Sunday, October 2, 2016

A final blog post for now

Almost 13 years ago, I started a website built by my ex-husband to chronicle the life of our newborn baby.  We posted pictures of her that let me stare at her face when I returned to work after my maternity leave was over.  In May 2004, the focus of the site shifted to an online journal to write about the daily struggles with her leukemia and eventually, her death.  

Though it has changed names a few times, I kept the blog going for 11 years.  However, I haven't written once in over a year.  For this, I am deeply apologetic.  I've read the comments from past readers accusing me of not caring or of not being a sincere person because of it. That's fine, think what you must.  

The truth is, I got stuck with writing.  I've started multiple blog posts before today to say a goodbye.  It's not that my story or life is done or so perfect that I no longer need a blog.  It's that I no longer feel like this is a safe zone to post things.  Posts that I have done have been thrown back at me, even used as a threat.  Something I wrote about my blended family got misconstrued and there were hurt feelings.  There were situations I would have liked to write about but I felt that I couldn't either due to the confidentiality for that family member or because I did not want to have backlash from the other side.  

These are excuses, I know.  I should have at least taken the time to write.  I'm sorry.  

Life is good right now.  It's busy, that's for sure.  We have two kids in braces and a third going in to braces, so I am doing a lot of extra tutoring to make side money for the family.  The girls are all still extremely involved with theatre as I am as a volunteer for them.  I have show managed four shows and we started my fifth to show manager this past month, Annie Jr.  Maggie is Kate, one of the main orphans, and Katie is Sandy the Dog as well as Mrs. Pugh.  They love it.  It takes up the majority of our free time, but the girls love being at the theatre.  All their best friendships have developed at the theatre, so it has become a large part of their social life as well.

Maggie is now in the 5th grade and Katie is in the 1st.  My stepdaughters are in 9th grade and the oldest started college at a small Christian university, The King's University, in Texas.  Out of respect to them, I will not blog further about them, but I will say I'm thankful they are in my life in some way.  Katie is big into karate and just test for her junior green belt.  She is ecstatic because that means sparring now.  We go to the gym for karate three times a week.  Katie is just as energetic and wild as ever, but she remains the funniest person I've ever met in my life. Maggie is on her 10th major production with North Texas Performing Arts and loves every minute of being on stage.  She is our head in the clouds sweetheart who is often doing more daydreaming than anything else.  Maggie is in choir at school once a week after school and takes voice lessons as well.  See, they are BUSY! I'm basically a taxi service on a daily basis.

I'm still at my school and loving it.  I teach five French classes a day and one leadership class.  It's perfect for me.  I'm always working and usually have more plates to juggle, but the job is what I want.  One day, I hope to go back to school and get my Master's in Education Administration.  Yep, I want to be a principal one day.  Preferably for middle school.

Rob and I are doing great together.  We both volunteer as youth leaders for our church on Wednesday nights.  I'm so thankful for Rob and his influence on my spiritual growth.  When we first started dating, I knew he was going to church, but I didn't go.  He didn't ask or pressure.  Six months into our dating, I asked to go along with him.  I cried throughout the entire service since the sermon was titled "The Hurt Pocket" and focused on life's hurts that keep us from having a relationship with God.  I began attending with him, but I was still nervous.  Four years ago, I rededicated my life as a Christian.  Two years ago, we felt called to serve as leaders.  Rob and I faithfully attend Wednesday night service each week with the students.  He is now leading 12th graders and I have 9th graders who I have been with since they were in 7th grade.  We love it.  It has been such a blessing for our family and our marriage to serve in this way.  Last Sunday, I was baptized again.  Our youth pastor baptized me with Rob, Maggie, and Katie standing alongside.  Cleansing in so many ways.

Our future will keep us here in the area for many years to come.  The girls are happy in their school.  Maggie even starts at my middle school next year.  I can't even begin to fathom that my girl will be a middle schooler.

There will be hard times for us, for that we can be certain.  There will be times I wish I could come back to this blog to write, but I fear that what I would write could be used against me as it has in the past.  I won't blog anymore, but I will always be thankful for the years I had this site.  I'm grateful to everyone who has read along the way.  

With gratitude, 
Jenny 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Partner in Life

My husband was out of town for two weeks.  I'm used to him having to be gone from time to time, but it is always a little challenging.  I miss him desperately, especially when all we can do is text from time to time in the day.  Mornings are more hectic without his calm guidance of the children, packing of school lunches, and kisses goodbye as he stands at the backdoor to shuffle us out.  Nights are not as good without his cooking (he cooks way better than me!), help with nighttime prayers/bedtime for the girls, and sitting up talking when the kids are *finally* in bed. 

