Chapter 1, loren
I grew up a child and a product of divorce. In today’s society, divorce has become the norm. However, 30 years ago it was still considered taboo and a rather frowned upon “choice”. In the case of my biological parents, it was the only option. My father and mother were married for only a few short years before they decided to divorce. A decision that I can confidently say we are all grateful for. They dated in their very early 20’s for a brief time and found themselves pregnant with me. They quickly got married and 17 months later had my little brother. Their relationship was rushed, volatile, and reached a point where lives were going to be imminently affected if they did not end things.
I don’t have many memories from my very young childhood, but the vivid memories I do have began around the time my parents both remarried. Let me preface this next part by saying, I have the rock-star elite pick of step-parents. My families quickly grew on both sides by the addition of new brothers and sisters.
There is a grand total of 8 children in my family, collectively. That’s 1 biological brother, 3 half-brothers, 1 step brother, and 2 half-sisters. Growing up in a big family was just as overwhelming and messy as you would think it may be. Often I felt like a second mother to my siblings, which in turn lead to me never want children of my own (moment of laughter).
I lived with my mom and step-father for the majority of my youth. Growing up in my mom’s household felt more like a prison at times. We were sheltered from everything, or so it felt that way. My mom homeschooled all of us, myself being her longest student until she enrolled me in public school in 9th grade. I can say without hesitancy, I hated it. I was the awkward homeschool girl who had frizzy hair, braces, and severe acne. Awkward was really an understatement. I was shy, insecure, and felt like I didn’t fit in at all because my parents had sheltered us from so much. I felt caged, but looking back I know now my mom was only trying to protect our innocence. While I felt suffocated (typical teenager), it was my mom’s way of overlaying protection on us.
She did everything she could to give us the best life and steer us down an innocent path. Needless to say, she failed! In her defense, she was raising a highly free-spirited child, along with several little ones. As a parent myself, I now know that we are all in this thing without manuals and completely winging it! I applaud my mom for her unconditional love and for truly always doing what she thought was best, even if that meant smothering us with her love. She still does that, by the way. I love you Mom! In all seriousness, my mom is my hero. She’s managed to love us all despite our disappointing actions, behaviors, and quite literally our terrible life choices. She deserves an island and a mansion, and I feel awful that I can only give her a hug.By age 16, I had hit my breaking point, and this little finch needed to spread her wings.
What I needed was a fresh start. My father was ready to buy me my first car, and the enticing idea of moving to Texas to try out a new life planted itself. Watching my mom cry as I got on that plane is a moment I never understood until now. As a mother myself, I have felt that heartbreaking pain when your child chooses the other parent over you, or at least that’s how it feels. My intentions were never to break my mother’s heart, or escape from her. I only wanted to explore and see what life with my other family would be like, aside from a week visit here and there. I felt as if she was holding me back from spreading my wings, and I so desperately ached to be set free - A feeling I still possess today.
My new life in Texas was everything I had wanted it to be - freedom, a new identity, and a chance to try all the things I had wanted to. I did just that. In fact, I probably went to the extreme with my endeavors, but I can say that those years were some of the most exciting and stupid memories I have. I am grateful for all of them. Mostly grateful that I came out alive and without a criminal record. More importantly, because it gave me the push out of the nest that I needed to become an independent woman. Leaving home was no longer scary. Change was thrilling, and falling in love was possible!
Falling in love is exactly what I did. It was the middle of my senior year of high school when I fell in love with a blue-eyed, blonde-haired, East Texas boy who had just graduated Marine Corps boot camp; I was ready to go wherever life took us. By that point, mine and my father’s relationship had gotten so bad that I wanted nothing more than to run away. The need for freedom started to itch again and I wanted to fly. That’s exactly what I did. After graduation and my pathetic efforts into my first semester in community college, I slowly started packing up my belongings and would take them to my boyfriend’s parents house. The day came where I had a terrible fight with my Dad. It was so bad, and I had enough - it was the last straw. I wrote a note reading something to the effect of, “I’ve moved out. I can’t do this anymore and didn’t know how to tell you. Bye!” Now, my parents might actually remember what the note read because I’m sure it’s ingrained in them forever, but that was the just of it.
I stayed with my boyfriend’s parents for a couple months before he moved me back to Georgia and back into my Mom’s home. As you will later discover, I have moved back home about a hundred times. The reason for this is simple really, my parents instilled in all of us a sense of independence and bravery, however they have always reminded us of the safety net we have. I can speak for all of my siblings on this one because while we all strive for success and independence, we have all used our safety nets after countless tries of jumping out of the nest, yet not quite being ready. This philosophy is exactly the one I hope to instill in my own boys. I want them to feel like no matter what they attempt, fail, or succeed at, when or if they need a safe place, mom and dad will always be there. We will be there with arms wide open or a key under the mat.