The Misfits of McAtee Manor

The Misfits of McAtee Manor

Friday, January 20, 2017

Thank you Mr. President....

Our country is on the verge, for the second time in recent presidential memory, of something historic. Donald Trump becomes the President of the United States today, and a great many things will change. Over the past few months there has been so much back and forth between supporters and detractors, resistors and engagers, that it's hard to find anything people can agree on. One of the most often heard statements I've heard is how badly President Obama screwed up our country and that he didn't do anything right. Well, here is what he did right for me.

In August of 2005, I was a stay at home mom with a 4 year old and an 8 year old. One afternoon, I sent my then husband an email asking him what time I should meet him for lunch. His reply? I want a divorce. Get a job so I don't have to support you. So, I did. In January of 2006 I got my first job in five years. I made a whopping $11 an hour. My ex husband had been having an affair with another woman, and was planning on moving her to Charlotte, North Carolina where we lived. He wanted me to keep the marital home, but I couldn't afford it. He wanted to buy a beautiful new home with his mistress and her children, and I  couldn't face staying there. So I decided to find an apartment.  I looked at apartment after apartment, sobbing in the parking lot after each one. How could I make my children give up their home? I decided to try and rent a house instead, and found a Realtor to help me. Much to my surprise, they told me I could buy a house. Me?? On $11 an hour? Only having had a job for 4 months?? I leapt at the chance. There was one small problem.... I shouldn't have been able to. 2006 was at the height of the housing boom.  Everyone was a homeowner if they wanted to be. Naïve and still reeling from the end of a fourteen year marriage, I bought my first home. No money down. No money at closing. Seems like a dream, right? It was about to become a nightmare. In 2007 the market crashed and the Great Recession began. I didn't know anything about Predatory lending, but I was about to learn. I had a very skillfully crafted Adjustable rate mortgage. 80/20. No one explained to me exactly what that meant. I also didn't know that I had no escrow account for property taxes. My mortgage payments quickly rose to 60% of my income. I was desperate and tried everything I could not to lose my home. I couldn't afford groceries because I was trying to pay my mortgage. I applied for food stamps and was approved for $6 a month. No thanks, it probably costs the state more than that to load that amount on an EBT card. I tried to refinance. I was denied. I started selling things to just keep from going under. Desperate and afraid, I called my mortgage company again to beg for their help. God or someone was listening because I got a woman on the line who gave me hope. Unbeknownst to me, millions of people were in my situation. Foreclosures were at an all time high. President Obama created the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. It was a way for me to modify my mortgage rate instead of refinancing. They told me I qualified, and I broke down in tears. I was going to be able to keep my home. My children had been through so much, losing our home would have been devastating. I watched home after home around me fall under, but I was okay. I still live in that same home today. A few years later, I found out that my mortgage company had been involved in a class action lawsuit due to predatory lending practices targeting minorities. Me. Targeting me.

So going into this new administration and this uncertain future, I will be cautious. I learned some hard lessons, but I also learned that even if everyone in the world criticized him, denigrated him, or reviled him; one thing is for certain. My life would be very different now if not for him. So Thank you President Obama, from the bottom of my heart.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Sadness and hope....

The events of November 9th changed all Americans just a little.  The day of the presidential election dawned, and I don't think anyone could have ever expected exactly what was to play out.  It was like a comedy, a drama, a horror film and science fiction all rolled into one.  Donald Trump, a billionaire reality tv star was elected President of the United States.  People cheered, they jeered, they cried, they laughed, and they knew that the America we live in was going to change forever.

There has been so much in the news, on social media, hell everywhere about Trump and people's reactions to him winning.  So much hate filled speech, name calling, trolling and out and out hatred has bled into the very fabric of our every day lives since election day, and it has broken up friendships, alienated neighbors, and caused people to question some of the very things they hold dear.  I have limited my social media access because of it.  My emotions are too raw, the anxiety too high and for my own emotional health and wellbeing I have had to take a step back.  I have hid posts from people I thought were my friends.  I have seen people say things that I never in a million years thought they would say.  My naïveté has definitely come to the front of the stage here.  I believed in people.  I believed that the people I surrounded myself with were good.  Now I question some of them.  I question whether they are genuine.  I question whether they are the kind of people to have a hood hanging in the back of the closet when they greet me at the door with a smile on their faces.

