(MOM)entous Monday With Bridget

The struggles of a long distance marriage and an autism diagnosis.

I know God called me to write this blog, share my story, and keep it real.

But here is the problem… I have only had so many experiences and can only reach so many people with them. However, I am surrounded by moms/women that have such beautiful stories.  

I want to use this space to bless more women with the bravely shared stories of others.

There is something so beautiful in knowing that you are not alone.

Today I get the pleasure of sharing my long time friend Bridget. She is a dear friend from way back in elementary school. Life has taken us down different paths over the years but we always seem to be able to pick up where we last left things. While I was home this summer, I ran into her at the pool, and we gave each other life updates. I was so excited to hear that a rough season was coming to a close for them. I am hoping that her story of dedication and perseverance will be in inspiration to you. I can’t wait to see how their next chapter unfolds.

Thanks for sharing Bridget.  

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In October 2011, we were headed to go apple picking with the kids when my husband turned to me and said “I want something more for our kids.”

He was working as a bread man for SaraLee with a injured back and we were barely making ends meet. I remember turning to him and telling him that we should want more for us.

I asked him what he really wanted to do in life and he said his dream job was to be an attorney.
That day we made the decision to go for it.
He took the LSAT a month later and was accepted to Loyola Law School with a partial scholarship.

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I can remember thinking that all our problems were solved and we could now be that happy family.

Little did I know at the time, but the three years ahead of us would be very difficult and come with some major sacrifices.

One of the first obstacles and sacrifices came when we realized that it was pretty much impossible to afford living in/near Los Angeles on student loans. My in-laws graciously allowed us to move with them in Tehachapi and my husband lived in a garage closet behind his uncle’s house in Los Angeles Monday through Friday.

I can remember thinking “no biggie” my marriage is rock solid and nothing can come between my husband and I.

Boy was I wrong!

In reality, a long distance relationship is very difficult to tackle.
I would not wish this on any marriage.
It comes with jealousy and loneliness but it can also cause growth if allowed.

I was shocked the first time that the word “divorce” came flying out of our mouths.

I thought to myself, this is not the happy ending I was looking/hoping for when we decided to make law school happen.

My husband and I grew the furthest apart we had ever been… but it was the distance that ultimately drew us back together.

We both had to accept the hard realities of a long distance relationship;
the fighting,
finding other people attractive,
(this is a hard reality to face but it does exist),
and learning to accept the other person as we both tried to figure out who we were under such circumstances.

After three years of law school and a long distance marriage, I can say my marriage is nowhere near perfect and that it is a work in progress. We realize that we did things a little backward by having a family and then starting the long term career but I cannot wait to have my husband/partner/best friend back at the end of this month.

During this hard season there was another simultaneously challenging obstacle… A month after my husband started law school our son Anchor was diagnosed with Autism.

I remember going in for his formal Individual Education Plan and walking away completely numb.

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The first year of his diagnosis I was in complete denial and regret.

I didn’t talk about it to anyone because I was just so sure he would outgrow whatever it was.

I agreed to send Anchor to the special needs preschool but only because I wanted to prove to the teacher that my son was not tested properly.

As you can probably guess, the diagnosis was not wrong.

After a year of special needs preschool and various therapies, I broke down and finally was able to accept that my son had autism.

To be completely honest, after the denial came a short time of mourning.
(It may sound weird but I had to mourn the “normal” life that I saw for my son.)

Then came all the regrets.
Coulda, shoulda, woulda….fought to breast feed, looked more into vaccines, and really monitored diets.
But we all know there are no do overs; just lessons learned.

Now that I am on the other side of denial, mourning, and regret; I can now see the gift that my son’s autism is.

Anchor is extremely gifted and intelligent.

I would love to see the world through his eyes because he is always seeing/learning something most people tend to skip.

Anchor has good days and bad days but my husband and I are ready for the challenge to help him grow to his full potential.

Over the three years of law school there were other sacrifices and obstacles:
Giving up 50/50 custody of my stepdaughter, Mackenna. We went from seeing her every other week to only holidays and summers.
We also never had a savings, we were living on student loans and had a very tight budget.

I could go on and on but I think the important part is that I would not take any of it back.

Am I glad the three years of law school are coming to an end in less then a month?

Yes.

I am just now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

If anyone reading this is in a job they just absolutely don’t like or are just doing it to get by please know that you have options. It is never to late to go back to school and find a career that brings out the best in you. It will not be easy and without challenges but it is possible.

Also if you are a mother of a child diagnosed with special needs, know that you are not alone. There are a lot of resources out there to help you and your child. It is all still so intimidating and foreign to me but slowly I am uncovering more and more information about autism.

I have learned so much about myself over the last three years. It has been important to be there and support my husband during this time but I also have learned to invest time in me. As a mother/wife we often forget this and I believe it is crucial. I have been much happier because of it.

Now that law school is coming to an end, I know that there are still going to be challenges and obstacles in our lives but I can honestly say that I am stronger now and will be able to tackle anything that comes our way.

My family may not be the perfect family but I can honestly say we are a happy family.
I cannot wait to see where the future takes us.

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Thanks for joining me for (MOM)entous Monday. If you have a story you would like to share… Contact me! 

Let’s bless people with the story of our lives… it turns all that pain into purpose.

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3 thoughts on “(MOM)entous Monday With Bridget

  1. It was great to meet you briefly at the pool that day! Your unfolding story if full of grace and perseverance. You are a strong women and I pray God continues to bless you, your husbands job and children as you live out His plan for your lives.

  2. It’s so much easier to look forward when we can recognize the lessons of our past. The pain is really short- lived in the big scheme of things. Very hard while you are in the middle of it, for sure! But most of us get through it and grow because of it. The odds are really in our favor!!

  3. nice story Christen, also nice that you spotlight other’s story as well. I can certainly attest that marriage is not easy, been in my 1st for 32 years now, but the struggle gives you love and companionship and trust and warm belly fuzzies!