Reopening the Wound

It’s been ages since I last wrote. There hasn’t been much to share because life has been just that. Life. It’s busy, chaotic, hectic, and beautiful. All these things rolled into one fast 24 hour span, seven days a week.

We’ve celebrated a first anniversary and a signing of a second lease. We’ve survived a new sport and second grade. We’ve lived through a tough year of trying to conceive without any success. Together, we’ve survived.

I come back to writing when I feel like my soul needs to get something free. To loosen the words floating about my mind and to clear my thoughts.

Today, I renewed my credential. Renewing this document has caused a rise sadness and anger of the likes I’ve never known. The resentment, the rage, and frustration all swirling together, making it hard to think or talk without stumbling on all those words tangling together. So tangled I felt the need to write about it. To work out the knots that have formed in between my synapses.

In 2005 I got my credential and taught for about 4-5 months. Then I discovered I was pregnant. In light of this discovery I turned down a job opportunity, packed up, and moved home. There I got back into teaching by way of subbing in my hometown. Little could I have known, or anyone else for that matter, that the job I turned down to raise my son would be the last job opportunity I would be offered. Each year I would apply to teach full time and each year I would sign back up as a substitute when no interviews or opportunities opened for me.

After so long I knew I needed more. I needed insurance for my son and consistency for both of us. I needed an income that was steady and a work schedule that never deviated. So I left. I turned my back on teaching and did what any parent needing to care for a child would do: I sacrificed.

It’s been seven years and much has changed in the classroom. New policies and laws have made their way into the schools. Now that my child is in school, I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground and watching with a keen eye on the changing face of education. Larger class sizes and a new curriculum. And most recently, talk of ridding the state of teachers’ tenure, a ruling I’d happily stand up and clap for. No teacher has earned a lifetime job after only 2 years in a classroom and it makes it difficult to file against a teacher that isn’t pulling their weight and relying on their tenure to secure them a job each year.

With this news, it was suggested that I update my resume and make sure my credential was in order. And I balked.

“What resume?” I said. I hadn’t stepped foot in a class as a teacher in seven years! All of my references would be no good and I would have no letters to show off all my glowing achievements. Instead I would have empty hands but many years of loving my child. I don’t regret becoming his mother and I can’t regret stepping away from teaching. It was a decision that had to be made. But now, I’m nothing in the realm of education. I’m practically the same level as a student still finishing their student teaching semester.

Even so, I went along and updated my credential. My name has changed since and it was coming up for renewal anyway. I so did just that. I removed my maiden name and filed for renewal.

When I was done, I felt a warmth rising up my face and over my whole body. I wanted to cry. The dream of being a teacher, something I’d wanted since I was a little girl, had been shattered long ago. But renewing my credential almost feels like picking at a scab that had long since healed over only to discovered a festering wound still open beneath.

I’m still angry and frustrated at the hand that I was dealt. The bad luck that followed me down my path. As I waded through these hot angry tears surfacing through all my rage and angsts, I started to realize something else was bubbling to the surface. I am scared. I’m scared to leave my nest. I may be miserable here at times but I’m comfortable. I also carry the family on my insurance plan. I can’t just leave. I’m also afraid that I no longer will want to teach. It was easy to flow from school to the classroom. I had been teaching for years. But being away for so long has made me reconsider whether teaching is even a vocation I want to pursue.

This last thought, this realization that maybe teaching isn’t what I want to do anymore is devastating. Like a big eraser, this thought wipes away all the years of wanting to be a teacher. All the years of working for it and wanting it with every fiber of my body. The sudden idea that maybe this isn’t the dream I thought it would be breaks my heart.

Under the surface of all these warring feelings and thoughts, another realization is slowing rising like a patient balloon reaching for the sky. While I renewed my credential I also changed my name. I’m the same person but with a new name. Maybe this could be my fresh start?

For now, I wait for the notification that my renewal has been approved and that my credential is now legal for another 10 years. While I wait for this response, I will spend my time reflecting on the changing surface of my feelings. The anger and fear and hope and sadness. They swirl and swish together like an oil slick riding the sloppy waves along the coast. I’ll ride them out, address each one and allow them to each sink below until my mind and heart are clear.

 

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The Hat

This is a story about a hat. A hat that was just a simple baseball cap but ended up becoming a symbol of hate. My hate.

