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The Other Mother

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The Other Mother

November 1993. When was my last period? Shit, I think it was September. Is that right? That can’t be. Shit shit shit.

Is that one line or two? That second line is pretty faint, maybe it’s not really… Oh yeah. Yep, that’s definitely two red lines. Wait, does two lines mean positive or negative? Positive. Wow. I’m pregnant. 

Twenty two years ago, a 16-year-old me started feeling nauseous and realized she had missed a period. She nervously bought a pregnancy test, sneaked it home to the single-wide trailer she shared with her mom and four siblings, and waited anxiously for the moment she would have enough time and privacy to pee on the stick and wait the required two minutes for the result without any other family members bugging for bathroom time.

She was a junior and the drum major of the marching band at Goose Creek High in South Carolina. She was smart, witty, and had a bright future ahead of her. She had spent the previous summer at the coveted Governor’s School for the Arts at Furman University. She was a survivor of sexual abuse and was helping her mom and older sister raise three younger siblings as a result of her parents’ recent painful, ugly divorce.

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And now she was a knocked up hoe. It’s true. When word got out at good ol’ GCHS, she walked into a bathroom stall one day to those words scribbled on the door in thick dark Sharpie. “Stacey Ribino in an knocked up hoe.” (I guess spelling my name correctly and using any sort of grammar is not a prerequisite for vandalizing bathroom doors.)

She blinked back tears. Kids were cruel. That’s what they thought of her? Would they have thought the same mean, hurtful things if they had known that she wasn’t keeping the baby? Would they have been kind or even a little sympathetic if they knew she was giving the baby up for adoption?

She knew, the instant that damn pee stick was positive, that adoption was her only choice. This life she was incubating, this baby she was growing, was not meant for her. Her family was barely getting by as her mom was finishing nursing school. How could they have added another baby to the mix?

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A few days after taking the pregnancy test, she gathered the courage to tell her mom. They were at Captain D’s, eating her mom’s favorite fried fish (the ONLY fish she’d ever eat) and hush puppies with gobs of tartar sauce, so she figured she was in a safe zone. Plus her friend Adam was there, so she felt relatively certain that her mom wouldn’t murder her.

“Mom… I think I may be pregnant.”

“Why? Why do you think that?”

“Because I took a test. And it was positive.”

Mom and Adam both stared wide-eyed back at her. Adam’s jaw dropped. After a few minutes of letting the news sink in, her mom said, “I will support whatever you decide.”

She set her jaw, almost offended by the underlying meaning of that sentence. “I have to give it up for adoption. That’s the only thing I can do. I can’t keep it and you know I would never have an abortion.”

She tried to keep her secret as long as possible. The marching band went to Disney World in January to march in a parade. She worried about what she would tell friends when they wanted to go on rides that cautioned against pregnant women. She felt tired and frumpy and very, very alone.IMG_1034

Her mom worked as a labor and delivery nurse at a hospital in Charleston. One night she mentioned to a co-worker what was going on with her daughter. That co-worker told her she should talk to another nurse in the postpartum wing named Kathryn. Kathryn and her husband Jeff had been trying to get pregnant for a while without success.

So that’s how 16 (almost 17)-year-old Stacy found the parents for her baby. Kathryn was a nurse and Jeff was a doctor in the Navy. They had a lovely home, a beautiful Golden Retriever, were Catholic, and wanted a baby more than anything. They were perfect. Once they knew they were getting a baby, they were very involved. They called and checked on Stacy and the baby, and took her out to eat several times.

Getting through the rest of that year of high school, trying to conceal a continually growing belly, was a daunting task. There were a lot of safety pins, elastic waistbands and baggy shirts. She had to have a prom dress specially made to accommodate her eight-months-prego eggo. It was a pretty humiliating affair.

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Toward the end of that hellish junior year, she decided she could not and absolutely did not want to return to GCHS for her senior year (see above story about bathroom stall). She met with a guidance counselor and figured out that she could take the credits she needed at summer school and could graduate at the end of the summer. Meanwhile, her older sister was the valedictorian of the graduating class that year. Stacy was flailing miserably in her “perfect” sister’s shadow. She knew by not having a senior year that she would miss out on a lot of fun experiences and opportunities.

