Friday, October 10, 2014

It's a long story...

I haven't written on my blog in a VERY long time. With my work and a wonderful new family life, some of my less significant loves have fallen by the wayside. I wouldn't change that for anything. :) But lately my husband has been encouraging me to write again, and since I've been bored out of my MIND waiting for this baby to come, I thought I would take the opportunity to share a little bit of my heart.

Since the day we found out we were pregnant it's been nothing but happiness and excitement for us. I suppose it's somewhat of a Cinderella story for me personally. You see, before meeting the most wonderful man and falling in love, I never imagined I'd have a second child.
—I was a young single mother, a string of serious jerks in her wake, bitter, fiercely independent, strong willed, and VERY feisty.
I had lived through my own personal hell, and I came out smoldering.
My reconciliation, my story of grace, the fact that I eventually came to be a wife and a soon-to-be mother for a second time, is just as much a mystery to me as anyone.

Let me rewind.
In May 2006, I was a month shy of 20 years old, newly married and VERY pregnant. The pregnancy was difficult. At 41 weeks, I was sent to the hospital for an induction, but suddenly found myself on the way to the operating room for an emergency c-section.
I had not prepared for this. I was terrified. I just needed my dad. He left work and made it just in time to squeeze my hand. He told me I would be just fine and that he loved me, and then they whisked me away on a gurney.

I didn't know that this would be the last time I'd ever hold his hand.

After I awoke from surgery, I was wheeled down the hallway to recovery. My family and friends gathered around as I was FINALLY able to meet Ezra, my chubby little bundle of sweetness, for the very first time. Down the hallway further and into my recovery room we went. "Can someone get my dad?" I asked, noting his absence. "He's gone to take your sisters home sweetie. He'll be back to see you guys in the morning."
The next day, I awoke to the sound of my cell phone ringing. It was my younger brother, Isaac. Dad wasn't waking up. Something was wrong. "What do I do?" he asked me. "Call 911!" I said. We hung up. I waited and waited, still not completely awake or coherent from pain medication —it all felt like a dream. Some time later a call came from my uncle. My hero, my rock, my daddy —was gone. Heart complications. He died in his sleep.
I was so confused. The next several days were spent in excruciating pain, lying in my hospital bed. Streams of people came and went, bringing flowers, gifts, words of congratulations and condolence in the same breath. I wish I could remember the faces and the words, but they're all a blur. The happiest time of my life —turned so bittersweet. A day of joy overthrown by confusion, sadness, and mourning.

My oldest brother was away on tour with his band. He flew home with the news that something terrible had happened, all the while not knowing exactly what.
Days began to pass by; We eventually went home from the hospital, and along with us came my two oldest brothers. They couldn't bare to stay in the apartment where my dad had passed, and honestly, we all needed each other.
Months began to come and go, and it all felt like a blur. I was a terrible mother. I couldn't even nurse my baby. Emotional trauma overtook my body and things weren't working like they were supposed to. I wasn't healing well from my surgery. I started to sleep a lot.

It must have been weeks before I ever saw my baby boys legs and feet for the first time. Someone else was always changing him, bathing him, sleeping with him.
He had his first overnights away from me almost as soon as we got home. Two very dear friends kept him for me while I attended my dads wake and funeral over two days. The grief and confusion I experienced kept me from feeling guilty about it. —It was what it was.

A few months went by and my brothers were finally ready to move out. Soon after,] it became apparent that my then-husband had very little interest in our marriage, and I began to discover relationships he was having with other women in his workplace.
It seemed everything was coming to a head all at once and my life unraveled. By October, I had had enough of the lying, the sneaking, the cell phone checking, and the tears.
I found a job and a place to live, took my sweet baby, and left to go it alone.
During my transition period I spoke with my friend Beth, who was the single mom of two teenaged boys. She told me that being a single mom was the hardest thing she'd ever done. She told me not to count on anyone else; to work hard, make my own way, and never count on my ex for parental or monetary support.
Truthfully I thought she was being a tad dramatic. My ex had promised to pay child support. He was seeing Ezra regularly. I never thought my situation would mimic the one Beth knew so well.
Then one night he called to tell me that he'd changed his mind; he would no longer give me ANY support without a legal order. He had a new family now. A girlfriend with 2 of her own children,
—and they were pregnant.

