Forgiving My Father

This may be the most personal blog post I’ve ever written. Many who have known me are familiar with the struggles I’ve had with my dad throughout my life. I am now 31 years old,  married and a mother of two little boys. I know why I felt as I did, but it’s time to let that go, own up to my mistakes, say I’m sorry and if he were still here today, I’d say to him, “It’s okay, I forgive you.”

I read somewhere a long time ago that forgiveness is the greatest gift a child can give his or her parents. For we are not perfect and we make mistakes along the way. I look into the faces of my children and I know I’m not a perfect mother, but I love them so very much. It would shatter my heart if they resented me and kept me out of their lives.

If my dad were still alive, I’d let him hold and love his grandchildren. I imagine his heart would have been filled with joy and gratitude, and I’d see it in his smile. Perhaps these tender feelings are easier felt because he is no longer here. But as I sit and think upon the choices I’ve made, I am inexcusable.

Several years ago I heard a man speak about how his family was moving away and he was consumed with regret for all the things he did not do yet. Because now it was too late. They were moving away. As I listened to his words and watched him cry, I cried too. How sad it must feel to know it is too late and your chance is gone?

Now I do know what that feels like. I only hope that when my dad and I see each other again on the other side, that we will be able to embrace each other as a loving father and daughter would.

For many years I allowed anger to frustrate my ability to see past the end of my own nose. I had a very bad attitude. I’ll never forget the day I went to speak to my home teacher. In our LDS faith, he is someone who checks in to make sure you are doing okay. He knew nothing of my past. Just that I had moved to London and was going to university there. I told him I had a hard time adjusting to things and felt alone. The rest of the time he spoke about forgiveness and how I needed to forgive my dad. I thought, how did he know that? Sadly, I brushed off his counsel.

I cannot recall the last time exactly I saw my dad. Maybe it was the time he met me in Canning Town? It’s been so long. If I had known that was the last time, maybe I would have been kinder to him. Or chosen my words more carefully. Years later we found out he had cancer. I should have gone to see him. I should have let him hold me. I should have said good bye. I should have told him that despite everything, that I loved him. The news came quickly and he passed sooner than the doctors thought. It was too late. He did not deserve to die without his family. As a parent, my eyes and heart have been opened to so much more understanding. It must have broken my mother’s heart to see so much feuding amongst those she loved the most.

Traditionally on tombstones there is often an acronym: RIP. Rest In Peace. I will let him rest in peace. I will silence all negative talk about him from my mouth. He did do good things when he was here. It will be those things that we should remember. My mother loved him dearly. We owe her the respect.

My dad was a really good cook. I’m still trying to figure out how he made this spinach and bacon crepe filling. It was delicious. I’ll keep experimenting.

The more I welcome good feelings into my heart towards him, my mind is remembering the good things.

Everyday I think, I want my kids to feel they have a happy life. I want my mom and dad to know that I loved my life growing up. I had a lot of fun! And I got to experience things a lot of other kids didn’t. I may not have appreciated it then, but I do now. I know there were challenges, but it built character. I know we had trials, but it gave us stories. I wish I could have told him that.

I hope that we can all learn forgiveness. It’s not easy when we feel we have been hurt or wronged, but it is required. I want peace in my life. Peace in my heart. I want to recognize the good in others, because I want them to see good in me. And not focus on my faults. That doesn’t feel fair.

Sometimes when I think about my dad I cry and don’t know why. Maybe I am feeling the sting of what could have been but wasn’t. Maybe I am just being a girl who longs for her dad and misses him. Maybe they’re not my tears, maybe they’re his because he wishes he could hug me but we have to wait. He always loved giving us hugs when we let him. Maybe like most parents, he too, felt we grew up too fast.

Me as a newborn baby.

Rest in peace dad. We’ll see you again one day, and I promise things will be different. They’ll be better. I love you.

Advertisements

Then and Now: Things I Want

I used to want a big bathroom with pretty wallpaper. Now I would just like to use the bathroom alone without interruption!

I used to want a closet full of cool clothes to flatter my figure and match my personality. Now I would just like any clothes to actually fit my ever changing figure!

I used to want at least eight full hours of sleep a night. Now I would just like any decent sleep at all!

I used to want to be a certain size or weight. Now I would just like a visible waistline!

I used to want my kids to think I was the best cook ever. Now I just want them to eat any food I make at all!

