A working mom with a twist

In keeping with last week’s theme of friends named Krista, Julia’s friend from high school and university, Krista Pelton, joins us a guest blogger. It’s her first time with the Sisterhood and we’re so glad she’s here! 

I am a working mom.

I went back to work when my son was 14-months old, part-time, and it slowly progressed to full-time. I worked when my husband was not working, mostly, and friends and family watched my son.

Then, it became hard when my son turned 3 and no longer napped. I could no longer work from home in the afternoons. My little bubble burst.

So, our solution? It was not full-time daycare. It was Daddy-took-a-leave-of-absence-from-work. One that extended until junior kindergarten starts this fall.

Aleksandr Ryzhov/Shutterstock

Aleksandr Ryzhov/Shutterstock

When junior kindergarten starts this fall, my husband will have been away from his job for 22 months. So I could pursue my career without any barriers. He had a job and I had a career. There is a huge difference. The pursuit of my career path far outweighed the job.

After almost 22 months it is still the best decision we have made. Besides getting married and having our son. I wake up and go. I worry about myself and no one else every morning. I don’t feel guilty or stressed out. I get to be 100% present working and when I come home I can be 100% present.

I leave the rest to my husband who has picked up the duty of stay-at-home dad like a pro. He is the one that potty-trained him in two days. Even through the night. True story.

Sure, eventually he is going back to work but until our son settles into school it won’t happen. These last 22 months have been extremely rewarding to see my son and husband become so close. Their routine and bond is something only a father/son can understand and I am thankful I had my 22 months and my husband had his 22 months fair and square.

I can’t speak much to being a working mother because I have the fortunate backing of a stay-at-home dad. I don’t have crazy daycare challenges, rushing around and worrying about who’s getting our son every night, or worrying about how much time I get to see him in a day. He wakes up when he is ready, has a great day with his dad and dog and then I come home to a smiling, happy boy.

It was an unconventional decision, although it’s becoming more common in today’s society.

We simply don’t like chaos. We didn’t even like the thought of being stressed out. We did it because it made sense to us at the time and it still rings true today. It’s only money after all, but being 3 and 4? Money can’t buy that.

~ Krista Pelton

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

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Happy birthday, mama

While we are not back to our regularly scheduled blog rhythm just yet, we most DEFINITELY did not want this day to go by without making a fuss over a very special lady in our lives…pretty much the most important one.

Without her, really, none of this would be here. None of us, none of our families. She, our matriarch, our head of household, our guiding star, is our Mama, and today is her BIRTHDAY!!!!!

So here’s to you, Mommy – happy, happy birthday! We hope you know how much you are loved, looked up to, and admired. You hold a special place in each of our hearts, lessons and love unique to each one of us. You’ve set incredible examples for us, helped whenever needed (even when we didn’t know we needed it) and loving us regardless and no matter what.

Mom

Mom

We love you and hope you have the most beautiful day, filled with so much love, light and laughter your heart stays full forever.

Love,

Your baby girls
~ Weather Vane Sisterhood

 

1997

Julia’s mother-in-law and the Sisterhood’s second mother, Dianne, joins us again as a guest blogger. We are in awe of her strength in surviving her abusive marriage and we are inspired by her bravery in sharing her story out loud. 

Story will inspire

This is a story that has lived within me for several years, actually for almost two decades. This is a story that few have ever told, but if you know it, the story must be told. It’s a true story, one meant to inspire others, not one meant to elicit pity. Pity is not what I needed; strength and inspiration – that’s what I was looking for.

It started a long time ago, when I was a young girl. I met my sweetheart. We were very young, 14 or 15. Circumstances would lead us to marry others, but circumstances would also bring us back together. It’s at that point that the real tale begins.

I believed, like so many young women, that the man I would marry would hold me dear in his heart. He would cherish me, guard me, and protect me. Never would he harm me. I believed that whatever faults I saw, things would be okay because of the underlying truth: he loved me. This was at a time when I believed that people would change for the better, or I could help them change.

