How to find your very best friend

When my oldest son was in kindergarten he would come home, almost daily with Gabriel on his mind. His family lived in a castle house and apparently was the coolest kid ever.  He was and is the definition of “best friend” material to any 5-year-old boy. Gabe was the coolest friend ever to my little five-year-old.

He wasn’t wrong. Gabe is a cool kid. He’s smart, funny and kind and well, good-looking and if it were my choice, he and my oldest daughter would marry. You know, in ten years.

They’re now 13. Almost 14. That means they’ve been friends for almost 9 years. The rule says if your friends for 8 years, you’ll be friends for life. I’m hoping that’s true because with Gabriel came Chase and Steve and Jill. And they’re my family too.

The first time Gabe’s mom, Jill and I hung out was over some Cricut cutting I believe. I want to say she’d stupidly signed up for some school shenanigans and I had the Cricut to cut all the crap. Her two boys and mine played most of the night. Well past bedtime and we’ve been friends ever since.

She’s my best friend. And I don’t use that lightly. A long time ago someone told me that telling someone they’re your best puts pressure on them. But this isn’t a pressure thing. She’s the best. And she’s mine.

We’ve had a rough few years collectively. There has been an uncountable number of texts that have probably been backed in hidden tears. There has been the announcements of babies and nieces and nephews and raises but also lots of bad news too and never once has there been an ignored text or judgment or anything like that. It’s just been us. Together. Even with weeks of silence. When I got pregnant with my now three-year-old, Dixon, she was the first to throw me a shower. Knowing that I didn’t need or want one but knowing that at that very moment, I really needed someone to be happy for me and not upset I’d gotten pregnant “again” or that it was just another “boy”. And when I got home from that surprise shower and stared at the pile of diapers, I saw nothing but love. It was the first time I didn’t feel embarrassed for getting pregnant again. I am not sure she knows how much I appreciated it. I am not sure I ever thanked her enough.

This last spring she was the lucky recipient of my “worst text ever”. It was so bad I am almost positive she thought I was joking. It was bad. I couldn’t breathe and there was no reason to hide my tears. She showed up hours later with pizza and knew, I just needed her to look at me, right in the eye so that I knew I’d eventually be okay. It was the first breath I took since the text and made the seconds, the minutes, the hours easier. She and the friend who drove hundreds of miles are the reason I am still alive. That’s no lie.

As the bad news came and the temper and sad and emotions flared, she was there and then Steve was there. They were the first people I called when I thought I might need real, professional help and in the moment, she was the only person I wanted to sit by me (not touching of course) when I navigated my first adult call to the area police.

This may be the year I get that text. We’re not there yet. But I will be here, pizza in hand.

She’s my best friend. Davis found her for me.

Thank you, Davis. And Gabe. You found me my “other” family.

I’m lucky though. I have a handful of women in my life who I can call my closest friends. Friends I’ve had for what feels like an eternity and whom I’ve never actually touched but still are the threads of my heart. I have others who haven’t been there as long but who I knew wouldn’t judge my worst thoughts and laughed when I made collages of cartoon characters. I have friends who are low when I am low and high when I am high. Who helped me start my doula training. Who doesn’t tell me I am crazy when I am having the craziest thoughts. My friends who will load their children into their cars from forever away under the guise of a “vacation” but it’s really to keep me alive. I am so lucky.  I will never ever be alone.

And thanks to Davis and Gabe? I have the recipe to find a very best friend.

Two really great kids (or four, but the mediums were forced into it ha ha ha)


I had to add this though. Davis and Gabe made a bet that if there Eagles made it to the Super Bowl, Davis would wear an Eagles jersey. AND THEY DID AND SO DID HE! We are raising them right.

 

 

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.

Why I’ve chosen to go back to work, even if it’s part time.

When I was pregnant with Devlynn I had convinced myself that once she arrived I would easily find childcare and march my hiney back to my loved waitressing job. I honestly loved to work before I had her. What I didn’t account for is the fact that this tiny human was about to consume my entire heart and there was no way in hell I was gonna leave her with anyone, ever. Waitressing was not a career and Kevin and I agreed that it was just easier and better for me to stay home.

