California – Part 3: 3,772 Miles

That, my friends, is a lot of miles, but that is the number of miles we traveled between July 1st and July 7th.

So this post took longer to write/post because, well, 9 years is an awful long time to have to squish down into one blog post that doesn’t read like War and Peace (you will still need to carve some time out because it’s only about a chapter shy of War and Peace).  I will sum the messy parts up a bit just so you get the gest of those 9 years – and it’s probably not going to be my best writing:

After my son was born, I went through the (not short) process of filing for child support against one of the potential fathers.  The DNA test, which I requested, came back negative.

I went through the process on three separate occasions in the past against the second potential father, and, in consecutive order, I was told that (1) I didn’t respond to paperwork in a timely manner, so they closed the case, (2) they misplaced the paperwork, and (3) the computer ate it.

To say that I was disheartened after each negative response is an understatement.

In October, 2014, after not making any attempts to fill out the paperwork again for the fourth time in a few years, I started the process again, but this time was different.  Paperwork never got lost or digitally eaten!  Seriously, it was a miracle.

From the very early stages of my son’s life, I was able to forgive my son’s father for the response I received.  I realized just how messed up I was at that point in my life, and, really, either of the potential fathers weren’t in any better shape at the time.  But while I could forgive, that doesn’t mean that the hurt and disappointment weren’t there.  They still very much were, I just chose to move on.  I also decided to never say negative things against my son’s father to my son because I have had too many friends that were products of divorce, and seeing them go through that kind of pain was just not what I wanted for him.

After the DNA test results came back positive, I then told my son his father’s name.  I never wanted to give him a name that wasn’t absolutely true.  That would be unfair to him, and unfair to someone if I would have given him their name when it wasn’t the truth.

From that point, my son asked me a question that I will never, ever forget, because it showed his desire to want to KNOW his father.  He has always wanted to know, and has prayed for his father since he was 2 years old, but now that he had a name, everything changed.

“Mommy, what do you think of him?”

He was looking for answers in big ways, and I couldn’t give those answers to him, so I answered him honestly.

“My love, I don’t know what to think of him.  I haven’t been in contact with him for 9 years, and I know from just looking at my life, I’m a totally different person than I was back then, so I know he is a completely different person than he was back then, too.  I do know that we need to make sure we are praying for him and his family, because this is kind of a big deal.”

My son gave me a thoughtful look, kissed me, and went on about his way.

California

After all the dust settled, my son’s father and I started talking.  It was awkward, but as we communicated and got to know each other as we are now, it became less awkward.  We got to know each other a bit, and as the conversation went, we started planning the meeting.  All things considered, it was much easier for my son and I to go to California because that is where the majority of his father’s family is, and I found that his family wanted to meet my son…and even me.

After much love and support and prayer from friends, we flew out to California on July 1st.

It did my heart a lot of good to have my best friend and her kiddos meet us at the airport.  While I was getting the rental car, another unexpected, but totally appreciated, visitor appeared:  my son’s grandmother!  My son and I had emailed back and forth with her prior to the trip, and both of us wanted to meet her.  When I turned around and realized who she was, I just couldn’t help myself – I had to give her a hug.

The initial meeting with my son’s father and fiancée was a bit awkward, but I was determined to just be me.  A quieter version of me, no doubt, but this was about my son and his father.  They got a few minutes of one on one time to talk, and for that I am thankful.

The second day we were there, we went to the beach.  I hadn’t been to the California coast in about twelve years; so to say that I was missing it was an understatement.  My son and I ended up getting there a couple of hours before everyone else, but it was amazing to sit on the beach and take in the sights and sounds and smells and allow myself time to pray and be quiet.  It definitely spoke to my soul.  With this being my son’s first time to step food on a beach or in an ocean, I wanted to give him as much time to experience it as I could.

The third day we were there, as hard as it was for me, I let my son go to the zoo with his father and his older half brother…without me.  Having been the one and only parent for so long, it was no easy task to drop him off and tell him that I would see him later, but I also realized that they needed time to be around each other and figure things out, and things went very well.

On July 4th, my son’s father’s family all gathered at his grandparent’s house and my son was asked to bless the food.  My son loves to pray, but that was definitely outside of his comfort zone, so I was very proud of him for fighting through the anxiety and praying over the food and our time together.  Time with his father’s family went well.  I know there was plenty of high emotions still working themselves out, and, truly, I know there still are, but the time we got to spend with them was wonderful.

Until then, I hadn’t realized that some of the things that my son does, is very much something that other members of his father’s side of the family does.  If anything, this was an enthralling social experiment: nature vs. nature.

On the final full day that we were there, we ended up in the mountains at a lake.  The day was nice, and the water felt awesome and things started to feel a bit more relaxed.  My son got more time to spend swimming and talking with his half-brother and father, and that made my heart glad.  While the scenery and view were amazing, I had started missing Texas.  Truthfully, I missed Texas from the second the wheels on the plane left the ground, but I was missing my home in a very deep way, so it was nice to see the mountains again, but I was looking forward to seeing home even more.

