Thursday, September 8, 2016

Grace & Motherhood

"Successful mothers are not the ones that have never struggled.
They are the ones that never give up despite the struggle."
~Sharon Jaynes

I've been having a rough mom week.

Who am I kidding?

It's been a rough month. 

I've spent the last few weeks feeling inadequate, because I allowed a few negative comments to leave me breathless and unsure of myself.

As a parent, do you ever feel that way?

Do you ever dwell on the side eyes from the lady behind you at Target or the negative feedback from a doctor or a teacher?

Do you ever take the comments of another parent just a little too personally?

Do you ever sit on your couch looking at your dusty entertainment center while you drink a glass of wine wishing that you would of had just a little bit more patience today?

You do?

Me too. 

Sometimes I allow the hard moments of motherhood to cause me to lose sight of the bigger picture.

The bigger picture that is focused more on what God is telling me to do as a mother, not what this lost and broken world is telling me to do.

And when I lose sight of that bigger picture, I also lose sight of the truth.

The truth that I am-despite all my imperfections-a good mom. 

I am able to embrace this truth now more than ever, because there was time in my life when I was not the mother I should have been.

On the outside, I appeared to be doing most things right.

I stayed at home and spent countless hours with my daughter, she had clean clothes and food to eat, and I was committed to trying to do ALL the things that the world told me I was required to do to be a "good" mother.

But, on the inside, I was so damaged and as a result, I allowed myself to become very self-absorbed.

You know, looking back on those dark years, I realize it was the combination of my failing first marriage, my ongoing issues with unresolved postpartum depression, and pure mid-twenties selfishness that all played a huge role in the type of mother I was choosing to be in those early years-the type of mother I had always sworn I would never be.

The mother who chose partying and "going out" to numb the pain of a broken life.

The mother who pawned her child off on anyone and everyone instead of getting to the root of the postpartum depression that was fueling the disconnection I once felt with her.

The mother who somehow felt "cheated" because I chose to get married very young and have a child very young. 

The mother who embraced all these lies and deceptive schemes of Satan and many, many more.

It took me several years, lots of soul searching, and intense personal healing to realize what I was doing wrong and what I needed to do better when it came to being a "good" mom.

And you know what was the most surprising part of that revelation?

The fact that no where in Scripture does it say that how much TV I allow my child to watch, or how many Happy Meals she had last week, or whether or not I do crafts with her or play Barbies with her is what makes or breaks me as a mother.

In fact, the most important commandment that Scripture leaves us with is this:"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6). 

I think when God passed this wisdom down to Solomon, He did so knowing He was giving these instruction to very human parents.

Sinful, imperfect, human parents.

And that's where grace comes in. 

Grace that allows us to dust ourselves off and try again.

Grace that covers our lost times, our hard times, and our "not so great" mom times.

Grace that says, "It doesn't matter what you have done-it only matters where you go from here."

And you know, I am so thankful every single day for the fact that God holds me to standard of grace not perfection in all areas of my life, but especially as a mother.

Sure, there are things I could always do better.

But as long as I never quit trying and never quit pointing her to the Grace Giver, I think she's going to probably turn out okay. 

And, regardless of what they may be telling you, I know that great kids don't just happen.  

They are the product of love and hard work, and of mother's who worry themselves sick that they are messing it all up. 

So, here's to all the moms out there who are pretty sure they are messing it up.

Let me be the first to tell you-if you haven't been told in a while-that you're doing an amazing job.

No matter what your parenting style might be.

No matter what your past may look like.

No matter if you work or stay at home or get to do a little of both.

YOU are doing a wonderful job. 

And tonight while I'm curled up on my couch, drinking some of that wine, and worrying about how I might have messed my daughter up today, I will raise my glass to you.  

Because we've all got this in our own way at our own pace and it's all made possible by huge, heaping portions of grace.

Lots and lots of grace.

And as long as we never give up, I promise our kiddos are going to make it.

They will emerge into adulthood braver, stronger, and hopefully with minimal therapy bills and the knowledge that God knew exactly what He was doing when He entrusted you with them. 

He never makes mistakes.


So, take a deep breath. 

It's all going to be okay. 