Am I happy Trump won the election?  No.  I've never been quiet on my opinion of that.  Did I think Clinton was the perfect candidate?  No.  Not by any stretch of the imagination.  I think the DNC rushed her in and tried to force feed her to America and they did not want that.  They didn't want HER.  It wasn't the fact that they weren't ready for a woman president, they weren't ready for HER.

In the days since the election a lot has been said about people "getting over it".  It's not that simple.  It's like going through the stages of grief.  It's okay to feel sadness and disappointment.  It's okay to be angry.  It's not okay to riot and destroy property.  It's not okay to hurt people.  It's not okay to make people feel bad or call them names.  None of those things are okay because things didn't turn out out the way you didn't wan them to.

But I am sick and tired of being marginalized.  I'm done with that.  The saying "A drunk man's words are a sober man's thoughts" has gone through my head over and over again the last couple of days.  I have been more hurt by people trying to marginalize my feelings than I ever though possible.  You see, being Black means we are marginalized every. Single. Day. Of. Our. Lives. Period.  I have White friends.  I have White family.  I have LGBTQ and Special Needs friends and family.  I have my own rainbow coalition so to speak. When Obama won either time, I never ever told anyone "get over it".  Not once.  I understand the frustration with the current administration.  I understand the hopelessness and the helplessness that people feel and they wanted a CHANGE.  Trump will hopefully give them the change that they so desperately want.  The problem is that there is this insidious behavior that has been under so many people's coats every day that is now being allowed to seep out.  Like Carbon Monoxide gas, it's odorless, colorless and deadly.

Racist things are so much a part of my every day life that it's hard to have a single day go by without someone saying something that they wouldn't say to a member of ANY other race.  When people ask if my hair is real? Would you ask a White person that?  Or "What are you?"  Again, the same question.  Or they question my voice on the phone; like it's a huge anomaly for someone Black to speak well and have good diction.  Or sayings like "You're the Whitest Black person I know".  Yep.  Same goes.  So many things slip out of peoples mouths and they get brushed off, laughed off and glossed over.  That is what makes people think that they can treat others the way they wouldn't treat anyone else.

Trump needs to come out and condemn all of this.  Because let's be honest, there were riots when Obama was elected.  Black baby dolls hung from trees.  I lost count of the number of times Nigger was posted on social media.  Kind of like Trump is being called a racist, misogynistic homophobe.  Everyone is up in arms defending him, yet so many of the people that are defending him now were the ones that condemned Obama 4 and 8 years ago.  You can't speak out of both sides of your mouth.

Do I think that everyone that voted for Trump is racist?  Homophobic? Misogynistic?  No.  Some of the people I respect and love very much voted for him.  The way they voted doesn't change my view of them as a person.  I still love them.  I can't "un love" someone based on their political opinions.  They voted the way they did because they wanted a change.  They believed that this country needed something different.  Someone different to lead us.  I have to respect that.  Because had the shoe been on the other foot, I would have wanted them to respect me too.

But what I can do is condemn the actions of people who think that this election is giving them the freedom to act in a way that they never would have before.  A friend of mine's 9 year old son came home from school crying the other day, saying that another child in his class told him that "All of his black friends were getting sent back to slavery".  That is NOT FUCKING OKAY.  Not at all.  And don't try to sit and placate me and tell me that those kinds of things would have been said had ANYONE else won the election.  Because if you do, I'll call bullshit.  I'll call bullshit over and over and over again.

Peaceful protest is a right.  It is a right of ALL Americans.  It is a right that our military fought and died to protect.  Flag burning is not a right.  Rioting is not a right.  Freedom of speech is a right.  But being hateful and scaring the shit out of people? That may be your right but it's WRONG.   I wake up every day being Black.  My kids are biracial and to the uneducated or unknowing eye they look Latino.  I've literally cried myself to sleep the last 3 nights thinking of how there are targets painted on ALL three of us now.  Oh, they were there before, but now they're in neon paint.  I had someone tell me that I was overreacting.  Really?  It's easy to say that when you're White with a White spouse and White children.  Because the fact of the matter is, nothing you ever do in your entire life will ever put you in the position of being Black.  Not ever.  We may have shared experiences, but they will always be colored with a different brush.