I was devastated and in a panic. How would I pay rent and childcare fees on my puny office salary?
Here I was, betrayed and abandoned. Still grieving the loss of my dad. Angry. Scared. Alone. Overweight. No wonder I couldn't keep a husband, I thought to myself. I didn't want me either.

A short time later, Ezra had one of those epic blow-out diapers, and I took him upstairs to change him. I prepared his changing mat, laid him down on the floor, and just stopped and stared at him, tears streaming down my face. I began sobbing and walked out of the room, leaving him there on the floor. Slumping against the wall in the hallway, I continued to sob.
I didn't want to do this! I finally allowed myself to admit it. I didn't want to be the one responsible for every single need my child had; every moment, every day. I didn't feel like I could do it, and I didn't feel like it was fair.

Yet after a few minutes of prize winning self-pity that would put any Hollywood actress to shame, I picked myself up, dried my eyes, and went back in to find Ezra just waiting there, smiling at my sudden reappearance as if I was the greatest sight he'd ever seen. I knelt down, kissed his grinning cheeks, and changed his diaper.
—I was his momma. And at that moment, I could see that life wasn't over. It was just beginning.

The next few years were hard. Harder than I imagined. But I found my way. People started to say that I was a GREAT mom! Maybe I was. Maybe she had been in there all along, just waiting for the fog to clear.
Soon after my divorce was finalized in January 2009, my ex stopped showing up for visits with Ezra entirely, and I began to fill both parent roles as best I could.
I had gotten used to the idea that I would fill them both forever. I wouldn't let someone hurt us like that again. I had dated a little, each time worse than the last, until I concluded that it wasn't worth the effort. I became very bitter and hard hearted over it all. I was very cynical; always copping an attitude with any guy who looked my way. It was better to put them in their place immediately than to let them anywhere near my heart, or my remaining shred of sanity.
One night I took out my journal and began to write;

My Best Friend and Husband. 
Loves God. Loves Ezra. Loves ME!. Puts his heart into his work. Has a good job that he loves. Kind. Funny. Honest. Loving. Extremely Handsome. etc...

I tore the page from my journal and folded it into a small square. Using a pushpin, I tacked it to the wall above my bed and resolved to give it over to God. I was finished doing things my way.

Then it happened —My BEST FRIEND got a boyfriend. How dare she. We lived right next door to each other. Both single moms. We did everything together. Our boys were the same age, on the same soccer and football teams, at the same school. WE were supposed to grow old together. Like The Golden Girls or something.
Unfortunately, she had less time to spend with me now, and I was lonely.
Maybe I should try dating again. Maybe the men have matured. —Laughable, I know! Yet I decided I'd give it a try.
After going on a terrible date with a pretentious 30-something I'd met on eHarmony, I was approached by a guy-friend who told me he had a buddy I should meet.
Um. No thanks. I appreciated his pity, but I was fine. I'd stuck my toe back in the dating pool already, and it was icy cold.
A couple of weeks went by and my BFF was still shuffling her time between her new beau and msyelf. I was still lonely. I told her about this friend of a friend I was encouraged to meet and she said I should go for it.
Reluctantly, I did.
It seemed like forever between the time I told my friend I was interested, and the time his friend, Adrian, broke the ice with me. After talking for a few weeks we had our first date.
—Some time soon after our engagement, I pulled that list of traits off of my bedroom wall and opened it for the first time since I had put it there. Going down the list, I put a check by every single one.

We had a beautiful small wedding on a cool February morning. We were a brand new family. And now about a year and nine months later, we have another baby boy coming along any day.
It's been such a crazy whirlwind for me, and God has been so faithful. I'm not who I was before. I'm optimistic. I believe in love again. I believe in family. I believe husbands are capable of being loyal. It feels amazing.

