Chapter 36, april
“Sometimes the blessings are not in what God gives…but in what He takes away.”
During our child custody case, John and I had attempted to reach out to Loren several times in hopes of creating a peace treaty. If I am being completely honest, it was more of me reaching out than him. It is not that John wanted the chaos to continue, he just did not possess the same communication skills that I did.
I believe that everyone receives and processes information in a different manner. Once you get to know that individual and learn their communication style, you are then able to transmit information more effectively. Even though I was not convinced that Loren and I could ever maintain a positive co-parenting relationship, I was sure that she would rather hear from me than John.
We agreed that I would do most of the talking during our meeting with Loren. It was understood that the sound of John’s voice was like nails on a chalkboard to her. I did not want to speak my opinions or my ideas, I wanted every thought and decision to be from John’s mind. He and I sat down and went over all the topics he wanted to discuss, along with different scenarios of how we imagined the exchange would go.
When it was time for us to leave for the dinner meeting, John was extremely reluctant. I had pleaded with him for one last chance, promising that if nothing was solved in this meeting that we would continue with our court battle.
I wanted to assure myself that we had attempted every avenue possible and exhausted all resources available.
John and I agreed that we would no longer put anything or anyone before our marriage. Without our marriage, there was no family. We had fought too hard for our love, and we were not letting anything come between that. The custody case and the stress that accompanied it was proving to be a poison in our home.
Peace was the only cure to keep it from spreading any further. As we pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant, I prayed for peace to come over the four of us. I knew that was the last time I would be able to convince John to put his pride aside and meet with the woman he felt had wronged him in so many ways.
The meeting began much like the ones before – filled with awkwardness and anxiety. It was so difficult to relay our true feelings and emotions to someone that was disgusted by the mere sight of us. I opened by explaining that due to the past misunderstandings between Loren and John and their inability to effectively communicate – with her approval – I would like to relay his feelings in a way that would be better received. Loren agreed that she had no problem with our request.
My first question to Loren was, “What is it going to take for us to have a positive co-parenting relationship?”
Her response was simple and had not changed much from the last time I asked that question, “I want more time with my boys.”
I did my best to explain John’s feelings on that subject. He was all for Loren having equal time with the boys, but he wanted her to prove that he had nothing to worry about when the children were in her care. As confusing as it sounded, John had his own reasons for that request.
Sometimes in life, we feel that our way is the right way, the best way, and the only way.
John’s ideas regarding proper parenting were black and white. In his opinion, there was a right and wrong way to do things. Mix that with the fear of losing his children forever, he was strong in his convictions that Loren should have to show some stability before they reached a shared custody agreement.
Each request Loren made that received a response from me was causing a growing frustration in the young man sitting to her left. When Loren asked John a direct question, “Why is it so difficult for you to be nice to me?”, he gave a short response. He explained that in his mind he was being as nice as he possibly could to her, she was just interpreting it the wrong way. At that time, her beau decided that he wanted to make his voice be heard.
The man beside Loren accused my husband of not having the nerve to confront Loren face-to-face and only wanting to belittle her electronically.
John and I had a signal that if he was getting frustrated, he would squeeze my leg. I was slowly losing circulation when I spoke up in defense of my husband. Apparently, that man had a problem with my voice and basically told me that I needed to keep my mouth shut.
Clearly, he had not been given the memo that I do not appreciate egotistical Neanderthals.
In a nutshell, I asked him to pipe down and let the grown-ups discuss grown-up matters. I told him that once he is part of the family, we would be happy to consider his opinion on raising ‘our’ children. Until then, he could sit quietly and attempt to look pretty while we did the heavy lifting.
My guess was that he never had a woman stand up to him and put him in his place.
Well cowboy, welcome to your first rodeo, enjoy the ride!
Nothing was accomplished in that meeting except an agreement that Loren would communicate further with me. We all knew that we did not want to continue allowing the court to decide the future custody arrangements. Since we were not able to reach a mutual agreement during dinner, we decided to take a couple of weeks to process all that had been discussed that evening. The four of us committed to meet again and continue our quest for a positive co-parenting relationship.
A few weeks later, Loren and her boyfriend arrived at our home. During our previous conversation, we had discussed the idea of reaching a shared custody arrangement. John began with his requests and stipulations. That was followed by Loren expressing the same on her part. I tried to remain a silent supporter during this meeting, since I had been reprimanded by Loren’s beau at our prior encounter.
