Do you cry?

I used to view myself as a rock solid fortress.

No one dared to break through that barrier.

I had my game face on 24/7.

Then I became a mom.

Every emotion that I once kept guarded became free flowing, real and uncontrollable.

Life became real. Unconditional love became real. Heartbreak and joy became real.

It only intensified as each new life joined mine.

I literally got choked up watching Frozen.

Commercials, tv shows, new stories.

Tears.

I never cried unless I had good reason.

Now I am touched and enlightened by everything.

Punishments make my heart swell up inside me.

The little eyes looking at me in disbelief as I lay down the law.

Yes, it hurts me little one. Mommy doesn’t want to, but mommy also needs to be your teacher, your guide.

Drawings, stories, pictures.

All of them are all of you and because I am so blessed with being your mom, these things are so special to me.

Seeing their faces light up when they know they have done something good.

Watching their excitement over the little things we take for granted.

All these things move me, because I get to be a part of your learning, your exploration, your adventures and your triumphs.

Oh how I wish that disappointment, failure and sadness were not a part of life.

My heart aches at the pieces I sometimes have to pick up and for the life struggles you will have to face.

My heart never wants you to feel those lows.

Do you cry?

Do you cry on the inside because you never realized how much you could love?

Do you tear up imagining what life would be without them?

This once hardened, straight faced girl has become this selfless, kind hearted and dedicated woman.

All because of you.

Those 4 sweet faces have created a being that never truly knew her capacity of love.

The ups. The downs.

The good. The bad.

Thank you my loves. My heart is full and overflowing.

Not just for you.

But for everyone who knows the power and pain of true love.

You have opened my eyes, you have taught me about compassion, kindness, sacrifice and strength.

You have made me a better person.

Thank you.

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Don’t you dare judge me

Never in my life did I expect to be where I am now.

Everything I imagined my life to be has turned out differently.

I grew up thinking that when I had children, I would have a boy and a girl, like my parents did.

I have 4 girls.

I imagined being married living a middle of the road kind of life, like my parents did.

I imagined myself in a different life.

That is not where I am now.

Life is a sequence of cause and effect.

Every choice, every mistake, paves the road you must travel on.

Do you think I love the daily struggle to keep myself and my family afloat?

I have dealt with a massive number of downslopes over the past few years.

I was cocky after I filed for divorce and that was a huge mistake.

I didn’t realize how complicated things could get until one obstacle after another was thrown in my path.

After I lost the house I was 2 weeks away from buying, life took a turn for the worst.

Things have been mostly tragic since.

You think I like living that way?

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish things could be different.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t put my best into making everything go as smoothly as possible.

There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t work towards change.

Do you think I like living this way?

The circumstances of my life, messy and unpredictable, but never a reason to be any less of a good person or mother.

Always looking for a way to improve.

Even if it is a small change.

I have had to ask for help. I have swallowed my pride and accepted help I did not want to believe I needed.

Do you really think I like living this way?

I am certainly not the person I used to be.

I am a better person.

Don’t you dare judge me.

I have cried wondering how I was gonna pay the bills.

I have spent many sleepless nights wondering about the days to come and what new issue will arise.

I have persevered through many anxiety ridden days hoping that my family is happy enough.

I have sacrificed my needs to make sure my family has what they need.

I always try to display my best self, but some days my best isn’t always up to your standards.

But, don’t you dare judge me.

Life is perfectly imperfect and no matter what happens, I never give up.

I have conquered way too much to be judged by the likes of you.

You don’t control me.

You have no right to judge me.

Some days…

Some days I feel like a super hero.

I know I am a good mom and a good person.

Perfect I am not.

And I hate that word.

PERFECT

Nothing is perfect.

Life is messy. Life is trial and error.

Life can be calm. Hectic.

Every day I grow and learn.

But, some days I am completely on point.

I feel like nothing can stop me.

I feel empowered and strong.

I feel pretty and my self esteem seems settled at an acceptable point.

Then you have days when the whole world comes crashing down.

The evil that lurks in the shadows lashes out.

Looking for control, looking to strike you down.

Everything suffers.

You suffer. You can’t breathe. You struggle to get ahold.

Slipping and losing grip at the mercy of your destroyer.

I will not allow the forces to win.

I will battle for what is right no matter the consequences.

The consequences of watching myself temporarily weakened, broken down and feeling defeated.

But, I will still not let them win.

The things that keep me fighting are always in my heart and mind.

