Adaptation of man: How we change despite resistance.

In the days, weeks and months that followed the loss of my Grandmother, I have struggled to stay afloat. My identity has been so wrapped up in her, and having her to model myself after, that I have struggle to find my footing in reality.

The first weeks, with [husband]’s children here, I tried to hard to maintain a face of calm control. I could barely make it a couple of hours without a breathtaking breakdown, but I somehow thought it better to protect them from my pain. I wanted so desperately to impress them and make a good impression. Obviously their real impression was one of instability and desperation. The timing was terrible.

What a learning experience! While we did manage to have some really great times with the littles while they were here, all that really stands out about their visit in retrospect is the overwhelming grief. I needed it, I suppose. It took many weeks for me to make it an entire day without weeping myself out of breath.

I miss my Grams so deeply. A part (possibly my favorite part) of myself has perished along with her. In the moments of reflection on her influence, I realize I must fight to hold on to her magical spirit, to keep her wonder alive within me and spread it to others. It must be conscious, as it hurts all the time. But, I think it will become more natural over time. As with anything, we adapt and manage to get through even the deepest despair. I still cry. I still reach for the phone and call out to her with my mind, begging for reply. But it’s easier now.

There’s a knowing that she is gone, and that I’ve made it through the hardest part (goodbye). I hope I can go on in life and make her proud. I hope she doesn’t miss me like I am missing her. It’s getting easier. I can talk about her sometimes without crying. I can look at her sweet face and smile for the love we shared.

I am adapting! Step-parenting has become lots of fun. I’ve managed to reconnect with my husband when, in my grief, I wanted only to wallow and not have him attempt to comfort me and fail. Love and order has restored itself, mostly.

So it goes. So, we grow.

xo,

Jordan

Transformation

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The hardest goodbye; Knowing it’s the last one.

I don’t think on that day I quite realized the gravity of the situation. Or maybe I did. Grams had had a hemorrhagic brain bleed on the cerebellar cortex, which sits just above the brain stem. She had some motor issues and speech problems, but she was still her sassy little self… sort of. Unfortunately, the area where her brain was bleeding had affected her ability to swallow. We had a hard choice to make, in order to honor her very clear wishes to 1.) never have to live in a home and 2.) die in peace. So we took her to a hospice care center, and waited for her body to shut down.

In the midst of all of this remains my own personal family dynamic and plans. Brief synopsis for those who have (understandably) lost track of all moving parts: Hubs graduates course in Alabama, we visit Utah as first leg (extra week…whoo!), we pick up his 3 children in Washington, and I escort them back to Germany (Hubs on a separate departure schedule, to meet in Germany, due to Military travel crap.)

All of this was a great plan until my Grams lie upon her deathbed… then it felt like my own personal torture chamber. These particular familial obligations, escorting the children, could not be put off or avoided… at least not on our modest budget. I also couldn’t conceive of not being there with her, my best good friend, to comfort and love her as she transitioned. But I had no choice.

I have an ongoing silent prayer in my heart that I can grow older with her kind of grace. I have so much fear that these “obligations” which robbed me of being with my grandmother, my best friend, will eventually sour my entire spirit with resentment towards my husband and children; for I was not there. Because I had to take them. I wanted to be but I couldn’t because I had to take care of them. It isn’t fair. And I’m so broken and mad about it, though it isn’t fair to be.

Monday, July 25th, 2016 was the worst day of my life. I walked into the Hospice center that morning knowing it would be the last time I saw my hero alive. Planes were booked, bags were packed. There was no altering the schedule. She had been sleeping, mostly. Her body growing weaker every day. I sat, heartbroken, at her bedside. She knew, too. She’d open her eyes briefly and ask so quietly, “When does your plane leave?” “Couple of hours,” I’d tell her through staggered breath and twisted features. “Don’t cry. I’ll be here when you get back.” She’d say. I shook my head in disagreement, “No, you won’t. Not this time. I’m not coming back.” I said, broken. “I’ll be here.” I didn’t and still don’t know what she meant by that. I hate to think of it.”I’m crying, too. You can’t tell, but I’m crying all the time.” This confession broke my heart. She was so uncomfortable, so frustrated and ready to die. She was literally begging the Lord to take her for days. I think by Monday (day 5) she had figured the Lord didn’t want her, and in that case, I guess she’d just come to differing levels of acceptance at her new impaired ‘life.’

