Hey there, friends. It has been a minute since I have posted on Between the Lens, but I think it is time for a refresh. So many things have happened in the last few weeks, so let me catch you all up.
Last week, I finished up classes for GOOD and walked across the stage to celebrate graduating COLLEGE! For those of you that have been following my page for a few years now, you know how long and hard I have worked on my Bachelor’s degree. I did it completely online, as a mother, working full-time, and also serving in the military. I hope to some day encourage other Moms that they can do it, too!!
Aside from school, I am also about a month into my new job. I am still learning and meeting new people, so I am not totally sure what to think. I will just keep trying to do my best and see where life takes me. Currently, I am working as a Caseworker in Career & Employment, working with underemployed or disadvantaged adults and assisting them with career and schooling opportunities. It can be rewarding, yet frustrating work.
Outside of work, my husband and I have began the 2023 garden! You can find more of that content at Ruble Gardens – so go give that page a follow if you haven’t yet! You can also follow us on YouTube or Facebook at @RubleGardens!
It’s also Mental Health Awareness Month, so I’m spirit I’m happy to announce that I found a therapist and had my first session earlier this week! It seems like a really good fit and I’ve never had the opportunity to internalize my past and how it’s affecting my present in a professional setting. I went one time in 2019 and couldn’t fit the bill, so I never returned. I did some research online about teletherapy that was affordable and invoiced by the session. So many sites offered a relatively affordable monthly rate, however I didn’t feel like therapy was something that I could necessarily commit more than one day a week to. Luckily, I found OpenPath Collective and was able to find therapists in my state and filter it to my specific issues and needs. The entire process was so easy and I’m paying a very affordable rate that doesn’t feel like the price tag would burden our family finances. I highly encourage that site!!!
My first session was already so eye opening. I guess I never realized that I have complex post traumatic stress disorder and never labeled my experience as real “trauma.” Now I’ve identified that, and it’s saddened me but rooted me into something that I already knew but hadn’t yet worked through its impact on my behavior, personality, and mental and physical health. I am really diving inward and will most likely use this as my outlet as I take notes towards my future book. Now that I am done with schooling and able to focus more on what I want to do, I think it’s time to finally invest time into something that’s been on my bucket list for quite some time – to publish a book.
So it’s an exciting time for me right now, despite the ongoing stress from raising two kids and working full time ! Hah, but I’m enjoying the ride and hopeful for the future. So here’s to really tuning into my own interests and see where those paths lead me!
I woke about 4am sweating. I looked over at my fan and realized it was not on, so then I glanced at the bedroom closet and realized that light was also out. I figured out that the power was out, so I rolled over and went back to sleep thinking it would most likely be on by the time my alarm went off. No such luck.
The school called around 6 canceling the entire day. At 6:30, I get a notification from the electric service stating that the estimated restoration time would be 7am. So I’m scrambling wondering what I’m supposed to do with my daughter for the day, and I couldn’t get ahold of my boss (still haven’t heard from him and it’s nearly 9am). So I just said I wouldn’t be in. I took my son to daycare like regular and they had power on long before we did. So why did they cancel school?? I was frustrated, but now I am just trying to enjoy my day off.
Im sitting on the front porch drinking a cup of coffee that I brewed just a bit ago. A storm rolled through overnight, which is why I suspect the power was out for some time, but it’s made the air nice and cool. It’s like 60° out but it’s cloudy and the air still feels wet. I love the smell. Like the earth was just cleansed and ready for a new day. The Midwest was hit pretty hard last Friday and then again overnight, but luckily most of it went north of us. We had to retreat to the basement one time, but the tornado was several miles outside of town. I’m not sure if it was even technically classified as one, but I know there was some pretty severe damage about an hour away from here where a tornado went through last night. My coworker was frightened because her parents live near where that tornado struck, and she was explaining to me that her husband’s grandfather was actually the one person killed in a local tornado that struck the area back in 1981. Apparently he was going in from his car after getting home from the bank and was struck by debris. Weather is certainly frightening at times, so when we were home shopping one thing we had on our MUST HAVE list was a home with a basement. I try to always be prepared and weather alert when there’s a chance for severe weather. This morning I’m thankful we didn’t get more than we did and that my family is all safe.
Now I’m going to go enjoy the day with my 4 year old and get some things done around the house. Happy Hump Day, everyone!
