• Blog,  Co-Parening,  Family,  Frenemies,  Friendship,  Honesty & Friendship,  Life,  Lifestyle & Marriage,  Self-Awareness,  Self-Reflection

    A Closer Look Inside

    I feel like, I'm always doing this reintroduction - because, the times in between my writing have been so sporadic. Nonetheless, I'm back. I've stepped away from writing for a while, because well - new mom life and then, mostly because I'm honestly tired of my words, my art being weaponized against me. I can't tell you how many times, someone has used my own words to try and harm me. It's disgusting and I'm over it.

    Being vulnerable has N E V E R come easy to me and I mean N E V E R. Almost every time, I've chosen to open up and be vulnerable with someone - the wrong someone. They've used it against me, if it's former friends gaslighting me, my ex husband making jokes about mental health - acting as if I'm crazy. Fake friends twisting things I've said and lying for the approval of others and so on and so on.

    As far back as I can remember at least. To be fair, we'll say January 2001. I think that was a pretty big focal point for when things started to change for me. My foundation was shaken, when I lost my grandfather and to be completely honest, I don't think I ever bounced back. (I know, I know 19 years - let's not put a time limit on grieving).

    For most of my life, well most of my dating life and especially after being divorced at such a young age. I vowed to never march to the beat of a man’s drum again, anyone's drum but my own. I vowed to not get caught up in a man’s world, anyone's world - so much that I forgot about my own. I stayed up late nights, making these promises with my best friend. And yet, the enabling part of me resurfaced and I found myself right back to my usual pattern of being “Jessica, the enabler, the fixer." Many of you know (and probably more of you don't if you're not following and because, it's not something I discuss often) my husband has a child, from a previous marriage. - See,  Married With Children That Aren't Yours As, I watched my husband pleading for a relationship with his son. I would watch him go from this happy go-lucky guy, to furious, to broken to defeated in a matter of minutes during a conversation with his son's mother. It would break my heart. I wanted to help. I wanted to fix this for not only him, but for his son - who deserved to have two parent's who could effectively communicate. So, after being harassed on Instagram/Facebook - the Empath in me, the enabler, the fixer against the advice of those who were more aware of the person they were dealing with -  I decided hey, let me be the bigger person and extend an olive branch. Boy, was I wrong. I should've NEVER opened that door, it is one of my biggest regrets in life (and I was married at 19 and joined the Navy). You ever wish you never met someone or that you had a time machine, to go back and continue to act as if someone didn't exist? Because, I have mastered the art of ignoring. Some people, just aren't worth your energy. They don't have peace and so, they don't want anyone else to either.

    It wasn’t until after much self reflection and a multitude of pro/con lists, I realized I was enabling the broken child in myself through all these other people, I wanted to fix. I was subconsciously trying to fix them in hopes of fixing myself. All the times, I'd wished someone were there to help me out, to be a shoulder for me to cry on, to be the voice to speak up for me. - It was me, it was always me. Granted, I do want to help others, sometime's to a fault but, I felt so strongly about it because, it was about me.

    How many of you have realized you are subconsciously trying to heal yourself in helping others?

  • Home Birth,  Lifestyle,  Lifestyle & Marriage,  Pregnancy

    Birth On A Full Moon.



    B I R T H S T O R Y.


    It's been a while, I've been taking some time to manage my life, yield positive vibes and keep up on my mental health. It's been amazing; during my break, I joined the motherhood club and it has been the most empowering and enlightening thing I've ever done. My birth photos have been circling social media, (see Kate Carlton Photography on Facebook) so I wanted to share my amazing birth story.

    Our daughter made it earth side, in water and en-caul; some say, she was born in with a veil. This is a very special and rare type of birth. Many cultures believe that this is good luck and a blessing to baby. I'd seen a photo from a water birth a few weeks before at a birthing class and hoped I would be lucky enough to experience and en-caul birth and when I tell you God answers prayers, he gave me just that. I asked the heavens for a full moon birth and got that as well. I am so beyond grateful.

    If you’ve known me for a while, you know I’ve always dreamed of having a natural water birth in my home. Even as a child, I'd always been amazed by the beauty of birth. I was always amazed at how a woman's body could change so drastically during pregnancy - creating, nourishing and nurturing life. I'd always taken this seriously, probably a little more seriously than my peers as my husband would say. I've always known the importance of choosing a loving, caring and supportive partner; among other things. I remember telling my girlfriends in middle school, how whenever I had a baby, I wanted my baby in water and they would come out swimming, we all laughed. I mean, those aren't the exact logistics of water birth, but you get the point. On Aug 15, the night of a full moon; that dream came true for me. I was able to let go of myself and give in to the instinctual drift of my body and roar my sweet daughter earth side with my carefully picked birth team. My super supportive and amazing husband, the sweetest doula ever and my midwife with her team.

