Hello, North Carolina!

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The U-Haul getting all finished up.

Saturday, May 16th at around 4pm, the driving crew set out from Iowa to drive to our new home in North Carolina.  Jarrod, Andy, Cory, Amber C & Amber DC, and their friend Sheila all got into one of our cars and the U-Haul truck (towing our other vehicle), and took off.  Amber DC kept in touch with me along the way, letting me know status updates periodically about the kids and the dog.  Jarrod let me know every time they entered a new state.

Saturday night I had planned on staying at my mom’s house with Evan and Felix.  However, things didn’t work out quite as planned, so Evan ended up staying at a friend’s house, and I ended up staying with a different friend.  Felix did fine overnight, for the first night ever spent away from home.  And the next morning we got ready, and my mom picked up us, and then picked Evan up, and took us all to the airport in Des Moines.  It was a tearful good-bye, and very hard to walk away from my mom.  I knew she and I would miss each other miserably.  After many hugs and tears, we parted ways and we were on our way to our gate.

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Above the clouds and the mountains.

We flew from Des Moines, IA to Charlotte, NC.  And then we switched planes and flew from Charlotte to Raleigh, NC.  It was the first time Evan ever flew, and he swears he will never do it again.  He was not impressed.  It was also the first time Felix flew, and he did amazingly well.  He didn’t cry or complain in any way except for about the last 10 minutes of the first flight, and that was because he was just bored at the end of that 2 hours on my lap.  The second flight went very well too.

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Arrived in Raleigh!

It took the driving crew about 25 hours to make it all the way to our new house.  Once our flight landed in Raleigh, we had to wait about an hour for Jarrod to get the U-Haul parked at our new house and take a car to pick us up.  It was so great to be able to see him again after being apart for a little over 24 hours.

 

When we pulled up, the house looked exactly as it did in the pictures.  However, going inside and looking around, it was a bit dank.  It smelled musty, as though no one had lived there for a few months or so.  There was a bunch of junk on the back deck like old interior doors and broken blinds.  The lawn was long and neglected.  The place wasn’t very clean.  I was pretty unhappy, feeling like I made a mistake in choosing this house for our family home.  However, over the following few days, Jarrod and I cleaned and tidied and arranged our belongings in a way that has really made it come together as our home.

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Our new backyard.

Now that we’ve been here for a couple of weeks, Jarrod and I are both much happier.  Besides a handful of boxes left to unpack, we have everything where we want it to be.  Coming from such a large house into one that is considerably smaller, we had to make some adjustments.  For starters, we had to rent a storage shed for quite a few of our belongings that simply won’t fit into this house.  Our dining table was far too large for our current diningroom, so we had to put it in storage and buy a smaller one (used).  We weren’t able to bring any living room furniture with us in the U-Haul, so we are doing a rent-to-own deal for a sectional couch.  Most everything else we needed I was able to find for free or very cheap on Amazon or Facebook Marketplace.

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Felix enjoying the view out the front windows.

Jarrod has started his general manager training for the restaurant where he was hired.  He will be training for a few weeks, and then he will be managing his own store.  I am still in the process of getting Evan and Cory enrolled in school, and finding a pediatrician and PT for Felix.  Some of that depends on government and school offices opening up again.

I’ve been a little lonely with Jarrod working full time already.  But I know this is a temporary thing.  Eventually life will be able to resume and I’ll be able to set up play dates for Felix again.  And in so doing, I’ll be able to make some mom friends locally.  I really look forward to that.  In the meantime I’m just finishing up the paperwork and registration for all the boys and their various needs.  I’m making our house feel more and more like our home.  And I’m just living our normal life here in North Carolina.  It doesn’t really feel like we are so far away from what we’ve always known.  The biggest difference is that I can’t see family and friends.  But I know they will visit us here, and we will visit in Iowa as well.

Remembering

Iowa has always been my home.  My mom moved us here to Newton when I was 5 years old.  Newton is where I grew childhood friendships, and where I started and attended elementary school.  A huge chunk of my childhood was here, and nearly all of my adulthood.  I was only away from Newton long enough to finish high school and learn about working and being on my own in a larger city, and then I came right back here.  My children were all four born here, and my three oldest have attended school here always.  Jarrod and I met here (and he’s been a lifelong resident as well).  We worked a job together, built a happy home together in the only house we’ve ever been in as a couple, and created a life and family together here.

Newton-IA

I have learned about love and heartache.  The gift of life and the devastation of loss.  All the good times full of laughter and joy, along with all the deeply desperate and bad times.  Driving through Newton, every street has a memory.  Every park holds a part of my personal history.  Many houses contain pieces of my childrens’ upbringings.  And here we are, in our last few days within it all.

