#7QT Let’s be Honest (and Grateful)

This week, I had a lot of ups and downs personally and emotionally. When these things happen, as they often do, they come crashing down all at once. As a mom, my job is to make everyone else feel better despite the cry-fest I would love to dramatize on my imaginary chaise lounge. I mean, who doesn’t want to be a Southern Belle and have fainting spells? That’s romantic. As I was reviewing my week, you know, in the shower, I thought “Man, this sucks, let’s be honest. But, come on Cristina, we’re also grateful“. Because there are a lot of us in here, but that’s fodder for another post.

And with that, let the honest but grateful edition of 7 Quick Takes (#7QT) begin.

 

#7QT fillingmyprayercloset.com

— 1 —

As you read these, know that this is what I keep going back to, just when the tears are about to well up so much that looking at the ceiling doesn’t keep them in. You know what I’m talking about.

#7QT Let's be honest (and grateful) #inspirational #quote @fillpraycloset

— 2 —

While I was on vacation with my family, I received an email from my ex-husband (aka Alex’s biological father). He will be in town and would like to see Alex. It’s been about 5 years since they last saw each other. They have video conferences maybe once every couple of months, but you know, Mike is Daddy-Daddy. I always go back and forth in my head with how I am supposed to explain the why’s and how’s of our blended family to Alex. I haven’t told him yet of this looming date because if it doesn’t pan out, no harm done. The flip side to that is, I can’t just spring it on him. What if he needs time to mentally put the jigsaw puzzle of memories together? Will he feel awkward with both Dad’s in the house? When he says “Hey, Dad” will they both turn around? Will Alex feel badly about that, and will Mike? Tough stuff people. Tough stuff. Don’t get me started on Gabriel. Do you know how hard it is to explain, in terms they can understand, at that age, about what is going on?! Gabriel just wants what Alex wants. Sure honey let me whip up an extra Dad. NOT!

— 3 —

#7QT Let's be honest (and grateful) #stepmom #stepparenting #stepdaughter @fillpraycloset

My step-daughter Kaila is visiting us for a few weeks. Can I just say it again? She is my original bestie. She was living with us for a time and then she decided to move back in with her mother. I get it. I do. But I miss her, a lot, when she’s gone. I usually just bury it and try not to think about it, but the “missing her” is always the most intense while she’s here. We don’t do anything amazing together, but she gets my jokes, we poke fun at Mike and it’s kind of ok to burp at the table because she’s there! Blended families are great because you get all of this extra, but it’s hard too because, you get all of this extra.She leaves on July 1st and I am getting more and more sad the more I type about this, so, let’s look at the ceiling together and move on ok?

— 4 —

#7QT Let's be honest (and grateful) #stepmom #stepparenting #family @fillpraycloset

Have I been very open about families here? Not just me, Mike and the boys, but the extended part? I’m talking about my parents, Mike’s parents and each of our siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, all that jazz? I’m sure I’ve shared a little and that’s on purpose. Those relationships are just shredded. Awful. For the most part. I speak with a few of my 6 siblings, and mostly, it’s always like there’s an elephant in the room. There’s so much history of bad blood, or fear of showing that their siding with me over someone else, it’s all so stupid.

Mike’s mother is in the hospital. We just found out. I haven’t seen or spoken to her in maybe 6 years? I won’t get into the reason for that. I will say that she’s really sick and regardless of what’s happened, when it comes to a person’s dignity and possible final years, I can’t help it – I want to do whatever I can to help. I talked about it with Mike and he asked me if I thought he should go, I thought he should. And he did. Even if he had to keep telling himself that he was doing it for our children (who also haven’t seen her in that time – if you’re counting, then you know Gabriel has never met her). For when they’re older, and ask, we can say we were there for their grandmother in the end.

It was not easy for Mike yesterday. I prayed for his heart to withstand all he would see, all he would hear and to respond with charity. This also meant that I was at home, for Kaila. I kept checking in with her to see if she was ok, consoling her and giving her updates and trying to give an uplifting perspective. No, her grandmother wasn’t alone, her Daddy was there and he would always do the right thing. That was tough. Back to the ceiling? Yeah, back to the ceiling.

