Stepford goes to Church

For about the last, oh I don’t know, maybe 5 years, Wonderful Husband and I have been saying we are going to find a church.

While we both had very different experiences growing up in the church, his being loving and stable and picturesque, mine being weird and rocky and ending when I was around 10, we both agreed that we didn’t want to let God disappear from our lives.

He was raised a Lutheran. I was raised a, well, I’m not real sure, we traveled a lot and went to many different churches. Some danced in the aisles and spoke in tongues. Some didn’t even approve of clapping during music. We never really found anywhere that we fit and finally stopped going in the mid 2000’s. So when it came time to pick a church, we could never really decide on what we wanted to be.

I was confused by lutheran-ism (is that a word? I’m not even sure that’s a word), they had their own book they taught from and the pastor wore weird clothes and they didn’t even want to let my dad give me away at my wedding (I won that argument, in case you were wondering). I wanted a fun church where we could be free to express our love of God, but I needed some structure because I had basically forgotten everything except basic bible stories. After a few debates about it, and realizing that in a ghetto crack town there are two options of churches- stuffy white people or crazy black people- we sort of let it slide.

When Little Darling came along I was determined that we would find a church. I called on a few local pastors. I drove past a few churches. I was reminded, again, that if we wanted anything with substance (not substance abuse) we would need to travel a ways. And at that point Wonderful Husband was traveling all the time, and the thought of entering a new place alone with a baby gave me anxiety, let alone keeping said baby quiet for an hour during a sermon. Nope. Couldn’t do it.

So, last year, I came to the decision that as soon as we were set up in West Virginia, we WOULD find a church. And we would attend said church. Regularly. We may even go to bible school. We needed a church family and a support system since we would be so far away from our own families. I didn’t care if we had to become Catholics, my kids would know God and bible stories, and have some friends who knew about such things too.

Then we moved to West Virginia and I got scared all over again and every Sunday would squeak by and I would make excuses. Wonderful Husband is away. Wonderful Husband is home, but has been away and we should enjoy our time. We shouldn’t pick a church until we know where we will be living permanently. We don’t even know the service times. We may not pick a good one. I don’t wanna go.

Last week, in the middle of the day, a little blue car pulled up my driveway and out popped a ridiculously cheerful lady. She introduced herself and explained that she, her mother, and her sister are all our neighbors! They had seen we were new to the area and wanted to introduce themselves, they brought me a little gift of homemade apple butter and a magnet from their church. They attend a Methodist church that is 3 miles down the road. She didn’t make a big fuss about it, just let me know that the service times were on the magnet and they’d love to have us.

Now, there are plenty of things in my life that I can’t take a hint about. When I ask if I should eat that last donut and my love handles jiggle back “for the love of God, please stop eating”, you better believe, I am gonna eat that donut. When I am pleasantly polluted and feeling fine and think- should I have another glass of wine before bed? I am gonna have another glass, even as WH is reminding me what happened last time I had one too many.

However, something about this random stranger dropping in to meet me, say hello, squeeze my babies cheeks, and drop a line about a church, rang with me. As if God was like “hey Bitch, get your ass to church and quit putting it off” (ok, maybe not in those words, but probably close because it has been YEARS of me saying I was going to go and then not doing it). So I stuck the magnet on the fridge, and kept the thought in the back of my head that if Wonderful Husband was home next Sunday, we just may take a trip down the road.

What do ya know. Wonderful Husband got today off. So I woke up early, made pancakes, and declared that we would be attending church this morning.

Service started at 11am, and at 10:42 we were sitting in the parking lot coming up with a game plan on how to escape if it all went to hell. The church looked ok on the outside, a small, old building with stained glass windows and a steeple. There were, however, two old men standing in the parking lot glaring at us.

We tentatively got out and started to walk up to the front door, one of the grumpy old men stopped us and said we could go in the basement, there were cookies and coffee. We politely declined and headed to the steps when an old lady slammed the door open with a boisterous “HELLO! Come on in! We have SNACKS!!” and we found ourselves being herded into a small, stuffy basement with about 15 old women who were about to pee themselves with excitement.

The conversations were hectic and overwhelming. They all pushed in at us clamoring about how great it was to have new comers, could they get us some coffee, can Little Darling have a cookie, how old is Little Littles, Oh They just LOVE Children.

We made our way to the back and collapsed into folding chairs. A lady brought Wonderful Husband a coffee, another lady brought Little Darling a baggie of goldfish, there was a little boy running around and Little Darling ditched the goldfish to make a new friend. They hurriedly explained that it’s not normally so calm and laid back, however, they always give their pastor the 5th Sunday of the month off, so he and his family were away and they were just going to do a short and easy service (in all honesty I do not believe there was going to be any service until we showed up). At 11am, we all herded upstairs to the tiny sanctuary with pews going in every direction to make them all fit in. With a congregation totaling no more than 25 and only 3 of those being men (including WH) We sang hymns, we took prayer requests, a lady from the congregation gave a short sermon, they laid hands on an older lady who was having health issues, we sang a closing song, we were done.