Among the things I will miss, of course, my mom is the one I will miss the most.  She’s been the one here for me always, no matter what.  She’s been my best friend, the one I can go to and lean on for anything.  She knows me inside and out.  I love her so very much.  I will miss my best friend Amber.  Though this pandemic has kept us apart a lot more than we’d like to be, it is going to be rough knowing I can’t just drive down the road and hang out.  I’m going to miss Skyla and Shane, new friends that Jarrod and I have made through Felix.  I’m going to miss our wonderfully spacious house that has been our family home through the duration of our marriage so far.  This house has more memories for us than I could even begin to count.  I am going to miss our favorite breakfast/lunch spot, Midtown Cafe, and the owners, The Sharpnacks.  They have been like extended family to us.  Felix was basically grown in my tummy on their delicious creations.  I’m going to miss the helpful therapy providers and medical professionals Felix has needed during his infancy.  We’ve gotten so much support from them for his developmental needs.  And of course many more friends and acquaintances I have made throughout the years.

New-chapterHowever, I very much look forward to turning the page in my life story.  Jarrod and I will be presented in our new home as a couple, from day one.  No one will be asking us how our exes are, or what happened years ago.  They will see us as a family unit, and accept that from the beginning.  We will no longer be questioned or doubted for our longevity or commitment.  The older boys can all take their lives into their own hands and put out whatever part of themselves they want to be known for as well.  Felix will have more opportunities as he grows than he ever could have been provided here.  Jarrod already has career opportunities and options in NC he could not achieve here.  And I’m looking forward to finding my path wherever life takes me out there as well.

Though I’m looking around and realizing all that I will miss, I am also very excited to turn this page and create my new chapter.  One for not just myself, but most of all for my family.  This is going to be the amazing, refreshing turn of events we all need in our lives.

4 days until MOVING DAY!

My next update will be from our new home, about our journey and our new beginning.  Stay tuned…

We’re Moving!

For years I have been talking about moving away from Iowa.  When I was quite a bit younger, in my early 20s, I even attempted it a couple times.  But my plans were always half-assed, and I was never quite aware of all the planning and preparation it took to move far away.  That ignorance got me into a couple of predicaments, and I always ended up back in Iowa with the help of my mom.

However, a few years ago I visited Florida and I knew then and there, for absolute certain, I was not meant to stay in Iowa.  I fell in love with the trip halfway across the country, and especially with the ocean.  At that time I had decided I would move to Florida at some point, I just didn’t know when.  I had a job and a relationship and family tying me to Iowa at the time, and no real opportunities at my destination.  So I stayed put and planned.

ncWhen Jarrod and I started planning our future together, before we even said “I do,” we agreed that we would move away.  I had said Florida, but he expressed how much he didn’t like the climate down there.  Over the last two years or so we have been discussing just where we may want to go.  The idea of North Carolina came up because of the trip we took to get my tubal reversal surgery.  While we were there we explored Raleigh a little bit, and we really felt at home there.  The weather was nice, the scenery was beautiful, and there was plenty to do.  We looked into a few other locations around the country too, including where we got married near Denver, CO, and of course a little bit around Florida and Georgia… and even other places in Iowa.  But after serious consideration of our options, we landed on moving to North Carolina.

We knew we were going to move either this year, 2020, with the help of our tax returns, or in 2021.  Jarrod and I both started looking for job opportunities, and I started looking into rental housing.  He submitted a few applications just to get a feel for the area, and I continued to look into rental prices, neighborhoods, schools, and other needs and desires we have in a place we’d like to call home.  And as if it were meant to be, Jarrod got a serious job offer making more than he could make here, and I found a rental house that suits our family at an affordable rate, both at the same time.

As Jarrod moved forward with his phone interviews, and we moved forward with our live video tour of the house we had chosen, it became clear the move was going to happen sooner rather than later.  It was just a matter of arranging the actual move and letting our family and friends know it was going to happen.

I told my older boys first, since they are to go along.  All three of them are okay with it, and even excited to go.  Then I told my mom and a couple of my friends, and Jarrod told his family.  And finally I announced it on social media for our online friends.  While I was met with congratulations, encouragement, and offers to help us out however possible from my family and friends, Jarrod was met with skepticism and doubt from his family.  He was showered with resentful comments about pulling away from his family, and questions about his motives and preparedness, as though this wasn’t a decision that was thought through or planned out.

Through it all, we chose to accept the encouragement and leave the rest.  Rest assured, years of thought and planning has gone into this decision. It is not something we are taking lightly or doing on a whim.  All our bases are covered as far as income and jobs, housing, utilities, and a network of other parents who are ready and willing to guide us in the right directions as far as medical and educational needs for the kids.  Not to mention the fact that we are grown adults and are able to figure things out on our own as well.

