Monday, December 2, 2013

being poor

I've been poor a lot of my life.

I remember when my mom and my dad first got divorced in 1972.  Not a great year to be a single mom.  I slept in a crib until I was 4.  I remember eating oatmeal for dinner.  Because it was what we had.

There were lots of years with enough.  My mom worked when she didn't always need to so I could have dance lessons or voice lessons.  But in high school my step dad was in construction so there were lots of lean times while we waited to get paid.  I learned how to eat from a garden.  And cook weird cuts of meat you only get when you butcher your own hog.  Or get paid by a farmer in half a hog instead of actual money.

When I got married the first time, we didn't manage money well.  We struggled financially but it was our own doing.  We learned from it, I guess.  Then my ex-husband lost his job and has been underemployed ever since.

Somehow in the past 9 months, he's decided it's OK to not pay his child support.  His whopping $200 a month for 6 kids child support.  Granted, we have joint custody.  But I paid for all the haircuts.  The new shoes.  The school supplies.  Now I don't even get his help with that.

And my husband doesn't make enough money at his job.  The child support he pays is $1000. He makes a little more than that each month.  So that leaves me to earn the bulk of our income.  In the past 18 months we have gone through my retirement.  Through my savings.  Not living extravagantly.  Just living.  We have never taken my kids to a restaurant for a meal.  I've taken all 6 of them to Carl's Jr once in the past 18 months.  There is just no money for dining out.  We aren't starving.

We get food stamps.  And I am very good at budgeting that money.  I'm thankful that I know which cuts of meat are cheaper and how to prepare them.  I know how to do a lot from scratch.  I know how to use leftovers so food doesn't get wasted.  I'm so thankful for all I know.  So even though the bank account is nearly empty, we can sit down to a good meal and enjoy each other's company.  I can have snacks for my kids.  I'm thankful for that.  It makes a holiday like Thanksgiving go by without a hitch.  I can do a big meal with lots of family togetherness.

What I can't handle is the next holiday that is coming.  Watching Christmas specials with my kids leaves me in a puddle of tears.  I don't want to give them the world.  Or even electronics.  That's not the family we are these days.  I want to just be able to give them something. And today I don't know where the money will come from for that.  I really don't.

We have depleted the savings.  All of the extra money will soon be spent to pay this month's bills.  I don't know how we will pay our rent in January.  I believe that God is faithful.  I do.  I have seen Him come through for us time and again.  I like having a few hundred dollars in the bank for just in case.  Or to know that if I don't work enough hours, we will have something to fall back on.  I don't have any work scheduled after January 2.  Nothing.  No work.  No income.

My husband has been trying to get another job where he earns enough for the 14 months we have been married.  Doors keep closing.  He is discouraged to put it mildly.

I keep waiting for the change that I expect to come.  It's not coming.  All that's coming is tears.

I'm used to being poor.  I don't mind going without.  I don't mind having second hand furniture.  I don't mind shopping for my clothes at Goodwill.

But I just want to know that there will be enough.  Enough to buy my kids some things for Christmas.  Enough to pay the bills.  Enough for my husband to visit his children.  Enough work to pay the bills.  Enough faith to hold on another day.  I only ask for enough.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

the one where I blame my step-mom

This step-parenting thing is so much harder than she made it look.  My step-mom started dating my dad when I was 5 I think.  They got married just after I turned 7.  Yes, she has been around most of my life.  Yes, I was still young and cute when they started out together.  I was easy to like if I don't say so myself.  :)  But she was just always there, with my dad, a part of my life.  I know I caused her grief.  I know there were times when she struggled with how to parent me.  But she did a really good job of being an adult in my life that loved me, was interested in me, shared herself with me.

How did she do it?!  I can't figure out the step-mothering part of my life right now.  Yes, my step-children are miles and miles away.  I have met the oldest one only twice.  I don't know how to build a relationship with her.  The younger 2 I spent some time with before their dad moved, before we were married.  I have only seen them once since.  Their dad goes to visit and I stay here.

