You Are Always On My Mind

I feel like talking about my dad today.

I think I have to point out that he was a good provider when he wanted to be. We had nice things like music and movies, which is where Luke and I get much of our interest in it from, my mom always had a neck and fingers full of nice jewelry, we had nice vehicles, we lived in nice places. All of that being said, it came at a cost.

My dad was the kind of guy that was the life of the party. Funny, a good entertainer, and vivacious. People were drawn to him in every arena and he was always the one ready to party and have a good time. The problem was that he never knew the fine line between fun and fury. As grand as he was is as atrocious as he was. He was a Jekyll and Hyde of the drug and alcohol world. He was vicious.

My dad has had several wives and there are six of us kids all spread out between the marriages. Not a one of us has a close relationship with him. That wasn’t always the case, though, as I spent many of my fragile childhood and young adult years putting his needs in front of mine. I fostered his demand for acceptance, love, and encouragement well beyond the call of duty, especially for a child. I spent well over a decade trying my best to instill the love I had for him that I could only wish he had given me. It was never enough and for a long, long time it made me believe that I was not enough.

Experiencing rejection from a parent is an incomprehensible blow to a child of any age but as a young girl who desperately wanted her father’s approval, it completely broke my spirit. To watch him replace me with his insatiable thirst for a world I couldn’t understand, yet hated, shattered my expectations of ever having a normal relationship with him. Drugs became his new wife; alcohol became his new children; addiction his new career. His soul was a vagabond on the precipice of defeat more often than not. There has always been a good person underneath those layers of skin that hold his hatred, shame, and guilt like a cloak of failure.

I cringe when I hear the phrase, “I’m just going to sit this one out…” because that’s what he told me when I was two weeks away from my wedding day. After having spoken to him about the most important day of my life and making plans for over a year, he had promised me he’d be there. I foolishly believed that he would be but he wasn’t. It was then that I knew I could no longer allow my father to hurt me. I was about to start a new life as a married woman and I refused to allow the turmoil my dad poured all over my fragile heart for the first quarter century of my life affect my marriage. So when the phone rang the morning of my wedding day with the word “Dad” across the screen, I simply ignored the call and that was that. Easy? No. Necessary? Absolutely. Regretful? Never.

I had to realize that I have to be OK even if he is not. I have to make good choices even though he has chosen not to. I have to parent our kids in the ways that he chose not to. I refuse to be the insufficient source of love, protection, and acceptance that I was aching for as a child and sometimes even today. Walking away from a parent is not easy. The comments that have been made to me are bewildering. As if I hadn’t already thought about the repercussions of living a fatherless life would bring.

This hurts me every. single. day. Especially at times where I wish he was here, like right now as we struggle with the idea of sending our girls home to their mom. And speaking of mom’s…how unfair is it that my mom has had to shoulder the weight of two kids and two parents? Did they not create this family together? Why should she have to be the one left standing? It doesn’t seem fair. She has experienced her own trauma at the hands of a man who could be so loving, yet so damaging. What a toxic and confusing way to live. It was awful.

Today, I am free from my dad’s presence but I am not always free of his emotional stronghold. All I can do is keep moving forward and reminding myself of the exceptional reasons I choose to live and be happy. I wish I could have seen him do the same. What a sight he would have been.




Oh, baby!

Let me first start out by saying that this entry will probably be a long one, but I promise that if you stick with me, you’ll be glad you read this. You’ll finish reading and have a better understanding of why we chose this and how this process works.

My body does not respond well to pregnancy. After three miscarriages, I can no longer put myself or my body through the failing feeling of pregnancy loss. IVF is something I just can’t wrap my brain around trying for me. I know plenty of people that have had success using this method and I applaud and celebrate that. For me, for my body, for my mental health, I know that trying to conceive is just not a thing for me. Have I accepted that? No. Does anyone ever really accept that? Maybe, but not me. It is what it is. I didn’t choose this, this decision was made FOR me. Carrying a baby is not what God wanted for me.

Recently, the news came out on Facebook that we are in process of becoming foster parents to babies born drug addicted. The response has been overwhelming and almost everyone we know has been supportive and overjoyed for us. I get asked if I’m pregnant fairly often. It’s a stinging question. I hate saying no. It physically makes me ache to say no. It reminds me every time that my body has failed me and then I internalize that as, “I have failed.” I know that you just read that and thought it was the silliest thing ever, and you’re right, but in the weak moment of heightened sensitivity a part of me is ripped to shreds. What I wouldn’t give for that baby bump. To feel the life growing inside me, depending on me to nurture it while it’s floating around in my protective belly. Nobody is trying to be hurtful by asking this question. It’s the natural question to ask! Logically, I remind myself of that and carry on. Emotionally, I carry that around for a little while. It pinches at my heart. I can’t help it.