    Birth is such an amazing an empowering experience, if we don't interfere. I know this isn't the case for everyone, but for those who are able to just let their bodies do what they will without intervention as a lot of Western medicine has made us believe we need; I am grateful to have been able to experience an all natural, non-medicated, non-invasive birth. I am literally still in awe of my body and myself.  I cannot express enough how amazing our bodies are. We are so blessed & happy right now. This is our greatest adventure yet. So grateful my birth photographer was able to capture the beauty of this moment. I am forever blessed.

    Did you have a birth story similar to mine? Share yours with me. Was it completely different? Do you have questions about home birth?

  • Co-Parenting,  Family,  Lifestyle,  Lifestyle & Marriage

    Married With Children, That Aren’t Yours…

    I'm married to a man with a child.

    People I meet are always shocked when they hear that from me. I always get stares and then, "Oh girl, how is that?" "Whaaaaat? You? Girl, I know that's the last thing you wanted." And my favorite one - "Do you have baby mama drama?" So, then I get all Kandi Buruss irritated face like sis.

    Let me tell you, if you're thinking of dating/marrying someone with kids think long and hard about it. They should either be a widower or have adult children and no longer have to deal with the other parent; because this shit is not for the weak at heart. Listen to me sis.

    Don't get me wrong my husband is amazing & we have the most solid, healthy, beautiful, loving, honest relationship I have ever had in my life. I would marry him 10x over, but this stepmom thing is for the birds; So, I'll break this down for you really quick.

    • His ex and I used to be able to be cordial. We didn't start off that way though; she found out he was dating someone and immediately starting bashing me. She and her friends scurried to my instagram page & commenced Operation Name Calling - I'll list a few of my favorites: (So, you just gonna let the world know you're a home wrecker? His mistress,  someone who's mom didn't raise them right) you know the typical things exes & their friends say. I tell you, a lie doesn't care who tells it. Mind you, their divorced had been finalized. I'm a divorcee, so I get it. I figured, you know what ... that's probably my karma from when I was nasty to my ex's new girlfriend. Nonetheless, I was a bit irritated. I was watching it all go down at work like ... I let it slide & continued basking in my relationship. A few months had passed, his child fell in love with me. I thought to myself, if I were a mother, I would really want to know who was around my child so, I reached out. (You can read about that here: StepMom Feels Despite the bad blood, I'm all let's bury the hatchet. I wanted to make sure she was comfortable with her child being with his father & understanding that I would be around. I wanted an open line of communication to make sure everyone was on the same page. Things were going well for let's say, 3 months. 90 days. A whole probationary period. A trial period. Like, you're not even eligible to take PTO or get insurance yet period. 90 days and then all hell broke loose.

    When I tell you, I've heard stories from my guy friends about their exes and the "baby mama drama" they were dealing with, but I never fathomed anything quite like what I was about to experience. We went from adults trying to maneuver co-parenting a toddler; communicating through bruised egos and harbored emotions to strangers battling one another in court.  I watched my husband break into pieces as his son was ripped away from him again and again and again. I watched my stepson break as his father disappeared from his life. I watched my mother, father and brother in laws break as they watched their son & their brother hurt. I watched my parents become increasingly anxious as they watched me juggle everything that transpired. I began to ask myself, why the hell am I here? Why the hell would I purposely put myself in this situation? Why am I with someone who purposely put themselves in a situation, with someone who was so intentionally evil. Am I crazy? Is he crazy? I battled myself. Then, I realized her actions did not have anything to do with him nor myself. Did I say, this stepmom shit is not for the weak at heart.

    I found myself caught in a battle that had nothing to do with me. Granted, I added some gas to the flames. I just didn't expect for the flames to set the entire city on fire. I was collateral damage. I was being blown away by the crash because I was too close. I had become accused of kidnapping, holding a child hostage, barricading myself in my home with a child. I had, had my home rushed like an episode of Chicago P.D. I mean, I love Voight, but I wasn't trying to live that shit. This happened when no one was even home. I had been in a high speed chase almost run off the road. I'd been in the middle of an altercation in an airport atrium. I'd been on high alert at every interaction as if I were still active military - in a war zone. Like, did I get married to a man with a child or did I join the Army & go to Afghanistan? Can you imagine my psyche? Sis, these kind of things are not normal. These kind of interactions on a daily are not healthy. These types of reactions are common in violent and abusive environments. This is how people who don't know how to communicate effectively react to situations. By lashing out and using violence as a speaking tool. This is not acceptable.

