Step on the Flowers

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Image courtesy of thaowurr.deviantart.com

One of the greatest difficulties of being a teen mom are some of the missed opportunities because you are trying to grow up and raise a child at the same time, it’s often difficult to stop and smell the flowers. But there are moments that you know matter, not only to you but to your child.

I had my first child at 18, my second child at 21 and my third child at 35. When my older children were younger, they loved picking the dandelions. They would bring them into the kitchen and I would stick them in a glass until they wilted, which was usually very quick. I always made a big deal about their humble gift to me, it mattered to them so it mattered to me.

A few days ago, my third child aka the bonus child noticed the dandelions as we were walking to the car.

He stopped mid-step and asked, “can I step on the flowers?”

“Yes, you can step on the flowers,” I replied.

He gingerly stepped on the dandelions, watching them crush under his captain america light up shoes. He giggled.

The next day, as we passed the same patch of dandelions, he stopped and stared.

Bending down to study the weeds he asked, “can I pick them for you?”

The memories of the bouquet of weeds I received 17 and 14 years ago flashed in my mind. My heart remembered of all those moments that mattered to my older children and how important it is to pay attention even to the weeds.

I pause more and try to see the world through the eyes of my bonus child. I know one day, he will bring in his bouquet of weeds and I will receive them as if they were prize roses, just as I did when his sister and brother brought them. The gesture of a child is so pure, if only we stop to step on the flowers.

A Thing for Dates!

Since I was a kid, I’ve had an amazing memory for dates. Birthdays, anniversaries of all types, it’s pretty obvious from my blogs. As I sit at home working on some freelance editing, ironing in between but mostly thinking about the fact that today is eve of another important date. Tomorrow we will celebrate 21 years of marriage. 21 years of laughter, fear, joy, pain, tears, celebrations and disappointments.

I was 18 yrs old when I got married and became a mother. Life was rough, we had no education or much family support. We struggled in every way possible. Everything was against us, even ourselves. We both came from very broken homes. Neither of us knew what unconditional love was or how to do it. It took many years of fighting, crying, growing and learning but we did it. We learned to love and respect one another. Do we struggle? Yes! But when I think about my life and what it is like to love unconditionally I am so grateful that we were stubborn enough to make it to 21 years.

 

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Years 6 and 7…Seven year itch?

1999….

So much of 1999 was about mourning the loss of my grandmother and building up to 2000. In 1999, my aunt, a strong Pentecostal woman, offered to do a bible study with some family members, she drove from Milwaukee to Chicago each week to lead the bible study. I decided that this was a good opportunity to hang out with some of my favorite people. I showed up with my catholic bible and my catholic education, after all I went to a catholic grammar school and a catholic high school. I thought, I know the bible, what is she going to teach me? It turned out, I did not know much about the bible or about being catholic. I learned so much from her and about the other women in the bible study.

At the end of 1999, my Pentecostal aunt suggested that we visit a non-catholic church for Christmas. For me as a Mexican-american, being catholic was a part of my DNA and attending a non-catholic church was was a major no-no. But I had learned to trust her, so we went to a church that a friend of mine was the drummer. I enjoyed the service and wanted to return.

2000….

Shaggy and I began attending the new church regularly. It was a charismatic church with a latino flare and made up of mostly people in their 20s and 30s and we loved it! It was at that church that we committed our lives to Christ, we recommitted ourselves to our marriage and committed ourselves to ministry. It was completely life changing. We were on fire for Jesus and nothing stopped us! We were baptized that summer.

I soon began volunteering at the church and was later hired. I had no office experience but I had a willing spirit and a knack for organizing things and people.

We learned so much about ourselves and about each other. We saw examples of great marriages and began laying the biblical foundation for our own marriage.

stephanie baptism 2000                                             

           shaggy baptism 2000

Countdown to 20 years of marriage…day 5 reflecting on year 5

Maria Cruz

1998…

When I think about 1998, all I can think about is my grandmother, Maria Cruz. Maria Cruz was the matriarch of our family: she was the one who called the shots, bossed us all around, made the best tamales, was a tremendous cook, a talented seamstress and taught me so much. Maria Cruz was a mother of 12, grandmother and great-grandmother to many. She was unreasonable most of the time, she cussed and smoked too much but when you walked in the room her face would light up and she would look at you with her big brown eyes, telling a story without speaking a word. She’d give a great big smile and say “heeeeyyy!” I’d greet her with a kiss and a hug, feeling like I was the most important person in the room. I would sit and ask her how she was and she’d catch me up on all the family gossip.

In 1998, she summoned me to her house and requested that I organize the family for her 70th birthday and a family reunion. I did it, we all did it. Shaggy dj’ed and there was more food than people could eat. we had fun, we laughed and played games. Grandma was glowing; watching all of her family gather, seeing generations gather and celebrate her life. When I think about that day, I think about the legacy she left behind. I think about the family she built and the nuggets she deposited in our lives.

Two months to the day of our family reunion, she died. And with her part of all of us died. We tried to keep the family traditions alive, but we couldn’t. She was the glue.

Since then, I’ve tried to create traditions for our children, something that they could carry on. Its only in the last two years, I have established some traditions for our family unit. At times, I find myself unreasonable and bossy, I can’t help but think about her and long to talk to her again. 

Countdown to 20 years of marriage…day 4 reflecting on year 4

1997…

We were renting from my parents. It was a simple 2 bedroom basement apartment on the street I grew up on. The rent was cheap and the neighborhood was improving, it was a good deal. However, when you are in a dysfunctional family, even after you start your own family, you tend to keep your role, it was even harder to separate myself when we were living in the same building. My mother continued to make decisions I could not agree with and I could not keep my mouth shut, and it was affecting my new family. It was time to go!

We found an apartment that was about 4 miles away but the rent was double! I had my doubts, I was a stay at home mom with a 4 yr old and an 11 month old but Shaggy said we could do it. and we did! It was one of those life changing moments that forever changed my relationship with my family. The apartment was bigger and the neighborhood was nice. Shaggy claims that it was one of the best decisions we ever made for our family, I agree with him. 

 

Count down to 20 years of marriage… day 3 reflecting on year 3

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1996…

I was 21 years old expecting my second child. Before we got pregnant we discussed the importance of being committed to the marriage and to our growing family. We needed stability in our lives. God has a way of bringing people in our lives to offer that support we were lacking in other areas. We befriended an older woman who did not have children but took us in like we were her own. She taught me how to shop for groceries, to prepare meals and many other basic skills that I had never learned. She would take me to the grocery store, I did not drive at the time, show me how to select items and helped me determine what was a good value for my money.  These skills seem so simple but this is something I never learned growing up. I had finally grown up and became a wife. I thank God for Lydia and her grace with me.