Grip

Grip

I hold a tight grip around what I think should happen. The kind of grip that has to be ripped off, where you have to hammer each finger repeatedly and pry and attempt to uncurl them. 

I don’t want this. 

I don’t want my oldest three daughters living their summer days a block away from my house with their stepmom while their dad works. 

Should I seat myself gingerly on a settee, spread my skirt folds around me properly and smile silently? Sit up straight with grace and poise and fan myself every so gently as I wave to my daughters  through my window?

But…I’m their mom. Should I pull out photos of myself with a weird mushroom haircut and toasted almond lipstick, pregnant at 21? A tent t-shirt, a layer of net maternity panties, a layer of cotton panel maternity jeans…with stylish boot cut openings barely skimming the top of my shoes because I never did find long length…is that what we all need to see to remember I’m the mom?

Should I highlight the “right of first refusal” clause and text it to Norman? I might have done that. And he says–that doesn’t apply anymore; they’re old enough that they don’t need a babysitter. 

Should I cry about it to my own mom? I might have. Should I create an analogy where Norman is at his house, I’m working 40 hours, and the girls are sitting at my house with their stepdad? I might have done that too. 

Should I think about our summer days of years past…dying their hair with punky colors, watching them play softball, giving each other manicures, taking them to swim, signing them up for the summer reading program, taking them to my gym where I ran the kids’ summer fitness program, teaching them how to crochet, helping them set up an eBay business to sell their outgrown clothes, tie-dying tank tops and tshirts, watching them learn to swim like champions with Tideriders, driving them to church camp…

Should I throw my phone at the bed and leave the room? Should I call my lawyer? Should I argue and debate and push my side of things down his throat? Should I say that she doesn’t have a right to play house with my daughters?

Maybe I did do all that.

Should I pray?

Should I feel my grip relax in a calm, peaceful way that no hammer could produce? Should I see his side? Should I let go?

I’m not saying I’m some shy, agreeable fairy by nature. I’m not. I’m not. I’m not full of gracious wisdom on my own. 

People don’t tell you this part of a divorce. And you don’t know it until you live it. And if you haven’t lived it, God love you, but you cannot relate. You literally cannot empathize. You can imagine as a friend or you can scoff as a non-friend, but that’s it. 

Sitting on the back deck with your two youngest daughters, close enough to hear your oldest three squealing and laughing in a yard just over the hump in the road. 

Maybe I should’ve just been a perfect person then? And not gotten two divorces…

Oh yeah, let me just get right on that. 

I wanted to be right. You know? I wanted things to go my way. I wanted to keep my grip locked tight, tight, tight. But I thought, and I prayed. And I texted back that we can do what he wants. I’m not saying I didn’t fight first, but…

It’s not always about being right. 

It’s about doing right.









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Dear God,

You are wise and powerful and good. Your ways are not our ways. Who are we that You consider us and our petty problems? But you do. 

Where were we when you laid the foundation of the earth? Did you need our help to place the stars in the sky?

You bless us every day with gifts beyond our needs or wants. We are so humbled and thankful for all the blessings you pour onto our house. 

God, please help my 5 daughters to be courageous. Let them stand up for injustice. Let them be forgiving to anyone who hurts them, whether intentionally or not. Please comfort them when they are lonely. Please flood their souls with your peace. Let them be kind and wise to any friend in need. 

I hope they grow up thankful. I hope they are always loyal to their friends and mates. I hope they are successful. I hope they find love. I hope they travel the world and learn new things. I hope they all have families of their own one day. 

I hope they always love me. I hope we stay close, and they will ask me for guidance through problems as they grow up. I hope they don’t move very far away. I hope one day they look back and truly appreciate all the heart and soul and sacrifice that I put into raising them.

And I hope that today and every day they feel unique and special and worthy. I hope they never compromise their values to fit in. 

And when they ever feel left out or forgotten or not cool enough, God, please God…let them hold their heads high and squash that devilish lie. 

You will never hear me pray–dear God, please let my daughters be popular with everyone. Please God, don’t let them ever be left out or forgotten. Never. I will never pray that. 