    If you are thinking about being in a relationship with someone who has a child, please evaluate the situation. Evaluate the entire situation. That goes for if you're looking at being in a relationship with anyone. Evaluate their family, their upbringing, how they react to situations, if they overreact, if they don't react at all. If you find yourself relating to the person, do some self-reflection. These types of behaviors have become common and acceptable in "baby daddy-baby mama" dynamics. Why is that? If the roles were switched, the man would be looked at as a violent monster, who was abusive, aggressive, a danger. He would be intertwined in the same shackles and chains that intertwine the minds of the people who make the final decisions in this being acceptable behavior.

    I'm married to a man with a child. An amazing, humble, hardworking, delicate, diligent man. A man who loves with every fiber of his being. I would marry him 10x over. But, when I tell you sis - think again, if you're thinking this task is easy - because, this stepmom shit, is not for the weak at heart.

  • Blog,  Family,  Friendship,  Lifestyle,  Lifestyle & Marriage,  Self-Awareness,  Self-Reflection

    Poison. (n)

    Poison (n) - something harmful or pernicious, as to happiness or well-being.

    We too often surround ourselves with poison. We allow toxic and poisonous people to inhabit our space. We fill our minds with poisonous thoughts, we indulge in poisonous behavior and we look at it as normal. We often try to decipher why our spirits aren't filled with the positive energy we are looking for and why depression and anxiety seem to consume us; but we never look at the toxicity we allow into our lives.

    Toxic and volatile relationships, toxic jobs, toxic atmosphere's, it's almost impossible to breathe any sense of relief when we are engulfed in these ever so suffocating habits. So, you ask how do you move forward? How do you let go of that toxic relationship that you're so used to because you're afraid of branching out, or maybe you're comfortable, or maybe you enjoy toxicity. How do you quit that job that doesn't pay you what you deserve and also makes you wish you could just catch the flu for a week so you didn't have to go in. How do you tell your friends their problems are draining you and if their boyfriend keeps cheating on them to just leave? You just do. You have to find time for yourself, time to breathe, time to acknowledge this toxicity. Sometimes, we are so used to toxicity consuming us, we don't even realize why we're suffocating.

    It's is 16 days into New Year. Normally, when the new year rolls in - I take a look at all the things, I don't want to bring in with me before the end of the year and I make a decision. This year, was different. I had already let go of so many toxic behaviors, friendships and loved ones that the only thing left to look at was myself. I'd dropped everything that was causing me to feel smothered that the only thing left was myself. I'd let go of jealous friends. I'd let go of behaviors that would bring poison into my heart. I'd let go of loved ones who were draining me but never replenishing. I can't tell you how freeing that is. For the first time in a long time, I started to just deal with and worry about myself. Although, I still dabble a bit in situations - I've learned the art of disengaging and that's freeing. Letting go of all the poison in your life and allowing yourself to heal, is one of the greatest things I could have done for me. What are you holding onto? What toxicity in your life is weighing you down?

  • Family,  Lifestyle & Marriage

    A Tribute To: My Forever Valentine. 

    A tribute to my best friend, my life partner and my forever valentine. I couldn't think of better man for God to have paired me with. Thank you for being the best teammate and uplifting me when I'm down, for always giving me encouraging words when I need it. Thank you for always having my best interest at heart and being the extraordinary man you are. I am so honored to be marrying you, I will forever say YES. Being with you has made me proud, I'm a better person because of it. I know I say this a lot but I love you, you ask me why I reminisce so much and it's because I like to go back and compare the way you looked at me then, to how you look at me now. I like to examine how your eyes are still the same. I like to sit back and hear the songs you introduced me to and realize how 409 days have passed and how that song still makes me feel the same way it did when I heard it the first time. I love knowing that I have an amazing teammate who even if my team is losing is pushing for the win.

     

    I love falling asleep to your heartbeat and waking up hear that same heart beating again. I love learning you as a person and knowing you're my true life partner. I love that I'm your dream come true and how God planned for us to be together before we even knew. I love that I can be my authentic self with you. That no matter how ugly things get you will push for us to get through. I love that you'll always see me as that girl in the red dress, in a bar full of people and how you pointed me out, how I just felt you in my presence and I was so excited I couldn't even shout. How I can be having the worst day, with my face breaking out, my hair in between textures and a full on unibrow & you still see me as beautiful. I am proud to be yours; being with you has made me proud. I'm a better person because of it. I know I say this a lot, but I LOVE YOU.  

  • Co-Parenting,  Lifestyle & Marriage

    Stepmom Feels.

