The Next Chapter

Writing proficiency

I cannot write at the basic level of a college freshman…or such is the esteemed opinion of my new U English Dept.

I wish they had told me before I showed up sick and 3 days post-op to submit their stupid writing sample that I was walking into a Kangaroo court. The essay topic was on older child adoption, of all topics for me to write upon. I wanted to ask for a copy of my essay back so I can submit it to my English prof this semester as I undergo the insulting experience of retaking Freshman Comp I.

My 18 year old brother is a college freshman. I take great offense in being told I cannot write to the proficiency expected of him. I’ve seen his writing. I may be the first to admit that I am sick, I’ve been puking for the entire weekend. And, I was weak from the pain of having someone cut open my hand last Thursday. But even so, ask me to write about older child adoption and I can do that in my sleep.

I think they didn’t like my interpretation of their essay they asked me to respond to. I think they didn’t know what to do with someone who actually knew the subject matter and not merely blew steam out their wazoo. But to inform me that I cannot write to a basic freshman proficiency, yes I take great offense to that nonsense.

Oh well, at least it will be an easy A and a laid back transition into college life. But, I’m sorely, sorely tempted when its all said and done to go and shove my Comp grades under the nose of the rather egomantical Chair for her assurd assertions that I cannot write to college freshman proficiency, especially not on a subject matter I live and breath and was able to quote actual statistics to her pompous essay. But, I didn’t quote More and his fabulous Utopia. I quoted actual experts on older child adoption. See, I just went about it ALL wrong. I should have approached it from a strictly literary nonsense in which it was presented and not an actual subject worthy of actual response.

Beyond my obvious deficient in writing abilities, school is set up and a go. I’m registered for all of my classes except my Comp class, which I will get registered for tomorrow. Financial aid is approved and my award should come by weekend, along with II’s. The children will be registered for school tomorrow. Since we’ve been sick we’re going to start them in school on Wednesday.

Life moves foward. Not always good, but its definitely radical change. Three months ago, I told myself I had to make radical change in my life if I was going to learn to breath again. Today, I stand at the threshold. Change has been made. I can walk out of my door now and not remember what he did. I can walk out of my door and remember that I am ME, that I have worth and meaning in this world. My children and I are cared for and life truly does go on.

Whatever does or does not happen down this journey, I am once again a college student. I start classes on Wednesday and I begin to respect myself as much as I have respected everyone else. Learning to love and cherish myself…that’s a different story. But at least I’ve made a start. Now, if I can just learn to write as well as those college freshmen, whom ironically I am NOT one of as I transferred as a college Junior thanks to my work 15 years ago before I apparently lost my ability to read and write.

1-12-10 Growing pains

I think often of the course I’ve set us all upon now. We have left everything we had, everything we knew and all of our life. We didn’t do it on a whim, but we did it on a promise and a dream. A promise that I could and would stand on my own two feet, and if II stayed it would be as a partnership and not the unequality I can clearly see he developed in our marriage.

When my world came crashing down, my first thoughts were of how to find ME again. Yet, if anything, this journey we’re on has reminded me that there is simply no ME without all of the others. Just as II forgot, I cannot fail to remember that this journey is the journey of a family and not merely a woman. And, that family has 8 children in it. Some of those children have significant special needs. Afterall, we did make a deliberate choice to adopt special needs children. And, for reasons God himself understands he choose to present at least 2 of our biological children with special needs as well. E has significant mental health issues. C has Childhood Apraxia of Speech, a Language Processing Disorder. Or, that’s what 2 private speech therapists call it. The school system refuses to quantify it, only that he has significant speech delays which are connected to some form of Language Processing Disorder. I’ll assume the diagnosis of the private therapists, since they have no ulterior desire to lower the legal requirement to assist this child in the diagnosis.

When I knew I could not continue in the life I knew, I took a hard evaluation of the lives and needs of each of these 8 children individually. I attempted to quantify which children could be served by the school system, and which children really and truly would not fit into that system and I needed to find a way to continue homeschooling them. In that analysis, I intended to send 4 children to school, homeschool 2 and keep the underaged babies at home. One of the kids I intended to homeschool opted to seek ESL services in the public school system instead. So, that left me sending 5 children into the public school system.

First, we are now living in an inner city, urban environment. It was intentional on our parts. We wanted to be close enough to our schooling so we could walk, and close enough to the majority of their schooling so we could be available if we were needed. For 8 suburban and somewhat international kiddos, this was a signfiicant change in culture. Add to this that we entered them into public school. 6 children who had never walked the halls of an American public school, save one and his experience can hardly count, were placed into those very schools.

The adjustment has been painful. The elementary school was prejudicial and retaliatory towards our elementary aged children, to the point we had to do battle with them yesterday. After having the police called on us for attempting to advocate for those children, we took the issue to the Board of Education. That action was successful and those children are NOW being given the support and oversight necessary to arm them for success in this transition. But, it had to get really, really messy before it got resolved.

Today, I embarked upon trying to get things set up for the middle schooler. He was the one who wanted to attend PS in order to receive ESL services. Yet, my repeated requests were not getting any testing done. In fighting for the elementary children, I was given the ELL Handbook for our state and learned that the school had 2 weeks to screen, test and place my ESOL students per Federal law. I went to the school to request they simply test this child. I was instructed to go enroll him in the ESOL campus of the district and not wait for testing.

And so, rather than another day of being lost, of shaking in his skin, of being assaulted in the halls and shown pornography against his wishes on the bus, this middle schooler was driven across town to the ESOL campus. The teacher there recognized his issues instaneously. He was placed appropriately. And, this afternoon, for the first time since entering the school environment, this child returned hom smiling, happy, excited and self confident that he could in fact return to school tomorrow and everything will be okay for him.

Our last hurdle with the children’s schooling is both to follow through and assure that the elementary child requiring ESOL services gets placed at the Elementary ESOL campus by next week, and to follow through on getting the Autistic child transferred from the last school district. After weeks of fighting the last school district to provide documentation, the IEP cordinator today has determined that the last district has assured it will take longer, more work and even harder to finally get this child settled into the environment he needs to thrive. Unfortunately, due to his unique and signfiicant issues, until that is resolved he will remain in the home.

In all of this chaos, I still have to address my schooling. I too am returning to school, as I must for all of our futures. I want to trust II. I yearn for the life I had a mere 4 months ago. But, I will never trust him solely with that responsiblity ever again. The care and needs of these children are simply far too great to entrust for him to carry that burden alone again. Even in a perfect scenario for our marriage, I would still be in school and returning to the dreams I once held. It is the future that must be for this family. It wasn’t what I wanted. It wasn’t where I thought I was headed at 33. But, it is where I am, and I must adjust to that reality.

