It was muddy Saturday. REALLY, REALLY muddy. The type of mud that just attracts even the most prissy of children. The perfect day to search for a Christmas tree! Really, for once, that is not sarcasm. Of all the types of messes a gaggle of kids can make, mud is the least of my worries.
This year, I would have walked through a hailstorm to pick a tree with 4 happy girls and a smiling husband. The previous two years…that was not even close to the scenario we were working with. Needless to say, waking up Saturday morning to Christmas Carol signing and children asking to decorate the tree had me ready to engage in whatever muddy activities necessary to make this season merry and bright.
Panning back to 2015, wait, I’m not ready to go back quite that far, 2015 is a stand alone. A story that will be shared at some point. So stay tuned for the sharing of that super amazing story full of highs and lows and ending with an incredible twist of fate!
Christmas 2016. Here we are. We are staring at three crying kids, a half decorated Christmas tree and one child stomping away slamming the door to her shared bedroom, blocking the other crying child from entering. Christmas Carols blaring and a fire blazing bright in the background. On the outside, picture perfect, Christmas Card worthy. In fact we nearly used the photo from the day we found the tree as our collective first Christmas card, see it above? Maybe the “picture perfect” family means absolutely nothing at all. In 2016 we had not only uprooted half the children, attempted to start over in a new home, clueless as to what we were doing (seriously), and endured the death of a parent. By Christmas, we were all DONE. I do not mean exhausted, and ready to nap until New Year’s Day 2017, more like ready to burn the whole thing down because not even one of us were 100% certain we had placed our bets on the best pony. With the exception of my soon to be husband, but at that point, he was an idiot.
Sigh. My daily fantasies consisted of redoing the last 6months of my life and having my space back to myself. Daily. I mean hourly. Visiting my parents alone during this holiday season one snowy evening, I mentioned this fantasy, which had become compulsive, and my mother casually asked, “if you leave and come back to town with your girls, how do you intend to spend your weekend time when they are with their Dad?”
My non-nonchalant, response, “oh, still with Mike, we can still go to dinner and hangout on the weekend.” To which she proceeded to stare at me like I was absolutely insane and after a long, awkward pause, said….I am not a therapist, but if you are envisioning yourself with this man long-term, or even considering marriage that may not be the best approach. With a smirk.
My smile, and long sigh followed. My daily (ok hourly) fantasy of having my world intact subsided, with the assistance of a wrist donned with the infamous rubber band, yet again. Which inevitably meant the real work began. Already in therapy alone, the together therapy commenced.
Have you heard of the, Washing Machine Theory? I became intimately familiar with this perhaps, not professional, but relatable theory of restarting life. Simply stated…toss everything in and see what comes out. Fluidity, introduced by others, (honestly not my strong suit) is key. Keeping a few of the most important core pieces, meant for this lady, my workouts, staying on point career-wise and being fully present for my girls are the trifecta that would not waver.
Staring at that half decorated Christmas Tree, three crying children and a fiancee that was beyond irked. The realization that I was broken, the situation was a mess, the possibility that I may have messed up and knowing that my inclination was to run, I grabbed a slice of pizza, and ate in my car, locked in the garage while bawling my eyes out.
One of the many reasons I admire Mike in the way that I do is his “no-quit” attitude. I thought I was tough, thought I had been through plenty in life, psssshhhttttt, my experiences absolutely pale in comparison to his. His commitment, unwavering love and encouragement is what got us through those tough times. I began to follow his lead, yes, I followed someone else’s lead for the very first time in life, it lead to magic. No lie. He awoke daily with optimism, kindness, respect and maybe most importantly, belief that everything and everyone would be ok.
These days we really are. It has been magical. But not without strife. Not without tears. Our 2017 tree, no tears, loads of sarcasm, not even all completed together, BUT no tears. Our 2018 tree, has been a dream come true and our hearts have never been more full. Carols, chatting about our own family memories we have made the last few years, gingerbread houses Sunday morning, the tradition of watching White Christmas, and everyone authentically enjoying themselves has been beyond a blessing, bringing the BEST kind of tears.