Category Archives: family

Eye Contact.

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Eye Contact.

I think we are all aware of how important eye contact truly is.

In some cultures it is considered rude to not make direct eye contact.

It would seem untrustworthy in a job interview to not be able to make eye contact with your prospective employer/employee…

If I were on a date, I might find it odd and unnerving if my date couldn’t make eye contact…or even trying to talk with a loved one or friend about some topic I was concerned about…it could lead me to think they thought otherwise of what I was saying, or knew more about the topic than they let on.

Regardless of the circumstance, eye contact is important.

And it seems to bug me a lot lately.

It’s not my husband…he is a pro at eye contact…at holding one’s attention when speaking…albeit a little long-winded, but able to hold his audience’s attention.

Especially with my kids.

Not my older kids…I know when they don’t make eye contact with me, it’s because they are up to no good…and can call them out on it before they can blink.

I have such guilt about my lack of eye contact…with my little ones.

It’s me.

I know I spend 99% of my days with them. I wake them, feed them, help dress them, entertain them read to them…but rarely look them in the eye.

Just typing that hurts.

I am consumed with NOT making eye contact with them…with doing the necessities so I can go back to what I want to do- whether its daily chores, work, painting, reading an article, grocery shopping or just zoning out on social media (the worst of it all)…I feel as though if I make direct eye contact with these precious little faces, they will suck me in…I will never get anything done. I will have to play Barbie’s or a board game or matchbox cars, or color…God forbid I stoop to their level and interact with them in their world…yet I expect them to behave at all times in my adult world of rules, chores, grocery shopping, work and Twitter updates.

I am ashamed. But I am guilty of this.

I will occasionally succumb to the world of all things imaginary, but after doing it with the older kids, and faced with doing it for another five to ten years, I feel deflated…defeated. Like…”when the hell is it gonna be about me?” kind of feeling. Or I get that charming reminder from family or friends that we CHOSE to have more babies later in life…

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Marley attempting to hold her almost 11 pound baby brother, Chance, five years ago.

Yes, we did ( what can I say…we like each other…a lot!).

And I will own that choice. But I am no good to my babies, old or young, if I am defeated and deflated.

I guess I can’t look them in the eye because of this…my guilty feeling that I feel like I deserve more time to myself because I already did this for twenty past twenty years…I am tired, beaten down and older…

But I promise those sweet little faces in my picture above, that they will have more of my attention. I selfishly want time to belong to me, but their time as little ones is so short…

I will promise them to look them in the eye each day, and tell them I adore them, and ask them what they want to do with me…that may open a can of worms, but it is the job I signed on for, and the guilt is too much to bare some days…so…

I promise I will be a better mother, mommy… a better me. I will look all of my loved ones in the eye and remember why we became a family in the first place.

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Someday.

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Someday.

Someday it will be me.

It will be that moment no one likes to think about. Or even say out loud.

Saying goodbye…forever.

Today is day one of many goodbyes to our Grandmother.

It doesn’t come as a shocker. It was not sudden or painful.

It was just time.

Ninety-six years of time.

Blessed time.

But five years without her sweetheart.

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So yes…it was just time.

Time to say goodbye to all of us here, and hello to her sweetheart again.

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I am trying desperately to remember this…we were blessed. We had her for so long. And now it is time for her to be at peace.

I told her it was okay (we all did), I whispered it in her ear, told her I loved her, many times…we had several weeks with her to say goodbye, as she slowly declined into a peaceful eternal sleep.

But I am still so heartbroken…

I will miss her…my husband and children and sisters and Aunts and Uncles and cousins…we will all miss her.

She was amazing…stylish, classy, funny, devoted and fierce.

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She would be hard to forget.

So I will continue to tell stories about her to my children and remind myself of all the beautiful memories we had with her.

She was like a second mother to me and my sisters through some very tough years for our mother and her painful divorce from our father. Our grandmother stepped in and protected us and hugged us and made us smile, when our mother just couldn’t. I don’t hold this against our mother…it was actually a gift. We were able to create a special bond with our Grandmother.

We are forever grateful.

Tonight, is our first of many goodbyes and many tears…some sad but many happy.