It’s okay to get disappointed. God, please help them build their relationships with you when they feel lonely. 

Let them be gracious and loving and never envious or vain. Let them see the good in everyone. And especially in themselves. 

In Christ,

Amen 

guess i’m not the

guess i’m not the

People are so scared of…everything. So much damn fear. It’s exhausting.

The DHS investigators came over on Wednesday, May 11. Come on in, ladies. That’s all you will ever hear when you knock at this house. It’s not scary, don’t ever concede because you think it’s scary to have DHS visit.

They were so nice, much like the other two ladies who came in August last year when another Jewel in my eye called them over. I listened to them read the allegation from Nurse Benedict about Rebekah. Okay. Well, that was certainly full of half-truths, exaggerations, and easily-disproven lies.

I had my version organized and ready to email, much like I had in August when Clara had 10-12 flea bites. One of the nice ladies fed Rebekah her bottle while I emailed them tons of facts. I’ll relay both DHS experiences in full detail soon.

The DHS ladies explained to me that 85% of the claims they investigate are completely unfounded. It’s not a shock to them, but it is a lot of red tape and paperwork. They see a lot of spite, retaliation, petty-tattling, and outright lies.

I appreciate them and their jobs, and feel sorry that so much of their time has to be spent on claims that they know aren’t legitimate.

I just wanted to encourage my friends–don’t live in fear. And also, when you know some Billie Badass has her scope zeroed in on you–document, document, document. Be an expert on your own self, and on your children. Keep a detailed factual journal…because as nice as the investigators are, it’s hard to rely on your memory alone. And documentation holds up better in court.

We thought about retaliating. You know…that’s only human nature. Find out if Dr. Dilk knows how his nurse treats patients, and if he condones it. Report them to the state medical board for a review of how they mishandled our dealings with them. Pay the $1200 charge for 3 well-child checkups in $5 a month; harassment is expensive. But, no. No. Like so many other unwarranted stabs at us, Keith and I decided to walk away from it.

They are not our concern. They deserve no such attention.

Our focus, our true concern actually IS our beautiful daughter Rebekah Ruby Kate. She’s not a rope in a tug-of-war. She’s not a bundle of numbers. She is not a diagnosis. She is in fact…our beloved baby. (Side note…she weighed 8lbs and 8oz last night. She is getting small little chub rolls by her bum. It is our hope that she will be 8lbs 10oz for her appointment with the new doctor tomorrow…3lbs over birth weight at her 3-month checkup).

We removed Rebekah from their “care” on Friday May 6, because we are seeking a second opinion (appointment is tomorrow at 11am). Nurse Benedict left our May 9 appointment on the books (as well as 3 other appointments that she kindly made for us with no communication).

I assume she didn’t cancel them in an attempt to make us look like “no show” negligent parents. The thing is…I document EVERY detail of the truth when I start seeing the target lasers all over me. I have screenshots of every call she made to us, every call we made to her, days and times and call lengths…and notes on what was discussed.

I’ve had lots of friends and family message me individually with prayers and questions and true love and concern. I appreciate every one of you, and I will give updates. I will. It may take a few days after the appointment to get her next results in, and then it may take a few more days before I have the emotional energy to talk openly. But I will update. I will.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I was MAD. And it all makes me sad, too. Such a broken, backwards world. What are people’s true motivations and thought processes? Their TRUE ones. Keith and I both seem to have been born with an innate ability to piss off annoying people. Thank God we were also born strong.

Keith and I talked it over at length. The nurse may have crowned herself our personal browbeater…but we aren’t hers. Nope. Not going to do it. Part of me wishes we would’ve recorded some of her ludicrous calls. It was like trying to talk to an angry auctioneer.

We will not bow down to anyone, except God or Christ. This angers people, but it’s not a pride war. We aren’t playing her games. And then…I have to look for a benefit of the doubt, too. I have to try to think why, and I have to force myself to think…maybe it was just some CYA? But why the obvious lies?

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. Luke 16:10

But it wears me out. I’m tired today. I’m tired. I’m tired of using my shield and armor to deflect. I’m tired of the bullshit, but most definitely…not defeated.

