I remember watching my girls play dress up. The irritation. The annoyance. The mess. The cuteness.
Looking back I do wish I had taken more time to enjoy the cuteness and the littleness.
Today my oldest found her graduation dress. And as she stood there I saw every inch the grown up she's becoming. There are times when I think to myself there is NO WAY this child will survive on her own, ever. There are times I'm fully convinced she is going to live with us forever. And then she stood there, poised, gorgeous, grown up.
I didn't picture this day like this. Had you asked me back in the days of dress up and mess up and make up destroyed, what I pictured it would have looked like, it wouldn't have been a picture involving split up parents who can't seem to agree on how to share costs. It wouldn't have involved a fairly substantial panic attack on my part when I saw the price tag. And it sure would not have looked like me walking out of the store without the dress, doing mental math, trying to figure out how the hell we're going to make this, and hair, and make up, and shoes, and pictures, and banquets, and after grad all work.
By this point in my life I didn't think I would be primarily a stay at home mom trying to balance getting kicked twice by life career wise--once when I was forced out of my consulting job in 2012, and had to begin re-education and building a new career. The second time when the Film Industry collapsed 18 months ago, forcing Kyle into a season of rebuilding and re-envisioning his company and finding a way to create income once again--with being a present and engaged mother.
Seeing how our kids have changed emotionally since the choice to prioritize them reassures me that we are making the right choices for our family. The confidence that they are slowly rebuilding after the decisions that their father and I made destroyed them, shows me the path is correct.
But the financial situation at times becomes bleak when you have four children with a nasty food habit and two parents rebuilding their careers. And at times its worse, because you've just dealt with court and other expensive frustrations that take you away from that career rebuilding.
I've had the lectures, 'advice', and comments about going out and "just" adding one more client. Or getting a day job. The thing about that is it will either take me away from the kids too much, which destroys the progress we've made or it will make me compromise part of myself. And compromise is different than sacrifice. Sacrifice I do lovingly and with joy. Compromise means giving away a piece of myself for my own comfort and gain.
In the name of honesty, right now I'm nursing some irrational bitterness toward people I don't even know who are able to be in a financial position to do these things for their kids without worry or consideration. Our reality is that after 7 months of on-going legal costs, tax bills, and time sacrifices that were necessary to our sanity and survival, this month the choice is going to be between either the power bill or the vehicle payment and the dress. For now.
This, my friends, is what one calls life. And we are living it. Not how we pictured it, but as it is. The beauty lies in knowing how lovely the picture really is. When I stop and look at what we've given up, I see the life I didn't envision, but that I've always wanted.