We were all blessed to be loved and adored by our Grandmother, Mother, Aunt, Mother-in-law, friend, sister…

 

Thank you, Gram, for just being you…

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Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality. ~Emily Dickinson

Snapshots.

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Snapshots.

After very little sleep last night, I decided to take a quick cat nap this morning after getting the kids off to school. Knowing I have a long full day ahead, I usually cannot nap and don’t like to, but thought it was necessary.

I closed my eyes and immediately had a dark sensation overwhelm me. I thought how lucky I was to be afforded this time, and also how peaceful it was at that very moment, but how quickly things can change in an instant.

After a stressful morning and short fuse, I really needed this rest. But my peaceful moment was now being flooded with memories swirling like snapshots in photographs…

Within seconds I was there again…so clear and vivid…so chilling.

My mind was telling me a story again that I think about occasionally, but always on this day…every year…for eight years.

The time span of these snapshots this morning was not even thirty seconds maybe, but enough (coming fast and furious) to bring me to tears and wide awake.

The hotel lobby…the room…the smells…the pool…our luggage…

There were no cat naps or resting now.

I remembered the dark room in the spa. The knock on the door. The annoyance visibly spread over the masseuse’s face. No one ever interrupts a massage.

This was my moment of relaxation after several days in Disney with family-we finally planned it right…de-stressing from a whirlwind five days in Disney, now in Clearwater at a quiet hotel on the water.

The de-stressing never happened.

The car ride to Clearwater was more stressful than the visiting of the parks…the children were tired and cranky. We became tired and cranky…we should have just headed home.

But after several trips to Disney, we saved for this treat, knowing we always wished to find some chill out time after long full, yet fun days in the parks.

The following morning after we arrived in Clearwater, I was treated to a massage-a little Mommy pampering (maybe a belated birthday gift from a few weeks prior?), then back to the husband and kiddies for some beach or pool time…whatever we wanted at our own pace…we were relaxing…finally.

The knock on the door during my massage immediately made me think something was wrong with the kids, or maybe my husband’s 98 year old Grandmother back home who wasn’t well before we left…

The girl at the door told the masseuse it was an emergency and I needed to find my husband right away.

I quickly got dressed and found my phone buzzing away and noticed several missed calls from back home…oh shit.

What on Earth is going on????

I walked back into the vast lobby and see my husband charging down the stairs white as a ghost…where are my babies?

What is going on?

My husband was running to the car to search for his cell phone after getting a call in the room from a friend back home…

It’s gone…all gone.

Our home burned, not to the ground…but everything is gone…

The rest of the story now leaves me in tears as I write this…the hysterics on our children’s faces as we tell them what happened…

Their toys, their clothes, pictures…everything…their stuffed animals and trophies…their beds…

Where will we go?

What will we do?

The nightmare trip home of begging to get on a flight…only to have it delayed overnight because birds flew in the engine…

Are you frigging kidding me??

Why? Why now? How much more bad karma can one family take?

It could be worse, we were told…after almost 24 hours trying to get home, then arriving to family and friends covered in soot with tired eyes and heavy hearts…

These snapshots will haunt us forever.

We rebuilt a stronger and safer home…our family and community surrounded us with love and food and shelter and clothing…even Halloween decorations to cheer up our girls…

We came out of it all that much stronger…

When we feel weak and can bare no more, we remember these snapshots as I did this morning from eight years ago today, they lift us up and tell us we can and we will be stronger.

 

October 20, 2008

“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. Strength comes from overcoming the things you thought you couldn’t”- Unknown

 

 

Left Behind.

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Left Behind.

I left it all behind…

I cannot believe it has been two months since I have written a blog. I lost my interest when something else captured it.

Politics.

It has been consuming me, causing a wicked fire in my belly. All day and night, and keeping me awake through the night way too often. I haven’t been this passionate about anything in a long time…especially politics.

I won’t get in to my feelings or views…I just can’t right now. It feels like wasted breath at times. Then I get a hold of myself and realize it is never wasted breath when you believe in something so strongly.

It has affected my daily life, where I have been distracted from household chores, ignoring my kids- “just give me ONE more second”- and even my blog.

