Friday, November 06, 2009

divert your eyes

Do you want to know what I think?

I think that divorce is one of the worst things that can happen to a family. It's difficult for me to share that, because I know how much it pains my mother that she and my father divorced. And while I undoubtedly believe that my mom did the right thing leaving my dad when she did - all these years later - I've got some scar tissue that is terribly ugly.

There are five girls in my family. Of my four sisters, three of them have divorced. One of them twice. I also have two brothers. One of my brothers is married. My other brother, who is closest in age to me (and whose birthday is this weekend), has been with the same woman for almost 30 years. They have three children together. A set of twins that are nine months younger than our triplets and a little boy, who is five weeks older than Henry.

As much as my brother and this woman love each other, my brother will not marry her. I have no doubt that they'll spend the rest of their lives together, but he sees absolutely no value in the union of marriage. You can't change his mind, so don't even try. And whatever you do, don't put his decision or his family down, at least not in my presence. Because I think that out of the seven siblings, he has the best outlook on life and the happiest relationship of all.

As for me, I think that the year that my parent's divorced was the most tumultuous year of my entire life. That was the year that I was living in Massachusetts and my mother was living in South Carolina. Every weekday, I would jump on a bus after school and go to an after school program. When I think back to it now, it was really an awesome arrangement. There were arts and crafts and sports and games. But when I was a child, I didn't appreciate it.

All I wanted was to go home and play at our house, like all my friends did. But since no one was home and I was only nine, that wasn't an option. When my father would pick me up, we would drive home and have dinner. Then we'd watch a little television and I'd eventually make my way to bed after watching my father do the books for his drugstore.

Even though I had two older sisters and an older brother living there with me, and people were always coming and going, it felt lonely in that big house. And I was totally out of place.

One afternoon, instead of going to the after school program, I went home with my friend, Julie. She lived just down the road from us and we rode the bus together every morning. But on this one particular day - her mother came and picked us up from school. I remember her mom drove an AMC Pacer with faux wooden siding, which at the time, was the coolest car on the road.

(Or so I thought.)

(Clearly I was mistaken.)

We went back to Julie's house and while her older sister, Laura, showed us how to fold a dollar bill in to the shape of an accordion and letter M (a trick that I can still do to this day), their mom baked cookies. I can remember, so clearly, that the four of us were huddled in the kitchen on that cold afternoon, while trees blew outside and scratched against the windows of the house.

Soon, the girls father came home and after greeting his family and kissing his wife, he retired in to the family room to light a fire and catch the evening news. It was a warm and comfortable environment and I felt totally at peace. And also, a little envious that I wasn't a part of this intact family.

When my mother came to visit a few weeks later, I introduced her to my friend Julie and her family. When Julie and I were off playing, Julie's mom confided to my mom that it was her opinion, I was a very sad little girl and I really needed my mother.

How astute.

It's funny how something someone said 30 years ago, can stick with you. I've been thinking about Julie's mom a lot during these past few months. Mostly, I've been thinking that she was totally right in her impression of me. I've always had this 'vision' of what a family should be. And since I sadly didn't obtain that 'vision' when I was a child, it was my driving force in to adulthood. Without even realizing it, I developed a plan.

First, there was finding the right husband. A good man. A kind and gentle and intelligent man that knew how to laugh and would make a wonderful father. Second, we would build a home. A warm, inviting home with good lighting and comfortable seating and lots of live plants. Third, there were the children that we would welcome in to our world. God willing, there would be a lot of children, born to me when I was young. Ideally, I would be twenty five years old, plus or minus two years.

But when that third part didn't happen, it rocked me to my core. I looked around and everywhere, people were having babies. Neighbors, siblings, friends, cousins. They were popping them out like candy. And once again, I felt so envious, desperately wanting something that I couldn't have, despite my best efforts. And while it's difficult to admit this, I think it's important to note that the challenges we faced with trying to start a family didn't just put a little stress on our marriage, it almost destroyed it.

Because I was almost destroyed.


The emotional roller coaster of fertility treatments and the mental anguish when cycle after cycle (after cycle after cycle) didn't work were bad enough. But add to that the financial desperation that came with shelling out thousands upon thousands of dollars. We had the perfect recipe for marital disaster. With a side of hurt and resentment.

But then, finally, our long awaited babies arrived and everything we had gone through to get them, was washed away. That time following their birth was the most terrifying and glorious and surreal period of my life. For the first time, I wasn't on the outside looking in on something that I wanted. My dream was being realized.

Until. It was time to go back to work full time. And since then, things have started to go topsy turvy in my world. There is no balance and everything's flying out of control.

If I can be honest (and I can because this is my blog), things aren't so good right now. Just a few days ago - they were good. But then we heard from the Realtor who told us that moving at this juncture, was a very bad idea and the best bet is to stay put until the market recovers. And then Charlie heard from a company (or two) that employment opportunities which were open are now filled. By people who actually live there.

So now I'm mad that I only intended to stay in California for six months and 19 years later, I am still here. I'm mad that our house has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity in 33 short months and we've paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in principal over the past 12 years. I'm mad that when the two of us were younger, we weren't more disciplined and instead of funneling money in to our mortgage, we funneled money in to three brand new cars.

(stupid) (stupid) (stupid!!)