The baby’s due date was the beginning of July. Stacy could only miss two days of classes and still be able to graduate from summer school, so she had to be very careful toward the end of her pregnancy. On the night of June 22, she started having really bad cramps, but attributed it to eating too much food. She went to bed early and set her alarm to get up to go to school the next morning.

Thursday June 23, 1994. Owwwww. My stomach hurts so bad. I need water. <glug glug glug>

Oh God. I’m gonna throw up. I am dying. I am seriously going to die. Maybe I can walk it off. Breathe. Breathe. Lie down. No, get back up. Walk walk walk. Run to the bathroom! <barf>

Nope. That didn’t help. Maybe if I poop… 

Ahh. The pain stopped. I’m okay. I’m okay. <eight minutes later> Pain’s back.

I had Joseph on a Thursday morning. I had to wait for my mom to get home from her night shift so she could drive me to the hospital. By the time we got there I was 7 centimeters dilated. I got some pain meds, did some breathing, and next thing I knew I was being wheeled into the delivery room. After pushing for what felt like forever, a cone-headed beautiful boy came quietly into this world.

Kathryn and Jeff were with me the entire time. (She actually got to the hospital before we did). Immediately after giving birth, she tearfully, gleefully asked me what I wanted to eat. I requested Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie, which I proceeded to inhale and then vomit all over myself.

The lawyer brought the papers for me to sign on Friday morning. I held Joseph in the crook of my left arm, sobbing and kissing him, inhaling his sweet baby smell for the final time. With my right hand, I signed him away.

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The next few days and weeks were a blur. I managed to get myself back to school on Monday, only missing the two days I was allowed. I would sit in class, silently turning in on myself, tears streaming down my face, trying to make myself as tiny and invisible as possible, lest I implode or explode from the pain.

Somehow I survived. I made forward motion movements. I lived. I managed to graduate from summer school. I started drinking– I discovered that it numbed the pain. I remember the first time I drank a six-pack of Zima (because beer was disgusting), and the resulting euphoria and giggles soothed my soul for a moment.

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I spiraled out of control a bit. My mom kicked me out of the house. I lived with my friend Adam and his dad for a few months. Then my older sister came home from her first semester at BYU and somehow convinced me to move to Utah with her.

I moved into an apartment in Provo, started going back to church, and (wait for it) got PREGNANT again. The relationship was pretty toxic, so I packed up and went back to South Carolina. I started going to a tech school there, thinking I’d become a nurse. Then I remembered I don’t do needles. Or blood. Or anything that has to do with nursing.

I had my beautiful daughter on February 9, 1996, just 19 months from giving up Joseph. My forward motion movements were sometimes backwards. I got married, I got divorced. I gained weight, I lost weight. I moved back to Utah. I got married again, I got divorced again. I went back to school, I dropped out of school. I was a bit of a train wreck.

It really wasn’t until 2010 that I started to get it together. I went back to school. This time I finished. I was a runner. I ran marathons. I had an autistic son who taught me so much about patience and resilience. I could do anything. Very hard things. IMPOSSIBLE things.

June 23, 2012. Today Joseph is 18. Maybe he’ll look for me…

Joseph’s 18th birthday came and went. I never heard anything from him. A year ago I found his mom on Facebook. I sent her a message, but never heard anything back. A few months later I found Joseph on Instagram. I started following him and, to my pleasant surprise, he followed me back. I assumed if he checked out my pictures, he would figure out who I was. At this point he was 21.

On September 30, 2015, I sent him the following message:

“Hi Joseph. I hope you are well. Thanks for connecting with me here. Hopefully you don’t think I’m a creepy stalker. I would love to be a part of your life, if you’re willing to let me. I have thought about you so much and hoped when you turned 18 you’d contact me. But I respect whatever decision you’ve made. My whole family would love to know you, especially my other kids. Anyway, I will leave it to you. Feel free to call or text me any time.”

He replied:

“I’m sorry I think you may have me confused with someone. I’m not familiar with anyone from Utah. I’m sorry to say I don’t recognize you. I must have accidentally ‘followed’ you however as I sometimes add people back who follow me.”

