Hope Sinks, but Never Drowns

HOPE is when YOU believe what you want is attainable.

Seven years ago I was without hope.  And for what feels like a stupid reason now.  I don’t want to go into it too much because I don’t want to give it anymore thought, but I put most of my future hope in a guy.  Dumb.  Anyway, when he broke my heart after five years, I thought it was the end.  I was 25; I was back home in my small town after graduation college; I didn’t have a job; and I didn’t have many friends that lived near me anymore.  I didn’t know how to meet anyone new–I had spent all my “meet new people” years dating one guy.

Instead of seeing that now I was free to travel or do whatever I wanted with no ties, I was blinded by failure.  I spent days, weeks, months wallowing in my little house with my cat and Captain Morgan.

I wanted a teaching job that I could love.

I wanted a guy who would make me smile.

I wanted a family and a nice little house.

None of these things seemed attainable.  I thought I had completely failed. I had lost hope entirely. I had lost faith in myself as well as in the world around me.

But there were two people in my life who were determined NOT to let me drown my sorrows and myself over something like a guy.  They would NOT let my life fall apart.  They saw who I was before him and knew that that girl was still in there somewhere.

Those two people were my best friend, Tonya, and my husband, Cortney.

I know I have posted this picture before, but it’s my absolute favorite.  These two have stuck with me as I have swum in the depths of depression more times than I can count.  They are always my hope.

In fact, after that summer seven years ago, Cortney stuck by me as more than my friend.  We fell in love, and were married.  Tonya was there.  She cried and couldn’t finish her matron of honor speech.  It’s the only time I’ve ever seen her break down.

It’s easy for me to sink into sadness and despair.  When bad happens to my Hope Team, I get swept up in it almost as much as they do.  I thought our world was over when Tonya was diagnosed with diabetes.  I took Cort’s pain into my heart when his dad died.  It’s hard for me to see the people who have been my strongest support have bad things happen.

But somehow, through their valleys and through my dark paths, they have kept that faith that all we want in life can happen.  I am beyond amazed at their strength every day, but even more they keep proving my doubt wrong.

I have a teaching job that I love.

I have a guy that makes me smile (every day!).

I have a family and a nice little house.

They are there with words of hope and positivity every time I start to doubt.  When feeling my worst, Tonya will text me that I am beautiful and that she loves me.  When I am just having a hard day and the anxiety is taking over, Cortney will hold my hand before bed and tell me he loves me.

And you know what?  Because of their love and strength, I am able to dig way down and find the fighter in me.  I can find the hope that suck way down to a place so deep I thought it would drown completely and take me with it.

When I don’t believe that we will make it financially , or that I will keep a job, or that we will be able to have more kids, or even that I will be able to wear a bikini again, Tonya and Cort prove me wrong.

They help ME to believe that the things I want ARE attainable.  They help me to have HOPE.

Long Road

“I have wished for you so long…”

Somewhere inside of me, I have always longed to be a mom.

As a kid, I bossed my brothers around getting them to do what I wanted.  We played “house” and dress-up.  I “cooked” and took care of the “baby”.  I had great positive mom role models all around me, so I modeled what they did in my childhood play.

My brothers and I grew up.  In high school and college, my brothers would come to me with their problems–some serious, some not so much.  Either way, I mothered them.  I made sure they had gifts for our parents for all major holidays.  I made sure they met deadlines.  I listened to their broken hearts and their fears.  I doled out advice.  But most of all, I assured them that everything would be Ok.  That I would stay by their sides.

Then I became a high school teacher.  Suddenly I wasn’t just offering reading and writing assignments to students or teaching them the difference between “their”, “there”, and “they’re”, I was listening to them after school.  I was hearing heartbreak and poverty issues.  I was helping students figure out how to get to school each day.  I was mentoring seniors to graduation and checking their homework and making sure they were meeting deadlines.  And apparently, according to some, I was giving the “mom look” when I was disappointed or when I disapproved.