20 minutes or so would go by while she rested, and then she’d stir again, “When are you going to get the children?” she had been asking all week, but the time seemed to blur for her. She never forgot or stopped being concerned about our little family and welfare. “Soon, Grams. I have to go soon. Is that okay? I really don’t want to, and I’ll find a way to stay if you need. Do you want me to stay?” She lifted her right hand, the one unaffected by the stroke, and waved it off as if to dismiss me. Her voice was so soft, barely a whisper… I tried to read her lips but could not make out what she was saying. I had to ask her to repeat herself. “You’re. all. I’ve. got.” She said, intentionally clear and slow for me. Naturally, I lost it there. “No I’m not. What about Dad and (Uncles), (Grandkids) and (relatives)? They’ve been in here with you all the time.” Her eyes were closed and her head bobbed up and down one time, “Oh yah, they’ve been pretty good.” I didn’t say it, but I knew what she meant. I held her hand and wept openly, not prepared but obligated to say my final words and goodbyes. I told her how much I loved her, had always loved her. I asked that she not forget me, be present with me when it comes time for me to have my babies, and gave her permission to close her eyes and feel free to let go at any time. “We always were the best of friends, weren’t we?” She asked, gripping my hands tighter. We certainly were. I kissed her on the head, reiterated to her how very much I loved her, and was sorry that I had to go.

My husband also had a sweet and private goodbye. I wasn’t near enough to make out the conversation, but it was so tender how they were together. He promised to take care of me, “You better!” She had said. “She’s always been my favorite. We’ve just been so close.” These are all things I knew already, but beautiful to know that she wanted to communicate them while saying goodbyes on her death bed.

Grams passed away on Friday, July 29th, 2016 around 12:15 pm. I was able to speak to her on the phone that morning, though she hadn’t actually spoken or been coherent for a day or two. I am told she was “aware” of my voice and speaking, as her eyes were moving and responsive. I just said hello and goodbye. She’s free to go at peace and know how deeply she is loved. And then she did.

As Theodore Roosevelt said in his short journal entry on the day both his mother and wife passed away, “The light has gone out of my life.”

Funny little anecdote… I asked her one day while in hospice care, while she was awake and fidgety, “So Grams. Do you have any famous last words?”

“Yep. Goodbye!”

We laughed and laughed. I love her so. I am not sure how I will stay afloat in this lifetime without her to lean on and gravitate towards, but I guess I’ll just have to try. I am better for knowing her; for every minute I spent in her presence. I sure hope I can be an okay person without her.

When the ones we love leave; Grief and adaption.

July 20th, 2016

Well I suppose it was a rather pertinent time for me to begin writing a blog. This playful game of life has certainly been fond of throwing me curve balls, of late.
I’d have been writing more, but I’m living out of suitcases. Finally left Alabama, visiting my hometown for an unexpectedly long trip due to my husband graduating his course early. Hallelujah (to leaving Alabama… hometown thing is a bonus)!

Of course, first items on my agenda were visiting my 92 year old grandmother, my best friend and dearest earthly being. I told [husband] when I met him, “I’ll never leave Salt Lake; not until my Grams is gone.” Apparently I love him and I lied, but the sentiment remains. She’s the closest thing to a living angel there ever were. Going from weekly visits to annual has been hard. At 92, she’s been still kickin’ in the highest regard. Living alone, completely self-sufficient, still driving her own car…etc. When we got to town a week early, I decided we should stay with her the first few nights. I casually told my husband, “Don’t be surprised if she doesn’t wake up tomorrow. She might just die of joy for having us!” I was kidding. But I wasn’t.

