside me. It was even more difficult to accept that our family, as it is now, is only going to grow when our kids have kids of their own. We already have 2 grandbabies, and I love them so much, but I don’t think I feel the grandma connection to them that i probably should. They are his kids kids, and his kids don’t like me…I feel distance is better than yet another heartache…that is on me. I was finally finding happiness with our situation. Our youngest is 18, and will likely leave us soon, making us “empty nesters”. I was as ready for it as I could be. Then he suggests we retake the foster classes (we took them almost 6 years ago, and never finished the process) and get licensed.

I asked him the next day “Why now? Why not anytime over the last 13 years when I suggested it? Is this your way of keeping me from leaving?” He said that when he got the email from the regional guy with the class schedule for May, he felt like we should do it. And he said that if I still want to leave, he understands. But now I’m really mad. I have had dreams for years about a boy that is supposed to be my son, and I know his voice, his face, even his name. Wide awake and all alone I would hear him say “Mom”. I knew that he was helping me to remember that he is supposed to be with us. My personal revelation meant nothing to Jay for over 13 years! I was beginning to think I was going crazy. The dreams stopped months ago. I stopped hearing him call for me. Now when I am wide awake and all alone…I hear nothing but silence. 

I needed time to think. I didn’t know what to do. Suddenly that yearning to have another child was back, but the anger and utter disbelief that he would bring this up like it was his idea all along, had me in an internal tug of war. I went back and forth on the idea for days. I didn’t know what I would decide, although I knew immediately what I wanted to choose. The realization that we successfully co-parented our nephews and we’re able to work together was so clear. I had finally made up my mind. 

Our marriage is broken, but the one thing that makes us communicate, work together, and support each other is taking care of kids for someone else. When we had T, and R, we were able to be happier around each other and work better together. Fostering a child will not fix our relationship, and I’m not saying it will make things better because in all actuality it will add more stress to our family. But that fire inside me was reignited and I want another child. 

We took the classes. 32 hours of uncomfortable chairs, lectures, suggestions, ideas, stories, making new friends, growing our support system, asking lots of questions and not always getting clear answers. J even went to all the classes with us, which helped her too why T and R behaved the way they did. Jay and I made a deal. I would find a way to pay for licensing costs, and he would handle all of the paperwork. We are in the process and waiting for the next step. The decisions about which placements to take will be on all 3 of us. Our hope is to adopt, but if we can’t, being a temporary stop to help children who need us will be enough. 

I can’t put into words how strongly I feel that doing this is what I need. More importantly…it’s what the children who will come into our home need. I am at peace (at least I think I am) with whatever happens. Is divorce still on the table? Yes, kind of. More put on the back burner for now. Not because I’m finally getting what I want, but because I know what the possibilities are.