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Reunited And It Feels So Good

When I took a job in Arizona, the hardest decision I ever had to make was to leave my kids behind in Montana for a few months so I could get everything in order before they joined me on this new journey. Every fiber of my being wanted to rip those kids out of school and bring them with me. And though that would have been the best option for me, I knew that wasn't the best option for them. Koyer was finishing up his senior year of high school and only had two months left. Plus, he was 18. Can you imagine that argument. lol. Of course I asked him, but I knew what his answer would be and I knew he needed to focus on finishing high school. Many people said they understood that, but how can a mother leave her 5 year old behind? Trust me, you can't say anything to me that I haven't already said to myself. I felt like the biggest loser and the worst mother in the world. Just the thought of it made me sick to my stomach. But, upon lots of prayer and long discussions with family, I came to two conclusions. The first is that Hank may have only been in preschool, but he also had speech, OT, and PT services that he was scheduled for. To remove him from the couple of months left worth of services with people he knew and trusted, and try an enroll him down here for two months, didn't seem like the best option for my son. I wanted the transition to be as easy on him as I could make it, despite how hard it was on me. The second thing that happened is really what gave me the courage to move forward because the honest truth is that I came centimeters from not doing it because of my concern with option one.

My mom and I had been talking on the phone when my step dad asked to speak with me. I remember very distinctly that he made a comment that he overheard I may not go. It was his advice that gave me the courage to move forward. He said, "Steph, I know it's hard. But right now you need to stop thinking with your heart and start thinking with your mind. This is a very minimal amount of time in the grand scheme of life. You have an opportunity to change the way you have been living and to provide for your kids. You need to grab on to this and do it for yourself and for your family." Not one time in my life have I ever stopped thinking with my heart, which explains a lot of why my life is in the state it is. When you think with your heart, you are pleasing everyone but YOU. I am now the main provider for my youngest son who has special needs. I don't have the luxury of just thinking with my heart anymore. I have to be the grown up, and being grown up often means doing things we don't want to do, but we do it anyways because it's what's best for my family, not just what's best for me. There is no fall back plan. I am the plan.

And so, I did. I jumped. It was the first time in my life that I truly felt the definition of courage - I felt the fear with every breath I took and in every cell in my body, but I did it anyway. Sometimes I still can't believe I did, but here we are. All alone in the desert, trying to make a go at a new life.

One thing I will never forget is taking my kids to the last dinner we would ever have together in the place I had called home for a decade. How I watched my teenage son, now a young man, with tears in his eyes as he left my house that night, my heart breaking for our early separation. And later, when I took Hank over to his dad's, the plan was to go back to my place and leave in the morning, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't sleep a few blocks from my kids all night and then leave without seeing them again. No, it was better to just go, despite the dreariness of the night.

I will never forget standing in the bedroom doorway of the room that used to be mine, watching my youngest son play as he was going to bed, hanging on to every second with him as if it were the last I would be alive. I sat and stared at him for what felt like hours, just drinking him in. Then, when I knew I had outstayed my welcome and it was time to go, I walked out the front door of the house that also used to be mine, and I felt so much sadness and shame as I walked away from the family and the life that used to be mine. How had things gotten this far and how had life become so complicated? I got into my vehicle in the driveway, laid my head on the steering wheel and just wept for a really long time.

I wept for the life and the people who I desperately wanted to be my family, all sitting just feet away from me, but for whom I no longer had permission to just walk in and touch. I wept for the home that I had tried so hard to make and had sacrificed so much of myself for, and yet just never quite seemed to be enough. I wept for the promise of the life I used to have and the woman I used to be. I thought of that girl, nearly a decade earlier, who had driven her old maroon Subaru packed to the brim with all that was left of what she owned, and the puppy who made the 7 hour drive with me, crammed on the passenger floor board or in my lap. I was scared then too, but it was different because I was moving towards something and someone. Now, I was leaving everything I had known for a decade behind. I wept for the loss of the only dream I ever really had - to have a family. I wept for all the laughter and joy we had created in these old walls. All the birthday parties, renovations, rearrangements of furniture, holiday dinners, various animals we had had, the games we had played, the Legos we had built, the movies we had watched, the meals I had cooked, the gardens I had attempted, the love that was shared, and all that we once were and no longer would ever be again. I wept for the loss of what was.

And then I drove one last time out of that driveway where I had been so excited to be a new wife, had come home to see the boys playing ball, watched my son shoot hoops, flew kites with Hank, and used to wait for the ones I loved to come down. Finally, with tears in my eyes and in the dead of the night, snow wisping all around me in frigid temperatures, and heartache so painful I could barely breathe, I took one of the last left turns out of that drive that I would ever take and drove towards the promise of a new life.

I came back several times to visit. I could barely stand to be away. I called my kids constantly. I have never been in pain like that and hope I never will again. And, my step-dad was right. In the moment, the days felt like years, but in the grand scheme of things, it was over before I knew it. So, I guess I just wanted to say to all the parents out there who have to make hard decisions, that have to sacrifice and be away from their kids, and that are not always able to be with them - I have felt your pain and I am sorry that this is part of your story. There is nothing on this earth that means more to me than those two boys and sometimes that means doing the thing that you don't want to do. So, until you can be with your babies again, just know that if you made the decision out of love for them, you are doing the right thing and it's all going to work out. Hang tough parents. You got this.

Facebook Post From The Day Hank Came Home

And, just like that 💥, all was right in the world 🌎🙌

Hankie is home from his summer with dad, ready to start school next week!!

I have missed him SO MUCH and it feels great to have him leaving crumbs on my clean floor, dumping out toys all over his room, and completely disrupting the emptiness of a home without kids. I have been waiting for this exact moment for far too long; and it feels AMAZING that it’s finally here 🙌👏👏👏👏

Once it was just him and I, he crawled up into my lap, pulled me close and said, “You’re my best friend” 🥲

You too, Buddy. You too 🥰


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