Give Your Children Voices

Your children are always watching you. And whether you want to admit it, they often will mimic you. They idolize their parents when they are young, they want to be just like you. And to me, this is terrifying.

I am not perfect in any way, although I do try hard as a parent to do my children right. I made the decision to bring them into this world, so it is my obligation to protect, nurture and care for them, until it is time for them to spread their own wings. Then I will have to wait in the background, ever ready to brush them off when they fall while trying to navigate in this often cruel and hard world.

I find my girls watch me the most. When I got an arrow tattoo on the inside of my finger, my daughter drew an identical one on her finger with a marker. Certain outfits I wear a lot, my girls will also try to dress similar. They want their hair done like mine, their nails painted like mine, and are always asking for a spray of my perfume. Their body language and the way they talk to their siblings and others often reminds me of myself. And now they want to wear makeup because I do. I know that my boys watch and listen, but I think because they are boys, their actions reflect differently than their sisters.

If you’ve read through my posts, you will know that I have started a new chapter in my life. I am in the middle of a divorce, which unfortunately has dragged on for two years, and has not been pleasant in any way. It has been extremely tough, and trying to keep my four children sheltered from the goings on has not always been easy. There are eight ears and eyes always watching. They are emotional, they don’t understand, and they just want things to go back to normal. I just want to be able to find our new normal.

A couple of months ago, something happened that put me in a spot I really didn’t want to be in. My ex decided instead of knocking, to kick my door in to get to me, because he was angry. This is not the first situation where his anger has brought this behavior out in him, but most of the time it could be hidden from the children. Having a door kicked in can not really be hidden. I was lucky to have a friend there with me, because it caused him to back off and settle down very quickly, and I will admit, I was pretty numb to this situation. My friend was very shaken up, and I just kind of shrugged my shoulders. At first, I didn’t do anything, because I didn’t want to “rock the boat” so close to hopefully getting a separation agreement signed (which obviously now was not the case) so I kept my mouth shut. That’s how numb I was to the situation.

But then something happened. I watched a few days later, as all four of my children looked at the door. They stared at it, and didn’t say a word. I asked them if they knew what happened to the door, and my girls very casually said “daddy and grandma said that daddy got mad and broke the door.” Everything stopped for me in that moment. I looked at these four children of mine, and thought, how have I failed you so much?       

I failed my children in this situation. This is not an easy thing to admit to as a parent, but I did. They were not told the full truth, therefore they did not think that there was anything wrong with a door being ‘broken’ like this. And why wouldn’t they believe their dad and grandma? I had to make a decision right then, to make this right. As much as I have tried to shelter and protect them, this was something I would have to explain in more detail. I told them, that that was not true, that daddy didn’t break the door because he was mad, that I had locked the door to keep daddy out and he had kicked it in trying to get to me. I then looked straight at my boys and said: when you become men, and you are strong and sometimes have different emotions flair up, by no means is it ever ok to kick a door in if you are mad at the person standing behind it. Real men do not do that, and I hope to raise you as real men. I then looked at my girls and said: if you are ever scared behind a locked door, and the person on the other side, whether it be your boyfriend, husband, or even just a friend kicks that door down to get to you, you call the cops and then you call me.

And then that’s when it really hit me. I was telling my girls to do something that I didn’t do. I was showing both my boys and girls that this type of behavior is acceptable and that there are no consequences. And to top it off, those sweet children of mine said: but if you were hurt or there was a fire or something, you can kick the door down. They were making excuses. They were mimicking me.

I realized that if I didn’t do anything about this, then in the future, my boys may do the same, not fully realizing the consequences to behavior like this; or my girls might think it’s ok for someone to do this to them, which in turn could end very badly. It has been brushed off by the other adult in this situation, so as a parent, I had to make the decision to show my children that when you do something bad or something bad is done to you, steps will be put into place to either punish you or protect you.

I failed my children this time by not acting right away. I was still trying to protect my ex in some way, and was hoping to keep the waters still to be able to get things finished and move on. But I have more then me to worry about, I have four children that I am raising and sending out into the world, and I would be very ashamed if any of them acted like their father or mother did in this type of situation. I want to raise better humans then that.

