Posted on December 14, 2017
Watching and rewatching this video makes me think of my life as a mother. These simple moments.
This is probably the 10th. blog post that I have tried to write on the subject of our oldest daughter cutting us out of her life.
She pulled away from our family in August, it is now November, it is still just as heartbreaking as it was in the beginning but our perspective has changed a bit as time has gone on.
I do know that I need this season in our life to be documented here, however hard it may be to put into words, it is an important part to our family story.
She originally distanced herself from us in early March. that was devastating.
we went to therapy with her, we found a great therapist & we listened openly & honestly to all of the reasons that she felt that we had hurt her growing up.
I mean, yah, it is hard to know that your actions as a mother, as a parent, had caused your child to feel negative about themselves. but, it was important to listen and acknowledge how she felt and for her to know that of course that was never our intention.
I am shortening this whole process of course but when we left therapy months later I thought that we had come to a new and honest and real understanding of each-other. we cried & we laughed & we talked about how I could have handled things better, how she could have been more honest, all of it. we talked about how of course our intention was never to hurt her, it was to raise her to be honest & the best person that she could be.
fast forward a few months, she had her birthday, she had her graduation and graduation party & we all worked really, really hard to make those as special for her as we could. she is our daughter, of course those moments mean so much to us, we want to make them special.
she did not receive the scholarships that she was counting on to move into the dorms for college, we talked with our counselor about how best to move forward with her living at home & how to set clear expectations with this new reality of her being in college & needing more freedoms but also while respecting our home.
it wasn’t easy. I don’t think that when you are 18 you see that how you treat others significantly affects how they treat you. if you are one person outside of the home & then inside the home you want nothing to do with your family, you become disrespectful, yes, that is hard to deal with.
there are so many things that I am leaving out but really, this is about documenting our daughter making the choice to not have anything to do with her family.
when we knew that she would be staying at home, that was fine. our expectations were buy your own laundry detergent & snacks & keep your room & bathroom clean & be home by curfew. simple. I really did not think that we were asking too much. then after weeks & weeks of reminding her to do those things & they still were not getting done, yep. I got upset. im not sure what other reaction I was supposed to have. When someone wants to assert themselves as an adult but then can not carry out very simple adult tasks, yep, that is frustrating.
I told her that if she didn’t want to pay for her own laundry detergent and snacks then maybe she should try paying us rent.
so she decided to leave our home. but, on her way out she decided to tell people that we kicked her out & all sorts of other things that are not true.
I know that I know who I am & who Shane & I are as parents but still it hurts that people would believe the things that she says with out even thinking that maybe there was a reason that we were upset or that maybe things didn’t happen like she says that they did.
anyway, that is just a back story and none of that is really as important to me as our daughter & her well being.
fast forward to now, mid November.
a few weeks ago, after she had blocked me on every social media way that there was to get ahold of her & blocking my phone number, she text me & asked me to meet her for coffee. I was so excited! my heart was so happy.
I showed up, extremely nervous & we talked.
I went there with the intention of beginning our relationship in a new place. to me, that meant being honest about why she had cut her entire family out of her life & why she had chosen to lie about the situation. to me, beginning a new relationship based on trust & honesty means that we have to all be on the same page.
I actually thought that the conversation went pretty well. I could tell that it upset her that the way that she was treating her family was questioned. I cant help it, we are still her parents & I guess I felt like it was still my job to let her know that that is not how you treat people that love you unconditionally, your family, that has always been there for you, always, always.
but, in the end, we hugged I told her that the only motherly advice I would give her would be to not take for granted that people will always be there. life is short & precious & we have no control over what happens one second to the next. my advice was to not take for granted that the people that love you the most in this world will always be here tomorrow.
I meant that advice from the bottom of my heart. I have lost people that I have loved with no chance of telling them one last time that I love them, no good bye’s, no last words. just here one day, gone the next. I don’t want her to have to feel that pain.
the next day I text her telling her how proud I was of her that she text me & met me & that if she wanted she could come over that sunday & see Sophia & hang out because her sister really misses her.
the text that I got back. I was floored. I couldn’t even believe my eyes.
she told me she agreed we had to meet but that she doesn’t know why we had to talk for an hour. that she is glad that she went so that she could show me that she forgives me. that she doesn’t want to be around people that are negative and just bring her down (me). nothing about seeing her sister that she says she loves so much, that just broke my heart.
I was floored.
I realized a few things in that moment…
that is not forgiveness.
I am not negative, I just don’t agree with everything she says & does & she doesn’t like that.
we did not raise her to act like this.