A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting at my desk in a whirlwind of emotion and in need of letting some things go. I have been physically and emotionally drained for months now. I am partially convinced that this is a normal annual occurrence that normally takes its toll on my body the most intensely around this same time of year every year. By February and March I am usually a bit more irritable, bored out of my mind, and ready for the sun to come and refresh all of the life that just laid dormant for the winter.
Have you ever been sitting in a completely quiet and empty room and found yourself lost in wonder and contemplation? I mean, lost so deep that it feels like life is so raw and intense and full of ways to break your spirit? I probably sat there for a long while just letting my mind wander before I snapped back to reality. I was looking out the window – perhaps I was wallowing, or perhaps I was just relishing in sane human emotion after heartbreak – but I kept feeling this deep pit in my stomach telling me to just let it all out. I sit at my desk all day on the computer, so instead I pulled out a piece of paper and a pen, and I started writing to my mom in prison. The letter sat on my desk under a pile of other papers for a couple weeks before I finally decided to toss it in the trash.
When I write these letters, I never really feel like I am writing to my Mom. Our relationship is so estranged that the word ‘Mom’ feels like it has a different meaning. Like, I understand what the word means to other people, and I know that I am an absolutely wonderful mother to my own children, but as it relates to the woman that birthed me, I identify with it differently. Mom feels like a label. Like it’s her name.
What else am I supposed to call her?
But it doesn’t feel like a term of endearment, nor do I see her as the same kind of person as several of the amazing Moms that I have had the pleasure of looking up to throughout my short time on this planet. When I write these letters, it feels like I am writing a letter to the person that caused me pain and changed my life indefinitely, but not to a person that I know. I am going to be 27 years old this October. I was taken from my mother at the age of 7. Let’s put that into perspective. At this point in my life, nearly 75% of my life has been spent without my mother. When I say without, I mean no calls, no texts, no visits, nothing. Poof. Like she didn’t even exist, yet I knew of her absence and the pain it carried. And the one quarter of my life that I did spend with her, I was from the ages of 0-7… so you tell me, how much of that time frame in your life do you remember? Because I remember some good times, and some bad times… but mostly I remember the LACK of times we shared together. I remember all of the times she wasn’t there. My childhood is tainted by flashbacks of being so sick from missing her on holidays that I’d have to lay in bed most of the day. I remember scanning bleachers of basketball games looking for a face that never came. No documentation ever came forward with her making any effort to get me back or to even set up visitations.
Growing up, I felt like I was the only kid experiencing what it was like to have their mother in prison. And in my case – my mother was a single parent, so I had to be placed in a completely different home altogether. I didn’t know anybody like me. My best friend all throughout Junior High had happily married parents that went on ornate family vacations every summer, and my other girlfriend lived on a farm with happily married parents who owned horses and a brick fire oven on their back patio. They could offer their deepest regards to my pain and emotions as we matured, but ultimately, no one I knew had a home life that seemed anything other than perfect in my eyes. And no one was ever really able to offer me the deep understanding and empathy that I felt like I needed as a young girl making her way through life. Not that that burden was ever to be beared by my friends, but it just led me down a path of extreme loneliness and separation from my peers that I still struggle with today. I had to grow up a lot faster than anyone around me and I had to pave my own path to success and family that is often much more easily reached by someone with a supportive and loving home life. My aunt and uncle did what they could at the time to give us everything we needed, but there is never a replacement for a mother. It is just different when you have got that bird in your ear reminding you that you have been neglected and rejected by the one woman you want the most. Sometimes the pain is too much to bear, but I suppose it’s never really too much – because here I stand. Fighting my way to every inch I have ever gained.
I was doing some research on this to gain some background on how common it is for a child to have an incarcerated parent and just how it affects the child of the offender. I think one of the most surprising facts about this is that it’s reeeally not that uncommon at all.
It is estimated that 5 million U.S. children have experienced the incarceration of a parent – with the average age of 8 years old. Children of incarcerated parents are more likely to experience poor health and unmet health care needs, greater exposure to mental health symptomatology such as anxiety, PTSD, and depression. They are more susceptible to lower educational attainment, higher rates of aggression, substance abuse, justice system involvement, and more likely to disenfranchise from civic and political participation (Task Force on Children of Incarcerated Parents: Final Report and Recommendations).