And to those friends that provided me with emotional support so I could process through this, thankyou. You don’t know how much I needed your kind words and strength, when I didn’t feel like I had any of my own.

So I urge you, if you are a parent, to remember how much your children watch you, mimic you, and learn from you. Don’t fail them like I did. Teach your boys what it is to be men, how to treat women properly, and help them find safe ways to vent their anger. Teach your girls self love and self respect so that they don’t numb themselves to situations that could be, or have the potential to lead to something much more serious. Sometimes what you think is keeping the waters still, is actually just showing them to keep silent when they shouldn’t be.

Give your children the voices they need to grow into the best versions of themselves. Even if it means doing something you don’t want to do. Because if they don’t have you to rely on for this, who do they have?

Self Portrait #40

I thought these walls were going to hold so many more memories. I thought I would have decades here, with worn floors and patched up walls. But instead it is me that is leaving, worn and patched.

I helped build you. I poured my blood, sweat and tears into you, trying to make you perfect for the four lives you were to shelter. I planted trees in spots that would work well if one of them ever decided to marry here. There was purpose to every detail.

You were my home, and then you weren’t. You have taught me a very valuable lesson. You are only walls and a roof. You are a house, but not a home. We are the ones that make you that. When we have dance parties in our pjs in the family room, when we have movie nights, and sleepovers and bakeoffs. When we fill you up with laughter and singing…we make you a home. Any four walls will do.

Thankyou for providing us shelter through this last transition. You were a beautiful house, I did love you dearly. But I can no longer fill you with the joy and laughter I used to. So my four sidekicks and I have to say goodbye. We must close this chapter to open the next.

On to the next adventure. The next house to make our home.

xox

Self Portrait #39

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It’s been brought to my attention, that us ‘country girls’ are a different breed all on our own. That we seem to feel the need to show others that we can do it by ourself, that we don’t need help, that we are just as strong as anyone else. To this, I say, thank you. I was raised to be independent, to try new things, to get my hands dirty. I was born with something inside me that says ‘keep going’ when the average person would stop and give up. I might not be able to do everything as well as what someone else could do, but imma try anyways.

For half my life I was with someone that expected me to be able to do all the things needed to run a household and family on my own. It was tough at times, but do I ever appreciate that now. I’m not looking for a knight in shinning armor, cause I can hold my own damn sword.

I’m the girl that cuts the grass in a dress with my hair blowing in the wind and a Mike’s in my hand. I’m the girl that plants over 500 trees with a pick axe, in the rain and mud. I’m the girl that can change my own brakes and oil and tires (thanks dad). I’ve jumped out of a plane, walked on a broken foot for two weeks, lost my mom to suicide, layed awake on an operating table while watching on a screen doctors operate on my heart. I’ve faced plenty of fears and health obstacles, got myself through some horrible traumas, and I’m still here, with a smile on my face. So ya, us country girls are a different breed. We strong like bull. Unless my car breaks down, (which it does often) then I’m calling my dad to come save me. We all have our limits….

Self Portrait # 37

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“The Japanese say you have three faces. The first face, you show the world. The second face, you show to your close friends, and family. The third, you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are.”

I look at this as the masks we wear; to fit in, to feel good, to hide, to be someone we are not. I know I have many. I know I wore one for a very long time to fit into a life that was not easy to fit into, because I was not being authentic to me. I wore this mast so well, that people I have recently bumped into that I have known for years, did not recognize me at first glance, now that that mask is gone.

I am trying to wear the “I don’t care what anyone thinks mask” now, but it is still tricky. I tend to be quite guarded, with everyone. I only take off the masks with a small amount of people. I find it hard to really open up, to be vulnerable and think that others are interested in my life and how I am doing. So I wear whatever appropriate mask is needed for the situation. And if I do take them off for special people, I am always quick to put them back on if needed. I have mastered the ‘customer is always right’ mask, the ‘my kids are driving me insane but life is grande’ mask, the ‘I don’t have the energy to help another person but I’m gonna do it anyways’ mask, the ‘I’m fine’ mask, the ‘You are totally wrong but I’m not going to argue with you’ mask, the ‘I want to slap you in the face but that would be wrong’ mask, and the one I wear the best…..’I don’t need anyone’s help, support or love’.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t feel the need to wear a mask that hides all of the wonderful, quirky, adorable, flawed, characteristics that make us masterpieces? That we were free to be our truest reflection.