This country is in upheaval. It needs to be healed.  It needs for people to come together in understanding.  It needs for people to stand together.  It needs for everyone to condemn this behavior that will divide us all.  We have a new President.  We need him to do what he said he would. We need him to succeed.  We need him to make our country better.  But what he CAN'T do is make US better. Only way can do that.  Only we can stop posting inflammatory comments and baiting people.  Only we can stop oppression and the destruction of the lives of other people.  Only we can stand in solidarity and let those who commit these acts know that it is not okay.  That we will NOT look the other way.  That we will treat EVERYONE the way we want to be treated, no matter their race, creed, color or sexual orientation.  That we will protect each other from those who want to do us harm.  Because if we don't, the very enemy we fear will be ourselves.  If we can't come together and show our strength, that is perceived as weakness to those outside who want to hurt us.  Because a fractured country is far weaker than one that is solid.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

It's time for the Butterfly to emerge courtesy of Emerging Hopes......

I have never ever been shy about my struggles with my weight.  In junior high, I was a women's size 14 and cannot ever remember being "small".  I was athletic, I played softball and ran track; but I was always "big".  I developed and blossomed very quickly and was always self conscious of my size.  I used humor and being very friendly to draw attention away from the way that I felt about myself.  I wasn't able to wear the cute clothes that my friends were, but I made my own style that I was comfortable with.

As I got older, the weight started to creep up, but not so quickly that I took a huge notice.  I knew that I was overweight, and things started to fit worse, so I moved up a size, then another, and then another. But I was eating the same amounts that I was before and still "felt" good.  I didn't have high blood pressure or diabetes.  I didn't have joint pain.  So I called myself "healthy" fat.

When my then husband walked out on me unexpectedly over 10 years ago, I had to go from being a stay at home mom to a working mom almost overnight.  I started working full time, and with that came the fatigue that such a huge lifestyle change caused.  I thought I was just tired.

My "ah-ha" moments came after I'd been working for a few months.  I went to an amusement park with my kids and couldn't fit on a ride.  That was the first time that had ever happened to me, and I was mortified.  I finally took off the blinders and saw how big I had become.  I went to my doctor to discuss the fatigue and also discovered that I had Obstructive Sleep Apnea.  At that point, I decided to have the surgery that changed my life.

It took a very long time for my eyes to actually see the results of my weight loss.  In my mind, I was still the fat girl.  Every time I looked in the mirror I saw my flaws instead of my successes.  The longer I kept the weight off, the worse I felt because a part of me still saw myself as a failure.  I went from a size 22/24 to a size 12, but didn't feel like I was complete.  I'd lost an incredible amount of weight but the excess skin that accompanied it was so disheartening.  I'd find pants that fit everywhere else but my belly.  I was ashamed to show my upper arms in public because they were so large.  I babysit quite a lot for kids, and they are BRUTALLY honest.  I cannot tell you how many times I've had a child ask me "Why are you so fat?" or "How did you get so fat?"  They don't do it to be mean spirited, but it's so hard to answer that question with a smile on my face.

When I heard of the Emerging Hopes Program I didn't allow myself to get too excited.  I'd already gone through 3 different plastic surgery consults with absolutely no hope of being able to afford the skin removal that I wanted.  I had even researched donating skin to burn victims but unfortunately that's not done.  I filled out the application for the program and didn't hold my breath!  After meeting with Dr. Hunstad and speaking to his amazing office staff, I was just honored that they had brought me in for an interview.  When I got the phone call that I had been selected, I was in the car with two of my closest friends; one of whom had actually written one of the letters of recommendation I needed for the application.  My heart skipped in my chest, and I started sobbing.  Alexis, the surgery scheduler, said that "Sometimes good things just happen to good people" and I finally believed that was true.  In one month, the chrysalis that I have been in for so long will start to open, and thanks to this amazing program I will actually feel like a butterfly.

Link to interview with Dr. Hunstad

Friday, July 8, 2016

Stand up. Sit down. And listen.

I am a Black woman.  I am a mother.  A sister.  A daughter. A wife.  But in the eyes of the world, the very first thing that I am is Black.  All over the country over the past two days has been news of the killing of Alton Sterling.  Video upon video shared for the world to see.  The thing that struck me the most, was his son.  I know there will be fingers pointed.  His entire life will be torn apart and scrutinized.  Did he have a gun?  Was he on drugs?  Did he have a record?  What did he do to provoke the officers?  I hope that all of the questions surrounding this horrible act will be answered.  One thing is clear however.  There is a 15 year old boy out there who sobbed as if his heart was broken.  He lost his father.  Not only did his father die, his father's last moments were videotaped for the entire world to see.  He saw his father subdued by the police.  He heard the six shots that went into his father's body.  He saw him laying there, in a parking lot, bleeding.  He saw him reach his hand up, and then let it fall.  He saw his father die.  Most of us won't see our parents die in front of us.  Almost none will see their parent die this way.  Whatever the outcome of the investigation, whatever charges are filed or not filed, whatever happens in this horrible situation; a boy lost his father.