No matter what they say. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Mountain

"Only if you have been in the deepest valley, 
can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain."
~Richard M. Nixon

In all fairness, my life up until the past year has been mostly valleys.

Long, dark, lonely valleys that force you to become the person you were always destined to become.

But for every valley of the past 30 years, there have been many, many mountain tops-this year has been one of them.

If someone would have told my bright, awkward, 20-year-old self that this is what my mountain top would look like 10 years later, I would of laughed.

Because it's a proven fact that at 20 years old, we have got it ALL figured out.

<insert super dramatic eye roll here>

Yep. 10 years ago, I was on top of a mountain. I was going to be a teacher, I was pretty much already married, and I was sure I would have at least 2 kids before 25.

I had the next 50 years of my life completely mapped out.

<Enter real life stage left.> 

And all of sudden as if overnight, I had no idea what I was going to do tomorrow-let alone in 50 years.

I think it was at that point in my life that I finally accepted that for every mountain top there must be a valley in order to get there. 

Fast forward to today, and I find myself perched on the top of the world!

I have been married to my best friend for three months. We are almost completely done remodeling our first home-which will eventually become our first business venture.

I am running a growing company which looks nothing like the teaching job I thought I would have by now, and I love getting to make my own schedule, as well as, working from home some days.

We are active in our church. We are allowing God to use us to change lives.

We are growing and evolving and to be honest, our future looks incredibly bright.

I can confidently say that the world has never looked more beautiful.  

But as gorgeous as it is on top of this mountain, I had forgotten how lonely mountain tops can be.

I think one of the hardest lesson I have had to learn over the past 10 years is that not everyone you meet along your path is supposed walk with you every step of the way.

Yes, some friendship are life long. The friendship of my husband, my sisters, my cousins, etc. were meant to accompany me on every single journey. No matter where I go in life-no matter how hard or how easy life is at times-I know I can always count on them.

It's the other friendships that come and go- the ones that are meant only for a season-that have become the hardest for me to let go.

I have always been the one with a small, close group of friends. I was never that super popular girl who was "friends" with everyone. I never went to parties or fit into an array of cliches.

For most of my childhood and teenage years, I had the same two or three friends. We grew up with each other and then eventually life got the best of us and we grew apart.

<Enter early adulthood.>

 In my early adult years, I was a newlywed and a new mom. I had some friendships-but not many. I was mostly consumed with being a wife and figuring out motherhood.

And then when life got really hard, I had to learn the difference between true friends and "friends" who jump ship at the slightest sign of distress.

It was a rough part of my journey.

But, through that hard season, God cultivated new friendships. Fun friendships. Friendships that helped me experience some of those things that I missed out on in my early twenties.

It was a memorable time in my life-one I will not soon forget.

<Enter present day.>

I have found myself being ushered into a season of contentment in my life.

I am most happy being mom to my daughter and wife to my husband. I love cooking dinner every night and the mundane-but steady and relaxing-task of folding laundry. I love lazy evenings on my new deck and quiet mornings curled up on the couch with my girl watching Netflix.

I love this life. 

And I would not change it for anything.

But, lately the loneliness has been overwhelming, and while I may be physically on the mountain-a piece of my heart is lost somewhere in the valley.

The valley where I am trying to hold onto people that God never intended to go with me all the way to the top.

And if I'm being honest, I would tell you that I have allowed that place in the valley to steal most of the joy I should be feeling on this mountain top.

I have been sad, and weepy, and overwhelmed by the thought of having to find new friendships and new women I can relate too.

Women who will stand with me in this place instead of making me feel guilty for being here. 

And as a result, I have been quiet.

Here and in other places of my corner of the world.

I have at least 10 unfinished blog posts, because I just could not summon the words, or the feelings, or the energy it would take to finish them.

And you know what I did instead?!

I wallered. <Ozarkian term. Just go with it.>

I sunk deeper and deeper into a place of remorse, loss, and self-pity.

 I allowed it's poison to affect every aspect of my world, even some new friendship that had recently come into my life.

But, after some wise counsel, weeks of prayer, and drawing closer to God, I have come to this conclusion:

He never promises what the mountain tops will look like-He only promises that He will be right there with us.

