When They Don’t Choose You

This parenting after divorce thing is hard, and it teaches me new lessons all the time.

I’ve started and stopped this post several dozen times in the last six months. I thought I should keep reference to this off my blog, I have successfully kept reference to it off of social media. But it’s the reason I haven’t written anything in a very long time, and I’m dying to pour my heart out about this, so I am.

My oldest daughter decided to live with her dad full time last summer.

He and I have shared custody of our four children, and I guess I should have known this day would come to pass eventually. But I’m going to be honest: as a mother, you never expect that you’re the parent that will be rejected. I guess dads probably don’t expect it either, but as the primary caregiver, I had hoped that might make a difference. I stayed home for the first 12 years of her life, I homeschooled her through the third grade, I took this particular child to see doctors and specialists, to various therapies, and poured about three times as much of myself into parenting her as I did her other three siblings. I guess I’m being bitter about that, but not enough to prevent her from moving out. I’ll tell you, it’s been one of the most painful experiences I’ve had related to my divorce three years ago.

Her reasons are her own, but make sense to anyone who has ever been a teenager. She wants to live where there is less supervision, less invasion of her privacy, and more opportunity for solitude. Her father is a busy guy, and he’s an introvert like her. Because he was the chosen parent, my ex has no issue with her making the decision to live primarily with one parent, and would not help me talk sense into her about the importance of keeping the joint custody schedule the same. Had it been the reverse, I’m certain he would have taken me to court over it. I let them both know I thought this was a mistake and that it set a dangerous precedent for the other three children, but they didn’t care. So she comes to my house every other weekend, and is very bad about answering text messages. She will be changing schools next year so she can take the bus from her dad’s, and he is building a room for her in the basement of his house.

It feels like she’s left for college. I have a huge empty place in my life where she should be. She communicates on her own terms, I see her four days a month, I have no influence over her daily life, she doesn’t look to me for comfort or counsel, and she has a whole life that is totally separate from me, that she is sharing with my ex-husband. And it breaks my heart if I stop to think about it too long. This is my first born daughter, and it just makes me feel like I failed as a parent. I used to have panic attacks in bed every night, suffering a lot of mommy guilt over how I acted toward my kids when I was in the throes of PPD. She was the oldest, and she got the worst of that. And I feel like after we had come so far in our relationship after those dark years, that I’m just finally getting what I deserve. It might not be the truth, but it’s how I feel.

Her departure has caused our every interaction to change. When she comes over every two weeks, it’s as if she is a guest. There is a lot of distance and discomfort on my part, but she seems very comfortable. She is happy with her decision, and I assume she is happy with the change in her relationship with her father. I pray often for the ability to influence her decisions as mom, without knowing what she deals with and what’s going on in her life. I know she needs a mom, and she just doesn’t seem to want one right now.

I try to be as involved as I can in my older daughter’s life, even if it’s in the form of having more discussions with her father than I would like to have. And I’m a little different with my other three children now. it’s made their presence in my life even more precious now that I feel the aching emptiness where the relationship with their sister should be, I try to work extra hard on the relationships I have with them, finding new rituals, making new traditions, trying to be very present with them when we’re together. One day they may come to a decision about living primarily with one parent, and whichever way they choose, I want to know in my heart that I have done all I can to foster a deep and lasting relationship with them.

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It All Began To Fall Apart

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The air had been thick with tension inside the cottage all afternoon.  Everything seemed to frustrate him, and there was nothing Cylest could do that pleased Lachlan.  He bellowed at her from the bedroom that she was too loud putting the pots away after lunch, and then the vinegar she was using to clean gave him a headache.  He flung the door open as he left to work in his woodshop, smacking the side of the house so hard that a picture frame fell from the wall and shattered in his wake. But when she went out to tell him to wash up for supper, it really all began to fall apart

Cylest stood in the doorway, waiting for him to pause, so that she wouldn’t break his concentration.

“What?” he snapped without looking up.

Her blood boiled, but she fought to keep her voice even and free of anger. “I only came to tell you to wash up for supper. I don’t know why you’ve been so angry, but I don’t take kindly to rudeness.” she replied, crossing her arms and leaning against the doorjamb.

Lachlan’s eyes blazed with anger as he spun around to face her. “I’ll speak to you as I please, wench.”

“You’ll not call me names, Lachlan.  I’m your wife, and you vowed to respect me. Take it back”

He slid the chair back from the workbench so hard he knocked it over, and closed the distance between them in two strides.

“I won’t take it back. You challenge me and you’ll get what’s coming to you.” He growled through gritted teeth.

Cylest knew that nothing she could say would change his frame of mind.  She stared coldly at him but made no reply.  Stalking from the workshop, she seethed, and muttered, “You go to hell, Lachlan O’Sullivan. You’ll get what’s coming to you, too.”

