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Begin Rebecca’s story here.

I can truly tell you that I am fucked up by Rebecca’s journey. I never want her to read that sentence and feel she did something wrong though. I wouldn’t trade it for anything but my life is not normal. I gave up a lot of dreams to stick with her. A child that was merely place in my arms one day, has altered the entire course of our lives. I don’t get the opportunity to share the simple “Mommy” conversations. My arms ache when other parents want a vacation from their kids, I want a vacation with mine. I get it is two different worlds but I ache for the chance to have parenting “normal.”

That may sound horrible. I never want Rebecca to think she was anything less but I can’t wait to have another little girl. Not for a chance at a redo but a chance to not have to share it all. A chance to not have anything taken away from me. A chance to not lay in bed missing the weight in my arms and a chance for the fear to subside. A chance to not have to get a hug from someone else’s child because I miss mine extra that day. It is something that I think both the Ex and I have learned to bury, we deal with it in our own private time. We can still share a simple look or text and just know. No one cares anymore about the steps we go through, our friends think it is annoying by this point when they are trying to plan things. In their world they get a babysitter, in our world we would rather figure out who gets Saturday night Disney shows with her.

I feel my next child will suffer as part of all of this. As in I don’t want her/him out of my sight. The chance to make decisions, just my Husband and I. The chance to start from the beginning and not have the stress. When people mention the stress of a newborn and everything that comes with it, I want to laugh. Yes, it is true, but it could be so much worse. I want to shake them and ask if they know how lucky they are?! I want the chance to not be questioned as a parent.

I’m ready for the normalcy that everyone else has experienced around having a baby.

Yes, the Ex became an Ex after a few years of marriage gave way to the knowledge that we weren’t meant to be together.  On a simple December day, after very civil proceedings, the Ex and I walked together into a court room to dissolve our marriage. We both re-married to very understanding people who jumped on board with raising Rebecca and respect our crazy version of family.

Over the years the Ex and I came up with our own terms of parenting.  No, we aren’t the normal family but what  is normal by this day? We are two blond-haired, blue-eyed people with a hispanic kid.  Most people assume I got knocked up in High School by some illegal and the Ex was so grand as to accept my oopsy.  You think I’m joking?  Check yourself the next time you glance at parents and question the child they have with them.  Oh, but then people would want an explanation like I owe them something.  The easiest answer has been to say she was adopted and they nod like they half believe me because what college kids adopted a baby?  Then we say we share custody and it is a long story.  Somehow this is more believable for most.

The biggest problem is, everyone has an opinion and after 13 years of this, we don’t feel anyone has a right to an opinion on this.  They haven’t walked in our footsteps, they haven’t fought our battle, they don’t deserve an opinion.  Yes, I know I get defensive but I think I have earned that right.

We have been nothing but straight with Rebecca on everything that happened and at 13 she is pretty smart about it.  She knows the mental issues her bio Mom has. She knows one day she can sit and pull out the dusty old box to read all the papers that hold more than she may ever want to know.  She calls my Ex Dad now and me by my name as her bio Mom practically beat her over the head till she quit calling me Mom. In our quiet moments, to this day, she reminds me she has a Mom that gave birth to her and the one that saved her.  That moment right there is enough to get me through every moment where I want to drill people in the face for questioning what degree of a parent I am.  The Ex and I have been judged by all.  I didn’t actually give birth, we don’t have her 24/7 to this day, and on and on.  We have heard it all and I’m sure we won’t hear the end.  We learned a long time ago to ignore it and move on.

Rebecca explains her story differently depending on the situation.  She will keep it basic or elaborate like we own a foreign country that she is entitled to one day.  She always handles it with more grace than we do.  We get our feelings hurt a bit more by this point than she does.

We are just like any other parents carrying around a great amount of worry over raising a child.  My Aunt slowly dissolved out of Rebecca’s life after her own divorce from my Uncle.  My Uncle has slowly worked himself further out of her life as well, even though primary custody resides with him until she is 18.  Her bio Mom has kept herself out of jail, remained drug free, and cleaned up quite a bit but still does not hold a job and is plagued with mental problems.  For that reason alone she is not capable of regaining custody of Rebecca.  Bio Mom has been able to retain more time with her now that Rebecca is old enough to handle her own. The rest of the time she goes between my Ex and I. The same rules apply at each home.  If you are grounded at one, you are grounded at the other. Phone calls go around for school conferences or anytime we have to make a visit to the principal’s office.  Some say the kid has it rough but the kid also has it damn good, she doesn’t know any different. She has more of a family than most kids do even if it has to be spread out amongst different homes.  She really does love it.

The years have not stayed simple for us though.  The schedule is ever-changing.  There are a million people to check in with.  Plans are all last-minute and I hate going too long without seeing her.  Just imagine for a moment sharing your child with others.  Not truly having a say but having all the same worry.

Since that court date the Ex and I have remained strong, aside from a few falters during our divorce, we have never wavered as a team on this.  Thank God.  You guys, it is hard.  It is the hardest fucking thing ever.  I can not wait for that child to graduate High School.  We are still doing the same thing we have been doing since the day we left court, getting up every day and doing it again.  That is what parenting is to us.  And this is our story.