The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.
I opened my nightstand drawer this morning, searching for what I am not quite sure. I shuffled through papers, folders filled with information on vaccinations, hair extensions, notebooks, pens, everything I hadn't touched in quite some time. And underneath my pile of disarray I found a notebook. One I started 2 years ago, the intent was to write daily to my son and let him know the wonderful experiences we had had that day. I opened it apprehensively, knowing full well most of what I wrote was not embellished but the feelings behind it were. At that time Derek and I could not be further from each other. I picked up writing as an escape and a way to cover up what was going on between us. Entries like the following were written with the saddest of hearts and I thought by adding a fun exclamation points I could make it all better and Trace would never know. Reading back parts of the journal sent memories flooding in. I don't think I have let myself cope with the fact that things may not be the fairy tale I used to dream of.
We are in Alabama! You took your first plane ride with mommy yesterday! She was nervous but with you there it made it all so much easier. Our first plane was from CT to North Carolina then from there we took a plane to Birmingham Alabama. You slept on both plane rides and loved take off the most. You put your tiny hands on the window pane and watched as we left the ground and flew into the clouds. When we arrived you met baby Ocean and instantly got along so well with her! The two of you took a bath last night together and splashed each other the entire time. Bekah and I loved watching you guys interact. we settled down for sleep at around 7, we both had been up since 3am that morning and needed rest badly......"
The truth to this journal entry? Derek was confused in our marriage, he needed space to think about what he wanted for himself and our family. I packed up my ten month old son, boarded my first plane alone and made a trip to a state I had ever been to. I held you close in busy airports clinging to you slipping off my hip and two bags of luggage. I cried the entire time, confused and feeling so alone. I stayed with people I had never met before that day. I stayed with Bekah, a girl I had met over a mothering website. She and her husband opened their doors to me and allowed me to stay for as long as I needed. They quickly became some of my dearest friends. What they did for me will never be forgotten. I stayed in their home for two weeks. My phone continually in my hands waiting for a call or text from husband to see where our marriage was headed. Lying awake every night next to my baby on the floor of Ocean's nursery. Stroking his hair and wracking my brains of what I would do if I went back home a single mother. Bekah eventually offered to let me stay with them permanently if things ended in divorce for Derek and I. And part of me almost wanted to do just that. Ignore everything that had happened and start a new life. Completely unattached to the old one. Day after day I planned my new life, to the best of my ability. I shut down my heart and was ready to hear the news from Derek that my world was about to completely change. I was almost unsurprised about the situation I was in. From all the experience of my childhood and seeing what my mom went through, I expected a failed marriage as instantly as I accepted the marriage vows.
After two weeks, and numerous tear filled phone conversations I threw my hands up in the air and said "Fine, if you are done then I am too. I will come home, pack my things and figure out where to go from here." And from that Derek decided he wasn't ready to give up. He and I were going to stat fresh. Work harder on the issues that had lead to this and try to become better parents in the long run. I took two plane rides back to CT and passed my tiny sleeping baby to his father the instant we arrived at the airport. Trace smiled, he was home. I was home. And we were ready to make things work no matter what.
Two years later I cannot help but reflect on that situation whenever things get rough. And around here it seems to be somewhat often. I have the hardest time opening up about marital issues and as much as Derek and I fight through whatever it may be at that moment. I just can't help but revert back to my old self. expecting the worst because that was simply how I grew up. As much as I hate to admit this I live in my past, I fight it tooth and nail but it is always there. I live in my memories and in the "What If's.." I know with time I can change this. I know with work this will eventually dissipate into acceptance of what has happened to me. I know I will grow a better understanding of why things happened to me when I was younger, and how they have shaped me into who I am today. But for now I fight to just stay in the NOW. And in this NOW I must say that I am honored to have the experiences I did, I am blessed to fight for a continually loving family with the man I had children with. We may not be the most compatible match but we both know we were chosen to raise our children together. Not separated. We work. We work together to bring a special bond to each member of our family. To give each person, including ourselves a feeling of purposefulness in our home. without each member we would not be a family. And we will always strive to better each other and ourselves for the greater good of our home. I will always fight for our family. Derek will always fight for our family. And we will always appreciate that in each other. Which is why we are still together, loving each other for exactly who we are, what we bring to the table and the people we are growing into being. I love my family, through the good the bad and the ugly. And after reading this journal, I don't think I will ever give it to Trace. It sounds nice at surface level. But we are more then a superficial happy family. We may have ups and downs, but every family does and I need to learn to get away from the superficial happiness. It isn't real. That is how I grew up. Pretending life was peachy keen when it was a terrible mess. I won't go into deep detail with my son of the struggles we have over come but I promise to always be honest with him. And share with him the gift of a real family. A funny, loving, sometimes embarrassing life with little problems you must face at times.
I owe it to that beautiful little guy. We fought through a battle together. And we made it to the other side happier and stronger then ever.
That is something to be proud of. Not just a bunch of fluffy words quickly written on a piece of paper.