At every break in the service, after a song, after a prayer, at least one person in the congregation would turn around and tell us how happy they were to see us. The neighbors who had stopped down were over joyed, gave me their phone numbers, and told me I could call them if I ever needed anything. They exclaimed that they hoped they hadn’t scared us off being it was so laid back and informal. We were recognized from the pulpit that it was so great to have newcomers and they just loved having children in the congregation. We were invited to VBS in June, and bible school every Sunday at 9:30am, and reminded that on normal Sundays when Pastor is there they do a children’s message.

We got out to the car and breathed a sigh of relief. We did it. We survived. And not only was it not painful, it was enjoyable! The entire time we were there, I felt at home. I didn’t feel like anyone was judging me, I didn’t feel like I was a stranger in someone else’s church. I felt comfortable, like I had just spent an hour with 15 of my closest grandmas.

I have already decided that we will go again. I’d like to see what it’s like when the pastor is there and does a sermon. I may even like to see what bible school is all about. I don’t feel any anxiety about returning if Wonderful Husband is away working.

I feel like we are on to something, even if we go a few times and decide this isn’t the place for us. We have passed that hurtle of making ourselves go and putting ourselves out there. We are on back on the path, and it feels good.

The Bitch Is Back

Hello Hello Hello!!

Man, Oh day have I been missing my blog. It has been one year, one month, and 4 days since I last posted. What the what!!? How does that even happen!?

Lets see, last time we talked, Wonderful Husband and I were struggling to make ends meet, I was keeping a HUGE secret from EVERYONE, and I had just started my Pure Romance business.

So what exactly has happened in the past year? Lets talk turkey.

Not actual turkey though, I’ve never made a turkey. And, I kind of hope to keep it that way because those things are huge and intimidating and you only make them on special occasions where you can’t mess up- which ultimately means it would mess up and I’d be stuck explaining why the bird was burnt, or raw, or something. But seriously though, I can’t wait to tell you all about my past year!

My big secret?

I was PREGNANT!

After six months of trying, wondering if we even wanted another baby, and basically only having sex in order to procreate, we did it! I found out the day Wonderful Husband left for his two weeks of annual training for the Army. Literally about 4 hours after he left the house I took a test. So then I was tasked with keeping this huge secret for two weeks until he got home. And then we both were tasked with keeping the secret until my first ultrasound at 12 weeks, where we saw a beautiful little babe in my expanding belly.

It was exciting to create a new life and know that in 9 short months we would have a new child, Little Darling would have a new sibling, and our lives would be forever changed a second time. However, it was also terrifying, because we still weren’t real sure Wonderful Husband was even going to have a job come April, let alone come September when Little Littles was going to be making his/her debut.

Time passed and several more exciting things happened!

We found out that Little Littles was a Little GIRL. Little Darling would have a sister, I would have another daughter, and Wonderful Husband was already dreaming of baby number three in hopes of a boy. I spent almost my entire pregnancy sick as a dog. I lost weight, I couldn’t sleep, I regularly barfed.

April came and went, and Wonderful Husband didn’t lose his job. In fact, it seemed like the big bosses really liked him and invited him to start making the trip to Bridgeport WV to see the headquarters down there and meet some of the other employees. Work still wasn’t very consistent, but at least it was existent, so we couldn’t complain.

I did Pure Romance all summer, with many successful parties, and was able to keep food on our table, gas in my car, and even got a few extras. I ended up giving it up when Little Littles was born. At that point there was just too much going on for me to juggle a toddler, a newborn, a business, and the newest exciting opportunity in our lives.

What was the exciting opportunity, you may ask.

Well, after a few months of making the daily 2 hour trip to and from Bridgeport to work, Wonderful Husband’s employer made him the offer to move down there! They agreed to put us up in a “man camp” (a fancy name for a trailer) right in the parking lot of the shop until we were able to sell our house in PA and find a new house in WV. Within hours of getting the offer we had made our decision, and within two weeks we had packed and moved. We put the majority of our items in MIL and FILs garage, a handful of boxes with clothes and important items came with us, a large portion of our life stayed with our old house.

It took us three months to sell our house. We had to drop the price a few times, but in the end we got enough to pay the mortgage. Then it was time to find a house in WV.

