Saturday, August 8, 2009

All About Me: A Mother to a Multitude, A Wife to One Soldier, A Survivor, A Wife to One Godly Man

This is my life....the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I was born in a mid-size border town to "goodly parents" and had a normal childhood where I roasted pecans on campfires in alfalfa fields with my sisters and drove a '61 VW bug as a teenager. That was in '87, so it wasn't that cool. When I was 18, I met and married a United States soldier and became a mother at 19. I was shocked, completely shocked, at how much time it took to care for a baby. It literally took every. waking. minute. of my life, and things were never to be the same. That being said, I loved being a mom, so I had another baby 2.5 years later, then, as we moved from place to place as per Uncle Sam's request, I had four more babies over the next 9 years totaling six altogether.

My first love and I had more good times than bad during our marriage, but tragedy struck in November of 2004. If you don't want to be momentarily depressed at this space in time, you may want to skip this part and move on to the line of asterisks below...... Okay, you're still with me, so let's continue. Due to a series of heart-wrenching events, my husband and best friend of 16 years left the house in the middle of one cold autumn night, while I slept in our bed, and committed suicide. When I, personally, read of tragedies that have struck others in the blogging community, I have a morbid curiosity to know how the tragedy occurred. I try to go back to their archives to the date of the occurrence to try to find more information, and it's very time consuming and I usually don't find out anything. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who does that. So....I'm going to tell you... right here... how it happened, to save you the trouble of looking through my archives.

He did it for a particular reason, leaving 18 pages of love-filled writings trying to explain it to us. I can't tell you why, for that's his story, not mine. He gassed himself with carbon monoxide in the cab of his red pick-up. I'm the one who found him, and he looked like he was sleeping peacefully. But it wasn't peaceful for me. After I lifted and jerked his 180-pound body out of the truck with one hand, recovered from kneeling on the pavement with him on my lap and screaming "no" and "help" and his name, I administered CPR for 15 minutes, until the EMTs arrived, but it was far too late. I then had the task of telling my six children, ages 2 through 15, and his dad, and his mom. That was probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life... telling his mom.

Of course, we received professional counseling, me on a weekly basis, and the kids via what is called "coached counseling", where I would speak to my therapist about any issues with the kids and he would coach me on how to resolve them and help the kids work through it. I don't know how well that worked. The kids never talk about it, although I try to gently bring it up, without forcing it, but they remain largely quiet. I don't really know how they've dealt with the whole thing, and that scares me. I still have forgiveness issues. I'm Christian, and I know I'm supposed to forgive 7 x 70, but I don't think I have been able to completely forgive this one thing. I regularly have nightmares about it and I don't know when all that'll end.

My sessions with my therapist ended when I began to fall in love with him, told him that I needed therapy for the fact that I had fallen in love with him, then began to feel awkward and was tired of forking out my entire savings for the sessions anyway. Don't get me wrong, it was probably one of the best ways I have EVER spent my money, but like all good things, it was time for it to come to an end. I learned so much about how to resolve and deal with the issues I was facing, and it turned out that I had a few other problems, completely unrelated to my husband's suicide, that needed to be worked on.... like the fact that I am was a control freak. Hopefully I'm better now.

****************************************

After losing my husband, I thought I would be alone for decades to come. What man in his right mind would want to be with a woman with 6 kids and the kind of baggage I was dealing with. Even if there was someone out there with that level of insanity, I wouldn't even look until one year after the death of my husband. I would find a nice Mormon singles group and make friends and maybe meet someone I could spend time with.

God had other plans. Two and a half weeks after losing my husband, I was asked to speak to the adult members of the Mormon church in our region, scheduled for one month away, about how my faith sustains me. I agreed to do it, but knew I couldn't give an effective talk unless I spoke of what I had just been through. I posted that talk a few weeks ago, and if you would like to read it, it's HERE.

In the audience that Saturday evening was a man named John. The next day at Sunday services he came up to me where I was seated with my mom and six kids, knelt down on one knee in front of me and told me how my talk had inspired him, and how he thought that he was having problems, but now knew that there were others with much bigger ones. I politely thanked him, saying that all I had hoped to do by giving my talk was to inspire someone, then turned back to my children, assuming he was a married man and that further talk would be inappropriate. At this point, he continued to speak with my mother, and when he left, she said, "Jen, he's from _______ (the Mexican town where her mother grew up and where she spent her summers) and he's single!

