I thought maybe I would share with you some things about my life that I'm sure you did not know. Like, I've known my husband since I was 12 years old, we were friends all through school and have a long history with each other. However we didn't start dating until 2001. I did not give birth to my children. They are Kenny's sons and they have lived with me since 2002.
Kenny and the boys' mother were in a relationship for about 3 years. They had Austin and 15 months later had Jesse. They broke up when Jesse was 6 months old. Kenny has always had custody of them save for 9 months during the 2001-2002 school year. He was a single father, recently divorced from his daughter's mom and working a swing shift. Unable to care for them, they lived with their mother. Then I entered the picture. I started dating Kenny in November of 2001. By February of 2002, a mere 3 months later, we were engaged. In March we moved in together and the boys came to live with us for the summer. They were 7 and 8. Instant family, just add water. We had a long battle with the boys' mom. She is a recovering heroine addict and alcoholic. During that summer, we found out that while they were supposed to be living with her they were in fact living with her mother. Her addiction was just beginning and she was in a nasty relationship. At the end of the summer, the boys did not want to go back. I asked her if I could keep them. Kenny and she went back to court and once again he obtained full custody of the boys.
Fast forward to October of 2003. We've moved into our new (and current) home. Kenny and I got married! What a glorious day that was. All of my family came out to celebrate in huge Italian fashion. Kenny did not invite anyone from his family other than his brother and his family. I protested but he won. He wasn't speaking to his mother (LONG story, very complicated, remedied now) and I will always remember what he said about the rest of them. "They were at my first wedding and look how that turned out." Not every family is like yours, he would tell me. We don't get along. We don't go to each other's houses and we don't go to church together. We don't eat with other and we barely see each other during the holidays. Your family is special Julie, he would tell me. I don't want them there. I want to enjoy the day without worrying about what may happen. Since Kenny was divorced we were not able to get married in the Catholic church until his marriage was annulled. So, rather than be married in a civil ceremony, we were married at The First Presbyterian Church, here in New Brighton. Our ceremony was beautiful and the reception was a ball!
At this point, the boys had already started calling me mom and they weren't seeing their biological mother at all. For 3 years, she battled her addiction and basically had no time for the boys. I am thrilled to say that she is now clean and sober and making amends in her life. She sees the boys on a regular basis now and we were finally able to move beyond what happened in the past. Christ said that in order for the Father to forgive you, you must forgive others. I have taken that to heart and we have a pretty good relationship now. I'm still their mom, but at least now they don't have to feel guilty for loving her too. Kenny's daughter is a brilliant and gorgeous 8 year old. We see her as often as we can but with Kenny's long hours at work that's not as often as we'd like. I adore her and she is an estrogen-filled welcome to this house of dirty boys! Kenny and I were finally married in the Catholic church in November of 2004. And at the Easter vigil of 2006, the boys were baptized in the church, made their first holy communion and confirmation.
I can't even begin to tell you all that we have gone through, the battles we have overcome and the hurt we have mended. We are not a traditional family in the true sense. But nonetheless, we are a family: father, mother and children. My mother's sister and my own were never able to conceive. They both adopted their children. And those children hold a special place in all of our hearts because we know that they were chosen by God to become a part of this family. In order to fulfill God's plan, these children had to be born. These children. They may not have our DNA but their ours nonetheless.
I remember a plaque that hung in my cousin's nursery. And I claim it as well as it so perfectly describes our homes:
Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone
But still miraculously my own
Never forget for a single minute,
You didn't grow under my heart, but in it.