I don’t even know what she is saying she is forgiving me for. I was ALWAYS there for her. she had a normal life, with two parents and a brother and sister that love her. she was loved. she was cared for.
is she forgiving me for always putting her & jarred & Sophia first. Is she forgiving me for doing all of the things that mothers do, selflessly. Breakfast lunch & dinner. Homework. Struggles. Working all day & coming home tired & drained & still giving. Pep talks & laughter. sleepovers & birthday parties. dealing with the lying & trying different approaches, yelling, grounding, rewarding not lying, therapy, we tried it all. The rides here & there & practices & performances. The good times, the hard times, the laughter & the tears, is she forgiving me & shane for all of it… I don’t know. I pray that maybe someday her forgiveness will turn into a thank you. A wow, I see now that you always put me first, you only wanted me to be happy & healthy. Maybe someday her forgiveness will come from a place of knowing that we always came from a place of love & desire for our kids to grow up to be the people we see them to be…
but I think mostly after I got her message back my heart just hurt for her. this lost time with her family, holding grudges, for what? because I yelled at her when she was in trouble growing up. because she felt like she was treated unfairly. is that really a reason to shut your entire family out. I don’t think so. I see that at my age, I just know that she cant see it at her’s & that makes my heart so heavy & so sad for her. her pastor, my pastor, therapist, friends, family members, they all say that this is just a phase & it will pass. how long I wonder?
it breaks my heart for Sophia. she loves her big sister so much. it has been so long now that she doesn’t even ask about seeing her sister anymore, that breaks my heart.
I realize now that I have to use this as a teaching moment for our little Sophia. she has to know that family is family & that will never change. you are going to get in to trouble growing up, that is just part of it. do we do it all out of love & desire for you to grow into the amazing person that we know you are, yes. do you ever stop talking to your family because you got into trouble, no. these are things that I never thought I had to teach my children, I never saw this coming, but now that it has happened & we have a daughter that has disconnected from her family, I know that my youngest will know that yes, you will not always like your parents, and that is fine, it is not our job to worry about being your friend. is that ever a reason to turn your back on your family, no it is not.
when she first cut us out of her life I would always say to shane “how could we have raised someone to act like this”?? I felt like a complete failure as a mother because I had raised a human being that would treat others the way that she is treating her family.
I asked my therapist about it, the same therapist that we went to with Mikayla.
they both said the same thing…..
“you did not raise her to act like this”
these are her choices. hers alone. that has taken me some time to grasp.
these are her choices.
life is a long journey. all of our memories add up to who we are & I truly believe that.
are we a perfect family? no.
are we perfect parents? no.
they don’t exist.
but, did we do our very best to create a life for our kids where they felt safe & loved & supported & cared for. where they could laugh or cry when they needed to. where they could fail & succeed & we would love them just the same?
yes, we did try our very best to do that.
I pray & I hope that one day Mikayla will see that.
right now, I now realize that I can not do anything to change these choices that she is making. it is mind boggling that she could turn our family’s legacy & life together into such a negative thing in her mind & then speak that to people.
yes, it hurts but I know that I can not do one thing about it.
do I know that I gave my very best but I still made mistakes. yes, I am the first to admit my failures as a mother. did I ever intentionally try to hurt my children? no. their happiness is my happiness. their sadness is my sadness. it will always be that way but this is different because it just makes no sense. how could her life have been so bad that she wont even speak to anyone in her family?
I will truly never understand.
I pray that someday she will get to an age or a place in life where she can look back & see just how hard we worked to make our kids’ lives fun & meaningful & full of love & laughter & safety. I hope that she knows that when that day comes, we will always be here for her.
….. Well it is now mid December. Still haven’t hit the publish button. I think that what I am struggling with is not wanting to make things worse & of course, the fear of putting my thoughts & emotions out there on such a personal & painful subject.
But, there it is, here I am, in a nutshell.
I am me, I have always been a work in progress & will continue to be for the rest of my days.
Yes, I am a bit high strung. I speak my opinions, I wear my heart & my emotions on my sleeve. That will never change, nor would I want it to.
That being said, am I disillusioned enough to think that I was a perfect mother? NO. I have never even thought that for a second.
But, have I always believed that your family are the people that will love you enough even to love your hard edges & rough spots. YES. Because your family are the people that know you. They know your heart, they know how you see the world, and maybe that is why all of this came as such a shock to me.
Yes, our kids got in trouble. Did I ever think that one of our children would stop speaking to us because they “got into trouble growing up” NO, that thought never crossed my mind.
I fail every day as a mother. I know I am not alone on this one. I feel that I always tried to be better. After every failure comes the realization of how to be better. I try. I fail & I pick myself up & try to be better. Isn’t that part of being human?
Yes, it hurts that our daughter won’t speak to us. It hurts that now my husbands family has taken the stance of ‘taking sides’. It hurts but again, I can’t do anything about it. It hurts that they think & say those things about me but, that is just the way things are I guess.
I know who I am. As a person as a woman as a wife as a mother as a daughter as a sister as an aunt as a friend. I know who I am.