Yet, as the birth of this baby draws nearer each day, I am fearful. I can't help but let my mind take me to places of sadness and dread. I have said so many times throughout this pregnancy that I don't know what to do with this baby, and people have laughed with me about it. But some part of it is true in my heart. I didn't have the experience most mothers get with their brand new babies. I don't remember most of it. I wasn't present, emotionally or physically for so many things. Part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop. For something to go wrong. For the rug to be pulled out from under my little family. I hate that I feel this way, but my experience haunts me.
So much will be different this time. —Everyone keeps telling me this, and I keep telling myself the same. But the "what if's?" are nagging.
Just waiting for this baby to arrive has been a great source of anxiety in itself. One of my very best friends lost her precious baby to stillbirth one year ago in July. As my due date grows closer, I am so overwhelmed with grief for her on a level I was not able to fully grasp last year. I was heartbroken for Lacey, no doubt about it. We had all lost this baby. She was much loved and much anticipated. But the reality of her loss grips my heart in a new way as I realize the devastation she must feel, ever-present still, after months of expectation, preparation, dreams of the future, her second precious daughter; one who never made it home this side of Heaven. Healthy and thriving one moment, and suddenly gone in the next.

I whole heartedly believe what God's word tells us about the plans He has for our lives. Plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Plans to give us a hope and a future. And with wisdom and experience under my belt, I now know that sometimes those plans are painful. They don't always unfold the way that we expect or desire. They don't always produce the results we think they should.
So here I am at His mercy. Longing to bring home a healthy, happy baby boy, and everyone else I love along with him. And I'll trust in the plans He has for us, no matter what happens.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Going to the chapel... 2-1-2013

Spent a little time this morning snuggling my baby boy on this final day of single-motherhood.
It's been just him and I for nearly 6 years, and I am so thankful for every single moment of laughter and every solitary tear of exhaustion.

The first chapter of James tells us to "Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let it finish its work in you, that you may be mature and complete..."
Let me tell ya; many people read those words and just don't get it. --I GET IT.

I would go back and do it all over again, just to be who I am today; all over again.
I wouldn't say that I'm complete, and a lot of days I wouldn't even say that I'm mature....;) But my faith has certainly been tested, and I'm still here.

Tomorrow I become MRS. Cherri Rodriguez. Look out world....

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mother after Marriage...

The difficulty in being a divorced single mother is the absent sense of belonging that many of us feel. Most women who long to become mothers spend time building a life/foundation to add a child to and become part of a unit. As a young woman I had built my own foundation and identity as a person, then as a partner, and then as a wife, before I became a mother. Then divorce became a factor. Once the foundation of my union and that identity I had as a wife was wiped out from under me, my instinct became an urgency to rebuild, reclaim and reestablish my foundation; much like the instinct of an insect to rebuild its home after it's stepped on or rained out.
The trouble in a new foundation is that the process is no longer allowed to happen in the natural order of our society. Two (or more, depending on the number of children) parts of the unit remain, but without the solid ground of a foundation to rest on they may become scavengers; searching for a new identity wherever they see potential. The first issue in this search is the uncharted territory; the unfamiliar process of reconstruction and the need for instant gratification in it. Since we preexist as a "family", our brains tell us that we have done our due diligence. That earlier process of building and becoming the original unit has already taken place and it feels as if we should be allowed to skip steps 1, 2 & 3...etc. Of course that natural way of thinking couldn't be further from the truth, because instead of building a foundation in free form, fully customizable and dependent upon circumstances which are largely of our choosing, we are now attempting to construct a foundation that will fit perfectly beneath the partial structure that remains. Extremely difficult, though not impossible, construction of a stable foundation must be done with great care and concern. Though I suppose there are instances where carelessness can lead to stability (largely by chance), such behavior is not in my nature. 