So, I am learning how to balance myself, my studies and this family. II is learning how to carry an equal portion of the caretaker role I once shouldered. And, together we are trying to adjust this family to this new journey. We have a long road ahead of us, as a family, as individuals. But, we’ve survived the painful first week of this journey, and somehow, miraculously, we’re all still standing to tell the tale.

1-13-09 The Journey Back?

I am sorry that it was a ‘test’ on you last night. I’ve heard sorry so many times in the last 4 months it doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. And, thrice since I put you on Plan B, you’ve declared that you GET IT…but don’t change. This weekend was the most change you’ve had since this started on Christmas Eve and it helped but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t clear you really and truly GOT IT.

For you to really and truly finally get it, you have to show me you GET IT. And, if I lead the way for you, then you don’t GET IT. It just shows you listened to directions, which you don’t do well but still wouldn’t be you getting it in the end.

I want you, II. I don’t want to protect the children. I don’t want to erase the past. I don’t want your emotional and financial support but have no true intimacy. I want YOU, all of you, passionately. Its all I ever wanted, and that hasn’t changed. Yes, you hurt me more than I ever deserved to be hurt. But, it didn’t take away that love. It didn’t take away my deep, agonizing desire to still want to be partnered and connected and wholly and completely with you, in you, part of you and have you part of me. That was what this was supposed to be in the first place. Its all I still want.

But, I need you to want the same thing as me. You already showed that I was NOT worth all of that to you. You wanted release…and you didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t wait for me. You sought out what you wanted without me. I get the reasons. Really, I do. I get the addiction, the compulsion, the mental disease, the history of abuse, the rationalization and compartmentalization. Really, in my head, I get every one of those truths. I do get that it wasn’t about me.


It also was about me. I was the one you married, you covenanted together with, you promised to be one with. I was the one it was SUPPOSED to be about. Every time you betrayed me, you broke that oneness. You betrayed not a vow, not a promise, not an idea. You broke that oneness. You severed US, wholly and completely and potentially irrevocably. You did it each and every time you slept with another woman. And, there were a lot of them. That’s a lot of betrayal. A lot of betrayal. Most wives wouldn’t still be here. I WANT to be here.

But, to restore that covenant, that one, you have to want it. You have to want ME as wholly and completely as I want you. You have to want me even to the point that it’s worth risking rejection and pain. You have to want me so much that you would lay down everything you are and everything you have to be one with me again. You can’t want this for the children. You can’t want this because it’s the right thing to do. You have to want ME, all of me, completely ME.

This last weekend, you accused me of hating you, of having shut the door and declared that there is no hope to restore this marriage. I meant what I said to you then. I have not stopped loving you. I stopped reaching out to you, nothing more and nothing less. Disengaging from you has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I want so desperately to be with you, to have you, to know you. To step back and repress the expression of my deep and abiding love for you has been torture. To disengage but still keep my heart open for you to seek has been the hardest, most humiliating and devastating task I have ever embarked upon.

Every time I passed you, I wanted to reach out to you, to connect with you, to simply let you know that I am still here. But, I promised myself that I would only give you a response. I would only respond to what you sought. Each time we passed my soul would quiver in hope that this time you would reach out, you would show me that you were trying and loved me and would open the door to allow me to show you my love as well. And, each time you passed without notice, I shook with pain and longing that once again you choose to not engage or to reach out to me. Each time, I removed myself to recover from the reeling and blinding pain in my soul at yet another trampling of my heart. And, each time, I reminded myself that this had to be your journey, your choice and your doing.

I cannot give you the roadmap to my heart beyond what I have given. I made clear my emotions and my desires. I answered your queries honestly, though with great sorrow that each time it was still clear you did not get it. It was spelled out so clearly, by my heart, by your recovery materials, by the marriage materials we’ve both utilized in trying to find our way back to each other. It all could not be clearer…you MUST reach out to me with your full heart and soul, even at the risk of rejection, or you will never find me. I won’t and can’t do this for you. For my healing, for the restoration of my heart, I need you to face me. I need you to face my pain, my anger and even my rejection. I need you to still aggressively and belligerently fight for me and seek me out.

I need to see that I am worth it to you. I need to see you can and will face the depth of the pain you have caused me. I need to be so valuable and so important to you that you will fight for me, even fight ME for me, because I am worth that battle to you. I need to see that I am worth more than life to you, in the very same way that you are to me. I need to see, to feel and to be faced every day with the truth that my love, my honor and my commitment to what we started 12 years ago is not a passion that I stand alone holding now.

This last month has been the loneliest month of my life. You were here but not with me. And, over and over again, you showed me how alone I truly was. Night after night, I waited for you to go to bed so that I could pour my tears and devastation out to the Lord in private and alone. I truly began to wonder how long I could keep my heart open to the pain in order to still remain open to a chance that you might one day get it and begin to seek me out again. I told myself that I truly wanted to give you as long as it might take to seek me out and get it. But, I also began to see that the pain was so severe that there would in fact come a day that in order survive and function, I would have to build a wall. I knew when that day came, it would be a harder journey back together should you ever get it finally.

Last night, you acted in precisely that manner I knew that you someday would if ever you truly got the path back to this covanent. It was also why the last 3 times you told me you got it, I knew you truly did not get it yet. I cannot give you the roadmap to my heart. But, now that you have found it, I can tell you that yes, you did find it.

If you want to restore this marriage, you have to continue with precisely the realizations you made last night. You have to act in precisely the manner you acted last night. And, you have to keep doing it, for as long as it takes, for the rest of our lives if necessary, and continue even if I should at some point reject you. I promise you, I am not going to ultimately reject you if you seek me out. I might reject you in a temporary situation, in a moment of emotion, anger or pain. But, if you return again, I won’t reject you. It isn’t my heart’s desire nor my goal to deliberately set roadblocks, tests, nor insurmountable tasks that you must accomplish. It’s not nearly so much a quest as a connection.

I want dearly, desperately and terribly to hope and to pray that this time you got it, and you will continue to get it. I don’t trust you that much yet. I don’t trust you to have gotten it last night and still get it tonight. Not yet. But, this IS the answer to the question. This IS the path to reconciliation. This is the understandings that you need to restore what you nearly destroyed. This is the way to find me again, to rebuild us. This is where WE lay, in the discovery that I need you to need me as much as I need you, and I need you to pursue that desire as completely as I do.

It’s not a riddle. It’s not an unanswerable journey. Its just one I desperately need you to find and understand for yourself and not because I gave it to you.

