Wednesday's Child: Christopher

Every Wednesday I feature a child recently highlighted by a local Wednesday's Child newscast to share the stories of children from around the country who are waiting for a family. My hope is that this can broaden exposure for the children highlighted, but also serve as a reminder that these children represent thousands of children currently in the foster-care system. Perhaps their stories will inspire you to consider opening your home to a child needing a family. For more information and to learn about other waiting children, visit AdoptUsKids.

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Co-parenting is Emotional, And That's Okay

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Meagan Haltiwanger Saia and blogs over at Life of Owen. 

I listened to his dad read the book over Facetime with tears streaming down my face. My son was three, and I had only heard his dad read him a handful of stories over the last three years. My heart was aching for the family I had imagined when our son was first born. I remember when he was a few days old, we were still married, and blissfully falling in love with this new life we had created. We were all snuggled on the bed reading I’ll Love You Forever, I’ll Like You For Always, both completely smitten with our adorable baby boy laying between us. Life felt complete. Yet, our family of three didn’t last nearly as long as I expected it to. My divorce happened when my son was 11 months old. The majority of my parenting journey has been done while working to navigate the paperwork, finances and life changes of divorce, and learning how to co-parent with a man I originally planned on growing old with. 

My own parents divorced when I was 12. Unfortunately, I am no stranger to divorce, although I often wish with all my heart that I was. You see, I wanted nothing more than to give my child a home where he didn’t have to go back and forth between houses. I wanted him to feel safe and loved and trusting. I didn’t want him to have to worry about anything other than being a kid. I think the majority of parents want that for their children, the opportunity to give their kids something they didn’t get as a child. I dated my husband for 6 years before we got married. I was convinced I did it right and my future children would have a story different than my own. But in my thirty-two years of life, I have learned by experience that life takes its own turns and navigates down roads we may not have chosen for ourselves. 

So here I am at thirty-two, a single mom learning how to co-parent with my college sweetheart. It is one of the hardest things I have done, and also one of the most rewarding. I cry often from loneliness, from feeling like I failed, from wishing things could have been different. But I also celebrate often too, like when we still have family dinners, even if they look a little different now with my son’s dad and his girlfriend and her daughter.
My little boy has seen me cry and often asks what’s wrong. I believe in letting him see me work through my emotions. Humans were given emotions for a reason, and I do not believe we were meant to hide them. When he asks why I am crying, I tell him I am sad. But I also tell him that it is okay to be sad, and that I won’t always be sad. I tell him this with a smile through my tears, because I know it to be true. We get to choose how we interpret and recover from our emotions. 

I don’t do it perfectly. I sometimes get overly frustrated with his dad as we work through schedules and lose clothing items at the different houses. When a new pizza place opened up in our neighborhood and my son went with his dad and his new family and I was left alone at the house, I ached for a life that could have been. But I also work to show my sweet little boy how to communicate well. He sees his dad and I talk almost every day. He calls him to say goodnight when he’s at my house. We make him Valentine’s Day cards and Christmas presents. I also vent to my friends and therapist about how hard this all is and how much pain I still feel from the divorce. All of this is okay. All of this is normal. 

So much of life is us as humans wanting to know that we aren’t alone, that it wont always be this way and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The thing about co-parenting is that the light we are craving isn’t always at the end of the tunnel we thought we would be traveling through. In the beginning of learning to co-parent with my ex, I wanted it to be pain-free. Now I have learned that the pain may still be there from time to time, but it doesn’t last forever. I have learned that sometimes all I can do is crawl through that tunnel to get to the other side. But once I am there, I am stronger and my son is often better off for it. 

Co-parenting is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes it feels as if I have felt more emotions in the last three years of this journey than I have in my three plus decades of life. And while those emotions may be draining at times, they have also made me more resilient, compassionate and forgiving. You can’t experience joy without pain at some point, no matter what the circumstances. It’s just the way life works. Co-parenting is the same way. But my little boy makes every tear, every smile, every sigh worth it all. Because with him, I stopped searching for the light at the end of the tunnel and realized it was right in front of me all along. 

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Life Lately

I’ve got a seriously romantic 11-year-old on my hands. Ladies, form an orderly queue.

