Elle turned 17 on Saturday. YEAH! Even though I'm old enough to be the mother to four of my step-kids, I still get the - Oh they're your step-kids. No wonder. You don't look old enough to be their mother! I do look young, thanks to my genes, but on Saturday there was no getting around it, I'm the moma to my 17 year old and damn proud to be!
When I look back over the past 17 years of birthdays, I remember the first. I had just divorced Elle's Dad, embarking on a new life with Elle that I wasn't sure how it would turn out. Yet, I never looked back or second guessed my decision to divorce. My marriage wasn't one that I wanted to raise my child in. As life has taken its course, thankfully our home, our family were here when Dick went off the reservation. Instead of both Elle and I living full-time for years in a dangerous and unhealthy situation struggling to get out, and maybe never getting out. Elle was living it half the time for a short length of time. When Elle left Dick's home she not only had me, but our family and our home to give her the love, support and security she needed.
On Jax's 17th birthday, my Hubby wrote him an amazing letter about having him in his life for those years, the joys and some of the regrets. The one thing of interest here is that Raylan didn't apologize to Jax about the divorce, but instead for how he handled the breakup. Not preparing Jax for the separation and being there for him in the way Raylan wanted to be. That sentence was the one Raylan made a point to talk with me about at great length. We both had made a choice to divorce some years ago without knowing what life had in store for us only that it was better for us to be apart than together with our ex-spouses. And now, it's even more important for the kids to know the difference between being sad about them having to go through a divorce and apologizing for one.
We both had been married to the other parent of our kids with great hopes that these relationships would last. When they didn't we owed it to them to move on rather than get caught in the What If's? The kids life's wouldn't have been perfect if we had stayed married to our ex's nor will they be perfect following. As life has sent us on our journey we created a family that the kids have chosen to embrace and enjoy being apart of.
I remember the three younger kids talking a couple of years ago about how different each home was, nothing alike they said. I interjected - except one thing, they love you as much as we do. Well ya! Like that's a given. As they have experienced the different lifestyles that each parent has chosen to live they have been in atmosphere/home to absorb and enjoy their parent for who they are rather than in a home where their differences were a source of tension between the two people they love.
Celebrating Elle's 17th birthday meant so much for me. We embarked on journey just the two of us sixteen years ago. Our future unknown. And yet, when we celebrated her 17th - our future known - the smiles were written all over everyone's faces. She had the family - the home I had always envisioned for her some 16 years ago. Happy Birthday Baby!