The affects that the incarceration of a parent can have on a child is insurmountable. I have experienced hurdles in all of the aforementioned categories and was never offered mental or emotional rehabilitation or counseling to help me cope. If we want to change the direction of society and fill it with children that grow up to be dependable, happy, healthy, and innocuous adults, we must do something about the care that we offer to the families affected by the judicial system. There is responsibility to be placed on offenders, but we cannot forget about the people that their decisions directly impact. I was a child, lost and lonely. I overcame the statistics that are made out of people from families like mine.
I guess my main point is this: If you are struggling with an addiction or a decision that keeps you from offering the love to the children you created, just stop. There is no excuse you could offer that will console or mend whatever destruction your situation is causing. I still feel an immense sense of disassociation with reality and division between myself and those that have never felt rejection, abandonment, and loneliness to this level. I aim for a world where no child ever has to wonder if their mother cares about them, for it is a lonely and desolate journey forward.
A few weeks ago I was really struggling with a heavy chest and not being able to catch a full breath of air. I could not get a yawn to catch, and just felt like an elephant was sitting right atop my breasts. This pursued for several days, leaving me exasperated and irritated. One night I sat on the edge of the bed while my heart nearly beat out of my chest. I was up and down out of bed for several hours and even worried if I should call the hubby home from work. I was petrified that I was having a real health concern, so I decided to get into my PCP – just hoping that it was due to anxiety.
Luckily, my PCP was very friendly, listened intently, and even ran tests on my heart and blood to confirm that the heavy chest wasn’t due to my heart or lungs. Labs came back good, so that was a relief. She put me on anxiety meds, gave me an inhaler because of my history of asthma, and sent me on my way. A few days passed and much to my relief, my heavy chest went away.
Now, this was probably going on three weeks ago. So I have been taking this anxiety medication for a few weeks now, and this is a journey that I new to. I am not ashamed to be on this medication, but I have never really been on any medications before, so it is something that I am going to continue to monitor and talk with my healthcare professionals about. I have had a lot of emotional strain and work stress lately, along with raising two kiddos, running a home, and finishing my final semester of my degree. I am excited to say, though, that the medication is seemingly making me less irritable with the kids and also allows me to fall asleep rather quickly – as opposed to lying in bed for hours worrying before finally falling asleep. The doc said it could be 4-6 weeks before I really notice the medication doing much, but I think the heavy chest and panic attack relief was enough for me to buy-in to the process and keep my mental health on the foreground. I think that this was a real wake-up call for me, because I had never had anxiety present itself in my body in such a drastic way to where it paralyzed me, made it hard to breathe, and increased my heart rate. I was miserable for several days while my attack pursued, so I can truly relate to anyone that battles anxiety or depression that leaves them physically altered and distressed. I considered going to the Emergency Room a few times simply because my heart was racing, I couldn’t catch a breath, and nothing I did seemed to help. The stress of not being able to breathe only exacerbated my fear and stress, so it was an endless cycle until I got the medication which allowed me to relax, gain my breath, and fulfill the long-awaited yawns that I had been chasing for several days.
I am glad I took the leap. It is going to hopefully help my behavior as a mother and wife be more patient and less irritable, and allow me to lead a more regular life without always stressing and worrying about what is next. These two small pills have provided me relief and hope for a brighter future. I probably should have been medicated long ago, but for now I will venture into this new part of my life and shift more focus on maintaining and healthy mental status for myself and my family.
Today marks my six year anniversary on WordPress. This site was my beginning journey into sharing my writing and life experience with the world. Since then my content has been viewed in countries across the world tens of thousands of times.
I’m thankful for my blog friends here & the journeys we have shared together. Some of the darkest moments of my life are reflected in the poetry and writings that I upload here. It’s a very personal and honest reflection of my life that I will leave behind for my children and possible descendants to dig out. I’m currently writing a book about my family’s lineage that I hope to print and give to my siblings for Christmas to be passed to do future generations.
Not only do I share my poetry and creative writing here, WP is also my outlet to photography, gardening, vent sessions, personal interests, and self-reflection.
It’s really a catch-all.
So I appreciate the follow & engagement. Drop some love in the comments!
I attempted to explain this difference to my daughter this afternoon. She stood in the doorway of the dining room whining for I don’t even remember what. She cried, “I neeeeeeed it!”
You don’t need it. You just want it.
Desire can be a tricky little bitch.
You see… when you really, really want something so bad it physically makes you feel ill…
and that thing never comes…
Tonight I just so happened to get on WordPress via PC instead of my mobile app. I usually draft up ideas on the go, so blogging from my phone is just easier and more convenient. Anyway, I noticed a notification that I hadn’t seen because I was on the app. It noted that I had an unapproved comment, so I clicked to see what it was.