— 5 —

#7QT Let's be honest (and grateful) #stepmom #stepparenting #blendedfamily @fillpraycloset

This morning, I reiterated to Mike that I think it’s important that his mother not be alone this weekend, so we decided to all go to visit his mother in the hospital. It’s a two hour trip and parking may or may not be feasible, but it’s important. I know what’s at stake, and I know what I could very well be walking into, but it’s not about me. It’s about another person who is alone, who could use other people she knows on this journey with her. Even if she says nothing to me. Even if … anything. I am not the kind of person that knowingly leaves anyone to suffer. Even if we aren’t talking.

I brought Alex to work with me to explain what we would be doing tomorrow. Why to work? Remember the 15 minutes I get to pray in the car? I was praying hard as I spoke to him about blended families, about how adults can’t be told to “make up” like he and his brother are. Adults can do what they want, and they don’t always do the right thing. There was a lot more to our conversation, but here’s how I ended it. “Here’s what I do know, Alex. I know that I will always protect your heart. It’s the most important thing in my life. Daddy will always protect your soul and with that, you will always be ok”. Damn, here I go, ceiling anyone?

— 6 —

When parents are ill and they need to be taken care of and the family is shredded and not really a family at all, how does that work? Who helps with what? Who leads? Where’s the well of compassion to draw from for strength and hope?

Mike has siblings too, and I don’t know if they’re all in a place to communicate a plan of action that everyone can be honest about, manage and live with. I offered some suggestions to Mike, some options that I am willing to open our family and home to. But who knows? The surgery doesn’t happen till Monday and from this side of Friday, that looks like a really long way off.

— 7 —

#7QT Let's be honest (and grateful) #stepmom #stepparenting #marriage @fillpraycloset

I said we would be mentioning gratitude, right? I think sometimes that if I could just cut this part, or that part out of my life, I could just move on, but then I wouldn’t have my Alex and little Gabriel. I wouldn’t have married Mike. I wouldn’t be so strong in my Catholic faith to endure something so hard – because the old me, wouldn’t have thought to dig deep and care outside of myself. Alex wouldn’t be so emotionally smart and empathetic. Gabriel wouldn’t be the gooey center of a Rolo <— he’s that sweet. And maybe Kaila wouldn’t burp at the table. Who am I kidding? She totally would. And Mike, maybe, without our marriage so deeply weathered from past storms, but incredibly strong, wouldn’t have had a strong Catholic (convert) woman to help him through this. So, thank God for my mess. He knew just what I needed for every trial that I could, would and will face. I thank Him every day because He helps me see it (and kinda holds my hand through it, ya know?).

So please pray for me, for my family and for the tears that I keep from falling because I can’t have a meltdown.

Not yet.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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42 thoughts on “#7QT Let’s be Honest (and Grateful)

  1. Beautiful. Raw. Honest. You’ve opened a door that now reveals the tender parts of your heart. I vote meltdown. Now. Let the pain, hurt, messiness out. Don’t keep it in, because it’s in that meltdown that your children, husband and estranged extended family will see God’s love in the mess. I know you feel like it’s your job to make everyone feel better, but remember holding it all in doesn’t make everyone feel better, it makes you sicker. I understand your pain, but then, I don’t, but just know I’ve cried real tears as you’ve shared your pain with the world. Hugs, friend. xo

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    1. I always vote meltdown. One of my favorite songs has a line “So let go, jump in, what’cha waiting for, it’s alright, cause there’s beauty in the breakdown”. But like another song I like, I can’t just “drop it like it’s hot”. My attempt at humor when it hurts, ya know. Hugs to you too, doll!

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  2. Hope the situation with Alex and his biological Dad works out…that’s gotta be nerve wracking as his Mom; I’ll keep that in my prayers this weekend.

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    1. It is, my gut reaction is to cut him out. But I always follow up with, what would Alex want? And really, Mike is a Dad with children who no longer live with him, so he’s very sensitive and usually reels me back in. Thanks for the prayers, Patty. 🙂

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  3. I cried when I read this because I can feel your pain and your desire to do what is right, what is charitable and also what is kind….. and sometimes that hurts like hell. My family was formed via adoption so I know what is is like to talk about hard stuff with my children …stuff that takes courage and stuff you would rather shield them from. I also know how much we suffer when we see them suffer when they understand that there is “tough stuff” in their stories….but the thing that I know most of all is that your willingness to be open and truthful and to love them through all of it is so powerful. The trust you establish provides the basis for all the other tough conversations you need to have down the road .
    I applaud you for also looking beyond the pain and being there for Mike’s mom and while none of it is neat or easy, in my heart I know God will reward you for it.
    I will be praying for all of you and on this feast if the Sacred Heart, I ask God to pour His love out to you my friend ….I know when you receive it, it then flows right through you to others – xo

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    1. You are such a soul. Thank you, as always for your kind words, and for the words of encouragement you send privately (you know, the ones no one sees). You are just wonderful. Blessings to you, friend.

