A Mother’s Day Story

The parking lot was empty. Just an old building, falling apart but sturdy on the foundation. She just couldn’t hold it in anymore. The tears started to cumulate and the choking feeling in her throat had to be released. She laid her head on the steering wheel and cried. The baby was sound asleep in the back seat and the one forming in her womb stirred. “God, I need food to feed my babies and the church pantry is closed. What do I do?”

It was just two years ago, drunk and no worries in the world. All that mattered was satisfying her desire to fill the void. To feel beautiful and wanted.

The pregnancy test showed positive and all she could do was stare at it and murmur “No, No, No…” She wanted a baby, eventually, but not now, not like this. After all, she did just go through a divorce, at the ripe age of 19. The baby daddy was someone she only knew for a few months.

When she sat on the examining table, the doctor confirmed that she was indeed expecting. He asked what she wanted to do. She was paralyzed with fear but she knew in her heart and soul that she was going to have this baby and to do whatever it took to raise her. It didn’t occur to her to terminate.

The odds were against her. Oh! they were very much against her!

Unmarried. No permanent place of her own. No job. Just a 20 year old college girl trying to find her place in this world.

Leaving that doctor’s office she made a promise to her baby and to herself. She placed her shaky palm on her womb and whispered, “No matter what happens, little one, I promise you that I will give you everything I never had, I promise you that I will protect you and love you.”

That day she and the baby daddy found a place to live and started on journey that would not be comfortable, a journey that would encompass growing pains, hardships, heartaches, and redemption.

Two years later and she was expecting her second child. There wasn’t enough money for the month, and not enough government subsidies to assist with the necessities of life. She knew that a church offered food to families in need. It was closed and she just couldn’t hold it in anymore. Hopeless. Empty. Angry. Angry for letting her life be exactly what she didn’t want it to be. She stared in the reflection of the rear view mirror, eyes swollen and tear stains on her cheeks. She had to admit that she was falling into the same footsteps as her own mother. She stared into those eyes and murmured, “No, No, No… I will not let this happen.”

She left that parking lot, feeling a lot like that old building- falling apart, empty but had a sturdy foundation. That foundation was love, grit, determination, and faith.

A few years later, with a lot of therapy, support groups, faith and facing some Giants along the way, she made a life for herself and her children.

If you ask her today about her “why,” about what makes her so strong and why she works so hard. She’ll tell you their names are Stacy and Kevin. Fourteen years later, God said, “Well, since you love them so much, let’s bring Avery along to spread even more joy, to remind you that children are not an inconvenience, they are the symbol of love, hope and wonder. They are a blessing as you are to me.” There are days I disagree with God when these kids drive me to my breaking point sometimes… but they truly did save my life.

And how true! Because of my children, I learned what God’s love was all about. I may have lived my life backwards, but I would not want it any other way. I cannot imagine a world without my Stacy and Kevin and Avery. After that day at the parking lot, I no longer wondered where food was coming from. Don’t get me wrong, I still hunger. I hunger for more joy, love, peace and faith for the remainder of my life.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mamas out there. Doesn’t matter how your children came into your life, you love them and will do anything for them. I promise you that you are doing better than you think you are.

Also don’t forget to use condoms or don’t forget to take your birth control pills people. 😉 After all, are we not all a product of druken sex? 🙂 That was a joke…

Love Always

It’s Going to be Okay

For the last several years, I have had my students work on a final project to end the school year. I like to end the year with reading of The Giver. If you have not read this piece of treasure, please do yourself a favor and take a few hours and read it. The cliff notes of the story is about a young boy who lives in a Dystopian world-a world with no color, no pain, no past. As the protagonist becomes more enlightened about the world beyond- a world of color, music and love, he makes a heroic escape to “Elsewhere” to save another soul from injustice.

I ask my students to create a Utopia in response to the reading. I ask them to create a money system, a government, theology, family structures, level of technology, agriculture, rituals, traditions etc. I also have them create a flag and map.

It’s a great creative and critical thinking project, and it never fails to amaze me how some of their Utopias turn out.

It does make me think about the world we create in our own minds. Don’t we all carry in our hearts a Utopia of sorts. Don’t we strive to make this perfect world a reality?

In my little perfect world, everyone gets along. There is peace. Everyone forgives and respects each other and drinks beer and eats pizza everyday- without gaining any extra weight.