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Rebekah at 10 weeks old; she is now 13 weeks old…but alas my phone/camera is broken
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a few hours after Rebekah’s beautiful water birth

A lovely song for a tired soul…

 

“A Bad Dream”

Why do I have to fly
Over every town up and down the line?
I’ll die in the clouds above
And you that I defend, I do not love

I wake up, it’s a bad dream
No one on my side
I was fighting
But I just feel too tired
To be fighting
Guess I’m not the fighting kind

Where will I meet my fate?
Baby I’m a man, I was born to hate
And when will I meet my end?
In a better time you could be my friend

I wake up, it’s a bad dream
No one on my side
I was fighting
But I just feel too tired
To be fighting
Guess I’m not the fighting kind
Wouldn’t mind it
If you were by my side
But you’re long gone
Yeah you’re long gone now

Where do we go?
I don’t even know
My strange old face
And I’m thinking about those days
And I’m thinking about those days

I wake up, it’s a bad dream
No one on my side
I was fighting
But I just feel too tired
To be fighting
Guess I’m not the fighting kind
Wouldn’t mind it
If you were by my side
But you’re long gone
Yeah you’re long gone now 

Velcro, Snaps, Ash

Velcro, Snaps, Ash

We were friends.

Was that true?

I think we were friends. 

I remember.

Weren’t we friends?

I was your friend.

Weren’t you m…

I remember spotting you doing pull-ups… 

“Gross. I need gloves. Do you ever shave?” I rub the gross off my hands. 

“Stubble grips my pants in place like Velcro.” Kareequa falls off the bar, shrugs unapologetically. 

“Oh is that it? I thought you were trying to get out of doing your pull-ups by grossing me out…thinking there’s no way she can touch these legs for a full 10. Sucky for you–I can’t be grossed out!” Was there ever a time we weren’t laughing?

“I want to get down to your size.” Kareequa faces the gym mirror and pulls her shirt up, pinching and jabbing at her smooth tan stomach. 

“You look good. I like your shape. Shit, you’re smaller than me now! You don’t want all THIS.” She had probably lost 60-70lbs, lots of hard work training with me and on her own. I pull up my own shirt and start tugging on my love handles. 

“Yeah but look at you from the side. Your stomach is so flat. Mine is huge, and I got this fupa.” She sticks her gut out exaggeratedly and rubs it like a pregnant belly. 

“Fupa? What the hell’s a fupa? I had a tummy tuck after Audrey. That makes it flat in front. So then when I gain, it all goes to the love handles. Cruel.” I flop my love handles out and teeter around like a little teapot. 

“Fat Upper Pubic Area…don’t Google images.” Some guy we don’t know pokes his head in the room we are standing in at the gym; he pivots out quickly. 

And we’re standing there with our flabs hanging out like…what? Come on in. 

______________________

“Make me pretty.” I flop into Kareequa’s salon chair. Always a mess, I’ve never sat in her chair looking even halfway decent. 

“Let me guess…you didn’t wash or brush your hair.” She popped the cape and draped it over me. 

“Can you not choke the living hell out of me with this thing? I look like a Barbie with her head smashed down onto her neck. I’m going to need more breathing room and some of my neck needs to be visible!” I thrash around under my cape. 

“You smashed your Barbie heads down?” I see a look of annoyed admiration in her eyes as Kareequa readjusts the choke snaps.

“Only when that little head-knob thing had broken off. Okay…and maybe I’d smash them down if I felt like Barbie was being a bitch that day. Oh? Who’s pretty now, Ms. No-Neck?!” She laughed, and as she freed my hair from its twisted and bound bun, her smile pursed into irritated determination. Natural curl…tangled like mad. 

We traded out services–I trained her; she did my hair. Neither of us tried to be the easiest client to deal with. But we had fun. And if she ever says I wasn’t one of her favorites, she’s lying. 

“Where’d I put my thinning shears? I need to make this brush out easier…” She didn’t really mind. She is very chill. In fact, I don’t think she ever got mad at me, only ever fake mad. 