Of all the times we had tried to come together, it seemed like this meeting was going much better than ones in the past. We discussed the importance of maintaining similar routines in both households, as well as the value of schedules and stability for the children. Could it be? Had our prayers finally been answered?
For the first time in a very long time, I was beginning to see a glimmer of light at the end of our dark tunnel. I knew better than to get my hopes up, as I had done several times before. However, I did my best to remain positive…until the next meeting of the minds.
John and I decided that we needed a weekend away. He had a military event coming up in Washington, DC, and we agreed that it would be a perfect place for us enjoy a mini vacation. We had visited there a few times prior and had a blast. Of course, I was traveling with the best tour guide, being that he had completed his first military tour of duty on Presidential Detail.
Little did we know, this trip would have an unplanned interruption that would make it impossible for me to attend.
I was in my office, knee deep in molars when I received a phone call from Taylar. She calmly said, “Mom, I think my water just broke.” I explained to her that she should not panic because she still had a month until her due date. Throughout her pregnancy, Taylar became very hypersensitive to the changes in her body. I told her that she most likely peed her pants and that it was extremely common in your third trimester. She insisted that she call the doctor just to double check.
Obviously, I had only given birth three times prior; what did I know?
It turns out, after further evaluation, that Taylar’s water did in fact break. She was in active labor!How could this be? It was not time. I had not purchased every last item on the baby registry that she could possibly need. I tried to remain as calm as possible, but my baby was having a baby!
After making a quick call to John, I headed straight to the hospital. He was unable to get a replacement for his military ceremony; therefore, he would not be present for the birth of our first grandchild. Roy was also away on orders and would miss the birth of our grandson. This was not as we had planned.
John was my rock; he was my protector – how was I supposed to be strong when I did not have my partner beside me to give me strength.
Roy was the voice of reason, my best friend, and the calming force of our crazy family. I was terrified, but I could not let it show. I was the matriarch in my family, and I was not going to let anyone down. After a quick pep talk with myself, I was convinced that everything would be just fine. However, that tiny baby growing inside of my baby had different plans.
Monitors were beeping, alarms were sounding, and several hospital staff members began rushing into the birthing room. The doctor calmly but sternly explained that the baby was in distress and things were not progressing as quickly as they would like, therefore, Taylar would be rushed into surgery for an emergency Cesarean Section.
Terror quickly filled my body. As I looked over at my little baby girl, I knew that she needed her momma to be her strength now more than ever.
I rushed over to my sweet baby girl and wiped her tears as I told her that everything was going to be just fine. Even though I did not believe a word I was saying, the important thing was that my daughter did. I wanted so badly to hold her hand and watch my grandson come into this world, but that was not going to happen.
Only one person could accompany her in the operating room. I knew in my heart, no matter how badly I desired to be right beside my baby – she was in good hands. Her husband would be by her side, he would protect her, and he would keep her and that precious baby safe.
It is true that God sends us who we need, just when we need them.
The man I had known since I was twelve years old, the man that had hurt me to the depths of my soul, the man that helped mold me into the strong woman I am today stepped in to be the strength that we all needed that day. As I watched my baby being wheeled away by strangers, wishing I could take her place, I stood in that cold, dark hospital hallway sobbing uncontrollably. Without pause, Jerry swooped Hayli and I up into his arms and promised that our youngest daughter would be fine.
He provided the comfort that I needed until I was able to pull myself together.
The minutes passed like molasses in the winter. I am certain my grey hairs quadrupled in those moments. Just when I reached my threshold of emotional stress, the hospital room door began to open. Through the door, my perfect son-in-law was wheeling a cart that contained the most precious and perfect newborn baby my eyes had ever seen.
On Friday, July 13th, God blessed our family with the most amazing gift we could have ever dreamed of.
Tyler James, 6lbs 5oz and 19 inches long, was born at 2:15 pm. Watching his daddy hold him for the first time will be one of the greatest memories I will ever possess. The only thing to top that was seeing my fuzzy headed baby hold her little boy against her chest as she stared in amazement at her creation.
One of the best feelings, aside from holding my own babies for the first time, was wrapping my arms around my very first grandson.
In that moment, I was the happiest I had been in a very long time.
God knew just what I needed when he made me a Lovie.