But on that last day in the mountains, as we were packing up and drying off, my son and his father were standing while the rest of us were sitting.  Given that my son loves physical touch, I had actually wondered if he would initiate “unnecessary” physical contact with his father while we were there.  Well, that question was answered that afternoon.  My heart melted into a puddle as my son wondered over to his father and leaned against him, and his father responded by rubbing his back.

Where we are now

Well, we are now back in Texas, and happy to be home and back to a normal schedule.  Summer is kind of boring around these parts, so my son spends his days reading and doing some basic continuing study so he doesn’t lose a lot of what he knows.  But the communication between us and his father’s family continues.

I know for us, we are trying to find balance on keeping in touch, and I’m sure that’s very close to what is happening on the other end.  It’s definitely a balancing act, but one that I am quite certain is worth it.  While I know some hard questions will still be asked, I have no doubt that with lots of prayer and working things through, the bond of family will grow, and for that I couldn’t be more thankful.

California – Part 2: This is Getting Personal

To continue with the saga of California, this part of the story is going to get very, very personal, and it may even be uncomfortable, but it’s no less part of this story. Please know that I am in no way shaming anyone when I tell this story, that is not my intention at all.  Life is messy, and it doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to, and that’s okay, because there is still beauty in the brokenness.

The main question I get asked since we returned from California is: How did it go?  And honesty always seems like the best option:

How did it go?

Just as awkwardly as you could probably imagine.

I say that triumphantly and with an honest smile because I have learned to laugh at myself and my awkwardness.  How should it have gone?  Well, of course I had a perfect scenario in my head on how it SHOULD have gone, but it really came down to a bunch of flawed human beings trying to figure things out.  And by the grace of God we stumbled through it.

Was our presence well received by everyone?  No, it wasn’t, but I also didn’t expect it to be, so I was right on track.  But I did my best to not make it more awkward.  I had to not be the funny, sarcastic, silly, far-too-talkative me that I love being most of the time, and that’s okay. Ultimately I realized that this trip wasn’t about me (shocking), but it was about a 9 year old boy who had been praying for his father since he was 2, wrestling with just wanting to know who he was, and struggling to understand.

Where it all began…

When I got pregnant with my son, I was as far away from being a saint as one could possibly be, and maybe even 10 feet further than that for good measure.  There were two guys who were possibilities for being the father of my son.  When I told both of them that I was pregnant, even going as far as being honest and saying that there was the possibility of another man being the father, both of them reacted the same: they had been hurt in the past by the mother of their other children, and they didn’t want to have anything to do with me or my child because they didn’t want the drama.

That would be hard to hear once.

It was devastating to hear it twice.

Realizing that life wasn’t turning out the way I thought it would, and that I was going to be a single mom at the age of 25, I made a hard choice.  If I was going to be responsible for a kiddo’s life, I wanted to raise him somewhere other than California.  I was raised in California, but many of my memories were not positive for any number of reasons, and I didn’t want my child to grow up feeling the same way (projection much? I did say I wasn’t perfect, right?).

My sister and her family lived in Texas, and I had the opportunity to move in with them, so I took the chance and came to Texas with only what I could fit in my 1998 Ford Escort.  I wasn’t feeling particularly brave, but looking back at the 6 month pregnant 25 year old,  driving a tiny car that had no cruise control, which was stuffed to the brim with whatever could fit, with my sister and my cat…I would definitely call that brave.

When we finally got to Texas, I got a temporary job working the night shift doing data entry for a bank.  It was easy work, which was perfect for where I was in life; a new chapter had begun in where I was living, and another new chapter – Single Motherhood – was about to start.  I was also going to church with my sister and her family, though I was only doing so out of obligation rather than desire.  At that church, I was befriended by several women, and one in particular who invited me into her home where we would talk through life and faith.  I didn’t realize then that she was planting seeds, but I liked spending time with her because she was kind and sweet.

One late night in November, 2005 at work, while listening to my discman (seriously, those were a thing then…), and being bored of every other CD that I had almost burned holes in while listening to them over and over again, I ran across a CD that my best friend had made for me almost a year before.

At that time, we weren’t on speaking terms.  We had lived together for about six months during a time when both of us were trying to figure out life and how this adult thing was supposed to work.  While it was amazing at first, and we have some of the best memories of our apartment, it wasn’t so amazing in the long run, but in the year we were not speaking, I couldn’t bring myself to throw that CD away.

