I am mom. I am wife. I am God's daughter.
I was raised by my grandparents from the age of 3 on. Everything before that is a blur, and I believe that's due to God's protection. My parents were never married and my dad was quite a bit older than my mother (about 14 years.) My mom was a beautiful and incredibly intelligent young woman who unfortunately didn't have enough love for herself to get through the storms that life often brings. My father is a former Navy man whose bad habits and decisions have overshadowed his brilliance to the point of leaving him broken. My early life, the one I don't recall, was a constant storm that ended abruptly at age 3, when my mother, consumed by bitter depression, took her own life. I was thrown into a horrific child custody battle until my Grandparents, through God's grace, took me in and raised me as their own. <SIDENOTE: As a mother myself, I can't imagine how my Grandmother survived the tragic loss of her eldest daughter and still manage to raise a confused toddler.>
I was brought up in Church and had many amazing adult role models. Life was great! Until the teen years. I began to rebel... I would do exactly the opposite of what I was taught, but merely the same things as my peers were doing. But unlike my fellow rebels, I always knew when I was doing wrong and felt this nagging pain inside and knew that I was not doing what God wanted of me. I didn't even go as far or as wild as most of my friends, but it was such a drastic change that my family worried dearly for me (and I'm sure spent quite a bit of time on their knees praying.) My friends would be partying; drinking, getting high, expanding their sexual conquests, etc., whereas I would try something once or twice and get caught (divine intervention, anyone?) I drank, got caught, got suspended from school. I tried pot, got caught, got expelled from school. I had sex, got pregnant...and began a new life. Even though I was making bad decisions, God's hand was in it all and used them for good.
From the first time I heard his heartbeat, I was madly in love with my son. I didn't want any more children, mind you, but I loved being a mother. For 6 years I raised my son as a single parent, with the help of my amazing family and his fabulous paternal-grandparents. It was difficult at times and I was sad by the fact that I had to work and was unable to spend as much time with him as I wanted, but marriage? No thank you! That wasn't for me. I was NOT the marrying type. (God has such a sense of humor!) In walks the man of my dreams. Oh wait, I can't stand this guy! He's cocky and arrogant and thinks he knows everything. (Humor I tell ya!) We were just friends, co-workers, nothing more. He asked me out over and over. But the timing wasn't right. (That's a story for another time.) Finally, I caved. It was just a move, right? From the first date we were inseparable. We were engaged less than 2 months and married 6 months after our first date.
Remember how I wasn't the marrying type? And how I didn't really want any more children? Did I mention he was a single father? I fell in love again, with my new family. I now had 2 sons, Christopher Michael & Kurt Dean, a year and a half apart. I often say, "Biological children grow in a Mother's womb, adoptive children grow in a Mother's heart." I didn't think it possible to love another child as much as I loved the child who had grown in my belly and nursed at my breasts. I quickly began to feel such an amazing bond with this sweet little boy and have never thought of him as a step-child.
Even though we started out with a ready-made family, we decided immediately to begin trying for another child. After 11 long, and often tearful, months, we were expecting. November 7, 2004, we welcomed our 3rd son into our family. In our minds, our family was complete. We didn't really talk about more children, but gave ourselves a 5 year time frame. If we had no more children during that time, we would call our family complete. Then near the end of May 2006, we found ourselves expecting once again. I had just lost my job a few months before, and felt myself, guiltily, thinking, "This is horrible timing!" At 7 weeks, something began to go horribly wrong. After 2 weeks of asking questions, we found out we had lost the baby. For about a month, I went into such a pit of depression. It was my fault. After all, I was the one who was less than excited about this pregnancy. I must have done something wrong. I beat myself up day and night trying to figure out what I had done to cause this to happen. I missed this baby so. If only I could go back and do things differently.... Then one day it was as if a wave of peace washed over me. I was bathed in God's love and the knowledge that God can take any situation and use it for something good. (I had so many wonderful friends, who I am still thankful for to this day, praying for me.) And less than a year later, I found out I was expecting once again. I was excited and scared, and after a rocky beginning, we gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on December 16, 2007. We named her Sydney Grace. Her middle name, meaning God's Gift or Blessing, was chosen in honor of the child we had lost.
Our life has been an adventure, a journey, and sometimes a circus. Though we have stumbled many times along the way, I wouldn't change one thing about it. It's often the things in life that we think will be our biggest road blocks that become our greatest stepping stones. And I thank God for each and every one of them!
**ETA (3/2/11): I neglected to include an absent, yet still very important member of our family. My Husband has an older son, who was "raised" by his mother & grandmother. I put it that way because I have little to no respect for the way he was raised in that he was not disciplined (taught) or corrected in any way. Unfortunately, he is still paying for that upbringing today. He was 10 when we were married, and not allowed to be a part of our lives unless it was convenient for his mother. He lived with us briefly (6 months) the end of 2009/beginning of 2010, but when it became more apparent it was more profitable to his mother for him to live with her, she "allowed" him to live with her again and put all blame on us. He decided when we wouldn't bail him out (literally) and instead were teaching him that his actions had consequences, he kicked us completely out of his life. It's been especially rough on my husband and we pray for him daily. He seems to be coming around a bit, and we have hope that one day we he won't see us as the enemy.