I love you. I wouldn’t be here fighting for this if I didn’t. I love you with all of my heart and body and soul. It is because of that love that I am here now, and continue to stay here.

1-23-10 Processing

In an effort to avoid the agonizing task of assemblying vocabulary words for my Composition class, I’m blogging instead. I like my professor. I just hate how the course absolutely butchers the English language. I don’t NEED lessons on how to develop my writing. I’ve been writing since I was in 2nd grade, journals, books, stories, essasies, etc. And, I don’t need to learn vocabulary words to improve my writing skills either. I read to improve my vocabulary. The heads of the English Department should try it sometime.

To her credit, my professor made enough comments of her frustrations with her own department that I did share my story of why I’m in her class. Her assessment was that I’m in her class for purely monetary reasons to the department. She’s a retired English professor. She was tentured somewhere else a long time ago and just teaches part-time now for extra money, at several Universities. She was far more impressed with where my father teachers than this school, lol.

I’m glad SHE made the comment, cause I’ve thought it but didn’t say it. But, there I sit, taking freshman composition and watching freshmen freak out that apparently to pass the course you have to write an essay at the end. I guess they probably don’t want to hear me admit that the thought of writing makes my heart pitter patter. Writing was my solace through 12 years of losing myself into motherhood. Writing is my salvation as I fight to find me again. Writing is my passion and my friend. Just give me a topic that I can be inspired to accomplish it, and I will happily write an essay for them at the end of this stupid course. I offered to give them one of my published essays beforehand and skip this whole silliness. Ah well, ultimately its a good GPA booster.

So instead, I try to process this life I have walked into now. Its busy, crazy busy. 10 people live in this house. 7 of them are in school. No, M is not in school. The school continues to buck our efforts to get him where he needs to be, in a self-contained autism classroom. And, I made the stand last fall that I am DONE doing any school with him, absolutely DONE. He needs therapy and professionals and I won’t give the school system their out by offering to make life easier and continue homeschooling him. We are fighting to get him in, but the wheels of beaucracy move slowly for a child that a school system would much rather avoid than accomodate.

So, 7 of us in school and yet we have to have our needs met. Someone has to clean, has to cook, has to watch the little 2, has to homeschool the one last homeschooler, has to fight the school system for the needs of the school-aged children. And, oh yeah, I’m a full-time student now. I’ve discovered that II actually doesn’t know HOW to do my job. And so, in order to get the support I need now, I have to make lists for him.

I’m spending far more time frustrated with him than teaching him. I’m flabbergasted at what exactly he thought my life looked like for over a decade. I’m frustrated that things which seem so obvious to me don’t even dawn on him. I need to stop with the hostilities. I suspect they are born of my own anger and pain with him personally. And, frankly they just don’t help anyone move forward. If I couldn’t stop with my hostility with him, then perhaps I needed to just show him the door in the first place. I didn’t make that choice and thus I owe it to him, to me and to this family to conquer my anger and just give him the tools he needs to learn this job already.

When I get over that desire to demand he figure it out on his own, I do make him lists. And, he does fairly well with them. But, most of the time I resent having to make lists and quantifiy 12 years of my life in concise lists for him to follow. I made a list one day and he freaked out at how long it was. I nearly laughed my head off. Its very clear that whether he meant to or not, he really did NOT understand what I did and took for granted that my job was far less complicated and involved than it really was.

I have been very, very sick recently. I landed myself on antibiotics for pnuemonia by the end of this week. Resentment aside, I wasn’t able to make solid lists for him. Ask me what my house looks like now. Better yet, ask me how my children are behaving left to run amuck for a week. II actually forgot to pick the elementary school children up from school on Thursday. We live in walking distance, thankfully. But, it was never my desire nor intention to have the children walk without us. Still technically, they are listed as walkers with the school because they walk WITH us. The front office staff is still hostile and angry that we defeated their efforts to humiliate the children and retaliate towards us for having homeschooled them in the first place. I’d like to say I would be too in their shoes. But, the truth is I wouldn’t do what they did. I’m not that stupid.

Still, because of the office staff’s own issues and the designation that they are walkers, instead of letting the children call home as they requested, they were thrown OUT of the school when II forgot them. Let’s just say I’m thankful that my pistol of an oldest daughter is far smarter than the office staff, than her own father and has all the spunk and gumption I buried for so long in me. She had a few choice words for the beligerient office staff and angerily hauled her siblings out of the school and headed home.

II found them halfway home. Ch declared they were scared out of their butts. E declared they were FINE, but the office staff were just a bunch of bitches. Yeah, she knows the word. She’s right. They are. In future, I instructed the little two that E is in fact in charge and do exactly what she says in the event they are forgotten again. I’d love to say II won’t do it again. Instead, I told E to do exactly what she did if it ever happens again, and I hid a key in the backyard for her.

II was sorry and embarrassed. He was actually trying. Baby J screamed the whole time I was in class…again. II didn’t put him in his sling…again. And, he was so overwhelmed with his screaming son who wanted his mother that he forgot he needed to go get his other children until well after pick-up time. The school is 3 blocks away, inner-city but broad daylight and we’re not in a high crime area. It just goes back to the entire frustration I have in my heart. I shouldn’t have to tell the man to put his son in a sling to help him feel secure while he adjusts to this transition. And, I shouldn’t have to tell him that he cannot forget to pick his children up from school. I have not spoken the obvious, though I think I heard one of the children tell him anyway. Mommy would NEVER forget the children like that, not ever, its just not an option. It shouldn’t have been for Daddy either.

I need him to adjust. I need to curb my irritation with him. But, I need him to adjust. And, I need everything to calm down just a little bit so I can focus on my classes as well. I made a 65% on a Macro quiz this week. I scored 100% on the homework just before I lost my battle with the pnuemonia. I’m going to blame the quiz score on the lack of oxygen. But, I cannot, under any circumstances, afford to make a mistake that big again. I need things to calm down and my health to be restored so I can balance this life and this push for a future for me…for all of us.

1-26-10 I want to go home

I want to love school. I want to be on this great adventure and learning and moving forward with my life and see nothing but positives in my future. And, I can see hints that its there. But, I’m not loving it yet. I’m not loving much…except for Biology and that’s because I love science and always have anyway.

I spent my mornings doing the mothering thing. I get the school kids ready, get them to school, work with the homeschooler, manage the Autistic that the school is actively working to block, care for the baby and toddler. And, I do all of that while trying to remember to eat (rarely happens), straighten up the house (not happening at all) and work on my schoolwork (not doing so well there).

Then, after lunch, I head to class. I get some rare moments when I can escape this life. I can focus. I can learn. I can be challenged and use my brain. And, 3 days a week I can submerge myself in Biology and soar into another world where its me and the universe.