I'm mad that Kindergarten is just around the corner and I have no idea where we'll be nine months from now. I'm mad that we don't have a concrete plan in place and WHY don't we have a concrete plan in place? I'm mad that I feel like the decision about what to do is on my shoulders. I'm mad that it I quit my job tomorrow, and Charlie started a job tomorrow, it would take him a few years to reach the level where I am right now. I'm mad that I'm at this level and he's not, given that he is smarter than me.

I'm mad that I might have to work forever. I'm mad that my employer forced me to return to work full-time. (I'm actually really mad about that.) I'm mad that my job has such outstanding benefits, it's very difficult to give up. I'm mad that I feel stuck. I'm mad that from this perspective, I don't see that I'll ever be able to stay home and bake cookies with my daughters on cold afternoons and show them how to make birds and the letter "M" out of dollar bills. I'm mad about what I'm missing and what I will miss if this keeps up. I'm mad that I'm not doing anything - fast enough - to fix this. I'm mad that I am immature and unable to adapt to my current life conditions.

I'm mad that I haven't picked up my camera in days. I'm mad that I'm missing out on moments with the kids. I'm mad that although I'd like to be home, I'd probably go crazy in a single afternoon and my eerily patient husband is undoubtedly the better candidate to be with the children all day. I'm mad that Charlie is such a good man and why would I ever be mad at him? I'm mad that I'm not more like him. I'm mad that my childhood wasn't perfect. I'm mad that I'm so far away and my parents are growing older and I might never be close enough to just drop in with them for an afternoon visit. I'm mad that because of the divorce, I've missed out on so much time with my parents. I'm mad that my parents aren't getting a better chance to know my children. I'm mad that I can't quit my bitching and be graciously content and abundantly thankful for what I have. Right Here. Right Now.

I'm mad that we only get one chance at life.

I'm mad that I'm mad and I can't stop being mad.

(Check it out. This is what I totally look like.)

DSC_0053

But mostly, I'm scared.

I'm scared that my unannounced emotional eruptions are seriously harming our marriage. I'm scared that Charlie, is sick of me being an absolute pain in the ass and is starting to tune me out, completely. Because I am being an absolute pain in the ass. But he is, too. (Although I'm not really sure of that.) (It's quite possibly all me.) I'm scared that moments after leaving the tranquil environment of church, I can't even talk about 'these issues' with out getting upset. I'm scared that divorce happens every where - all the time - especially in my family and I don't want it to happen to us. I'm scared at what this stress is doing to me - to him - and to our precious children and at this point, I honestly don't know what to do.

I'm guessing a therapist is in order.

And some heavy-duty doses of Prozac.

54 comments:

  1. Jen, you know I read and ponder about all you write and usually don't comment because someone else has already eloquently commented my thoughts ....but... you are not your mother, Charlie is not your dad and your kids are not you and they are happy.

    Presently life is not as perfect as it could be but you are still a wonderful happy family unit.

    Things will get better.

    My favourite saying is 'deep lavender scented breaths, shoulders down, exhale and relax and pour the wine'.

    Thinking of you all and sending peaceful vibes and thoughts your way.

    You were yet again part of the Friday coffee morning chat in Indonesia, we all want to come and give you a hug, get some retail therapy with you and take you for a creme bath (30 minutes head massage with deep conditioning treatment followed by 30 minutes neck and shoulders massage as well as mani+pedi)then do wine and solve all the problems of the world.

    If only you weren't so far away.....

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  2. oh my gosh. That is EXACTLY the problem I'm having. I want to quit. I cannot and feel SO STUCK. Hubby is also wanting something different but not sure what, but the $$ makes you SO STUCK. That on TOP of missing time w/the kids, needing a new car (well, not new, new to us) after THROWING AWAY money on new cars in the past. A possible skin-cancer diagnosis yesterday...and we are drowning.

    Let me know what you do - I'll think I'll just copy you and stop stressing about it!! ;-)

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  3. For all that you are angry and scared, I think it's a good thing that you are able to talk about (especially in this forum - very good for venting).

    I find that it is only when I am moods where everything seems hopeless that I come up with the answers. (Although, you are probably frustrated because you already HAD one of those and then there was the bait-and-switch moment)

    Keep your eyes and ears open and you'll find the right option for you and your family. Something will come up!

    (And try not to stress too much about home equity - your friend that you admire so much rented out some of the homes that he owned, why couldn't you? And do you have to necessarily BUY a house wherever it is that you go? Why not rent? ... Just thoughts)

    And for all that you're frustrated about your "bad" decisions, try to remember the positive ones: your choice to NOT take on more debt when you were considering buying a bigger house. It could be so much worse if you had sunk yourselves in more deeply. Your choice to take time off while you had the chance before your company put their foot down on the subject of full-time work. Your choices to bring your family along with you on some of trips that you go on.

    For all that you feel bad, I'm sure you're still making great memories with them. My mom and dad both worked, so me and my sister spent a lot of time with babysitters as kids. I don't talk to my babysitters anymore, though there were years of my life where I spent more time with them than with my parents. I DO still talk to my parents. I'm quite fond of them. (They're also still together - I am of the opinion that you're doing more for your kids having a happy and healthy relationship with your partner then you would do by being with them constantly.)