They are the images that let me know that it is okay not to be perfect, but to always be the best I can be.

At every moment, even when I feel like I am failing.

I am my best for them, even when I believe I am not enough.

Life sentence

I am doing a life sentence. No, I didn’t murder anyone, I merely got a divorce.

November 13, 2015 is when it was official, but somehow I am still dealing with the mental and verbal abuse.

He doesn’t specifically call me names, not to my face anyways. He saves that for telling the kids so when they get back home with me, I can hear all about what daddy said or what there soon to be wicked step mother has said about me.

And I don’t mean to retaliate, but I am almost 40 years old. Getting really tired of having to hear highschool drama. I bite my tongue most of the time. I know, just say nothing. But, it’s hard not to when it is so hurtful.

But, the never ending abuse is that no matter what I do or say, it is never the right thing, by his standards anyways.

I am not him, and I will make certain never to be. I don’t parent like he does, but that doesn’t make me a bad parent.

Their clothes aren’t new enough, or don’t meet his approval.

A long sleeved white t-shirt and pink sweatpants does not make a kid a hobo. As he called her that right to her face.

Loud flowery pants are not ridiculous if the kid likes to wear them. Kindergarten is not a fashion show and why can’t she within reason make some of her own decisions. It’s called having a mind of her own.

They obviously frown upon that considering they are all treated like little soldiers.

And it all comes back to me. I am a bad parent for allowing my kids to make small choices in their lives. Why does it matter what design was on her pants. She didn’t look “ridiculous”, she was happy with them and you made her feel bad.

They have clothes on their backs. Yes, the majority are hand me downs, because I just can’t afford to hit the malls and buy them the latest and greatest.

They have plenty of food to eat. They have a roof over their heads, running water and electricity. They have heat. They do homework and go to school each day. I buy them new shoes one at a time as I can afford it. They have backpacks and lunch bags to carry their stuff in. They have beds to sleep in. We do stuff as a family. I make homemade meals most nights.

I punish them when need be and revoke privileges when necessary. I take care of them when they are sick and I urge them to talk when I know something is wrong.

We play, we laugh and we love.

I don’t do things his way, but that doesn’t make me a bad parent.

I shouldn’t have to always defend myself. I shouldn’t have to always feel judged and scrutinized. I shouldn’t have to look over my shoulder constantly worrying that if I don’t do something to his standards that he will threaten to seek full custody or call children’s services on me.

I shouldn’t have to live with constant anxiety.

And yet I take the abuse. Being talked down to like I am a child. Berating me and my decisions.

It is a life sentence of constantly having to hear about how bad of a mom I am because I don’t force my kids to clean baseboards as a punishment.

Because a coat is old and worn and needs replaced, but I just don’t have the money for it right now. I don’t even have a coat.

Or hear about how my one daughters hair was a mess because she didn’t want it pulled up and quite frankly doesn’t give two shits about being perfect all the damn time.

I have to hear about how he gave me everything in the divorce and how he still needs to pay for two households.

I am tired of being beaten down and harassed about everything he doesn’t agree with.

It is abuse.

When my kids are skipping school, not doing homework, running the streets with no clothes, malnourished, doing drugs, stealing, living with no heat or electricity, unclean and unhappy, then he has every right to attack me.

But, that is not the case.

Every day of my life revolves around the lives that I carried in my womb for 9 months. Every sacrifice I make is for them so that I can give them the best that I can give them. I give them my best, always. Doesn’t that count for something?

It doesn’t make me a bad mum.

And yet I am bullied and broken down and because of him, I feel like I am.

I have no leverage to make it stop. He won’t stop and I don’t know what to do. There are no laws or rules that can make it stop.

I just want to live in peace. It has been nearly three years since the separation and I am still being punished. I am still being treated like I am garbage. I am still being made to feel inadequate. I am still being bullied and talked down to.

It makes me sad, it makes me want to cry at times. It makes me angry. It makes my anxiety shoot through the roof. It makes me second guess myself and feel like I am not good enough.

I received a life sentence of being treated like shit from a narcissist. An angry bully who feels superior.

All because I wanted a divorce.

Amateur Photographer

I love taking pictures.

Of EVERYTHING!

If it impacts me a certain way, I take a picture.

Some people may be annoyed with it.

I have a decent digital camera, but I seriously don’t know how to use it.

So many settings.

Buttons, filters…

I capture as many great things as I can on my phone.