So that brings us to the choice to become foster parents. There will (eventually) be the opportunity to adopt a baby that we are foster parents to, but until then, we will love, nurture, swaddle, kiss, hug, feed, bathe, rock, pat, teach, laugh with, cry over, and obsess about the babies we are going to take care of. At first, we don’t plan to accept more than one baby into care at a time. We know we need to get our bearings before we allow two babies at once or an infant/toddler sibling set.

The process is a long one to become a foster parent. We’re going through Catholic Community Services, so they’re a private agency. Everything has been free, so far, but there has been miles of paperwork and red tape. For starters, we had to write a 26 page autobiography on our lives. It asks you every detail of your life from infancy to present day. Some of those questions were extremely difficult to answer, especially those pertaining to childhood, domestic violence, sexual assault, mental abuse, mental health, addiction, and things of that nature. It’s hard to rehash those painful events, especially on paper, because then you’re staring at it. You’re looking at your heartache and you’re going through those emotions all over again. This is one reason I’ve refused to go to counseling; because I don’t want to feel all of that pain again by talking it out with someone who doesn’t know me, but I wrote it all out. Word for word. Feeling for feeling. Action for action. It was really hard, but for this baby, or these babies, I let it flow. We’re already so protective over a child(ren) that we don’t even have yet. To anyone thinking that foster parents aren’t real parents, I ask you to re-read this paragraph and tell me if this isn’t what a biological parent would do for their kid.

This isn’t just about The Cushing’s or the baby for that matter. This is about the bio parent(s), too. What’s imperative to realize in this situation is that, in order for our family to grow, their family has to fall apart. We are seeking to being a blessing to these babies, yes, but also to their parents. Addiction is an illness, don’t argue with me on this point – you won’t win. While we’re snuggling with babies and watching them grow, their parents aren’t. Instead, the bio parents are attempting to grow in their own ways. Getting clean and sober, finding housing, finding transportation, a job, and finding themselves again. It’s really sad when you think about it. Statistically, these biological parents were also “in the system” as kids. Breaking the cycle is imperative. This is about building a family for us and for them. And no matter what we do to love this child, they will always love their bio parents. My dad was/is a real asshole. He’s an addict and always has been. He has chosen himself over everyone and everything. But do I sometimes wish he would have got his shit together so we could have remained a family? Do I still love him despite the disappointment, dismissal, and the heartache he has caused me? YES. It’s no different for these kids. The kids, the parents, and the family unit as a whole deserves a second chance. We’re here to support that because Mitch and I believe in doing the right thing for others, and more importantly, we believe in family.

As I said before, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. We can’t thank everyone enough for everything they’ve done for us. The common questions are wondering when we’ll get our first baby and what the gender will be. Well, we won’t know either of those things until we get “the call” that a baby needs a home. We expect to have a baby the beginning of May, when our foster parent license comes through. We’re told time and time again that there are more babies than there are homes, so we should expect to get a baby before the license even arrives in the mail. Once it’s approved by all the big wigs, it’s open season. That’s the reason we need all of the key baby items before the baby arrives. We can’t get licensed until we have everything we need. Hence, why there are TWO baby showers that have been thrown for us. There’s one this Sunday, April 3rd at 1:00 p.m. and the second one is Saturday, April 16th at 1:00 p.m. also. We registered at Target and Amazon at the request of some friends.

At first, we were afraid to really tell anyone about this. The reason? Four years ago, we made the very public announcement that we were going to become foster parents through the state. People were excited, of course, and my mom threw us a shower. After we finished the training classes through the state, we were very discouraged by things and ultimately decided that it wasn’t right for us. It was humiliating to tell people that we weren’t going through with the process at that time. Most people were nice about it and they allowed us to return gifts or send them to families that were in need. We had barely gotten through step one and just knew that going through the state wasn’t for us. We realize that four years has changed so many factors for us now. For one thing, we’re going through a private agency, but for another, we have a home of our own with lots of extra space, we have better jobs, two vehicles, and a lot more support now than we did then. Sometimes people say hurtful things, but they probably don’t mean it. They probably just don’t realize how it comes off.

I told you this entry was going to be long. I hope you have a bit of a better understanding about how this process works and what’s inside my crazy mind. I should also point out that I referenced myself for most of this entry and that shouldn’t overshadow Mitch’s position in this entire process. We are going through this together as a unified team, but it would be easier for him to write how he’s feeling than for me to explain it. So maybe Mitch will guest author an entry here so he can tell you what it feels like in his mind. I can’t wait to see who he becomes as a dad. I have negative 3,000 worries about him. He’s going to be such a great father. I can hardly stand to see him in action. Me, I’m a little more worried about. My biggest fear of being a mom stems from things that happened to me as a kid. I don’t want my kids to hurt into adulthood because of something I did or didn’t do right. No pressure!

As always, thanks for the love, support, and sharing of this blog. I sure hope I’m not the only mom to be with these thoughts, but it wouldn’t be the first time I marched the beat of my own drum and it surely won’t be the last. I hope this message brings clarity, understanding, compassion, and support. If it brings negativity, please refrain from responding.