“Well I’m from SC. Joseph, June 23, 1994? If that’s not you then I apologize for the confusion. I gave a son up for adoption… I thought it was you.”

He replied that “this is quite a bit to take in at once.”

I felt like I had dropped a huge bomb on this poor kid. I was so confused. We had an open adoption and Jeff and Kathryn had promised he would always know about me. Why did he not realize who I was when I sent him that message?

I messaged his mom again on Facebook.

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So he knows I exist. He knows I am the person who carried him and gave him to his parents.

And he doesn’t want to know me. His heart that I have carried in mine for 22 years. I don’t know what to do with this reality.

When Joseph turned 18, my then-boyfriend (now husband) asked me why I didn’t try to get in touch with him then. And the honest truth was that I didn’t feel like I was “good enough”. I didn’t want to be a disappointment to him. I was embarrassed that I hadn’t made more of myself.

Last year was a particularly good year. We bought an amazing home in a great neighborhood. I got a new job that I love. I became a face for Weber State University as part of their “Finish at Weber” campaign. I’m in a commercial that plays in movie theaters. I won a big contest, gaining some attention in the running community. My friends joke that they should rub my shoulder and then head to Vegas since my good luck will rub off on them.

All these accomplishments. All these things that make me proud. Now I’m finally ready. He’ll be 22 in three and a half months. But he may never be ready for me to be his other mother.

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Ranting ramblings from ASDmama

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Ranting ramblings from ASDmama

I recently posted a picture to my social media of Haiden walking out of school on a beautiful spring afternoon. I cleverly captioned it:

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It got 55 likes on Facebook and nine friends commented on it. I was feeling all warm and fuzzy like I usually do when I get so much positive feedback, support and interaction on my postings about Haiden. Then I received this message:

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“When you post pictures of him or talk about him and put the #autism on it. Do you ever wonder if he will see it when he grows up? I by no means think he should be ashamed of having autism but when he becomes a teenager what if he sees that and gets sad…”

Now, before I get too much into my ranting rambling, let me first preface this scenario. The person who sent this is a former co-worker who has had no dialogue with me in a good three to four years. He also has no children. So to say I was caught off-guard by his sudden interjection into my parenting style is a bit of an understatement. If this had come from someone who really knows me, I might have handled the “constructive criticism” a little better.

I turned to a good friend of mine who knows this guy and asked what she thought. She summed it up pretty well with the following text:

“Ummm… sorry but that offends me. Who the hell does he think he is, saying something like that… He definitely sticks his nose in places that it doesn’t belong. Number one, Haiden would never be sad about ANYTHING you have ever posted. Everything is VERY inspiring for those who don’t understand autism and also for those who are in the same situation as yourself. Nothing is ever said in a negative manner, nor are you doing or posting anything that would make YOUR SON “sad” by any means. And as for some IGNORANT asshole to honestly message you something like that…he has some nerve…Just mean. He shouldn’t have even gone there. Now that will always be in the back of your mind, wondering who else thinks that?”

She goes on to say a bunch of other nice things to help unruffle my feathers, but she hit the nail on the head with a lot of what she said.

First and most importantly, I would NEVER do anything to hurt my kids. I have committed this whole blog to our family’s adventures in autism. Adventures. Because an adventure is defined as “an exciting or very unusual experience.” That’s what this autism trip is for us. I want Haiden to read these posts one day, I want him to know how awesome he is and that I love him so much and he’s so rad that other people want to read about him too!

Do I think it will make him sad? That would imply that I think autism is some horrible thing that has happened to my child. No, I don’t think being autistic is cause for my son to be sad. And I don’t believe that sharing stories of our autism adventure will ever make him sad, either. Autism is his super power.

I want him to know it’s cool that he’s different. I want him to know he’s not alone. I want him to know if someone calls him “weird” that that’s okay because he IS and it’s not a bad thing. I want him to embrace it. I want to build him up so he feels safe and confident. I want to cocoon and shelter him so he never gets hurt.

I worry about this kid on so many levels. Is he making friends? Will he be able to have a driver’s license? Will he have a girlfriend? Will he ever truly understand the volumes of love that I have for him?