A lot of things have changed since becoming a mom. What an eye popping journey this continues to be! x

Double-Busted Cheating on the Diet

(photo credit)

As I sit at the computer ignoring my kitchen full of dishes that need done before lunch, I thought I’d tell everyone the story of how I simply cannot keep things from the husband. Including something as simple as hiding chocolate!

We decided we had had enough of being overweight and since life had settled down a bit after all the hospital drama, we could focus more on healthier eating. We made a menu plan together and it was going well.

BUT.

I got stressed. And lucky me my mom occasionally supplies me with some chocolate that I tuck away in case of emergencies.

My husband came up to me one morning and says, “Honey, we have got to be serious about this diet!” To which I reply, “Shaun! Stay out of my nightstand you snooper!” With a surprised look he says, “I was never in your nightstand.” Embarrassed I said, “Ooops. Busted myself. Sorry honey. I’ll try to resist.”

A few days later I again got stressed. I needed a bite of chocolate! I grabbed my bag and quickly packed a few things, told the husband that the toddler and I were going for a walk and left. Outside the apartment building Ethan and I shared a snickers bar. It was delicious and my nerves settled. A few hours later, Shaun came up to me and says, “I see you’ve had some snickers today.” I look over to where he was looking and saw that Ethan had dumped my bag out and I had forgotten to throw away the evidence! Busted again.

I consider myself an overall committed person but I think most of that commitment lies in “eat what I want”, and that’s what I do.

I have since decided to show the husband more support and have tried to replace my chocolate habit for other things such as lemon mousse, red liquorice and chocolate milk.

Sometimes the embarrassment of being caught is necessary! And I will cut out my silly excuses too, things like: “I need to be squishy so I’m more cozy for the kids to cuddle me” or “I need the chocolate to keep my milk sweet for Axel!”

I am trying again and have been chocolate free for six days. I learned my lesson and will not sneak around. Hehehe

Wish me luck!

I Have A Home On Both Sides of the Ocean

Time to go home

It is good to be back home- here in our Essex flat. And it was good to be home in Ohio for Christmas.

What actually happened was far from what I had imagined would happen. I thought I would kiss the ground. Thank the pilot. Cry with joy. Instead of all that jazz, I was kind of too busy being stressed over my kids crying, nappies needing changed, the baby needing nursed, my own needs of having to use the loo and feeling hungry. The husband was so happy to be back home! He was smiling from ear to ear! Then he asks me- “How does it feel to be back home?” “I don’t know yet but can you give me the backpack, I need Ethan’s bottle, thanks.”

On the road heading home

Soon the excitement grew for me too.I sat on the wrong side of the car. And we drove on the wrong side of the road. Stoplights hung on wires over the road. The roads were really wide! And there was so much space everywhere! All the houses had front and backyards! And a garage! I loved the names of the roads. And peoples accents were so heavy yet friendly.

All these things that had been normal for me, were now something more. Almost like having amnesia and only now starting to remember again who I am, or who I was.

Aunty Katherine with me and the boys

As we drove through Hartville, Uniontown, Canton, Akron, I noticed a lot of changes. But the most that has changed is ME.

One night, I sat at a table in a restaurant with two friends. We drank fruity lemonades and spoke as old friends do. At one point the conversation went kind of like this:

“It’s been a decade but I still feel like me, just fatter.”

“Sometimes I think I haven’t changed either, until I find myself around a bunch of twenty year olds and I realise, nope I’ve changed!”

“Have I changed? You’ve definitely changed, you’re more serious.”

I miss those friends of mine so much!

Aunty Krystal With Axel

As I was enjoying my Christmas holiday with old friends and new family, there were things I missed about my home here in England too. Call me crazy but I missed hanging my laundry outside while Ethan played close-by. My love for pegs (clothespins) is absurd. I missed Tesco. And Primark. Or maybe it was more like I missed going into a store and knowing exactly where to find everything. I missed going on walks in our neighbourhood. Now that I’m back, I am not missing any of it, but rather missing everything on the other side. Like watching Ethan run after Smoky. And watching Ethan scold the dogs. And just missing being home. I’m torn.

Ethan and Smoky

 The best part about any holiday, coming or going, is family. I am so blessed to have married into such a wonderful family. And blessed to have mine too. xx

Four generations!

This New Body

(photo via)

Today I am thinking about my body.

