This Father's Day is going to be rough. Really rough. I know that I'll be in PJ's most of the day and probably at some point and time during the day we will break out the pints for the kids. (I mean THESE types of pints).
Father's Day is tough for me. My Dad was young when he passed away but not as young as my ex husband was. This week has been tough and it is the most agonizingly horrible thing in the world to not be able to take away your child's pain. To see that look on their face and to hold them as wracking sobs come from them and know you can't fix it this time. This week Mama Bear has come out in full force. I just want to protect them. When several well meaning people made some silly thoughtless comments, I went full on Mama Bear mode and asked the kids if they wanted me to say something and it was the kids who said "we hurt Mom, but if it bothered us so much, we would've said something to them." It's hard to step back after seeing them so hurt and let them fight their own battles. You just want to save them from anything else that can hurt them like that again.
I know they will be in pain this holiday but I also know that it will begin to hurt a little less each year, but never stop hurting. And then the year will come when you feel guilty that it doesn't hurt as bad as the first year and it causes you to spend yet another holiday crying. Like you're somehow forgetting them by not hurting so bad. For them loosing a Dad, things will take much, much longer to heal. And they like everyone won't ever stop hurting at those milestones.
This year though as we go through the pain of the first year, I also need to step back and thank three men in my life (and thank you to all the honorable mentions in our lives that I couldn't list here. Your influence means the world to us!)
He was the first man in my life. And while not perfect, (he and I are workaholics, can never relax and have the patience of a peanut) he taught me some very influential lessons in life. The simple lessons like how to hit and pitch a ball. He taught me to love running. We were often on the track together when I was young. He taught me that reconciliation is work, and after several years apart we worked together through the process so our relationship was better than it had been before. And when his health failed, he was there just to listen to me vent and tell me to keep going. "You're doing great kiddo, I love you," still echoes through my mind right before we would hang up the phone. How I hate the days now I can't remember his voice telling me that! And sometimes when I am crying on a run and feeling like I can't do this anymore, his voice or some silly saying he would say randomly pops into my mind and I hear his voice crystal clear. Sometimes I just hear his old words of wisdom, "get your butt moving." That applied to a lot growing up--from doing my chores, to picking myself up after I was in a slump because we lost our softball game, or when I thought I couldn't take another sleepless night with kids. He also taught me how to paint a house, mow a lawn, do simple fixes around the house, and check the oil in my car. All important things to know now that I've got teenagers and they are getting ready to go out on their own. His legacy will forever live on and I miss him terribly but know I will always be his girl. And thanks to him I would still rather walk through a Home Depot than a clothing store anyday.
Who can teach you more lessons about life than the one you were with the first? The other day my boyfriend and the girls and I went out for SIX LONG HOURS (teenage first car expectations!) looking for a car that fit her budget. As we were riding along I had to stop and ask for a few minutes as I started to cry. In that moment I was grateful that he had taught me how to get through this moment. Because of his work on cars, I could walk around every car and know how to look for bent frames, accidents, a paint job that was covering something more, poor Bondo repairs, and corrosion. My boyfriend and I walked around and looked into every car with methodic precision, opening and closing doors, etc. While my ex husband can't be here to help my daughter pick out her first car, I said a quick prayer of thanks to him as I sniffled and cried for training me to be able to help her in that moment.
I also have to thank him for the lessons he taught me, many of which I've written here. Years ago when I got married I turned to the internet to look for answers from REAL people living with diabetes and Addison's disease after getting frustrated. Living with someone with a chronic illness is difficult. It teaches and tests you. It isn't for the weak. But there were times I was turning to our doctors, nurses, dieticians, therapists and the team of other professionals that were supposed to have the answers for you and THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE ANSWERS FOR YOU. In those moments I started to search for the answers and then when I would find some and not all I started to write about my experience hoping it would lead to others who were looking for the same answers I was too. And while this site was always started as a place to store the recipes that I made that actually turned out (I often would loose the recipes I wrote down on cards) I am grateful to him for allowing this site to also add some depth as we started to write about family and life. I love looking back through our struggles, watching our children grow, and a memory of the good times. While a lot of our life ISN'T written here for privacy, I hope the parts we have shared and the moments we have been more vulnerable as we searched for answers have helped you. I know as I went through those years, I am stronger because of the lessons of service, endurance and love I have learned.
I am also thankful my ex broke my heart. I am grateful for the lessons that I've learned as a result of being hurt. Emotional scars last a long time, and I will always carry those because of the decisions he made that affected myself and our family. Divorce will tear you apart. I liken it to being sent through a shredder and then having to put yourself back together. You become humbled and you learn quickly to look at yourself and what led you to this place where you are now. Reconstruction is a long process and you don't go back the same way you went in the shredder, but you'll be close. I'm more cautious, guarded and careful now. But I'm still myself in so many other ways. And for that I'm grateful. Because I know I can go through some of the hardest things in life and still come out strong.
There are so many times I wondered how after everything I had been asked to do and go through I was being asked to do it again. To open up my heart again and possibly get hurt. To even put my kids through the hurt again. I struggled with this, tried to push him away and ultimately came to the conclusion that this guy was in it for the long haul. He was CHOOSING us because he sees something in us that we don't often see in ourselves. And I am CHOOSING him because I see the same.
He has taught me what it is like to have a partnership. We are good to step back and allow each other those moments and times we need it when we need our space to work through something that comes up. I have learned that I don't have to fear communicating--we can get through hard topics! He hasn't stepped into a role to try to fill it, but has stepped into a role as consultant and advocate with me and beside me. Apart we have been broken and shattered. It took a long time to put ourselves back together to a place we could feel like we could do this again with someone else. And it's not an easy process. there are struggles and bumps and twists and turns even still. But it's also been...easier with him even with all that life has handed us. This isn't a clean slate college years born romance that builds like my ex husband and I did. Now we come to the table with kids, bills, schedules, exes, exes who have passed away, TEENAGERS, two kids the same age with different personalities, softball, school events, football, choir, drama, taekwondo, swimming, cheer and gymnastics events to attend. We live half an hour apart and have to constantly navigate and juggle schedules, making time to be together, and time to support each of the kids all while navigating our kids through death and divorce. He is stepping into a more chaotic world of mine than I am in stepping into his world. But he shows up. He spends hours helping my son order than rebuild his gaming computer. He spends six hours driving a teenager who doesn't even say thank you to him around looking for cars. He patiently helps my youngest develop techniques for cleaning the messy living room when I've lost it with getting her to clean. He puts up with my dogs. (See above photo). And he does it because he wants to. When I got mad at my teenager privately to him and vented to him how upset I was that she coudn't even say thank you for him and I driving her around all day looking at cars, he just shrugged his shoulders and grabbed the keys to her new (old) car and said "It's okay. One day. But today I'm going to make sure her car is safe for her to drive. I'm going to take it around the block and make sure it stops okay and the ABS is working." Wherever our life takes us I am grateful for the lessons he has taught me, and the example he is. We've been through a lot. And I'm grateful he's choosing me and I'm choosing him. Just NEVER do a gym workout with him. 🙂
There are many honorable mentions too that I could spend time listing. Please know you are important in our family and my life. Know that we love and care for you and are grateful for your influence. You are the youth leaders, uncles, friends, framily, nephews, cousins, teachers, grandparents, coaches and other influential people who are helping us to get through this difficult time. You hold a special place in our family and in our hearts. And most especially,
Happy Father's Day!