Except I come home before dinner. Yes, II has made dinner. And, he is finally getting fairly good at the homework routine with the kids. But, I cannot get my shoes off before the baby is mauling me. He mauls me all morning while I’m trying to be productive. He screams most of the time I’m gone, and he velcros like a maniac as soon as my feet step over the threshold. I can’t go to the bathroom. I can’t eat dinner. I certainly can’t process my classes and work at getting things together.

We get the kids to bed and the toddler starts her antics, which continue late into the night. And then I crash into bed to do it all over again the next day.

I’m still having to fight for M’s needs. I’m still tracking down what is going on with Ch’s needs. I’m trying to balance A’s soccer and E’s ballet. I’m trying to comfort a nearly distraught R every morning now as she weeps and sobs because she does NOT want to go to school. She’s doing fine in school now. But, she says its too long to be without mommy and daddy and she just misses us too much. Of course, its less time than she’s ever been without Daddy in her life, but she’s never been without mommy and at 7 this is a bitter pill for her to swallow.

I’m not 100% convinced I won’t pull R back to homeschooling. But I dearly want her to finish this year first. I don’t want to pull her in failure and frustration but in triumph if it must be done. Of all the kids put back into school, R is the most likely to be headed back to homeschooling in the future. Her emotional immaturity is just really kicking her in the rear right now.

Thus, I don’t love school. I don’t love this life. I feel so often like this life is the aftermath of my husbands selfishness. I feel like its been thrust upon me and I’m drowning in it. Lord knows I cannot simply go back to relying upon him. His behavior brought us to this cliff. I won’t rely upon him to get this family back to safety.

I feel like the weight of the world is upon my shoulders. I can fathom what Atlas felt and its heavy. Its so heavy I stumble. I doubt myself. I resent. And, I worry that it is impossible for one person to succeed in all that is before me. What choice do I have? A minimum wage job where I would hate my work and I would struggle to feed these children? Absolutely not an option! A divorce and full removal of this cheating louse I married? Not a good option for these children. Letting this family wallow in misery, in vunerability and in poverty? Not on my watch it won’t happen.

And thus, each morning, I pick myself back up. I remind myself that such is life. I will get up. I will move forward. And, someday I will look back and realize that this season of my life made me stronger but did not break me. Nothing as broken me yet. That doesn’t mean I haven’t felt like it would before. Just because I feel like this is going to break me now does not mean it will. I’m stronger than that. I have to be. I have 8 precious and innocent children who depend upon me to be stronger than that and hold their worlds together.

2-17-10 Angry with myself

I got my first Bio test back. 89.2. II thinks that’s great and doesn’t understand why I would be upset.

But, I got 10 multiple choice wrong. ONE falls in my weakest area (organization of species, I have an acronym to check but I sometimes slip and miss those anyway). One was a trick question, the function of statch was listed correctly but I simply missed he called it a protien instead of a carb. Not only did I KNOW the other 8 questions but I had NO memories of answering all but 2 of them incorrectly, and cannot for the LIFE of me figure out where my brain was when I answered those questions. I simply don’t think that information was correct and don’t know what would cause me to put it down that way when I KNOW better.

So, yes, I barely missed an A. But, I KNEW the material. I knew it going into the test. I knew it taking the test. I should have known it while answering those questions and had an A instead of a barely missed but still a B.

I’m making Bs in ALL of my classes. HIGH Bs but Bs. I’m hanging on and fighting hard….and I’m still just barely missing that mark.

Yes, I know I have a lot going on in my life. I know I’ve been out for 15 years and its expected that I would have a learning curve to climb back up. I know I have 8 kids; I’m trying to balance, and I’ve had my heart and my life devestated far too recently to discount that reality. I know that Bs are considered good. I know that just before mid-term high Bs can be brought up to As before the end of the semester. And, I know that I just got my Ritalin refilled a week ago, and I went into that Biology test having forgotten my afternoon dose and shaking like a kitten from the pent-up energy, nerves and stress.

I just don’t care about the WHYS. I tanked an awesome GPA when I went to nursing school. Tanked it in ways I may never fully recover. I went in with a 3.6 and came out with a 2.98. Somehow in the translation to this U its showing up as a 3.16 now. For me, that’s still tanked.

I had been raped, stalked, impregnanted, cast off by my family, abandoned and gotten rid of. I was locked in an apartment until I developed Stockholm syndrome and gave away my newborn child. Then, I was basically cast off again. When I got to college the first time, I was BURNED out and exhausted. I was reeling, grieving and totally losing my focus in life. After 2 years, I switched to nursing because I knew it was easy, it was a working degree quickly, and I could accomplish it with little to no effort. When II showed up, what little focus I had left went out the window. I had to make Cs n nursing to get my degree and for the last year that is precisely what I did. I just wanted OUT. Thus the tanked GPA.

I have to bring my GPA back up. I don’t regret devoting my life to my children for a decade. I don’t regret that I checked out on me for them. They were worth it, believe me they were worth it! But the only way I can take care of them now is to check back on with me. And, the only way I can heal is to fight my way back to being my own person again.

Of all the the things I have to fight for now, I don’t want it to be my grades. I’m better than high Bs. i’m capable of As. And, I don’t want to be fighting at the tip of an A but constantly just barely missing the mark. I don’t want to look at test scores and wonder where my brain was. I don’t want to kick mysef for carelessness or panic because I cannot, not, not wrap my brain around simple economic charts. I want the one thing in my life that always came easy to me to be EASY for me. Everything else is so blasted hard now, I just want my schooling to be the easy and stimulating escape it always was for me. And, I want a big shot in my screw-up from before towards getting it FIXED so its not hanging over my head in the future.

Whatever choices I make after I finish this Bachelor’s its going to involve post-graduate work. I need my GPA strong to do that. Its weak where it is. I don’t care what other people do. I care if I have done the very best I can do. And, I’m just not getting there. Biology was the ONE class I was sure I was there and not almost-but-not-quite-there-afterall.

My biology prof got it. He wrote ‘almost’ on my paper. When I returned the test, he asked if I had any questions. I guess I looked agitated for him to ask but I responded, “No, I’m just really angry with myself right now.” He’s response was, “yeah, I figured you would be.”