On night two, we stayed up past midnight playing games. Still jet-lagged and groggy, we slept past eleven. Upon waking, the house was quiet and undisturbed. I expected her to be in her usual chair, doing her daily crossword and making jokes about how late we’d slept. But there was nothing. Hesitant, and with an eerily peaceful adrenaline rush, I asked [husband] to go down to the garage and see if her car were still there. It was, which meant she was still in bed. She’s normally up by 9, to watch “the black man” Wayne Brady on Let’s Make A Deal. I was concerned. So concerned, I almost asked [husband] to check on her room too, before I thought better of putting him in such a position. I hesitated and said a silent prayer briefly, then knocked. There was an audible throaty gasp and a brief pause, “Come in!” As I was entering, her hands first went to touch her head in [what seemed to be] shame. A lovely and prideful woman who has worn a wig for many years. Even with me, embarrassed to be seen without her cloak of comfort. “I can’t believe it’s ELEVEN! I’ve slept the day away!” She exclaimed. I was just relieved she was alive, she was concerned about missing out on time spent together.

In the week that followed, we spent at least a few hours of nearly each day with her, sharing meals, telling stories, playing games and laughing as we do. She’s grown even more feisty than I remember her, and I delight in it!

This morning, after sleeping in until eleven again, I see a missed call from my dad. And a text. Grams has been carted to the hospital. Not sure why. Headed there now.

***

That’s as far as I got while attempting to write this story in the moment. As always, left off with the intent to return and finish before publishing. But life happens.

…To be continued in the present day.

 

 

Choosing higher.

I am feeling 100% better [physically] than during my last emotional post. What a difference physical health has on the ability to maintain a positive attitude!

Not all of my problems are resolved, but I’ve resolved myself to accept them as they are. I am such a “fixer” of problems, which has served me well thusfar in life. However, when you take into an account my husband’s children and their mother, and the oddly enmeshed relations with my mother-in-law, I have resigned myself to BUTT OUT. There is simply no amount of logic and reason that can be applied to such an adolescent approach to very real grown up problems. Also, they’re not my problems. They do have an aggrivating tertiary effect on me and my step-kids, but there is zero that I can say or do to affect lasting change.

Would this weird stuff stand in my family? Absolutely not. It’s not my place to raise my voice against the madness; not at this time. I will speak my mind when spoken to, but something tells me that everyone on the in-law side is distrusting of me enough not to engage me beyond fake-polite hellos.

Now that it’s drawing nearer, I am beginning to mentally plan out my visit in Utah, which will end up being a week longer than inititally anticipated! I am so eager to squeeze my grandmother, and spend some quality time with my best friends, brother and parents. I am praying it will be exactly the therapy I need after the emotional beating I’ve taken lately, and after 2.5 months at this old hotel in Alabama, I never want to see another hotel room in my life!!!!

Still thinking a lot about mortality; how important it is to remember that this incarnation is fleeting; ignore the bullshit and love without apology. One of my dearest friends is in her mid 70’s, and I find myself trying to imagine a life without her in it. So full of life, and yet, clearly in what is likely her last decade. Makes me want to have my babies sooner than later, and start planting the seeds that will be my eventual legacy.

And then, I think again about my mother-in-law. This fierce mama protector that I am, already… will I be compassionate enough to forgive the perceived wrong-doings and allow my babies to be close to their grandmother? I can’t conceive of ever letting her be around my children unsupervised. I don’t intend to return to her home any time soon, most especially while my husband’s ex-wife and children are sprawled out on her living room floor.

Anyway, I am working on what kind of ju-ju I send out in regards to these situations, but I’m so flooded with fear and anxiety over these things I have a hard time remembering that I am in control of how they affect me. I need a massage and some real spiritual healing. I am not getting the emotional coddling I want from Hubs, because when I discuss it with him, he thinks it’s some problem I am presenting to him to fix, rather than console where the ouchies hurt. Men…

Meanwhile, I am constantly flooded with love and adoration that I hardly think I deserve. He worships me, even when I sleep past noon and don’t bathe or lift a finger. He takes care of me when I am sick. He takes pleasure in pleasing me, so I want for nothing. He makes sincere effort to engage with my family and friends, he has full confidence in my abilities as a new stepmom. He endlessly talks about our future children and how he cannot wait to start our family. He loves me without exception. What did I do to deserve such an unwavering magical love?

