bonus children,  bonus mom,  bonus parenting,  marriage,  Uncategorized

Letting the Cat out of the Bag. A Big Change is Coming…

Letting the cat out of the bagI have a secret and today I’m finally letting the cat out of the bag…

Six and a half years ago when I left Florida for my beloved San Diego, had you told me I’d lead the life I live today, I would have told you that you needed to stop smoking whatever you were on. I also would have told you it must be something realllly good because me, married? HA!!! And a bonus mother? HA.HA and HA. No way. No how. That was never going to happen.

Until it did.

And now I am going to spill a secret with you I have been sitting on for months. MONTHS! You have no idea how many times I wanted to spill! This is something that had you told me would ever happen in my life I would have told you to seek help. No seriously. I would have said you need a psychiatrist because you were surely delusional.

I’m moving to Northwest Arkansas. Well, we’re moving to Arkansas.

Let that sink in…

I’m.moving.toArkansas.

Arkansas map

I wish I could tell you that every aspect of this decision has been handled with grace and open-mindedness, but I would be lying. The truth is this move has been the cause of the first real fight between the hubs and me. It has been the source of anxiety dreams, months of worry and even feelings of resentment toward my husband and his children.

When I moved to San Diego, it was the first time in my life I made a move for me. I worked hard (SO hard) to build a life here, and one of which I am proud. AND.I.LOVE.SAN.DIEGO. I can imagine what people will think. But I am human. I am not perfect. And this is real life.

So the truth? I have struggled. I don’t want to move. I don’t want cold winters. Heck, I went to Colorado for three days and came back with pneumonia. A three-time cancer survivor, I do not want to be away from world-renowned medical facilities, my doctor and my surgeon. I don’t want to give up the freedoms we have in San Diego. I don’t want to leave seeing my colleagues on a regular basis – well as much as I can for the travel I do. I don’t want to live in a place that denies equality because someone happens to love a member of the same sex. I also don’t want to live in a place that has a problem with the President not because he’s a Democrat, but because he’s half black (oh and I have heard earfuls). I don’t want to live in a place where people have an issue because I sometimes speak Spanish. I don’t want to leave friends. Hell, I don’t want to change my driver’s license or live somewhere land-locked. I don’t want to answer, “Arkansas,” when people ask me where I live. And yes, I know some of these things seem shallow and petty. But they’re true. San Diego is part of me. An important part and anticipating a goodbye is SO.fucking.hard. But as I type this paragraph, I am not without the realization it is full of “I’s”. And my life is about “we” now.

My husband is a father. And his girls have been without him almost six years. That is a lifetime to a child. When he and I met, it was with the best of intentions when we discussed that we would stay in San Diego. I was already here living life. The girls “were used to” this arrangement. Truly, I did not know any better. And as ridiculous as it may sound to you, I don’t think he did either. In hindsight we came to realize that it is not possible to get used to missing your dad or missing your kids. Really, how do you get used to saying ‘goodbye’ for months at a time? How do you get used to cramming months of growing up into a week or two, a few times a year? And how, as a dad, do you ask your children to continue to live with a “once in a while” visitation schedule because your wife hates the cold? One of the reasons I Love the hubs so much is because he WANTS to be with his children. His girls adore him. It is truly one of the most profound sights to behold this man with his daughters. I will never be able to fully grasp that bond, but I know enough to know that there is not much in life that can compare to the love a parent has for a child. And I know all too well that life is fleeting. We have the here and now and the girls have had enough “heres” and enough “nows” without their dad.

And whatever you want to call me – bonus mother, stepmother – well , those beautiful girls are in my life, too. How do I bond with them – REALLY bond with them from 1,800 miles away? How do I ask them to give up their dad because I’m too selfish to put up with winter and then to trust me at the same time? The military will no longer be the reason keeping us. It would be ME keeping us. And I cannot do that. I will not do that. So in July, we move.