I grew up in a predominantly White area of the Midwest.  There were very few Blacks at my school, and I didn't see a large and diverse population until I went to college.  There, I was accused for the first time in my life for not being Black enough.  For acting too "White".  Because I had long hair and spoke proper English.  I didn't know that was something that was solely for a certain race of people.  I have a very diverse family.  I have aunts, uncles, cousins and more that are from all shades of the rainbow.  My children are bi-racial.  And sometimes, especially on days like today, I feel a twinge of guilt about that.  Not that my children are mixed.  To me, they are the most beautiful and amazing things I have ever created.  The guilt I feel is because to the outside world, they are "Other".  You can't look at them and tell that they are Black/White.  I am constantly bombarded with questions as to what ethnicity they are.  They look more Polynesian or Latino than anything else.  My guilt is because to the world, my son doesn't look like a Black man.  My daughter doesn't look like a Black woman.  When they walk into a room, people don't look at them and stereotype them as thugs, criminals, or leeches on society like they do so many others because of their skin color.  They don't have people look at them and think the "N" word about them.  In a sense, they are lucky.  On paper they are Black, but to many in the world that may hurt them because of that, they aren't. 

My brother has a Master's degree.  He is working on his PhD.  He has traveled the world.  He is a published author.  He has taught English in France.  But he is a Black man.  I would be lying if I said I didn't worry about him.  About him walking alone at night.  About him being mistaken for someone else.  About him being in the wrong place at the wrong time. About harm coming to him strictly because of the color of his skin. 

I was raised to respect authority.  But not blind obedience.  I was raised to follow the law.  But not to ignore injustice or question that which I did not understand or that was wrong.  I was raised to trust in people.  But not to trust someone just by virtue of what uniform they may wear.  Even respecting authority and blind obedience can't always save your life.  Not if someone is determined to take it.  I have many friends that wear a badge and carry a gun.  I respect them and know that they can and will protect me.  I cannot, and will not judge all of those who wear the uniform by the actions of a few.  Then what would I be?  I would be no better than those who would judge me just by the color of my skin.  

Don't sit idly by.  It is so very easy to post on social media inflammatory statements, articles, and comments.  To share and re-share, post and re-post the ugliness in the world.  Get out there and DO something.  It starts with One.  One person.  One idea.  One movement.  One change.  This is copied from a post to show ideas on how to be that One:

What you can do right now to combat this in your own community. 

1. Know Your Rights: If there is a law school in your area, they typically hold free community events on everything from gun laws, eviction and housing policy, as well as law enforcement. If not, contact the ACLU who can assist in providing you with this info for free.

2. Register to vote: Elections have consequences. Too many times those most affected sit out of midterm and local elections. Policing policy is not set at the presidential level but at the state and city level. 

3. Serve on a Jury when called upon: What folks fail to understand is that in most locals, the jury pool is picked from those who have registered to vote. When only certain folks vote...only those folks are represented not just in elections, but jury pools.

4. Support your Legal Defense funds: Some of the big names are the ACLU, NAACP and the Urban League. There are also local defense funds specific to your city which assist folks who need legal representation but cannot afford it. These groups also hold elected officials accountable 

5. Contact your local leaders: It's important that your leaders understand that you are there and that you're voting. 

6. Report Any Act of Harassment: I know quite a few folks who have had unfortunate encounters with police yet never reported it. It's important that every incident is reported. Also feel free to report to internal affairs of you feel the harassment is targeted. 

7. Attend Local Police/Community Events (i.e. Coffee with the Constable, HOA meeting when law enforcement are present, etc): It's yet another opportunity for you to be heard

8. Organize / Volunteer: work with others in your community to accomplish items 1-6. You can do this by supporting initiatives to register folks to vote in non-presidential elections, help with childcare for someone who needs to serve on a jury, hold rallies against draconian policing policies, work with school boards (or serve on one) to help end zero-tolerance policies. Bridge and build with other communities such as other people of color, religious minority groups, and the LGBT community.

Don't let what is going on in the world make you think that you can't make a difference.  Reach out and stand together, rather than apart.  Find common ground rather than differences.  Know that there is good in the world, not just evil.  Don't believe everything you read, or hear, or see.  Don't follow blindly.  Make sure you have the facts.  Be educated.  And above all else, be Kind.