In my perfect little world, everyone would have a safe home to live in and enough food to eat.

In my perfect little world, everyone is included and there is no need to lie or steal or cheat.

As simple as that sounds, I believe we all tend to create a world in our minds that is much much better than the one we live in.

As middle age becomes me and I ponder more and more about my time here on this planet, I realize more and more that the perfect little world I create causes more problems than it does good.

For one, it makes me feel bad that my life isn’t at all as I imagined it “should be.” The image of my perfect world causes me to “control” situations and problems to fit my idea of what I believe to be best. And when I try to “control” anything in my life- frustration, anger, disappointment and discouragement are born.

You see, when we create this world of what “should be” it is easy to become discouraged by the gap between our ideal and the real. And when we long for the ideal we criticize the real. And then it is tempting to just throw in the towel and give up on the ideal and just settle for the real.

It seems to me that real maturity has to do with living in the in between. To love the reality, without apology or shame, in spite of its imperfections, and still strive for the ideal.

After all are we not called to love REAL people, not IDEAL people?

“The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community (even if their intentions are ever so earnest), but the person who loves those around them will create community.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

For me it is time to destroy my ideas of what “should be.” I don’t want to hold people to a standard that I myself cannot live up to. As a human race, we will fall short. We will hurt others. We will make wrong decisions. We will cheat. We will lie. And then we will also love. We give when there is a need. We encourage others. We laugh. And we have moments of exquisite happiness when a child is born, or get married, or reach a challenging goal of some kind. And then in a blink of an eye all that was good is taken away- divorce, death, rifts. Then slowly we once again experience the rich grace God has for us all.

Brene Brown teaches that we as humans have a strong need to belong. To be a part of a community. She states that the opposite of belonging is not aloneness, but fitting in. When we create a world that others or situations must “fit” in order for us to be happy, then we have experienced a taste of hell.

This post is to encourage you- because you might find yourself in a situation that doesn’t make any sense. Maybe your brother decides that his life is better without you. Maybe you find yourself in a place of unemployment and uncertainty. Maybe you find yourself divorced- twice or three times. Maybe you just found out about a diagnosis. Maybe you are in the middle of grief and mourning. Maybe you find yourself an outsider of some sort. Maybe your marriage is not anything as you planned. Maybe you have been betrayed, abandoned or abused.

I encourage you right now because life IS suppose to be hard, and crazy and messy and confusing. Life isn’t a neat tidy experience. It is in the chaos we find peace when realize that we are not alone in our ugliness and beauty. Embrace what is and strive to suck less with each day we are given. We CANNOT control the surroundings- but we can choose to love or life anyway, because life loves you! Life is a gift and the people in them is your treasure. Love them and your life, and you will be okay!

Love Always

Just Another Birthday

Birthday Cake. Blowing out the candles. Making wishes. Fancy dresses and funny hats. Balloons and silly games.

Remember when we were younger, how excited we were to be celebrating our birthday?

Then as we got older birthdays became meh.  “Just another birthday” we mutter, and every year we wince in a bit of pain as the years start to accumulate.

This month is a big number for me.  40!

As much as I want to cringe and complain about getting older, (maybe just a little) I am actually excited.

It took me 40 years to be where I am today. 40 years to learn the values of my life.

You see, this birthday is not just another birthday- at least not to me- it is a mark of success- a hope of great abundance yet to come- a symbol that love does overcome.

You see, I wasn’t born privileged.  I was born to a couple, not yet married, no money, no education, no home.

In fact, my dad was an alcoholic.

You have to understand, that this is not uncommon in our little town. Drinking, drugs, unplanned pregnancies.

The first five years of my life I watched my dad get drunk and high. 

There are some things in life that are hard to talk about. At least in your mind you feel that they are hard to talk about because of the fear of shame, invalidation, or worse indifference.  Then courage begins to surge and you know you have to talk about it because it’s the only way to light the path.

You could say that I didn’t have a very good start in life. I’m not saying this to blame my dad- he did the best he could. In fact when the drugs became too much- he quit when I was 6 years old.   If I don’t say anything else about my dad- he was able to stay sober ever since. 35 years of sobriety- quit cold turkey and never looked back. It sure says a lot about his will power and convictions doesn’t it?

Life is hard and unfair to begin with- so when you mix in addictions, poverty, and dysfunction life can feel hopeless. And when hopelessness is the norm, you can bet there is a lot of resentment and anger.