I capture life, beauty, special moments and places.

Do I take too many photos?

I think I make so many moments become great memories.

I remember growing up and my parents would take pictures of birthdays and holidays and other odds and ends.

Then, they eventually got around to taking them to get developed. Only to find that so many, now printed pictures, were garbage.

I can capture a moment in time. Now.

This is a view I couldn’t pass up this evening.

Apartment Life

First, to start I wasn’t going to write this.

I thought about it, and said that my apartment life would be funny to write about. Then, before I knew it, I apparently allowed anxiety to make the decision not to make this post.

Well shit. That was sneaky.

So now, I am going to write about it.

I have been living in a 3 bedroom apartment for nearly 4 months now.

The last time I lived in an apartment, I was a newlywed, now divorced. Also now, happily engaged. I had no kids. Now I have 4. I had no dogs. Now I have 2 Boxers.

Unfortunately, the past 3 years have been a true test of strength and it has lead us to downsize.

Living in an apartment building is interesting.

Luckily, because we have a 3 bedroom unit, our floorplan is a bit different than the 1 and 2 bedrooms.

This means, as we walk the long hallway past 10 other apartments, we hear what they are watching on tv. Conversations. The other day, a mans voice was heard in extacy through one door on my way to the laundry room. Oh my.

If someone is cooking fish, you get to smell fish. If someone is cooking bacon, you now instantly want bacon. When I make good smelling dinners, I think in my head, “how about that?”, wondering if my neighbors can smell it.

When showering, you must remain vigilant. You can usually tell a change is coming by the sound of the water pressure fluctuating. But, even still, if not quick enough you take the risk of 2nd degree burns. All because someone somewhere flushed a toilet or turned their sink on to brush their teeth.

Most people you see around, you have given a name to. Like, the crazy bike lady( remember this name, I will revisit her later), grumpy laundry lady, the doppelgänger car guy, the gamer dude….

I know the names of two people that live in our building, and I know the office girls that work here.

Now I will tell you about crazy bike lady.

She is an older woman.

She has signs hanging in her apartment window saying “don’t park here” and “no parking”. And nobody does.

She drives a car with a bike rack. When she leaves she walks out of the building and takes it with her, and when she comes home, it comes off and back inside with her.

It’s rusty and old as shit. Only once have we seen her riding it around here. Squealing and squeaking as she pedaled.

Often times when she leaves, she turns her hazard lights on as she slowly drives for the parking lot exit.

Yes, I have no life.

We have had to be evacuated by police because the people replacing the carpeting in the common areas were causing so much dust that it caused the smoke alarms to go off.

After the fire department ventilated the hallway and left, the workers again, caused the alarms to go off. We didn’t leave that time. But, the ear piercing sound continued until someone finally figured out how to shut it up.

You find out very quickly how disrespectful people can be. Leaving messes or doing stupid things that doesn’t affect them, but possibly the next person.

Leaving dryer sheets to litter the laundry room floor. There is a trash can right there. Or detergent spills. Leaving the dryer lint trap full of their scuzzy underwear fuzz.

NOT CLEANING UP AFTER THEIR DOG!

We have blatantly watched people, specifically one guy, not clean up after his dog repeatedly. We can see him from the couch if the blind is open. He takes his dog into the grass, watch it squat, and not once have we seen him bend over and pick up anything.

Then, you have to rely on everyone else not to do something stupid that could affect the entire building.

For instance, burning some food. Which resulted in building 1 to have to be evacuated and no shit, there were 4 different fire departments here.

We have to deal with the thumping and bumping from the tenants above who have 6 children, and you hope that your little maniacs are not causing the same disruption to the family below.

Apartment life definitely has its perks though. No grass cutting. No snow shoveling. Less space to clean. If something breaks, they fix it.

They recoated the parking lot recently. It caused chaos with parking availability until they were done, but we got to watch a guy we called ZZtop in action.

They even have special events around here, like this weekend they are hosting a trunk or treat for the kids to dress up in their costumes and get candy from participants who decorate the trunks of their cars.

We have a beautiful view from our balcony.

We can watch the horses in the fields at the stables nearby.

Lugging laundry and groceries down the hallway is a bitch, but we find ways to deal with it.

All in all it’s not so bad. This is where our journey has taken us right now.

Every day is certainly a new day. A new day for some people watching. Another day to be a part of a new adventure.

Ultimately, Another day to make the best of it.