And I live in Germany! It’s hard to remember my beautiful fairytale Bavarian home, now, having been gone so long… but it’s still there. It’s the home we made together, starting from the bare minimum like two teens on their own for their first time. We don’t have much, but we’ve got a whole lot of love.

Maybe next time I’ll start with the backstory. The romantic tale of how we got here. It’s a good reminder that all of this confusion and pain is so worth it.

Happy Tuesday, friends. xox

 

 

 

 

Releasing my grip on angst.

I’m telling you, I should have hibernated for the entire month of June!

Hubs and his ex-wife still own a home together in TN. It’s been vacant and listed for sale on the market since the beginning of February. We’d been led to believe the reason it wasn’t selling was due to the fault of an unmotivated realtor, but we decided to see for ourselves. At a 6.5 hour trip each direction, we are relatively close by.

A new friend here in AL had recommended a realtor who sold her home in TN, and I made contact with him early last week. He was quick to respond, and I appreciated his candid and honest feedback on the condition of the home. It was not good. Emphasis on the NOT GOOD. He rattled off a list of 20+ things wrong, and strongly recommended that we make the trip to see for ourselves. I had low expectations, but what we were met with upon arrival was infuriating.

Discarded furniture on the side of the house (visible from the street). Backyard looked like the house was still lived in… kids toys, dog toys, camping chairs, TONS of wadded up chicken wire, makeshift ashtray/ terracotta pot nearly overflowing with cigarette butts, old crumbling sheetrock, an extension cord totally embedded into the overgrown grass, and worst of all – the ceramic crockpot insert, still rancid with remnants of the meal cooked over 4 months ago, left to rot on the porch (?!) –  AND THIS IS JUST WHAT COMES TO MIND FROM THE YARD!

I have to say, if it weren’t for my love for my husband and stubborn awareness that this job absolutely needed to get done right away, I would have thrown my hands up and walked away. It was infuriating. So many metaphors here for how I was literally cleaning up his ex-wife’s messes.

We cleaned through Monday morning. In 3 days time, you wouldn’t have recognized the house it was before. We could have stayed and worked for another week, easily. You can’t imagine how excruciating the conditions were, either. The house has no power and no running water. We had to haul in our own buckets of water to clean with. Hold it if we needed to use the bathroom…only made one potty run all weekend, if that helps paint a picture of the heat/dehydration ratio. We took two large truckloads to the dump. Seriously, who leaves behind two truckloads of stuff when moving, let alone trying to sell the house you’re vacating? Painted a whole room, washed every wall, wiped down every surface and cupboard… all in Tennessee summer heat with no AC!

On top of that, I started feeling very sick on Saturday by mid-afternoon. My throat was killing me! I desperately wanted for it to be allergies, but just knew that it wasn’t. I worked through it, but it was not easy. I felt like CRAP. I’m still fighting off this nasty cold; it’s migrated south to my lungs now. Nursing a bottle of Robitussin as I type this. Blegh.

I honestly can’t believe that my blog has already become the place where I bitch about vent all of my frustrations! To anyone who reads this, I promise, I’m a really lovely and joyful person. I believe I just married myself into a rather enmeshed and backward family (though the man himself is a delight). This frustration, like all things, is temporary. The family dynamic will become easier to navigate as I get to know the playing field. I will have to learn where it’s appropriate for me to set a hard boundary, and where to bend. I pray I can learn where to bend!

I’ve felt so angry and screwed up since my grandfather’s funeral. I think that must have been the trigger that set me off, and I’ve been on a tear ever since. I want to return to my loving and compassionate self. I don’t want my husband’s relationship with his ex-wife and family to be strained because I’m so vocal about how intrusive and abnormal their dynamics are. I want to be open to all of it – but there are some things that I just don’t know how to accept. His kids are now my kids, and my concern for their well being comes before everything else. To know that the home they were living in was left like that, I can really only imagine what kind of conditions they lived in.  And now they’re living at his mom’s house? It’s just not normal. I can’t find the line where its appropriate for me to vocalize how absolutely abnormal that is, while also accepting that it’s happening and we have to accept it.