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  4. I admire your honesty. My vote would be for a therapist. I think you need someone impartial and objective and professional to help you sort through all of your conflicting emotions and desires. And if Charlie is willing to go with you, all the better. Lately, I have been made painfully aware of how incredibly difficult marriage is, in ways you can't even imagine until you are in the thick of it. You have a lot on your plate right now, and there is no shame in asking for help. There is only shame in NOT asking. Good luck. {{Big hug}}

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  5. BlackOrchid11/6/09, 7:56 AM

    Oh Jen . . . I don't know what to say.

    I just lost my dad to cancer at a painfully young age. And I feel the same, that my parent's divorce meant I missed out on too much time with him. I feel exactly the same way you do. And now I have this GUILT. that I didn't try harder.

    But I learned something. You might plan and plan . . . but God has other plans. Best to do what you want and not dither. Make it happen.

    I *should* have learned this lesson via infertility. I thought I did. But apparently, the Holy Spirit has to grab me, tie me down and bang me on the head with cinder blocks to get me to listen.

    Hang in there. It sucks to work at a job that you dislike, but men (and women) have been doing it for eons.

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  6. Hi. Jen, your post hit home for me today in a lot of ways. I follow your blog from time to time, I've been through IF and found your postings on parenting after IF related forums a source of inspiration in the past. Though I have to confess I envied your happy seeming life as I read your posts. We had huge problems with IF related stress on our marriage, plus a bunch of other factors (oldest child/youngest child relationship issues, crazy MIL). I totally get you on the work forever thing. I was going down that same path, and my husband was not happy about it (I think he actually was lacking social contact being SAHD with only one). Anyhow, now a year or so later after we moved countries to be *much* worse off financially - I had to think long and hard about whether I was going to keep my kid and me financially in order, and tell husband I was going to stay put no matter what he did, or make the terrifying plunge to leave everything I was comfortable with just to keep our family together, because husband was dead set on making the move even if it proved financially ruinous. I am only now starting to see a counselor and hopefully the hubby will come on board and see counselor too. We're basically both struggling with clinical depression. Anyway, we sold our home at what seems to be within a few percent of market bottom, I worry that even if we did go back, we would be looking at basically starting from where we were ten years ago. Sigh. So we would not really be going back to where we were, we would be struggling a lot more than we did. I really want to make our marriage work though, not least because otherwise I will have given everything I gave up to follow him to where he wanted to go for nothing.
    Now, you are smart, capable, talented, well organized, motivated. Times are tough in a lot of places, which can make things kind of rough on a lot of people, and delay a lot of events that would otherwise go on. On the plus side, it sounds from your posts like your husband is a great guy, with much more patience than a lot of people have. Also it sounds like he is a guy that is perhaps more comfortable than most with a strong, capable woman. Maybe you also need some time off? I know I was in no place to be making any sort of decisions given the work schedule I had been under prior to the pack up and go decision - I definitely had clouded judgement, and a former colleague working for the same boss found herself in a similar position, and concluded our boss is basically abusive. I am not sure we would be where we are today if my work environment had been more supportive. Now, I am not saying you have the same type of work issues going on, but maybe some time to regroup is also what you need?
    After a few months of just plain exhaustion recovery, I am back to school at the moment, started a master's program (now that my BA seems about as valuable today as a HS diploma was when I originally got my BA - sigh). So I suppose that is a positive development, I would not be doing that if we had stuck with the status quo.
    I also have jealousy issues of DH staying home with our little one, and I feel like I got robbed of mother bonding time with my child. So I hear you there. Plus I got yelled at anytime I came home late for coming home late, which was often due to completely unpredictable traffic.
    Sending you many, many positive thoughts. I am not really in a place to be giving any relationship advice, my suggestions on time off are purely related to where I was, that I was under such work stress as to have lost all ability to think straight, so take what I say with a grain of salt.
    God bless you and I really wish things to work out for the best for all of you.

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  7. Oh BTW, to add to my previous comment, I did just start Prozac again. But not yet heavy-duty, starting in slowly due to side effects.

    Again, good luck to you.

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  8. Remember what you told me at my Father's funeral when I was aggravated with Reiner. You said, "Get into the car, take your husbands hand, look him straight in his eyes and talk to him."

    Charlie is a great guy. He's great with you and your great with him. He's your family. You make a good team.

    When we were growing up my Mother used to say "A man takes care of the marriage; a woman takes care of the family". Your a good Mother - don't loose sight of that.

    I can hear my Father right now; "Jen. Work to make the changes you want and need. Before you know it - you'll be where you want to be, looking back."

    He'd also say "Take care of yourself Dear and go for a walk."

    Things will work out. Thinking of you. Love, Marg.

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  9. Please don't be mad. There are lot of families in your same situation right now because of the economy. My situation is that I have been the breadwinner for our little family for years (even before children) and I will continue to be indefinitely. I really resented it but then I stopped and decided to look at the good. My husband is a kind man, with many talents and I ask him to use those talents to do the things that I do not like nor want to do. And, I have learned to say NO. When I come home from work, my time is devoted to my child. It may not be right but because I'm gone 12 hours 5 days a week, he deserves that. If I cook, it's simple. We play, read, have bath and cuddle time. When he goes to sleep, I clean and take time with my husband. It's a sacrifice that I am making because, like you, I don't want divorce. It's not easier or better unless there is abuse in the marriage.
    Because you situation has you being the breadwinner - please don't resent it - it impedes your ability to really enjoy the time you have with your family and since those times are much smaller in quantity, you really need the quality.

