My Karmic Retribution (what did I ever do to you, karma?)

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When I was 15 I left my mother. Packed a couple of my things and left.

Now my 13 year old daughter is doing the same thing to me.

I suppose it is the most basic and direct form of karma the world has ever seen.

In hind sight, my mother was not BAD to me. She was not abusive or negligent. She was a tired, over worked single parent and she leaned on me for a lot because I was all she had. My older brother was in the Marines and then working in New York City. She was trying to keep a house hold and two young daughters afloat with very little help and even less sleep.

But I was selfish, as young girls are. I was thinking of myself. How my social life was suffering because I had to come home directly from school and baby sit for my little sister as my mother went from her first job to her second. I felt alone because she worked so much and no one else was really around to tell me otherwise. And I was angry because I saw my friends with regular, fully staffed house holds who were allowed to go to the mall and to the movies and didn’t have to check to make sure they weren’t on little sister duty that night.

So, in looking back, she was actually a super mom. A mother who still found time to make dinner (sometimes four at a time) and stick them in the refrigerator so I could warm them up for myself and my little sister Sam. On the days when she had off, although I’m sure she was beat from her 70 hour work week, she brought us to do things so we could still have family time. She made us cookies in the shapes of Christmas trees and hearts for holidays, she made sure I had hand sewn Halloween outfits and that we always had everything we needed, even though money was tight and time was even tighter.

But I left her anyways, in pursuit of more freedom and less responsibility. Funny thing is, I ended up crashing at my boyfriends house, becoming pregnant, and found myself with LESS freedom and MORE responsibility.

So now, fast forward almost 14 years later, and I finally feel like all my hard work has paid off. The many years of moving myself and my daughter from apartment to apartment, job to job, searching for the right place and time, we have arrived. I’m married, have a good job and we just bought our dream house. I was able to rest easy for once knowing that I was going to move Nev into this house and it would be her HOME from then on. Even when she went to college, she would always have her room to come back to in that house. And when she got married and had kids of her own, she would bring them to that house and they would walk around the same floors she walked around when she was a kid.

As I was breathing easy, she had plans of her own. Plans of maybe going to live with her father, because living with us has become a stressful place to live, and she isn’t happy.

This obviously hit me like a blow to my stomach. All the years that I had worked two jobs while going to school and still doing the best I could for her just so I could one day give her the life she deserved. The youth that I had sacrificed so I could be the kind of mother she deserved. How could all of that not mean anything to her at all? How was she so ready to turn her back on me when I had spent the better part of my life NOT turning my back on her.

So we fought. I took my hurt and frustration out on her with my words; biting, cruel words.

I don’t think that her logic is right or good or that it makes any sense at all, but it is her logic. My reasoning for leaving my mother when she had done so much for me was not sturdy. But when I left I wasn’t thinking about what she’d done for me, I was thinking of what she wasn’t doing for me. I was thinking of my friends who had mothers that seemed to constantly be around, interested in what they were doing in school, waving from the side lines at the soccer game. I was too young to grasp that she wasn’t at the soccer game because she was at work so we could have food that week.

And I almost have to laugh through my tears now. Your mother always tells you, “just wait till you have kids, I hope they give it back to you as good as you gave to me”, almost like a curse.

I’m getting it almost exactly as I gave it. And it hurts. Imagining that little baby girl who I held in my arms when she was born, knowing I would never be able to do anything less than give her the world. This is the type of hurt that I can imagine will never go away. The kind you have to get medicated for in order to not have it creep into your brain while you’re falling asleep.

Maybe I should let her go… I just always figured it was the two of us. No matter who came and went, it was us. We had been the original two, living together and creating our own routines and dynamics. Like a modern day Gilmore Girls, we did our own thing and it really didn’t matter what anyone else thought about it. I guess I felt that even if the dynamics changed, she would still have my back, she would still stand beside me, she would know the ways that I had sacrificed and loved her since the moment she was born.

So… maybe I should let her go. This is my current problem. Finding a way to let go of person who has always been my motivation and drive for everything I do. If she feels like she needs to be somewhere else, for her own best interests, how can I argue with that. Lock her up, throw away the key… sure. I’m thinking of it.

But, maybe I just need to let her go.

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If I Didn’t Have Kids

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Every so often, as parents and adults, we will ship our children off to their grandparents (or another responsible party) for the night so we can as romantic partners and adults go to dinner and maybe a movie.

There have been a couple of those nights for us recently.

The first night that both children were away for home, we came home and kicked off our shoes. There was no little bodies to bathe or get into pajamas, the only person I had to worry about getting into pajamas was myself. There were no bed time stories to read or songs to sing, no last minute glasses of water or lunch money to lay out for the next day. I took a shower, got right into bed and watched THREE episodes of Orange Is The New Black in bed with my husband, alone, for the first time in a long time.

We looked at each other and laughed because we had both had the same thought. Is this what it would be like if we didn’t have kids?

Tonight we both had a work event so the kids were spending the night elsewhere, and I walked into my house after a long day of work and craziness expecting to feel a relief that I had no one but myself to worry about. I did not feel that relief.

