23 years ago
Foxy introduces us at the Old Fashioned Butcher Shop and Deli. I am 23, a college graduate with a teaching credential, but yet to find work. You are 36, have 2 kids, and are going through a divorce. My Mom doesn't know any of these details. She also doesn't know that you have been praying for someone to love you "just as you are." I have been single for three years, holding out for a "good" guy. A guy who is solid. A guy who is worthy. You ask me out. I say, “Sure.” If nothing else, I figure it will be a free meal. My friends think I am crazy to be going out with such an old guy! Upon meeting you, they gush, "He's just perfect for you, Michelle." The wheels are set in motion.
22 years ago
You make the cut. We move in together. I bumble my way into being a stepmom to Tommy and Katie, not sure if I'm doing anything right. I cry everyday my first year teaching 6th grade in the East Side. It is far more challenging than I had imagined. Many days, you drive me to school, assuring me that it will be a better day than before. You propose. You are more than a "good" guy. I say yes.
21 years ago
We get hitched at Holy Cross in Santa Cruz, vowing to make this thing work for the long haul. When Father Mike asks us if we will lovingly accept children from God, I practically shout from the altar, “ABSOLUTELY!” You had a vasectomy 11 years prior, and we know full well that you will need to have a reversal if we are to be blessed with children. We know the odds may be stacked against us, but lean into our faith.
20 years ago
You go under the knife, and have the surgery. We become pregnant...with TWINS! We are stunned, shocked, and completely blown out of the water. It is a conversion moment for me. Twins do not run in our family, nor did I hit any of the criteria for having twins. God heard that answer from the altar, and wasted no time!
19 years ago
Abigail and Isabella join our family. Apparently, we think testing our marriage is a good idea, so we decide to do a remodel while raising teenagers and newborns. I am tandem nursing twins through all of this transition. Life is full of blessings and hardship simultaneously. My folks graciously invite all 6 of us to stay with them for a few months until the remodel is complete. When Abby and Bella have been fed, changed, and are put down for rest side by side in their crib, sometimes they wail. I think to myself, "What is all this fuss about? Play a game of cards with eachother." My dad, on the other hand, yells out from down the hall, "Papa loves you baby. Papa loves you. I'm coming to save you." I stop him, mid-save, many times.
18 years ago
I become pregnant again. And for some unknown reason, my dad develops circulatory issues. He becomes a below the knee amputee. The recovery is long and difficult. Often, I sneak the twins into the hospital to see him. Dad's goal is to learn how to walk with his "new leg" before Abby and Bella do. He succeeds. The girls are right behind.
17 years ago
Emma comes to join our family, born healthy and the biggest baby of all...8 lbs 2 oz. I worry Abby and Bella will suffocate her with their hugs. When she's not nursing, I carry her in the sling on my body, to keep her safe from the love of her twin sisters.
16 years ago
There are countless trips to the park. I join Weight Watchers, and lose 100 pounds by Emma’s first birthday. Although I shed the weight, I still have many years ahead of head and heart work. I start therapy for my body image issues. You support me the entire time, unsure as to what "body image" really means.
15 years ago
I start to question how long my life will resemble the monotonous ground hog days of filling sippy cups, doling out goldfish, and changing poopy diapers. I am trying to potty train twins...I am failing miserably. You are working a lot. I feel alone. We are committed to each other but our marriage is in a tough spot. We decide to go on a Marriage Encounter Weekend. We decide to do the hard work.
14 years ago
The Marriage Encounter Weekend is such a smashing success, we are delirious and decide to try for another baby! Cosette Francois Walsh joins our tribe. With 4 kids under 5, I don’t really remember much more of this year.
13 years ago
The twins start Kindergarten, and it quickly becomes evident, that school is more than difficult for them. We don’t know it yet, but discover later, that they each have Learning Disabilities. We will need to fight the school district to test them, in order to get the accommodations they need to succeed. It feels like we have been sucker punched. Like someone told us we have damaged goods. There is a grieving of what I thought school would look like for them, and what the reality of the situation is. I put on my boxing gloves, and get ready to fight for the girls. This is the first time you realize, that you too, have un-diagnosed Learning Disabilities. The years ahead will be filled with struggle and triumph. This is where my teaching background and kick ass and take names later attitude, gets put to the test. The District doesn't want to test the girls. Testing them costs money. I am not going anywhere. The girls get tested, and each receive a 504 Plan.
12 years ago
My parents leave Campbell and retire to Santa Rosa. It is weird for me to think of someone else living in my childhood home. Swimming in the pool where I learned to swim. I miss my folks.