The plan is for them to finally venture to our house this summer.  I'm nervous already and it's months away.  Even when I think we are on good terms and things are OK, I get a text, have a conversation where I am reminded that I am still very much on the outside.

I don't feel bad feelings from them.  I just feel nothing from them.  I don't know how to go deeper.  I don't know how my step-mom did it.  But she did.  She is a grandmother to my kids just like the 2 other grandmothers they have.  They know no difference.  But how do we get to that point?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

an update

I feel like I have so much more to share but before I do, maybe I should make clear all that has happened since I last posted.

The last time I posted here I was waiting for my divorce to be final.  I went to court alone.  To the "default hearing".  Default because TFOMC had been notified that I had filed papers and yet he never did anything for the court.  I still don't know if he ever went to the parenting class or not.

My divorce was FINALLY final on September 6.  I kept hearing Taylor Swift's song "We are Never Getting Back Together" on the radio that day.  Appropriate, I guess.

On September 7 I flew to Houston to meet my SO.  That night he proposed.  I knew it was coming but I didn't expect it that night.

I knew it was coming because on September 8 we packed all of his belongings into a truck and started the journey to Denver.  (Texas is a HUGE state to drive through, btw!)  We arrived in Denver on September 10 to get him settled into this little house with me.  We were married on September 13.

A lot happened in a short amount of time.  But I knew it would.  My kids have now lived with this man that is their step-father for over 4 months.  They had met him only once before that.  That's been a big adjustment.  I am married to a man I absolutely adore.  He gets me.  He cares for me and shows me a dozen times a day.  He is my best friend.  It's weird.

I didn't grow up seeing lots of great marriages.  My mom was married for the third time when I was 11. I know some of my friends' parents had great marriages, but I wasn't around often enough to see how that really looked and worked.  I've had friends that have had great marriages.  And honestly, I was mostly skeptical that they could be that happy and not lying or drunk most of the time.

So now I have "that" marriage.   The happy one.  The one where I can't wait for a "date night".  The one where I can't wait for him to get home from work.  The one where I am so happy to just sit and be with him.

And it's hard.  Because now I have "that" marriage.  The one where I need to be honest about how I feel.  The one where I need to share my struggles and hurts to maintain the closeness we have.  The one where I need to not push him away when it gets hard but let him draw me to him.

I've been married for almost 5 months now.  It's beautiful.  It's amazing.  It is how it's supposed to be.  And I am at peace.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I've lived on my own for over a week now.  Since June 29, to be exact.  That's the first night I spent in my house alone.  I haven't died and I've only broken 1 thing I haven't figured out how to fix yet, so I think I am doing ok.

It's a strange feeling...this living on my own as a grown up.  I've never really done it.  I graduated from high school and went to college and then got married.  This is a whole new thing for me.  And doing it with 6 kids in tow has been interesting to say the least.

It's a hard transition for some of my kids.  I can tell by the attitudes they have sometimes, especially my 2 youngest daughters.  They are 8 and 11.  The 11 year old doesn't do well with change and transition. It makes her bitchy.  The younger one gets emotional and wants to control anything she can, like the tv.  But we are learning to make this transition.

My divorce is still pending.  We had a paper review of our case on July 3.  I waited until July 2 to finally get everything in so I could go over everything with TFOMC.  He had no idea we had to do it then.  I was trying to go over parenting plans and division of assessts and he had little to contribute.   He said, "I thought we had to go to mediation for all this, that they would explain everything to us then."  We didn't go to mediation because he didn't get his paperwork in and pay for it.  I guess he doesn't remember that part.

Then as I talked about how we could claim the kids for taxes for the next 12 years, he said, "I haven't really thought about any of this."  How can he not think about it?  Does he think it will magically happen on its own?  In CO the courts really want to just stay out of it and let the 2 parties come to an agreement and then sign off on it.  And has he really not thought about the future at all?  I guess maybe he's just still grieving, but at some point you have to think about what the future will be, don't you?

