It Is Your Choice, Always.


Two sick kids, a spirited (<—we use this word, because it sounds better than crazy) toddler, and one stressed mom= the time of my life.

To give myself a fighting chance for dominating the day, I threw back, or more or less chugged two, five, I mean who’s counting, cups of coffee and proceeded to load up three of the four beauties (my oldest got a raincheck on the morning chaos by not managing to lick the same cup as her sisters, which sent her to school rather than the doctor’s office) and burned rubber to get our tails down to the Dr.’s office.

I’m sitting in the waiting area, while Anabella (the spirited two-year old) proceeds to usher out her two new favorite words.

“Shut up.”

My face is in knots, fiercely trying not to laugh, because that would be irresponsible.  But I don’t care who you are, a little two-year old glaring at you saying, “shut up!” is funny.

In truth, her love of the words ‘shut up’ is totally my fault.  I take full blame, just not in public.

Our dog is a barker.  Like barks when mere dust particles hit the ground.  And a mama can only take so much, so yeah–I occasionally yell, “shut up” to our dog, who’s at the top of the stairs barking at dust, or ghosts.  He needs therapy.

While I’m trying to find the closest ‘time out’ spot, I’m wracked with complete and udder insecurity.  The room is getting smaller as I wonder if every mom in the vicinity (four to be exact) is judging me.  My nomination for Mother of the Year is in the toilet.  I can feel it.

My stern voice cracks while a slew of redirections, excuses, and attempts at verbal discipline spew out of my mouth towards my two year old…   “No, Bella.  We don’t say that.  I guess we can thank your uncle for that.  He doesn’t have kids, so yeah…he says shut up all the time!  You know kids, they repeat everything. Ugh!” This is what I say out loud to no one in general, in the middle of the waiting area. (Thanks for taking one for the team, albeit unknowingly, brother–love you!)

When no other mom laughs, or stops my verbal slew of completely false excuses, I stop, drop, and roll with my imagination.  In other words, I start to imagine their kids saying shut up too–because I’m mature.  Nevertheless, this causes me to laugh, realizing that it will be okay.

I still have plenty of years, I pray, to make sure Anabella doesn’t end up as a horrible human being that tells everyone to shut up, including her boss, and ends up fired and on the street homeless because she can’t pay her bills, and doesn’t call me because she doesn’t want to disappoint me…<—okay that runaway train of thought is what makes me honestly believe I might be a little BCC aka Bat Crap Crazy.

I mean, how do we mother’s survive the enormous amount of pressure to ensure the next generation’s success? (the answer is prayer…and wine and chocolate…)

Even I’m wondering where I’m going with this, but I have a point or plot, or something…back to it…I’m still at the Dr’s office and my phone buzzes, if I didn’t have his number saved I wouldn’t recognize it, nor answer it, but I saved it—the last time he called nearly six months ago.

I blink so hard, looking down at my phone debating, I’m shocked my eyelids don’t knock my contact lenses clean off my eyeballs.

In a way that catches me completely off guard, I’m overcome with steep emotion. If I answer his call I’ll burst into tears and I cannot have a complete meltdown, doing the ugly-yelling-why-cry, in the middle of the waiting area with a toddler who’s busy telling me and her sisters to shut up from her little body crouched in time out.  I mean someone’s likely to call dhs at that scene.

So I decline the call and stuff those emotions far down in the pit of my gut—I mean my six pack, and move on.

I go through the rest of my afternoon, feeding the beauties lunch, picking up meds, and sprite, all the while willing myself to listen to the voicemail.  I think I called five people to let them know the beauties had strep, just to distract myself from that dang phone call and the voicemail haunting me.

Here’s where this gets long…and raw and probably over sharing, but we’re friends…if we’re not, abort now!  Go search yahoo news stories…

So glad you stayed bestie…

My mother once said to me, “just because you come from a horrible background does not give you the right to be a horrible person.” This was profound to me, and I think I was twelve trying to dissect the magnitude of that simple statement—one I’ve carried with me like my favorite, out-dated turquoise drop earrings into adulthood.

I didn’t have the rationale or life experience at twelve, or even twenty to realize how that statement could positively serve me in real life situations. I’d come to know it more around my quarter of a century mark.  The age where you have just enough life experience to be dangerous, and usually not enough suffering to understand that you cannot control others (I’m still learning through failed attempts that my husband will still not jump when I tell him too, my goal is that he will succumb when he’s forty, and I’ve thoroughly broken him down—think mid-life crisis.).

Basically when I stripped my mother’s statement down, it meant that my past doesn’t affect my future unless I give it the power to (unless you do something terrible that involves the law—that’s a no, no). Back to my point or plot, or something…there have been countless times that I have let my emotions define my choices when it involved family, even friends.

I’ve tried to walk the open road, the act of defiance, the total shut you out, and even bought a one-way ticket on the gossip train to rip down friends, or family members. But none of those experiences ever gave me closure, healed my heart, or pacified my angry emotions about the situation, instead they gave me hundred pound gunny sacks on my back, lead weights to carry around and I’m here to tell you, I’m too weak for the army (even though, like I mentioned earlier, I have a six pack, okay laugh with me at my hopeful could. still. happen. after. four. pregnancies).