11 years ago
Tommy, who is now a Corpsman in the Navy, marries Molly Marie, whom we love. WOW. Shit just got real. Our kid is grown and married. More importantly, we are so proud of the young man he has become, and the woman whom he now calls his wife.
10 years ago
I am late for my period and randomly decide to pee on a stick. Here comes unplanned baby number 5! I tell you while I'm folding your underwear. Shortly thereafter, the recession hits the country. We file for bankruptcy. We don’t know if we will lose our home. So many things are uncertain. This is what we know: as long as we will stick together, we will be okay. This surprise baby could not have come at a more stressful time.
9 years ago
Our first grand-baby, Joseph, is born. He's a little red headed Ginger. Charlotte is born later that same year, also a ginger. Our grand-baby is older than our baby. We are just classy, like that. Although Charlotte is born healthy, she refuses to latch to my breast. She is deemed "failure to thrive", and I must make the trek to Santa Clara Kaiser daily, to ensure she is not losing too much weight. I start implementing formula in addition to pumping. During one of the many hospital trips, Cosette calls 911 explaining to the operator, yea, she has an emergency: she isn't the baby in our family anymore. You have another vasectomy.
8 years ago
We travel to South Carolina and witness Katie marry Joe! WOW. Shit is getting super real. Now, two kids are married. We feel blessed that both of the kids have found partners who love and support them. Our hearts are overflowing. Foxy holds down the fort while we're gone. We return home to an immaculate house, a fridge stocked with food, and 5 girls wondering why are Mom and Dad back already? I know first hand how hard it is to accomplish all of that.
7 years ago
Foxy is diagnosed with Cancer. You ask me if I want to be with her. I answer without hesitation: yes. I started making cannibis brownies on the regular...some for her, some for me.
6 years ago
You work and take care of all 5 girls so that I could be with Foxy in Santa Rosa, 3-4 days of the week at a time. With the help of dear friends, you work to make this the new normal. The girls step up and do more chores without complaint. When I return home, I shop at Costco, go the basketball games, and do laundry. I am working hard to be present in two places at once. It is beyond difficult. Meanwhile, you are my rock.
5 years ago
After a two year battle with Cancer, Foxy goes Home. There is an odd sense of relief that comes with the grief of losing her. This is when I begin to truly understand what it feels like when a daughter no longer has a Mama. You stand by my side. You allow me to weep. You give me permission to walk through my grief.
4 years ago
For the first time in our lives, all 5 girls are in school full time. It feels wonderful and weird. I start to work more at Weight Watchers. I feel as though God is molding me for the next step, but am unsure as to what that “thing” is.
3 years ago
Trump wins the election, and for the first time in our marriage, we discuss my own past history with sexual molestation and assault. You voted for Trump, so it presents an especially delicate scenario. With this newly elected President, I feel as though I have been assaulted all over again. You listen, patiently. It is difficult, but you listen. You hear and see and understand me, fully. There are many tears. We both are trying to wrap our heads around what to do next. How do we follow our faith and stand in our values? What does that look like now, raising 5 daughters, with this new Commander in Chief? Something has been opened up in me. A thirst to gather with other women in community. I start having small circle groups with about 6 friends once a month. We gather for support, unconditional love, and connection. I have no idea that God is prepping my heart for Village Well.
2 years ago
We pull the girls out of school and drive to Sonoma. Your Mom is not doing well, with the dialysis no longer working. We hold her head and her hands, and thank her for all that she had taught us. With blurry vision and red-rimmed eyes, we say good-bye, just for now. There are many tears. She goes Home the next day.
1 year ago
The twins prepare to separate for the first time in their lives by attending different colleges. Although both decide to play basketball, it is a new chapter in our family, minus one chick. Village Well is born. I start hosting Workshops and Retreats. Finally, I realize what Spirit has been guiding me towards...
Later that same year, my dad loses his home in the Santa Rosa fires. We are in shock and disbelief. Every momento that was left of my Mama, is now gone. When people complain about the smoke here, I want to punch them in the face. But I don’t. I understand that they just don’t realize, that they are smelling someone’s beloved baby blanket, and another person’s cherished photo album, and my mom’s wedding dress. They just don’t know.
But you do.
You listen to me, as I writhe back and forth, shaking with anger and confusion asking why? Why my Dad, when he has already been through so much? You don’t have any answers, and so you hold me. You wipe my tears. You stay next to me, no words. My rock.
Your patience and presence with the girls (and me), your unwavering faith, and your openness and support of me in each and everything I do, astounds me.
Our lives may be loud, unpredictable, and a wee bit messy, but there is one thing I know for sure: you are the one for me. My rock.
May God continue to bless us with many more years together. Happy 21st Anniversary, babe. Thanks for putting up with my crazy. I sure do love you.