I have written about my mom reading and occasionally commenting on my blog. Well this comment was from her from way back in the spring of 2022, but I hadn’t seen it until tonight.
I got mixed emotions reading her words, but in the end it all lead to one sad realization.
A realization I come to very often.
I want a Mom.
An actual Mom. As in, one who kisses boo-boos (both physical and emotional). One who I could call up on the phone when I need advice on parenting, or to ask how to make homemade cookies, or for no particular reason at all. Oh, how I would call this Mom up. I would tell her I loved her and I would make Mom & Daughter adult planned mini-vacations for the two of us.
Seems silly saying it out loud.
I’ve invented entire scenarios with my make-believe mother. The one not engulfed in a seemingly endless battle with addiction. One who would admit their faults and love me the way a child should be.
I want that Mom.
Again, Want vs. Need.
I didn’t say I need a Mom. Haven’t since age 7. And the one woman that swore to love and raise me in place of the woman that actually birthed me deserted some of her children, while still loving and spending time with the others. I was not one that she chose to continue to love and cherish.
It hurts me most that my children are missing out on invaluable relationships and foundations that are essential in the success and psychology of a family.
The two “mothers” in my life have brought me the greatest heartbreak, biggest feelings of being deserted, and most pain of all experiences I have emotionally survived in my life.
I don’t want to carry that burden to my own children. I am a great Mom, that I know. Because one thing that I have learned in the short four years that I have been a Mom, is that a great deal of being a good Mom is done by just showing up for them. You may not always get it right, but trying again and committing to doing better the next time is all it takes. Nobody really knows what they are doing anyway.
I don’t need a mom. I do damned well without one.
But tonight, I wish I could call you just for the sake of it.
We ran out of milk this morning so I made a solo trip to the nearest Dollar General for some more early this morning. Just my luck, the store didn’t open til 8 and I got there at 7:40. That seemed like too long of time to sit and wait in the parking lot, so I headed down to the river to pass some time and look at the water. I have always found such serenity and peace by the River.
I wasn’t there for any more than ten minutes, but after more than a week locked in with sick kids, I needed this mini-trip to town to clear my head. I guess it was a win that I showed up to the store before they opened because otherwise I would have missed out on this beautiful scene that I was able to witness this morning as the early day glow was rising on the bridge. Surprisingly, I was the only one down there so I got to soak it in all by myself, almost as if the sunlight was put there to comfort a Mom lost in motherhood much like myself.
Sickness has been running through our home off and on for the last two weeks. Seems like the Mom is never the one that gets to rest when illness runs it’s course.
The kiddos aren’t sleeping, battling fevers, but no puking so far (fingers crossed).
I am exhausted- still trying to work when I can while toggling sick children and a husband, I finished up my intermission college course and started a new semester, and if I have to change one more bedsheet I think I might faint… all on less than desirable rest. I have now forgotten the last time I slept through the night without being wakened by the needs of a crying, snotty-nosed child.
But I’m holding strong. Like all mamas do.
I will continue to wipe the noses, hold them in my arms, and look for the light of a new day.
Christmas has come and gone in the blink of an eye, hasn’t it? It seems as though the years go by faster the older I get. I have come to the conclusion that a 40-hour work week does not give me the satisfactory amount of time to enjoy the parts of life that I love the most. I miss my family. I love the giving season. I wish we got more than one Christmas every year.
Although I generally struggle every holiday season, this year was a harder one than most – and I am still processing and internalizing my emotions to figure out why. Nonetheless… being back together with my siblings, gathering the grandkids, and just enjoying family company is good for my soul. (My six siblings and I have a total of ten grandkids, so when we get together it’s an event!)
We spent a lot of Christmas Day traveling and visiting others, and that always makes the day go by so fast. We woke up around 7:30 to open Santa’s presents followed by own families gifts. We left our house around 9:15 to head to my Mother-In-Law’s house and left there around 11:30. Went to Dylan’s dad’s house after and spent a few hours there. Finally got home around four in the afternoon, but considering it was Sunday just before dinner time, it did not leave much time for relaxing before work on Monday. Let’s start a petition to ban any Christmas from falling on a Sunday because the working mother in me is freaking out over a STILL messy house.
Maybe someday I can convince Dylan we won’t travel and that if people want to see us, they can come to us. I have tried with no luck yet. I just feel like a great portion of the day is spent driving and the kids get to open a bunch of gifts that they don’t even get to sit down to enjoy before we are on to the next stop.