NC (1)Anyway, the point to all this?  We are very excited to announce that this month we are moving from Iowa, our lifelong home, to North Carolina.  And we will only be a couple hours drive away from the beach!  We are ready and excited to start this new chapter of our lives.  That doesn’t mean we are leaving anyone behind.  We are just looking forward and following new and greater opportunities.  It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, any and all of our friends and family members are always welcome to visit us.  Of course we will visit when we can, as well.  And we can all keep in touch through social media, texting, and phone calls in the meantime, just as we do now.  I’ll keep this blog updated as we go about life in our new place, and no one will need to miss a thing.

xoxo

Not Your Slave

Marrying a man who was a doormat has been an interesting experience…

In the past I was a doormat as well.  I allowed people to walk all over me, use me, take advantage of my generous nature, and even abuse me.  Then one day, I had enough.  I wanted to be better.  I wanted to feel better about myself.  I knew I deserved more than I was allowing myself to have.  So I sought help.  I went to therapy, worked on my self-esteem and anxiety issues, applied those skills to my real life, and started standing up for myself.  My newfound boundaries and ability to tell people no lost me some friends, but afterall, they weren’t real friends anyway.  They were just users, and I didn’t have room for that nonsense in my life.

Now I’m married to a man who had the same sort of background.  Jarrod was used by MANY people in his life, and after many years of being used, his friends and family came to expect a certain attitude and behavior from him, naturally.  But then he got together with me, and I saw his struggle.  I saw him feel run down and defeated by giving in to everyone’s demands of him, even though he didn’t want to give in.  He often gave in to avoid confrontation because he just didn’t want the drama and conflict.  He and I had conversations about it, and I assured him that he deserved better.  That he deserved the respect of his loved ones.  That he deserved to be able to stand up and say no to the demands and even to simple requests if he so desired to say no.  I encouraged him to defend his boundaries, and make decisions that he wanted to make rather than what everyone else wanted.

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Jarrod and me, September 2017

At first everyone thought I started being the one bossing him around, pulling at his puppet strings and making all his decisions for him.  I’d like to say over time they all came to realize that he does, in fact, have a mind of his own, with is own opinions and desires, and his own ability to make decisions.  And I was absolutely not making all his decisions for him.  But as of yet, they still haven’t figured it out.  I’m still getting the “blame” for his changed behavior.  When all I’m really doing is just telling him that it’s up to him, and supporting his decisions.  I’m building him up, making sure he knows he’s important and what he wants matters.  It’s frustrating to me that no one gives him the credit for being in charge of his own life, and that I’m pretty well disliked because they still think I’m controlling him.  But most days I know I just can’t let it get to me.  If his loved ones actually love and care about him, they will someday come to realize that he is his own man, and can say and do whatever the hell he damn well pleases without anyone telling him what to do.

As far as decisions that affect the both of us, or our whole family (us and our children), our decisions are 50/50.  Always.  We talk to each other, discuss the pros, cons and options, and come up with a decision we are both satisfied with.  For everything!  From little stuff like chores and household rules, to appointment times and dates, all the way up through family vacation ideas and living arrangements.

So, am I sorry?  HELL NO!  I have nothing to be sorry for.  I love Jarrod, and I’m doing everything I can to make his self-esteem better, and his own needs and desires met.  He does the same for me.  We’re soulmates, and that’s what we do for each other.  And if anyone has a problem with all of this…. keep it to yourself.

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Over the last few days, even weeks, I have been trying to find who I am.

When I was in high school I was goth/punk.  I had friends, I had a social life.  I went to concerts.  I went to movies.  I had a boyfriend.

Once I entered my 20s, I settled down and had babies.  When that first marriage didn’t work, I dated around.  I didn’t know who I was anymore at that point.  My social life got flushed down the toilet when I gave birth to my first baby.  I didn’t go out and do anything anymore.  I stayed home with my kids and did what I could to give them a good upbringing myself rather than have a child care provider raise them.  I didn’t even go out or do anything, as family wouldn’t even keep an eye on the kiddos long enough for me to do anything.

Once I reached my 30s, I found a guy who would be my 2nd husband, and my boys were old enough to leave alone while I worked.  I found identity in my work and marriage.  I was a wife, a mom, and a veterinary assistant, which I LOVED.  I gained a couple friends so I had more social interaction again, and became slightly wider known and respected in my community.

Then due to physical limits from a slowly progressing disability, I lost my job at the vet clinic.  Then my husband left me.  I ended up dating someone who should never have been anything more than an old friend, and abuse ensued.  I lost a lot of my identity again.  I pushed away friends and family.  I neglected the emotional needs of my children.  I neglected all of my own needs.