All three of my kids are rad and are my total world. I realize how lucky I am to be their mom. Fellow special needs moms particularly need to have a forum, a safe place, to have open dialogue about the ups and downs of motherhood. This responsibility we have been given is hard sometimes. Sometimes it is thankless. Sometimes it is hurtful. We have to have a tough skin, but a soft voice. I like having a voice for others in this situation, and I love that this is a safe place for them to find solace.

When I hashtag autism, I don’t do it because it’s bad or I’m sad about it. I do it because I am proud and I want others to know that and see it. I want my son to know that too.

So for anyone who misunderstands or thinks this comes from a place other than love, feel free to unfriend, unfollow or otherwise kindly remove yourself from my sphere. For everyone else who has been so supportive, thank you. And to my fellow ASD parents, Rock On!!

My Girl is Home

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My Girl is Home

When I tell people I have a 19-year-old daughter, their standard reaction is disbelief. “Did you have her when you were 10?!” (For the record I was 19.) While I certainly appreciate the flattery, it also makes me sad that many of my friends weren’t even aware I had a daughter. Then I had to explain that she lived in another state with her father. Then I had to explain why I wasn’t a horrible mother, since why else would I not have custody of my child?

The truth is I made a mistake. Well, a few mistakes that led to a really BIG mistake.

Growing up in South Carolina, my junior year of high school I got pregnant. Oops. I chose to give him up for adoption (NOT one of my mistakes, by the way). I personally chose the couple who adopted him, and it was one of the hardest most beautiful things I have ever had the chance to be part of.

Following my untimely pregnancy, I graduated high school a year early and entered the workforce at my first job at a movie theater. I loved it. Free movies, free popcorn- pretty sure I made like $4.25 an hour. Super awesome. And all my co-workers liked to paaaarrrtaaay! So I gladly hopped on board for many a good time. Until the time I threw a party at my mom’s house when she was out of town. I thought I had cleaned up all the evidence, but apparently I missed a pile of puke behind the toilet (not mine) and I wasn’t smart enough to throw all the empty beer cans away somewhere other than our own trash can. Oops. That was a mistake.

My mom kicked me out and I moved in with a friend for a few months. Right about this time my older sister was coming home for the holiday break after her first semester at BYU. She kept begging me to come home; she wanted us all to be together for Christmas. I was too stubborn, but also had no clue where I was going to go. She had this bright idea that I should move to Utah and take over a former roommate’s lease. I figured I was 18 and I had nothing else going on, so we packed up my Nissan Sentra and headed west.

We got to Provo and headed to her apartment, just to find out someone else had taken over the lease. So now I was stuck in UT in the middle of winter with no place to go and all my earthly belongings in my car. I ended up finding an apartment down the street from her with five girls who all knew each other. Imagine how fun that was for me.

Also, I should add that Provo, for anyone who doesn’t know, is the Capital of Mormonville. And while I had been raised in the Mormon church, I hadn’t had anything to do with it for quite some time. Trying to fit in was not easy. One of my roommates lived by the mantra: “Fake it ’til you make it.” I faked it A LOT.

I got a job at Sears and ended up meeting (wait for it) a returned missionary!! Lucky me! He was an angel sent from God to help redeem me on my path of repentance to eternal salvation. I was so lucky that he wanted to have anything to do with my tarnished soul that I let him berate, belittle, humiliate and otherwise be unkind to me. We had occasional awkward sex (always my fault, since I was the one who had sinned most recently. And yes, he did say those words to me). And what do you know? I got knocked up again. Possibly the only person in history to move to UT to “get their act together” just to get pregnant. AGAIN. At 18. Oops.

We planned a wedding in SC in the summer of 1995. The night before the nuptials, I went to my mom and sobbed my guts out, begging her not to make me marry him. She never liked his pompous ass, so she was more than supportive in my decision. The returned missionary left the next day back to UT. I stayed in SC, enrolled at the local community college, and started my new journey.

On February 9, 1996, I gave birth to my beautiful daughter. I named her Mia (pronounced ‘papaya’- she hates that I ‘misspelled’ her name) because it means “mine.” I figured it was fitting since she had a “dad” who wanted nothing to do with her. I married and divorced my high school sweetheart by the time she was two. I decided maybe I should head back out to UT to live with my older sister and her husband. In the meantime I was trying to get child support from Mia’s dad. I got a notification that he was contesting paternity so I had to take her and spit on some cotton swabs to prove an indisputable fact.