The main example: I carried the weight of my dad’s disappearance from my life for many years, and it was like an ugly mask I kept hidden, until I didn’t—usually when I felt my husband had failed me in some way, whether big or small. It was almost like he could hear the crescendo signifying the horror in horror films as I slipped this intangible ugly thing over my head and went twenty shades of crazy on him. (that means I calmly explained my emotional distress and my husband instantly apologized and we lived happily ever after–in the land of this blog, no one really acts like a crazed idiot)

That phone call was him, my dad. I listened to his voicemail, heard his aging voice, and summoned the courage and called him back.  After thirty minutes, rounds of “sissy this”, “sissy that”, “I love you too Dad”, we hung up.  My dad and I either go years, or six months before we talk.  The ugly truth is he checked out of parenthood not long after my parents divorced. I was twelve. The effects of divorce varies for every child, but for me its effect was resentment and living in a perpetual existence of fight or flight.

My mother raised three children on her own, most of that time in the toughest years of adolescence—one word, teenagers. And I resent my dad for choosing to make her bear that entire weight, but it’s not my place to punish him—he will answer someday for his own choices, same way I will own my own.

But I didn’t always feel that way.  For years after my parents’ divorce and into adulthood, I wrote my dad several letters, ranging from failing me, still loving and needing him, questions upon questions about why he doesn’t care, passages proclaiming my unrelenting hate for him, you name it, I probably wrote it to him. (I might of even said that I’d undergo plastic surgery so any features that reflected him no longer did, a little extreme? Yes, those where my angst years—we’ve all had them.)

This is why I cringe when the term…”daddy issues” is carelessly hurled at women. No child should ever feel the weight of being abandoned, nor should their mistakes be labeled upon a choice they could not control (not having an involved parent)—every child deserves to be loved by both parents for their whole life…that’s my unwavering belief.

It wasn’t until I saw my dad in person, after an eight year no-sight span, that I would understand how I wanted to handle the hurt that lived in me. He will always be who he is.

It is not my fault—as a child, I never drove him to take the exit—but as an adult, it’s now my choice to let it continue to hurt me.

Is he a terrible person? No, he’s a good citizen…but fatherhood just isn’t his strong suit. I don’t have to see his non-calls versus those calls once a year unhinge me. I choose to answer the phone, laugh at his antics, and maybe roll my eyes when he talks about things I know won’t last, but that’s who he is and I am not a lesser person because of it.

If he came to Oklahoma, I’d invite him to dinner, feed him, hug him, and know that is the kind of person I want to be. I want to not let other’s actions keep me from making the most out of what is given with family. Rising above, or a servant’s heart—this is our calling as family.

That is what I believe we are called to do, dropping our defensive armor that we wear in self-preservation against this chaotic world, to accept our family for who they are. As earnest as our flesh may claim us to be, we are never in a position to stand and judge one another. And because you practice tolerance doesn’t make you lesser of a person either. We are not mightier than thou, and because you forgive doesn’t mean that your hurt was unjustified, or that it didn’t happen, or that you are somehow not as strong of a person for not having the tenacity to let your anger, or hurt outlive you.

Tolerance and forgiveness mean you are not willing to swim back and forth in a pool of anger and negative emotions that comes with ugly situations.

Yes, it will probably always hurt a little (the way it makes me almost cry every time he calls) that my dad choose to be uninvolved when I needed him most, but I survived.  It’s the past, I can’t change it.  I can’t force him now, I don’t control him.  I control me and I refuse to let his choices define my life, or seek to punish him.  I seek to show him love, forgiveness, and compassion, regardless of what he did or didn’t give me.  That is who I want to be.

If we all gave an eye for an eye, we’d already all be in hell.  Be the light, barer of second chances.

I choose to live in the happiness I’ve gathered from my experiences than to wither in the negative. (So I’ve been known to come off a little preachy, don’t worry…I say $#^% when I drop something on my toe, love a shot of tequila, and make inappropriate jokes that would make my mom cringe, but I love fiercely and believe God and family is the center of the universe.)

I am not perfect, I have struggles, still make poor choices, live with hurts that will probably always sting, but I choose to be my advocate, to learn and then acknowledge my limits and yet still let my heart beat outside the lines—it’s what keeps me loving without checks and balances and what I hope keeps people loving me.

If your dad pursues fatherhood with a fierce will of greatness, who eagerly seeks to build a legacy you can stand upon, who strives to be there–period…squeeze his neck, kiss his cheek, tell him today that you love him and know that he is exceptional—because not everyone chooses that path.  And if you have a dad, who hasn’t always stayed the ‘fatherhood greatness’ course, or attempted and failed, or just plain never showed up–love him anyway.  Show him that regardless, you still got all the best parts of him.

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Everything is a choice.

I choose love in spite of hurt.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free, and realize the prisoner was you.”




Author: Sarah Black

I'm a self-professed 'Drama Mama'...of four daughters, I blog to (over)share my stories on learning to maintain my sanity by strictly eating laughter in the emotional land of motherhood while trying to keep my husband from running away from the sheer amount of estrogen flooding our house.

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