Through the years we added children. Four to be exact. I stayed home with each of them, picking up odd jobs here and there. Sealing envelopes, making pageant clothes; I even taught myself to code and work various Adobe programs to not have to return to the workforce and be able to stay home with my little guys. I’ve sewn everything under the sun and done so many jobs, if I actually sat down and wrote out a résumé, it would look pretty impressive. Yes, that’s bragging on myself. I’m not even gonna apologize for being proud of that.

My baby turned three this last year. And it was a hard, hard year for me. I wouldn’t be lying if I told you I’d lost myself in the spring of 2017. Not that I was ever really sure of myself. In March, I just totally melted into this puddle of wondering who I’d become and who I was becoming. And I panicked and cried and probably annoyed the hell out of the woman who so bravely and strongly supported me through what was the worst few months of my life. And with that, I started to find me again. Gone were the days of worrying about what people would think of a wild hair color and I finally started my much-wanted sleeve (it’s beautiful btw and I wish I could go more than once every three months). But my biggest change was my weight. Admittedly it was kick-started by stress but as I looked for an outlet for all the anger I felt, I found the gym. I love the gym. I never thought I would ever say that. Ever. It started with hour-long sessions on the elliptical and eventually more planned out workouts thanks to my sister’s ex-husband who also happens to be a kick-ass personal trainer. And I eventually added a nutritionist and then classes. I lost 45 pounds and a lot of shame I felt being a “big” girl. I was able to look at myself in the mirror and not be horrified by what I saw. And I felt good, inside. Which matters so much more than what I saw outside. And I did it at the YMCA.  The YMCA is my happy place. And when I decided it was time to look for a part-time job it only made sense to apply there..

I don’t have any teacher experience and so I applied in childcare. Mom of five? Yup, plenty of experience and the added bonus was I could take my little boys with me to work making my schedule more open. I started in the summer. I have loved almost every moment of it. It has just added to the pieces of missing me. I love to go to work. And there is something about helping other mama’s out that gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment. I remember the first time I handed Dixon over to a smiling Miss Jenn. She took him, played with him and I knew he was safe and when I came back and he’d had an accident, she acted like it was no big deal, smiled and was glad I got to have that hour of time for myself.

The YMCA is a great place. To go to and to work at and I am grateful for everything it’s done for me. My self-esteem isn’t great these days but it’s better than it was.  I still battle with a lot of questions on why and what was wrong with me when everything seemed to fall apart. It’s hard not to wonder why things happen and then to not instantly blame yourself when really it was someone else’s insecurity and selfishness that caused all the pain. Adding a job makes me feel helpful and productive and has helped that terrible esteem greatly. And, I’ve made a few friends along the way… I am hoping that with time I can grow those relationships outside the safe walls of the Y.

Working isn’t for everyone and I will never pretend my 10 hour a week job is anything to compare to a full-time, working mother but it does help my family even if it is simply by helping me grow and feel better inside.

A happy wife is a happy life. I know it’s cliché but it’s not wrong.

 

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.

My brother, Kevin, we share a father and so much more

Kevin and WestinYesterday was my nephews 4th birthday. I can remember how excited Kevin was when he found out Westin was a boy. That he was father to a son. Kevin and I had just started really talking again and I was thrilled to be a part of the group of people he was eager to tell about his tiny, new son. When Westin was born I just remember thinking how much he looked like my own children. My own boys. Both the kids do. We shared those genes, Kevin and I. They’re strong.

Kevin and I shared a lot. A love for art, for our children. We shared, unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, mental health crap that was and is sometimes, just unbearable.  We also share a biological father.