II….he wants to know why I’m upset…what did he did… did he do something wrong…my grade is GREAT…he did much worse (DUH, you didn’t bother to read the book NOR study, what do I care what YOU did, you think Bs are great, I don’t)…etc, etc. I don’t want to talk about it to him. He’s never going to understand. He’s the most underachieving genuis I have ever met. Seriously, he’s scary smart, way beyond any other person I have ever known. And, he ALWAYS adapts his efforts to….a B effort. Doesn’t matter what a B effort entails, that where he stops. He’s carrying Bs in all of his classes. He’s getting extra credit options to pull them up to As. And, he’ll do that all the way through. That’s who he is. Ironically, he may have trouble getting into med school for his Bs. But, if he gets there, he’ll do fine passing. He’ll just be a straight B student there like he has been in everything else in life, undergrad, grad school, med school pre-reqs, all of his work efforts. He’s not going to understand why I am angry and crying over something stupid. I don’t want to talk to him about it. I just want ONE THING in my life that I don’t have to fight for right now. ONE THING that goes the way its supposed to the FIRST time and not because I bulldozed it until it went where it was supposed to go. Evidentally, I don’t even get that!

2-18-20 That was just painful

My older children did many many thousands of $$ of damage in my schooling supplies while I was pregnant with baby J and dealing with M at his very worst. They destroyed all but 3 of my puzzles, all of my board games, untold caches of arts and craft supplies, some books, etc, etc. Basically, in that nightmare, I allowed them to play in the schoolroom/playroom unsupervised. I had little other choice. They needed better supervision as several of them have serious impulse control issues. But, we did what we had to do to survive.

I sent most of the kids to school this year. I’m still homeschooling 1. I also have a baby/toddler and a toddler/preschooler in the house. I didn’t get rid of most of my schooling materials. I realized that we ALWAYS learn and most of what we used for ‘homeschooling’ is still valuable for them to grow in wisdom and learning whether their primary learning is now here or in a school building.

But, because of the transition, I didn’t have to replace ALL that they lost.

What I did desperately need to replace is the puzzles and at least some of the games. Puzzles are VITAL to the cognitive development of preschoolers. There’s just NO getting around that need. The little ones need to have the opportunities their big siblings had. And, M needs to permenantly have toddler/young learning resources available to him whereever he goes.

Today, I used some of the tax return to replace some puzzles and some games.

Okay, in the past, I told Dh what budget I needed for school supplies. He made sure it was budgeted and I spent it. He had NO hand’s on experience with the actual purchasing nor the price of supplies.

When I said I needed to replace a basic stash of puzzles and games, I knew what I was talking about. I knew it would hurt, which is why I’ve been sick to my stomach about it. He put the finances in shambles and thus I have not prioritized this replacement for a year now. But, I HAVE to replace them. And, I want them replaced while I have the money and before I don’t have it and let other things be priority over this very real need.

Truthfully, I probably replaced about 1/4 of what I had which was destroyed. I figured $200-300 plus shipping. I hit $300 because I had compassion on the big kids who were struggling through their own stress and never deliberately destroyed my stuff (which is why I never got angry just really sad and sick).

DH nearly died. He thought I would spend $100 on games and puzzles….

Yeah, he’s SOO out of touch with what I needed to teach my kids nor the decade I spent accumulating stuff. I bought a TON of stuff when I had lots of money and 1 kid because I knew I would need it later when I had little money and tons of kids. They destroyed a decade of homeschooling accumulation. I can never replace all of it now, not with all these kids.

There’s still a LOT more I’d like to have replaced. I settled for a core set of essentials.

Alphabet, numbers, shapes and colors puzzles, 2 big knob puzzles, 2 chunky puzzles, 4 bigger preschooler puzzles (M and L have to share those and other kids like to get into the action), 2 big kid puzzles and games. I did splurge. I bought Risk. I know I shouldn’t. I know it was hugely expensive. But, my kids are OLD now. Risk is exactly what they NEED to be working on now. I could replace Mouse Trap and Life yet again but the littles need Hi-Ho Cherry-o and Candyland and Monopoly and Scrabble (the only 2 left unschathed by the destruction) can suffice for the mdidle age games for now. I did also find a Chess/Checkers/Chinese Checkers set, which will provide a LOT of forgiveness for lack of variety in the house simply because they are such core games.

Seriously, for 8 children, that’s a very small collection of such stuff. I had SOO much more stuff before. I had all the Lauri puzzles and I cannot justify replacing those now. I had almost all the Melissa and Doug wooden puzzles from 18month aging up to middle elementary. The list just goes on and on and on. I think I got off easy for replacement costs. But then, I know what this stuff costs.

Guess he knows why I was crying my eyes out when it was destroyed now.

But, I refuse to apologize for this. My responsiblity to teach my children did NOT end when I sent them to school. There are certain things it most certainly IS my job to teach, to re-enforce and to provide these children.

Still, the entire encounter causes me to yet again ponder what my life has become and what the dynamic between us had become. My word, I submitted to him so much and in ways that were so truly unhealthy and I couldn’t see it.

A week ago, I bought 4 puzzles. He thought that was sufficient. I wanted more, but $50 was just all he could stomach. And, ftr, with 8 kids and several destrotocons, if you buy anything but wood or Lauri puzzles you might as well be flushing your money down a toilet. Cardboard puzzles for toddlers and preschooler won’t last a WEEK in this house. There’s a reason the average daycare won’t buy those types of puzzles and there’s a reason I can’t buy them either–though in this day and age they don’t save that much to the sturdier options.

Anyway, despite knowing in my heart 4 puzzles wasn’t even going to be a drop in the bucket, and no games as not a good option, I dutifully bought the $50 of puzzles. DUTIFULLY. Yes, even now, after all that has happened, my first reasponse was to submit to him on this.

Those came yesterday. They are exactly the drop in the bucket I thought they would be. Today, I had enough. Its been a YEAR we’ve been out of these vital supplies for teaching children. That’s totally unreasonable and my 3 year old doesn’t know how to work puzzles because she has no memory of ever having any. What an embarrassment as a mother! If I’m not going to put her in daycare to give her that exposure…and that will have over my dead and cold body, then I MUST give it to her.

Today, I didn’t ask. He called as I was in process and I did give him the courtesy of telling him what I was doing. He instructed me to be reasonable in my purchases…




Yeah, I’ll just use my money versus the actual tax return. It will save on the power struggle here. Although, as it turned out, I used the wrong bank card and used the tax return on accident anyway. But, I offered to move the full prize plus a small padding into the joint account for my mistake.

Still, once again, as it seems in so much of my life these days, I’m compelled to step back and try to decipher what the bleep happened here. What happened to US? Where did the die-hard feminist full of piss and venom lose her spine? And, whene did the laidback, doting man become a tyrant?

When I told him the cost, he flipped out. Started to get upset and snapping about how I was supposed to be reasonable and he thought $100 was reasonable…$200 MAX. Reasonable? Four puzzles was NOT reasonable in the first place. A YEAR of not putting this as a need and allowing it to be classified as a WANT was not reasonable. Don’t talk to me about REASONABLE here.