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  10. I'm mad too and I just cried reading your post because I too am mad about my parents divorce, my fathers post-divorce death and well....let me just insert my name right into your post with all those other issues of your madness.

    Madness has *got* to be a temporary cycle of life. The tide is destined to shift. Right? Please? I'm convinced. It's the only way I can get up and go at it again and again.

    Hugs from one mad triplet momma to another. ;)

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  11. Dear Jen,
    I read you all the time. I love your blog. Find a marriage counselor you both like and GO! It is the best thing my husband and I did - we went through infertility, then the adoption of a child, then the difficult pregnancy and birth of twins while during the same time he quit his job and went to law school and I worked full time to support us (and our expensive treatments, you know how that goes). He graduated in May, then took the bar in July. In August we went to our first session, and 3 months later, our communication is SO much better. I feel much calmer, and he does too. It's not that the issues go away or that I don't have problems, but that we are more of a team now and less of two different people living together. I honestly believe that everyone should attend some sessions, not when you get married (like churches usually have you do) but when you have children and mortgages and jobs and lives and things get out of control.

    Also, I wanted to tell you, I work full time as an electrical engineer for a large company that won't allow me to go to part time. However, they allow me a flex schedule, so I do 7:30AM - 2:30PM then 8PM-9PM every day. I have a love/hate relationship with it, I love seeing my children and playing with them in the afternoon, I hate not having evenings off. But I wouldn't change it because it allows me to do things with my girls that I normally couldn't. 5 years ago, my work wouldn't have allowed this, but now they are much more flexible, to the point that they have scheduled meetings around my work hours. (And I am a lowly peon, not a bigwig). So, maybe you can do something like that? I would seriously look into how you could get 40 hours in a week without having to give up on seeing your children in the afternoon (or morning or whatever time works for you). I think workplaces are more flexible now because they can't hire, so they want to keep their good, trained up, and in our case, minority candidates.

    And I admire you for thinking about quitting and staying at home. I have decided that route isn't for me (and certainly we wouldn't be able to do it until much later given the stablility of my job versus the instablility of my husbands) but I often wish to be that Mother (like my Mother) who meets her children at the door after school and home-cooks a meal every night, etc. I just am not there yet, but I admire people who are. So, good luck with your dreams, don't lose them yet, you will find something that works well for you.
    Jessica

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  12. *hugs*

    It's a rocky time right now for you, and for many of us. Mad is okay. My belief is that you have to acknowledge anger and fear and helplessness to get to the other side of it.

    Best of luck. It'll be okay.

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  13. Funny you should mention that quote by your friend's mother. Yesterday I was thinking you sounded like a very sad little girl. Not whiny, please I'm not saying that. Just very sad. What's the terrible need to move away? If you have a need to move TO something, that makes sense. But why AWAY from S.D.? Is 'away' the change you are seeking? Or is it inner peace you are looking for? Flight doesn't solve the inner demons. They use the internet to find your new home.

    I mentioned you should talk to my wellness coach. It's a good idea. She covers physical well-being--including nutrition (can't have your body feeling yucky)--as well as overall life strategizing, coaching, etc. She's lovely. A therapist would be good, too. . . but I don't think they coach you in the total overall time management/family balance thing. I don't know about that. I only used one for a short time when I was going through fertility issues, and all we talked about were babies. They do have a lot of tissues in their offices, though. Sounds like that might be handy.

    Do remember: We all have bad days and bad phases, just like our kids. I sat in the park two days ago after your husband and your kids went home and I watched my kids play and cried. It was one of my hard days. The next day was a total joy. *shrug* It WILL pass if you convince yourself it will and work toward that. On a hard day, if you need a reminder of that this too shall pass, you don't need to put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it . . . you just need to look at your pink wristband. Because just like you told your shuttle bus driver, YOU ARE AMAZING.

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  14. Just thought of something: When you work at your desk at home, are the kids in the house? If I try to work at home, just knowing the kids are nearby is extremely distracting... and screams, tussels, and my husband's decisions about any of that make me frustrated and very angry. Seething, yelling angry. I learned a long time ago to leave the house when I work. Try going to Starbucks for a few hours of focused work... they have nifty music and its so peaceful. Or Borders cafe, which has free wi-fi access (and its big enough that if I don't feel like spending money on a hot chocolate, I don't think they even care). Or the library, which also has free wi-fi. Honestly, I come back looking forward to being with my kids because I was productive and not leaping up from my desk every two minutes. Worth giving it a try, isn't it?

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  15. You are right it is your blog and if you need to vent then you should. I don't have any words of advise, but just want you to know I am praying for you and your family. You always figure things out and this will be the same. Good luck and hugs!!!

