When Your Heart is Breaking


This quote made me cry. I am one to push things aside, to keep moving forward. But what this quote talks about, has been the hardest roles I have had to play to date.

When you go through a divorce, there are so many days you want to stay in bed and cry. You can go from anger, to sadness, to frustration all in a matter of hours. There is so much to work through, especially if you had to make the choice to leave due to things that were done to you. Actually, I think there is an incredible amount of things to work through whether you do the leaving or you are left.

With four children, the option of feeling my pain was not always there. I felt very alone, and very scared in the beginning. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, I just knew that I couldn’t stay and endure any more. My children were at the age where they weren’t young enough to just go along with it and quickly adjust, and weren’t quite old enough to fully understand. They were at that age where it was devastating and their world was turned upside down.

I have not been perfect. They have seen me cry. They have seen me react when they tell me their upsets. They have heard my anger when I feel helpless in sheltering them from any hurt they might feel.

Sometimes my supper planning goes out the window, as I try to juggle four children’s schooling, extra curricular, play dates, one on one time. Then add in cleaning, laundry, medical appointments and running my own business. On top of that, add in trying to heal from years spent in a toxic relationship with an ex and his family, and it is hard to feel like you are pulling off mothering with a heart that is still cracked and hurt.

If you are just starting your journey, I say don’t be so hard on yourself. It is going to be hard. You are going to make mistakes. You are going to feel exhausted and frustrated and angry and sad. Your heart will break many times, and tears will fall. Find support. Find someone that is trained to help you through this devastating time. Because if you have children, they will look to you to be their safe place. When your heart feels like it’s tired out from hurting, you will still have to find the energy to wrap your arms around your littles and sooth them. Because no matter how sad you feel, your job as a mother will always come first.

That is one of the most wonderful things about us mothers. No matter what, no matter how much we hold on our shoulders. No matter how much pain we feel or how tired we are, our role as a mom always comes first. They are our hearts, they are what stops the breaking.

It’s sunday evening, and in the last thirty minutes that I’ve been sitting on my bed writing this, each one of my children have jumped on my bed, snuggled up to me and told me they loved me. I’ve scratched their back and smoothed their hair and felt the love they have for me, and I for them. I know how hard this has been for them, and they know how hard it has been for me.

Every time that they tell me that I am their safe place, my heart heals a little more. The fact that my kids ask me to sing to them each night, that every morning each of them come into my room for snuggles, that I am constantly being stopped in my tracks because two little arms are around my waist and I find sticky notes of love are signs that they know they are loved. The fact that supper time is filled with constant chatter as we share our “worst and best”, ridiculous bets are made between us that result in hilarious outcomes, songs are cranked and dance moves are perfected, and the fact that I can’t sit on the couch with all four of them quickly cramming on beside me, fighting over who’s turn it is to sit next to me reminds me of the love we share with each other.

So if you are just beginning this process, if you are in the middle of the war, or you are finally starting to see the light, remember that no matter what is happening, your children love you. Look at the little happy moments you share with each other, and remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can. Be their rock and just love them. Be the lap for them to fall into, and the arms to wrap around them when they need that little extra squeeze. And when you feel like you aren’t doing a good enough job, when your heart hurts, look at them and know that everything is going to be ok. Because they are your heart, and they think you are the best mom anyone could have. At least that’s what mine tell me.

Encouragement

The universe knew I needed some encouragement yesterday, and I got it. The universe never fails. If you are out there and feeling like you’re taking two steps back, you aren’t. Everything is happening as it should. And if you are scared to take the next step, do what you need to do to find the courage to take it. Because eventually that one step turns into a new life, no matter what the path is in front of you, no matter what decision you are trying to make. Don’t stay still. Claim your life. Xo

Happy Day, Mom

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Dear Mom,

Today you would have been 60, and you would have hated it. You would have wanted to be celebrated, but the number would not have been spoken of. Actually, I think you would have stopped counting a few birthdays back.

I try and picture what you would look like now, the things you would say. I try to remember your laugh and how you lit up when your grandchildren came to see you. It is bittersweet how some memories fade. How you can forget the sound of a voice, the embrace of your arms.