Reasonable would be that the person charged with supervising homework every night, because I am in class every afternoon and he is not, would actually do that job. Reasonable would be not having to worry that he won’t advocate for my children’s educational needs, that he won’t misunderstand, condescend me on the children’s learning and won’t leave me scrammbling to pick up pieces.

Oh yeah, reasonable has been happening here. When I sent him to register the kids for school, I knew he didn’ t know their educational status. That’s why I gave him detailed information for each individual child as well as explicit instructions on what needed to happen with each child to get them set up in the school for learning. I stayed home with M. Somebody had to stay home with M and since I was 4 days post-op, it seemed reasonable that it be me.

Does anyone remember what happened with that disaster? Let’s see. They barred the kids from getting registered, TWICE. He filed the wrong paperwork, TWICE. (I went over the paperwork before I sent him in for the record.) Niether A nor Ch were evaulated for ESL issues, despite that being the ONLY reason I opted for the school building environment for either of them. I was perfectly capable of teaching them. They were part of my trio of self-motiviated learners. I could have taught them to college. But, they wanted and I wanted for them to have professional assistance to finally bust through their ESL issues.

The school requested academic records. He thought we didn’t have any. He actually thought I’ve homeschooled for a decade and have kept NO academic record???? He was correct that we weren’t legally required to submit such paperwork. But, for the sake of partnering and being a TEAM, I assumed from the get-go that we would provide such documentation. I erroneously assumed I would provide that after the kids were in school. Since my school stuff was still packed, I knew they could be registered and placed conditionally and then we could all come to the table to work on helping their adjustment. I’m not sure how he thought pointing out that the school was required to register them even if we DID commit educational neglect was helpful. I’m still not sure how he thought that was helping. True, yes but I’m positive that is how we have been viewed from the moment he uttered it to them.

I fixed A’s situation quickly by going down personally to the middle school and taking care of it. I met with his ESL teacher personally. A is thriving in school. He gets himself up by his own alarm every morning. He dances at the door waiting for his bus to school. He’s making straight As, except for spelling. And well, he’s a bad speller and I’ve told him for years the ONLY way to improve that skill is to buckle down and memorize the spelling words.

E can fix her own situation. Its not fair that she should have to do so. But, she can. And, she is. As soon as she gets it through her stubborn, beautiful head that yes she MUST do Science their way and not debate with the teacher the ridiculous nature of teaching science without a hands-on component, she will. Its not about being right baby girl. Its about playing the game their way and winning. Yes, I’m well aware that your science has always been experimental based since you were old enough to walk. But, you won’t get that again unless you get your rear into that Fine Arts Academy you want so badly. And, you won’t get that unless you get at least a B in Science. Win first, then you can be right.

But Ch and R are still drowning. They are the two the school tried to arbitrarily demote a grade their first week of school. R is making it, slowly and surely on her own. I’m convinced the only reason she is learning to swim is because she’s brillant. And, she has one of the BEST teachers in the entire city. Seriously, the woman has won teacher of the year for something like 5 years in a row. She’s a firm taskmaster. She’s not mean but she’s FIRM. R was so incredibly emotionally immature that firm was exactly the teaching she needed. Her teacher took me aback her first day when she commented that R couldn’t do reading or math. Niether assessment was accurate. R is terribly advanced in math. I thought she was right on track for reading. Teacher friends have assesed her and determined she’s actually advanced. BUT, I taught her strictly phonics based reading. Her school teachers a strictly sight word based reading. When you aren’t combining the two methods, and niether of us were, those two styles of learning to read don’t merge until middle of second grade.

By day two, her teacher recognized what was really going on. She set R up with pull-out reading services and within two weeks, R was nearly up to speed with her class. Her mid-term report card says she’s making 75 in reading and 85 in math. I have a conference with her teacher this afternoon. But, I’m pretty sure the grades reflect that she was off the charts behind to their style when she entered and she’s caught up now. She’s been out of the pull-out reading services for nearly a month now, so her teacher must think she doesn’t need them anymore. And, she’s reading her sister’s favorite chapter books now. The Disney Fairies series. E is horrified. She keeps finding her beloved books in her sister’s bed being devoured.

Ch is another story entirely. I was thrilled to see on his mid-term report card that he’s hitting expectations in all but Reading and Social studies. He’s almost there in social studies, and I know that’s tied into his reading skills. He was tested for ESL and they said he tested just barely below the threshold for formal ESL services. The school system says he needs something called a RTI. II tells me its related to IDEA but has to be initiated by the teacher. His teacher did start pull-out reading services for him last week. But he’s truly failing in reading. It IS ESL related, and I’m frustrated that he cannot get those services afterall. He is the most likely of these children that I will bring home.

But, as I relate all of these challenges, all of what has had to be done to get these children settled into public school, ask me what II has done? He’s voluntarily shared about 1/3 of the burden for trying to fight for M’s needs. And, M is his own blog topic because as I type he’s sitting here waiting very impatiently waiting for me to play Candyland with him…cause he’s STILL HOMEBOUND!

As far as the other children are concerned, I’m really shocked at the lack of support I’ve gotten from II. Every day, I get home from school just in time for dinner. After dinner, I have to go through their homework, read notes from their teachers and check their homework. II brings them home, lets them play games or watch TV and trusts THEM to ‘do their homework’. Seriously, he trusts them to do their OWN homework. A first grader, a struggling second grader and a fifth grader with Bipolar/ADHD/OCD. If this weren’t so frustrating, I would almost laugh at the ludacris assumptions behind this.

After Ch failed his fourth spelling test, II happened to watch as I spent nearly 3 hours drilling Ch on spelling words the night before his spelling test. II hadn’t done anything all week with it. He thought they were covering that in school and the kids didn’t need to do anything else with it…Its been a long time since I was in school, just as long as II. I can’t think of a single one of the 13 schools I attended where learning spelling words wasn’t considered the job of the CHILD and thus required the supervision and assistance of the PARENT.

Ch and R are supposed to write their spelling words one day, put them in sentences another day, and practice them until they are ready to be tested on them. Its supposed to be an all week process. He never makes them do the sentences. In fact, I was working with Ch at 8pm last night to do them again because II didn’t do them earlier. He never practices them with the kids. That works for R and E. It will never work for Ch, not ever.

Every night, I argue with R over blank papers in her homework folder. Why didn’t she do these when she got home from school? She tells her daddy she doesn’t have any homework. She argues with me that its not really homework. But, my policy is that if its in her homework folder and its blank, it must be filled in. If its not necessary, than she just did exta work for reinforcement. If it is, then she’s prepared and can turn it in even if she thought it wasn’t actually homework. He doesn’t even check her homework folder. He doesn’t sign E’s agenda that’s required. He doesn’t sign off on Ch’s conduct grades.