It all started when our son told us he wanted to play baseball instead of soccer in spring. Being that neither my husband nor I are baseball fans, we asked our son a number of times whether he truly wanted to play. After answering yes each time we asked, we gave in and signed him up. Spring was looking to be rather interesting.

As the holiday season ended and the new year rolled around, emails came slowly started trickling in from coaches and managers and officials of the league informing us of events to warm up the players and try-outs for the teams. Knowing as little as I did about this sport, I went into it thinking this should be fun! And new! And exciting. I was still thinking this until try-outs arrived and I realized the kids would not only try-out but would be marked down and drafted by the coached sitting quietly on the first base line. They were judging each player based on the skills they showed instead of a blind numbering system that I had known in soccer. Oh man… This mama was not ready to watch her son get judged, even though I understand why. Then realization of how different baseball was from soccer hit me and I had a sinking feeling.

But I brushed it off and went along, encouraging my child to believe that this will be fun and that he only had to stick out the season if he didn’t like it because we didn’t believe in quitting. We worked through things we were afraid of or things that we were uncertain of. While I was speaking to him, I know my words were meant more for me. I was telling myself not to quit and pull him from the possibly HUGE mistake we were making and stick him back into soccer, a sport we all know and like.

Then the final nail in the coffin came, sealing my doubt in with my fears. It came in the form of a parent meeting for all rookie players. At this meeting we were given our practice schedule and our practice location. They also explained our game schedule for the season and all the little tidbits of information needed: expectations, volunteers, events, the usual. My husband attended this and sent me back text messages that made the pit at the bottom of my stomach grow larger. We’d have two practice a week, throwing off our whole routine. There would also be a weekday game (WHY?!) and a weekend game.

So we sucked it up and shook off the initial shock of how much was involved and the scramble that would become our lives from now until the end of the season. And I realized that our son was hearing our doubts and voiced his concern that he’d made a mistake in choosing baseball. That shut us up fast. If he wanted to play, we’d make it work. From here on out, I’d have to silence my concerns and just fake it through.

It wasn’t until the first practice that made me realize how big a of a mistake we’d made. After practice, our son was lamenting how he missed soccer and didn’t like baseball. Oh boy… this was not what we needed to hear. Knowing now that he was only lukewarm to the idea of baseball made us feel even more hesitant. Was this a bad idea? Could we still get out of it? Instead we told him to give it a little bit longer to get used to it. That we didn’t quit things we started but if after this season it didn’t work, then it didn’t work. But, together as a family, we’d make it through this first season come hell or high water.

I only half believed what I was telling him.

By the second practice we were receiving both emails and text messages about all the goings on of this overly involved sport that neither of us liked. And each mention of the team made me grumpier and more frustrated. How could we have been so mislead to think that a family of two working parents could make this work? Who can make 4:30 pm practices twice a week when both parents have jobs?! This was becoming a perfect pitch for multiple wives. More hands, more help. But I digress.

At the second practice, it was asked that all players brought their hats and $25 for some embroidery to be done on them. Well, we never made it due to issues with homework not being finished so his hat was still with us. On Sunday we were reminded about uniform pickup and to bring the hat, too. That way the team moms could take it all in to get stitched and ready for our first games. Come Sunday, we were ready, cap and money in hand. We got our uniforms all picked out and sized up and then we left… with the damn hat. Somehow I had missed the memo that we were to leave the hat. I didn’t know who to give it to or what we were to do it with and somehow my husband didn’t know that I didn’t know so he didn’t do anything either.

So we left. With the hat.

Suddenly I get a message. The team mom realized they didn’t have our hat and wanted us to come back to drop it off. We were already out of the area and on our way to our delayed beach day with my sister, a day that was supposed to be a brunch date but got moved to late lunch when we found out our uniform pickup time conflicted with our plans. So no, we weren’t going to turn around and come back. Instead we made plans to drop it off the next day.

It was that moment that I started to hate that hat. The hat was nothing more than a piece of clothing but it became a symbol of something more. Of our frustration, of our lives slowly being whittled away by a sport that none of us, even our son, was really all that interested in. A sport that he wanted to just try for a season that was now consuming us. My running schedule was being disrupted and my husbands work schedule and gym sessions were being moved around. Everything was changing. Our happy little life was slowly being rearranged for baseball, a sport none of us loved.