              I didn't think I would ever fall in love with anyone else's child. I never wanted to be apart of an already made family. I have always been selfish with my time, my sleep, my food, especially my food but then comes this little innocent child who wanted nothing but to be under me. (If you've read the other blog posts, you'll know my fiance has a child from his previous marriage). It took me a while to even accept this as I've never wanted anything to do with men from the fatherhood tribe, but there I was completely taken by a child who had nothing to do with the circumstances he was born into and wanting to spend more time with him. I was introduced to my fiancé's son last year unexpectedly. Actually, his entire family was thrust on me in mere minutes and I had no chance of running away. A friend of mine & I were supposed to meet him & a friend of his at the mall before they left to go back to Virginia; little did we know, we would be meeting his son, two brothers, mom and dad. I tried to run away immediately. I had been bamboozled. I acted like I didn't even know who he was. I continued to walk with my friend and pretend I didn't know him. Little did I know, I would be more involved than I thought. A few months passed and we got his son a couple of times, within about two to three-month intervals (he's military so, he's had little time off, in my previous posts I've discussed this) I was a little anxious this go around, because this was the time I was supposed to meet his son's mother. The first time we conversed which was over Instagram wasn't the greatest. So, I had reached out to her in hopes of smoothing things over for the good of their child and was hopeful things would go smoothly this time. Fast forward to the meet, we ended up meeting in not the best circumstances (she had to take their son to the ER, he is fine) but it went over very well. Later that night, my fiancé, his child's mother, her boyfriend and I all met for dinner to go over how things would work moving forward. I don't think any of us actually came to a concrete decision on what exactly to do, but things seem less chaotic than before. We had his son for about four days, it took me a little less than a month to fall in love with his father after reconnecting with him; so, I should've known his son would have been as lovable, but I wasn't  aware it was possible to fall in love with someone else in such a short amount of time. His little boy stole my heart. I joked with friends that I had become a mother overnight. I found toys in my purse, I was waking up early and going to sleep late; making breakfast for a child who was a finicky eater, looking up how to make healthy meals more fun for toddlers and trying to find family friendly things to do (mind you we have two large dogs as well). I was at Walmart in the middle of the night trying to find the most homeopathic cough syrup for a toddler under 3 (Zarbee's is awesome by the way). I found myself sending my fiancé to the store to find things to help with his congestion just so he could sleep through the night without such a stuffy nose. My heart was broken at how congested he was and he got better within a couple days, I was overjoyed. I couldn't help but think how did I, someone who last year was out until 5am with her girlfriends bar hopping, trying to plan road trips across the US, the friend who found any occasion to celebrate with Tequila was now apart of an already made family. I had a ninja turtle in my purse, guys and I was okay with that. I was more cautious of the things I said, how I pronounced words that were important. I watched as he imitated me, how I stood, the things I said, the facial expressions I made and it made me a more conscious person. How could someone so small, in such a short amount of time change such a big portion of my life? He gravitated to our dogs immediately, I would find him sitting next to them having a conversation and my heart smiled. I realized, I may have been missed out on such a blessing in my life trying to avoid the men of the fatherhood tribe. I am so grateful that my relationship with my soon to be husband blossomed into what we are and that his mother continues to work with us to keep their relationship healthy. This two year old has taught me in such a short amount of time to be more conscious of myself, time-management and opening your heart to love more and he had no idea. I am forever grateful and I look forward to a long-lasting relationship.      