I moved back to UT in 1998. One day Mia and I went to Sears looking for shoes. It never dawned on me the returned missionary would still be working there. So that was the first time he laid eyes on her. I found out he had gotten married (in the temple- not sure how that works when you have an illegitimate child, but who am I to question?). I am still curious how that conversation went with his wife, explaining a two and a half year old who appeared out of the blue.

He finally received the paternity results and called me at work one day to let me know: “I guess she’s mine.”

What a grade A D-bag.

Once he knew he was indeed her father, he and his wife wanted to have her when I worked. Then they wanted her every other weekend. Then every weekend. Then two weeks on, two weeks off. Then she was turning five and we had to decide where she was going to go to kindergarten. We got into a heated debate and he said these words that I will never forget:

“I am going to do everything in my power to make sure she grows up to be nothing like you.”

Ouch. I wasn’t a saint by any means, but those were some harsh words. I allowed him to steamroll over me for years. His father was an attorney and I, like an idiot, signed papers giving up half of my parental rights. Then he got a job in Washington state and wanted to take her with him. So here’s where my BIG BIG mistake was made:

I let him. I didn’t fight hard enough for my daughter because to me, she wasn’t an object to battle over. She was a person who needed to be loved and cared for. His wife was a stay-at-home mom; I was working and going to school full time. So I made the decision to let her go. The pain was similar to that of giving my baby up for adoption years before. I felt like I made the best decision for her at that time. Somewhere in my mind I stupidly thought it wouldn’t be forever. But it was. Until something wonderful happened.

Mia graduated high school last June, as well as a program called Running Start which earned her an Associates degree. I begged her to come live with us and attend Weber State, but her father insisted she go to BYU Idaho. While I didn’t think it was the school for her, I was definitely glad to have her closer to us. She could ride the bus down and stay with us on the weekends. It was great to start making up for all the years I had lost with her.

She hated BYUI, but she lived in constant fear of disappointing her father and stepmom. On top of the normal stresses of college, she felt the heavy burden of having to live her life under her father’s thumb. He financially blackmailed her, and she was too scared to make a decision that would get her cut off from his monetary assistance. She felt trapped staying at BYUI, but obligated since her dad was paying for it. (On a side note: we recently went back over old custody papers. He is supposed to have a trust account for her to use for college. ANY college. The fact that he insisted it be a Mormon school is dirty, dirty, dirty.)

Even though she was miserable, Mia began her second semester at BYUI. After the first week, she called and asked me to come pick her up. I was full of emotions: relief, pride, happiness, love. I know it took a lot of bravery for her to make the decision to leave that school.

Peace out, Rexburg!

Peace out, Rexburg!

Her father has since cut her off from pretty much everything- we have helped her get a new car, a job, a phone plan and a place to stay. She is with my mom who is equally elated to have her back in our fold. In the past two weeks we have been able to spend each others’ birthdays together- something we haven’t done in 13 years.

It’s like that saying about loving something and letting it go and it coming back to you. My girl came back to me. She came back. He took her away to ensure she wouldn’t “be like me.” And she’s here. I see a lot of myself in her- the parts of her that I’m sure her father wanted to suppress and control. Those are the parts I love the most. Despite my mistakes, I must have done something right. My baby is back!

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Hanging up the apron…For good…

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Hanging up the apron…For good…

Something pretty momentous happened last week: I worked my last shift ever in a restaurant.

That’s right. After spending almost half of my life in the food service/bartending industry, I decided to hang up the apron forever.

(Don’t mind that the name on my food handler permit is “Stacy McCong.” Or that it expired three months ago. Or the fact that I forgot I had to get my picture taken for my permit and I look like The Queen of the People of Walmart.)

I began my illustrious career at Outback Steakhouse in North Charleston, SC when I was 19 and pregnant with my daughter. I was a hostess to start and became a server after I had her. Let me tell you, southerners had no qualms about rubbing a stranger’s belly. You’d think I was harboring a genie ready to poof out and grant three wishes the way people would go to town on my tummy. And yet this experience didn’t scare me away from working in restaurants.