I was a single mom for three years and managed just fine (note--slightly frazzled, a little exhausted, always broke) on my own.  After a year and a half of marriage, I've adjusted to having this partner in my life--best friend, husband, and love.  *Pinch me! 

Thing is, while he was gone, the kids and I did just fine.  Sure, mornings were hectic and we were tardy once.  (Ok, twice--it was the second to last day of school and she forgot her school yearbook for the signing party) We may have had macaroni and cheese once or twice because Mama did not have the time or energy to cook.  I didn't sleep quite as well without him near me.  But, we did ok.

It's not that I NEED him to function.  I'm still independent enough to manage and I'm a good enough mom to handle it all.  I mowed the lawn, hosted playdates, shuffled kids to and from the theatre for performances and rehearsals, watched my girl kick it in karate, took them to church, took kids to the water park, and kept the house from burning down.

I might not need a man, but boy do I ever love the one I've got. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Negative Mom Thoughts

 What is it about moms that we compare ourselves to others and then decide we don't measure up?  Why do we focus on the negative of our parenting?  I know I have plenty of negatives as a parent--I don't cook frequently for my kids.  I don't make elaborate crafts with them or cut their sandwiches into cool shapes.  I haven't taught my 9 year old how to ride a bike (I've tried a few times and we've both ended up frustrated with the other and gave up).  In the mornings, I rush them and get aggravated when we walk out the door later than we would like.  The list could go on....

Recently, I read something on one of my late night unable to sleep Pinterest binges that really resonated with me.  I was having a particularly challenging evening after a temper tantrum by the five year that left me angry and exhausted.  I was lying in bed thinking negative thoughts about my parenting.  Then, I read this....

Parent tips

WAIT!  I do those things!  Maybe the nutritious lunch isn't in some cool shape, but it is healthy and I regulate how much junk they eat.   Dinner time is rarely anywhere but the kitchen table where we discuss our positives and negatives of the day.  Our date nights with individual girls have been so much fun this year.

Maybe I'm just too hard on myself.   

I don't do everything perfect.  I won't.  This was a good reminder that while I might not always feel like I'm doing everything well (you know, this saying "Behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up"), my kids are getting things that they need from me.  Ultimately, they are loved and I know I am loved back.

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only moms who needs this reminder sometimes (PS--Have the tissues ready)




Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Poetry by Maggie for Mama. My heart is exploding

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Goodbye, my love


This afternoon, I did one of the hardest things I've ever done.  I laid on the floor of a vet's office, stroked my baby girl, and watched her fall asleep for the last time.  I said goodbye to my best friend of 14 years, my constant companion and my favorite pet.  The picture above was taken moments before we left for the vet this afternoon.  Look at that beautiful face. 

Brandy has been with me since she was 5 weeks old.  I often called her the dog the school district bought me since I used money I won from winning the district's Beginning Teacher of the Year to buy her.  Cutest puppy ever--just a butterball of fur!  She was a mischievous puppy who loved to destroy paper.  She was a sock thief who took every opportunity to steal people's socks.  She hid them all over the house, tucking them into couch cushions and under my pillow.  When I was pregnant, she was my shadow at all times.  I have so many memories of her lying her head on my pregnant belly while I watched TV.  I used to joke that if she could crawl in the womb with me, she would have. 

She was the most loyal dog I could have ever asked for.   

Brandy has been through everything with me.  I got her at 23, so practically my entire adult life has been spent with her by my side.  She's been there through the birth of all three of my girls, Allie's death, my divorce, my single mommyhood, and my  new marriage to Rob.  She's been with me through all the tears and all the joys.  She laid beside me at my darkest moments when I literally couldn't pick myself up off the floor.  
There were times she was the only one I knew truly loved me. 

She started rapidly declining over the past few months. We had to coax her to eat most days.  Don't get me wrong, she still managed to steal a cheeseburger from me recently, but she had lost most appetite for food.  She was skin and bones, weighing in at only 39 lbs today.  She had lost all control of her functions about a month ago and we've been containing her in the kitchen to help control the messes. I wasn't ready to let go.  On April 9th, the girls and I threw her a 14th birthday dinner, getting her cake balls from the local doggie bakery and a cookie cake for us.  We loved on her lots, as we always have. 