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  16. I'm sorry you're in such a funk right now. I know how you feel - I have the same "complaints" and "crappy life" and "dilemmas" - oh how I hate working, oh how I envy SAHMs (even though I know I probably couldn't hack it as one), oh how I wish I had a less "important" job where I worked fewer hours and was home more (a consequence of which would be a lower salary), etc. But then I remind myself that I AM lucky and DO have so much to be thankful for:
    1. I have a job - how many people are unemployed and can't pay their bills?
    2. I have a good-paying job - how many people are working in a position for which they are way overqualified but it's the only thing they can find?
    3. I have a job that keeps my mind stimulated and gives me the mental exercise and mental stimulation that we adults need - how many engineers are working at Starbucks because, again, they have to pay the bills and will take whatever job offer they can find? (I read a couple years ago that the US unemployment rate is not accurate because of this exact scenario.)
    I could go on and on, and not just about the job part. The house that albeit WAY bigger than what much larger families are living in is not “enough” for us. The carS that could be bigger, or better, for this reason or that reason, or the parking problem here that I have to encounter going to work every morning, whereas some people don’t even have a car, and while I was driving around looking for a parking space in my nicely heated and dry car, others were getting soaked in the cold rain while waiting for public transportation. The strollerS that are not good enough or new enough or don’t have the right “features”. (I have a problem with stroller envy – 3 strollers already accumulated for one 17-month old…) The lack of storage space, whereas I should be thankful that I’m lucky enough to even HAVE all the things that need storing (i.e. 3 strollers for 1 baby). Anyway I could go on, but the point is, who do we think we are to complain about stuff like this?? I mean, really! What spoiled little brats we are. How many families have it WAY more difficult than us, have a lot less than us, can’t complain about the CHOICE to work or not to work, can’t complain about the value of their house going down because they don’t have a house, can’t complain about their job because they don’t have a job.
    I don’t mean to rain on your pity party (or maybe I do) – I have the same parties for myself every now and then as well. But seriously… what do we really have to complain about?!? There are a lot of people a lot worse off than us.
    I live in Italy and here they (obviously) don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but it’s a tradition that I’m going to start with my family here, now that we have a son (P.S. I’m American) because, for one reason, I think it’s a good excuse to sit around the table and say what we’re thankful for. Although with that said, why do we need to wait for a holiday to think about/express what we’re thankful for?? Why don’t we make it a part of Sunday night dinner? Or every night’s dinner for that matter??
    Anyway the point is, try to look at the positive side of things and count your blessings. Think about those less fortunate and realize how lucky you truly are.
    I hope this comes across the right way, I don’t mean it as criticism, just a gentle reminder. Something I have to say to myself every now and then as well. :)
    Hoping things get brighter for you soon,
    Shawna

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  17. P.S. Sorry if my comment got sent multiple times, i was having browser issues. Also, you don't have to publish my comment if you don't want to - it was just a little pep talk for ya.

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  18. Jen,

    It's ok to be mad. It's ok to be scared. It's ok to feel feelings. It's ok to be frustrated with this life. And it's OK to take things to a counselor when it all gets overwhelming (I know this one from personal experience!) These are words (and the song) I heard last night. After reading your blog this morning I thought I'd share them with you: http://www.onlylyrics.com/hits.php?grid=11&id=1035070

    Sometimes it's hard to hear things like "be strong in the Lord" at times like this. Sometimes these are times when we feel farthest from God. But He's got your back no matter what. You and your family are in my prayers.
    -Melanie

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  19. If you don't mind, please send me an email. I'd like to send you some information about possible part-time employment that Charlie might be perfect for in your current location or when/if you move to South Carolina. My email is eweber@chgms.com.

    -Erin

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  20. Sometimes life throws us curveballs. At that point, I like to go back to the old Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."

    Somehow, the wisdom is always the hardest to come by.

    I really hope and pray that some serenity, courage and wisdom find their way into your soul at the moment. You do so many amazing things, Jen, and I hate reading that your peace of mind about the amazing things in your life has disappeared right now.

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  21. Coming from a divorced family, suffering from infertility, having four children the last one also being a complete surprise and going through trying financial times, including loosing my husbands family business, I can say that I completely understand your feelings. I also have many of the same feelings about screwing up my marriage. I have a great husband but at times find myself being annoying and insecure. Coming from a divorced family does not help with those feelings. Maybe counseling would be a good fit for you. Hugs to you and your family.

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  22. Wow this hit home for me. I know it doesn't really help but your not alone in feeling this way.

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  23. Being a grown up really sucks sometimes. I haven't found any of those answers yet myself so I'm hardly qualified to offer anything more than a sympathetic ear. That you have.

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  24. Rough stuff. I think sharing it and getting it all out in the open is not a bad thing. Putting a name to what you fear the most is always valuable--in my mind, it gives you a target.

    I also really understand where you're coming from on a lot of fronts with your current situation. My husband was laid off five months ago--he was the one with the full-time, benefit-y job--and although he has applied and applied for a new job, nothing has worked out. (He even had two job offers, took one of them and turned down the other, and then had the one he took rescinded. Talk about anger and resentment!) So now I am the primary breadwinner, which I wouldn't mind if I earned more bread (and benefits) but which feels untenable due to what I'm bringing in. For me, I see our whole middle class-ness slipping away from us, and that is terrifying, as is the effect all of this is having on our marriage and kids.

    I think this is just a really sucky time in history. I don't know when it's going to get better. The important thing--I think--is to hold on to the things that are stable in your life and try not to screw anything up. Easier said than done. And I definitely believe in the utility of anti-depressants and such. Good luck to you. Staying honest about your problems will help.