Monday, June 6, 2016


A good friend of mine messaged me on Facebook with a link, and then immediately apologized because she didn't want me to feel offended.  I assured her, that on the contrary, I was far from it! She told me that she knew how hard I had worked to lose my weight and how long I'd been able to keep it off; and I looked at the link and decided to apply for the Hunstad Koretsis Emerging Hopes program.

It is no secret to anyone that I had bariatric surgery in 2007.  I was close to 300 pounds, had severely high cholesterol and obstructive sleep apnea.  I would get in my car at work in the Arboretum area of Charlotte and drive home, through South Carolina, and end up in my driveway with absolutely no memory of doing so.  I was that sleep deprived.  The surgery literally saved and changed my life.  I would do it again tomorrow, and I have zero regrets.

However, one of only biggest faults with the bariatric surgery process is the loose skin that is left behind.  No matter how hard you work, or what you do, sometimes that skin won't leave.  I am an independent distributor with It Works Global, and I absolutely love our products; especially our body wraps.  I've used them and will continue to do so as a tool to tighten, tone and firm my body.  I have wrapped my upper arms, my inner thighs, and my stomach and have gotten AMAZING results.  But there is one area on me that no matter what I do, or how hard I try, that makes me cringe every time I look in the mirror.  I feel like I've worked so hard for the past 9 1/2 years to keep the weight off, but I still feel "incomplete" somehow.  Like no matter how much weight I've lost, there are parts of me that still make me feel so sad.

I have probably 2-3 pounds of extra skin on both of my upper arms.  I was terrified to buy a strapless wedding dress because I couldn't bear looking at a beautiful bridal portrait with my huge arms sticking out.  I stand in pictures slightly to the side with my arms behind me as to not draw attention to them.  Every time I go to the doctor I get the look from the nurse and she says that "she has to go get the large cuff".  I can't wear scrub tops anymore because there isn't enough stretch and if I get them to fit my arms, they are way too big anywhere else.  I babysit, a LOT, and kids never ever mean to be cruel, but if I ever wear a short sleeved shirt or something sleeveless they invariably ask "Why are your arms so fat?".  It is an innocent question, but one that stings nonetheless.  One of my "minions" is a boy with special needs that loves the softness of my arms, and he strokes them every time I babysit and hug him.  I don't have the heart to show him that I cringe inside every time he touches me there in an attempt to comfort himself.

So, when the opportunity came to apply for this program, I jumped at the chance.  I asked myself, why not me?  I may not be picked, but I would always wonder "what if", had I not tried.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The first step is the hardest....

I've had a hell of a past year.  No lie.  I left a 10 year stint with Carolinas Healthcare to take a leap of faith with a doctor that I respect and admire to do something I never dreamed of.  I got re-married, something that I could have told you that I would NEVER do again.  My daughter graduated high school and started college.  My husband graduated college.  And my entire immediate family (minus my brother), has now moved to the area.

I also took the leap into Network Marketing.  I know, I know, you think Network Marketing and people immediately associate it with a Pyramid Scheme or Amway.  It's like a dirty word.  Pssssst, I'm in Network Marketing... It's like hey, I drive around a creeper van and try to abduct children.  I know it may not be quite THAT bad, but sometimes people make you feel that way!

I was approached for over a year to join a particular company.  A woman that I highly respect, admire, and genuinely like was persistent but not pushy in her pursuit.  (Like that alliteration?). I kept saying No.  Every time she would see me post on Facebook about how I had no money because I wasn't getting child support; she would message me.  I'd say No.  I'd post about not being able to afford Christmas presents for my kids.  She'd message me.  I'd say No.  Finally, someone COMPLETELY different than her, but in the same business, got me to say Yes.  (How's that for a kick in the pants?)

There are hundreds of Network Marketing companies out there.  People forget that Mary Kay, Tupperware and Avon are ALL Network Marketing entities.  The formula is the same.  You buy in for a set price.  You may or may not be required to purchase a kit to start up.  You may or may not be required to order a minimum monthly amount.  And the end goal is the same.  Find like minded people like you to either want to sell the same products you do, or buy them from you.  Seems pretty simple doesn't it?