So, this is my truth: I have been chosen-set apart by God-for something amazing. He is writing a story with my life that not everyone will understand which means that I will struggle with loneliness from time to time.

Earthly loneliness-not spiritual loneliness. 

Because even though He promises there will be persecution in this season of life, He also promises that I will never walk alone.

And just like Paul encourages Timothy in 1 Timothy 6, I need to "keep fighting the good fight".

Satan is trying to use this season of life against me. His primary concern is to get me down and make me feel defeated. He sees the Lord's call on my life and He trembles at what that means for a world that is so caught up in their own selfish desires.

As long as I'm sharing my testimony and fighting against him in this war he is raging on marriages and families, he knows he will lose his foothold in some people's lives and he doesn't want that.

And so he whispers in my ear.

And sometimes I listen.

But, unfortunately for him, there will always be a Voice that is louder than his.

The Voice of the One who breathed life into my bones and who began a good work in me that He will see out until completion.

Yes. This season is lonely.

I am growing,  and changing, and experiencing what life looks like when you hear the Spirit's call.

But, I know, it won't be lonely forever.

God always provides and I know He has new friendships out there on the horizon.

Friendships that will propel me forward.

Friendships that will encourage and support me.

Friendships that are meant for this season.

I just need to patient. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Ugly Truth

"Always choose the ugly truth
over a pretty lie."
~Beau Taplin

If you have been following me a long time, you know my story. 

You have probably read every word of the story that I wrote almost 3 years ago, and you have shared with me in the heartache and triumph of my fall to rock bottom and my rise from the ashes of a shattered life. 

I have never shied away from my truth.

I have a call on my life to use my story for His glory, because the hard reality is this: divorce, cheating, and extra-martial affairs have become a pandemic in this country. 

We have bought the lie that OUR happiness is all that matters.

We are bombarded with this lie in the media through the celebrities we follow and the television shows we watch. We have become numb to the ugly truth behind this pretty lie. 

If our husband's make us mad or don't listen to us, we run to our mother, our sister, or our friends. We listen to them tell us how "wonderful" we are and how we "deserve" better. 

If our wives disappoint us, we tune them out. We find a younger and more beautiful model or at least someone we believe truly "gets" us and shares "our" interests.

We pour our time and energy into relationships with people who are just as human as our current spouses instead of fixing what is right in front of us. 

We expect each new relationship to fulfill the lie that requires them to be the sole dispenser of our happiness, and if they fail-which they will-we move onto the next one. 

It's a vicious cycle. 

It's a road that can only lead to one place: destruction. 

I know this because I have been there.

There was a time in my life that I expected other people to fulfill my happiness. 

Me-the good, little Christian wife with the "perfect", little Christian life-bought the lie.

I drank the koolaide.

I was thirsty for the superficial love and false acceptance the world told me that I "deserved".

It was a deep, dark place that left me broken and completely destroyed.

But, like one of my favorite quotes by J.K. Rowling says, "Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life."

I have spent the last 2 years, 10 months, and 29 days rebuilding my life, so that I can sit here today and tell you this:

It's not worth it. 

Yes. I am happily remarried.

Yes. My husband and I work very hard every single day to actively and amicably co-parent our daughter with my ex-husband and his wife.

But, the consequences of my actions and my choices haunt me every single day.

There are nights I go to bed without my daughter and important things I have had to miss or learn how to share with her stepmom. There are holidays I don't have her and moments I experience that I wish she could share with me. There are hard conversations that I have to have with her almost on a daily basis and a "new normal" I don't think any of us will ever fully get used too.

 There are people in my community who won't even look at me-who still turn and go the other way in the middle of a Wal-Mart aisle if they see me. People who have been affected by the far reaching grasp of my choices. People I don't even know.

There are things I will never get closure about and apologies I will never get to give.

I still have nightmares. I still beat myself up.

I physically dread the day my daughter finally asks me about that time in my life, and I often wonder how that conversation will go.

And these are just some of the consequences.

I have also had to experience this from the other side of the coin as an adult child of divorced parents.

I live everyday with the consequences of my parents choices and actions.

Holidays suck and birthday parties are awkward.

I have trust issues and therapy bills.