While listening to the (non-Christian) CD, I was thinking about life, and my best friend, and how much I missed her, but how much I was mad at her… Then it hit me:  I was ANGRY.  I was angry at everyone and everything I could possibly be angry at, and I realized just how much that little life that had taken to kicking me in the lungs never asked to be brought into the world to an angry mom.  (To be clear, I wasn’t angry at the kiddo growing inside of me.  I actually loved feeling his kicks…pregnancy was amazing! Maybe not the being kicked in the lungs part…)

I realized right then that I was the most angry at myself.  The mistakes I had made, bad life choices, addictions, and how life just isn’t fair… it made me realize that I needed a God that loved me despite myself, despite my past…and despite my future choices.  It was right then that I went into the bathroom at work, in the middle of the night, got down on my knees, and asked God to invade my heart and help me learn to forgive, because I couldn’t do this on my own.  My son didn’t deserve to come into this world, already not having a father figure, but saddled with a mom who was angry at everything.

I can’t say that I’ve conquered the demon of anger completely, but I’m loads better than I use to be.  When life doesn’t go the way I hope or plan, which is rather often, and I take my eyes off Christ, I do get angry and I have to remind myself that, even if what I want won’t ever come to fruition, God is still on His throne, and He still loves me…despite myself.

I’m going to end this rather lengthy blog post here.  I have already started a thought for the next post, and it will be how this all came together.  I imagine there will be a total of 5 posts to this story.  Thank youfor sticking with me.
  

California – Part 1: Thankfulness

I know I have kept this blog about sewing/quilting – except for lately I have dropped off the face of the blogosphere because I have been dealing with a lot of personal stuff.  Well, this blog is mine and my life is all about personal stuff.  Quilting is personal to me.  It’s something I pour prayers into for people, hash out the hard things in life with God, and what I escape to when the world is just too overwhelming for me to take any more.

I haven’t been quilting a whole lot lately.  For those of you who don’t know, I am a single mom, and have been for all of my son’s 9 years of life.  Lately his father and I have gotten back into contact with each other.  On July 1st, 2015, we flew to California so that my son could meet his father for the first time.  It was an experience I will never forget, for SO many reasons – and some of them I’ll even tell you about.

((My son and I at the airport before leaving Texas. Yes, I really am just as tired as I look, but still smiling!))

I was having a hard time with figuring out how to write about this because, with 7 days in California, there is a LOT to say, but I want to start with my list of what I am thankful for out of all of this.  Keep in mind, this is an abbreviated list.  There are tons more things I’m thankful for, but these are the most important that I am willing to post:

I am thankful that, through all the people that made the first 12 days of July possible, God was at work.  God ultimately was the one that made it all possible.

I am thankful for bosses and co-workers who appreciate me and understand how important this time was for my son, so they pitched in and allowed me to take the time I needed, even though summer is the busiest time of year for us.

I am thankful for those that made it financially possible for us to go and not worry about being evicted upon our return.  Truly, finances was one of the most difficult things for me to work through, but the provision that was given to us was just beyond what I could have ever hoped or expected.  If you are one of those that made it possible, please know that I could never repay you in the way that it impacted my heart.

I am thankful for a very sweet friend who kept our pup for 12 days.  Truly, I know how much of a sacrifice this is, and “thank you” just doesn’t seem like it could be enough, but she and her gorgeous family kept him and loved on him for us and I am forever grateful.

I am thankful for the hospitality and love we were shown at my best friend’s house.  We were able to call her home, our home for a week.  I don’t know that I could have gotten through all the emotions that I went through without having someone that loves me and knows me – and has known me for 21 years – to emote to.  It was also quiet cool that I was FINALLY able to give her kiddo’s the quilts that I made for the neigh on two years ago.  Seriously, sometimes it just takes me a minute.   And I totally wish I had a pic, but I’m kinda lame like that sometimes.

I am thankful to have met most of my son’s father’s family.  Life is messy, and I won’t go into details, but before July 1st, 2015, I had never met them.  Part of me was hoping for hard questions, and there were a few, but the past is the past, and one I cannot change.  I was thankful for feeling accepted, regardless of the stressful situation.  I also expect hard questions to be asked later, and I totally welcome them.  I can only be honest and hope for understanding in return.

I am thankful for the healing that I experienced in California.  I grew up there, and I never really felt accepted or “home”.  I didn’t actually feel like I was HOME until I moved to Texas and my son and I got our own place when he was 6 months old.  To be honest – every time I leave Texas on a plane to California, I cry because I already miss my home.  Never fails.  When the wheels leave the ground, I’m crying.  Like a baby.  I also cry when I get on the plane to come back because I’m coming home.  Texas is truly where my heart feels most loved and most at home, and for that, I’m thankful to have found my place.  Having had the experiences we did in California, and not that I ever want to go back and make it my home again, there healing from a painful past has begun.

I’ll end my list there for the time being.  I didn’t take as many pictures as I was thinking I would.  I forced myself to stay off my phone as much as possible so I could just enjoy and appreciate the experience and be mindful of my son and what he was going through.  I will say that I didn’t expect to have as many emotions as I did while I was there, both high and low, but that’s why I wanted to start the saga of California off with thankfulness, because, ultimately, it all worked out, and I couldn’t have been more thankful than that.