When I finally snapped out of that pit of despair I found the love of my life, Jarrod.  He threw me a rope, so to speak, and pulled me out of that pit.  We got married, had surgery to be able to expand our family, and had our baby.  The older boys are teenagers now, and my husband’s daughters are also teenagers.  The boys and girls had very different upbringings, and clash with each other.  The rules the boys were raised with were very different than what the girls were accustomed to when they moved in, so things got lessened and a lot of slack was made for everyone to adjust to the new arrangement.

Now, 2 years later, its IMPOSSIBLE to tighten up rules to fit everyone.  We have tried and tried, and no one follows any rules.  Our house is a lawless wasteland.  No chores get done by kids ever, no matter what punishments or rewards, so if I want this house remotely tidy or sanitary, I have to do it myself.  Being a stay at home mom again, you’d think I have all the time in the world to get the house at least somewhat tidy.  But no, my baby is extremely demanding of my time and energy.  Most days I’m lucky to be able to feed myself supper, let alone scrub a toilet or mop a floor.

So since I had our baby, I’m having a crisis of identity again.  I’m a wife.  I’m a mom.  And that’s where it ends.  And I have a hard time even calling myself those two things…

To me, being a wife is being able to be my husband’s companion.  To talk to him, support him, enjoy time together with him (and him reciprocating those sentiments), and being a team when it comes to parenting and all the big and little decisions in life.  But instead, I feel like it has become an odd partnership, where he works and busts his ass for this family, and I’m at home not accomplishing anything that needs done, while the kids do whatever they want, whenever they want and I cannot keep up or enforce any sort of order.  When he comes home from work he is annoyed by kids’ behaviors.  When we do get a chance to talk, rather than text, its mostly made up of he and I both venting about our frustrations, and not really having much else to say because frustrations aren’t exactly conversation fuel. Also, by the time he gets home from work in the evening, I may have just laid down the baby and he will likely wake up and need put back to sleep 10,000 more times before I give up and just go to bed for the night.  Therefore leaving no time for us to just relax and watch a TV show, talk, or anything else married couples do in their time alone.

To me, being a mom means understanding the needs of the children and doing everything I can to meet those needs within reason, teaching the older kids life skills that will help them survive and thrive on their own such as cleaning, cooking, money management, appropriate social interactions… but this is where I’m failing miserably.  Every single one of the children who live in our home have serious issues with several of these things.  None of them follow rules.  None of them are motivated to do well in school.  None of them have any inkling of what should be a priority.  They have zero respect for adults, especially Jarrod or me.  And they do pretty much whatever in the fuck they feel like, all of the time.  The baby is just a baby, so I can’t be upset with him… but he is very needy.  A “Velcro” baby if you will.  He wants to be held, and when he is on the floor or somewhere playing, he wants me nearby and giving him attention still.  In the evenings, he gets fussy because he doesn’t nap during the day and doesn’t typically sleep well at night.  So I cannot make supper most nights due to trying to console a fussy and very overtired baby that fights sleep like it is the worst thing in the world. So the older kids end up fending for themselves for supper.

So yes I’m a mom, and I’m a wife, but I don’t feel like I’m doing well at those two things.  And that’s all I’ve got.  I don’t have any control over my household or my life.  I don’t have me time anymore.  I don’t get to watch TV.  I don’t get to watch movies.  I don’t get to listen to music.  I don’t get to go for a walk.  I don’t get to hang out with friends.  I don’t get to pursue any interests, passions, education or career.  If I did, this household would fall further and further down this spiral of chaos.  The only reason I even had time to sit down and type this is because I am on the brink of a nervous breakdown and I got pissed, screamed, stomped to my bedroom and slammed the door, like the teenagers do.  Honestly, due to all the difficulty with everything I attempt right now, I’m feeling like a failure as a human.

And while I’m going on about all this other shit, I might just throw in there that when I got pregnant, supportive people came out of the woodwork.  Family, friends… everyone was so happy and couldn’t wait to meet the baby and play with him.  And when he was born a few people showed up at the hospital.  But since then?  Nothing.  Literally even those I was closest to just vanished.  So yeah, I can’t even turn to anyone for emotional/moral support.  Jarrod and I are really on our own.

So, what is this blog post going to accomplish?  Is it going to make the teens or anyone at all give a shit about anything?  Is it going to make the house clean?  Is it going to make the baby sleep?  Is it going to make me feel better about myself as a parent, wife, or human?  Nope.  There is no point really.  So if you made it this far, I’m surprised.  Sorry to say, there’s no point to any of this.  It’s just one big long ramble of a woman with a missing identity, purpose in life, and support system.