Saturday, 20 June 2015

Being a newlywed again

There are lots of "how to" articles about remarriage.  Three easy steps to wedded bliss the second time around.
There are lists upon lists of mistakes not to make.
I've seen a search engine full of helpful suggestions and expectations designed to prepare us for reality.

I don't read any of it.
They don't know my life. Those authors haven't walked in my shoes. The last thing I need is for someone to tell me how my life should look.

And I'm not going to tell you how to live yours.

But I did learn something:
If you are remarrying or entering into a serious committed relationship, if you both have kids, and are blending families, I have two phrases for you: no expectations/self care.

Almost a year and a half into this adventure, things are still very green for me. Most days I feel like I'm standing on the ocean's shore, trying to make sure the waves have a safe landing, don't do any damage and don't get out of hand.

If you know me at all, you know how passionately I love my kids. They are the sun, moon and stars to me. I eat, sleep and breathe my role as a mom. They are my greatest accomplishment and gift. But most of my life is consumed with making sure everyone's needs are being met, I break up disagreements and negotiate peace treaties within our four walls. I drive for hours every day. School. Babysitting. Youth. Friend's houses. Part time jobs. Errands. I work full time. I own my own business. I go to school. I make supper.

Sometimes it gets a bit much and I want to cry. 
I end up feeling like I'm not very effective.

That's the "no expectations" part of my story. That is a great gift you can give yourself and your family. Trust that what happens will happen and it will be good. You belong to God. So does your family.

And there are four days every month that keep me sane. Four days when I can take off my tattered and stained superhero mom cape. Four days that are about me and my husband. Four days when I'm a woman. I'm nothing else but loved and a lover.

I feel small, because the weight of the world is not on me.  I feel like I can enjoy myself without needing to be responsible. I feel like I can be young and in love.

Self care. Couple care. I don't know how other blended family couples could ever manage without it.

Through a process I can only call "a fluke" (aka God) every other weekend my kids are with their dad and my husband's son is with his mom. My husband and I go out for supper, cuddle, watch Netflix, go on adventures and are free to love each other.

I have time to curl my hair.

It's just about us.

I don't think I could do this chapter of my life without those four days. It recharges me and gives me what I need to keep wading though the tumultuous teenage years with five beautiful wee ones. It gives me a chance to feel beautiful and important and free to enjoy the pleasures of life.

And by the end of those weekends I cannot wait to see my kids again.

My emotional tank is full enough to take on the challenges that this life offers.

I feel so fortunate. I feel so grateful. I feel so cared for.

I feel.

Monday, 1 June 2015

My boy

My boy graduates from High School this week. For as long as I can remember I've called him "my boy". I called him Buddy too, but I seem to use that name for other people, so it's not exclusive. "My boy" is only for one. His name is Ben.
(God has given me another boy along the way and his name is Jaremie, I don't want you to think that I've forgotten him, and I will write about him another day,  my relationship with him is still young.
This week, it's all about Ben.)
I remember his conception, it was a Friday afternoon, I had an hour between students.......ok that is a story you likely don't want to hear, so let's skip it. Suffice to say, he came into the world surrounded by all the joy and expectancy a new family could muster.
His birth was not fun, I'm going to say that. 11 pounds. Natural birth. People stopped me in the halls of the hospital days later asking for my autograph.
He was born with pneumonia because I had something called Group B Strep. He could have died. But he didn't. My Mom said to me afterwards, "Oh Beckie, he'll always be a sickly boy." Ya right. He's a tank.
He was named after one of my students who embodied all the kindness and optimism I could ask for. I was so happy to name him Ben because his name means "Beloved Son". And that is what he is.
He was a bit of a celebrity in our small Manitoban town because I had so many students who had all built their musical lives around this one event - "the birth". I had babysitters coming out my ears.
He was the first grandchild on both sides. My Mom said to me, "We never loved you as much as we love Ben." To which my Dad said, "YES WE DID!" Haha, I know what she meant. Grandparenting without needing to discipline or be the responsible ones was a wonderful thing for them. He drove his grandparents crazy, too. My Dad was very particular about his house and his books and making sure everything was properly displayed. After Ben learned how to walk he would go around to my Dad's bookshelves and push the books in one by one, so they were no longer perfectly aligned with the others. And my Dad would come along behind and fix them, one by one.
There are other stories of course. Painting the cabinets with BBQ sauce, carrying cases of tomato soup that were as big as he was across the room, getting a hold of a very large knife and proudly presenting it to us, taking a spoon with him wherever he'd go, his favorite book was about "Wiring and Household Maintenance".
Good times. 
And bittersweet times.
When Ben graduated from Grade 7 at Upper Sumas I remember sitting in the crowd so grateful that I could give him the gift of an intact family for as long as I could, because I knew by then our family was functioning on borrowed time.
I remember knowing that Ben was making the transition from a boy to a man when one of our cats brought in a half dead rabbit one night during his sisters birthday party. Ben quietly took the bunny out and treated him to a humane ending, without any fanfare. He knew what the right thing to do was.
There was the night Ben learned that his family would be changing. He was very brave. He was not surprised as he had noticed the silence which often filled the house. He said to me, "So I guess I'll be in charge of fixing things now?"
His teenage years have been remarkably without drama. He plays video games too much. But he also gets straight A's so I can't nag him about that. Many of his friends have not changed since Kindergarten. I remember when he was in Elementary school, another student came up to me and said, "Nobody hates Ben."
That's pretty much it.
He's steady, smart and serious.
He is one of my greatest accomplishments.

My last story -  I was teaching a singing lesson to a student when Ben was just a baby and my student was singing "Valentine" by Martina McBride. I could not get through listening to the song without weeping.

all of my life
i have been waiting for
all you give to me
you've opened my eyes
and shown me how to love unselfishly

i've dreamed of this a thousand times before
in my dreams i couldn't love you more
i will give you my heart
until the end of time
you're all i need, my love, my Valentine

Happy graduation my boy, my valentine. 
I am so proud of you and I love you so much.

"About Benjamin he said, 'Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.' " Deuteronomy 33:12