Self Portrait #36

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“If you’re reading this right now and you’re not happy, you will be. I don’t know what you’re going through. Everyone has their own type of darkness that they’re trying to make sense of, but no matter how hard it gets, you’ll do it. Things will get better, you will get better. Life will become brighter and you’ll look back on days like these when you couldn’t look forward to the next hour, let alone the next day. When you do, you’ll smile, maybe even laugh, and it will hit you. You turned out just fine.”  -MaxwellDPoetry

Things shifted for me this weekend. Some good things, some bad things. Seeing people for who they are now, and not the potential they have to be put a lot of things into perspective. I tend to do this with many people in my life, see through their pain and broken pieces to what they could be, and wishing they could see it too, but having a hard time stepping back and letting them be who they are choosing to be. I want to push them to be the best version of themselves. To see what I see in them.

So I had to make some decisions I didn’t want to make. But limbo is not a pretty place to stay. Letting go of things that are hurting you is the only way to move forward. And forward is the only place I want to be moving these days. So that I can look back with a smile and know, I turned out just fine.

And so will you.

Self Portrait #35

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I am a country girl. I can adapt to almost any surroundings, but country is my favorite. I love the smell of fresh cut hay, sundresses and cowboots, horses, farms, getting dirty, secluded property, watching sunsets from the hood of my car. I will jump in the water waist deep to load a jetski or boat onto a trailer; I walk around barefoot on surfaces I shouldn’t; I would pick a bonfire and guitar playing any night over going out “on the town”. My parents pushed us outside and told us to go play. And we did. We hurt ourselves, we got into trouble, but we had fun and it made us strong. My dad taught me to cut the grass,  drive a fourwheeler and skiidoo at a very young age and makes me fix my own car.

I’m told by so many how strong I am. But I haven’t felt it lately. Until last night. My daughter took this photo. My two girls insisted that they do a photoshoot, and bossed me around. Telling me what pose to do, how to “put my face”, where to put my hands, to “put my hair over one eye”. They were so excited. And then Eve took this photo and squealed and told me to come look at it. She said, “mommy you look so strong”. I stared at her for a minute. Thank god she said strong, and not pretty. Fuck pretty. If there is only one thing I want to teach my girls, it is to be strong. That sometimes they have to walk away from something they though was forever. That sometimes they will have to do something very scary. That sometimes they will feel very alone. But that they will be able to do it because they are strong. So if it takes me walking in a wheat field being bossed around by my girls to finally believe that just maybe I am showing them the the right things, then so be it.

Strength comes in so many stories. From mistakes, and failures, and wrong turns. Let all of that go. You tried your best and it didn’t work. Forgive yourself and try again. The best is yet to come.

Self Portrait #34

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To heal, to let go. To move on, let go. To forgive, let go. To change, let go. To love, let go. To flourish, let go. To accomplish dreams, let go. To be happy, let go. To live well, let go.

I’ve held on, tight knuckled and clenched jawed for so long. To everything. To my failures, to the dreams I once had, to the people that couldn’t love me, to the idea of what I though my life should be. I try to plan everything. I try to set my future, instead of letting go of the past and enjoying the present. That is the only thing we really have. Right now. This very moment. I’ve been doing a lot of body work and healing, and every one of my healers has told me that I hold onto my anger and try to force what I think my life should be. This was brought to my attention again today. And once again, I was told to let go. To hold my own power, and have the courage to let go and know what should happen will, and enjoy the adventure. Let go, and finally feel free. To stop letting my past dictate my future.

Let go and start rewriting my story, with all the uncertainties that await. Embrace the beauty in the unknown. Let go, and let all the good come that is waiting.

When we release our grip, and invite the universe to do her job, she will surprise us in wonderful ways. Bring us beautiful souls that will push us to grow, and adventures that we will tell about when we are old and grey. If only we realize it is best to enjoy right now and stop trying to control everything. To not let our mistakes and past experiences harden us and old us into someone that doesn’t forgive, that doesn’t love, that doesn’t enjoy all there is in this life. Because we only have one. One chance to live fully and without reservation. There is so much at our grasp, if we just let go.