"Yes, Mother, and he's old!" I replied. To me, he appeared as though he was in his early 60's and I was only 34. "Besides, I've only been a widow for 7 weeks. It's much too early."

As the weeks wore on, and I learned how to cope as a widow, knowing that this was much more than the year-long deployment I had faced when my first husband was stationed in Korea, I began to plan my future. I would most likely be single for years to come, and if that were the case, I was going to make the best of it. We 7 were going to travel all summer and I would do puzzles. I don't know why, because I wasn't a big puzzle person, but at this time, I decided that I would do puzzles. I planned our vacations and I bought my first puzzle, a butterfly mosaic, and stayed up late into each night working on it, listening to Chopin or Dave Matthews or Handel's Messiah or David Gray.

During this time, I quietly observed John. I noticed that one week in church he would sit by a lady close to his age, but the next week they would sit on opposite ends of the chapel. This confused me, but I didn't give it much thought. Five months after my husband had died, my mother began to mention John again and how he was a faithful choir member and that he even teared up while singing some of the numbers. In subsequent talks she would say that he wears loafers, so that makes him trendy and asked if I'd seen his teeth, because they were amazing. I rolled my eyes, but agreed that I would start attending choir practice to scope him out. Before I got too serious, however, I had to find out his age, and upon further investigation, I discovered that he was only 49. He has been going through a difficult time, and I think that had made him look older initially.

To make a very long story short, I was impressed enough by him at choir practice to muster up the courage to ask him out. I didn't do so without first seeking the Lord's guidance, however, and I received as strong an impression as I've ever felt that, indeed, I was to initiate a relationship with this John.

Longer story shorter, I asked him out and we were married 8 weeks later. The kids liked him, and one even asked if he could be our dad when we had only dated for six days, so I knew I was in a win/win situation. I had only finished one puzzle.

After several months of being married, having traveled down to his home town in Mexico several times, we began to feel the pull to move there. We talked to the kids, fasted and prayed, and received confirmation that that was what we were to do. We started the construction of our home soon thereafter, as per THESE posts, then several months later I gave birth to our first child together, my first and only flax-haired little boy. We moved to Mexico a year later, expecting another baby by this time, and moved into the tiny mother-in-law's quarters of our unfinished home, a space that was designed for two. We were eight, as our oldest had already left for college.

During this time I was suffering through early pregnancy, as I am right now, as I write this, but I felt exceptionally fatigued. I chalked it up to the move, my age, the altitude, anything to try to find a reason why I was feeling this bad. Then it came... one of the happiest days of my life. During each of my previous seven pregnancies I had begged and pleaded and prayed for this, but was always left slightly disappointed. Fourteen and a half weeks into my pregnancy, at my first prenatal visit, I learned I was carrying twins!

The twins are now 18-months old, and while the first year was grueling and exhausting, it was wonderful and amazing and I wouldn't trade it for anything! Twin A is the strong, silent type, loves books and watching his brother try things to see what the result will be before he jumps in. Twin B is our rough and tumble boy, who usually can be distinguished from his brother by his ready smile and various bruises on his face from daily experimentation with physics and gravity. Our other children are...

-the 20-year-old girl, who lives on her own, and rock-climbs, and calls me almost everyday on her way home from working with special needs adults;

-the 17-year-old boy, who plays football and puts up with a lot of hormonal issues from me;

-the 14-year-old girl, who sings and writes music and sews and cooks and is my equal when it comes to homemaking skills;

-the 12-year-old boy, who does weird things like earn and save $130 to purchase a light saber online;

-the 9-year-old boy, who, 4.5 years ago, asked if John would be his father;

-the 7-year-old girl, who loves all things pink and girly and holds the babies almost as much as I do;

-and the 3-year-old boy, who has an amazing mind, probably a genius, and will hopefully use his powers for good one day. Not that he doesn't now... he's hysterical, but he wreaks havoc where ever he turns. He's still super-cute.

So that's me and my family, in a nutshell. Perhaps more than you wanted to know, but if you're still reading, I guess it wasn't boring enough for you to move on to the next blog. Thanks for listening.