Ch was making D’s in conduct. Daddy just shook his head. I had to deal with Ch and explain what the consequences of Ds in conduct would be. Gee surprise, Ch’s making Bs with an occasional C now. Yes, I know Ch has ADHD and is off his meds. We’re STILL waiting for their insurance cards and we can’t fill his script until they come. So, I know the minute he ran out of his meds, his conduct grades when from As to much lower. But, I also know that even unmedicated he has the ability to control himself and make choices. He wasn’t doing that. And, Dad wasn’t making sure he understood that was expected.

E brought home a F in Science at mid-term. She’s oh so much more capable than that. II called me, tattled on her and waited for ME to come home and deal with her. I did. We talked. I wasn’t angry but firm. I laid out the consequences, my expectations and why she has to learn to conform or she won’t get into the Magnet school. I even shared my own mistakes from having been careless and how I handle my mistakes. True, she only got ONE point out of all of it. But last night as she busted her butt to finish her Science Fair project because it has to be graded today so its ready to present tomorrow, she WAS busting her butt on it. And, she informed her Daddy that she HAD to get a good grade on that project because she has GOT to get her Science grade up….or mommy will make her drop all her extra-curriculars until she is passing all of her classes and that means no more ballet.

Why couldn’t II do that? Why can’t he do any of this? Why can’t he grasp how his children learn, where their strengths and weaknesses are, which are capable of working on their own and which you have to go behind, or even that we are still TEACHING these children here???

So, coming back to the puzzles, as he’s near flip-out point because I spent so much money on these things and he didn’t think that was ‘reasonable’, its dawning on me…maybe reasonable isn’t the problem in this house. Maybe he is NOT reasonable. And, maybe I lost my spine and allowed what I knew were true needs of my children to be downplayed to mere wants. I thought I was supporting this family, being good stewards of what we had.

Want to know what I was REALLY doing? Sacrificing myself. Sacrificing my children. Oh, and for good measure he was scewing whores with the thousands of dollars that should have gone to the genuine needs of myself and these children. Yeah, puzzles are a want and we should be reasonable. I just spent on a bare bones stash of puzzles and games what he spent on ONE escort for his own jollies.

For the first time in a long time, I refused to let myself apologize to him. I simply told him that obviously he has no clue what such things cost, what I spent IS reasonable. And, if its a problem, I’ll reimburse the family funds out of my account. End of story. Its a priority for me. I’m not going to back down.

Welcome to the new world of equality and where my spine doesn’t bend for unreasonable expectations anymore. Should have done that YEARS ago. Spineless, simpering, docile submissive wife. I’m ashamed of myself. I’m ashamed that I let myself be brainwashed by that crap and lost myself and the healthy balance my children needed. I don’t blame II solely. We both made mistakes of walking down that path. But, he can get with the new program or he can permenantly have seperate accounts and his won’t have much funds in them to make sure he’s not spending them on what he clearly confused as his needs over his family’s wants.

2-19-10 Dear Gussy

To steal the favorite phrase of my best friend, DEAR GUSSY!!

E took herself off her meds at least a week ago. She’s slick. She’s smart as a tack and kniows from experience that I do not tolerate non-compliance on her meds. So, she’s highly proficient at hiding this. She’s been off her ADHD meds for a month while we’ve been getting their insurance straightened out. We ran out of her mood stabilizer but we have old ones from M which we’ve been splitting for her. The strongest indicator I have that she’s non-compliant is her ADHD med, which she has been out of so that maker is missing for me.

Instead of taking her pills from her med tray like she’s supposed to so I can verify she’s compliant, she’s been pulling out her bottles…in front of me…and ‘taking’ her meds. And, because in the past I can catch her quick if that’s the only stunt she pulls, this time she deliberately mixed it up. She shifted meds in the pill try, made the ‘misses’ look random and basically tried to send me chasing my tail. It worked for a few days. We then spent 3 days arguing that she wasn’t doing it and palming pills from the bottles right in front of my eyes. Since we’re splitting old meds from her brother down to her dose on her main med, I can’t just count her pills. And on the one pill I have left to reliable count, several pills were ‘damaged/lost/whatever’, at least 3 got wet when someone let the baby drop her entire pill tray into a glass of water. Pill tray is supposed to be high on a shelf, far out of reach of all but parents and oldest 2 children. Interesting that the baby accidentally got hold of that pill tray, and yet on hers and not mine nor other siblings.

Yeah, 2 days ago, she showed up with a chewed up face again. Clear sign her anxiety is risen so high she’s turned to self mutilation again. The game was over when the face got destroyed, and she knew it. So, she’s 1.5 days back into med compliance, which means she’s still crashing HARD. She’s been cycling for 24 hours and her anxiety is through the roof.

I hate this. I hate worse that she openly informed me that she hates taking pills. She hates it and she felt FINE, so she thought she was better and could stop taking them now. Oh goody, she’s 11 and she’s got the Bipolar mantra downpat already. How did that work out for you there? Oh, not so very well. She’s doesn’t feel well at ALL now.

But, she was NOT stable enough to go to school today. I knew it, and she knew it. Still, she had her Science Fair today and we both thought she had to be there to present her project or she wouldn’t get a grade on it. I wish I had known before sending her that she would have been judged and graded regardless because her project got there yesterday and she was fine. Instead, I carefully explained to her that as soon as she finished the fair, if she still felt unstable, then tell her teacher she didn’t feel well and I would bring her home.

Instead, I got a call from the school. My beautiful and beloved 11 year old peed her pants. In class. In front of everyone. And, got to sit there humilated until I came to rescue her. The office staff wanted me to merely bring her fresh clothes. Instead, I brought her home and put in a message that I need to speak to the principal. The teacher and the guidance counselor are aware of E’s diagnosis and her struggles. I think its time we formally talk about this issue. She’s averaging once a month on a mental healthy day, and she’s having an incident in school that precipitates the dismissal. This disease isn’t going to go away. She’s not going to be cured. We need to discuss what accomodations she needs to be successful in school.

I have a call into her Psych. Not only do I think she needs that increase in meds we discussed a month ago when she had the panic attack but never happened, but we need a letter to initiate the discussion with her school on this issue. I was desperately wanted her to be able to do this without everyone knowing her business. But, I’m far more concerned with her failing because of her mental health when her intelligence would allow her to soar, and I’m convinced that pulling her back to homeschooling will merely encourage her to retreat and not rise above this challenge now.