It’s been a hard few weeks. I have to remember that I cannot control the things that happen in life, but I do have complete control over how I react to them. The things about my husband’s family that seem strange and alien to me are normal to them, as hard as that may be to comprehend. I need to remember that it’s my decision how I choose to face each day and each trial. A lot of situations I’m in right now are new, and by definition uncomfortable. New step-parent amidst a family full of opinions and tensions and weird incestuous dynamics, stationed halfway across the planet. Set up to be an outsider. For now.

In time, things will normalize. Young girls will grow into young women, and I can only hope that one day they can look to me and their father with respect. Yes, we’ve made mistakes and we’re going to make a lot more. But we do our best. I want to keep taking the high road, and somehow manage to do so without looking down my nose at the others. Conscious choice! Have mercy.

Shifting perspectives – attempting to make sense of the senseless.

The family drama that followed my last post only compounded in on itself. In fact, it was written before the worst of the two incidents which resulted in chaos, screaming, and childish outbursts. For the first time that I can ever recall, being the one who openly loves everyone feels like the ultimate burden.

On the first few days, I willingly stepped into the role of the mediator. I was ready to help clear the debris out of decades of long ignored lines of communication. I was fair, I was honest, and I stood for no bullshit on any side. It sucked, but it was a level of chaos I was well-equipped to navigate. In truth, every party was professing their desire for the same thing. They all wanted it to be honest and fair. I just had to help them talk to each other. Why couldn’t they all just get along, then?

I want to be truthful without airing my family’s bullshit out in public. God forbid anyone find this and end up throwing resentments and anger at ME in 20 years… But let’s just say that’s what happened. One person drank way too much alcohol and acted in a way a person might when confronted with life’s greatest grief and a shitload of booze. The rest of us were wounded and attempting to 1.) calm the afflicted, and 2.)
stand up for ourselves. It went…poorly.

Thursday morning I woke up with a sense of dread and despair. Unknowing of whether or not this would be the last time I ever got to see my dear family together. These delightful people I so love and often brag about, would these be the memories that turn the pages of my story into inevitable repeats of theirs? Anger and resentment… baggage stuffed within baggage and swept under rug?

The rest of the family arrived on Thursday. What a blessing for them, and for us! Looking back, I wish I had waited. Not tried to do “the right thing” and be there for my mother. Just stayed out of it and made my appearance to show respects and mourn. These well-timed arrivals were a Godsend. Where I wasn’t sure if my aunts and uncles would ever speak to each other again, they were a perfect buffer. They were uninvolved in the drama, and eager to spend quality time with each other. By 3 pm on Thursday we felt like a “normal” family again (weird as we are).

Friday was the funeral, a very rough day. Started off with 3 too many cups of coffee, jitters just on time! I read a beautiful letter that was written by my uncle to my Grandfather more than 20 years ago. It was ripe with symbolism about not wanting him to move [on] and how hard of a time he was having with the unavoidable life change. “Part of growing up.” He also spoke of his sisters, and how very badly he wanted everything to be okay again, as it once was, but how terrible he is with words and expressing himself. He wasn’t sure how to get through to them, but he promised to try harder. That was the end of the letter. I PROMISE TO TRY HARDER!

How much more pertinent does the symbolism get than that? With his permission I read the letter and added a few of my own remarks about how important it’s message was. I started out very shaky with some extended pauses, and am really astounded that I managed to pull it together. Answered prayer and divine intervention, that was. Thank you!

Friday was sad. It was supposed to be sad! The visits and laughing commenced right on schedule, following the service. It was nice.

Saturday, however, I awoke again with a to-the-bone feeling of impending dread. It was one of those days you just felt like you’d be better off never peeking your eyes from beneath the covers. After many hours of doing just that, my logic-brain kicked in and started reasoning as to why I “should” get out of bed. Last day to visit with family before going away… living in a different country and time is limited. Blah blah blah. So I did. Got ready and every breath from that moment forward was off. Shit hit the proverbial fan for the second time somewhere around 9 pm, I believe. Because I was elbow deep in the first shitstorm it wasn’t asked of me to be the one to take it on… it honestly felt that it was expected.

