Something seemed off, but I couldn’t put my finger on what. And then, just like that, it happened. The ultimate blindside. It wasn’t a choice; I had no input. The decision was made for me. He decided to leave, and I was suddenly alone.
With 15 years invested, two young children, and another on the way, my heart was broken and my mind exploded with unanswered questions that I would eventually understand but never fully comprehend. But this story is not about that. This story is one of strength and love, vulnerability and acceptance. It’s about a time when I let my guard down, embraced the support of family and friends and allowed people to take care of me. Crippled with sorrow, I needed to be lifted up. I needed to be carried. And I was. I was carried for a long time.
As if it was yesterday; as if it was a lifetime ago…
I called one of my dearest friends, and though I don’t remember asking her to drive to my house, she was suddenly there. She always has been.
As I collapsed in her arms, the weight of my world both brought me to my knees and lifted from my shoulders. I did not know it then, but it was simultaneously a grieving moment and a rebirth. I sobbed. She let me. We didn’t speak. We didn’t need to. At that moment, I was at my weakest. And she let it be OK.
Emptied and exhausted, I fell into a deep sleep. The morning brought hugs and kisses from my babies who seemed unaware that their mother looked like she had been crying for a month straight – which is what the previous night felt like. Longer, actually.
Once in the car, the tears began to pour. I couldn’t control them. I could hardly breathe. I tried–I tried so hard–to shield my precious children from seeing the sadness that consumed me. They knew.
Running into grandma’s house, they raced to announce “Mommy is crying” before retreating to the living room to be mesmerized by a big purple dinosaur on the television.
We sat on my childhood bed, in my childhood room. She just let me be, knowing I’d share when I could catch my breath to speak.
Tears shed. Story told. More tears. Story told again. And, again. This went on for days until I didn’t need to tell my story anymore.
I do not like being the center of attention or asking people for help. I am independent. At least, I had been. Or at least I thought I was.
Now, though, I was in the sympathy spotlight. And people rallied around me – lending an ear, their time, child care, financial support and countless other things I never knew I would need from anyone else. Even when I proudly declined their generous offers, they continued to help. I was as independent as I could be, but a tribe of supporters were the ones in true control. And I had to let them be. It was one of the hardest things I had ever done. Though I was allowed to be sad, I had to do my best to keep it together for my precious girl and boy as well as for the child growing inside of me.
The months that followed are a blur. Truth be told, I do not remember more than bits and pieces. Those months didn’t break me, though they could have. Living with my parents, holding down a full-time job, and making sure my children were happy and adjusting to this new life–all while navigating a difficult pregnancy–was a tough journey. The toughest journey I hope ever to know.
I was living a Lifetime Movie of the Week script. If not for the support of an amazing family, the best of friends, a close set of coworkers, and the kindness of countless others… well, I just don’t know.
Fast forward to March 13, 2008. I lay in the maternity ward ready to deliver my third miracle–a boy I would call Ryan Michael. Much like that fateful night, I felt alone. Yet this time, I was embraced with unconditional love. My mother, godmother, and that same dear friend from that life-changing night six months before were by my side. We smiled and joked the best we could, each of us knowing that this was not how it was supposed to be.
But ideal or not, this day was about the miracle of a child who was meant to be: a child who reminds me every single day that God doesn’t make mistakes. Ryan Michael was my new beginning.
The early years of being a single mother to three young children were not easy. My little ones and I powered through, but not without our share of ups, downs and everything in-between. There were daily struggles. There were questions. There were things I could not explain.
Breathe. Just breathe.
Eventually, fate found its way back around and landed right in front of me. Seven years later, I am a stronger woman because of the vulnerability I finally allowed myself to feel. I let people in and was eventually able to trust in the beauty of love again. My new beginning commenced with the birth of my third child, and the start of my happy ending began with the laughter and love of an old friend with whom I would choose to share my life. We are blessed with five beautiful children – including our youngest, Ryan Michael.
Some say “everything happens for a reason.” Do I think that applies in all situations? Not a chance. But in my case, I believe it to be true. I was exactly where I was for as long as I was in order to become a mother and learn life’s most difficult lessons from my children, and for them; to learn we are only as strong as those who we let lift us.
Mother to three, stepmom to two, wife to [THE] one, autism parent and MS patient, Leigh-Mary “LM” Hoffmann is a “my lifestyle” blogger from Long Island, NY, juggling a family, a job, and a busy, crazy life. She tells it like it is – the good, the bad and the in-between – and tries to keep a smile on her face and laughter in her life. She and her husband have a blended family of five children and a dog named Rosie – so life keeps them on-the-go and mostly smiling. Visit her blog at www.HappilyEverLaughterBlog.com, stop by on Facebook at www.facebook.com/happilyeverlaughterblog and follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/hapeverlaugh to share in the laughter.