Just because I was out of the house and months away from my first marriage, doesn't mean that my parents divorce didn't affect me.

And this is the ugly truth.

These are the things the media doesn't tell you.

This is the behind the scenes look that you miss when you're watching TV.

This is the verse that is always missing from those love songs.

And this is the line in those Pinterest quotes that your missing.

Because, these are the true consequences of a really pretty lie.

Marriage is hard work. 

It is a choice you make every single day to love someone not inspite of who they are, but because of who they are.

Happiness is hard work. 

It's a choice every single day to be content with the life God has chosen to give you.

It is not a emotional state. It is a mental state.

Making the right choices is hard work.

If doing the right thing was easy, the world would be a perfect place.

Owning the ugliness of your truth is hard work.

I can promise you that there is nothing easy about it.

But, the freedom that comes with owning it and working through it is indescribable.

I will never forget the day I found freedom from the lies I had been telling myself.

It was a freedom that was only possible through Christ.

Because without His forgiveness and my true repentance from a life that looked nothing like the life He had planned for me, I honestly don't think I would be where I am today.

Yes. This is the stuff the world keeps forgetting to tell you.

These are things that you don't want to hear, but that you need to hear.

I don't know where you are on your journey or what flavor of koolaide the world has convinced you to drink, but I know this: it's never too late to hand them back the glass.

To say no to the poison and the lies.

To say yes to the life God truly has for you.

Will it be easy? No.

But, I can promise you that it's worth it. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Dear Little Apartment

We did not change as we grew older. We just became more clearly ourselves.
~Lynn Hall

I'll never forget the day I met you.

It was Memorial Day weekend. 3 years ago.

I was a newly single mom.

Ambitious. Determined. Scared.

In that moment, it felt like the entire world was against me and I was out to prove them all wrong.

I could do this. I would do this.

And here we are three years later-living proof that the hard days awaken the fighter within us.

The warrior we didn't even know we were capable of becoming.

It wasn't always easy.

I think you know that better than anyone.

It's like the old adage says, "If these wall could talk...".

Well, if your walls could, they would talk about my wild and crazy summer. My first summer that was truly my own, because it took me 10 years to finally have my moment.

They would talk about the wine nights with my best friend, the girls nights spent getting ready in my little bathroom, and the evenings I discovered all my new favorite TV shows.

They would talk about all the nights spent studying for tests instead of sleeping, because one of these days I will be a college graduate even if it kills me.

They would talk about how I learned to cook here-like really cook, because I was finally free to be adventerous and try new things, and so I did.

They would talk about the worst night of my life.

And the best.

They would talk about a little girl and her sleepovers with her favorite cousin and about the princess tea parties that were held right there at our coffee table.

They would talk about every nightmare she had in her little bedroom; every bedtime story that was read three, four, and five times; and about every single bath time adventure-like the time she filled the tub up until it overflowed, because, "Mom. Mermaids need deeper water.".

They would talk about how we survived three years without "real" TV and lived to tell about it.

They would talk about the movie nights and the sick days, and the only winter it snowed enough to build a snowman in our little piece of front yard.

But, I think the number one thing they would say is that while it wasn't always perfect, it was truly ours.

Our little apartment.

You were the first place in my whole life that was ever truly mine.

That was ever truly just ours.

Hers and mine.

We were able to be us here.

Just us.

We laughed here. We cried here.We learned how to be brave here.

And you know? I couldn't of done it without you.

I couldn't have become the woman I was meant to become until I learned how to survive on my own.

And I did.

I truly did.

Don't get me wrong.

I am excited about the future.

But, closing a chapter-especially a good one, is always hard.

And so, we cried this week.

Her and I.

We are really going to miss you.

Especially her.

She is having the hardest time.

But, eventually we will get through this and our new house will begin to feel more and more like home.

It's just going to take some time.

You know.

So, thanks for the memories, little apartment.

Every. single. one.

We will cherish them always.

And tonight before we go to sleep, we promise to say a prayer for the next family that will get to call you "home".

May they be blessed and may their journey be bright; and may they feel all the hope and love we've left behind in your walls.

Good bye, old friend.

We're on to bigger and better things.