Now, before you think I have completely shut myself off to keeping my mind open, I have actually come a long way. Sometimes perspective takes longer than it should, but believe me when I say it has finally shown up.  And my mom, she has so much wisdom and has been tremendous in helping me to navigate my emotions. A big bonus of the move is I will be closer to home and to my family. I will get to introduce the girls to more of me – Florida and where my love affair with the ocean began.

Yes, leaving is going to weigh heavily upon my heart, but that is nothing compared to how it shatters each time I have to say goodbye to the girls. It’s nothing compared to trying to hide my tears as I watch my husband’s youngest  fall apart, her mom left to pick up the pieces for days. It cannot compare to a fifteen year old telling me about the conversation her mother had to go through with her when she found out her dad was leaving for the Navy and how she feared for his life thinking her dad might die defending the country.

When we created our wedding ceremony, we wrote it so it would include the girls. When I read my vows, I made a commitment to creating a home for ALL of us. We symbolically showed and promised them that their place will always be in the center of our lives. It’s time. So the next time we see the girls, we will not have to plan the ‘goodbye’.

Sand Ceremony
Their sand and their presence in our lives- always in the center.

Instead we will keep our promises.

Finally.

And who knows? Maybe Arkansas needs a bit of Heather in its life. Be the change you want to see in the world? Oh, you can count on that.

Stay tuned, everyone. More to come.

37 Comments

  • Kirsten

    I’m so happy for you! I know you must be so relieved to share your secret. Wishing you all the best on your big move. Be prepared for a lot of people to ask, “you left San Diego, for this?” I still get that 10 years later…

    • Heather W

      HAHA I don’t know. Everyone there tells me I am crazy to love California the way I do. Though most of them have never actually been to San Diego, they proclaim to hate California. Every person we run into tells me how much better I will like Arkansas than California, too. Le sigh, they don’t know how much I want to slap them when they say that. I think come winter I might hear it, though. That is the great thing about being close to Florida…You KNOW some family visits will be in order during the winter months LOL! I know it is time. And yes, I am SOOO glad not to have to finally watch everything I say. I had a dollar for every time I almost said, “When we move…” HA! And I will finally get to take the hubs to the REAL Chicago! WOO HOO!

    • Heather W

      You are right that it is hard. I think it’s hard to give up what I have worked so hard for. But you are also right that we are going for the right reasons. It has taken me some time to feel ready, but I feel ready. Thank you SO MUCH for your support.

  • Heather W

    I feel the same. I am going to miss you terribly. Although we don’t see each other as often as we should, there is great comfort in knowing you are just up the road. It will be hard, but one thing about Arkansas -we’ll have a big house. And you can visit anytime. It is actually very beautiful and it is the Natural State after all! LOL And I will be still working for my company and in San Diego from time to time, too. XOXO I Love you, too!

  • Heather W

    Thank you so much, Fatima. I really appreciate your kind words. I have felt like a horrible person for some time now. Of course it is important to be close to the girls. NO DOUBT in my mind about that. But I cannot lie and say leaving is easy. This is what I have grown to know and love. I will miss it. But building our lives in Arkansas will be a new adventure and I am ready. Thank you again.

  • Heather W

    Oh yes, Arkansas has a beauty of its own. While it does not have the cliffs and the ocean that I love so much, the nature there and the autumns are beautiful. This I know. I also know life is what we make of it and I promise I am going into it with every intention of making it great.

  • Jen @ The Halfway Homemaker

    My husband just took a job in South Jersey. I was born and bred in California. My kids are eighth generation Californian. He is from the east coast, so it wasn’t a shock for him. But I told him that if he found a job he wanted closer to his family, I would move. He delivered, so I said ok. It wasn’t easy. I was glad we moved quickly so I couldn’t think too much about it.
    It is a struggle, it is hard to move, and adjust. I don’t think we handled it as well as we could, but I see what a great decision it was, and have faith it will work out for us long term. Change is hard, it tests your marriage and your family, but it will make you stronger. Just remember to find the beauty in your home, no matter where it may be. My home is wherever my husband and kids are.