About this time, Little Littles was born! 7lbs of chub. She had beautiful blue eyes, pale skin, and never, ever freaking slept. She cried constantly. About everything. For everything. I was exhausted. The last thing I wanted to do after giving birth, and then never sleeping again, was start house hunting. But it was either that, or live in a tiny trailer where our living room, dining room, and kitchen were all smooshed into a 12×12 room for the rest of my life. And so, the hunt began.

We looked, we searched, we traveled. The fact of the matter was our $200k budget with hopes of land, privacy, and turn key availability was laughable in this area. Most houses were $300k or more, and that didn’t include any land, or it didn’t include a livable house. Everything came with compromises. We were confused, annoyed, and getting worried.

At last, after several months, we found what seemed to be our dream house. It was huge, close to Wonderful Husbands work, had no neighbors except an empty business, and came with a tidy 2 acres of land. There was a small run off pond in the back, two porches, two patios, and the basement had already been made into an in law suite with its own kitchen, bedrooms, and baths. It even had a fireplace.

For me, it was love at first sight. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was slightly out of budget, but nothing we couldn’t handle. I loved everything about it, I had everyone’s rooms planned out and was secretly designing where furniture would go in the 25×21 great room. We would definitely need a large farmhouse dining room table.

We made the offer.

We got scared and backed out.

The house was taken off the market.

I was devastated.

Here I was, living in a 400 sq ft trailer with a 2 month old who never slept, a toddler who was a ball of energy all day, a husband who was preoccupied with work, and it seemed like things were going downhill. The holidays came and went, there were no more houses to go see. We were out of possibilities.

At the end of January, we decided to have our realtor reach out to the owner of The Dream House. She did. It wasn’t available. It was rented until November.

Damn.

Within a couple days though, our realtor got a call back from the owner. His renters were willing to leave and we could have the house by the end of February.

Oh Happy Days.

We wrote up the offer and submitted it.

He denied it. Apparently, the renters were now refusing to leave. They wanted to stay until June so their kids could finish the school year. We wrote up the offer and resigned ourselves to six more months in our tiny man camp.

Then the worst happened.

We got notice from Wonderful Husbands employer on February 7 that we had to be out of the man camp by the end of the month. They needed it. Since Trump had won the election, business was picking up. They had men in the field who needed places to stay. We were no longer welcome there.

After a short fling with the idea of renting an apartment or even buying a different house. We made the decision that me and the kids would move in with FIL and MIL. Wonderful Husband would move in with my dad who only lives about 40 min from WH’s work. We would spend the next six months in separate states living with each others parents.

I felt broken. After 8 months of trying to think positive, trying to tell myself it could only get better, things had continually gotten worse.

On my last day in Bridgeport, I was trying to put my stuff in the storage unit, to no avail because I am too small to open or close the unit door. I am not sure that you can get more pitiful than laying in the gravel parking lot of a storage company, in the rain, pleading with God to let you get the God Damn door shut.

I sat in my car and cried. I texted Wonderful Husband and told him he had to come after work and lock the unit because I can’t do it. I hope nobody steals our stuff in the next few hours.

I stuffed the kids, the dog, and the cat into the Honda and made the long two hour trip to MIL and FILs house where they welcomed me with open arms, as usual, and helped me get settled into what would be my home for the next five months.

We had been there for about two weeks, when Wonderful Husband called and made an announcement. The renters were done for! The house would be available March 31, and we would be closing April 3. Everything was in order and we would be back together much sooner than we had thought.

The next six weeks were a blur. I spent the day trying to stay busy, cleaning and cooking. On rare occasions the sun would come out and I could take the girls for a walk or play in the back yard. Typical winter in South West PA. Wonderful Husband was busily getting the mortgage finished, I was trying to make lists of everything we would need and spent an exorbitant amount of time online shopping for rugs and furniture.

We had a few hiccups- the renters left the place a mess, a window needed replaced, the seller was out of town. But finally, on April 4, we signed the papers and moved in.

I sit here, on my new rug, in my new house, thinking of everything I can be thankful for. Things got pretty low, and I felt pretty low. But sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better, and I can say with certainty that I have learned a valuable lesson (or two) in the past year.

Little Littles still doesn’t sleep, but ever since we started solid food and quit nursing she is at least happy and smiling during the day. Little Darling has adjusted to every situation flawlessly. She is almost potty trained, sleeps great, talks in full sentences, and even has chores she does around the house every day. Wonderful Husband is back in full swing at work, we may not see him as often as we would like, but we definitely see him more often than we ever used to. His day always starts and ends at the shop, which is 2.4 miles down the road. Some days he even swings by for lunch.

I am well on my way to feeling myself again. I was sick for 9 months, and homeless for 8. I moved three times in 6 weeks all while 7 months pregnant. I have two beautiful kids, an amazing husband, and a life most people wish for.