My childhood sweetheart was raised in a Christian home, believing in God. His parents were blue-collar hard-workers. I remember his dad in particular. He worked shift work at the tire factory in Kitchener. He landed his job during a time when an education was not necessary to maintain a steady paycheque. At the end of a long day, he would come home to deal with a busy household comprising of five children and a sickly wife. His reward was a cigarette and a beer.

My husband grew up and followed in his dad’s footsteps. He was uneducated. Times had changed and as a result, my husband had difficulty holding down a job. As it turned out, the love of my life was plagued by demons. He believed that he was not worthy of any of life’s treasurers, certainly not love. Because of this, one beer became two, became six. Soon the motto was: “24 beers, 24 hours in a day, not a coincidence.”

I was a master at justifying anything. “He drinks because he worked hard, he drinks because life is so busy, he drinks because…” There were a thousand good reasons to drink, and there were no good reasons to drink. He drank copious amounts, but beer was his drink of choice. I discovered that if he drank spirits, he was more difficult to handle once he was drunk.

Now when I say, “more difficult to handle,” what I really mean is he became violent, physically abusive. As it turned out, he was more violent with spirits, but that didn’t stop his temper when he was drinking just beer. Remember, I was good at justifying anything. I would say things like, “He only drinks on the weekend “(lie), or, “If he drinks beer, he doesn’t get too violent” (another lie). I would console myself by saying, “He doesn’t hit the children,” something that eventually became another lie. I even tried telling myself that others didn’t know. Others knew. They knew and didn’t know what to do.

Friends and family would watch in horror as I sported new bruises. There were so many battles fought over the course of 12 years. So many times I wondered what I had gotten into, how could I change things, could I ever learn the rules of living with him? I knew this was a dangerous situation, ready to go off at any minute. If I said the wrong thing, said something with the wrong tone, served something for supper that wasn’t up to his liking, there would be hell to pay.

After one particularity disastrous birthday and Father’s Day, I went to church with bruises on my face, neck, arms and upper torso. Not cleverly-disguised bruises – these were big, purple, angry bruises. The next day at work, someone asked me what happened. I told them I ran into a door. Looking at me, you knew I would have to run into the door repeatedly to get these bruises. Bravely, I told the lie.

I remember this weekend clearly – it’s the weekend my babies watched as I was choked and beaten. All I could think of was getting away with my babies. I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t have money; I just needed to get away. It was also the weekend I made up my mind that things would change.

I started dreaming of schemes, trying to figure out how we could leave the home without bringing on another beating. I didn’t care about the things in the house, they were just things and I could earn money to get more things. I envisioned so many scenarios. Maybe he would go away for the weekend and come home to an empty house. Maybe he would be involved in an accident and I could become a grieving widow…problem solved.

One thing I wanted to keep sacred was my relationships – they were few and far between. I didn’t want other people burdened with the mess I had gotten myself into. I wouldn’t ask for help. I had been virtually cut off from family, so I couldn’t ask them. This is very typical of an abusive relationship, isolate the victim.

It was almost two years to the day before I finally had enough. With no plan in mind, with little cash resources, we left. We left and made a stand…NO MORE! I didn’t care if he kept everything in the house, he would never touch any of us again. Never again would we live in fear. There would be no more angry voices in my home.

It was the scariest day of my life…EVER. But, it was like being born, a new day with new hope. It was refreshing to get up in the morning and know that I was in control of all that was before me. If something went wrong, I would be responsible for making it right. I also knew that I wouldn’t depend on someone else; there would be no more disappointments.

If you are a victim, you will know when you’ve had enough. It takes a lot of courage to leave; it takes a lot of courage to stay. Make plans, but be prepared to move at a moment’s notice.

Your friends are watching you, they want to help but don’t know how. They can’t believe that you would stay where you are, but don’t know what it’s like to walk in your shoes.

If you know a victim, be their support. Don’t judge someone for remaining, you never know what you would do yourself. Be an ear. Protect the children; give them a reprieve in the chaos. Have a moving truck and plenty of strong, young men on standby.