When I joined It Works Global as an Independent Distributor I honestly thought; this is going to be a cake walk.  I have a background in healthcare, I have a personal health and wellness story that people can identify with, and people seem to like me.  I didn't, however, respect my business the way I should have, and I didn't work it the way that I could have.  I let my hang ups about being a failure and feeling like  don't want to be a burden on anyone cripple me.  I have never had a job that I didn't excel at.  I'm not used to being told "No". I don't want to be a "bother".  So I sat back and did the minimum amount of work that I had to, all the while watching my peers promote.  Feeling like a failure.  Feeling jealous and resentful and "Why not me".   I want it just as much if not MORE than they do.  They have husbands who work and they don't have to have a full time job just to keep the lights on and food on the table.  They have more time than I do.  They are better than I am.  They are getting more help than I am. I made up my mind to cut my losses and walk away.  I decided, I can't do this.  It's too hard.  But what I had forgotten was the reason I said yes in the first place.  It was because I believed in myself and the products.  I let my fears take over and put out the fire that I had inside me. I looked at my children and I knew that I wanted MORE.  I didn't want to ever have another Christmas where I needed financial help. I wanted to be able to put child support when I got it away for a rainy day, and not need it to put food on the table. I wanted to know that I could support my new husband as I saw him sink lower and lower and question his decision to go back to school because he can't find a job, even with a degree.

So I started out 2016 with one goal in mind.  To find people who need what I have, and want to change their lives too. People who want to work because they are tired of having to struggle. People who have goals and dreams and aspirations. People who believe.  Network Marketing is one of the only jobs in the world where every single person in the company has the ABILITY become a CEO. You can't do that anywhere else. Your education doesn't matter. Your social and economic status doesn't matter. What matters is you. Your heart. Your will.  Your desire. Your dreams.  You will get out of it what you put into it. And if you want it badly enough, there is nothing that you can't do.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The end is the beginning is the end....

Sometimes, you are so filled with words and emotions that you don't know how to express them fully. My daughter is leaving this week for college, and the feelings I have range from pride, to fear, to happiness, to sorrow.

Every parent expects their child to leave the nest someday.  From the first day of kindergarten, when they look back and wave and don't need you to walk them in anymore, to the day they have their first sleepover at a friends house, to the day they drive off alone; these are all things we try to prepare for.

What we can't prepare for, what we can't ever expect, is that the relationship between a parent and a child can fracture so badly that it seems irreparable.  When you have children, your instinct should be to protect them, to nurture them and to guide them.  However, sometimes that just isn't the case.

I have two amazing children.  I love them more than I ever thought it was possible to love another human being.  At the time they were conceived, I loved their father.  I thought we would grow old together.  Watch our children marry.  Be grandparents together.  But life choices and experiences on both of our parts made that impossible.  I don't grieve the loss of my marriage.  I quite honestly should have never married in the first place.  I was 20 years old, missing my Marine boyfriend, and we married for all of the wrong reasons.

What I do grieve is the relationship that my children should have had with their father but they don't.  I grieve for the little girl who thought her daddy hung the stars and the moon.  The little girl who used to ask to go with him everywhere.  Who used to ride on his shoulders and hang out with him at work.  I grieve for the loss of her innocence.  I grieve for the fact that a gift that she should have been able to give to the man she loves at the time of her choosing was taken from her.  I grieve for the walls she's built up to keep people out.   The mistrust of people.  The fact that she has an aversion to being touched unless she's the one initiating it.  I grieve for fact that she's become so jaded in so many ways; forced to grow up well before her time.

I grieve for my son; who idolized his father.  Who would sit and wait for hours for him to come and pick him up; and he would never show.  Who used to refuse to let me take him get his hair cut; because that was the only time he got one on one time with his father. Who had to come to me and ask me questions about the lifestyle choices his father made; and watch him process the fact that his father was unfaithful and will continue to be probably for the rest of his life.

In the beginning, all I wanted to do is rage against my situation.  Beat my fists and cry.  I was so angry I wanted nothing but revenge.  Now, I feel more pity than anything else.  I pity the fact that I have these two amazing children that I have been blessed enough to raise.  I pity the fact that their father missed every parent teacher conference, every performance, every field trip and every birthday for the last 4 years.  I pity the fact that he didn't get to see my beautiful daughter walk across the stage and graduate high school with honors; and that he won't be one of the dads that is dropping off his baby girl to college.

These are all memories that I have that are worth more than money.  They are worth more than anything.  Nobody can ever take those away from me.  And no matter what, I will always know that my children will associate me with home.  No matter how far away they move.  No matter who they marry.  I will always be home.  And for that; I am grateful.  Because the struggles that we faced and the challenges we have overcome have made us stronger than I would have ever imagined.