Still, I’m sick to my stomach and fighting back tears. II has declared he never should have procreated, he did this to her, and he KNEW he was supposed to not have kids because of his own issues. So, he’s not only devestated this family but now he sees himself as the reason her life is destroyed. And, since he hit suicide by age 13, he’s already convinced she’s going to try to kill herself very soon.

Not on my watch! If she gets that far then it will be inspite of my fighting for her. He got there in large part because he stood alone without any support. She will not stand alone. She will always have us, and I will always advocate for her. I can’t make her fight this. But, I can hold her hand, give her the tools she needs and encourage her. I am NOT his mother. Don’t anyone dare compare me to that worthless piece of flesh woman who has done nothing but wait for him to die since he was 6 and refused to just happily be consumed at her bosum. I am NOT that woman. And, I’m pretty sure I’ve proven my grit every step of this journey to deserve not having that comparison now!

2-27-10 I found my joy

I woke up Thursday and I realized something important about my life now.

I have found my joy again.

Once upon a time, someone who loved me very much but was never able to really have a relationship said something to me that rocked me to my core. I was 19 and 2 months away from marrying a perfectly nice man…who was a trainwreck in relationship with me. That man probabyl wondered for years what happened. I was planning our wedding and went on a trip for a week. I came back and broke everything off. We were a disaster together. Had we married, I would have been long divorced by now. And, I know he thought a lot of things about what happened that week when I faced this person who loved me so dearly.

The truth is, the life shattering change? It was a simple question. My first love asked me if I was happy. He told me he didn’t care what choices I made with my life, didn’t care if I was meant to be with him because all he cared about was that I was happy.

The answer to the question I hadn’t dared ask myself was that no, I was NOT happy. I was miserable. In fact, I had no joy left in my heart or life. And, that revelation launched me into changing everything about the trajectory of my life. It was a change that would eventually bring II into my life. But, it was also a mantra I embraced.

Until M came into our lives 2.5 years ago, I was truly happy with my life. The path I’ve taken since M came into my life has been so bizarre, so destructive and so over the top that I lost my joy. Back in September, that joy was so close I could taste its return…and then I learned that II was not the man I thought he was.

I went spiraling down a very dark hole 5 months ago. It was a hole so dark, I wasn’t sure I would ever find the light of day again. And, I’ve made changes that I know are the right ones for my family. But, oh how I have hated those changes. I have hated the whole idea of going to medical school. I have hated watching my children flounder and be lost in public school. I have hated watching my poor infant J screaming and crying and heartbroken to lose his mommy as I headed back to school.

I don’t even know when we turned the corner for sure. I realized what I really want is my PhD in Sociology, the other path I was lamented over way back when I took the easy road of checking out on my own future. I met with my advisor and Dept Chair and oh I felt so at HOME again. Wonderful conversations, like minded people and a sense that I was finally where I belonged.

We figured out the job situation for II and realized that he must be working 3/4 time by end of May. That means he will not be able to provide childcare for the babies in the fall. I saw someone discussing having a part-time nanny for her homeschooled children and her toddlers and preschooler. It was the lightbulb I needed. I have childcare arranged for all of next school year, and with that childcare I have the freedom to bring anyone back to homeschooling I feel would do better at home longer.

R’s teacher informed me that R was the brightest little girl she had ever met…and she had given up on her. Ch’s teacher informed me she could not help him and she has been battling the school from the other side of this fight for the same ESL services we’ve been fighting for. She begged me to get him what he needs because she cannot.

So Friday was R and Ch’s last day in the public school system. Monday, they will return to homeschooling for the rest of this year and all of next year. If I get none of my requirements accepted at this point, I have 19 classes left to graduate. We have 7 classes we think we can get acccepted in some fashion or another, which could potentially take me down to a mere 12 classes to graduate. Either way, I will graduate May 2012 and head to Graduate school immediately afterward.

I sit here tonight with a bowl of fresh, homemade popcorn. I rediscovered this option for popcorn back in December and I cannot get enough of it. Everytime I stand at the stove and listen to the kernels pop, I remember my grandfather. My angel grandfather who loved me unconditionally…the only person in my young life whom I knew loved me unconditionally. I’ve missed him every day of the 3.5 years he’s been gone. But, as I listen to the kernels pop, I feel his love his precense and his legacy surround me and comfort me. I know I am loved.

I know II loves me. He is a flawed and imperfect man. But his love was never in question. I am ready to accept his love in all of its imperfection. I have let go of the fear that he could hurt me again. Yes, he could. But, I cannot control whether he does or not. I have my fences built and my boundaries firm. If he ever violates them the consequences are swift, clear and unchanging. But, I don’t want to live my life waiting for him to fail again. I want to accept that today he is fighting his own demons and doing everything he can to be here with me, to love me and to honor this marriage again.

My house is clean but cluttered a dicotomy that is going to last as long as there are so many children living under one roof. Clean is good. Clutter merely means there is love here. 14 months ago, a so-called Christian called CPS on us for the disaster my house was. It was a month when we faced 2 hospitalizations, 2 surgeries, 2 ER visits, a psychotic child whose fostercare worker was refusing to let us get him the mental help he needed and a newborn who spent 2 full weeks battling against the need to be admitted to the NICU while his mama battled with the need to end up back in the hospital for horrific complications from the beating that mental ill child gave her and the birth of that newborn that nearly killed her. In that month, when we battled CPS instead of having loving community to support us, I developed a massive fear about the condition of my home. Today, I can let that fear go. There is no trash, no fecal material, no rotting food, nothing hazardous in the house. There is merely clutter of many people, clean dishes and a never ending pile of clean laundry. I’m letting go of my fear.

I know where my path has to go. I know how to get there. My children are thriving again. My infant is filled with joy. II took us to financial disaster with his hidden behaviors. But, there is still a roof over our heads, food in the fridge and the financial ability to pay the necessary bills to provide for the needs of this family. The rest of the diaster he created cannot be avoided, but I carry no guilt and have accepted that we will rebuild. What is important is here, under this roof and well cared for in spite of it all.

Thursday, I thought about that one who once loved me so dearly that he only cared about my happiness. And, as I have at other points in my life, I asked myself again the question he gave me. Am I happy?

This time, I realized that the answer is YES. I found my joy again. I found ME.

Yes, there will still be days of crying, of sorrow, of mourning and of devestation. But, there will also be days of laughter, of dancing and spinning and smiles and love. There is joy. There is joy in this world and there is joy back in this home because its back in my heart. Every day of my life, I have watched as life has thrown me curveball after curveball. I don’t expect those to change. But, I remember how to stand and still smile through them again. I found my joy.