Holidays are hard for a lot of people. My heart is with you if you are one of those people during this time of year. Sometimes it is hard to put that smile on. Sometimes Christmas doesn’t feel so jolly. That’s okay, too.
From ours to yours, have a wonderful holiday season and New Year!
I grew up in a brick house on Cherry Street. I was probably about the age of five or six, when I think back on it now. The yard wasn’t large and it sat on a small hill up from the sidewalk. It sits right in the middle of a municipality, so it makes sense that the yard is as small as it is.
It felt a lot bigger as a child. My sister and I had a swing set outside where I remember pumping my feet so high I was so sure I could fly if only I had the guts to jump from the seat. I remember digging in the dirt with a stick and my Mom telling me the story of how my Aunt tricked her into taking a bite of a huge worm because she told her it was a hotdog (Not sure if that’s true or not, but now every time I see a worm I envision a great big worm sitting atop a hotdog bun).
The house still sits in the same spot looking exactly as it did twenty years ago, and my childhood best friend still occupies the house across the street. It almost seems as if time hasn’t moved on, even though I have. The life that I knew within those four walls is much different than the life I know now. Occasionally I will drive down that block slowly, my attempt at grasping onto something that has been long since gone. I have come to realize that this was the last place I truly had a sense of innocence.
The last happy memories I cherish of my mother were had in that home. I remember my sister and I shared a bunk bed and our room was connected with our parents, only separated by door beads that made a beautiful song when walked through. My mother was always so good at decorating the home. Her bedroom had a beautiful Native American painting on the wall and a canopy that hung over their bed. We would swing on the tall poles of the canopy, chatting away, while watching A Bug’s Life.
I remember having daddy-daughter donut day at school with my stepdad (my younger sister’s father). My Mom and Rick came to my elementary school where we played hula hoop, ate donuts, and drank chocolate milk. I remember getting off the bus, running up that big hill to the house, and then cuddling up on the couch with my Mom while we watched Oprah. When I lost a tooth, I remember the joy of waking up with a dollar bill under my pillow.
We had TV dinner trays and we sat on the floor eating takeout every Wednesday night while watching “Fear Factor.” We would order spaghetti and garlic bread from the local restaurant La Gondola, or fried chicken meals from KFC. La Gondola to this day still has the best garlic bread.
I remember Christmas time with my Mom. I remember decorating the tree and not being able to sleep on Christmas Eve because the anticipation to open gifts had me wired to the core. She lit the spirit of the holidays in me from a young age, that I do know. The holidays were especially hard on me in my teen years as I mourned the memories of the mother that was the provider of all of these wonderful memories. And it wasn’t like she was gone. She was just away, living a life that I knew nothing about. One year my aunt and uncle surprised my sister and I with letting our mother come visit for Christmas. This was probably the first Christmas after we were taken from our Mom by DCFS. We had just moved in with our aunt, uncle, and our five cousins, so we had been in the process of adjusting to a new home, new school, and new cohabitants. My aunt came to my sister and me and said, “What is this mess in here?” Confused, we followed my aunt to the front corridor of the house where our mom popped out from around the corner. We ran into her arms and hugged her tight.
It is still hard to not get caught in the pain of missing her during this time of year. Although we shared less than seven Christmases together, a part of me still feels like she has been here. Right now she is sitting in prison and I have not talked to her in months. I try not to spend my time wondering how Christmas is when you are locked up in a state prison for seven years. My aunt and uncle gave us seven kids everything and more for Christmas. As an adult, I now wonder how the hell they ever pulled off buying all seven of us kids new bikes one year. Our blended family of nine committed to our annual holiday traditions, and it is something that each of us have since integrated into our own family’s celebrations. We held hands surrounding our tree of choice and sang “O Christmas Tree” before cutting it down. We made candy with Grandma and put out shoes for Santa instead of stockings. My sister and I experienced no lack of holiday spirit and cheer even though we weren’t spending it with the person that brought us into the world.
I do not spend a lot of time living in the past or dwelling on what is not. But sometimes, I enjoy jumping back into the world where life felt more simple. More innocent. A time of youth.
A time where the girl in the brick house felt no absence of her mother. A time where the snuggles on the couch were never going to end. A time where my essence was not based in the presence of what I am missing and continuously longing for.
I remember the good days. This Christmas and always, I miss you, Mom.