The kids still talk about you. I sing to them every night the song you sang to me. The girls still shed tears for you, saying they wished you were still here. They remember you fondly. You would have had your hands full with them, I think you would have met your match. You and Kaleb would have been snuggle bugs, the girls would have had you paint their nails constantly, and Elijah would have enjoyed the candy and chips you would have filled him with.

The years keep passing, but the hurt never leaves. You know who, made today as difficult as possible, but I’ve come to realize that that is just the way this is going to go, some people just aren’t wholesome.  Thankfully you taught me to have a voice, to be strong and not back down when somebody tries to wrong you. I might have got my stubborn streak from dad, but I got my voice from you.

The kids and I find your dimes everywhere. Thankyou. They are always excited, especially when they are found in the strangest places.

I wish you could be here today, eating your cake, enjoying your grandchildren and planting your flowers you always got on your birthday. I wish this life had not been so hard for you. If I could make a thousand birthday wishes, it would be that you were here with us. Your light burned out too soon.

I should have known you would have skipped your 60th.

Love you always,

Jube

 

Double Digits!

I was working ten years ago, photographing a newborn and I went into labor with you. I have to say, it was an uncomfortable two hours as I finished up my session, crawling around on the floor. You were scheduled for a c-section the following week, so I was kind of hoping it was a false alarm. But when I went to the hospital to get checked, the Dr said I would be holding you in less then an hour. I was surprised when you came out, as you did not look like your brother. I was expecting a mini Elijah, but you decided to come out looking like a Dankmeyer, all 8 pounds 4 ounces of you. And I have to say, you have turned into a mini Dankmeyer through and through!

As I tell you, you will always be my baby. Your siblings often say you get away with the most, and they are probably right. I tell them that it is the right of passage as the baby of the family. They don’t like this answer.

These past ten years you have challenged me to really connect with you and figure you out. Because of that, we have a very strong bond. I thought I was a pro, after having three, but you did everything different. You had to have a particular soother, a particular blanket, your clothes have to fit you in a particular way. You love routine and schedule, and enjoy following a to do list. Separating you from the family as discipline ALWAYS works better than anything else. I can remember countless times sitting with you on the stairs or in your room while you cried and screamed. Then when you were tired enough, you would climb onto my lap and settle down. You are still like this. Learning you has been a challenge, but also a joy. There is something very special about you. You have such a calm and level energy.

You have taught me patience with people, even though I lack it with everything else. You have taught me the importance of a bond a boy shares with an animal. You have taught me the struggles of loving a perfectionist! You have taught me that there is another out there as stubborn as I am, and how frustrated others may get at times dealing with me. You have taught me that everything else can wait while a snuggle is needed.

I love that you still sit on my lap grab my arms and wrap them around you in a big hug, that you still expect me to pick you up (although I’m just about at my limits with this) and that you still climb into bed and hold my hand all night. I love that you hug me countless times a day, and make me laugh with your silly antics and jokes. I love how you always take my face in your hands and squeeze with your eyes big. I love how you won’t take no for an answer, ignore what I say, and argue your point. I love how you will miss out on something for yourself to be able to give it to someone else you love (although I’m still trying to teach you not to give all your allowance to your siblings if they ask you for it). I love your thoughtfulness as you are always bringing me little tokens or candy you think I will like. I love how you dance around and are gentle and kind to others (well, except your brother). I love how you watch how Darryl treats me, and then you try to do the same things. Although we need to practice how you brush another persons hair, as most girls would like to still have some when you are done brushing it.

I love how you love. Your love fills a room. You are such a bright and beautiful soul.

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I don’t know how ten years has passed by since I first held you. The light and love you have brought to my life has been endless. I know that one day I’m going to get to collect on the bet you and I have made, and that makes me smile. I can not wait to see who you choose to become. Because who you are now, is pretty remarkable.