We made the final decision on Tuesday night after she had five potty accidents and fell multiple times. She was falling all the time now and struggling to get up.  She hasn't eaten well in months.  I picked her up and put her on the scale with me.  When I saw that my once 65-70 lbs dog was a mere 39 lbs, I knew.  We had to do this for her.  The state testing was Tuesday and Wednesday for Maggie, so I knew I couldn't tell her until after it was over.  We waited until last night to sit down to have a family meeting.  

Telling the girls was agonizing.  Both sobbed and kept saying they weren't ready for BB to die.  I invited my ex-husband to come over and say goodbye.  She was his dog for 10 years and she loved him very much.  He and his wife came last night and loved on Brandy.  She perked up a little at seeing him and wagged her tail happily.  I offered for him to take the girls out to dinner to help cheer them up and I know that helped them a lot.  

This morning, Katie came in crying that she needed one more day with Brandy and didn't want us to take her to the vet.  We calmly explained that because we love her, we had to.  I hated watching my 5 year old say goodbye to her beloved pet.  She and Brandy always had a connection together.  She used to call Brandy her horse and would ride her.  She hasn't done that in over a year since B was way too fragile. The girls hugged Brandy this morning, gave her a treat from each of them and headed off to school.  Thankfully, they are at their dad's tonight to give them a little distraction.  It helps us too since I've been sick during all this too and my fever hasn't broken once today.  So, I feel miserable both with my heart and my body.  

Rob and I stayed with her until the very end.  I stayed on the floor and he was in the chair behind me stroking my back and giving me love.  He and I both cried along with the vet when we were told she was gone.  I'm so glad I had him next to me through it.  He told me how proud of me he was for staying strong and how much he too will miss her (even though she made him nuts at times!)

I'm going to miss my girl so much.  Life in this house will not be the same without her, that's for sure.  Dinner will certainly be quieter without her barking at us (the barking got worse and worse the more old and senile she got).  I won't have her Darth Vader breathing in every video I take of my kids now.  We might be able to leave a loaf of bread on the counter without her swiping it and eating the whole thing.  Her absence will be felt strongly.  Even our other dog Bandit, who has never lived without Brandy, will have to adjust without her.  Those two were buddies and laid back to back in Brandy's dog bed every day together.  Who will follow my every move now?  I feel as though I've lost my shadow.  After 14 years of having her right behind me, I'll have to adjust to being without her.  

Goodbye, my love.  I'll miss you always. 


Friday, April 17, 2015

Monday, April 13, 2015

Working Mom

I've been a working mom for eleven years now.  I vividly remember a student's mom asking me at 6 months pregnant with my first child what my plans were once the baby was born.  I told her that I would take my maternity leave and return to the classroom to teach when it was complete.  Looking at me condescendingly, she responded with "Oh, well, I guess that will be nice for MY child."  Well, ok then.

I have an advantage now that I am a teacher again.  Yes, I get more time off with my children.  I no longer travel like I did when I was director of the charity.  That was difficult and took a large toll on my family.  I love my summers with the children when I get to be home with them, but I am always ready to be back to the academic rigor of the school year.  During the year, I work long hours, both at the school and home grading papers after the children go to bed.  Often until late in the night.

I think the struggle is balance.  Most working moms feel like they are doing an inadequate job in one or both areas of their lives.  I can't always be the teacher and employee I want to be because of my commitments as a mom. I can't always be the mom I want to be due to the commitments I have to my job.  I often feel like I am failing one or the other.  I question my abilities and I find comfort in other working moms who have the same issues.

It's a constant juggling act.  

As a teacher, I can't take my kids to the early morning dentist appointment and simply arrive late to work.  I ask for the latest appointment available in the day, explaining with a slight apology to the doctor's receptionist that I am a school teacher.  I have 24 minutes for lunch, so I can't bring my girls lunch from Chick Fil-A and enjoy seeing them with their elementary classmates.  School parties or assemblies?  Forget it.  I have to be in the classroom.  My girls understand, though they do complain on occasion that I can never be there.  Cue the mom guilt!

All in all though, I wouldn't change it.  I love my family and cherish my time with them.  I love my career and feel strongly that I was called to be in the classroom working with students.  My daughters are proud of me for being a teacher.  They love to come up to my school and meet my students during evening activities.  They enjoy hearing stories about the students.  Maggie has even written a prompt about it in class over who she most admires and why.  

I chose this life.  Daily, I continue to choose it.  It's not the easiest and it certainly is not meant for everyone. However, it's my life and I love being a working mom.