    • Heather W

      WOW Jen, what a change and what an adjustment. I think that it is good you moved quickly. For us, there are four more months and I have known awhile. The waiting is hard. I’d just like to rip the band-aid off, so to speak. I promise I will find beauty in our new home. I know that it is a beautiful place. It will take some time to adjust, but as you wrote – home is where they are and I am starting to feel ready for this next chapter.

  • Heather W

    Oh yes, I know. I’ve been there MANY TIMES. In fact, I did a stint there as a kid. 🙂 We have been to Eureka Springs many times and I will look forward to enjoying the beautiful foliage in the fall.

  • Heather W

    Thank you. This was a really, really tough one to write. I SO appreciate you writing that I have handled it with grace. And I just appreciate your comment. More than you know. It is tough, but I grow more ready day by day. I think now, I am just ready for it to get here.

  • Alison Freisz-Steward

    You know…you think you sound selfish in ways but what I just read was very selfless….it is going to be different and some of it you will hate but you already know how to see the beauty in the ugly so I think it will all turn out as it should and I wish you the very best on this new journey!

    • Heather W

      Thank you SO MUCH. You have no idea how much that means to me. And don’t get me wrong. Arkansas is very beautiful, in a different way. Most beautiful will be just getting there and all of us being together. It will be growth and adventure, that’s for certain!

  • Kathryn M Bennett

    A new adventure! From reading your blog posts, I believe you are good at making the best of things. It will probably be much better than you expect. I look forward to watching from here (Oregon). Don’t forget… the internet has us all at the same distance as ever and you have tons of us to ‘talk’ to.

    • Heather W

      Thank you so much, Kathryn. I do think once I get there and get into the groove of life there, it will be great. A lot of it is just the hard part of actually leaving I have to get through. I’m not looking forward to that. And yes, thanks to the internet! YOU KNOW I will be ‘talking’ to all of you a lot!

  • Lynne Childress

    Heather, I am praying for you. What a loving, loving, loving, loving thing to do for your family. I think such a deed will be rewarded somehow. It will. My parents moved to Little Rock 20 years ago, and after growing up in DC, they didn’t know how that was going to go, even though we have family there. And they loved it. So much that my dad requested to be buried there, even though Baltimore/DC was where most of us were. It became home. And I hope, that in some way, it will become that for you. You rock.

    • Heather W

      Thanks, Lynne. It’s been years since I was in Little Rock. We’ll be about four hours away from there. I really appreciate your kind words and your thoughts. I hope it will feel like home, too. 🙂

  • BritishMumUSA

    I am going to go with the positive here and say CONGRATULATIONS. This is yet another adventure in your life. As one door closes another opens. We have driven through this beautiful state and my favorite is this, I found a blog post on it http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/ranlo/5/1402333662/tpod.html

    We spent the whole day watching the birds it amazed all of us EVEN THE TEEN!!!!!!

    I think this is an amazing show of love, respect and unselfishness….. YOU ROCK AS A mom!!!!! Or what ever you want to refer to yourself as. I think the girls are lucky to have more than one mom figure in their lives.

    Maybe as we drive through this summer we can say HI on our way to Florida…. Darn it you are a little to west when we go to Florida, but I will still wave your way 🙂

    Hugs buddy, I know how you feel about the moving. Biggest decision of my life was where do we settle after marriage??? London or Chicago…. It’s tough, but I am wishing you strength and peace….

    xoxoxo

    • Heather W

      Thank you so much. I am getting there. Some days are easier than others. Today we were fishing two minutes from where we live. I looked out at the mountains, Mexico, downtown San Diego, Point Loma and watched as dolphins swam by. It was hard. I felt the tears forming in my eyes as our last winter in San Diego comes to an end. I really, really appreciate the encouragement. I think part of it is just needing to finally move. The waiting is hard.

      Also – I have never been there, thank you for site. That will not be too far from where we will be living. We will definitely have to take the girls! Beautiful! You’re the best. Thank you. XOXO

  • Laura Shepard

    So proud of you and inspired by you. You are an amazing gal and blessed to have met you. You leave a lot of people who respect and care for you but they will do so no matter where you might be. Best wishes on your adventures.

