Independence Day? Perhaps.....

We had an amazing holiday. Four days together was exactly what we needed after the rush of June. And while July may have come in unkindly, it was the usual dramatic flair of intervening before a holiday. Can I tell you how many holidays and events this has happened before, during, or directly after? Um... almost every single one? I'd say that sounds about right.

But, we took our time, which we deserved. We didn't talk about it, we didn't worry about it- we had fun. We cooked and had fireworks, and I told the kids about fireworks and stuff we had done when I was little. The hubby introduced us to bottle rockets and we all went a little crazy with them. The adults anyway- the kids got to supervise those. We watched movies with them, played outside, made milkshakes... it was a family holiday. And I sat back, amazed, watching them. I watched them laughing, playing, enjoying being together. I saw my oldest daughter relax to the point it seemed she was boneless, and I watched her father follow suit. I watched him take that in, take it all in, and I watched him watching me. We have come together, he and I, in a lot of different ways lately. Part of it's growing up a little more, part of it's seeing things from the others perspective. Part of it is just knowing that we belong together. And part of it is knowing that this was how we found that out.

It's the calm before the storm, I know that. But with every storm, now, we have this bond, the five of us, that only gets a little stronger. And it only strengthens my resolve to keep my family in tact, healthy, and safe from harm. My heart hardens a little more each time they are hurt. My flexibility fades the more it happens- there have been too many little moments where this has stolen away a moment of ours, more than I can count as the years have gone by. He and I have been together for almost fourteen years- how many moments do you think that adds up to? How many memories and inside jokes, remember when's and firsts with each child we've had? How many traditions have we made, a mesh of “his and hers” to pass on to these kids with every season, holiday, year? Ten thousand, a million? How many times have we thought of getting out, and yet.... no one did. We've left a hundred times or more, in our heads, but somehow we never did.

There is no magic pill to make a family. There is only love, loyalty and time. There are nights you don't sleep, days you don't speak, hours where you try so hard to get your point across you want to scream. There are moments that knock you so low you don't know if your legs will ever hold you again. And there are moments where we help each other up, help each other out, go against our better judgment and do for everyone but our own selves. We withhold the “I told you”, and simply sit back and let it unfold. And if one of us is right.. or both of us... we go on without saying a word. But we go on, and my hand is always in his.

I'm sure I come off as a mix of things- an interesting mix of naive, angry, maybe even heartless. I'm not. I'm simply Wife, and Mother. I'm not the girl who wants the chance to be with him forever, I'm the woman he chose to spend forever with. There's a big difference there, one I'm just finding myself. I never believed it. And he never really saw it. But we weren't supposed to until now, I suppose. And yeah, even after all of it, it was worth the wait. I've known since I was sixteen years old that he was where I was supposed to be- the first time I saw him, I told my mother he was the man I was going to marry. Did I know how hard it would be? Nope. Would I continued blindly on, had I? Yep. We've made a life together, in our own messed up, immature, I have no clue what the hell I'm doing or even who I am ways, and it sticks, somehow. We made three beautiful babies together, and have somehow managed not to screw them up beyond recognition. That is a miracle in itself, believe me. They've seen a lot, heard a lot more. We've been through hell and back, more than once, and the only thing I can say is the kids never knew, not really- they just figured we were taking a scenic route. None of it ever touched them. Until now.

That's the thing, at the end of it. I sat by and let a lot of things slide, a lot get in the way, because I didn't want to make waves. It wasn't until it started seeping in, changing conversations, emotions and behaviors in my kids. Then the gloves are off. Nothing and no one is worth their emotional well being. Their self worth has never been questioned, and it won't be now. They've had their issues with the typical “mean kids”, we've been through the struggles of socializing with Jake. This is very different. And it's something that, honestly, I went into against my better judgment and completely for everyone besides myself. I have no stake in any of that, other than my family. This is and was theirs. Every decision has been based on what they want, how they feel and what is best for them. Best for them comes ahead of everything else, for me. If it's not in their best interest, if all they are gaining is doubt, anger and negative experiences, then it's a different game.

Look back, over the posts of the last couple years. Do you not see the similarities? How many times have I mentioned negative impacts on them? A lot more than I should have had to, a lot more than it should have happened. They are not an afterthought, to anyone in their lives. And certainly not to the people who gave them life and made them who they are- by being there, guiding them and loving them. They aren't about to be set aside, or put after anyone or anything. Ever. Let me repeat it- Ever. It annoys me that people assume they will be. It annoys me that people assume they can wreak havoc when they choose, disappear, let the dust settle and come back to do it again. Sometimes there is no again. Sometimes the wound is too deep, and for some, it opens wounds that were best left alone.

Be very careful with your words and the way you treat people. There isn't always a chance to undo what you've said or done. People don't like being hurt, used, or discarded when you can't find a use for them at the moment. Golden rule of life- treat others as you want to be treated. It does pay off at the end of the day. The hands and hearts I hold, the people who hold mine... they are proof of that. The million moments we have made, and the ten million more to come? Thicker and bolder than any splash of red, crisper and cleaner than any piece of paper. Love is the tie that binds. The rest is decoration.

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