So, I hope you are ready to be back on this wild ride of Stepford living…

Because, the bitch is back.

Nostalgic Stepford

Sometimes you come across something that really strikes a chord in you.

Today I read an article, or rather an open letter, from a girl to her boyfriend who didn’t actually want her. And it got me thinking.

You can find the complete letter here. But here is what is says:

Dear an ex-“something,”

It is sad to think that I wasted a whole year on somebody like you; somebody that barely gave me five minutes out of his day when I was willing to give him all 1,440 of mine. You took me out of hell just to put me back again, and I thought that I would never get over you or the damage that you did to me. I am better without you now, and I am writing this letter to say thank you.

Somewhere along the lines of loving you and then hating you and then missing you and then hating you again, I realized that you really did all that you could. We were not made for each other no matter how much I tried to convince myself we were. Although, this is not me not making excuses for the way that you treated me at times or some of the harsh things that you said to me.

You see, something that I did not know before I met you was that not every early morning coffee date or midnight drive with a brown eyed boy has to turn into a great love story. We were never going to be anything more than 3 a.m. phone calls and 6 a.m. goodbyes. I should not have been okay with any of it, with the way you treated me. I made excuses for those times that you wouldn’t answer my text messages and I would ignore the stories I heard about you being with other girls. I kept trying to make excuses for the person that I did not want to admit that you really were. I am not saying that you are a bad person because I do not believe that you are. I just think that when it came to me all you had were bad intentions.

I deserved to be taken on dates to the movies or to concerts performed by my favorite musicians. I deserved good night phone calls and good morning text messages. Two years in a row you didn’t even take two seconds out of your day to say “Happy Birthday” to me. I deserved so much more than you were ever willing to give me and I used to feel sad because I thought that I was not deserving of any of it. I now know that I deserved more than anything that you were capable of giving me and I am sorry to myself for ever thinking that I was not.

Now, I want to say thank you. Thank you for teaching me how to realize when somebody does not care about me. Thank you for all of those great songs you inspired me to write. Thank you for giving me a story to tell my future daughter one day when she is going through her first heartbreak. Thank you for providing me with a “who not to be” example when I am teaching my future son how to be a man when it comes to women. Most importantly, thank you for making me see that I am always worth more than a 3 a.m. phone call. I can not believe that I ever thought I was worth anything less. I never thought that I would say these words but I hope that one day you find a girl you care about enough to date and maybe one day, even marry. Honestly, it is kind of a relief to know that it is not going to be me.

Sincerely,

Someone who deserved a lot more

For some reason, this letter really struck me. Probably because it reads like something that I would write to almost all of my ex boyfriends, and believe me I have enough of them. But also, because it is so incredibly true. I spent 3 years of my life with one particular boyfriend who never gave me the time of day, drug me through some really rough times, treated me like total garbage, and then finally slept with one of my friends. I spent those three years thinking that I wasn’t any better than this. This is what I deserved and that there was no one else out there who would love me more or treat me better.

But there was.

The late nights I sat at home wondering where he was, the months I had to decide whether to pay either the utilities or the rent because he wouldn’t get a job, the day I said “I love you” and he looked at me with disdain and told me “not today”. While those things were almost unbearable, to me they were almost normal. I thought this was as good as it gets. Happily ever after must be a fairy tale right?

But I was wrong.

Believe it or not, I knew Wonderful Husband for close to four years before we actually started dating because I was so wrapped up in trying to make my relationship with Mr. Wrong work. When we finally broke up and Wonderful Husband started showing me what it was like to have a strong, meaningful, happy relationship I spent the better part of the first two months waiting for it to fall apart. When it didn’t, I wasn’t sure how to handle it. This wonderful man who took me on real dates to restaurants and movies and even paid the bill. This dream come true who opened doors for me and sent me flowers when I had a job interview.

Now days I look back and thank myself for finally waking up and getting out of that crazy relationship. I can only imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t.

Last night I laid on the couch watching reruns of our favorite tv show while my husband played with our daughter and then tucked her into bed. Every night we snuggle into bed all tired, tangled arms and legs and whisper “I love you” before drifting off to sleep. He has given me everything I could ever want in life and asked nothing in return. There is no hit or miss, there is no conditional love, there is no “not today”.

So, if you are in a relationship and you are wondering if it is right or wrong or maybe just not perfect, re-read this letter and then decide for yourself. Does the person you are in a relationship with treat you how you want to be treated? Are you their main concern or just an after thought? Do they make you feel good or are you constantly left feeling unfulfilled?

If you find yourself relating to the girl in the letter, perhaps its time to make a change.