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43 comments:

April said...

I love reading about you and your family. Great "All about me post!"

Lydia said...

Thanks for putting this up today. I was Blogging...(procrastinating talk preparing) and well you just helped with the talk. Free agency is a gift that we take for granted it affects all of those around us.

Globe Trotters said...

Aw Jen, I love your cute family! And you have always been a great example and strength to me...thanks for sharing!

Smith Family- Puerto Rico Style said...

I am so glad that I finally met you at the reunion. I think you are amazing!

alessandra said...

You guess right...I must admit that I already "investigate" your blog to understand a little your story... and I agree you are amazing, and so strong, I had the confirmation when I read you love chopping wood, lol!

Manda Mae said...

Not boring at all! I always wondered what your whole story was... and I was having a hard time finding it all in one... THANK YOU FOR SHARING! I set asided time to jump online to read your blog once i got my babies in bed this afternoon... YOU ARE AN AMAZING WOMAN!! Thank you for blogging!

Suzanne said...

Now everyone knows why you are one of my favorite people!
love to you!

Terry said...

Wow!!! That was some story, and true life to boot. You have been through a lot and I am glad you are now happily married. You have a lot of strength to endure what you went through, I am in awe.

Amanda B. said...

Nope- definitely not boring. You answered many questions I had always wondered, but never would have asked. I definitely have that morbid curiosity as well. Great post!!!

rachelle said...

i'm so glad you've found happiness again, and mexico too! you're such a wonderful person jen!

Melinda said...

I was seriously hooked on reading this host. Great Story. Love the outcome. You are Great, John is Great and your kiddies are awesome. Love you guys

Elizabeth said...

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Manufactured and over processed foods don’t provide the nutrients, variety and balance to function well and stay healthy.


And many more interesting facts, I found it very useful , its called "Feeding your kids Program" and there u can find how to establish routines, learning to maintain ur success and finding ways to deal brilliantly with real world situations.

It works....

http://www.habitchanger.com/retail/feedingyourkids/

BoufMom9 said...

Ok, found your post :)
Amazing the journey our Lord has sent you on.
What a blessed life you are now living!

Sarah said...

Thanks so much for sharing so openly. Confession: I do the same thing, checking people's back posts to learn their story. I lost a baby in 2007 and it nearly crushed me. I spent a lot of time after that, connecting with other parents who lost babies. Nobody but bereaved parents "get" what it's like to lose a child. Anyway, I digress. It's neat to learn that you do the same thing. I'm something of a control freak as well. I have 4 kids (plus the one we lost) and the oldest is 6. Sounds like we have a bit in common.

bigmamacass said...

Wow. You are an amazing woman.

Expat Mom said...

Definitely not boring. Like you, I go back through people's blogs and it takes FOREVER! So thank you for posting this, I appreciate it. You are a strong woman and I'm glad you found love again.

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

Thank you for pointing me in this direction - it was definitely not boring!

You are an amazingly strong woman, and I'm so glad you were blessed with John. Your family is BEAUTIFUL, and I'm thrilled that you were able to find your 'Happily Ever After'. ((HUGZ!!))

Mrs. D Lightful said...

I really enjoyed reading that. Thank you for getting so personal! I really admire you, and truly inspired by your story. I have been married for 5 years and cannot imagine the devastation you must have felt losing your husband. I am so glad the Lord has blessed you with another good man to help with your children. :)

Jen said...

Wow what a moving Post. Things DO happen for a reason don't they, we might not understand them at the time and think that life as we know it is over but God does have plans. I believe that those of us who have faith and never take for granted are the ones who are blessed.

Lot's of luck to you and your family.

Christy said...

God does work so mysteriously. Thank you for sharing your story.

inadvertent farmer said...

Wow! Great 'about me' post...every informative and insightful...and exhausting...and heart breaking.

lightingtheweb said...

What an amazing story of strength and inspiration. Thank you for sharing it.

Shan said...

Wow, just wow. I can not begin to imagine the journey you have been on but you are an inspiration. It is amazing how God makes all things work towards His glory.

As another mother of twins, I know how you feel and it does get easier with each passing year. Mine are 6 and now it just feels like I have 2 children not twins (well I actually have 4 but you understand what I mean).