He unfortunately also shares Kevin and I’s mental health issues. Every story, from every person I’ve ever talked to about our father, has been riddled with angry and mean and hurt. Most of my own memories share those same feelings. And most of the good memories I have of him? Involve Kevin and Sam, my brothers. They include my step mother’s warm, and inviting family in Fort Morgan. But him alone? I only remember fear and sadness. I remember feeling what it’s like to be unwanted, unloved and abandoned.

I imagine his path of destruction started before my mother. But for me, her story was the beginning. His hatred and meanness. I can remember how the car door looked as he drove us to my Gramma E’s and left us. We only saw him for a short time after that. He left us broke. He left us broken. My mom tells me he loved me. I was his one. I am his only daughter, the oldest of four. I don’t know those feelings though. They got swallowed up by the sadness and the fear of him. Those feelings are overcome with those of being left, and unwanted.

In my preteen years, I had some time with my father, I don’t regret those days. I have some smiles and joy in that I met my brothers. I’ve mentioned my deeply joyful memories of them acting like the Bushwackers or sitting in the back of our father’s old gray car, singing Damn Yankees on the way to RC Car races. And Bubba the big white bird and Chris, my step mom used to make this food that I can still remember being so good. But Nyle? I remembering him taking my door when he thought I was smoking. I remember him, sitting in the rocker, arms crossed, ready to pounce when I’d come home from being with a young, black boyfriend. That’s what I remember. Fear. Of a man, I so badly wanted to want me. I remember wishing I could just go home.

He destroyed me. Ripped down my walls before the cement even had time to dry. He broke my mother and later my stepmother and my brothers. Kevin and I share that. I think Sam and Matthew have the same feelings but Kevin and I, sharing this profound depression, felt it different. Feel it different. I think we both suffered years of wondering why we just weren’t enough for him to love.

It's amazing how much destruction one person can cause

I’ve spent the months since November blaming our father for Kevin’s suicide knowing full well no one person can make a person do that. But his behavior did contribute to it. I don’t know how a parent can do that to their child. I would have so much preferred he just walk away instead of playing tortuous peek a boo. Lucky for me, I have a Dad. He wanted me, even when he didn’t have to. Sometimes parents pick you. Some of us are lucky in that.  I don’t know that Kevin and Sam ended up with that. I think they have a family who loves them but the shadow of our father was just always looming, it was always there.

When Kevin died, our father wasn’t mentioned in the obituary. I understood why. But wondered how it made him feel. I don’t really know why I care. I want to be furious with him. But mostly, I still feel sad he missed out on us. Me, Kevin, Matthew and Sam. And now? He’s missing out on Devlynn, Davis, Drew, Dexter, Dixon, Rylee, Westin, Cameron, Casey, and little Ritter. He did that to himself though. I can’t make up for his bad choices. None of us can.

Yesterday, on Westin’s fourth birthday he liked a photo of my newest nephew. My immediate reaction was to take down all the photos of baby Ritter. I don’t want to share him with this man. Not that he can do much destruction by liking a photo but I don’t want anyone else to be in the wake of it all. Especially my little Ritter.  I won’t though. That empathy is there. Hoping he’s changed. That he can see the destruction he created in just not making good choices. And I do see, that without that chapter in my story, I wouldn’t be who I am today. And who I am is good. His lack of parenting made me a better parent. His lack of love made me love harder. His destruction taught me to rebuild and rebuild bigger and better.

There is always some good in every bad.

Lessons you can take away from evil and hate-filled people. I’m learning to find that instead of getting lost in the sadness. That reminds me of “The Neverending Story”. See? That made me smile. I found some happy there. I’m really working on that.

I’m also learning that in destruction, there can be great joy and happiness. That only you can prevent being rebuilt. It’s an amazing feeling when you figure out you really are in control of it all. You can choose to make it or take the breaks. I don’t want any more breaks. I’m taking it back. All the happy I can. I am finding the beauty in the destruction.

We are walking October 1st in honor of Kevin and all those who’ve lost to the sadness. I would love for you to join us or donate to our cause. 

We are joining the community of nearly 250k people walking in hundreds of cities across the country in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.

 

Click here to join us or to donate.

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.