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  4. I read this, couldn’t figure out where to start, clicked away and decided to try! First of all, support and prayers coming your way. I think (easy for me to say I know) when it comes to explaining the specifics to Alex, your mind is probably more analytical and (if it’s at all like mine) likely to add more reasons/rationales/explanations than a child needs. I would keep it basic and let his questions (within reason) guide what you need to say and how much. // And with the mom, it is so human and kind to realize whatever has happened that she shouldn’t be alone. Do take care of yourself. ❤

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    1. I am doing my best to carve out time to take care of myself. Lately, that looks like the glow of my Kindle reader as I am passed out on my bed at midnight, but I’ll take it. I hope you enjoyed your first #7QT!

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  5. Cristina, thoughout this whole post, all I could think is what a beautiful heart you have. I know all about looking at ceilings. We are human; we hurt; we get overwhelmed. But, you, dear friend are taking the high road….the narrow road. God will walk it with you, and carry you when needed. Like everyone else, I love you. Prayers for you…and a big hug! xoxo

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    1. And you know, Patricia? I feel Him with me. You are so right. This season of my life is not easy, but I’m not alone. Thank God for that. Thank you for the prayers and big hugs. xoxoxo

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    1. Oh my gosh thank you, Pickles. I know how hard you pray. That means so very much to me and I can tell you, I feel a subtle peace, you know. It’s easy when you obey, because even when it’s tough, you know it’s right because it’s His. Does that make sense? ❤

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  6. I would like to applaud you on fostering a relationship between your son and father. It is a very delicate thing.

    When my first husband and I were divorced, the best advice my mom gave me was to never speak an unkind word about him and that my son would eventually form his own opinion without my input. And like my current husband, I even try to make excuses for him ~ in a charitable way, of course. Obviously, some behaviors cannot be excused or ignored.

    And he did. Sadly, it’s not a great one and for that I truly grieve. Oh yes, maybe my secret inclination is to want to be favored, but at the end of the day, I want one of the most significant relationships in his life to be a healthy one ~ one that if properly ordered, I am sorry to say, even the best step parent cannot compare to.

    Satan loves fractured families. That is his ultimate goal. He works on getting into the cracks, but Jesus is the caulk! He is the great fixer and filler of all things broken and bruised.

    I’m praying for you always.

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    1. Awww thank you SO much. You’ve been on my list to reach out to, well now you know why that’s been delayed, but you’ve got me making a smoothie for dinner, so I sort of reached out. Miss you!

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    1. Thanks Jenn, I am really just trying to do what’s best for my family in the present and in the future. I think the worst feeling in the world is regret. I have many and don’t want to knowingly create more for myself, or others. Ya know?

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  7. First thank you for sharing your testimony and how the power of God will be working in you through these trials. Remember to keep calling on the the Holy Spirit! Ask him to come quickly to your assistance! Tell Him how weak you are and how much you need Him to be your strength. All will fall into place as you surrender each moment to Jesus our loving merciful Master Friend and Savior.
    Praying and trusting in God’s mercy for you. His eye is on the sparrow and He is watching over you!! Blessings in Christ and Mary with love ❤

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    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You know, I wake up in the middle of the night and call on the Holy Spirit. I’ve always felt closer to the Holy Spirit. It’s the one thing I know is always with me, even at a time (before I was Catholic) when I didn’t know anything about the Catholic faith. I am a believer Lord, help my unbelief.

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  8. What a big heart you have, to try and try and try again to be there for someone in need. Praying for you!

    You are also so strong and inspiring to still find things to be grateful for in the midst of such trials!

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    1. It’s almost easier (for me, anyway) to be consumed with the scary and sad. I have to really fight to keep a faith-filled perspective on this. It’s like a muscle, and without trial, coming to call upon the right way to deal with this (prayer both mine and intercessory prayer, the Holy Spirit, Adoration, Confession, you know the deal) I can easily wallow in despair. I have to pick myself up and not stay in the sad, ya know?

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      1. Well, sad is a valid thing to feel, too! Don’t bury it too deep. Let your faith help you through it and bring you comfort.

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