All signs pointed to me someday being a successful mom.

“Will I walk the long road?”

Getting pregnant–or I should say staying pregnant–was not easy for me.  We suffered two devastating miscarriages.  Even though my heart and mind thought I should be a mom, my body was not cooperating.

And then came Eddie.  My sweet Eddie Bear.

“All the precious moments…”

I totally thought giving birth would instantly make me a mommy.  How wrong I was.  And taken by surprise.  Wasn’t I totally cut out for this?

I was NOT an instant mom.  Not by a long run.  My independent self was just not ready to give up itself.  PPD settled in hardcore and I became someone else.  I went to a very dark place during the time I thought would be the happiest, most joyful part of my life.

But there were moments.

Rocking a tiny baby in the wee hours of the morning.

Sleeping on the couch with my bundle so he would feel safe, and not lonely in a big empty crib.

Watching him belly laugh for the first time.

Seeing him learn to “interact” with the squid that hung down from his play mat.

Listening to him coo to the elephant on the wall by his changing table.

“All the memories going round, round, round, round…”

Looking back over this year of being a Momma, I have learned this about myself:

“Mothering” and being “A Mother” are two very different things.  You can mother someone and then leave the situation.  When you are A Mother, you are it. period.

I can do things I didn’t think I could.

I am not “just” Eddie’s Mom, but that is a new, important PART of who I am.

I really can survive on less than eight hours of sleep.  Regularly.

My mom was right, I don’t sleep past 9:00 am anymore (although she figured this would end when I got my first “real” job.  Yeah, right.)

I am not the most important person in my life anymore…

…BUT my health is very important to those who ARE most important in my life now.

I thought I was funny.  I was wrong.  Eddie is funny.  Hilarious even.  I do not compare.

Speaking of comparing?  I can’t. I can’t compare myself or Eddie too closely with other mommas.

I can’t do it on my own.  Cortney has been a VITAL part in any of this momma business being successful.  He makes me a better mom by being a great husband and dad-do.

I am NOT alone.  I have friends, family, bloggy friends, twitter friends, and other Theta Moms who are helping me figure all this out and are celebrating my victories with me.

I am not perfect.  And that is Ok.  Eddie (and Cort) will love me anyway.  And I will become better and stronger because of my imperfections.  And maybe these imperfections and what I learn will help others.

“I have wished for you so long…
how I wish for you today
Will I walk the long road?
We all walk the long road.”

 *lyrics from Long Road by Pearl Jam
This post was written in response to the blog celebration Theta Mom is having this week where she asks her readers to share why they are theta moms.

Head over and read other testimonials about being a Theta Mom!

Letter to My Former Self

I love blog hops.  LOVE them.  For one they give me something cool to write about…something I wouldn’t normally have thought up all on my own (like my wedding or my former self).  They also give me a reason to read millions of blogs other than my typical reason of “oh my word, there are 400 unread things in my google reader!”

And come on…I love a good running motif among blogs–knowing that each one I click will be on the same topic, but done in a completely unique way.  I think it’s the English teacher in me.

Anyway…here we go.  To my former self…with pictures (even the awkward ones):

To my Wee Self:

Hey hot stuff…you look smashing in all outfits.  That is the best thing about being wee.  You don’t care what you’re wearing, but you do prefer pink and ruffles.  Because you are a little girly girl.  Now.  You won’t always be, but you are for now, so revel in it.  Also, it’s ok that mommy and daddy are making you move out of your “pretty” room and into a new house.  There will be faux fur on the walls in that room, but mommy will make it a pretty blue with little flowers.  And you will LOVE that room.  You will read and listen to music and talk to boys on the phone in that room.  It will be your special place for many, many years.  Oh, and don’t be so shy around non-family.  You won’t always be shy, but I wish it hadn’t taken you so long to figure that out.