Bodies change. Of course they do. But this new body is foreign to me. I don’t feel like myself. Clothes that hang in my closet belong to another woman. She was slimmer, more confident, and knew who she was. In this new body, I feel lost.

Who am I now? Mom of two, tired, achy, and suddenly with a bottomless appetite.

I know it will take time to recuperate after having a second baby, patience seems to be required for EVERYTHING.

Everyday I am experiencing new emotions with becoming a mom of two. Getting dressed this morning I realised I miss the old me. I’ll never be the same again, but I hope to not lose myself too much.

Like a new beginning I feel like I am starting life over, a family life of four. x

My Fear of Windows

Here is a little thing about me you may not have known: I have a fear of windows. More specifically, ground floor windows with open curtains, especially at night. But this fear is not my fault. I blame it on an illustrator of a children’s book I saw a long time ago.

I am not one who encourages “scars” from childhood, but this one has stuck on me. Imagine this, a little girl about 4 or 5 years old, going to the library with her mom and siblings. She peruses through the shelves and picks up a random book. She stares at the cover. Not because it was beautiful and enchanting, but because it had a picture of something scary, a kind of reality of what is happening in the world. It was a sketch of an old man, perhaps a grandpa, sitting in an armchair in front of the fireplace. A little girl sat in his lap and he was reading to her. Both completely oblivious to the danger only a few feet away. Behind them was a window, with the curtains open, and a man looking in!

From them on, I feared being watched and not knowing that I was being watched. He could have been a dangerous man. Perhaps this illustration stuck with me because there is a truth to life that comes with it. There are so many what if’s, I don’t want to dwell on it.

We should not live in fear, but I admit that I do close my curtains proper every night!

What scares you?

(photo credit)

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem

(photo credit)

I am unsure of how to tell this story. It may not flow. I’ll start with a scene.

I was living alone when my ex and I broke up. I mention that I was living alone because for anyone who has, knows that when you are alone you tend to think. A LOT. I sat on my sofa and often looked out the window. What world was I living in? Where in this world did I want to be? But I didn’t budge. After that break up, my self-esteem was buried. I felt that if he couldn’t love me, no one could. I knew my faults. He did too. He liked to point them out to me. And this low self-image made me unable to progress. My self-worth was at nothing. I was the dirt on the bottom of his shoes. These feelings directly linked to how I felt about my appearance. I always thought that if I were pretty enough, my man would never leave me. Or cheat on me. There were days I felt so ugly I wouldn’t leave my apartment. Why should I burden the world with my ugliness?

This sounds awfully depressing and perhaps even a bit extreme and dramatic. But when we hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up. I had a wonderful friend who helped me through that difficult time in my life. Of not just the break up and lack of positive self-image, but also a time of self discovery. I had tried to be someone he wanted me to be. I changed myself to the point where I didn’t even know myself anymore. This friend of mine encouraged me to go back to my writing. So I did.

The first thing I did was write down everything I remembered about myself before I dated him. The places I loved going to, favourite foods, shops, outfits, and memories with friends. Making a list of all my favourite things domino-ed into other lists of myself. These lists became the definition of who ‘Nancy’ was and then I had to figure out who she IS. Along with the lists of my favourites, I also made lists of goals and the hardest one: talents. Because to name a talent, is to say something positive about oneself, and that can be hard. My friend helped by pointing things out. This started to boost my confidence.

I no longer remember the time frame exactly of how long it took me to overcome my depression, but I remember that those simple exercises of writing put me in a place within myself where I could say with feet firmly planted, “No one will ever make me doubt myself again. I know who I am. And I now know my worth.”

I have strived to live up to that standard all these years later. One of my favourite phrases my friends and I have is: “Don’t even try it.” (said with proper attitude!) When some guy tries to treat you bad, you just say, Don’t even try it. He lies to you and then tries to convince you to stick around, you say, Don’t even try it. Or whatever it is that he does that is not acceptable, you just say, Don’t even try it. And move on.

Now I am very lucky to be married to a man who treats me with respect, recognises my worth, builds my self-esteem and makes me feel like I can achieve all the desires of my heart. He believes in my talents and he encourages me all the time to use them. But sometimes I think, I am not just lucky, I had to decide for myself first that I am worth more than what I had before. x

(photo credit)

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control, and at times, hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” – Marilyn Monroe