I got mad once and stomped out. It was a misunderstanding about our appointment time. And I was having a bad day. I apologized, she shrugged it off, forgave me, and I made a few awkward, apologetic jokes about my temper…then it was forgotten. 

“Ewww!! Have the decency to turn me away from the mirror until I’m pretty again! I look terrible in this lighting without makeup on, and you’re about to frizz my hair into the blond Diana Ross. I want my sunglasses.”

“Dork. Okay. What’re we doing today?”

Who knows what I did that day? Bangs, lowlights, shoulder length, bleached out, ombré, balayage…over the 6-7 years we were friends, she did whatever I wanted and I always loved it. 

I love my hair. I’d rather find a new surgeon than a new hairdresser. And I loved you, loved you. You know I did.


______________________

So how does that work? I come to your house crying. I ask you questions because the details look bad to me. I want to know–is it you? 

And then you fire me as a client. That didn’t make it obvious. 

Ohhhh because I’m crazy. Oh okay. That makes sense then. 

I was crazy. I’ve always been crazy fun. I got crazy sad. And then 6 weeks later when he tells me it IS you, who was crazy that night? Not me. 

I bet you wish I hated you. Sometimes I wish I could. Well, I don’t hate you. I got really hurt. That’s what happened. THAT is what happened. 

If you want to look for reasons to hate me, you can find some. It won’t be hard. I’m no angel. But I didn’t give you any reasons. I really didn’t. 

I know enough about cheating to know…it wasn’t about me at all. Not about anything I did wrong. Not about how I would feel. 

It’s a cancer that takes over, and it’s not even fun. It wasn’t special, and you didn’t win any prize. 

Pour gas over it all, flick a match over your shoulder. Don’t look back. 

It’s okay. And I’m okay. 

Turns out…ash is some of the best fertilizer.


Sevens

Sevens

Every seven years, “we become essentially new people, because in that time, every cell in your body has been replaced by a new cell.”

That spacing makes perfect sense to me when I think about my own life; every seven years (almost exactly), I feel like a completely different person. So much so that when I tell a story from a particular time frame…each Emily feels uniquely separate from the other Emilys. And except for the Emily I am today, they all feel like…not really ME. And each story from my past becomes a story about someone who is no longer any part of me. 

Does that make any sense to anyone else out there?

0-7 years–I don’t have many memories from this age range. I lived in Wisconsin til I was almost 5, and for some reason, most of my vivid memories from those years are MTV music videos that I watched with my dad’s three youngest siblings. “You Might Think” by The Cars was my favorite song and video. “Jump” by Def Leppard, “How Will I Know?” by Whitney Houston…

7-14 years–Aw, my coming of age tween years. Bad haircuts and being a tomboy. Skipping baths as often as I could get away with it. I had one older brother–Josh, one older sister–Heather, and I was the baby for 9 years and 17 days…until my younger sister–Candace was born. I was an animal on home videos…nothing embarrassed me–not what I wore, how my hair looked, how I behaved…NADA. Then a switch flips at 11.5 years when I started my period, the change in me is almost overnight if you watch the home videos. I am quieter on videos, all showered and brushed, painfully self-conscious of the camera…nowhere nearly as funny or entertaining. 

14-21 years–Geez, I don’t even want to say these words; I don’t want them to be true…I lost my virginity on my 14th birthday. Can that be right? The date is correct, but no…it’s not right. Wait, teens. Please wait.  That event threw me into my next segment for sure.  I was desperately in love (obsessed) with Name from age 12-16 years old…until I met Norman. Norman and I dated 2.5 years, and got married when I was 18 (almost 19). Yes, we were young. I wouldn’t change that if I could. Lots of good years and memories, lots of growing up together and figuring out life…figuring out who we wanted to be, in so many good ways. And years later, figuring out who I never want to be again. 

21-28 years–My first round of mothering years…I was pregnant with my first daughter, Margaret, on my 21st birthday. I had Hazel (2nd daughter) when I was 23; Audrey (3rd daughter) when I was 24. I took everything about being a young mother very seriously. That was my identity. I started driving a minivan at age 23 (still drive one). I had the girls’ photos taken and printed regularly. I sent over 100 Christmas cards with family newsletters every year. I wanted to do everything right. I shelved any hopes or dreams I might’ve once held for my own existence. Well…I did get my bachelor’s degree at 22, and between ages 23-26, I did write and produce 3 plays at the little theatre downtown. Those were a few satisfying self-goals, but they were definitely in the background to dance recitals and diapering days. 