 

Linking up with

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and the prompt: “It all began to fall apart”

Throwback Thursday Stories : Scotland 2001

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There’s a collection of pictures that people are commenting on and sharing around FB lately, off BuzzFeed or somewhere, that list this castle among one of the most beautiful places in the world. I would agree.  I came upon it by accident, on a drive through central-ish Scotland in the summer of 2001.  It’s situated on Loch Duich, which lies between Inverness and the Isle of Skye. It’s called Eilean Donan.

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Even in late June, it’s about 50 degrees there with a really brisk wind off the water.. check out my daughter’s hair!  She was about 18 months old during our visit.  We walked around the grounds and took pictures and just enjoyed the ancient looking scenery for a while before we moved on to the Isle of Skye, where we were staying that evening.

 

If the castle looks familiar to you and you haven’t seen the post going around facebook like I mentioned, it may be that you recall it from the 13th century scenes in the Highlander movies.  They used the castle and bridge in the flashback sequences when he was going to battle, the first time he met The Kurgan, and again when he was cast out of his clan for being a devil.

 

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Every Thursday, TheMomCreative hosts a linkup where we’re encouraged to post pictures from our past and tell the story that goes along with the picture.  I love this linkup, and hope you’ll join us!

Throwback Thursday Stories : Family Antics

 

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Round about 1989, my brother was in 7th grade and I was a junior in high school. He had just come from a soccer game, and had eaten more than usual because his resources had been depleted.

Chris was moaning that he was too full, putting his had on his stomach as if he was stuffed, and then he slunk down in his chair under the table.  I was laughing at his antics, and he decided to surprise me by jerking me out of my chair. Soon I was under the table with him.

We could hardly breathe we were laughing so hard, but quickly decided to grab our mom’s legs and pull her under with us.  I don’t know how long we lay there giggling hysterically, but it was enough time for my dad to go get the camera and take this picture.  It’s a great representation of the bond the three of us had at the time, and it makes me smile every time I see it.

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Do you have a picture that has a story behind it?  Link up with Throwback Thursday Stories at TheMomCreative!

Deep As You Go

The first rays of light peeked through the blinds as Liam turned toward Caera.

“I need to love you more than I need to breathe,” Liam murmured as he cradled her in his arms.  “Have you ever felt that way about me?”

“I have. When you kiss me, I feel like I’m drowning, LIke I’m being pulled down deeper and deeper into your love for me.” She inched closer to him and placed her hand on his hip.  “And I’d rather feel that than catch my breath.”

“Yeah” he agreed, his eyes closing as he pulled her onto him again.

 

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Author’s Note:  A little bow chicka wow wow for your Wednesday afternoon.  More in the Liam and Caera story can be found here.

Spontaneous Praise

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TheMomCreative has begun a series called Throwback Thursday Stories. It’s purpose is to invite bloggers to link up and share an old photo, as well the story behind the picture. You can write the story of the photo itself or you can write about how the photo makes you feel. But the goal is to share a little more about yourself, your past and have fun doing it!  You can read more here.

 

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This picture is one of my very favorite moments ever.

Though the scenery is lovely, and my daughter is very cute in all her toddlerness there in the foreground, it cannot fully capture the moment my Smallish Girl was having. It was something very special, to her and to me.

After an afternoon hike in Joyce Kilmer National Park in the mountains of western North Carolina, my family drove to a mountain overlook.  The kids piled out of the car, and Smallish Girl soon found this particular vantage point.

She twirled around to take in the panorama, and began to spontaneously praise her Creator.

Seriously.

She couldn’t have been more than 3, and her small heart was so moved by the beauty, that she spread her little arms wide and made up a praise song, singing “Jesus, I love your world!”.

It was just about the most magical thing I’ve ever witnessed.

Is there a special moment you have from a picture that you might share for Throwback Thursday Stories?  Link up here.

 

 

Lips Like Sugar

 

“She said she’d be here” Liam shouted over the music.

“Was Nuala coming?”  Ian yelled back, “Or Delaney?”

Liam swiveled his hips through a few tables to get a look at the dance floor. Through the haze and lights, it took a moment for him to recognize Caera.

“Over here!” he called, motioned for Ian and Aidan to follow.

Her eyes were closed as she swayed with her arms over her head, lost in the music. Liam grabbed her around the waist, picking her up and spinning her.  Startled, she laughed, and then kissed him above the crowd.

“Hello Baby”

 

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Linking up with

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and

 

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prompt: recognize

Author’s Note: A little more in the story of Liam and Caera today.

 

 

 

Twisted Mixtape Tuesday : The Missing You Edition

My friend Jen Kehl has had a wonderful linkup for a long time called Twisted Mixtape Tuesday.  This is the last week she’s doing the linkup before it goes on hiatus, and I wanted to take a minute to participate.  The theme for this week is Missing You.

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Hurricane Drunk by Florence and the Machine

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This is a song I always thought would make me think of Alan.  I could imagine myself feeling these same things if I ever saw him out with another woman.  But you know, feelings fade and things change.  And I wouldn’t react the way Florence does these days, but it’s still a great song about missing someone all the way down to your bones.