Lately I feel a greater need for a foundation; an overwhelming need to belong somewhere. As it  penetrates my heart and overwhelms my spirit, I can't help but wonder if my son has some form of this longing himself. He's 5 years old, and his foundation with his father is as non-existent as mine. He has not seen, spoken to, or had communication of any kind with his dad in almost 2 years, though we often have short conversations about him, or I overhear him having them with other people. This train of thought only leads me further into that longing for stability, as my heart aches not only for myself, but for my child and his innocent role in it.
I am not saying that I would go back and fight for my marriage. It was not worth salvaging in any way, and as time has gone on, I see with more and more clarity that my former spouse was never a stable foundation, nor would he have had the ability to become one as time went on. Some men are incapable of being the husbands and fathers that they've carelessly committed to being. Finding this out only AFTER having become a wife and mother is a tragedy of monumental proportions that will ripple out and effect my household for the rest of my life, and into future generations. However, I believe that the messes we create for ourselves always serve a greater purpose, and obviously in this case the greatest purpose of my life; my sweet little boy, who I wouldn't trade for all the fresh starts that a billion years could offer. 

With that said, I began writing this to express my deep seeded longing for a place to call my own, but also to make sure that people in my life understand the complexity of the situation I am facing. I have difficulty sometimes in communicating my thoughts and desires to friends and family who are making their best attempts to "fix" me. While I won't deny that I have been broken, these "fixes" are temporary and are rather labeled at "fix-ups". Many times, especially in the last few months, I have been approached by different friends about my romantic life. People often ask me why I'm not with this person or that person, or they want to introduce me to someone. It has become difficult for me to explain my reservations to others. People just don't get it, and that's fine. I could never expect someone who hasn't stood in my shoes to understand the trouble in stepping forward in them. There's not much else for me to say. I know that there are women who will read this and know EXACTLY what I mean, and at the same time there will be women who might read this and think, "This female is crazy." and they're right, but I know I'm onto something. 
To those who have recently stepped into shoes much like mine, I'm right here with ya.
To those women who stood firm in my shoes for quite some time until God led them forward, I admire you. 
Until I am blessed with the opportunity to build a lasting, stable foundation, I will continue to rest  in the arms of the one who founded ME. 

Always remember to feed your Faith...and your doubts will starve to death.
Much love, Momma's. 


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sticks and stones.....

There's a story from my childhood that I've found myself telling over and over as of late. Its painful memory surfaced after my 4 year old and I had an encounter with a witless bully. I recounted the incident in a short Facebook update:
April 6th, 2011
Wanted to string up a couple second graders lastnight. I took Ezra out to ride his bike and these three little punks walk up right next to him and tell him he's a baby for riding with the training wheels on. Seriously?! They're bullying kids right in front of their parents now? I told them not to worry; He would probably be riding without training wheels before any of them stopped wetting the bed. #FutureFelons

In the days to follow I had shared the details of this little incident with several friends and family members. I was reminded several times that I have no power over who picks on him when I'm not around. It reminded me of a time when I was 7 years old, and kept a pretty serious secret from my parents....
As most of my friends know, I was the second of 6 children (7, including my kid-brother Luke). My first sister wasn't even born until I was 8, so my childhood playmates at this time included a brother, another brother, another brother, see where this is going. I was a tomboy by most accounts. I dressed like my brothers, acted like them (and even tried to pee like them a couple times, but I won't go into that). One completely girlie thing that I reserved for myself was my Barbie dolls. I LOVED them. I didn't have very many; we didn't have the money growing up that a lot of other kids had, so I treasured my Barbie dolls like they were precious. At this particular time I had just received an AMAZING gift from my grandmother: A rolling Barbie suitcase!! I could NOT have been more thrilled. 
I would load up my Barbie dolls, their dresses, hairbrushes, and shoes and wheel them down the street to my best friends house nearly every day. Rebecca, was that friend. 
She was my age, much girlier than myself; probably prettier too. She didn't wear boy clothes like me, and her mother used to put her in beauty pageants. She went to school just like all the other kids, while I stayed home, as one of 4 (at the time) that my mom homeschooled. Of course that meant that Rebecca had a lot of other friends, and aside from the kids I grew up with in Church, (and my aforementioned brothers) I didn't really have many at all. 