28-35 years–The years of my hardest life lessons…Norman and I were actually separated for 7 months when I was 27 (so I guess this life segment wasn’t EXACTLY at the seven year mark like some of the other segments). After the 7-month separation, Norman and I reconciled for 4 more years…then I cheated with Demetrius and left when I was 31…after 15 years together. I married Demetrius, had Clara (my 4th daughter) with him when I was 33, and tried to force us both onto a path of righteousness again. I was the fool; I thought things were good…thought we were mostly happy. Guess it was just me. We were together only 2.5 years. When I was 34, Demetrius cheated on me with Kareequa (someone I would have said was a pretty good friend) and left us. 

35-42 years–I was single for 5 months after Demetrius left, for the first time in my life really.  I met (well…started texting with) Keith on February 16, 2015. Things between us progressed beautifully and quickly. We were married on my 35th birthday last year, July 27, 2015. And we had Rebekah (my 5th daughter) on February 15, 2016 (one day shy of a year since our first conversation). Not everyone’s fairy tale goes like this…but ours does.

God, help me stay humble. Help me keep getting it right. Who will I be next? Who knows…

  

Shakedown

Shakedown

You feel like everyone knows. You hate the bastards that knew all along. No one is my friend? No one could tell me? No one could kindly walk me to the exit door and discreetly whisper? No one? Thanks.

You are a deer crossing a road you’ve crossed many times before. And slam. A truck crashes into you. You never saw it coming.

I’m all right. I’m all right. Didn’t hurt that bad. Your back half is mangled. You try to convince everyone that you’ve always wanted to try walking with just your front two legs. Your friend abused his position in your life, betrayed your trust, didn’t even know they were bulldozing together and now there’s a shack being built from the scraps.

But he didn’t make you promises. She did. It hurts no matter which window you look in. 

I guess everyone would prefer that you run off into the woods, to heal or die out of sight. For the love of God, don’t drag your broken ass around in plain sight; people have to look away. They can’t bear it. Eye contact is a precise arrow. 

Well too damn bad. Sometimes we have nowhere to go hide, and we have to bitterly think–I’m sorry if the very sight of my existence causes awkwardness. I am alive. I’m still breathing. I don’t have the luxury of taking a month vacation. So here I am. Look away if you can’t look at me.

Ecce homo. Behold the man. Dancing the clumsy ballet of a damaged deer. And you don’t have to run into the woods. You don’t have to. 

I know how it feels to find the door locked. I know how it feels to peer into the window from the outside, fogging up the glass of a house where you used to feel safe and welcome.

I know you don’t want sympathy.

I know. 
.

.

.

So here are some songs…

“I Gave You All” Mumford & Sons

“I’ve Got Friends” Manchester Orchestra

“I taught myself how to grow old” Ryan Adams

“Crystal Ball” and “Bad Dream” Keane

“I know” Jude

“Where I stood” Missy Higgins

“So you don’t have to love me anymore” Alan Jackson
  

Forgive Anyway

Forgive Anyway

No apology. And I decided to burn both posts anyway. I also forgive you both. I do. I get it.

And if you want to say something to me, just come to me without a mask and say it. I’m actually a decent person

A person. A real person with skin and stuff. I’m not words. I’m a person. 

🎧”Tryin hard to maintain, then go ‘head cause I ain’t mad atcha”🎧

“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” ‭Matthew‬ ‭21:12-13‬ ‭KJV‬‬

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalms‬ ‭51:10‬ ‭KJV‬‬

“No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭35:9‬ ‭KJV‬‬

  

“It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.” Proverbs‬ ‭10:23‬ ‭KJV‬‬

“Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” Psalms‬ ‭31:5‬ ‭KJV‬‬

“If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true.

There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true…

…He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.” John‬ ‭5:31-32, 35‬ ‭ESV‬‬