I just called the court a few minutes ago.  I turned in all my documents.  He had signed some of them but he didn't take off work to go to file them with me so he signature isn't notarized.  The clerk I spoke to asked me, "Is he going to participate in the divorce at all?"  So there is a delayed prevention order until August 9.  TFOMC has until that time to file his papers and go to the parenting after divorce class.  If he doesn't, then I can have a hearing.  If it's uncontested (I guess meaning that he doesn't show up then and have lots to say), then I can get my final hearing.

When we went to our initial status hearing, we were both given a sheet that said what we needed to turn in by July 2 for the paper review.  I did my part.  When I talked to TFOMC before I filed, he had no idea even where to find the documents online to fill them out.  I already sent him an email with that information months ago.

I find myself just really frustrated with him, angry that he's not doing his part.  But I guess this shouldn't surprise me.  This is how it's always been.  I've dealt with stuff.  He doesn't deal.  He goes to work and goes out with friends for beers then comes home and sits in his chair.

So now I am waiting on him to get his shit together.  And trying not to be angry because it won't get me anywhere.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

why it got weird

This post is so long overdue.  I posted on my Facebook a couple a weeks ago that I had had a very weird day.  My life is wacky.  It is not as most expect.  It is full of joy and happiness and redemption and restoration.  But it's very weird.

Let me start by saying this blog is called "an honest start" because I needed to a place to be honest about how I am feeling, what is happening in my life.  I've been really good at playing the game of keeping up appearances and being who I thought the world expected me to be.  Even though a lot of the people who read this blog are cyber friends and I've never met them IRL, I have still not shared all my story because I didn't want judgement.  I have to be really honest now.

I came to my complete and final decision that I wanted to divorce TFOMC and move on last Labor Day weekend.  I knew.  I was finished.  I wasn't able to tell him, but it was done in my heart.  I still had processing to do and I am in a different place emotionally than I was then.  But my decision had been made.  Within a couple weeks I reconnected with an old acquaintance on FB.  He and I had known each other long ago and had always enjoyed talking, but it was nothing more than that.  Until last September.  We started talking again and it was different this time.  For both of us.  He was waiting for his divorce to be final.  He had been in a broken marriage that had in many ways been over for years as well.  I fell in love with him.  He's far away.  If you read my FB statuses, you can probably guess the city he's in though I won't say it here.  Because I'm trying to be all anonymous and stuff.  He loves me.  We want to be together soon.  When my divorce is final we have plans for a future.  I could go more into our story but I'll save that for another time.  It's hard for me to put that all out there and not expect judgement.  But I'm learning that this is part of a bigger plan.  I'll post more about that later.  I didn't plan to have an affair.  But I did.  And now it's so much bigger than that ugly word.  He and I call it our romance.  So for now he'll be my SO here.

That is honestly not why it's weird.  Far from it.

I didn't tell TFOMC for a long time about my SO.  I didn't want to hurt TFOMC.  I wanted my motives for telling to be right.  Not to hurt him.  Not to spite him.  I did want to protect him.  And then just before Christmas I began to have my suspicion's that TFOMC had Another Woman.  Let's be honest.  I checked the cell phone bill and saw the conversations.  I know why people talk for 128 minutes at 10:30 at night.  I knew it first hand.  There was Another Woman.  And I was happy for him.  I want TFOMC to be happy.  He could be a great husband.  Just not to me.

On Valentine's Day, he admitted that he was "digging" Another Woman.  He left it there.  We also had a scheduled appointment to talk a few days later.  We were supposed to talk about the progress of the divorce, custody, bankruptcy.  But I was also going to bring up Another Woman.

TFOMC confirmed that he was in a relationship with Another Woman.  We talked through that.  I am happy for him, for them.  It's taken some processing, but I am in a very good place with that.  I had lunch with Another Woman on Friday.  It lasted over 2 hours.  My SO said, "I knew you were either getting along or killing each other."  Is she my new best friend?  No.  But do I believe we can work on a relationship that is healthy for my kids' sake?  Most definitely!