  • Co-Parenting,  Family,  Lifestyle & Marriage

    The Not So Ugly Step Mother…

    Stepmom. That was a movie I used to watch as a child and when I say watch, I mean religiously. I loved Susan Sarandon & Julia Roberts; even as a child I empathized with Julia being the new woman & taking on the responsibility of getting someone else's child to even like you. Even more awesome, was that she was this cool, young woman, that was a photographer in New York City, I rooted for Isabel. I never thought I would even have this title; to be honest, I didn't even realize I would be a step-mother until a few days ago. I mean, I knew I was marrying a man who had a child but I didn't acknowledge being a stepmom. Our situation has been dicey to say the least. I like to say, we have a complicated order but I have faith that things will work out for the better. His son is only two years old & we barely get to see him. My fiancé is military and we are stationed somewhere other than where his child's mother lives. Which is a blessing and a curse, I suppose. We are about 7 hours away from his little guy, but even if we were closer I don't think the situation would be much different. Remember when I said, we had a complicated order? It is definitely that. His child's mother has been a tall order of "I'm not here for any new woman you are trying to bring into MY son's life", Which has been, a little frustrating, not so much for me but for me to watch my fiancé lose out on being involved with his son. It has also been a tad difficult because, as you all know by now I don't normally date men with kids and here I am marrying one. We saw his son a few months ago (right after we got Aspen, our lab & he was immediately in love with him) and I realized he liked animals and he was really silly. I was excited because my love of animals is insane & I was happy, I could share that with him. I also, found myself thinking back about Isabel buying a puppy to get the kids to like her in the movie. I found myself enjoying and becoming more fond of him than I expected. Granted he is only two years old but I promise you, he understood the bond between child and dog. It was at that point, I knew I wouldn't mind playing a role in his life. I recently reached out to his mom in hopes to change the negative connotation that sometimes comes with stepmom. I wanted very much for the transition of "just your dad's girlfriend"  to"your dad's new wife" to be a little easier than the first initial idea of her child's father moving on with his life, with someone else. Like I said before, I had faith that things would work themselves out; she was extremely receptive of my reaching out and I'm hoping this will be a step forward in all of us working towards the best of the child. I'm a huge advocate for children rights and doing what's best for the voices that can't be heard. I never wanted to be a stepmom, nor marry a man with a child; but I can't help but think my destiny was to be where I am, being a part of this child's life (and not just for the dogs). I know this journey will not be an easy one but I am possibly naively optimistic that things will get better from here. We shall see.   Signed,  - The Not So Ugly Step Mother  

  • Lifestyle & Marriage

    Why I Said Yes.

    I never thought I would get married again, not after my first marriage ended so horribly. Actually, to be completely honest, it didn't end horribly; it started, I found out who he really was and I filed for divorce, end of story. Now, the process of getting rid of him was horrible. I was twenty years young with no idea what being divorced consisted of,  no wonder women twice my age don't want to go through it. Why would it be so hard to get rid of someone but nowhere near as hard to get connected to them. I just wanted to be done. I was willing to do anything for him to just sign the divorce papers and be out of my life. I did not want to go through that again, I was so open to having a live in forever boyfriend & start a family whoever that was, that was until I met my future husband.

    If you've read the previous post, you know I am not one to normally date men with kids but this man is the blueprint to a real man. He is everything and his child isn't that bad either. Not that I don't like kids, I just have never wanted to involuntary take care of someone else's. I couldn't have imagined saying anything other than yes. I knew from the beginning that this man was meant for me. I had met my soul mate, my life partner, my best friend. He has an honest and forgiving heart. He protects my heart in everyway thinkable & he loves me exactly the way I need to be loved; not just the way he thinks love should be. He is attentive and I am my true authentic self with this man. How could I not have said, yes? I was tired of living my life in a what if status. What if it doesn't work out and I have to go through another divorce? What if I continue to be my tumbleweed self & just want to leave? What if I get fat and he doesn't think I'm pretty anymore? If there were any other possible outcomes, I thought, analyzed and had an answer for them all; but he deserved a chance. I deserved a chance. I deserved to be happy. I deserved to have everything I wanted. I deserved to be with someone who would not only take care of me physically, but emotionally.

    Not to ignore the fact that he conspired with my best friend on what type of ring to get me and picked out the perfect one. I would have said yes, to a ring pop, cracker jack box ring. I would have said yes anytime he asked. The answer will always be yes.

  • Co-Parenting,  Family,  Lifestyle & Marriage

    Men With Children…

    Men with children. Generally, this is something I avoid all together. I have never been a fan of dating a man who has already been so intimate with another woman as to have had a child with her. I believe in the sanctity of family, probably more so than anyone can imagine. I've avoided men with children for so long that I could almost sniff out a father among the crowd. They have a certain look about them, different values, different financial statuses, different lifestyles, etc. God himself could have told me I would've met and fell in love with a man who had a child and I would have laughed in his face. Not me, I am way too selfish to split my time between you and your child. I want my own family, not some blended family that involves you, some other woman's child and me. I didn't grow up seeing that. My grandparent's were married to each other until death, my grandfather never had any outside children, there was no step-parenting in our households and then I was awakened. This is no longer the case, this is not my life. I have joined the club of dating the men who are fathers. I can't tell you how enlightening this experience has been. My situation is a little different than every other weekend and holidays, because he is military, but it is an experience nonetheless. I have never thought I would even enjoy someone else's child (besides family, friends, etc) but I have grown to be more patient and understanding. I know this is more common for some people but I have always had a standard of never dating a man with a child and now I couldn't imagine seeing myself with a different person. Life is crazy like that, it just comes at you fast. I could not have asked for God to pair me with a more understanding, thoughtful, attentive, caring human being. I am truly grateful. If you are dating a father, please share your experiences with me.