I could apologize to my husband, children, and my neglected home and blog, but I don’t think it is necessary. They understood. They saw my passion and heard it loud and clear most days.

There is something profound about young children being curious about politics and world issues at very young ages…especially when my teenage/ young adult kids are really not interested at all.

The little ones chanted and cheered with me while watching debates, and news shows. They cheered me on when I would drag someone along with me to a march or rally. They don’t completely understand what is going on, but are adorably enthusiastic about it all.

The dust is settling today in the world of politics, as the conventions have ended and we all have a pretty good idea what we are up against now. It is time to focus on real life on the home front for a while, and turn my political passion in a reality.

To find some balance again…

I won’t give up on this new found hobby/interest…it is important to stay focused on what my children will need as they grow older. To not have endless wars, debt, and a world crumbling in front of their eyes and all around them…

To give them hope.

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I am going to give myself a day or two to refocus on what lies ahead, and hug my kids tighter. Maybe take out the dust cloth and organize some things around here…November isn’t too far off, and I will need to find balance in both arenas before diving back in to the deep end of the murky pool of  dirty politics…

So until then, I will remind myself daily of why I was so passionate for all those months and how I lost track of daily life, I will continue the good fight for what’s right for myself and my family, and most importantly…

Keep balance with it all so no one or no thing, is left behind again.

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A Few Good Men.

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A Few Good Men.

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On the six month anniversary of losing one of these good men…cancer won yet another battle, but we are here to remember a loving good man and keep fighting the good fight against cancer.

Karma Is A Funny Thing

I don’t usually write two posts in one day, but  I just have to.

There are a few good men in my life. I won’t name any names, but they know who they are. Well, except for my three year old, since he cannot read this yet…but he knows I adore him.

We have faced some serious challenges recently…but none nearly as bad as some of my favorite men…

I love them. They love me…unconditionally. Some may not be blood, but I have grown to realize this does not matter anymore…it is who sticks around, even when things get tough, that matter most.

And they matter…a lot.

It is not my journey or my story to tell for these men, but all I can do is let them know this…

I love them…I really and truly love them with all of my heart.

They watched me grow…

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Moving On.

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Moving On.

I am not perfect.

I hold grudges.

I pout.

I even have had my share of temper tantrums.

I have had more battles and bickered with friends and family over my lifetime than I can remember.

But I also love.

I love too much sometimes. I dive deep into relationships and friendships, and that must muddle things a bit over time, I guess…

I don’t know…

Life is hard enough. I cannot muddle things anymore.

I thought I was learning that lesson a lot in the past year.

Life and death are the truest lessons of this.

Nothing is more bone chilling than death and dying to put things into perspective for a person.

Then you have the beauty of life to give balance to the loss or death of loved ones…

New babies, new loves, new life.

These are the moments that make me stop and realize…

Cut the crap out…it’s time to grow up.

No more bickering with my sisters as if we were still in high school and fighting over the mirror in the bathroom, or over clothes or remote controls. No more getting in to each other’s business and cutting a wedge so deep between us, that the gap is still not fully repaired.

No more saying what I feel like saying, whether it hurts someone or not, because I was an angry selfish teenager and young adult who hated her parents and life in general. Or as a mother or wife or friend who is miserable because she hasn’t fulfilled her dreams and passions, so she will take it out on everyone else around her…

I cannot be her anymore…time to move on.

I am not perfect.

I still make some of those mistakes as a middle aged mother/wife/sister/daughter…and friend.

I say too much. Or at least I used to. I needed a wake up call…you would have thought all the challenges over the past year would be enough…

The lightbulb went on many times, (or maybe I should say someone was flicking the light switch and on and off to test the circuits) trying to get me to realize all the anger, jealousy and hate was not necessary or needed…but I wasn’t paying attention.

That lightbulb was shining bright about a week ago when I saw an old friend and realized how foolish I can be.

It was almost two years since we spoke…over dumb stuff…that didn’t seem so dumb at the time. And we just let it all go…just like that. After building on a friendship for over eleven years, it was over.

I say it all the time, I believe everything happens for a reason…not sure why that all happened, but I guess it needed to…we needed time apart to figure life out.