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  25. So sorry - you sound so very stressed right now. I'd highly suggest a therapist - they can really help you work through how your past affects your parenting. For example, your NEED to have a more stable involved homelife for your kids because you didn't. If you are able to take a step back, your kids are actually getting that, but from your husband rather than you.

    I think there are a lot of things that are really not where you want them to be but at the same time maybe a therapist can help you work through those.

    Hang in there... I think the hardest thing about a therapist (when you have kids) is finding the time to do so and having one more time constraint to work around. If you can do it, though, it is well worth it and sadly, it sounds like you are more than overdue.

    I know Blogs don't show the whole picture, but from the part I can see your kids seem really happy. Even if you are working, you are probably so much more present than your mom was during the time in your childhood you are so scarred by. While it may not be ideal, you can be a great mom and work full time.

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  26. Jen, You need to step back and take a breath. And a drink. And maybe have a piece of chocolate. Set a goal and work towards it over time. Nothing happens overnight except heartburn.

    XOXO AM

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  27. The fact that you've written everything out in this post makes it obvious that you are well aware of the reasons behind your emotions and behavior (no therapy needed for that!). You and Charlie are doing what you can to move forward with your plans, but as you know, there are factors you have no control over. Just like infertility. You both made it through that. It took a little longer than you had planned but it happened. This is just going to take a little longer than you planned. But, it will happen, and you'll make it through this together, too. Keep the lines of communication open.

    ((((hugs))))

    (ps: stopping nursing after 21 months caused me some major hormonal ups and downs. I think that may be contributing to some of your feelings. It will improve. Hang in there!)

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  28. Jen, I feel your pain. I am printing this and pinning it to my fridge, because I feel like there is someone else who has gone as crazy as me . . . at least I'm not there alone. I think this stuff is just life, and it's OK to be mad . . . and I agree that the most important thing you have to do before the job, the kids, before anything is fight like hell for your marriage . . . because the rest of it is all crap, if you let your marriage collapse.

    You are not alone sister. You are not alone.

    Get therapy.

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  29. chin up girl!every thing is gonna be alright soon.nothing is gonna happen to such a positive person like u. hard times do lead to frustation, but being the people u and charlie r, soon a solution will b visible and all ur worries will melt away.the key is having faith in God and one another.

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  30. Oh girl, BREATHE. Your kids get you or your husband. Not a daycare facility or a nanny, YOU or your HUSBAND. As a person that grew up in a household with two working parents and a steady stream of babysitters (including one that came back with her boyfriend and robbed us blind after firing her because she left me and my 2-year-old brother in the bathtub and went next door to talk to a neighbor) I can attest to how wonderful it is that ONE of you is staying home with the munchkins. That is HUGE.

    Keep looking for jobs back East. When the time is right, you'll move. Keep working towards it. Who knows? Charlie may find a job that pays more and who cares how much you lose on the house (or you could rent it out until the market gains its footing back)

    And honey? If you marriage survived fertility treatments, it will survive this. Charlie sounds like good people, as do you.

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  31. Jen-
    Please call me this weekend... when you get a chance... Love you!

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  32. Hang in there Jen.

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  33. It's ok to be mad and/or scared. I think we call this "anxiety". I was there as a first year teacher and didn't know it till I almost passed out at work. My teammates sent me home to the Dr. It was not a fun time in our house. I finally accepted that I needed some extra help (and yes, it included meds and counseling). But ultimately, I found healthy ways to cope without those things. I can't tell you what will work for you. But I can pray for some peace and calm in your life. Don't forget-sooner or later that window will open and it will be the right time.

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  34. Jen. Just quit. Quit. Drop out. I am giving you permission to go make cookies and fold dollar bills. You can do it. You guys have some money, right? It will all work out. Charlie will get a job and you will make cookies. You will move. It will be okay. Deep breath. It's just not going to happen tomorrow, but it will happen.

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  35. Jen, I love how you capture everything that I'm thinking or have thought, and write it so precisely on your blog. Sometimes it's eerie how parallel our situations are - living away from all our family, having multiples, wanting a career, but really wanting to be home with my kids...yadda, yadda, yadda. All I can say is "Amen Sista, I feel the same way."

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  36. Oh, I can't imagine what a tough time you're going through - I didn't go through divorce as a child, but my family wasn't super close, and I always wanted kids early, too - it was hard to wait just 16 months on my end, so I imagine it was much harder with all you went through. I think therapy might be a good idea, honey- keeping our marriages strong is the best thing we can do for our little ones. I'm sorry things aren't working out the way you were planning...I'll be thinking of you & praying for your family.

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  37. Jen,

    I love your blog. I've seriously been a follower for years. I am by no means a "know it all". I have no idea what you're going through. I have no answers...just one question.

    Are you "eating"?

    You need to be. Once a week. I know you're tired and work long hours and are completely fried by the end of the day between all that and caring for 4 small children.

    BUT, I am totally convinced that there HAS to be "eating" in a healthy marriage.

    I am offering no answers...just a suggestion.