So after TFOMC's confession that morning, I then told him I was seeing someone as well.  He asked who and I told him.  They knew each other long ago.  They have mutual friends and a lot of common points in their lives.  TFOMC's reaction?  "Really? I love that guy!"  I said, "yeah, me too...."  I told him it was serious with my SO.  And TFOMC was thrilled to know that there is a plan.  That there will be a home.  That there will be family.

We then spent the next 48 hours talking away from the kids about Another Woman and my SO.  We talked about our respective relationships.  How they are different.  How they are healing us.  How we see these 2 new people coming in and the 10 of us creating a new sense of family.  It has been hard for me in some ways.  Another Woman has taken my place in the social circle.  But if I am honest, I didn't ever feel like I fit in that circle to begin with.  I know Another Woman will never replace me in my kids' life.  But I know she will have a place in their lives.  And I am choosing to graciously embrace that.  My SO won't replace TFOMC but he will have a place there.

I feel like this is so much information to get out here.  I can't even really express all I feel right now.

Another Woman doesn't have kids.  This is a whole new thing for her.  My SO has 3 kids.  He also has an ex-wife that is having a hard time with all of this.  (I'm going to call her TheMotherOfHisChildren.) So there are those things to consider too.  That's definitely another post.

My oldest daughter has known about my SO for a long time.  Too long.  I didn't want her to know, but she heard me on the phone.  She was angry at first.  But then she came to see that I'm happy.  That I love him.  That he loves me.  She's old enough to want her parents to be happy.  She's old enough to look down the road.  She also knows about Another Woman.  She's met her.  She likes her.  I like that.  Sixteen year old girls can't have too many women to mentor them.

My oldest son knew about Another Woman before he knew about my SO.  He really likes Another Woman.  He's really interested in my SO.  But 14-year-old boys aren't in such in a hurry to build relationships over the phone.  But he's happy for both me and TFOMC.  He told me not to have a lame wedding.  I'm his mom and my wedding should be cool.

My middle son knows about Another Woman.  He doesn't know about my SO but he told TFOMC who he thinks I should be dating.  And it's NOT my SO...  But I think he's ready for the info that there is someone there.

The 3 younger kids won't be told while we are still under the same roof.  That's the plan.  But Another Woman is coming to be with them while TFOMC and I go to court on Wednesday morning.  That feels a little strange to me.  And a lot natural.  There is no one else I would want with them more than their other mama.

So now you know my story.  Why my life is weird.  It feels very counter to what I've always been told that divorce is supposed to look like.  But I see God in it.  I feel Him moving in my heart.  I see Him in TFOMC and my SO.  Another Woman is experiencing it too.

Last Sunday night I went to a church service with a friend of mine.  The soloist was singing a song about Brokenness.  I had a vision.  I was standing holding hands with TFOMC.  On the other side of him he was holding hands with Another Woman.  On the other side of me I was holding hands with my SO.  And on the other side of him, he was holding hands with TMOHC.  And God was calling out to us, saying "I want to restore you to Me.  Your restoration to me is more important than your marriages.  It's more important that you are in relationship with Me than married."  It was huge for me.  I told my SO and he cried.  I told TFOMC and he cried.  I told Another Woman and she cried.  We have all grown up in this church that has taught us that being married is best, getting a divorce is awful.  God clearly spoke to me and told me that the spiritual awakening I am experiencing is more important than staying married.

My mind has been spinning with this idea.  So I'm telling my story now.  My life is weird.  God is moving in my life.  I am being restored.  And I am at peace.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

TFOMC stayed at work late last night (ie drinking beer and eating wings with "the boys") and still wasn't home when I left for work at 9:20.  So he got divorce papers for Valentine's Day.

I feel evil because that makes me a little happy!

Monday, February 13, 2012

I filed!

It was almost anti-climactic to get it done.  The clerk of court was really nice to me.  I had to fill out one more paper and she didn't treat me like an idiot at all.

So the process is officially in motion.  I'm happy.  Elated.

Now I have to read my documents to see what I need to do for my hearing in March.