No, no. Once I started serving I was hooked. I remember the first time I picked up a tip from the table. It felt like Christmas! The ability to go to work each shift and walk away with cash was so very enticing. Plus everyone was fun and work was like a party. Literally. We’d go make our money and then spend half of it on drinks when we got off. (In retrospect I wish I had saved some of those hard earned dollars, but my 38-year-old self is far smarter than the 21-year-old version was.) Even when tips were bad, the good money nights negated those. The serving industry sucks in a lot of people that way.

From that Outback I went to a couple locally owned places in Charleston I can’t even remember the names of. Then I moved to Utah and got on at Outback in Orem. Then:

Thanksgiving Point, Olive Garden (Provo), Olive Garden (Layton), Red Lobster, Roosters, Tepanyaki, Applebee’s, The Summit Lounge, Iggy’s, Copper Club, The Officer’s Club on HAFB and finally Bistro 258.

Whew. That makes me dizzy just thinking about it!

During this time I also ventured into other careers. I got my real estate license for a few years, marketed for a title company for a year, and finally decided to go back to school. I graduated from Weber State University in April 2013, but even during school and after graduation I continued to work in the food and bev industry. It was easy, decent money so why not?

But I have to admit- there came a point where I tired of the way some people treated me like I was “just a server” or a “dumb bartender.” There were days I left work feeling degraded and defeated. Don’t even get me started on stories of the horrible things people have done to me over the years. That’s a whooooooole other blog post. (One time at OG in Provo, a couple wrote in a penny on the credit card slip as my tip because I wouldn’t give them a to go box for the NEVER ENDING PASTA BOWL.)

Not an inaccurate depiction of many customer interactions servers deal with on a daily.

Not an inaccurate depiction of many customer interactions servers deal with on a daily.

I could not wait to graduate because I was so sure I would be done with all that nonsense once and for all. But I had a baby and a special needs kiddo at home, so working part-time making an average of $20-30/hour just made sense, so that’s what I did.

And to be honest, I really enjoyed the gig at Bistro 258. A small, intimate restaurant with great food, cool co-workers, nice owners. But I decided this is my year to become who and what I’m supposed to be. I’m focusing all my efforts on being a great mortgage loan officer, an awesome mom, a great wife, and the fittest version of myself. Because I’m almost 38, and 38 is great.

So, so long Stacy McCong. It’s been a good run, but the days of slip resistant (read: hideously ugly and ridiculously overpriced) shoes are behind me. No more aprons overflowing with straws, pens and wine keys. Well, maybe I’ll still have wine keys lying around. No more deposits to the bank of wads of cash that raise the judgmental eyebrows of the tellers. This mama has served her last linguine, poured her last pilsner, brought her last bread basket.

But if you need a home loan in Utah, then I’m happy to be of service. 😉

Cowardly (or bravely?) dipping my toes in to test the waters

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Cowardly (or bravely?) dipping my toes in to test the waters

I haven’t blogged since Weber State University’s Fall Semester 2012. I feel like I have abandoned an old friend, and am sheepishly attempting to rekindle and save the tattered relationship. Well, hello, blog. A lot has happened in the last two years. I’m pleased we were able to reconnect, although admittedly, I had to reset my password in order to do so. Nice to see you’ve kept things in order here in my absence.

I’ve thought of you a lot. In moments of crisis, when I mentally composed a Facebook status in my head that I knew was way too long. On long runs, when I saw funny things that I wanted to immediately share with the world. In random instances of life that I wanted to capture in story form, like lightning bugs in mason jars.

So here we are. Since we last met, I had Eli. He is now two and a clone of his daddy. Seriously, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine having a blue eyed child. Mia is 18 and in college. COLLEGE. How is one of my babies studying for finals at the same time the other is beginning potty training?? And then there is Haiden. My one and only H-man. He is smart and funny, and the cause of some of my highest highs as well as the lowest lows. He brings me such joy and such stress. He makes me a better mom and person. My sweet ASD kiddo.

“And so it goes, and so it goes. And you’re the only one who knows.”