Remember to protect yourself. Once you are free, never look back. You will second-guess yourself for a long time. Your memory will play tricks on you. You will think, “Was it really all that bad?” I have a crack in my jaw that hurts sometimes; this reminds me that yes, it was that bad.

The bible doesn’t say “reconcile and forget,” it simply says “forgive and forget.” Forgiveness does not mean the renewal of the relationship; it is the power to let go. Reconciliation is forgiveness with the expectation of a continued relationship. Don’t kid yourself – there is no expectation of a continued relationship.

Your ex-partner will be angry. They will plead. They will promise to never hurt you again. They will try to convince you that it never happened. Stay strong. Find your friends again. Cry, laugh and cry again. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Be reborn. Rejoice in the day.

I’ve survived. My children have survived. It was 1997, so long ago, but only yesterday. Scars will heal. We will be okay.

~ Dianne

If you are someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is hope and there is help. You are stronger than your story, braver than you know, and a survivor through and through.

In Ontario, call 1-866-863-0511 24/7.

In Ontario, call 1-866-863-0511 24/7.

Call 1-800-799-7233 in the US 24/7.

Call 1-800-799-7233 in the US 24/7.

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

Dear Mama

The Sisterhood got together and decided to each write a small note to *our* mom for this Friday’s post. We all know that when it comes to our mom, we’ve got it made. So, Mom – here’s to you! ❤

The ladies, back in the day

L to R: Toni, Mama, Andreah, Jacqui, Julia

~~~

Mom,

After my labour with Sophie, I apologized for my own 40-hour birthing marathon I made you go through. Whenever the babies are sick, I’m so grateful for all the nights you sat up with me, your own sickly baby. When I say words that I’ve heard you say a hundred times to guide my babies, I recall where they’ve come from and am so blessed to have you helping to grow my own loves. Becoming a mother has given me so much more appreciation for what you did when we were young and what you still do, every day, for your grown daughters. You were and are incredible. Thank you for that.

This Mother’s Day I hope you take time for you, time to reflect on the journey you have traveled, and then give yourself the praise you deserve. I’ve discovered on this tumultuous journey of mine that mothers have to give a million times…and then one more. That even when the day is over, the tasks still go on, the care still remains, the love and comfort still continues. And I know that every day you worry over us, your girls, and our men and our babies and our futures and our lives, that you carry us still in your heart. I’m so grateful for that, but please, in your moments of need, remember how strong you are and how you have four very impressive progress reports of your parenting walking around, like (semi-)decent citizens, who are finding their way because you raised them to do so.

I love you, Mom. More than I can express, more than words can illuminate. Thank you for all you are and do. Thank you.

Love, Julia

~~~

Mama,

My guiding light, my northern star, my constant unconditional source of love – mama.

I’m not sure there are words for how much you have done and do for me, for us, for everyone that is lucky to be loved by you. Your benchmark is a lofty goal and I am not sure I will ever measure up.

Thank you for never giving up on me – even when I broke your heart and made it impossible to love me. That kind of love has been instilled in each of your girls and I see it in our lives – you taught us to love immensely and without condition and to forgive, always.

Thank you for letting me grow in my own time and never rushing the process. For knowing when to fight for me and when to let me duke it out. And when I got my ass handed to me, thank you for always being there to kiss my wounds better and wipe the tears.

You’re the mama I aspire to be for my step-babies – the one that friends and boys are warned about, the one they can count on to always be on their side and the one to give them the space and time to become their own people.

I am so thankful we’ve made it to the other side of this relationship and am lucky to count you as one of my best girl friends. I still have a lot of growing to do and will always need you in my corner. You’re our warrior and my mama bear.

Most importantly, thank you for deciding there should be four. You literally created three of my best friends and that is pretty amazing.

Mama, I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my mama you’ll be.

