In the great many things you look forward to as a mother, hearing the words..."she's my new step-mom"...is not one of those things.
I do not believe that anyone sets out in a marriage expecting, truly, that one day it will end. I also cannot believe that any mother assumes that one day her young children will split their time between two households, two lives...and have many experiences, adventures and memories as they grow, with their other family.
Even when you've come to acceptance with what is.
Even when you've found peace and healing from within the collection of things that got broken.
And you like your life...
There are certain terms, certain new milestones and certain recurring scenarios that are capable of delivering a shock to your system.
There's a lot of new territory to cover.
MY choices in life, the pursuits of my heart, largely focus on running well - this race that has been set before me. What is before me in this season?
They are glorious in their yet, still, newness to this Earth. Imagine...only having been around for 5, or 7 1/2 years? Still so many discoveries happening, still a conveyor belt of new sights, and words, and sounds. Still so much innocence and purity and joy.
These things I work to protect. And conserve. And nurture.
These little souls - they're people. Their life, right now...what they see, hear and feel...it's all part of the framework of who they're becoming.
Hear me when I say - I love you my friends for loving ME. I love you for being protective and watchful of ME. These gifts of friendship and advocacy...the showing up in the dark and never leaving...ever. These are all parts of MY STORY and why I'm really, really okay today, right now.
Now....hear me when I say - my kids love their dad, and they love the family he has chosen. And part of preserving their childhood and protecting their beautiful little hearts...is to LET THEM love their dad and his new family. I am thankful that they speak these feelings, these words of affection, openly and without strained pause in my home. I am thankful that they have no idea at 5 and 7 what my journey has been, and that they are unabashedly loving who they want to love - wild and free. As children should.
My load is not theirs to carry.
This life that has been set before me is not what I ever imagined. EVER.
And there is a great deal of work, and prayer, and then some more work that is required to get to 'okay'.
BUT...back there...in the depths of brokenness...the wise words of a woman, I'd met just months prior, kept fighting, repeatedly, through all the noise, PUSHING to the forefront:
"Always choose kindness, always choose forgiveness.
Don't choose to hold onto anger.
Anger pushes away.
When my children open their hearts and their mouths and share their joys and their happenings and...their life with me.
I want them to see kindness...
Not the painted on variety to try to sell something, through gritted teeth, that I don't believe in.
The kindness that comes from a deep peace in my soul and knowing the love that always wins. And that soul is mine and that soul has experienced forgiveness far too many times to ever be able to deny it to someone else.
There is strength for today.
There is bright hope for tomorrow.
These blessings...they're all mine, with ten thousand beside.