As we all woke this morning, the moods were light and fun as we gave each other hugs and kisses goodbye. Everyone seemed to be in good moods. That was until I realized I hadn’t sent the address of our team mom to my husband for the hat drop off. It had slipped my mind. As I pulled up to drop off our son at his grandmother’s house, I sent a quick message containing the contact information to him when I saw out of the corner of my eye the lurking black bill of our son’s baseball hat.

The damn thing was with me. Sigh….

Dropping him off with a quick word and a kiss from my mother, I jumped back in the car fuming. I had to retrace my route and go back home to give my husband the hat so that he could drop it off for us. And this made me 30 minutes late to work. I was not a happy mama.

In a joking manner, I took a picture of me giving the hat the Bird and sent it to my husband for a good laugh. And we did chuckle at it. It was funny and stupid to flip off a hat because you are angry but it also had a deeper meaning to us. This hat, this season, this sport, was slowly becoming everything that was making us mad. It symbolized all of our frustrations and anxieties over how we would pull this off. It was the visible reminder of our big mistake.
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The hat is now in the possession of the embroidery shop that is stitching our son’s name to the back of it along with his name on his jersey. And to add insult to our already tender wounds that this damn hat inflicted over the past two days, we received the schedule for our games. From Monday-Thursday and then Saturday, our lives are now all baseball, the sport we are slowly hating more and more each day. The messages between my husband and I are littered with colorful words and a deep sense of frustration and anger. Anger at the loss of control over our schedules, the inability to foresee how this sport was going to affect us and change everything. And, personally, I think this has opened our eyes to how much we love our lives and how much we love the schedule we had built carefully and meticulously.

For now we’ll have to decide if this is something we can make happen without putting too much strain on our family. We’re also going to have to pool our resources in the form of babysitters, grandmothers, and family members that can be there if we can’t. And if we can’t make it happen, then we’ll at least have the ability to say we tried but it just wasn’t for us.

Date Night

In the passing lights of the highway, the glint from his wedding ring catches my attention as we drive to the coast for a quiet dinner together. A dinner with no children, no diaper bags, no whining. Just us.

I tuck my hand into his as he speaks of his clients that day. Of the menial details of his Monday. The conversation is light and airy, flowing between us as we share the little things we forget during the weekly hustle at home due to the homework assignments that need to be checked and the bathtime antics that need to be mediated.

I lean back against the headrest and let his voice carry me down the motorway towards the grey sky of November hanging above us. He hasn’t told me where we are going but I know. It’s our place. A little harbor restaurant tucked away between the boats and jetties where we can dine on seafood and wine with real linens and a small candle lit between us. Tonight there is no worry of little curious fingers finding their way into the glass sconces or markers making a permanent drawing of Big Bird on the snow white table cloth.

Tonight there will be no kid’s menu and no macaroni and cheese to cool down with our gentle whispers. No hamburgers to order with only meat and cheese between two buns, preferably without seeds. No sippie cups or lidded cups of any kind to avoid spills. No fighting over the crayons brought to the table to placate the children as they wait for their food.

Instead I’m in my purple sweater dress. The one that hangs perfectly off my curves that are usually hidden beneath my comfortable, worn jeans and careless tee-shirts. I managed to dig up a pair of black nylons and heels to match so that I’m warm yet dressed up. And though we rushed from work to the bathrooms to ready ourselves to sit in traffic on our way to the shore after the exchange of offspring from parents to grandparents, I managed to put on makeup and let down my hair.

His smooth voice brings me back and I realize I miss hearing him speak without whispering after bedtime or raising his tone to be heard over the din. I laugh at his jokes and he asks me about work. He shares his opinion about a song on the radio and I joke about the video I saw at lunch. Then, without warning, a silent blanket falls around us as we coast along the ebbing sea of glowing taillights. Small rain drops pitter against the windshield as the tires beneath lull us into a comfortable silence.

And there between us, our hands clasped casually over the center console full of nurse rhymes on CD and pacifiers, we fall in love all over again. In that brief moment of silence with only our palms resting together do we remember why we are here. Without a word, only a sigh from both of us, we find our romance tucked within the crumb covered seats, a lone shoe, and the toys that have been “lost”.