Because we know that our new chapter is going to be the most amazing one yet.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

An Open Letter To My Daughter On The Last Day Being 6

A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart. 
 ~Author Unknown

My Darling Emma,

I'm not exactly sure when this more grown up version of you decided to appear, but I finally noticed her this week. 

All month there have been "big girl" conversations about how your "too big" for Frozen and "too big" for this and "too big" for that. We only read chapter books these days, and you've been asking for a boy Barbie (insert dramatic eye roll here). 

You've taken more of an interest in clothes, and shoes, and even jewelry. You sit at your little vanity just about every morning and apply lip gloss before school. 

It's almost as if overnight you developed a big girl personality, and you are now this extremely funny, sarcastic, sensitive, loving, and artistic little girl who has fully replaced my sweet and timid baby. 

You've grown into the girl who looks just like her Aunt Mandy when you crinkle your nose to laugh. 

The girl who hides plastic rats at her dad's house to scare her step mom. 

The girl who loves tickle fights, swimming, and who recently became a whole lot braver on the playground equipment.

The girl who discovered this year how much she loves roller coasters, and zip lining, and really just about anything that is dangerous. 

The girl who is finally able to read all of her favorite books and who does it with such a flair. I could listen to read for hours.

The girl who no longer asks me to hold her and who really only needs me to wash her hair. 

The girl who does homework and who spends most of her time dressing up her American Girl dolls, watching Jessie, and drawing me the most beautiful pictures. 

The girl who loves her horse, and who dreams of being a championship barrel racer.

The girl who chooses boots and jeans at her dad's and the most frilly dresses when she's with me. 

That girl. 

My girl. 

Oh, how I love you so.

I know 6 was a big year for you. 

It was full of so many changes. 

You adjusted to life with a new mom and your moved into a new-ish house. 

You got a new teacher for first grade, and two new sweet little boy cousins. 

I'm sure 6 seems like a blur, and trust me, I feel the same way. 

I feel like it was just yesterday I was pushing you on the swing set right before your 6th birthday-wondering what the year would hold, and this week we wandered over to that same playground with that same swing set to play on it one last time and say our goodbyes before we move.

Yes. It's been a hard week for a birthday week.

We've cried alot-you and I.

Because change is hard. 

It's so hard, baby girl.

And I know that no matter how wonderful and great the change may be-there will always be parts of it that sting just a little. 


We're closing a chapter this week aren't we, baby girl?

A big chapter.

A chapter that required alot of growing up from me...and from you. 

A chapter that made us stronger and that brought us even closer.

And I know that 7 seems scary and full of so many unknowns. 

But, I know we'll get through it. 

We always get through it. 

Because, for as long as you can remember, it's always been just me and you-even during those early years. 

We have found a comfortable routine-our way of doing things. 

And I know that seems to all be changing...because it is. 

But, I promise it won't be long before we settle into this new way of life.

This shift from two to three with a man who loves us so very much.

 And I'm sure that eventually you will barely remember our little apartment days, and it will seem like this new way is how we've always done it. 

But, I promise to hold on to our little apartment memories.

I promise that we will talk about them, and laugh about them, and remember them for the days when you have your own little apartment. 

These memories will always be some of the best parts of us, baby girl.

But, I have a feeling that our new memories in our new house with our new person are going to be our best ones yet.

So, take my hand and hold on tight.

Because all of my best adventures have been with you.

Love, Mom

Thursday, March 24, 2016


"Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you."
(1 Peter 5:6-7)

I worry alot about this whole mom thing. 

I worry that I am not good enough or strong enough or brave enough. 

I worry that-despite my best efforts-I have caused/am causing some kind of irreparable mental and emotional damage to my child that will force her into years of therapy due to my divorce from her dad and all the shuffling from house to house. 

These are the newest additions to the monsters in my closet. 

The things that keep me up at night. 

But, not Sunday night. 

Nights like Sunday night are the nights that God chooses to remind me that I am not failing-I'm just not listening.

Because the truth is this: my child sees and hears and absorbs all the good things in her life-the things that far outweigh the bad, and this is how I know:

After helping her out of the shower on Sunday night, I began to towel dry her hair. While I was doing that, the towel caught one of her earrings that has been giving her alot of trouble. 