    Laura
    Your friend from Ohio

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  38. It seems like uncertainty is in the air right now for everyone. If they say it is not they are in denial:) The media is depressing, the politics are depressing, people are not happy anymore generally every where. Your generation ( and mine) was the start of divorces, imagine what the generations after are carrying. But I firmly believe they will be a stronger people when the going gets rough. And its getting rougher every day. It is a time to circle the wagons with the family and make memories and moments. You of all people are doing that beautifully. You chose Disneyland instead of work for Pete sake, that my friend is a beautiful thing. Just remember everything has a season. It is your season to work right now, it doesn't mean its forever. Hang in there and I will too:)

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  39. I'm sorry Jen. It breaks my heart that you are so sad and mad. I would really like to be able to "fix it" for you---you know I would if I could and I will if I can.
    Hang on! I think God has a plan for you. You have your health and your family---what else do you need?
    MOM

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  40. Wow! Your post hit home with me. I could hear so much of the echo of my life in what you were saying. I too feel the anger and the fear that you describe. My parents divorced 2x. Didn't work the first time, thought they would try it again. Didn't work that time either. By the time they divorced the 2x, I was 7. All 3 of us children have been affected in one way or another by it. Most probably not so good. But we continue to try and hang in there. My husband and I have 4 beautiful children. We both love each other very much, usually. I know things can be very tough. Especially when you feel you can't talk to the one you're supposed to be the most open and giving to. You don't want to feel like you are nagging or starting a fight but yet you need to get something out there, to be resolved. But you know you can't open your mouth. I really feel for you. I believe, from what I have read from you in the past, that you and your husband seem strong. Life will throw you lots of curves. You made it through together one of the most straining situations a couple can go through, trying to conceive and not being able to for so long. So many people don't make it to the point you have pulled through. I truly hope that you both can get back some of what pulled you through that time in your life and use that as your strength again.

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  41. Okay... you don't know me from Adam, except that I've commented on your blog several times before... but I'm worried about you. You seem so smart and interesting and down-to-earth, and like someone I'd want to hang out with if we lived closer or whatever. So... here's the thing. You probably don't want to publish this comment. Or maybe you do. But I'm wondering whether you have some bipolar stuff going on. It's the combination of the super-energy going into some of your projects, and then the lows that you have when things aren't going well...
    Maybe it's just that I have the emotional range of a gnat :-).... highs that are kinda fun, and lows that are a bit of a bummer, but nothing much beyond that most of the time that anyone outside of that who isn't a teenager has me a bit worried.
    Anyway... it's certainly a bummer that you can't make the move you were hoping to move. I hope things work out well for you guys soon. It's not the end of the world if your kids have to move school after they start kindergarten....

    take care!
    -Anita

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  42. Some things are vitally important. Others are not. To avoid a lot of heartache, let issues roll off your back like rain off a duck. Don't say anything you might regret later on. My 23-year-old daughter's dear friend was hit by a car last Sunday, and now she is in critical condition and not expected to live, except perhaps in a vegetative state. What is truly important? What do you want your life to mean? What is your lasting message to your family, your friends, and the world? You must have long-range goals to keep you fro being frustrated by short-range failures. so what if your house has lost "value." It has served you well. so what if the interviews did not result in jobs. do you think you can control the universe? Take a few breaths and do something nice for the people you love. Don't react when they say things out of frustration. Love yourself. This too, shall pass. Hold on to what you know is precious.

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  43. Jen, two thoughts:

    1) rent (who says you have to sell to move?)
    2) PMS (http://www.theamazingtrips.com/2009/07/good-times.html)

    Not to trivialize these important and very real feelings, but I think you'll find it will all feel better soon.

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  44. Anon @ 10:17PM ... Re: #2? Yeah. Um. That would be 100% accurate. I almost deleted this post when I realized, today, what time of the month it was.

    But, in my defense, that just supports how busy I've been. I don't even know what day it is!

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  45. ((((hugs & prayers for peace for you & your family))))

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  46. Jen, I know people have already commented on your post and they have been really helpful to you. I just can't get your post out of my mind because...well, because your personality is sort of similar to mine. You are a little bit extreme. You are passionate and you care and you love a lot, but sometimes this trait can also make you lose sight of the big picture. I read your new post and realize that you have gained perspective so I won't beat a dead horse.
    My husband and I have two small kids (3 year old girl and 11 month old boy) and while I stay at home with them, my husband goes out in the world and bakes donuts. There were so many days that I resented the fact that he gets to leave the house in the morning, to drink his coffee in his nice car on the way to work while he listens to soothing music. Then he can go to the bathroom during the day without having to plan it out in advance. He can also close his office door and take a deep breath once or twice a day. And now I see him going off to work like this: he is such a wonderful man that husband of mine, for making the SACRIFICE for our family of giving up tons of time with his children that he adores so he can put food on our table. He is doing it for all of us. He is staying on top of his profession, he is a committed, loyal, honest, brilliant, level-headed employee not just because that's who he is, but because he wants to do his best for all of us. While he is "out there" being his best, I am home doing my best raising our children. We are a team. We do this because we love each other so much that we are all willing to make some sacrifices. There will come a day when this all changes. The kids will be in school and I will be working part-time at the very least. It will alleviate some of the financial burden on us, so I will make the sacrifice of taking on a part-time job even though I'd love nothing more than to stay at home with our kids (and finally enjoy a few hours of silence while they are in school).
    Jen, your job right now is to provide for your family. You have to be patient. Things will work out for you. You are making a sacrifice, but you have to because you are an adult who has a family. It sounds like your father was not responsible enough and had an affair. He is not you. Don't run away from your responsibilities. YOu can get mad, but don't lose sight of what's important. While you are having to put in long hours, you will miss out on some things in your children's lives. But try to stay humble and proud (a contradiction I realize) of what you are giving them. it is a little bit about you, but it's mostly about your whole family. Not just right now, but forever.