You and Me Plus Baby and Him and All The Family Makes…Oh Hell….I Lost Count

Before we said “I Do”, the mister and I talked about kids. We both agreed that having two kids together was a dream we shared and we wanted to start as soon as the wedding was done and paid for. We had a few reasons to want to start right away but the main one was our ages: we aren’t getting any younger and neither is Jake. With one already in elementary school, we knew that we’ll practically be raising two separate families with the large age gap.

Also, our son is overjoyed with the notion of having siblings. We are thrilled he’s excited but we also know this feeling won’t last long for him once he realized how much of our time he’ll have to share and how disruptive babies really can be. Might as well capitalize that he’ll actually enjoy being around the little squirt and have one sooner rather than later when he wants to be in his room all the time.

So, riding on the coat tails of honeymoon bliss and the excitement our little one had to be a big brother, we jumped into the baby making process. We charted and tracked. We noted mood changes and any inkling of physical differences in my body. We logged time together and spent many hours planning and looking over our projected finances. I took pregnancy tests and waited impatiently for those damn two minutes to tick by for the results.

But when that initial month of planning and tracking passed without success, well the tears did flow and I found myself whining that I was broken. My husband, good man that he is, comforted me and reminded me that we’ve only just begun and we have more than enough time. This of course made me cry harder as I complained that my clock was ticking and I would soon find myself beyond the age of fertility.

All silly things really but still very valid concerns of mine.

My lack of conceiving was noticeable with all the family and friends surrounding us and soon we were being asked when we were going to have our next one or when our turn would be. At this we shrugged and I felt less and less confident that it would happen for us naturally. I started to foresee lots of stirrups and doctor’s appointments with poking and prodding galore for me.

While initially I was disappointed and bothered that nature had let us down and that we hadn’t conceived within the first millisecond of being married, soon I found myself not so bothered by it. Soccer started for Jake and school began not long after. We started having some issues with bedtime fears of Jake’s, keeping us awake at all hours and rudely reminding me what it feels like to work on disrupted sleep.

After that first month we stopped trying so hard. No more charting or testing if I had the slightest tummy ache. We let our time together be enjoyable and we finished out the summer as a happy family ready for fall and for school to resume.

It’s funny. I didn’t expect for it to be so easy to suddenly not care as much about becoming pregnant. That first month was intense and tiring. If it happened, then great! But when it didn’t happen and we moved on with our lives so easily, I guess I was not expecting that.

To be honest, I don’t know what I expected. I guess I just thought it would just work, like the teachers at my Catholic high school warned. They put the fear in us that even THINKING about sex would create a child. Plus, in my personal experience, even when you aren’t trying and you do what you can to prevent it from happening, well, it can still happen!

So with all my convoluted thinking and my past experience with conceiving, I guess I figured that when I actually tried, it would just BAM! Happen…And then, it didn’t happen. Damn teachers lied… After the disappointment wore off, we found ourselves peacefully ok with it. We stopped worrying and we’re not even really trying anymore.

And I’m honestly happy to not to be worrying about getting pregnant anymore. It’ll happen when it’s meant to. Plus it took up too much brain space and emotional energy. And pregnancy tests don’t come cheap.

We still want our family and we very much looking forward to adding to our brood. And when that time comes, there will be no limit to the joy we’ll feel.

Tidying Up

Our home is where our heart rests no matter where we venture to. And when that home is a disaster, you can bet coming home is a bit of a heartache.

For the last couple of months, our home was a mess. There were gifts lining the couch from the shower, clean laundry piled high waiting for a drawer to be available, boxes of decorations and items for the wedding littered the living room, and our son’s bedroom had slowly slipped beneath the radar and was filing up fast with junk.

After we returned home from Costa Rica, we knew we needed to do some heavy duty cleaning. So we worked together, unboxed everything, washed all the old dishes and carted them off to Good Will, organized the kitchen to within an inch of its life, and cleaned out the refrigerator. That was only the kitchen.

Soon the living room followed with a new coffee table to replace the broken one we currently were using, wrapping up cords that squirmed around the entertainment center, and vacuuming the carpet more than once. New pictures went up on the walls and everything was clean and orderly.