My intention is for this blog to be a place of sanctuary for my occasional ranting and raving; a place where I can rejoice in the breakthroughs and accomplishments, the successful mommy moments; as well as a place for pity parties every now and then. Because as Dr. Seuss says:

“You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

Because as much as I wish this blog was more Carrie Bradshaw and Sex in the City-ish, it’s just not. I’m a mom, working two jobs, taking care of three kids (four if we’re talking about the hubby), trying to balance it all with a run here and there. I want to make healthy meals for my family every day, but some days it’s pizza or chicken nuggets. And I have to believe there are others out there like me- working hard to be the best they can, but also finding themselves just trying to keep their heads above water from time to time.

So to you moms and dads out there, to kids with special needs or not, I raise my glass to you. Enjoy the blog. 🙂

PR is for PRegnancy

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So there’s really no educational value to this blog.  I’m simply unloading details of my life for the sake of it…

I found out about 3 weeks ago that I’m pregnant! And while everyone on the homefront is thrilled about it, I recently got hit hard by the reality of pregnancy.  That is: nausea, tender bosom bits, and sheer and utter exhaustion. So my daily routine of mom duties, gym trips, errand-running, and piles of homework have now become huge challenges. I can’t make it through a couple hours at the computer working on my impending 12-page paper without the need for a nap. And the gym or going for a run? Forget about it.

Registration for spring semester is this week, and I have ambitiously (mentally) signed myself up for 19 credit hours– the most I’ve ever taken in one semester is 15– all in the hope that there is some inkling of hope I can still manage to have a baby in June and still be able to graduate by December of 2012.  I feel I may be biting off more than I can chew…and I can chew a LOT.

Which leads to me to a frustrating conclusion (albeit one which I did consider before deciding to get knocked up):

How is a woman supposed to have it all, do it all, be everything? I knew I needed to finish school, so I have been hell-bent on getting it done; but having a child with my fiance (his only biological one) is also paramount. And on the cusp of my 35th birthday, the baby sitch needed to happen sooner than later. But let’s be honest: even if I waited until after I graduated, I’d still have all the hurdles I have now, on top of the added pressure of finally nabbing that dream job. And how would my employers feel about their newest team member asking for maternity leave so soon into gaining employment? And how and with whom could I entrust a brand new baby when I’m working full time?

I have to believe that everything is going to work out exactly as it was meant to. I know that wherever I end up career-wise, I will be an asset. But I want to be a wonderful wife and mother too. I’m sure there’s a balance…now how to find it.

Surviving PR SOTY competition

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Preparing for the PR Student of the Year competition was one of the most exciting and exhausting challenges I’ve had in the past two years I’ve spent at Weber. The competition itself was so daunting I almost wished I was out running my half marathon instead.  Yet here I sit, under a giant cloud of accomplishment.  My first emotion upon completion of the events on Saturday was pure, unadulterated relief.  Today: pride.

It’s not unlike the first time I crossed a marathon finish line; the feeling of having just done something I’d never considered, an impossibility.  In my mind I could trace the agony of every mile until the final moment of achievement.  That’s the culmination of my feelings on Saturday.  I looked back on my hard work and saw the end result and thought to myself, “I just did that.”

I didn’t realize at the time when I first decided to run a marathon that I wasn’t simply making a choice to run an insane distance of 26.2 miles: I was crafting the strong woman I’ve become since then.  Little did I know the impact of that one circumstantial decision.  It was a gauntlet thrown and a hurdle overcome.  And ever since, I have stepped up and overcome obstacles I’d never dreamt of.

So while I appreciate textbook learning and classroom lectures and lengthy research papers, nothing else will compare to the fact that I stood up and presented a PR campaign to real people; that I jumped through some major hoops, composing a press release and dealing with reporters.  I did what I want to do “when I grow up.”  And I did it well.

Of course I hope I win.  I want to justify all my hard work and time spent.  I want the recognition and bragging rights.  And of course, scholarship money wouldn’t hurt.  But should I not take away the grand prize, the experience was an invaluable one for which I am so grateful I was a part.  Finally, I see the light at the end of the tunnel on this journey, and it is warm and bright.