Yet I found myself sobbing on my old friend’s shoulder (in public at a local benefit after too many cheap beers), apologizing and laughing and crying as if nothing had ever happened between us…

And letting go…

Of anger, temper tantrums, pouting, jealousy, and sadness…

I won’t say too much anymore to deliberately hurt someone because of my own misery…not because I have nothing to say, but what value is there on being opinionated or bossy or just a plain old jerk?

I am painting myself out to be a pretty big bitch right now, and I am actually a pretty nice person…just a lot on my brain and heaviness in my heart.

Such a weight lifted off my heavy heart…

Things may never be exactly as they were with me and my old friend, but it is so refreshing to know if we see each other, the tension won’t be there anymore… just smiles, and hugs and love and support.

And in another sense,( Moving On being my title for this blog), I need to move on from other relationships…ones that I have tried for most of my adult life to keep afloat, and they just keep drifting away. I think those relationships are safe to say, “Bon Voyage” and wish them well on their journey to their next chapter in life…

Without me in it.

I have written of these relationships before because I have an inner struggle with truly and completely let it go. Not sure if it is from guilt or just wanting to give it one more try, or because I am a glutton for punishment…or maybe it is because I am too nice and let people walk all over me…

Whatever the reason, I need to let it go as well…

I need to stick to my guns, and lift the anchor, and let that ship sail…no guilt or anger at myself…just peace knowing I tried. And tried some more…

And focus on the people who have always been in my life, even after returning from a mini vacation from our friendship, or those who were not sure of whether they should stay or go, but wind up staying by my side…these people help define me. They tell me to cut the crap…

The imperfect mother/wife/sister/daughter…and friend. The woman who vents on a blog to the world about big things and little things.

I don’t know if I am tired and getting old, but venting on a blog is about all I can manage anymore…fighting is for the birds…I have more important things to do like being a better wife/daughter/sister/mother and friend…

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And moving on…

 

Selfish.

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Selfish.

I would like to be selfish.

I want to sleep in till seven…or eight. I want to sit in peace and quiet and sip my coffee.

I want to figure out where to begin my day…do I put on yoga pants and take a class, or go for a long walk?

I want to say no to the class, and get myself dolled up and go shopping and get my nails done if I so choose.

Or maybe take out my painting clothes, and go get dirty out back and be creative on a piece of furniture.

I want to be selfish.

I want to not worry about making lunches or what’s for dinner, or laundry that needs to be done and folded and put away.

I want to not worry about dusting or vacuuming or dirty bathrooms.

I want  to not worry who has what activity after school and how I will pick everyone up on time.

I want to not worry about college kids that need supplies packed up, rides back to campus, and more spending money.

I want to not worry about late night phone calls or texts from a homesick college student who misses us desperately.

I want to not wake up ten times during the night by little ones coming in to sleep in my bed, then kicking me through the night.

If only…

Well, I am allowed to be selfish…today.

I have been granted that wish today…

My Mother-in-law has come to my aid.

I have another week of 24/7 parenting until my husband returns home. I am told to go do whatever I want…all day. And yet I have no clue what to do with myself…and no desire to be that jerk I talk about above…my selfish lists are thoughts tucked away in my brain of all these little things that annoy me on a daily basis-that make me want to be this obnoxious uncaring person. They are just wishful thinking when I cannot deal for another second with countless lists of mundane tasks day in and day out.

 I know others have it way worse, but I am an overwhelmed mother of five sick kids with pneumonia-all healed or healing, with countless doctor visits, and charts of who gets what medicine/breathing treatments and how and when I can get everyone back to school and activities and healthy again…on top of the meals and laundry and dishes…I am officially overwhelmed.

So I am being selfish today for a little bit.

I will take these few hours to vent  on this blog, and go wander aimlessly around a store, and maybe even buy something for myself…but that’s about it.

I have definitely lost myself in life and all that goes with it. I crave knowledge and being creative again.

But I don’t really and truly want to be that selfish woman. I will never be that woman…other than the one who puts on her painting clothes and goes out back with paint and sander in hand. Or write a blog about everyday boring life events…that is me.  