Love, Toni

~~~

Dear Mom,

For the times you drove to get me because you said to call you any time and you would be there.

For the times you sat up with me after a sezuire, and took on my battles like they were your own.

For the times you sacrificed the last fry for me …Thank you.

For the times you held me in your arms, and wiped away the tears.

For the heartbreaks and stomachaches that you soothed and healed.

For the never-ending unconditional love … Thank you

For the advice, and the words of wisdom – for making me remember who I am – Thank you.

Two words are not enough but they are all I have. You have done too much, you do too much and still you still strive and push for more. You inspire me, I am in awe of you.

Thank you for being the best role model a girl, young lady and woman could have – because of you I know that sometimes you have to fight through a heartbreak in order to find your Prince Charming. That education is a constant in order to achieve your dreams.

You are my mother, my best friend, my role model, my confidante.  You are my hero.

I love you Momma, and hope you know that I appreciate  you every day of every year, forever and always.

~ Jacqueline

~~~

Mommy, thank you. I literally cannot say those words to you enough. You are not only my mom, but one of my best friends. We have been through so much together, and have fought so hard for the relationship we have, and I am blessed to have had you right beside me fighting for me the same way I was fighting for you. I am also so incredibly proud of you. You have come so far, not just in your education, but from every pain and heartache from the past. I am so happy to see you smile and live such an amazing and happy life. You make it easy to come visit, and hard to leave. You have worked so hard so we could have so much. You have made me a better person, and gotten me to calm down so that I can have actual relationships with my sisters. You have brought us together, even when we were mad beyond belief and gotten me to work through my problems, even when I didn’t want to face them. You have given me more strength than you know, and I love you so much in so many complex ways it is almost impossible to describe.

You have been my rock, and my guiding star. You have helped me in whatever way I needed, and have given me and us so much of yourself. You have worked impossible miracles, and come up with solutions so simple that leaves me in awe, wondering why I didn’t come up with that.

Thank you for taking my anger, and loving me even when I wasn’t very lovable. Thank you for guiding me to my future, even if I was kicking and screaming the entire time.

Thank you for knowing that something was wrong, even when I didn’t want to admit it. I know I got angry at you that day you suggested I see and talk to someone, and I know I caused you pain when Jacqueline talked to you about that stupid day, when I almost made the dumbest decision of my life.

Thank you, Mommy, for the smallest things, to the biggest. Thank you for being there, and thank you for always being there; I wouldn’t know what to do without you.

I love you.

~ Andreah

~~~

Signing up for the mess

There was a time about 4-5 years ago, before I had this ring on my left hand, when Cody and I were seriously considering having children. Before marriage, against the grain. We were already living with each other, bought our house and wanted to start “The Rest of Our Lives.” Marriage was the “Next Step,” but for some reason we wanted babies first. I longed to be a mother, and hearing that Cody was just as excited as I was to have babies meant more than a proposal; it meant together forever – a part of Cody.

Then reality hit us: we were young, we had one vehicle, we were in debt with the house, I was in debt from school. We didn’t want to be at home all the time when our friends were still very young. And most of all, we didn’t want to regret each other, we still had growing to do in our relationship – I mean we weren’t ready for marriage but we were more than ready for a baby? We were crazy!

I was not ready for late nights that were not late because I chose them to be.

I was not ready to ask Cody for a shower because I was too busy with the baby and couldn’t get one in until he got home.

I was not ready for poo on my face…

Sweetie you have shit on your face

Sweetie, you have shit on your face.

 

I was not ready.  Or was I scared…

I was scared. I was scared I would never be able to have a baby the conventional way, that I wouldn’t be able to feel a baby in my belly, that the medication I was on would never allow me to have these ups and downs of pregnancy. That even if I did get pregnant, I wouldn’t be able to carry it to term because of a seizure, that I would be on bed rest as soon as I peed on that stick.

So, I decided to focus on getting healthy, for me and for Cody and my family of the future, and I put that feeling in the pit of my stomach, the maternal need, on the back burner.

Then we were asked to write this post, and I dug those feelings back up. These are the same feelings that make me happy for all 6 of the women I work with, all of which are in my department that are expecting. The same feelings I have when I pick out baby outfits for one of my best friends.

I want to be a mother, I want the messy, tired, exhausted, blessed, loving life of a mother. The one where you ask your significant other to take the baby for 5 minuets while you hop in the shower. The one where you fall asleep with your baby in your arms. Where the days melt together.

I am healthy and I am ready…if you can ever be ready.

~ Jacqui

Another warrior woman

Right now I do not have internet, so part of my weeks are spent with one of my boyfriend’s aunts to use her internet to update my posts. One day I was updating and uploading a post I wasn’t really happy with. I often find myself not being able to come up with any good ideas to write, and a few days before I was talking to Joe’s Aunt Linda about everything she survived and thrived through in her entire life, and about the many kids she took care of, including Joe. She took care of him from grade 6 on through high school. So I decided to interview her for this blog, as she is a large part of my life in my new town.

She is a warrior. She has survived Hodgkin’s lymphoma, abusive husbands, a brain injury, retinitis pigmentosa (she is going more and more blind, but will never be fully blind), thyroidism, having her gall bladder removed, stage 3 kidney disease, colitis, diabetes, and is a widow twice over.

She is a very modest woman, so getting an actual interview with her was a bit of a challenge. She felt like she just doesn’t have that much to teach others, but I disagree.

I have trouble with staying positive – I feel often like hope is not for me because it gets ripped from me so often – but here is a woman sitting before me in her cozy living room, who has been through so much and survived, and she is the most positive person I have met for a very long time. Finally, she agreed to the interview saying, “Well, it may not turn out, but it never hurts to try!”

I interviewed her for this blog because she is an amazing woman. She is strong and so happy 99% of the time, the other 1% she said “They [my family] call me the greatest bitch in the world.” She has been through hell and back, and she is proud of her title. “I can’t not do what I think is right.”

She is proud that she is a grandma, a mom, and an aunt. “I love all my kids. No matter what!”

I asked her just a few questions, and I loved the responses she gave me. They were exactly like this woman who everyone calls Aunt Linda. She is family to anyone who needs her, and I love hanging out with her when I can.