Happy Life Day my beautiful boy. May you always find the light.

xox Mom

Mental Health and Cowards

March is a tricky month for me. Partly because I don’t get enough sun, and there is snow and it’s cold outside, and work slows down. But mostly because it is the month my mom died. This is the eighth March I have spent without my mom.
Small in stature but large in attitude. She had the absolute worst taste in style, but thought she was fashionable. There were times we refused to leave the house with her if she would not change. She would go down the hall, look in the mirror, and make a face at us like we were crazy. She didn’t think the yellow dangle earrings, with the yellow shirt, orange denim vest, black skirt, yellow tights, black leg warmers and brown boots looked bad.
I learned how to do my makeup by sitting in the bathroom watching her. She was an artist with eyeshadow. She would load her hamburgers up with so many toppings they would slip out over her fingers and down onto her plate, where she would have to use the hamburger to try and soak up what fell. She let me cut her hair, which sometimes was disastrous, but she didn’t care.
She always stayed involved in our education, and often volunteered at school. I was always proud to be at Play Day, and see my mom running an activity; or nudge my friends in line for lice check and say, that’s my mom checking our hair; or get to help hand out the fluoride cups in class because my mom was the one coming to each class making sure our teeth were clean. Our grades came first before parties, our assignments and projects were done to the best of our ability, because mom made sure of it.
She helped me develop my artistic side, and would spend hours beside me, painting or drawing. Showing me techniques, or just encouraging me to keep practicing. She always had me entering into coloring contests and helped my self confidence build with every win.
She was terrible at driving on the highway. She hated passing transport trucks and would often pull out to pass, get scared and sit in their blind spot. When my sisters and I were old enough to drive, mom was happy to take the passenger seat.
She was a great nurse, one of the best. She always went above and beyond, and made sure every patient got the best care. She was always offering popsicles, no matter the patients age. She once broke her hand at work while giving CPR, and contracted a flesh eating disease that almost took her leg…and probably would have except she fought the doctors that wanted to amputate and told them no. I still have people send me messages, telling me stories of how wonderful she was to them when they were in the hospital.
She loved her grandchildren immensely. She spoiled them, and never listened when told not to feed them junk food and pop. She would just smile and nod, and wait until I was out of sight before she let them have whatever they wanted. She was very proud of them and loved showing them off to anyone that would look at her photos and listen to her stories.
She was beautiful.
But she also struggled with her mental health. Sometimes it was under control, and sometimes she would stay in bed and suffer with depression. I watched as it literally ate away at her, causing her already tiny frame to become a wisp. The laughter and spark would come and go, and life just seemed to become such a heavy weight on her. It took a toll on all of us. We all suffered with it in different ways.
Unfortunately, that weight became too heavy of a burden, and she chose to end her suffering. Mental health is a very real thing, and gratefully, the stigma of it has lessened each year. My family was shunned by many when my mom took her life. For some, they didn’t know what to say, others just followed the stigma. I had little support, as my family consisted only of my dad, grandmother and sisters, and the family I married into offered no help (their excuse always being that I never asked for help). I had four little children, and no time to grieve. No time to miss her. No time to grasp what had happened.
It was decided that my children would not be told the details of her death, not yet. My oldest was only four, too young to comprehend. Whenever they have asked, they have been told that Nonee died of a disease. And that was always ok for them, they never asked more. I had wanted to keep it this way for a while longer, as they are going through enough with adjusting after a divorce, and I am having difficulty getting them counselling.
However, this choice was taken away from me, when my children were recently told – by someone I have fittingly nicknamed Little Peacock – that their mother is mentally ill, as well as her sisters and their Nonee, which is why she died. They were told if they keep listening to me and following in my footsteps then they could also become mentally ill.
My children came home to me very upset. They were upset that they had to argue with Little Peacock and defend their mom, something that children should not have to do. And they were upset that Little Peacock told them this about their Nonee but didn’t take any time to explain it to them. Just made them feel like it was a bad thing, and that if they don’t stop listening to me, they could end up the same way.
I know that Little Peacock’s family believes that when you are mentally ill, you have demons attached to you, which can then travel down the bloodline, causing others to be mentally ill. I know this, because that is what they told me after my mom died. It was lovely.
I do believe that mental health can have a genetic factor, but that doesn’t mean that everyone born to that person with this disease also has it. It’s like saying anyone with cancer that has children will pass it along to them. And it definitely doesn’t mean little demons attach on and travel through bloodlines. Even if genetics are unkind, help is out there. It’s not a sentence of burden.
My mom was beautiful and charismatic, a spitfire full of spunk. I wish she was still alive, but she died of a disease that many have, many are made to feel ashamed of, and many don’t seek help for. Little Peacock should be ashamed. My children deserve better, and I deserve better treatment. I was trying to protect them from a hurt they did not yet need to feel. From confusion they did not need to endure. But instead, they felt like they needed to defend me and argue with someone that should be thinking a lot more about what is best for these children and their wellbeing.
Little Peacock, the way you are telling my children that I am mentally ill and they will be too if they keep listening to me, shows the coward that you are. The way you have your sister talk about me to my children, shows the coward that the two of you are. My children have been through enough. I see nothing has changed with the type of person you really are.
Those reading this, be respectful of others and the hardships they have been through. And maybe read up on mental health and depression a little before you spout ridiculous things about the disease that are not true. Also, I’m pretty sure you need to go to school for quite a long time to be able to diagnose a disease.
Please don’t follow in Little Peacock’s shoes. I understand that somebody must be very unhappy in their life to choose to hurt innocent children in order to try and hurt me. I do understand that. And if you are someone that uses children in this manor, please stop. Using mental health and depression as a way to hurt and control children is not the answer. This is a form of child abuse. People who do this are cowards and part of the problem that this disease still faces.
See this woman, Little Peacock?