It felt good to have an old space look new!
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It felt so good that I took to my internet hangouts (Facebook, Friendfeed, Twitter, WordPress) and decided to do a virtual cleaning of my own. I whittled down my followers. I deleted old, unused accounts from sites I rarely ever visit any more. I trashed a few draft posts I never finished and released a few older posts that were at one time private. I adjusted my name on a few sites to now reflect my married name.

I swept and cleaned every little virtual corner and in the end, felt a certain level of peace come over me. I was letting go.

I was moving on and accepting this new life. Change is tough no matter how great it is but it’s worth all of the pain in the end.

We now have a clean kitchen and I’m finding myself in it more, cooking and baking and trying new recipes like…
 photo adaa173e-1af5-4610-850d-ac3e6fbf883c_zpsd238ccb9.jpgBacon Wrapped Chicken Kabobs

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Fourth of July Pancakes

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Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Even our son is becoming interested in learning to cook. We started with something simple, scrambled eggs.
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Nowadays I feel relieved to be home at the end of the day or after a good workout instead of stressed and uncomfortable in my space. And it’s also something we work on together, as a family. We help each other fold the laundry and wash the dishes. We load the dishwasher together and help fill the laundry basket when the dryer is done. Together we made this space ours.

As a family, we made it our home again.

Letter To My Son: The Adventure

Jacob,

Today I read back through some of the letters I’ve written to you over time. Letters about your strong-will and intelligence. Letters about my feelings on raising you alone. A letter about what your birthday means to us, especially to me.

I hope you’ve had the chance to read them. To know that in those moments, it was important for me to stop, write to you while my memories are still fresh and to share what was in my heart at that time. I hope these letters mean as much to you as they do to me, these little pieces of our past.

I thought about all our time together as mother and son. We’ve had 7 years, just us. 7 years of stories, heartache, lessons and lots of love. It’s been an incredible adventure.

The Two Of Us

We’ve run races together and dipped our toes in the Black Sea. I took you to your first symphony concert and introduced you to The Beatles. We’ve seen wild animals at the zoo and pretended we were on safari together and discovered some of our favorites books during our bedtime stories.

Together, we’ve learned how to love through the tough times and how strong we are when we are side by side. I watched you huddle against me, listening to my breathing and heartbeat as you slept peacefully, so close and so trusting.

Then, slowly, I watched you venture away from me with tentative steps. Your small feet would carry you away but after discovering something new, you always returned for comfort and to share.

Now you walk away from me with confidence and I couldn’t be more proud.

Being your mom has been an amazing adventure. One I will cherish and share with you over and over, even when you are grown and able to read these letters yourself.

In a few short weeks, you and I will begin a whole new adventure. We will become a bigger family. Our journey as mother and son will come to an end and we’ll cross over into unfamiliar territory. While change in general can be unnerving, this is an adventure we won’t go at alone. We’ll still be together, still mother and son.

But when we walk down our new path, you’ll no longer only have one hand to hold, there will be another. We won’t be just us but a family of three. You will have two parents to kiss you good night and two parents to hold you when you are scared. Two parents to teach you how to be a kind and strong human. Two parents to listen when you have concerns.

Us Three

Our first adventure together may be coming to an end, but just over the horizon is a whole new one.

Know this, my son, that this new adventure never diminished anything we went through on our own. When you read this, I hope you know that what we had was special and just ours. It was our foundation and our beginning. It was a chapter in our story. A long story for us, I hope, with many chapters and new characters along the way.

I loved you more everyday which to me seemed impossible. I thought the day they handed you to me, my heart would explode from the deep love I felt for you instantly. It didn’t and still to this day, I love you more and more. No matter how grown up you are reading this, you are still my little man.

Now we turn the page and start off fresh. Off to discover new things to share with each other and laugh together the whole way.

Together on our new adventure.

Your partner in crime,

Mom

How Planning A Wedding Can Make You Question Your Sanity

I consider myself a fairly sane person. I have a few emotional flaws, a few insecurities and a general lack in confidence that drives The Guy nuts. But my the overall scheme of mental health is pretty even-keeled.

I feel happy when I should be happy and I feel sad when I should be sad.

Until I started planning my wedding.

We are into the last stretch of planning now and I deal, on a daily basis, with a plethora of emotions ranging from sheer panic to overwhelming joy to unbridled rage.