The ear instantly started bleeding...alot. 

And she started to cry...alot. 

I worried that I had pulled it out or torn her earlobe, and I needed to look at it and possibly remove the earring to see what exactly had happened. 

When I tried to explain this to her, she cried even harder! 

I knew she was scared and I can only imagine how much it hurt, but unfortunately my impatience got the best of me. 

I was tired from our weekend away, and my nerves were shot. 

Stick me in lots of places with multiple children and I am quickly reminded why I only have one! 

But, I digress. 

After trying to bargain with her for several minutes and eventually losing my patience with her all together, I had officially made the situation worse and through her sobs she asked me to let her call her dad. 


The ultimate sign of mom failure.

She wanted her dad. 

So, I got her in her pajamas and braided her wet hair away from the bleeding ear. I then retrieved the teddy bear that seems to soothe all fears and propped her up on my bed to call her father. 

They talked. 

I pretended not to listen. 

Her tears subsided and then she handed the phone to me. 

I exchanged some short words with him and then told him I'd call him if I needed help, and then we hung up. 

She looked at me through sad eyes, and said, "I know you need to look at it, but I want to pray to God first."

"What?! You want to pray about me looking at your earring?!" 

I didn't even try to hide the annoyance in my voice.

"Yes, mom." she said so innocently, and then hopped off my bed, went into her room, shut the door, and she began to pray. 

I instantly felt bad. 


In that moment my child's faith far surpassed my own. 

How often do I only turn to God for the "big" things, and forget that He is the Master and Creator of ALL things?

Too often. 

How often do I cry out to Him to heal illnesses, provide funding, and make a way where there is no way and forget to pray during the "small" moments: the computer that shuts down in the middle of a project, the stress-induced arrhythmias, the family drama, the co-parenting disagreements, etc? 

More than I should. 

Sometimes I think I still believe the lie that God is this unattainable being who is "too busy" for my problems. 

Why would I bother Him with a paper cut when my aunt is fighting cancer?

Why would I seek His face about my huge electric bill when some people don't even have a home with an electric bill to pay?

Why would I ask for help with my co-parenting issues when I am the one who got myself into this mess? Surely, God does not want to hear about how hard the consequences of my sin are!

These are my attempts at rationalizing my weak faith, and in turn, I shove the thorns, and the paper cuts, and the bitter words under the carpet of my heart and "save" my prayers for the "big" things. 

And as a result, He chooses to send in the calvary in the form of a little girl whose faith will literally move mountains. 

A little girl who wants to pray about bleeding earrings, and bulls going to the slaughter house, and colicky babies who cry too much at Walmart, because she just wants to tell everything to Jesus.

And I am broken

"Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, 
and do not hinder them, 
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." 
(Matt. 19:14)

My prayer this week is for a more child-like faith. 

A faith that is no longer jaded or lukewarm.

A faith that remembers that His lap is a good place for any conversation. 

Because bleeding earrings matter.

And huge electric bills matter.

And broken hearts matter.

There is nothing too big or too small for my God. 

Just ask my daughter. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Co-parenting Diaries: Our "Normal"

The house is quiet except for the clicking of my keyboard, the sound of the coffee pot making my first few cups of coffee, and the hum of the washing machine doing a week's worth of dirty clothes.

She left with her dad about 15 minutes ago and I won't see her for the next five days.

And as my little apartment settles into a different kind of feel-the kind of feel that is absent of silliness, kitchen dance parties while we bake cookies, the sound of bedtime stories being read, and Jessie playing over and over again on my TV-I find myself reminiscent of the place we've come to the place we are now.

About 2 1/2 months ago, my ex-husband and I sat down and had a very hard, long conversation about our daughter and the time she's with each of us.

She was out growing the "set" schedule we had agreed to in our parenting agreement, and to be honest, so was I.

Our original "court ordered" agreement that we both signed about 2 1/2 years ago was this: our daughter would spend Wednesdays after school through Fridays with me and she would go to her dad's on Sundays through Wednesday mornings. We alternated Saturdays.

This worked.

For a little over 2 years it worked.

But, then our daughter started picking up on the fact that the days were not always "even"-as she would say.