Kate said...

Thank you for sharing your story! It is full of strength and really inspiring! Thank you!

Blessings,
Kate

Anonymous said...

You have an amazing story. You literally brought me to tears, and I never cry. I can't believe all you have been through. You are beautiful and strong and wonderful. You have inspired me not to give up. Thank you.

Rockin Momma said...

Your story is amazing! It moved me.

Becky said...

What a great testimony...God bless you and yours.

mommyx12 said...

Not a boring story at all. I really enjoyed it. I have twins too and they are great. I'm so glad you shared your story.

Leslie Limon said...

What an amazing story! And may I just say that this has to be the BEST "About" page I have ever read!

Are you still in Mexico? Where in Mexico do you live? I live in a small town just North of Guadalajara.

m&msmommy said...

I came across your blog through a post you left on Blog Frog. Your "About Me" just amazed me! My husbands father committed suicide in 2008, so my heart always hurts for those that suffer such loss.

I look forward to following your blog!

And, on a funny note...I did have to laugh at the part about giving all the details in the "About Me" so readers didn't have to go through the archives. I'm glad I'm not the only one. Anytime I come across a blog and there is a certain tragic event that happens in the person lives, I always feel the need to go back and try to read the details about it. I guess it's just human nature! :)

Thank you for sharing your story!

Sevens Our Lucky Number said...

i just read your about me section and ive got to say you are one insperational woman! im a mother of soon to be 5 and i will be looking forward to your posts! i just started blogging and i was hoping you would help me build my blog also by following me. thank you for your insperation! and god bless.

Rachel Murphy said...

What a heart touching story. Thank you for sharing. So nice to learn about your family. I enjoy your blog.

Domestica said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I enjoying hearing your adventures. I have been following for a few months now.
Amber @
talesofdomestica.blogspot.com

Adeline said...

Nice to meet you ! Thank you for sharing your story so honestly.

Lisa Taylor said...

What an amazing story! You've been so strong. I loved reading it. And I especially liked your son saving all that $ for a light saber - sounds just like what my boys would do! Glad to have "met" you through blogfrog!
Blessings,

Cluff Family Blog said...

Loved reading your story. Shaela and I (Camille) found your blog. I'll be follwing you. (We're Mona's daughters in case you didn't figure it out.)
ps. You're a goooood writer.

Julia said...

I just read your post, I don't know how I got here. Thanks for sharing your story. I can't wait to meet you and chat while our twins play together. My mom says you're awesome and, from what I've heard and read, I would agree!

The Sugar Mountain said...

First if all, thanks for leaving the sweet comment on my blog today. It made my day bright! And, I'm so moved by YOUR blog...so impressed by your transparency and so touched by your faith...so tired thinking about how many kids you have:). You are amazing. Can't wait to read more about your journey. XOXO

Dolcie said...

Hi! Elder C picked up on the fact that I like to cook and said you have lots of recipes and I should check out your blog. He said it was mom2my9 and I looked for it everywhere and couldn't find it! Then I was looking at this blog: http://www.bloggertipsandtricks.com/2009/10/remove-image-border-updated-post-editor.html
and saw that you made a comment on this post and finally found you. How random is that?!?!? Anyway, I wanted to ask for your chicken mole verde recipe because Elder C said it's his favorite BUT now that I finally found you he's being transferred on Tuesday! So, I just wanted to let you know he's a great missionary and we enjoyed having him in our branch :)

Arnold said...

He bought a light saber? How cool is that..

What an incredible family! Good for you

Karima said...

What a great 'about me post' I love your honesty and I am so glad your life turned out well for you. I only have 3 children and I so admire people who have many kids like yourself - PS: I too often go through posts to find out peoples stories. I can't believe after joining your parties for several weeks I have only now looked at this page on your blog!

Karima said...

What a great 'about me post' I love your honesty and I am so glad your life turned out well for you. I only have 3 children and I so admire people who have many kids like yourself - PS: I too often go through posts to find out peoples stories. I can't believe after joining your parties for several weeks I have only now looked at this page on your blog!

Natural Mothers Network said...

Thanks for sharing your story with us and yes I was transfixed to the very end. I am so glad that you've come out form a tragedy that many would find too much to bear- you are a pillar of strength!
Rebecca x