Learning that iconic @alvinailey Revelations choreography today at @segerstromarts. #nailedit

The stucco is finally getting done! #longestremodelever

Repost @lifelistened: On this week’s episode of @selfiepodcast, Sarah and Kristen feature an interview with @LizBohannon, founder of @SsekoDesigns, an ethical apparel company that uses fashion for good. . Liz offers a compelling perspective against “mom guilt,” saying it shouldn’t be a catchall emotion or a constant for moms today. Kristen and Sarah use Liz’s thoughts as a springboard to further discuss this topic! . Head to the link in profile to listen! . . . . . #LifeListened #selfiepodcast #selfcare #lizbohannon #ssekodesigns #fashionforgood #ethicalbrand #ethicalfashion #ethicalcompany #apparel #textiles #accessories #caftans #momguilt #momentrepreneur #antimomguilt #nomoremomguilt

nyone else watch Schitt’s Creek? Was just telling a friend I had Moira Rose’s exact cut and color in the 90’s. Here’s proof. #TBT

It’s kindness week at school and as a PAL leader India is getting her rainbow on.

The cloud cover looking like mountains tonight. ☁️ 🌴

Happy #nationalsiblingday. No we weren’t in a cult. We just dressed like that on purpose.

  • Our podcast now has a facebook group for chatting all things self-care, from enneagram stuff to skincare routines to how to break out of a toxic relationship. It's a great place for community support and to talk further about that tricky resistance to caring for ourselves well. Come join us! Link in profile.

hat’s a wrap! So fun getting to watch India perform this weekend. She had lots of crazy cues and two solos and rose to the occasion! #intothewoods

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Friday Finds: Color Me Happy

1. MENU Sweeper and Funnel
2. Set of 2 Wall Mounted Clear Glass Terrariums 
3. Super Stacked Desk Set, Mint
4. Submarino Porcelain Bathroom Accessory Se
7. Modway Molded Plastic Armchair Rocker in Black 
8. TWONE White Cloud Magnetic Wall Key Holder
9. Whitbread Wilkinson Pantone Coffee Mugs Mixed Set of 10

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Our First Family Mission Trip

On Thursday's I post from the vault. This post is from August 2007.

We just returned from our first mission trip as a family. We went with a team from our church to a small village in Baja, Mexico, to build houses for three families. We had an amazing time, and wanted to share some pictures and stories with you.

The village we visited was remote and rural, and very different from the Mexico we have visited before. The people lived in extreme poverty, more like the conditions we’ve seen in Africa or India. Most of their homes were shacks built of found materials, like garage doors or large pieces of scrap wood. There was no running water, no sewage system, no paved roads, and no trash service, so the streets were lined with garbage and rubble. Having our kids there, it was hard to imagine how these families live there day in and day out. It humbled me to think of how bummed I’ve been over inconveniences like not having remote keyless entry on my car, or when I can’t find a double cart at Target. These mothers must navigate their children down hilly, dirty streets without cars or strollers, they live in one-room shacks with numerous family members, and cook their meals inside windowless homes in 100+ degree heat. The family our team built a house for included a mother, her two grown daughters, and their four children. Needless to say, the they walked through their house for the first time, it was an emotional experience for all of us.

We have a huge heart for tangible missions and building houses was right up our alley. Turns out that years of home improvement came in very handy on this trip! I enjoyed painting and spackling drywall, while Mark tried his hand at framing and roofing. And Jafta . . . well, he tried everything. I had purchased dozens of toy tools to bring for him so he could feel included, and of course he would have nothing of the plastic hammers and went straight for the real thing. We tried to follow behind him making sure nothing got ruined, or painted, or smashed. He had a great time and every day begged to “build more houses”. On the last day when we gave the keys to the family, I really think he understand what we had done. It was awesome to see him get to be a part of that. He was also a huge hit with all of the local kids. I don’t think anyone had seen dreadlocks before, and everybody was feeling his hair! And India . . . well, India was oblivious to the whole operation and we were blessed beyond words by some team members who hung out with her in the morning while got our hands dirty at the worksite.

As always, we came away changed as well. It was a poignant reminder of the blessings in our lives and the importance of family. Parenting can be so all-consuming that it is hard to find moments when I am reminded of my own identity outside of “mommy”. This trip was a great reminder of our heart for missions and helped solidify our family identity as passionate about service. Jafta has been begging to go back to Mexico every day since we got home. It was challenging and stretching, and also exciting to do missions with our kids and feel motivated to find more ways to serve as a family.

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