It’s like I’m 16 all over again wondering if that boy I like likes me back and if I’ll ever get out of the house and be my own person. There was a reason we all grew out of the teenage years and don’t revisit them. They sucked.

So yes, planning my wedding is like being a moody, hormonal 16 year old all over again including the pimples that are cropping up due to stress and the random bouts of crying.

If we were to put me into a room and have no outside influence, I’d feel this range of emotions, but probably on a moderate level. I’d feel the stress of everything coming together and the excitement of all those firsts: first time we see each other, first time we kiss as husband and wife. But they wouldn’t be too extreme, they’d just be the normal, usual, ups and downs of a bride-to-be.

I think what kicks my responses into full throttle is all the outside influence of other people around me when they hear I’m getting married.

Now I’ve been pregnant and dealt with the flood of emotions from strangers and family members as they came and petted my stomach, asking me if I was excited or nervous and how I felt in general. That was hard to deal with because more often than not people come to you with their own projected feelings on the subject and instead of asking “How are you doing?” without any expectation, they come to you with descriptors in place which they project onto you and expect you to agree with.

And it’s the same with planning a wedding. People don’t ask me “How are you holding up?” and then sit back and allow me to express my true feelings. Instead they say “Aren’t you excited?” or “Are you getting nervous yet?” and even “I bet you can’t WAIT for the big day!”.

Without even trying, they’ve already filled in the blanks for me. My answer is no longer relevant because I’m either going to lie about how I feel to appease them OR I’m going to give them an answer that sounds like I’m being a bitch.

Let me give you an example of a common conversation. Now remember, I’m dealing with a wide variety of emotions all at one time so no single answer really captures how I’m actually feeling at any given moment.

Jane: Wow, the big day is almost here!!! I bet you are sooooo excited!!!!

Me: (stressed/anxious/frustrated/happy) Yeah, kinda.

Jane: Oh really? Why aren’t you super happy? A wedding is a beautiful thing! You should be really excited! There is nothing to stress about. You’ll be a beautiful bride…

Me:……

There is so much wrong with this that I can’t even find a starting point. Like coming to me with an emotion in place: excitement. But what if I’m not really excited? Do I lie and say “Yeah, I’m totally excited!” And then in comes the ‘should’ and the invalidation of what I really feel followed by the glossing over of a rather large event that costs an arm and a leg by claiming that all will be well because I’ll “make a beautiful bride”.

While this conversation is paraphrasing of a few different conversations all rolled into one, this is really what I’ve been told.

In real life…

So I’m bombarded regularly with the expectations that I’m happy, excited, joyful, thrilled, all these fluffy good feelings and it’s not as acceptable to gripe, be tired, frustrated, angry or in general unhappy at planning this wedding.

Sadly, I’m a little of everything. Just like a teenager. Moody.

I’m thrilled to be 26 days away. I’m overjoyed that we write our last big check this week. I’m happy that we are turning in our headcount and no longer have to worry about RSVPs (kinda).

So yes I have positive feelings. But they are underlined (thickly) with a bold stroke of negative because this is a big event. And it’s a big life change. I mean…I have been my maiden name for 32 years! And in one day, one fell swoop, I become someone else with a new name. I’m dealing with not only the stress of throwing a big party but the natural, NORMAL grieving process many brides go through but don’t really talk about because it’s not socially acceptable to feel negative emotions when the outside world considers a wedding to be only a good thing.

Getting married is a big deal. Planning a wedding is not necessary for you to have big emotions because getting married is enough. But if you choose to plan one, expect those feelings to become amplified by 1,000,000,000 times.

No…seriously.

If I wasn’t insane before, this whole planning situation has made me feel like I am. I’m questioning my sanity on a daily basis.

The only things that are keeping me sane when I get frustrated over vendors not responding to us or crying over an RSVP card that returns with a loving note are my two guys.

If it wasn’t for them and our day to day life, the laughs we shared and the long conservations we have each night, I’d probably fall apart right about now. But what we have built together, as a family, is keeping me grounded.

And that is why I keep going. This isn’t about the big emotions of getting married or the stress of planning a wedding that wasn’t necessarily wanted. It’s about my family and my love for them and their love for me.

It’s about us.
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