A few weeks ago, I asked one of my best friends if she would be willing to write a guest blog. She'd never written a blog before, and didn't really know what to write about. I said "Just write about a hard aspect of parenting. Something you think another mother in your shoes could relate to." I suggested she tackle what it was like to be a Navy wife. Or why she longs for a big family (she is currently a mom of three and she wants one more!) But she felt something else in her heart, and I think you'll love the topic she picked. Even if you can't exactly relate, it's a touching, inspiring, and moving story. Let's welcome Christie...
“Wow! That guy is hot!” That is what I thought when I first saw my husband.
There was definitely an instant physical attraction, but there was also great conversation. His ability to make me laugh was unstoppable. We were practically inseparable from the moment we met.
From very early on, I knew in my heart he was my future, no matter what my friends said or the warnings from my parents.
My friends thought we argued too much, but I saw it as our passion for each other.
My parents said to stay away from Navy guys, because they leave you for months at a time. But I knew I could handle it, since I had grown up watching my mom go through it with my dad always being deployed as a naval captain.
And it turned out that none of those things were what I struggled with. No, I struggled with the fact that I wasn’t the only girl in his life...and never would be.
She was beautiful, sweet, and at 2 years old, already very determined. Zoë was his daughter, and I adored her the moment I met her.
Phil had just separated from his wife of two years and was moving to Virginia to stay. Zoë would be joining him as soon as he was settled in, and she would be living with him the majority of the time.
I was only 24, and still used to being a carefree party girl. It was going to be a major adjustment. And fast. But I knew in my heart that my future was with Phil. And I knew that if my future was with him, then it was also with her, and I needed to find a way to make it work.
It wasn’t easy.
And not only did I have an instant daughter, but I also now had an ex-wife to deal with. I put my mind to it to make it work, and decided the only thing to do was make nice with his ex. I figured the least I could do was be friendly and compassionate towards her. Because she wasn't just Phil's ex, she was also Zoë's mother. I tried putting myself in her shoes. I tried to imagine what she was probably going through. I knew losing her husband and her baby girl must have been devastating.
Making the effort to be nice and understanding with Zoë's mother one of the best decisions I ever made. It really does make things so much easier for Zoë, and she is the one who matters. We continue to have a very friendly relationship to this day. I really do like who she is and respect her for what she has been through and persevered.
Nearly a year and a half after we met, Phil proposed to me on Christmas Day. I didn't have to pause for even 1 second. I immediately said Yes! I had known for a good while that he was the one, I was just waiting patiently for him to figure it out, too! Luckily, he didn’t make me too wait long.
We married 8 months later and moved into our first place together. Less than a month after our wedding, he left for his first deployment of our marriage. He also left behind Zoë. She only stayed with me a short while before she left to stay with her mom for the rest of the deployment. I went from a family of three to being a single woman again. I couldn't believe how much I missed them both, and anxiously awaited their return.
It seemed like an eternity, but after a few months they both came back and I fell right back into my roles as wife and mother.
It wasn't easy. I often struggled, to say the least, and questioned myself many times. But I realized that I struggled most because I was jealous of her. She got all of his attention, and I had to fight for a simple moment alone with my newly wed husband. I felt cheated that here I was wanting to be a normal newlywed, but my role as mom took precedence. I started to resent her and take it out on her.
Looking back now, I am sorry that in those days I was too quick to anger, yelled a lot, and forgot how to just have fun and love her. I was hard on her to eat perfectly, clean up after herself, behave in daycare, etc. I know now that I was being very unrealistic.
I didn't have that maternal bond with her, and I desperately wanted it. I prayed every night that I could let my frustration go and just love her. I couldn’t vent about my feelings to my husband either because it seemed he always defended her, and I needed his support. He couldn’t understand what I was going through. He had never been a stepparent. I felt love for her, but knew I’d never be able to love her like he did.
Or so I thought at the time.
As the years went by, I found that with time and lots of patience that I did indeed grow to love her more than anything.
I now have two of my own biological children, two little boys. And I can say with certainty that my love for my daughter is no different than my love for my sons.
And I'm so thankful to Zoë. Because she taught me more than I could have ever learned on my own about patience and unconditional love. She helped me learn when to put my foot down and when I needed to stop and just enjoy the moment. She helped me loosen up about the house. Helped me see that it's okay to let it be messy sometimes, because it can always be cleaned up later. In fact, she will help. She really is an amazing little person and I feel so blessed to have her in my life.
Zoë taught me how to be a mom.
And be a better person in general.
I can't even express how much I LOVE being a mom. I feel like it's been my true calling all along. And I credit a lot of the kind of mom I am now to this little girl. Even though we struggled at first, and she didn’t deserve my short comings in those early years, she still loved me back unconditionally.
And I have realized that she didn’t ask for me either, but she made the most of it as well. She grew with me as I did with her. She makes my life complete and I wouldn’t want to imagine my life without her in it.
Now that my oldest son is 3 years old, I can remember back to many of the struggles I had when she was 3, and I am having the same struggles with him today. I see so clearly now that it's just the way 3 year olds are, and I was the one setting unrealistic demands on her.
But thanks to her, and the amazing relationship we now have, I know that this too shall pass and that these struggles are all worth it!
Can I just add that I am so glad Phil brought this little girl into our lives!!