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She treated you very well. The way you just disrespected her, shows the coward that you are. The way you hurt my children to hurt me, shows the coward that you are. My children adored their Nonee and you tainted her memory with how you told them of her death.
Shame on you.

Celebrating You

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I can picture the face you will give me, when you realize I have made this post about you, and added these photos of you. I will apologize in advance, but also not be totally sorry because you deserve to be celebrated.

Happy Life Day (yes one day late, but we were busy celebrating yesterday). You are a man that is a rarity, a true blessing. I must have done a whole lot of things right to have someone like you show up in my life.

I told myself that I would not find a man willing to take on four children and a woman healing from years of abuse, and then you came along. You didn’t even blink when I told you all of me, you just smiled. I threw salt all over you the first time we met, and you said you realized then that I was someone special, and maybe a little strange. 🙂

You are the most wonderful, caring, sweet, thoughtful, loving, calm, balanced man I have ever been with. Rita claimed you the first time she met you, and doesn’t leave your side when you are with us. She has to have a paw on you at all times, and sleeps beside you. They say to watch how dogs are around people, that they can sense energies and when they don’t like someone or are nervous or skittish around them, there is usually a good reason.  Every dog I have seen loves you, so I think that saying is true. You treat every animal with love and respect, which shows your character and how kind you are.

 

You were willing to hold all of my broken pieces. Even when I would throw them at you, or try to gather them and hold them all by myself and push you away, you stood there patiently and waited. You have always cared so much about my children, and how to gracefully integrate into our family so that it was the least upheaval for them. Their well being has always been your priority, and I can see this as you sit for hours helping them with homework and reading and writing and learning vocabulary. As you help Kaleb with his Jiu Jitsu or Elijah with his golf swing, or teach Eve chords on the guitar and look up songs with Gracie for her ipod. I watched the other evening as you sat patiently beside Eve, while she threw meltdown after meltdown with her homework, and you patiently waited for her to calm down before proceeding. My children constantly ask when you are coming, where you are, and what you might be doing. They think it’s funny that they now shake their water bottles the same way you do before opening them. They talk about the funny things you do, and laugh about the accents you talk to them in. They laugh so much when you are around. You have helped me in giving them a joy filled environment, and I couldn’t be more thankful. They adore you, and so do I.

I have never had somebody worry so much about my health and heart.  When I’m sick you come and clean my house, bring me groceries and cook for me. When my heart is bothering me you drop everything to be by my side. You try to force me to eat healthy, and stock my fridge with health food and coconut water.  You are the only person that I will eat vegetables for. Mainly because you will hold them to my mouth and not stop until I eat them. I have never had somebody massage my hands at every opportunity possible, or come home on a friday after being tired from working all week, and set up my massage/reiki table and spend an hour doting on me.

