I often write from what my life is currently experiencing. I go through my week and I make my observations. I take my notes and figure out my conclusions. At the end of the week, I sit down here and I take all the thoughts I've had over the last week to write them out. I can't say 2018 has been a great year. There has been a lot of change. I feel like we're just now feeling the after shocks from all of it. I've watched my kid struggle and fail and do her best to figure it out. I've watched my husband finally find a place where he fits well. And me? Well, on a personal level, I feel like I've done a lot of growth but career wise still kind of flopping like a fish out of water. My kid turned eighteen and now it's this new journey on where do we go from here? She made some poor choices this year. And maybe, as parents, we didn't do such a great job helping her navigate. With both of those things and all these changes, we have found ourselves in a bit of a crossroads where I am sandwiched right in the middle with no real answers to give. I'd like to think that I know how to fix things. I'd like to think if you present me with a problem, that I will know how make 1 + 1 = 2. I also understand that life is a lot of grey. There are no easy answers, no quick fixes, no magic prayer that it going to put everything right. We have to take the bumps and bruises to see feel the reward of how good it feels when we heal. This week I've watched the people I love so much fight each other, hurt each other out of this silly thing we call pride. They just keep bruising each other and me along with them. I'm left trying to figure a middle road.
When my husband came into our lives, my daughter was seven years old. I didn't have any real relationships before him because I wanted to be sure she felt like she was the most important thing in the world to me. She was. She still is. But I sacrificed that part of my life because I just didn't know how to balance this incredibly love and dedication I had for her and split it with the person I would find to be my one. It just seemed like a lot of drama. I just never liked the drama. It never seems to have a point and I just end up crying in a ball on my bathroom floor. So, when this gentle man came into my life, I was hesitant. I didn't know how to balance the two of them but I made it clear that she had to be the first priority. He came in with such open arms, with this beautiful unconditional love for her. How could I turn away from this man who I felt genuinely wanted to be a part of our story? It all seemed so seamless. There were a few power struggles but not what I expected. They seemed to sincerely love and accept each other. I waited and held my breath and thought that at any moment something terrible was going to happen, that I would have to choose between this beautiful little girl I brought into the world and the man I knew I was going to grow old with.... but that moment never came. Sure, I've felt over the years that I was kind of stuck in the middle but the moments were fleeting. We managed to work through those times because we were able to put aside our pride and understand that the love for each other was far stronger. Love and pride. These two amazing qualities to have, that make the other shine brighter, that destroy the other in a wink.
This week there's been a lot of anger in my house. There has been a lot of prideful declarations and stubborn statements. It started over the most trivial things. It was something that should have never been inspired such strife from anyone yet here I am, writing a blog about this family of mine that just can't seem to figure out how to put their pride aside and move forward. She turned eighteen this week and I look at her, not sure of all these years I have succeeded with raising this human being or failing horribly. And I get how that sounds. I'm not looking for pity or reassurance. Whatever I did wrong, I did wrong. I take that accountability. I am an adult who can honestly own the fact that I am imperfect, that I don't always make the right decisions, that there are a million things wrong with my parenting choices at times... but these children that we invest so much time become adults. They become adults with traits and qualities and flaws all their own. I've said this before. I was a much better mother to a little kid. These teenage years? I've pretty much been a fish out of water. And just like when she was a kid, I'm learning as I go. The problem is it takes more than a kiss on the knee and a Barbie band-aid to help her scare away the monster in the closet. The root of all of this is pride. I see it in his face, feel it in her glare. Every word spoken is just more egg shells on my floor that I have to avoid breaking. These arguments, this anger, this strange jealousy are the ones we should have had years ago. These are the arguments that held my breath when she was younger. It's so odd to be sitting here while she is on the brink of being on her own still questioning how this family works. By this point, it should be cake. We should be getting her ready for college. We should excitedly helping her get ready for a world that I know now is going to tear this one apart. And that's a terrifying statement for me to make. I know how it sounds but I worry. She likes the drama. He likes to play by the rules. And I worry. I sit here and look at these two people that carry my heart with them and I want to scream at them both but I know that pride has deafened them both.
I've never been a super prideful person. I want to be humble and grateful for the things that I have in my life. Have I always been that way? No, it took a lot of life kicking my ass to really understand that pride, if not kept in check, is a pretty ugly trait. I was a lot tougher with her when she was little because I had to be. I was unfortunately healing from some pretty hard times. My head was full of anger and my heart swelled with hurt. Maybe I shouldn't have shown such a hard exterior to the world back then. She was, after all, watching every single thing I was doing. I guess I thought I was making the right decision being so rough around the edges. This kid was going to grow up and nobody was going to mess with her. My soft side only came out with her and then with John because I just felt as if the world outside wanted to eat my spirit whole. I was proud, too proud and so broken at the same time. But then I met this gentle man and I started to change. I didn't have to be the only man on the front lines anymore. I didn't have to take the blunt of every stone thrown my way and there were plenty. Being a single, unwed mother isn't the rosiest path to go down. I could for the first time duck and cover, knowing that he would be there to take some of this weight off my shoulders. And for the first time in her life, she had to share me. Ten years ago, it was fine. We were fine, all of us. Now, ten years later, breathing easy I have to start holding my breath all over again, fearing that one of them is going to say choose. And I can't choose between this child that lived inside of me even if she causes me so much hurt right now and this man that I know in my soul is the one I was meant to grow old with. It's a lot of what about me's going on right now but really what about me? And, at the end of the day, it is their feelings I am more concerned about. I've watched this week play out. I've heard the complaints, the quarrels, the hurt and the anger. And honestly? It's not even a matter of pride. Someone said something to me this week that made a lot of sense. Anger is about someone not meeting your expectations. She is mad because he is not being who she wants him to be. And he's upset because she is behaving in a way that feels hurtful. What we expect out of each other is love and respect. Both of those things have been lost in the shuffle. It's not about pride. It's about remembering love. It's about understanding that love is unconditional, expectations or no expectations. It is about the love we give each other and remembering there are no strings attached. I changed over the years and I am proud of that change. It has made me a better person for her, for him, most importantly for me. I do not regret the sacrifices, the pride I had to swallow to get to this point today. I just understand more clearly that pride has to be balanced with love for you, for her, for him, and for me, too. It's not about being proud. It's about love and how we choose to share it.