On this day I received a phone call from Rebecca, she asked that I come down to play, "and make sure to bring your Barbie suitcase", she said. I asked permission from my mom, who was going to be running errands for a while, and she agreed. I hurriedly collected my things and ran out the door and down the street. When I reached her house I went up to the front door as usual and rang the bell. She answered, opening the big green wooden door, but just stood there, staring at me through the glass of the second. 
"Go around to the back." She told me. "Why?" I asked, confused. "Because, I said to." She replied. 
I was eager to get this show on the road, so I complied and wheeled my suitcase down the little path to her privacy gate. As I came inside the fence and around to the back door I was surprised to see 4 other girls blocking my way.
 One girl grabbed my wrist as another shoved me from the back and I fell on the ground. Completely stunned I turned and watched them unzip my Barbie suitcase, dumping every last bit of its contents into a big mud hole. I tried to stand up and go after my things, but as soon as I was near the hole, another girl gave me a big shove and I fell in too. At this point Rebecca had come out into the yard; I looked at her, begging her with my eyes to run and get help, thinking that she had no idea what was going on either, until I saw the look on her face, as she stared back at me with a smirk. This was a setup
All of a sudden I felt a knocking against the side of my head; then against my back, my neck, the top of my head, my face. What was happening? I sat in bewilderment as this group of young girls threw rocks, sticks, and big green walnuts (from the trees in our neighborhood) at me. I'm sure I was crying, but I can't remember any sounds coming from my mouth as I sat there with my eyes closed, willing it to stop. All I remember was the sounds these objects made against my head and body; And the pain. 
But all of a sudden, "HEY!!" I uncovered my eyes and there he was; My big brother, Jason. 
"What are you doing!?" he shouted at them, as he began grabbing at me and my belongings, covered in mud and bleeding from my eye. The girls, having been caught, fled into the house. My brother proceeded to collect every single item he could find that belonged to me, placing each muddy remnant into my Barbie suitcase before making that long walk home down the street with us both in tow. I don't remember him saying anything to me at all. But he had saved me, and silence couldn't have felt more comforting. My mind began to race as we walked. Between feelings of hurt and betrayal, came those of fear and loneliness. What would happen when my mom found out about this? She already didn't like Rebecca's parents very much. She would NEVER let me play with her again if she found out that this happened! It's sad to think that after this little girl had set me up for destruction, I still wanted her to be my friend. I was scared to lose her. As soon as we got home, Jason helped me get cleaned up. New clothes, a wet washcloth on my scrapes and the cut on my eye, and soapy water up and down my legs and arms. I made him promise he wouldn't tell mom and dad. He agreed not to. 

Until recently, my mom knew nothing of this incident. Afterall, I was a tomboy; Constantly covered in scrapes and bruises, always getting my clothes dirty, grass stained, and muddy. It was just another day in the life.
As I started writing this today, I wondered wether or not my brother would remember it. I texted him to find out. At first he didn't really recall it, but after I gave him a few of the details it started to surface in his mind. I suppose that sometimes, a heroic act means more to the saved than it does to the savior.  I'm not sure what would've happened that day if the abuse had gone on much longer. I was helpless and hopeless; not even fighting back; just waiting for the conclusion. 
Anyone who knows me NOW knows that I'm a fighter. I never ever stand by and watch someone being attacked, wether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual. At times I still have trouble standing up for myself, but not for others. Realizing this has helped me to understand that there will be times that Ezra goes through some horrible things that I can't protect him from. I know that going through things like this (there were plenty more where this came from) as a child helped to build and mold me into the compassionate, loving person that I am. 
They also taught me a lot about relationships; The trust that was destroyed in my friendship with Rebecca was instantly restored through the courageous act of compassion by my brother. Funny though, since this was the SAME brother who just weeks earlier had shot me in the butt with a BB gun, and who tortured me on countless occasions (sometimes with assistance from brothers 2 and 3, and sometimes solo). I guess it goes back to that sibling rule of: "I can hurt, tease, torture my sister...BUT YOU CAN'T!!" and I'm okay with that...... 