I am flawed. I make mistakes. I am not too proud to admit to my mistakes. I try to be better. I love hard. I love with everything inside of me. I give.
Did I make mistakes as a mother. Yes. Do I feel that those mistakes warrant what is happening. No.
I know that there are other reasons for this. For mikayla doing this. I just hope in time that she realizes we are not the enemy. We have only ever had her success & her happiness at the heart of everything we did as parents.
I will end my babbling by saying one more thing…
If one good thing can come out of this it is that my husband & I have become closer. In the beginning there were days when I didn’t know if we were going to make it thru this storm as a married couple.
You think you have challenges in a marriage & then your child stops speaking to you & then extended family begins to “take sides” then you realize everything that you have ever been thru together is nothing compared to this pressure.
I thank god every day that we decided to have the tough conversations, we decided to speak our true feelings even if that meant the other person was not going to agree with you or see things the way you did. That is scary.
And after all of it, I have a trust for & in my husband I never knew I could have.
We are a family. We always will be. When mikayla is ready for her family, we will all always be here…
Posted on June 14, 2017
I poured my heart & soul into this one… the girl & the video. ha.
I spent a few months gathering photos, scanning photos, crying over photos, placing photos, finding the exact music with the right words & beat, making & re making this video.
it is like a time capsule for me. not only of Mikayla’s life but of our family’s life. the good times, the hard times, it is all in here. I remember every day just by looking at these photos, what was happening in our lives at that time & I love having it all together here, in one place.
things that struck me the most were, just how little Mikayla was when she came to live with us. she was 6, she was the age Sophia is now, she was still a baby. it hits my heart deep, how much of a change that was for her & all of us. Little did we know that all of our lives were about to change forever, in the best ways possible. We became us, if that makes sense.
I remember diving in head first. I remember the day that happened. it wasn’t spoken, I just knew & I am so thankful for that moment now. you know, when life is happening, you just do it. you do what you need to do to keep life going & then when you get to some sort of an “end” or resting point or point of reflection, like a high school graduation, you realize that although not every day was easy, you wouldn’t change a thing.
if I had it to do all over again, I would still go all in. I would love just as hard.
looking at this video makes my heart happy. makes me proud. makes me excited to build even more memories & even more years together.
I know that when you graduate high school you don’t realize what an accomplishment it feels like for your parents as well.
all of the early mornings getting everyone up & fed & out to where they need to be on time, after school pickups, homework, spelling tests, field trips, volunteering, practices, supporting from the audience, pushing, expectations….. all of it, every day.
as a parent, to watch all of your hard work pay off, to watch them succeed & move forward & to know that you had something to do with that, yep, that is an amazing feeling.
so all of you parents out there, working hard every day, please pat yourselves on the back. you deserve it!!!
Mikayla, I look forward to watching your journey. I know that you are going to thrive…… all my love, mom.
Posted on April 25, 2017
it has been a very busy couple of weeks & the next few weeks until June are only going to get busier & fuller. We just celebrated Easter on the most beautiful day, my grandma turned 93 & we all got to be together to celebrate, Mikayla just turned 18, Sophia will soon turn 6, Mikayla will graduate high school, Jarred will turn 21, Sophia has a dance recital & my photo schedule is beginning to take shape for the summer!!! all exciting things.
but right now I just want to slow down.
yesterday I realized our dishwasher has been leaking under our kitchen sink. we are actually lucky we caught it, it looks like the floor was going to cave in if it was left with that puddle of water any longer.
my first thought, “well great. I don’t have time for this. I don’t have the money for this. why me??????” shaking my fist to the heavens. ok, not quite that dramatic, but close.
just one more thing to deal with.
but, we went on with our day, we had an awesome little, fun birthday party for Mikayla. pizza & cake & gifts & just a few of her friends & the fire pit & tent in the back yard. all night I just kept loading that dishwasher with dishes, knowing I wouldn’t be able to use it but just not quite ready to dive into washing the dishes by hand.
then today, I realized I couldn’t hide from those dishes any longer.
the window was open, Sophia was running in & out of the house taking everything she owns out back into the tent.
I set up one bowl with soapy water, one with rinse water & set out to wash the dishes.
I know, it seems like such a ridiculous thing to write a blog post about. but, this struck me as soon as I started.
instead of throwing the dishes into the dishwasher & moving onto the next thing. I stood at that sink & watched my drapes blow in the wind. my music was playing low & the window was open & Sophia was laughing & the sun was peeking thru the drapes so perfectly.
I stood & washed & rinsed & thought.
I thought about my husband & the fact that after Mikayla & her friends left to go to a late movie & after we had pried Sophia away from the fire pit & gotten her in a bath & put to sleep, instead of going straight to bed, we talked. like, just talked, not about the kids really, about ourselves. our lives. the future, the past, the day.