~~~

Me: What is your greatest memory?

Aunt Linda: Having my baby, Allan, and taking care of my other babies, Pam, Mike, Joe and Daiman.

Me: What would you say was your most life-altering moment?

Aunt Linda: Cancer. I had the best doctors at Princess Margaret [Hospital]. And hopefully, this May, I will be officially cancer-free.

Me: How did you keep your strength through all of that?

Aunt Linda: God, my sister Brenda, Dad, all my family. It was a very long road. I had to go through chemo, and I lost all my hair! I loved being bald though. I had a brownish blonde wig, and a red wig, and I noticed people always treat you differently. People were nice when I had the brown one, and ignored me with the red wig! You notice things like that.

Me: How do you still stay positive?

Aunt Linda: You have to! I could be a real mess if I remembered all the bad things, like the bad things with my first husband. I keep love instead. God helps me make the right decisions. I use my gut on some things, but mostly it’s God.

Me: What is your favourite memory with Joe?

Aunt Linda: His birth! I was there! I had my face right down there! Also getting married. He was crawling and running around everywhere! Around my dress, under it, he was just everywhere!

Me: If you could do anything over, what would it be?

Aunt Linda: Nothing. I have a fortune. I have a fortune of family. I don’t care about money.

Me: What do you want more of in your life?

Aunt Linda: Family sticking together. I know it sounds like a book, but that’s what’s really important.

Me: Do you have any advice? Or words of wisdom?

Aunt Linda: If you love each other, you don’t hurt each other. Enjoy even the small moments, even if it is just fleeting. Cancer could have taken me, so that is what I do.

~~~

I wanted to share this little bit of this woman with you because we have all had so many different kinds of life experiences, and I am talking about all of the people who read this blog, or who even stumble upon it accidentally. We all come from such different life experiences and different walks of life. All our purposes and drives are so vastly different and uniquely weird. We are all going through life at different speeds, and will have so many different adventures. When I asked my last question about why she thinks it all happened, she simply said “God put me on this earth to learn something, and I will figure that out one day.”

Thank you for reading about this fantastic woman! She has been through so much, and given so much of herself so others can be happy. She cares about her family, and she is definitely a hero. I think I’m collecting them!

~ Andreah