Retrospectively, I’d have liked to have just said “fuck off.” but of course, I didn’t. I assumed the role because no one else was stepping up and shit needed to be taken care of. It’s infuriating to look back on it.

The stress of all of this is many times compounded by the fact that I HAVE NO PHONE WITHOUT WIFI. At my grandparent’s house, this meant my phone didn’t work if I wasn’t in an adjacent room to the router. Elsewhere, it didn’t work at all.

This cannot be emphasized as inconvenient enough. Just imagine not knowing where you are going, but trying to find a very drunk runaway grown-up in an unknown area, in the dark, with no way to contact them or anyone else. Alone. While there are 10+ other capable grown-ups watching you have a meltdown while looking at you indifferently.

It was fucked!

I need to remember to address that stuff with the parties involved when I see them. I don’t want to be carrying this shit around for decades to come. My brother came through for me and helped with the driving meltdown. Lost runaway drunk was located. All wrongs were righted; business was taken care of.

I made it to my temporary “home” in Alabama on Sunday, after a travel day worth a blog entry in and of itself. Who doesn’t love 6 hour journeys turning into 20+?!

Here’s the thing though. None of it matters. It was a long hard week full of old family drama and people being cruel and unkind to each other. I tried to help until I reached my limit. I was not always pleasant. The emotional stress and grief took it’s toll on me. I was short and unkind and very bitchy towards the end. (Did I mention I my RAGING period and hormones arrived after a 51 day absence? AWESOME!)

I was honest about my feelings and I called people on their bullshit. I definitely got some cold shoulders during those last two days. WHO CARES?!

I came home with a new delicious appreciation for my husband and our brand-newly beginning little family. I learned things and reflected on the legacy we might hope to leave to our children. I began wondering about how people might speak of us, and who might be present in the end of our lives.

It renewed my strong conviction about taking care of post-death affairs while you’re still here, no matter the age. Make your desires regarding belongings and estate so perfectly clear there is no room for misinterpretation. Get rid of unnecessary junk! HOLY COW, I can’t emphasize that one enough. I think having to move myself to a different country in the last year really helped me in this regard, but I intend to try to live more simply forever. I have found a new delightful pleasure in throwing things away.

That same concept goes for holding onto emotional “things” too. The weight of carrying around anger and pain is too great. It’s so much easier to just love people for who they are, even if you don’t always like the things they say or do. Just ACCEPT THEM and MOVE ON. You don’t have to like someone to treat them with courtesy and respect.

I need to work on this stuff. If not in my own family, in the one I married into, which is already causing my heart to harden and turn cold. I am sure the repercussions of this (very long) week will last a lot longer than expected. I just hope the lessons end up being positive ones. I know that my family may be broken in a lot of ways. That is not a reflection of my love for them. The picture may not end up looking the way I hoped. It’s okay. These relationships are individual. What you see in one does not have to be a reflection of another.

I have to accept that just because I am a gooey ball of lovestuff, it’s okay if some people don’t like each other. It’s not my job to “fix it” or change their minds.

This whole “healer of wounds, savior of the lost” routine has got to end for me, at some point. It’s not my job to fix people that aren’t broken. They are just people! Complex and stubborn and perfectly lovable, just the way they are.

Thanks for reading. xo

 

 

 

Grief and it’s accompaniments

My grandpa died on Saturday. I got the call during our morning breakfast ritual. Living in Germany, and being in the US so briefly, I’m currently reliant on WiFi to connect with the outside world. My mom’s call came in shoddy…”Hello? Jordan? Can you hear me?” My connection was bad so my .03 second delay in response time didn’t (nor does it ever) cooperate with my mom’s short attention span. “Jordan, MY DAD DIED. HELLO? Can you hear me? GRANDPA’S DEAD.”
I could hear her, but she couldn’t hear me, apparently. The call was dropped within seconds and that was that. Grandpa died.

