The experts aren’t kidding when they say it happens fast. Nor is it bad advice to not blink. One thing is for sure, you really can’t predict how it turns out.

The thing I’m proud of is the effort I put into my family. I had a friend tell me once that the fact I fought to keep my family intact was something he admired about me. He knew the battle that I had and the respect shown to me not only by him but all the influencers in my life helped me stay focused on providing the best life I could for them.

I remember sitting at a Parade of Homes with my parents when I was probably 15 or so and my dad telling me that good parents want better for their kids and sacrifice what they have to so they can make that happen. This was seriously the driving force behind most of my decisons as an adult. Trying to make things better for my kids and proving to my father I could do it.

I didn’t want my children to live in a house with electric heat, or in a tin can disguised as a trailer. For sure, I didn’t want them to have the same difficulties in life that I had. Turns out, you can’t stop that from happening. Damn free agency.

I know for a fact that you repeat what you know. My dad was a hard worker and didnt call out sick EVER. I get my work ethic from him. He tackles new things by educating himself and then staring fear down and taking a leap. I just take a leap, I’m working on the educating part. My mom cares to much and is an enabler. This is something she passed down to me. She taught me to work hard and take care of other people. They both reinforced that I’m an example to others. I fought against all of their teachings and then one day woke up and realized I was repeating them.

My boys are repeating what Jerry taught them. Life is fun and full of adventure. His best advice to them was always don’t be a dumb ass. The lessons I’d like my boys to repeat from me are working hard, and making sacrifices for another person. Treating others the way you’d want to be treated. Putting away dreams of childhood and embracing what is. Life is hard. I can’t sugar coat it. Sometimes you just have to buck up and deal. Quitting isn’t an option no matter how tempting it may be, however, no one said you had to continue in the same direction so if something isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to change directions.

If I had to do this life to do over again I would try to be braver sooner. I would have changed directions even if it would have been difficult. We all know it would have been damn near impossible. But I don’t think I’d change the hard parts. They made me who I am today.

The family, my friend complemented me on fighting for; well, I’m starting to think it was just an illusion. I was good at having a facade and wearing a mask as I navigated through the hard parts of life. Perhaps that is what I did with my family. I always wanted to just be normal. Not different. But, normal isn’t in the cards. Honestly, I don’t know if normal is achievable for anyone.

I try not to say we are broken; but we are. We have become a mosaic. Each of us with our broken pieces trying to make something beautiful out of it. We will never be whole in the same way again. We can’t when one of our key pieces is missing. It makes me sad, and I’m sick of being sad. So I’m gathering new pieces to our artwork. Adam, Tate, Tagen, Kelli, Avery, Baines, Cheyann, Carter, Reese and precious baby Collins. These are the new people in our eclectic family. Our weird wacky family.

When different people begin to tell you the same things and they aren’t connected to each other you have to stop for a second and consider they all might be right. I gave to much. I gave to much to my husband, I gave to much to my job, I gave to much to my sons. I still give to much and I love super hard. Which means it is easy to be hurt. But these are qualities I think set me apart in this cruel world. I just need to learn to temper them. Maybe give to myself first instead of last.

God willing I have 30 more years on this planet. Maybe I can figure out life in that time. Until then, I’m eating chocolate covered mangos and reading Stephanie Plum novels just to take the edge off.

Good luck to the rest of you. If you find the secret to all of this, let me in on it OK?

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