Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Reflective Monday

At 5 this morning I was going through some pictures I have been separating all summer looking for a sunset picture I wanted to blog about did not happen. Instead I found pictures of Eric and Jennifer. Right now you are probably asking yourself who are Eric and Jennifer? Well, I married the first time in 1976 and with the marriage came an instant family. I was 21 years old and an instant mother of a 4 and 5 year old. They were the cutest things you have ever seen. Both of them were just as tow headed as they come. I loved the concept of being a mom. The greatest thing was that they needed me as much as I needed them. Life as a wife and mother was not without its pitfalls. I discovered that taking over someone else's children was not something you just stepped into lightly. The kids and my new husband had been living with his older sister and she had become momma number 2 to the children....Jennifer more than Eric. Milly (Ronnie's sister) had twin boys and no little Jennifer was the daughter she never had. Jennifer was not a happy camper when she was uprooted and forced to become my daughter. We had a lot of issues to overcome...but we overcame them....slowly. By the time the kids were in school we had settled into our new roles very nicely. Ronnie and I were married 20+ years. We were never a couple...we were always a family. When I was 26 I gave birth to Kat...the child I talk about a lot in here...the kids loved her...I was a good momma. I was a stay-at-home mom until Kat's first day in school. I became a teacher that day and worked at my kids life was perfect. Well, sort of the time Kat started school I began to realize that Ronnie and I had problems. I kept working at being a family...because that is what I was taught to do. You did not married for better or worse. I rationalized it all by saying that as long as the good outweighed the bad I could do this. Eric joined the Army when he was 18 and moved out. He would never live with us again. He married Sandy Thurman after he was discharged from the service and he began his married life with one of the sweetest people I know...even though she was so young. They divorced after several years and then Eric married Roulain. Roulain had two children by a previous of them was Down's Syndrome. I begged Eric to think long and hard about this decision. He loved her, they married, and over the past ten years have separated and reunited more times that I have fingers. They now have two children of their own...and one of them is Down's Syndrome. Jennifer got pregnant her junior year, and that put a blight on Eric's graduation...she gave the child up for adoption that summer and then two years later married Steven, who had a daughter Christina. Her new husband left a lot to be desired. He was closer to my age than he was to hers and very controlling. It worried me a great deal. Steven and Jeni had a son, Austen. He is absolutely precious. When Jeni and Steve divored...Steve retained custody of Austen. Scary thought....but his dad was a very well-known attorney and very powerful. So by now you are probably thinking...what a disfunctional family...and you are right. Kat never knew about the baby....she was only 10. We kept this from everyone and inside I felt my life crumbling at my feet. Ronnie began gambling more, I devoted myself more to Kat...and we grew apart. Eight years later...Kat's senior year...I could not take it anymore. Kat was accepted at Montevallo College and I was going to be living in a house with someone I did not know...who was never home. Where did all our plans of what we were going to do when the kids were gone go? I felt trapped and two weeks after she graduated...I found an apartment and moved out. Kat was away at Montevallo....and not she transferred to UAB. I would find out later it was not because she really wanted to go to UAB but because Jeni needed her. Kat and Jeni moved in together and during that time...on a night when Jeni had had entirely too much wine...Kat found out the family secret I had taken such care of burying in the closet. The summer I moved out almost cost me my relationship with Kat. She was so hurt and angry. It took a trip to New York and a performance of the Phantom of the Opera for us to work things out....Still, I kept the communication door open with the kids and my original plan was to make Ronnie see what he would be missing without me. It was kind of a showdown....a gamble for me....and I am not much of a gambler by nature. I like the straight choice...but my choices for him were either gamble....or be married. He chose the gambling and I was crushed. Two years went by before we signed the divorce papers and I kept hoping....even after I found out he had a gambling loving female friend...the kids and I were still close. They would see their dad...and see me....and did not seem to take sides. In 2000 I met Frank and in 2003 we married. I told him from the start that if my kids did not like would never happen. They all appeared to love him. Frank and Eric seemed to hit it off from the start. Jennifer was living in Florida near her birth mom and seemed ok with the situation. Kat was cool. Ronnie had a stroke...and I found myself an outcast from the two oldest children. Eric lives in the same town I live in...and if I want to see him...and the grandkids...I have to go to his house. He never calls, he never stops by, I don't exist....except when it is gift least that is how I feel. Jennifer and her new husband, Sam, bought some land near where I used to live....across the street from where Ronnie now lives...and they are this town....often. I never see or hear from them either. I raised these kids from the ages of 4 and 5 and now...I am nothing to them. I have cried. I have been angry. I have been hurt. I am numb now. On July 11th, my mom was 80. I invited them both to her party and never heard a word. Now, I may be blacklisted from their lives...but my mom was good to them. She taught Jeni how to sew, cook, preserve, she took them to the planetarium...with their friends, plays, field trips...and this is how they treat her. Not so much as a card! I guess I failed as a mom where the two of them are concerned...or to quote Jeni and Eric's aunt Pam....nature really does win out over nurture. If I could give anyone advice it would be...if you are thinking about marrying someone with kids...think long and are NOT just marrying the are truly marrying the whole family. And sometimes...decisions come back and bite you in the but. Today, I have learned to just let the cards fall where they may. If I hear from Jeni and Eric I am glad...if I don't...Oh well! It is their loss. They made their choice and I will live with it. I am not one to push myself somewhere I am not I don't anymore. Frank said it hurt him to see me continue to try only to get slapped down. In all the years I was their mother...I never once referred to them as my step-children....they lived with me....I was raising them...they were mine...and I knew where I stood when a banker friend of mine told me he had met my ex-step-daughter. That was how Jennifer referred to me. Ex is an ugly word...especially when you are on the receiving end of it. I didn't mind being an ex-wife...but an ex-mom was a bitter pill to swallow. So, this ex-mom is signing out for today! ¡Ciao!