To my Almost an Adolescent Self:

You have no idea what you are in for.  You are still pretty cute…look at you with that cute hair and sweater (nice perm.  thanks, mom).  You are even starting to think boys are sort of cute.  But you don’t really understand those feelings or know how to act on them other than to smack that cute boy in class HARD in the arm whenever he walks by.  This?  Is not a good way to attract a guy.  But you won’t figure that out until high school.  sigh…

To my Super Awkward Self:

 First of all, nice OP sweatshirt and jean skirt.  You were hot.  Oh except for those dirty, “white” socks.  No good.  Anyway, I should tell you that you are about to break out in zits.  Until about 1994.  Boys will mock you for this.  One boy in seventh grade science will tell you that you are too ugly to be anyone’s girlfriend ever.  He will say this RIGHT after you tell him he is cute IN science class.  Oh, and you have sit by him all year because Mr. Piersma doesn’t ever change seating charts.  Ever.  But seriously?  I wish you wouldn’t have harbored that.  I wish you didn’t care what idiot adolescent boys said about you. I wish that wouldn’t have led to your low-self esteem around guys.  You are hilarious and THAT is great to guys.  You don’t learn that for awhile yet though.  I am sad about that.

To my Early High School Self:

Still you think you are fat and ugly in this picture.  WHY?  You are so small that this dress is a little big on you.  And you thought this hair was ridiculous…but it’s sort of cute. The half bang is what is ridiculous.  But you don’t learn that until college.  So sad for your hair.  You totally have a long-term boyfriend by now.  I wish you didn’t put all you stock and time into that guy.  I want you to go do more high school things than sit around at his house and watch movies or hang out with his friends or wait for him to come home from college.  Senior year you had TONS of friends–once you let go of the guy and started believing YOU were worth being friends with on your own.  I wish you had figured that out freshman year.

To my Starting College Self:

WHY ARE YOU WEARING BULKY CLOTHING?  You are at your best body at this point in your life, but it’s all covered up in long flannels and baggy jeans and doc martins.  Damn you, grunge movement and your lumber jack fashion.  Um, self?  Stop clinging to guys for your identity.  Seriously.  You have discovered that you are cute to guys, but instead of settling for one, you just bounce from one to the next because you can.  Uncool.  Oh, and that skinny guy there in the Georgetown sweatshirt?  Too bad he has a girlfriend.  You’re going to end up with him.

Yeah, that guy holding his then-girlfriend’s sweatshirt.  And she?  Will become one of your best friends ever.  Her son will be your godson.  I’m glad you were always good and relationships.   You scored by keeping that guy and his girlfriend in your life.

To my College Self:

 Quit having so much fun.  Seriously.  There is fun and then there is TOO much fun.  You wait until senior year to learn this.  Probably should have learned it freshman year.  Although honestly?  There isn’t too much I would tell you NOT to do…except maybe don’t date some of the guys you did (both the ones from the UP come to mind), but I have always been glad you moved away from home and did this college thing on your own.  You always got SO homesick before college, but going to WMU really helped you come out of your shell as far as communicating with others and finding a path for yourself.  But that guy you started dating after sophomore year?  Maybe could have cut that down to a 2 year relationship instead of letting it drag on for 5.  I’m just sayin’.

To my Engaged Self:

If you ever cut your hair again, don’t part it down the middle (although you will make this mistake at LEAST two more times).  Also, don’t stress out about your wedding.  It is the best day ever.  Things don’t always work out how you had hoped, but that guy you are planning to walk down the aisle too?  He sticks by you and holds your hand through it.  Good choice.  Don’t worry so much about what other people think.  Do what you want.  Oh, and YOU are the grownup.  Those who can’t act like adults do not matter.  Don’t waste brainpower on them.

To my Newlywed Self:

You are a wife.  You finally have a guy who celebrates who YOU are and doesn’t try to make you more like him.  He supports your choices and you do a pretty good job of supporting his.  I wish I could tell you to be more patient.  He doesn’t think in the same process you do.  You will learn this, but I wish you knew it now.  It would have made those first couple years easier.  He takes longer to gather his thoughts and he doesn’t just blurt everything that is on his mind.  Be patient.  When he wants to talk, he will, but you might have to ask.  Don’t nag.  Some stuff he has to deal with on his own.