Jason and Me, going fishing. =)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snowpocalypse 2011...

I wrote my name in the snow, so Ezra followed suit. =)
Snowpocalypse; Perhaps God's way of slowing us down; Reminding me, specifically, that I have never been (nor will I ever be) the pace maker. I've struggled this week, trying to factor an entire missed week of work into an already stretched solo-parent budget, but I've been in tough spots before, and He's never left me out in the cold. *Pun fully intended*

Psalm 108:4
 For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Authentic Love...

Authenticity; a word like most any other nowadays, that is thrown into the vast body of our daily speech, and like other words we say, we lack the desire to understand it fully. 
In its English form, it means to be "reputably undisputed".
Word etymology says "the word authentic implies that the contents it presents correspond to the facts and are not fictitious." It also calls it "genuine, implying that the reputed, credible author is the real one."

So then, what is authentic love? What would it mean to you to have an undisputed, reputable, factual, credible, genuine, authentic love? In all I know, I see only two loves to be "reputably undisputed", genuine, and authentic....1) My love for my child, and 2) God's love for His. In fact, I will go as far as to say that I attribute ALL authentic love to the divine, for it is certainly God's gift of authentic love for ME that has blessed me with my child.  

You'll hear the word authentic used to describe objects now and then. Things that are said to be authentic give us a sense of security in their worth. We want to be recipients of things that are authentic, because they hold the most value. So what can be said of a love that is not authentic? The antonym (direct opposite) of authentic, is counterfeit. I love the definition of counterfeit in the English etymology dictionary; It says "A copy; Something which is made with the intent to deceive. Not genuine;  the imitation of something superior."
It nearly stopped my heart to read those words. "Something which is made to deceive; The imitation of something superior." Love which is not authentic simply mimics and mocks the love of my Savior. I have been in situations and relationships where love was counterfeit. The pain and the anguish of recovering from a counterfeit love can feel impossible. The first blow to your heart is the end of something which YOU perceive to have been real; the second comes later when you realize that the love you had was never authentic, never genuine. 

There was an elderly couple shot in the Tucson rampage last week. Reports indicated that the elderly man shielded his wife from the gunman; he died in the process and his wife lived. 
It is my belief that love is self-sacrificing. Not by sacrificing your physical life necessarily, but in dying to selfishness every day and putting your partners needs ahead of your own. If a couple is able to die to self every day and put the other first, both partners needs are met and both feels that they are authentically loved.
The ultimate authentic love is the love of Christ. By dying for us physically, we were given eternal life, but I think this act is ultimately the greatest example to us of how we should be loving one another in His name.

I plan to continue the study of authenticity. There is plenty for me to learn. I don't know how to determine wether a love is authentic, except that it is blessed to us by God. I long for more authentic love in my life, as I think we all do; After reaching this conclusion I commit to accept nothing less. 


Saturday, September 25, 2010

For no reason at all....

Ezra's 4 yr old hand on my Dad's gravestone, next to his newborn hand print.

You can't imagine the love I have for you. Holding you in my arms; listening to your gentle breaths, I put my face against your hair and breathe in your angel smell. You press your tiny hand against my back and gently pat, 

because I've patted your back for 4 years now, 

and you know it means "I love you." 

You like to hear every detail of my day and hang on every word,

 inquiring as to the workings of the most simple tasks that would 

fall idle on most other ears.

 You tuck away every detail I've ever told you. You remember if I didn't feel good yesterday, and you want to know if I'm better in the morning. When I'm away from you, you miss me, and you tell me so. 

You stop in the middle of your childs-play to say you love me, 

just because you do. You have no agenda, no secret motives, no logic behind your love for me. You must be the only person in this world who loves me for no reason and every reason, at the same time. 

When I think of every way in which you surround and penetrate my heart, I can't imagine how much more amazing my God's love for me could be, though I am told it's beyond my deepest capacity to love. Therefore, I vow each day to love and adore my God for all that He is, in the same way that you love and adore me for no reason at all

I love you, Ezra

Ezra's hand again at 3 yrs.