Chapter 28, april

“Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above.  These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all.”
-James 1:17 (CEB)

I had spent so much of my life trying to be the person I was supposed to be instead of just being the person I wanted to be. I accepted so many things that I did not deserve and was too afraid to go after what I knew I was worthy of.

 As a little girl, I dreamt of starting a family.  I planned to go to college, find the perfect man to fall in love with, then he would get down on one knee and ask me to be his wife.  We would have the perfect wedding, and once our careers were solidified - we would have children.  

It came as no surprise that John and I had the conversation of whether or not he and I would have a child of our own.  He and I felt so complete in our love for one another, but it just seemed natural that once we were married, we should have a baby.  After all, that is what we were ‘supposed’ to do.  

John made an appointment with a specialist to discuss having his vasectomy reversed.  Once we got the results from that, it would be my turn.  I was completely fulfilled in my adventures of motherhood.  However, there was a little voice inside my head reminding me that John would never love me as much as he loved Loren, unless I could create life with him just as she had.  

The fear of something happening that resulted in John and I no longer being husband and wife haunted me.  He could just walk out of my life at any moment.  There was absolutely nothing binding us to one another, besides our love.  The anxiety and frustration continued as the communication between John and Loren deteriorated immensely. The limited conversations they did have were filled with childish texts and immature memes. Who knew you could co-parent children by simply texting a middle finger and poop emoji?  I had lived a rough life, but my current situation was pure and utter misery. I held on to the hope that one day things would get better. One day, Loren would grow to be as tired of the chaos as I already was. 

We took petty to a new level. It seemed that anything we could do to cause the other household an inconvenience was done and documented.  

Little did we know that it was not only having an effect on us, the adults, it was destroying the most important things in our lives, the children.  Jackson came home from school with a project due. This was during my ‘I am required to be the textbook perfect parent’ stage. We rushed out to buy all the materials we needed to complete the project of why we were thankful for Jack.  

That was easy! He was a bright and energetic little boy, with so much spark. After dinner that evening, we went around the table and everyone gave a quality they believed he possessed that we were all proud of. The project won Jack an A, and I received some cool Bonus Mom points.  The following Sunday, when the boys arrived back home from their mom’s house, Jackson was in tears. He explained to John and me that his mom threw the project in the trash because I helped with it and she did not want anything I had touched in her home.  

Could we have left it alone and not made a big deal about it? Of course.  Did we? Of course not! The childlike behavior continued in other forms.  We all did anything we possibly could to make the other person miserable.  If John and I wanted to have a date night, we hired a sitter.  We could have easily asked Loren if she would like to have the boys for the evening, but that would have been beneath us during that time.

We knew that Loren was struggling financially.  On most of the weekends that she was scheduled to have the boys, she was also scheduled to work.  Instead of asking John and me to help out by keeping the boys until her shift ended, she would hire a sitter.  

We were still on the same strict schedule we had been for months.  No one was allowed to be early or late, we were on time down to the very second.  It would have been a shame if one or the other was given an extra millisecond with the children.  

One of the things I am terribly ashamed of is how we all acted with the children’s belongings.  It was bad enough that the boys were being traded off between homes, but it would be a cold day before any of the personal property would make its way to another home – this included clothing.  

After the dinosaur shirts were discarded like last night’s leftovers, I was not taking a chance on losing anything else I bought.  After work one day, I took a trip to Wal-Mart where I purchased three outfits – one in each child’s size.  In all, I barley spent twenty dollars on the Garanimals attire.  These would be the clothing items that would sit freshly washed every other Friday waiting for the time when three little boys would change over - just in time for their mother to pull in the driveway.  They would be returned Sunday wearing those same Wal-Mart specials.

 As I began to pray one night before bed, tears spilled from my eyes.  This could not be the life that God had planned for me; I was meant for so much more.  

Of all the things I had overcome, why was this obstacle so difficult for me.  I was determined that I would not give up.  No matter how many times my efforts to make amends with Loren were ignored, I was determined to succeed.  The next morning, I sent Loren a text asking if we could talk, woman to woman and mother to mother.  She responded by telling me that any discussions about her children would be between their parents and that I had no horse in the race.  I told her that I did not want to talk about the children, I wanted to discuss something else.  Much to my surprise, Loren agreed to call me after she got off work that evening.

My main goal was to forge some form of communication between the three of us.  It was impossible to raise children with another person strictly via email and the occasional childish text message.  The phone call lasted more than an hour.  About the only thing we agreed on during that conversation, was how we would split the children on our income tax return.  

Loren and I discussed what it would take for her to agree to have any sort of positive relationship with John and me.  Her answer was simple…the custody of the boys.  The only way that Loren would bury the hatchet is if John would grant her, at minimum, 50/50 custody of the children.  She even said that she did not want child support, much less anything else from John.  