My time will come someday soon to have all day to do whatever I want, and the kids won’t need me as much and there will be fewer messes to clean…so I will take these few hours today to be a little selfish, to reflect on my tough days to appreciate the good ones, and remember how precious these days are with my growing family, as overwhelming as they can be…

This is my life.

I will be selfish…just for today.

Only In My Dreams.

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Only In My Dreams.

It was such a clear dream. I could feel the breeze blowing through the open French doors as I walked down the narrow hallway to her room.  The room seemed small but ornately decorated and looking out onto a patio with a large old tree adding shade to the patio and garden.  She was distracted and not noticing the beauty around her. She was laying in her hospital bed in the cozy room across from another empty hospital bed. She didn’t look up at me, she was too focused on what she was watching on  t.v. or laptop that was perched on her side table.

Her legs…they were smooth and golden…bronzed and healthy from many days basking in the sun by her pool or on the beach. They were uncovered and outstretched from under her hospital gown, almost on display.

Her hair…it was chestnut again, curled thick and soft to the touch.

Grandmother.

I went to her to kiss her hello and noticed she had a plate stacked with cinnamon raisin bread, toasted with butter. There were several bags of this bread strewn across the bed as well. I asked her who made this all for her…she looked up away from me, almost defiantly, and said she did it all herself. Insulted I should even ask such a question. Then she demanded that I run to the store immediately and get her a loaf of white bread and cheese, she was craving a toasted cheese sandwich…I just stood in the doorway, looking at her beautiful self, feeling very puzzled…a combination of the old and new Grandmother…the forever young and the old woman living a life right now she would never want for herself.

I shake my head yes to her demands, and then feel a presence behind me on the patio…it a grown man with two small children. He is holding them close, gently gripping their shoulders, almost protectively. I cannot see their faces, the glare of the sun blocks my vision. Grandmother yells to me to quickly go make some of them the delicious toast she is enjoying at that moment.

Somewhere in all my dreamy confusion, I appear instantly with a white and pink china plate stacked high with steamy cinnamon raisin toast.

And then I woke up…it was over but the feelings are still with me as I type this.

My Grandmother has been rapidly declining mentally and physically over the past four years since my Grandfather passed away. She is always happy for the most part, and occasionally knows some or one or all of us. Some days she is feisty, and some days we cannot even wake her to get a greeting out of her.

I say goodbye each and every time I visit her. I just feel like she is kind of already gone, not because of the Alzheimer’s entirely, but I really feel like she is “one foot in/out the door” so to speak…she talks of times and people in her past, as if it were happening now. She sees people who are gone, and when she speaks of our Grandfather, it is as if he is sitting there with her…

I loved my dream last night

I saw her in all of her beauty and sassiness again. I felt loved and peaceful…I have been having many dreams of my Grandparents lately, and I know they will be together again…someday soon.

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The Choice.

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The Choice.

Warning…many will take offense. Some will hate me. Or pretend they do not know me anymore. Some will even pity me…

That is THEIR choice.

It was about ninety degrees on June 1, 1991. It felt like 110 in the shade as I lay on the steaming hot pavement in my own vomit…retching. Sobbing.

I will never forget this day…ever.

It was a few weeks before I was barely about to graduate high school. I had just fooled them all at my senior prom. I could have kept up the facade for a little longer…but I didn’t have a choice, I was told this was the only way out…

As an adult now, I realize I did have a choice.

But when you run away from home, or get kicked out and are reliant on others…you feel like you have no choice.

I woke up on the table after being sedated, in the midst of it all…the loud noise, the lights, the people hovering over me.

I believe that is the moment that haunts me the most…waking, even groggy still from sedation, knowing what was happening. More so than the cowardly way I slumped in my chair in the waiting room before it began…wondering if the others were feeling the same way as me.

I cried myself to sleep in the back of the car, begging for fresh air to cool my face, covered in dried vomit and tears.

Somehow I managed to make it to my bed, and awakened hours later…pain so bad I could tear my own heart out…not physical pain so much, but because it was my heart that was aching…

And the empty feeling in my belly. I clawed at my stomach screaming to make this madness stop. To undo what had happened.

Next thing, I am given a Valium…out cold again.