She started to feel like she was missing out on time with one parent or the other from one week to the next.

She also didn't like that she hardly ever got to go to church with me on Sundays or see my family at our weekly Sunday lunches.

Planning weekend getaways was ALWAYS a headache.

And the hard truth was this: she was starting to feel left out, and it killed me.

I tried to start the dialogue with my ex-husband about changing our parenting plan several times last year.

He was open, but he was also cautious.

He is a man who has always balked a little to hard at change.

But, in his defense, so do I.

We made several attempts to find a happy medium, but all those first attempts failed.

It was juggling act, and I always felt like we were a large group of tight rope walkers trying to maintain a perfect balance without upsetting her "normal" more than we already had.

We fought.

I cried.

He pushed my buttons.

I stomped ALL over his.

It was hard.

And then we got over ourselves, and sat down for a real, honest-to-goodness conversation about our daughter and what was best for her...not for us.

I'll never forget that afternoon in my office as he sat across my desk from me with at least 10 different versions of blank calendars scattered all across my desk that were filled out with all of our thoughts and different scenarios for her new parenting plan.

We talked.

We argued. Civilly. 

And in the end we met.

Right there in the middle. 

And as difficult as it has been for me to adjust to not having my daughter for 5 whole days at a time, it has been totally worth it.

She seems happier and more content.

She sees things as "fair" for the first time in a long time.

She actually has time to get semi-settled at one place and re-adjust to those rules and expectations before we bounce her back.

She LOVES going to church with me and I clear my Sunday afternoons the best I can so that she can just be with my family and enjoy our traditions.

Traditions that are fading, but that I want her-so desperately-to have memories of.

Yes. We are settling into this new "normal".

This "normal" that will continue to evolve and change as she grows older.

We have always said that the day is coming when she will want to decide, and we have always agreed  that when that day comes we will respect her wishes-to an extent-but that we will always encourage her relationship with one another.

Because at the end of the day, we are the parents.

Her relationship with each of us is the most important.

I will always nurture her relationship with her dad even on the hard days.

And I know that even though I drive him nuts, he will always do the same for me.

In addition to her relationship with us, we have each been blessed with wonderful partners and awesome bonus parents for our daughter.

Bonus parents who encourage us to be better parents.

Bonus parents who make each home a place that feels safe and whole.

We both accept and realize that these relationships are crucial.

I am a better mother, because I am loved by a wonderful man who loves me the way I hope someone loves my daughter.

Her dad is a better father, because he is loved by a great woman who loves him in a selfless way that meets all of his needs.

We know that we cannot be the parents we truly want to be without these people.

I no longer worry about her clothes getting washed, or what her hair looks like, and that all she's having for dinner is pizza or that there isn't a soft place to land there on really hard days.

And he no longer has to worry that there isn't a stern voice at my house when I need some back up, or someone to offset my seriousness with his love of silliness, or that I am only filling her head with my "girl power" mantras.

Yes. This is us.

This is what works for us.

Is it perfect?

Absolutely not.

Do we fail in some way?

Just about every single day. 

But, we have found that when we set aside ourselves, our hurts, and our past full of regrets-it is only then that we are truly able to be the parents God is still calling us to be.

Was this the original plan?


But just because we failed miserably at Plan A does not mean that we have to turn Plan B into a huge, whopping, painful mess of screaming, yelling, and "getting even".

Because that isn't going to help anyone, and it's only going to continue to hurt the person we have already put through so much: our daughter.

So, we make the choice every single day.

The choice to be parents who still value each other and the role we play in our daughter's life.

The choice to be grown-ups who respect each other and this season of life that we are walking through.

The choice to live out this type of relationship-this "it's not about me, it's about her" mentality.

We make this choice, even on the days we don't really want too.

And because of our choice to be better, I have watched us come a long way in the last three years.

We have grown so much.

As people. As parents. As ex's.

Has it been easy?

Gosh. No. Not at all.

Have you met me?

I'm about as stubborn as they come.

But, I truly believe with all that I am that we are headed in the right direction.

We just have to keep trying.

We have to keep putting one foot in front of the other as we take one day at a time, and as we continue to adjust to each new year, each new season, and each new "normal".
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