To my New Momma Self:

Oh honey, look at those bags.  This was the DAY after you came home.  You are sore from the C-section.  You are tired.  You are still bloated with water.  You are going to try to be supermom.  Please don’t.  This is something I so badly wish I could change for you.  Lay back, let other people do the work, and heal.  You say you’re fine.  You’re not.  You say yes to every visitor.  Don’t.  That little bundle?  He is about to turn colicky.  Please ask for help instead of trying to do it all yourself.  And when you don’t ask for help with Eddie?  Please ask for help with your mind.  What you are feeling?  NOT NORMAL!  Don’t wait nine months.  Just don’t.  Your whole family deserves better, and so do you!

To my Current Self:

 You are getting better.  Remember that.  You are still healing.  It’s ok to have bad days.  It’s ok to ask for help.  It’s ok to admit things aren’t perfect.  But you need to let go of things you can’t control.  Wait…let me say that again a little louder:  YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT ALL.  Your job?  Not in your hands.  Cort’s job?  Not in your control.  The future of all mankind?  Not for you to save by yourself.  All of these things and much more keep you awake at night.  Don’t let it.  Or at least continue getting help to prevent it.  You don’t like what you look like.  You don’t like the way you act.  You don’t like what goes on in your mind.  But you know what?  You are pretty; you are great; and your thoughts are valid.  YOU are a great person.  Even if you do not believe those words that you just typed.  You will hopefully believe them.  Some day.  At least that is my hope for you.

Plans To Prosper

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” – Jeremiah 29:11
Some days it’s so very hard to trust those words.  Especially when it seems like we are just being pummeled with disheartening news.
Recently we got some bittersweet job news for both me and Cort.
The end of the school year has been stressful for me now for about four years.  Every year they cut more and more positions which puts me lower and lower on the seniority list.  This year I found out that our school would be cutting one English position.  The good news is that they decided to change my current position from full-time English to full-time Spanish in order to save me from being on the pink slip list.  This will however have a domino effect.  The Spanish teacher whose position I am being “given” will be reassigned an ELL (English as a Learning Language) position, and so on and so forth until someone gets the ax.

It’s hard to describe how I feel about this without sounding ungrateful.  So let me put it out there right now that I am SOOO thankful that I am 99% sure I will be off the pink slip list and be in a job next year.
However, I just finished up my seventh year of teaching English 11 (juniors) and to think that the curriculum I have dedicated myself to will be given to other people is hard.  I’ve also spent 10 years getting a Bachelor’s and then a Master’s degree in English.  I love the subject.  It’s my passion.  Don’t get me wrong, teaching Spanish is fun, but to NOT teach English is heartbreaking to me.
The plus side will be a LOT less department stress and grading stress.  Hopefully this opens up some of my time for some other possibilities.  I may blog about those as a I get a clearer grasp on their likelihood of happening.
Yesterday Sluiter Nation was dealt another couple sucker punches in the job arena.  Cort got an email from the company he has been waiting WEEKS for an answer from.  He interviewed THREE times with them and waited almost two weeks from the last interview.  Yesterday they let him know they went with someone else.  He also received a phone call from another place he had had an interview with.  No job there either.
So he is back to square one.
Like I said, it’s so hard to think that maybe we are just doomed for bad luck.  Both of us want so badly to pursue what we love so we can show Eddie that it’s important not to settle in life, but it’s hard!
We have to just keep in mind that God has plans to “give us hope and a future”.  Every time we have gotten disheartened, he has brought us joy.  He will come through this time too.  We are trying to look at all of this as just an opportunity for both of us to have the chance to pursue dreams and do what we love.
We trust that we will have a great future.  And we know we just have to be patient and listen for the way to go.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” – Psalm 32:8

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