No appetite anymore, I went straight to the computer to look at flights. There are a lot of small airports near where we are at in Alabama; none with affordable last-minute flights to Phoenix. Still, within 24 hours, I arrived and the “work” began immediately.

My grandma just died in April. We were still in Germany at the time and it killed me to miss being with my family, my favorite people, while they were grieving. Especially my mother. Being in the US, it wasn’t going to happen that way again. Apparently I thought that this [mostly] mentally stable and healthy group of siblings would handle this better. I was WRONG.

What a nightmare! The tension and fighting began within minutes of my uncle arriving – after a 12 hour drive – to see his father’s house in chaos as we were sorting through some 10,000+ pictures and keepsakes my grandmother meticulously kept. From that moment, one wrong sentence, misinterpreted, and the whole week was shot. No reasoning, intense grief, decades of resentment, and alcohol – not the greatest combination for a beloved man’s wake.

I hope I find the time and energy to write more about it later. I’ve been thinking of writing, but too covered in the dust of a 72+ year collection of STUFF. Surrounded by baggage resentment that I never knew existed.

I’m heartbroken and disappointed. I’m sad because my favorite family is straight-up BROKEN. It’s not fair to my future kids, or to my parents, or theirs.

He never wanted this, I’ll tell you that. They’re all giving up but I have to stay strong. I really do believe in our family love. I’m too young to take the matriarch role, but shit… I don’t know if anyone else can bear the weight of the shoes.

Right now, it’s a loose fit, but I’m wearing them.

Then I remember that I’ll be leaving country again soon.

Fear & Parenting: How Home Ec Failed Me.

Hi there, new friends!

Can we just talk about how scary it is to be responsible for the care of other small human beings? Like, how it’s the job of 100% of parents who are very much “winging it” all of the time to make sure that these smaller humans turn into decent people who can care for themselves and not be shitty to the planet and other living things? I am not sure if other parents just lie through their teeth about it, or if it genuinely gets easier with time. I get the feeling that no one truly has any idea what the hell they’re doing when it comes to parenting, so why do we spend so much time and energy judging other parents for the way they do things?

I inherited three girls when Hubs and I got together, and it’s a truly terrifying thing to think about. For one, they’re adolescent girls. Having been an adolescent girl once upon a time (and not a particularly good one), I think I have a better idea of what’s to come than he does… but I digress. *Gillie, Hub’s oldest Daughter (11), is a bit of a hell raiser. Very demanding of [negative] attention and dramatic,. She’s had a rocky relationship with her mother for many years now. She is definitely the quintessential image of “daddy’s little girl.” She’s been dead-set on coming to live with us since we arrived in Germany, and we will be happy to have her. I think.

You see, Gillie has been more than vocal about her vehement hatred towards me. While I have to be honest when I say it hurts me, it also completely envelopes me in rage. Is it right for me to be mad at a young girl who is in the midst of a painful situation and acting out in accordance with her strong feelings? No. I am looking at an irrational/hormonal child and expecting her to behave through the eyes and mind of a calm, collected adult. I’m not reasonable in it – but that’s why I have this blog…So I can RAGE OUT out about my anger and sadness without hurting anyone close to me. I know I am not the only one feeling so lost and alone while attempting to traverse the murky waters of step-parenthood.

I should be better at this step-momming thing than most. I was a product of a broken marriage; a misogynist father, a stubborn and often cold mother, and I was an absolute bullheaded tyrant for a few too many years in my own troubled youth. Karmically, one might say, I have it coming. I also have a whole armory of experiences with which to draw on when it comes to the manipulation, anger, lies, and deceit that a young woman is capable of. You can’t pull one over on my because I did all that shit – and I did it much better.

Here’s the thing though: I don’t know where I fit in yet. I have no idea what to expect of the household relations. I don’t know how I will react when I am angered, or hurt. I know full-well I am not their mother, and I long to be a trusted confidant in the lives of these young people as they grow into old people. I want to like them and genuinely be interested in who they are and who they become, what they are passionate about and what sets them off. What terrifies me most is not the teenage outbursts… it’s not the anger and cruelty that can come from a girl whose body and worldview is changing faster with each breath. What I fear most is that I may not learn to love who these people are.