 

Please Just Take These Photos From My Hands

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This is a really powerful song, and one I could watch unfold in my head just listening to the music.  It provided inspiration for a scene I wrote in the Liam and Caera story, and really, I think this song is really representative of Liam’s regret about his friendship and feelings toward Caera.

 

If There’s A Rocket, Tie Me To It

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This is a great song that tells a story of feeling a physical connection to someone you miss.  My favorite part is the “chest to chest and feet to feet” reference, being able to picture that closeness in my head.

 

The next three make me ache when I hear them for various reasons, all good missing you type songs.

Don’t Wake Me by Skillet

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Here Without You – 3 Doors Down

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But this one?

 

This one is worth a listen, even if you didn’t check out any of the other songs I posted.

 

Come Back Home by Matthew Mayfield

This is one of my very favorite songs ever. The raw emotion behind the singing, the epic musical composition, and the great lyrics all combine into a wonderfully emotive, pleading song to someone that’s missed and wanted to an extreme depth. It affects my heart, my blood pressure, and can sometimes move me to tears. I just love it.

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What are your favorite Missing You songs?  Link me in the comments!

 

 

 

Second Guessing

Are there posts in your draft folder?

What kinds of posts are they? Why did you decide to keep them in draft?

I have about 50 posts in my draft folder.  Some of them are chapters in a fiction novel that I’ve abandoned for the moment, but a lot of them are actually ones I’ve published and then pulled back off the internet.  Sometimes I feel really brave, and want to share my whole heart and risk a lot of vulnerability on my blog.  Sometimes I have the continued courage to leave my words up.  But other times, I re-read those brave words and think better of having shared them.

One post in particular comes to mind when I think of previously published and then “recalled” posts. I had an incident at work that led to a conversation with the Viking. I thought he gave me great advice about the sacredness of trust and how people need to earn it before you share things, and the conversation showed some real connection and insight into our relationship.

The incident and conversation were both about the fact that I’m a chronic over-sharer. It was some hard truth to hear, but something I really did know about myself.  I had to work through some shame as he talked to me, because I felt like my over-sharing was something he looked down on, and showed that I was careless or immature compared to him. It took some significant bravery to publish a post that talked about feeling ashamed of the way I relate to others.

And then no one commented.  I left the post up for a few days, and grew increasingly uncomfortable with knowing those words were out there.  With no validation or encouragement from my readers, I pulled it back into draft, and it continues to sit there.

The lack of commenting made me feel like I was oversharing on my blog, too, to the point where it made my readers uncomfortable.  I know I was projecting my own insecurities, and making assumptions, and my perception may not actually be reality.

I guess what I was hoping for in the responses might be that yes, my readers could tell that was true, but that they understood, or that they get how hard it is to go from being an oversharer to being someone who is guarded.  And the silence just seemed to validate that my way of relating to others was, in fact, something to be ashamed of.

Usually, when I risk vulnerability and share something here, there are words that come from my readers that reassure me that I’m not alone in my thoughts, or that encourage me to keep writing from my heart. And when those words didn’t come, it made me feel very protective, and fearful.

So I didn’t write for a while.

This whole experience made me take stock of why I write.  And why I need validation.  And what purpose my blog serves.  And why I care so much about what other people think.  And how I view my readers.  And the multitude of ways that I seem to be co-dependent and ruled by shame.

So pulling that post back, and the reflection on it, was actually a good thing.  I need to be writing for myself.  For my own creativity, for my own development, and I need to share what I want to share.  I do think of my readers, and I hope to connect with them, but I don’t write here to please others.  I invite my readers into my space where I feel safe being creative and being brave.

I feel like I’m unusual in the blogging world in that I don’t have aspirations of making a career or part time job out of blogging. I’ve never been the sort of blogger who writes to obtain a huge following and make money, and I’m never going to be that way. I write so much here that’s personal that I really only want those who care about my words, and respect my perspective and my heart and my way of expressing creativity to be reading it.  I can count on one hand the number of people I know in real life/outside of the blogging conference and writing community worlds who know where I blog.

I’m grateful that you’re here, and I just wanted to take a moment to explain the little journey I’ve been on lately about writing and sharing here since MamaKat asked her readers to write about a post we have in draft.

Thanks for listening.

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Can’t Get Enough

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Cylest rose quietly from the bed where they had just made love. She didn’t get far before Lachlan’s long arm reached out to give her bottom a smack.

“Trying to get away so soon, kitten?” he murmured, taking her hand. “I promise I won’t punish you again till you catch your breath.”

“Can’t punish me when I’m enjoying it,” she giggled, straddling him.  “You’ve quite a talent for pleasuring me.”

“That I do. And you as well.” He took her face in his hands, kissing her deeply.

“Mmmm” she groaned, “Again. Please, my lord. I can’t get enough of you.”

 

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prompt: love

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prompt: smack

 

Author’s Note: Some lighthearted banter between Lachlan and Cylest, who’ve found love at last.  You can read more about them here.