You see, even though my dad was able to stay away from the bottle, he had a bit of a temper and used his hobby of building and restoring old cars as his new drug of choice.

The anger that stormed inside my dad manifested itself in abuse.

His go to put-downs to my mom, my sisters and myself were, “stupid, worthless and lazy.” I was 14 years old when I got my first real job- it was a program called “Summer Youth Program” for low income families. Children were able to find work at the ripe ol’ age of 14 to work during the summer. I got a job at our local hospital filing old papers in a hot room with no windows, and no air conditioning. My dad drove me on my first day  and do you know what was said to me? “I don’t even know how you got this stupid job you’re so damn lazy!”  Needless to say, I didn’t perform very well at the job.  So I grew up feeling unseen, unheard and unwanted. As a little girl who desired to be cherished, I internalized these words and grew up believing I was stupid, worthless and a burden.

I hit the re-play button for many years. Over and over again I heard in my head “you’re stupid,” “You’re not good enough,” “People don’t like you.”   I constantly apologized. Apologizing for taking up space. Always apologizing.

I had a lot of fear in me.

In my search and desperation for love and acceptance I followed a pattern:

~I was married at 19 and divorced six months later. I didn’t want to get married at 19- but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
~At 21 I had my first baby- with a guy I hardly knew. I didn’t want to have sex yet, but I wanted him to like me.

~We had our second child when I was 24.
~We married. More of the same- addictions and abuse.
~We tried so hard to make it work.

You see, I was the type of person that thought I was being unselfish and caring to give the other person what they wanted, regardless if it didn’t match my needs or wants. I wanted to be the exact opposite of my dad. Yeah, that didn’t work out so well.

I am a recovering co-dependent.

Believe it or not, there are support groups for that!

Imagine- sitting in a basement of a church saying, “Hi, I’m Roxanne and I’m co-dependent.”  Yes, that happened. I worked the 12 steps. And in working those 12 steps I found God- or God found me.

I had a sponsor and everything. She was very wise and a little nuts. She helped me see the truth of who I was. Turns out I was better at abusing myself than the other people in my life.

I also went to therapy, read a ton of books to help me learn and understand co-dependency- I was determined (and still am) to conquer this flaw in me.

In working those 12 steps I had to forgive my dad. I did.

It took years to understand what forgiveness meant and why it was important in my recovery- and even though I wish my dad and I had a better relationship, I know what happened all those years ago was not my fault. I also learned that even though my dad hurt me, and our family, I know that he loves us.  See, my dad was playing the same game that was taught to him. Addictions have a way of doing that–The same game played with different players as each generation steps up to the plate.

Lucky for me, there were angels in my life that were able to light the path for me and my sisters- people who showed us that there was hope, joy and that life is actually fun and meaningful.

I am forever grateful for my extended family- they brought fun, joy, and showed me and my sisters acceptance. The biggest lesson I learned in the last forty years is that although our families may be broken, dysfunctional, and maybe a little crazy, family is the most important aspect of our life. Every pleasure and pain in our life will be experienced in the context of our relationships. We may fight with our family, we may not even like them that much, but they are our roots, our bridge, our pathway to discovering who we are in this big mass of mess we call home. Family teaches us humility, forgiveness, compassion and what love really means.

I’m turning 40, and I couldn’t be more excited. The next 40 plus years are not going to be wasted by fighting wrinkles and grey hair , or sagging skin and trying to look 20 years old again (maybe a little).  The battles I choose to fight are not physical at all. I choose to fight for me- to fight those demonizing voices. To fight for my family. In my opinion, the best thing anyone can do in their life is to forgive.  Forgive your parents. Forgive your siblings. Forgive the Universe. Forgive yourself.

The next 40 some years is something I want to enrich with adventures with those I care and love about.

Cheers to 40!

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If you are interested in some of the books that helped in my journey, click on the links below. (Amazon is supporting my blog if you just click the links and make a purchase from the site). I appreciate your support!

Love Always

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=roxyjaecks-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0981501788&asins=0981501788&linkId=5a43b01f1f2bcd01537dbe00fc8bf301&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Al-Anon The Twelve Steps and How it Works

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=roxyjaecks-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=159285849X&asins=159285849X&linkId=f874d054be7f23341fd9b5c1e4ec1cc9&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>The Gift of Imperfections

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Self-Help Books

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