I was in a dark place mentally back then…before this all happened.

It was literally my first time…and then I was pregnant. A senior in high school. An aspiring fashion designer. A child who just wanted her divorced parents’ love and for them to stop fighting.

Well, this got their attention alright. They found out a while later…they shed no tears for me…just more anger and pain. I was ashamed. I kept my story to myself… I was absolved of my sin by a priest after my family found out. Time to forget it forever…put it behind me.

SHAME.

I live with this every second of every day.

I couldn’t put it behind me. Even as life moved on.

But in no way shape or form, did life fill the void in my belly...in my heart.

Did I want a child at eighteen? No…I had no clue what I would have done. But there is not one day since June 1, 1991 that I do not think of him…I know in my heart it was a boy.

I swore God would never allow me to be happy again…my Catholic guilt growing larger everyday.

God was good enough to let me heal enough to graduate and temporarily mend things with my family…but I knew that he would punish me. The little girl in me said I would never be a mommy because of what I did that day.

Almost five years later, I was granted a gift. After almost losing my baby and  my life during my pregnancy, God gave us a beautiful baby girl…I lost an ovary through it all, but I felt like I had truly been absolved…that there was a God and that I had to suffer a little to finally appreciate what I had.

And I did. Life was challenging then, but I had this beautiful baby and thought I would never have any more after losing an ovary and all that my body went through to deliver her safely. And yet I was given a second chance… 

I had to embrace it.

Three more amazingly beautiful children later and almost nineteen years of a happy marriage with a husband who has heard this all and held me as I cried over and over, and I feel like God forgave me…but why am I still not forgiving myself? Is it that Catholic guilt or shame? Or simply because it truly wasn’t my choice?

I cringe everytime I read an article on this topic. I cry. I mourn. I had a choice. Maybe I made the wrong one, but my life would be very different today if I had fought back and said to them that  I had a choice in the matter.

He didn’t love me…and I didn’t love him.

Yes I was a fool…but I was just looking for love after years of being lost and made a terrible mistake.

I will never tell anyone to rid the world of abortion… There. I said it.

Abortion.

It is an ugly word. Our world has made it ugly.

But what about that girl who is raped or molested?

What about the girl like me?

What would I have done?

I would have been sent packing to live on the streets pregnant and alone…fearful of what my very catholic family would say…or maybe worse…maybe I would have killed myself or attempted to from the deep depression and shame that was setting in.

Or maybe turn to adoption…but that was never an option for some reason and I was too naive to think these things through as an eighteen year old fighting the world and everyone in it.

Do I believe that maybe I could have beaten the odds?

Found the strength to fight back and keep my child?

Found a way to finish school and pursue my dreams as an artist?

Make it work?

Hell yeah…I thought that an hour ago, and last week, or last summer when I almost had a nervous breakdown about the lie I have lived with for so long.

I know girls that did beat the odds and persevered alone with their child…yes, they have struggled to make ends meet and finish school and find love again while raising a child alone…

Some will say I gave up too easily.

Shame on me.

But even more shame for hiding it…it is part of who I am…he was part of me and will forever be my fifth child…my first. I ache for him, as any mother would over a child lost…even more so when I see how cruel life can be and take our loved ones away in an instant.

So why voluntarily do it?

My eighteen year old self said she did it because it was the only way out and because they told her to.

My Forty-something year old self says it was the shame and guilt that the scared girl couldn’t bare to face.

She did though. Faced all of it…

Took countless blows to the chin, and then when the dust settled, tucked her dirty little secret away…until now.

We all have choices in this life…and we have to live with the consquences each and everyday.

I feel that hot pavement from that day on my face twenty-four years ago like I  am living that moment now…it was a choice…one that will follow me like a dark cloud till the day I die.

Judge me, hate me, pray for me.

Do whatever you like. But I will not lie or hide this part of me anymore. My older girls know my story now. As a lesson to make better choices…but no one should make those choices for you…no one.

Today I honor the love that I lost, and all that I have gained…most importantly…

Truth.

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I smile today…I am owning this. My first ever tattoo…proudly wearing a badge forever of all my babies…four born, one lost, and one gained.