    • Heather W

      Thank you so much, Laura. For your comment and kind words. I will so miss everyone I love in San Diego, but it is not goodbye. It is definitely, “see you next time.” I will be back in town for work and because this is like a home to me. Thank you again.

  • Heather W

    Thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind words. You are so right. As someone who never had children (and candidly, if you’ve read my blog you know I never wanted them), I am learning. The girls changed my life and through guidance and Love, I really have learned so much.

    I also really appreciate the encouragement about living in the South. I have overheard some conversations that were not easy to hear while dining out in Northwest Arkansas and I really hope that the words were spoken by those who are the exception and not the rule to what people really feel there. I do look forward to find the great people, that’s for sure! 🙂

  • Danya

    Arkansas definitely needs a little Heather! I am so glad I had the chance to meet you while you were here. Enjoy your next adventure!!

  • Candice

    I am so happy to hear this and what a great adventure this will be for you Im sure 😀 Looking forward to hearing more about it!

  • Roslyn Tanner Evans

    All I can say is you are one incredible woman for sharing yourself, all aspects of yourself so authentically. Given who you are as exemplified by this post, you will turn Arkansas upside down. You will find those people with like minded views, make new buds and share the rest of the girls life closer than you even imagined. And the bond you already have with your hubs & the girls will just grow & grow & deepen. You will continue to make a difference to everyone who reads your words. I was moved to tears by the choice you are making.

  • Lizzie Lau

    Crap. I was so looking forward to meeting you IRL on a trip to San Diego that has yet to materialize. Now that I’m done making this about ME… Having followed your blog and social media I just know that you will create a community no matter where you move to, and the community based on your blogging and social media will follow and provide support wherever you are. xo

    • Heather W

      Awww. Well, I will still work for the same company, so I will most definitely still spend time in San Diego! Hopefully our paths will cross while you’re here and I’m here at the same time. 🙂

      Thank you so much for your kind words and support. They mean a lot and I know as the date draws nearer, I will need them.

  • Susan {ofeverymoment}

    I found your blog from the comment you left on my Hotel del Coronado post this week. So sorry that you will be leaving that area – but Arkansas will be enriched! As a parent of a high school junior and a college senior, I can tell you your husband’s children will be grown-up much more quickly than you would ever hope. Who knows, perhaps they will then move to California – and you will follow them back there!
    I gave my blog a facelift this weekend, so I am very aware of blog designs right now. Yours is one of the best that I have seen! It is beautiful! Following you now 🙂

    • Heather W

      Hi, Susan. WOW thank you so much for the compliment and kind words about the blog. That means SO much!

      Yes, my husband has one in college, one in high school and one who is nine going on thirty LOL! I definitely know they grow up too fast. I remember when she was “little” and now she recently had the conversation with my husband that she wants to call him “dad” instead of “daddy”. Of course, he will always be her daddy!

      It is true, who knows where life will take us once the youngest goes off to college. We have some ideas in mind, but for now I’m going to try to continue to keep an open mind and look at it as another adventure!

      I look forward to reading more of your posts, too. Thank you again for stopping by!

  • Savvy WorkingGal

    Arkansas – that is interesting. I do see you working towards changing Arkansas for the better. Good luck and enjoy your family time.

    • Heather W

      Yes, interesting indeed, huh? I am working, daily on acceptance of what is to come. I love the kids and my husband, but it’s still hard as everyday I take extra time to take in the beauty that is San Diego. Thank you for the good luck wishes and I know I will most definitely enjoy the family time. 🙂

  • The Girl Next Door is Black

    San Diego to Arkansas is a big move and I can defintitely understand why you’d have qualms about living there. I certainly would. It can’t have been an easy decision. However, the girls will be lucky to have their dad and you so much closer. New adventures await! I hope the adjustment is as painless as possible for you all.

    • Heather W

      Thank you. You are right. Definitely not easy. It still isn’t. As it gets closer I find myself emotional, but I know this is the right thing. Thank you again for your kind words.