That truth makes me feel like a monster.

Logically, I understand that these girls have experienced a huge pain and turmoil in their lives. Their father has been absent for approximately 1/2 of their lives, due to deployments and training missions. He estimates he’s spent more than 6 years overseas. They’re military kids, so I guess they’ve grown “used to it”. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a huge impact on who they’ve become. As a result, Hubs has a bit of a “disneyland dad” syndrome, which has only gotten worse since we relocated overseas.

Now, I want to make a point to keep this to pertinent information about me and my feelings, but I suppose it might be beneficial to give a bit of backstory on Ex-Wife, Felicia. Hubs and Felicia met and married straight out of high school. To say that her homelife was colorful is the most polite term I can come up with. She was not afforded the lessons of becoming a functional adult before they married and began a family together. Money management, hygiene and cleanliness, parenting styles, you name it…she lacks. Even now, at 30+ years old, she fails to make any payment on time – has never made an effort to conform to a budget, or savings plan…etc. She’s still very much a dependent, and I fear she will be for all of her life.

The empath in me feels sorry for her. It’s 100% not her fault no one has ever held her accountable for her actions.  On the other hand, I feel that there are few excuses when it comes to taking care of business, and at a certain point, you just have to lace up your bootstraps and do the damn thing. Unfortunately, she failed to do so then, and continues to fail to do so now. What I’m saying here is that I think she’s an emotionally neglectful mother who is failing to prepare her children adequately for the “real world,” because life has robbed her off the skill set to do so.

Well shit, that carousel came back around right quick, didn’t it? It’s a paradox. I don’t think that I, or anyone else for that matter, have a right to judge other parents who are just doing what they can to get by as they ride their own emotional waves and try to be “all of the things” for their children. BUT I DO! Damnit, I’m human and I DO.  I don’t think she consciously neglects her children, just that she does it. Their words, demeanor, and actions prove it. Felicia was dealt an unfair hand in early life, and the mirror has reflected the same dysfunction unto her children and relationships ever since. It’s not her fault – until it is.

How many times does a person need to attend swimming lessons until they venture off without an instructor? Case in point: Felicia has moved all three young children into Hubs mother’s home. Let me reiterate: My new husband’s ex-wife and children have moved across the country (out of a beautiful home we’re still paying the mortgage on) to live on my mother-in-law’s livingroom floor. Because that’s normal, right?

exhasperated sigh

Talk some sane into me, guys. Am I wrong to be feeling these things? Is there any grounds for me thinking that the lack of familial boundary is not normal?

Let’s get the intro over with.

Name’s Jordan. 28. From the heart of America’s best kept secret (Utah), currently living with my wonderful soldier husband in Germany. Newlywed, and along with the man came 3 young girls (7, 10, 11) who remain in the states. This is changing soon as they are coming to Germany for the summer and the oldest is staying with us permanently from there on out.

I’m a big old softie with a sharp edged tongue. I stand firm in my convictions which can be…problematic for me (or others, really) at times. I like puppies and people, most of all. Friends are my family and most of my family are my friends. Do I date myself if I say that I am “hella blessed”?

I imagine the majority of the contents of this blog will be me trying to reconcile my feelings, my yearning to share my revelations, and the endless need to just VENT from time to time. I have a lot of fear and reservations about what it means to be a new stepparent to very impressionable young people who are stuck in painful circumstances – I am constantly trying to endeavor to better their world while also aptly preparing them for it, cruel as it may be. I am suffering repercussions of setting a hard boundary with my new mother-in-law and her husband, and as a result am already feeling angered and estranged from some of the family I married into. My money bets there’ll be a metaphoriocal novel on that stuff, to come. A blogvel? Here’s hoping that this helps me sort though the mess in my mind.

I’m very eager to learn from and connect with other people who feel inclined to sort out their thoughts in written form. I got a fire in me belly; cheers, blogosphere!

xo