I realized that we don’t do that enough. we live our days together & we love eachother but sometimes it can be so easy to just turn on auto pilot & go.
I stood at that sink today & realized that this life, our lives together are too special to be lived on auto pilot. i thought about what is important to me & it isn’t being busy, it is being. just being. with myself, with the moment, with my family. just being.
i stood at that sink & felt so lucky.
i felt at peace.
the calendar is full but i cant let that run my days. i cant let being busy take away from the life that i really want. the life where the little things mean something. the life where i can look at someone that i have loved for 13 years & realize that just like me, they are constantly changing too. we are together a work in progress & that is an amazing thing.
i am sorry that it took my dishwasher breaking to take the time to remind myself what really matters to me.
it sure isn’t having a dishwasher that matters to me.
it is this life that we have built together.
& always will be.
Posted on March 9, 2017
end of February, 2017.
when I first looked at these photos, all I could think of was memories in motion. so that is what I will call this series.
this day, I asked her to put on a pretty dress & go jump on the bed for me so that I could take some fun photos. she looked at me straight faced & said she was busy!!! I mean really. she kills me. of course, about 10 minutes later she came out with a pretty dress on & asked me if I still wanted her to jump on the bed. haha. yes, little girl, of course I do…
I posted one of these on Instagram & this is what I wrote…
“give me grace. give me strength. give me quiet. give me peace. sometimes moments & emotions seem to swallow me whole. I let my emotions get the best of me. they make me feel like a child, I convince myself that I am watching my world crash around me, even when it’s not crashing down at all. why is it that when one thing in my life feels unbalanced, I cant seem to find my footing anywhere? I guess just one more reminder that I will forever be a work in progress…”
I have read this & re-read this & these words mean so much to me. these words are so true to who I am & how I feel right now.
forever a work in progress…
Posted on March 8, 2017
so, the past week has been hard. very hard. I’m not ready to write it down yet, hopefully soon.
I am reflecting on the past. thinking of my children & all of the years I have spent giving every piece of myself to them.
parenting is hard. we all make mistakes. we learn. we keep going.
I can only hope that none of them ever question my unconditional love. my desire to do the best that I can. my desire for them to do the best that they can.
I know that family are the people that see you at your worst & love you anyway.
and for that I am grateful.
so today, swinging with my girl, that felt good…
you know what, life isn’t easy.
but, life is good. full of blessings & laughter & love.
and for that I am thankful.
I am thankful for my sweet, sweet girl & all of the joy she brings to everyone around her.
especially her mama…
Posted on February 27, 2017
well, not doing so hot keeping up to date with my daily posts. been doing pretty good with my photo a day, just not posting them, its ok, cant win them all. ha.
just waiting on the cookies. my little cutie.
these blurry photos, these mean so much to me. I imagine that when Sophia is grown & our last child leaves the house to do amazing things, I imagine that this is what my memories will look & feel like. grainy, blurry, completely out of focus but full of emotion & love…
January 26th. Happy birthday to mom!! I was going out to dinner with mom & art for her birthday, we had a really busy day that day & I told Sophia she would get to see grammy the day after her birthday, oh my gosh, the tears. she just melted into tears, she had to be able to wish her grammy a happy birthday & blow out the candles. so we made it happen & again I am reminded, this is the stuff of life. this is the stuff that makes life bigger & fuller & make it what it is.
happy birthday mom…
a little bit of snow to end the month…
not the best photos but I had to snap a few. Sophia found the little box of treasures that she came home from the hospital with. where does the time go…
the weather got nice & we took our paints outside for the first time this year…
trips to the park in February in Nebraska!! awesome….
and a little car wash…
of course, starbucks…
and more park, February 22nd. 2 days before another big snow storm!!
my little treasure collecter…
basking in the sun..
February 25th. we went shopping for the last time for a prom dress for Mikayla. bittersweet moments for sure! we found the most beautiful dress this year, she truly is stunning & looks like a princess in this dress!! I imagine I will probably cry at prom this year…
and of course, dressing room shenanigans…
last night, February 26th Sophia & I went to go see my cousin Lisa’s son Boston as Lord Faruaat in his high school production of Shrek at burke high school. he was AMAZING!! so happy we went to see this awesome show. Sophia loved it!
well, that is it. up to date on photos. maybe not all of the emotions involved but, when I see the photos, I always remember the exact emotions I was feeling.
I guess that is why I love these photo a day projects. it brings to light all of those emotions that we go thru in one day, one hour, on minute, with a family of 5.
Posted on February 16, 2017
Valentine’s Day 2017, Mikayla’s last winter concert of high school!!
They blow. Me. Away. Every time.
Mikayla had a few solos this concert & she did amazing. This was her first concert being asked to stand after her solo. Seriously, made me cry.
Amazing job mikayla & the Millard west band.
I will miss these days.