Edie Marie's Attic said...

Hi Karen -
You are absolutely right! so many people don't think about that - you marry the WHOLE family!! I wish people would stop to realize that. They think that the love they have for their intended will be enough. But it goes so much deeper into family dynamics than just their intended!!

I'm so sorry you had such an unkind thing said regarding you. It's so hurtful and cuts deeply. All we can do is pray for people like that. Someday she will be faced with the same type thing and only then will she remember her hurtful words & ways. We have to try to forgive but we are not made to forget. I think it's so we remember the lessons of life we are intended to learn. If we are really listening to God we will see that he will use that to help someone else from being hurt or know they are not alone. Maybe someone will read this post and remember how they have hurt someone in the past or maybe someone will be thinking about how they currently feel towards a person in this situation. Did this happen for such a time as this? Someday we will know...
just a thought.

Huge warm hugs, Sherry

lagirl said...

Life truly is a "Journey" isn't it? Who could have foreseen all the bends & twists in the road ahead?! You're a Survivor. You did your Best and have few regrets, so that's something to be very proud of. It may not have played out as you would like, but no ones life really does, guess that's why it's a "journey". Every one hits "bumps & even mountains" along the way - relationships change, people die, new ones are born, we make mistakes, we live, we learn, we're often criticized and misunderstood, we hurt, we heal. . .

Keep on goin' GF.
You're one heck of a woman/teacher/wife/mother!
Don't let others bring you down.

lagirl said...

Thanks for both the recipes.
I'll give them BOTH a try.

Good for you for sticking with your "make-over" program. We gotta keep healthy, Girl. Even if it AIN'T fun!

Xazmin said...

I'm so sorry Karen.

Sometimes life can be so painful. Relationships and people can be so difficult. I'm sorry you've had to deal with this heartach.

You've been through a lot in your life, but still seem to find ways to reach others, and touch their lives. (HELLO - teacher!)

I really admire you.