Quite frankly, loren pretty much said that she wished he would disappear.  The last time I checked, I was not David Copperfield, so her wish would not be granted.

 In the midst of all the drama between John and Loren, I still had a life of my own. I, too had biological children and an ex-husband that I was co-parenting with. My side of the triangle came with its own obstacles…that were often placed on the back burner. This began to cause some tension in my marriage. I started to resent the fact that all of my focus was on John’s ex-wife and his children. Meanwhile, I had priorities that were equally important to me. My children were substantially older than John’s children, but the still needed their mother. They deserved my full attention, not just the scraps left over at the end of a long day.

They say that everything happens for a reason, and that things happen how and when they are supposed to. We do not always know the answer as to why a particular event occurs when it does, but I believe that every thing God places in our lives is a blessing. A few days later, I received a very big blessing - one that came disguised as a small obstacle. This blessing came in the form of a phone call…from my daughter, Taylar.  

From the time Taylar could talk, she had a dream to join the military.  When she was accepted into the college of her choice, I was sure that her fate had been sealed.  I imagined she would go off to college and be home on the weekends instead of deploying for months at a time and living halfway across the country.  Taylar began asking questions about family medical history and asking for copies of her birth certificate and social security card.  I had a feeling that she was getting ready to trade her textbooks for combat boots.  

My heart was breaking.  I had been a military wife for most of my life, but being the mother of a Marine is something I was unsure my heart could handle.  

I begged Taylar not to make any final decisions without talking to her dads first.  She assured me that she would comply with my request.

The next day, Taylar asked if she could talk to John and me.  There was something she needed to tell us, and she preferred to do it in person.  My stomach was in knots all day.  That evening, we sat together to hear what I was certain I already knew.  Before Taylar could get a word out, I began to tell her how disappointed I was in her that she went behind my back and did the very thing I asked her not to do.  

She looked at me with a very confused look in her eyes.  
“Mom, what are you talking about, I did not join the military,” she said.  
What a relief!  

No sooner than I began to relax at the thought of Uncle Sam no taking my baby girl, Taylar continued speaking.  She said, “I did not enlist, but I did try.  I went for my medical exam and they told me that I could not enlist because I am pregnant.”

 I knew that the statistics were not in my favor.  Both of my daughters were products of teen pregnancy.  I prayed constantly that they would not follow in my footsteps.  

I would have bet my life savings that Taylar would not have been the child of mine to make me a ‘grandmother’ first.  But, there I was – needing an entire case of wine…because I was going to be the ‘G word’.  

How could this be?  I was only 26 years old!  

John and I were in the process of deciding if we wanted to have a baby.  I could not be pregnant at the same time as my daughter!  When I prayed for a baby, I guess I was not very specific with God.  I was getting a bundle of joy alright…my baby was having a baby!

Christmas Day was approaching, and I was so excited.  The only thing I asked from my children was one giant sleepover on Christmas Eve.  My wish came true!  Our home was full of laughter, screams, and the smell of sugar cookies baking for Santa.  

John and I waited until everyone fell asleep, and we finished wrapping gifts.  Our tiny army woke to a big surprise…Santa had visited our giant family.  He left presents for everyone, even the dog.  We all circled the tree, and I began passing around the perfectly wrapped gifts to the proper recipient. Paper and bows were flying all over, littering our family room, as the children were in a hurry to see what was hidden under the wrapping.  After all the gifts had been distributed and unwrapped, I made hot cocoa for the kids while I finished preparing the traditional Christmas breakfast.  

 After going belly-up to the trough, we were ready to cuddle on the sofa for Christmas movies in our PJ’s while the kids enjoyed their bounty of newly acquired gifts.  There was only one problem…our time was up.  

Watching those little faces when we told them that they had to put their presents away until they got back from their mom’s house was a kick in the stomach.  We could not risk letting them take the toys, for fear of them not returning with them.  Our perfect Christmas Day was slowly turning into a not so Merry Christmas.  I knew that this would be the first of many holidays that we would share, but my heart longed for the day that we would all be together enjoying the happy faces of our children’s innocence.  

I was beginning to think that everyone was right, and I should just give up.  My health was not getting better, my anxiety was worsening, and things that once made me happy, no longer brought joy to my life or a smile to my face.  

The things I had prayed so hard for were beginning to feel less like blessings, and more like burdens.  

Deep down, I knew that if I were not in the picture, John and Loren would have a much better co-parenting relationship.  I could not erase the feeling in me - she wanted her family back. The only thing that stood in her way…my very existence.  It was time to make an extremely difficult decision, one that would cause immense heartache and pain.

 My fairytale was ending…my happily ever after was no more. 


Two Pink Lines