November 9, 2013
My husband and I have been married 25 years but we have been together about 28 years. Over the years we have moved several times, split up and reconciled once, purchased several cars, bought a house, and raised children. Lots of children. And over those years I realized that somewhere along the line I had changed my purpose in life. I changed horses in midstream and went from being a writer to being a mom. Yes, I still consider myself a writer in my head but that isn’t how the world sees me. My girls know that I write–they have even read some of my stuff over the years–but it’s still a part of me that most people don’t see. Most people just see me as Menagerie Mom, the crazy woman with all the kids and dogs! So how did I get here? Well, there is a little story behind that…
I met my husband while we were both working for a group home system. I worked at one house and he worked at another. I liked the guy he worked with and since I was the one who had to plan the outings for the children’s rewards I would set up little “field trips” and invite his house along with the idea that the OTHER guy would go! Imagine my disappointment when the children and I would arrive at the agreed upon destination only to have Doug show up instead of Kevin! We started talking, however, and I soon found out that we had many things in common–our love for horses and children being upper most. One thing led to another–our first date was horseback riding out at my aunt’s little ranch–and soon we were doing everything together.
We got our first foster kid before our license was even completely approved. This kid was the “worst kid in the county” according to his social worker. At 12 years old, he had already lived a life that most of us will never see. He was in the county hospital where he was recovering from a case of Hepatitis that he got from sharing dirty needles with his mom and older sisters. I know, right? But because of our background working with SED children (Severely Emotionally disturbed) the county realized they had stumbled on a gold mine and were eager to exploit us.
We went to meet him in his hospital room. He was skinny and pale, buck-toothed, with greasy blond hair and an attitude bigger than he was. He was suspicious of us but he liked the fact that we were young–heck, we were barely 10 years older than he was at the time! He came to live with us and became the first of many children who we helped raised. I lost count at 30–pretty sure there have been more but I can’t remember them all. Some were with us for a long time, some only lasted a few days. But somewhere along the line I changed horses–I picked a path that I hadn’t seen before, one that didn’t become clear until I had ridden the trail for a while, and I did a flying leap into a life that promised a completely different adventure than the one I had planned all those years ago.
Last week I talked about how I longed for an empty nest. My husband and I are now in our 50’s and we are still raising kids. The problem is that it hasn’t gotten any cheaper over the years and unlike the foster children we don’t get any financial aid to help with the feeding and care of the kids that come though our home now. I will be heading off to work today instead of hanging out at the house because I looked at my bills and looked at my bank account and decided that it would be a better choice to work an extra day so that I would have grocery money next week!
So I am having a cup of coffee and talking to you about my life. Is it the life I pictured when I was younger? Not by a far shot! I thought I would remain single and have a cute little house on the beach somewhere and I would just write. I can still see it actually! The peace, the quiet, the serenity… The reality is that I met a guy and fell in love and embarked on a crazy adventure that seems like it isn’t going to end any time soon! Would I change it? Hmmm. I think I would make a few choices differently but for the most part I am pretty sure I wouldn’t change a thing. (I think I would have chosen to do more writing to be honest, and to give myself more time for the things I still want to accomplish.) We never have any extra money–heck, we don’t even have a retirement fund–but our lives are richer and more fulfilled because of the kids. What we lack in worldly treasures we have gained in treasures of the heart.
What choices have you made over the years that have changed your course in life? Are you doing what you thought you would be doing when you were a kid? Do you have a ten-year plan for your life? How’s that working for you? Did you change horses in midstream or have you stayed true to your path? Oh look at the time–off to go drive people in circles. Have a great Saturday!