The house was dark and quiet. There was a plate of chocolate chip muffins on the counter that Nev had made when she got home from school because she knows their my favorite. And I wanted to go up to her room to kiss her forehead and tell her thank you, but she wasn’t there of course.

I did not hear the pounding of little feet running towards me, or feel a little toddler body throw himself into my arms because he could not contain his happiness that I was once again within his reach. No, “I love you mama, I missed you mama”, just myself to worry about.

There was no bedtime stories to read with a curly little head still damp from his bath tucked under my arm. No songs to sing while I cradled a creature who holds more value to me than everything else in this world. No pajamas to put on while he tells me a story about a dragon and a princess with wide, expressive eyes. Those kind of eyes you find only on very young children who haven’t seen the worst the world has to offer yet.

And when I got into bed there were not two mini human beings clamoring to find a space near me just to have one more song, one more story, one more glass of water which really means one more minute together.

THIS is what it would be like if I didn’t have kids. I would only have myself to think about, but thinking about yourself doesn’t take a whole lot of time out of your day.

I have so much more to think about while raising children. Does she have lunch money? Did she do her homework? Is he making friends at school? Do they need new socks/underwear/toothbrushes? My days are filled with an infinite amount of questions swirling through my head that I am responsible for answering and acting on.

And while I’m thinking of them, they are thinking of me.

Nev bakes brownies and muffins when she gets home from school and leaves them for me. Aidan tells me one hundred times a day that he loves me. I am not being neglected, I am not sacrificing myself to care for others. I am very, very well cared for. I am very loved.

What is a “good man”?

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I have friends, women friends, who are single or with someone but unhappy. The general consensus between all these women seems to be that they want a “good man”.

Don’t ask them to have a general consensus about what a good man is, though, because obviously like anything else that definition is going to vary from person to person.

So, the dictionary of Stephanie comes into play. The most accurate definition of what a good man is. You asked for it, and here it is.

A Good Man:

A good man is someone who tells you that you’re beautiful every day. He looks at you with wide eyes when he says it, so you know he means it. A good man tells you this while not being able to keep his hands off of you. Loving, touching, squeezing; all that jazz.

A good man doesn’t JUST tell you that you look beautiful. He specifies what about you is beautiful, so you know it’s true. He tells you that you have flawless skin, or that you’re ass looks AHMAZING! (yea, ahmazing with an h, say it like this… ahhhhh mazing)

A good man cups his hands around your face and tells you that he loves you, he tells you that he’ll love you forever, and he believes it… so you believe it.

A good man looks like a homeless person, his hair is getting so long, yet when he has a chance to get it cut he stays home to pay the bills.

A good man rocks his son to sleep at night and listens to the same YouTube video over and over again because the two year old commands it. Even though he says, “only one more time”, he listens to this YouTube video an additional three times before tucking the little one snugly and warmly into bed and saying goodnight.

A good man gives you a back rub at night, even though he worked all day, even though his back probably hurts, too. But he doesn’t ask for one in return, he just gives.

A good man doesn’t want you to spend so much money on Starbucks coffee, it really drives him crazy, yet he has come to terms with the fact that it makes you happy, so he doesn’t say anything.

A good man cries when he sees you walking down the aisle at your wedding. He takes your hand, and even though he knows he is wearing a mic, tells you a plethora of emotional and loving things.

A good man stays with you through millions of hours of pregnancy, what feels like millions of hours of labor, and millions of hours of sleepless nights. He doesn’t understand what it is to carry and birth a child, but he really thinks it’s cool and amazing and recognizes the sacrifice on your part to do it.

A good man tells you that he loves that you have a strong personality, he laughs at your jokes and he listens to your rants. He knows who you were, accepts who you are, and sees who you could be.

This man does laundry, vacuums and makes sure you have a clean pillow to lay your head on at night. When you cook for him he always tells you it was good, and then he washes the dishes. He kills spiders, chases away bees, hangs pictures, washes cars, kisses away bruises and tears, pushes little bodies on swings and down slides, checks homework, makes beds, and shampoos carpets. He is tireless, and selfless, and maybe still looks homeless…

But he’s beautiful to you…

Because he’s strong, and sweet. Because his smile still makes you feel like the world is a good place, and his arms are still the safest place in the world for you. Because no matter what you do or what you say, what kind of evil witch or sulky little girl you turn into, he still sees you as his soul mate.

This is a good husband, a good father, a good person. A man who once told me that if all he left behind was the legacy that his children and his family viewed him as a “good man”, that this would be more than enough for him. Who could ask more from their partner in life? He doesn’t want riches or notoriety, he doesn’t need a high flying career or fast cars (although he would like them)…

All he needs in this life is to give himself to his family, to show them that he loves them and that he is there; every gray hair, every wrinkle, every puffy eye is because he is out there giving it his all for US. All he needs, all he wants, is to be the best for the people he loves…

And all I need is him.

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“He fills me up, he gives me love, more love than I’ve ever seen. He’s all I got, he’s all I got in this world, but he’s all the man that I need.” -Whitney Houston