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  47. Please google Exactly by Amy Steinberg. That song gets me through so many days/times when I'm feeling like you are(were).
    One of my favorite verses from the song is "When I try to fight or run
    I only wind up back at square one
    When think I know what’s best for me
    Fate she takes me back to exactly where I need to be
    And when i am alone and full of fear
    I just remember the rising sun always appears
    Everyday miracles, miracles that I see
    Well they take me back
    They take me back
    They take me back
    To exactly where I need to be"

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  48. I wasn't signed in when I left my last comment so I'm not sure it went through. I was just trying to get you to listen to a wonderful song that gets me through good and bad times. It's called Exactly by Amy Steinberg.
    Here's a link to here it
    http://www.last.fm/music/Amy+Steinberg/_/Exactly

    I love the whole song and could apply every verse to my life at different points depending on the particular struggle I'm going through.
    The part that I think applies here is:
    when i try to fight or run
    i only wind up back at square one
    when i think i know what’s best for me
    fate she takes me back
    to exactly where i need to be
    and when i am alone and full of fear
    i just remember the rising sun always appears
    everyday miracles, miracles that i see
    well they take me back
    they take me back
    they take me back
    to exactly where i need to be"

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  49. Jen, I love reading your blog. You are an inspiration to me in so many ways, and have a lot of great approaches and coping mechanisms. But you also have a LOT on your plate.

    The sleep deprivation that often comes with children, combined with work pressures and hormonal shifts, can really cause problems. I think there are some of us, myself included, that live for many years on the edge of needing pharmaceutical intervention, then something like a huge hormonal shift or life changes send us over the edge.

    Going on Prozac when my older child was six months old was one of the best decisions I made as a mother. It helped me SO MUCH in so manys. We've had to up my dose some in times of great sleep deprivation or hormonal change or stress.

    I've also recently started seeing a therapist recommended by my midwife and I think it's helping a lot. We haven't begun to work on issues from my childhood that still come back to haunt my ways of thinking now. We are focusing on a lot of coping mechanisms for my life now. Ways to deal with kids or hubby when they are in a state. We've discussed things like discipline, how the stress or behavior of others affects me, etc. I struggle with my role as a wife and mother sometimes and really miss being in the workforce. But I know if I was working full-time, I'd be miserable. There wasn't a good part-time opportunity for me at the moment so I am a SAHM and it's a big adjustment for everyone.

    I hope that my sharing will help you to reach out and contact someone you trust to recommend a GOOD therapist that will do well in talking about your issues. Mine deals with PPD and family issues a lot. Perfect for me. Not every therapist will be a good fit and you might have to shop around. But I really think seeing one could help you re-center yourself and have the peace of mind to make huge decisions and feel confident you are making the right decisions.

    If therapy isn't an option for you right now, you might consider contacting your pastor about counseling. Are you making it to church much these days? I don't get the sense of renewal from it that many people do, but I remember reading in your blog about how good it was for you all to go sometimes.

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  50. Jen, I have no advice. I am in the same boat as you. Mad at my circumstances that I'm a little "stuck" in at the moment. I want desperately to stay home with our boys, but it just isn't the way it's too be right now. Maybe someday. I try to cling to that hope. It might never happen. So I try to focus on my boys even more. Do I regret going through all that infertility heartache? Nope, not one bit. If the only way I could have that mental picture of family, is to work full-time, is it worth it? Yes, absolutely. Because the alternative is to be childless and that is something that truly would kill me and our marriage. My life is good. Not ideal, but it's very good.

    So all that to say...hang in there. This too shall pass. Circumstances change all the time. Yours are vastly different from 9 months ago. So 9 months from now, it will be even more so.

    If nothing else...you're not in this boat alone. You've got some pretty good company (me!) if I might say so myself. :-D

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  51. Hi Jen,

    I just want to let you know how much I enjoy reading your blog.

    As someone else mentioned, I think your hormones may be to blame. If I remember correctly, you have recently stopped nursing Henry right? I definitely suffered from PMS-like depressioon when I weaned my children. It took a cycle or two before I started feeling better, but I was definitely feeling down and just emotional in general.

    I will be praying that things work out for you and your family...

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  52. Jen,

    I am an IF'er who made it to the other side. My children are my life.

    Everyday when I wake up in the morning I have a great plan for the day. And everyday something happens to change that plan, good or bad. One day when I was complaining about all that had "gone wrong" that day to a friend she shared the following with me:

    Man plans and God laughs.

    Whenever I start getting upset about things not going my way, I just say that and it helps me put things into perspective.

    Thinking of you.

    a

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  53. WoW what a support group!
    This is my favorite:) so true for all of us:)


    "I *should* have learned this lesson via infertility. I thought I did. But apparently, the Holy Spirit has to grab me, tie me down and bang me on the head with cinder blocks to get me to listen."

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