I have never laughed so hard and so long with somebody as I do with you.  I remember how the kids were first confused with this, that we laughed so much together. But when Elijah told me how nice it was to see me happy, my heart wanted to explode. You add so much light to our lives. I didn’t know it was possible to be able to spend hours a day talking to someone and spending quality time. Laughing until my face actually hurts. Your humor has let me find mine again, and you let me do the most ridiculous and embarrassing things to you, and you don’t care. You join in or just laugh. Thank you. I was missing humor so much in my life. You have overfilled my cup.

I don’t know what I did to deserve a man like you. And although you are not about public displays, or wanting to be celebrated, you deserve it. You found me when I was broken, you held my pieces and you patiently waited for me to find how to put them back into place.  You encouraged me to be independent and make my own decisions and to be strong all by myself. You gave me space when I needed to find my own way, and gave me a safe place to always land.  You have been so patient and calm. You are an anomaly. You believe that experiences and quality time is more important then shiny things and big houses or new cars. You believe in a simple life that works for what brings us joy, then something flashy and what others are doing or saying. You have breathed new life into me.

I am so excited to accomplish the goals we have set out. To make the memories with the kids we have planned for. To spend many more years around the sun with you.

Happy Life Day, my love, you deserve the sun and the stars and everything in between.

Love,  your Unicorn. xo

Birthday Week

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I love birthdays, or as I like to call them, Lifedays. I was born on Valentine’s Day, which everyone always comments on. I find it funny as I hate Valentine’s Day. I think it is the most ridiculous ‘holiday’ there is. You should not need one day a year to remind you to show the person you love, you love them. The pressure that is put on people with this holiday is silly, and it’s just another way for money to be made.  I would much rather have someone in my life that shows me his appreciation in little ways throughout the year, then on one day with over inflated roses and crowded restaurants.

After my mom died, my birthdays felt different. You have a special birthday bond with your mom, as they are the one that brought you into the world and can recall that day better then anyone else. I was also with someone that didn’t put much thought into birthdays, so I usually got the excuse that he didn’t have time to find me a gift, was given something that had absolutely no meaning behind it, was given a card with money in it and told to get myself something I wanted, or was given nothing at all. I got used to it, and it just didn’t really matter anymore. I focused my excitement on my own children’s birthdays.

But now, I am with someone that gives me birthday weeks! It is the most ridiculous and amazing thing ever. He has brought my excitement back about my birthday, and I feel so loved. For the week leading up to my birthday, I get a lovely card each morning to read, with something little that is meaningful. Whether it be my favorite chocolate, music, spa service, homemade coupons 😉 or something I have wanted but not bought myself…it is exciting to wake up each morning to a little surprise. He has learned though that he can’t leave me with all of my gifts, as I will snoop.

He waited until I had to run to my studio and got the girls a whole bunch of decorations for the house. This made their day. They thought it was the greatest thing ever that he did this. They were so happy when I got home and saw streamers everywhere. They couldn’t stop laughing. That was a gift in itself. He then had each day planned out, with a corresponding card to the present.

And the finale!? FRONT ROW TICKETS TO THE LUMINEERS. I am lucky to have found someone that enjoys a lot of the same things I do, and that realizes how important it is to have quality time and memories made together, rather then stuff. I have never laughed so much with someone, or been able to talk to a partner the way we do. To be with someone that is so mature with communication and emotional balance, and who can read me like an open book, is not something I am used to. I don’t know how I got so lucky. He is enough of a gift (although I do love my birthday week).

As I stood there front row listening to a man pour his heart into his songs (Lumineers are amazing live, the energy and emotion you can feel coming off him is crazy), with my partners arms wrapped around me, telling me such lovely things in my ear, I realized how lucky I am to have this added bonus in my life. To have a man that acknowledges my qualities and tells me how lucky he is all of the time to have found me; to have someone that is thoughtful and caring and gives me a birthday week; to have someone constantly pointing out how talented and hardworking I am, that helps me through all of the issues my ex causes for me, that gives me endless neck and hand massages, that is constantly worried about my health, that is patient and caring to my kids, I am blessed.  Not because I need someone to complete me, but because I have realized the importance to picking the right person for yourself. I’m not saying that the person you are with needs to give you a birthday week, but I am saying to make sure the person you are with is filling your cup up. Make sure they show you how special you are, especially on your lifeday. You deserve to be celebrated for all that you are.

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Thank you my love, such a wonderful week xox