So of all the weird things to remember, I just realized that sometime within the next couple of weeks (can’t remember an exact date, but I know it was the middle to end of January) is the 10 year anniversary of the date I conceived Zachary.  For all I know, the anniversary could have been today…but that doesn’t matter.  The point is, for all the heartache and drama that followed with his father in the months and years that followed my beautiful boy’s birth, I would do it all over again if given the choice.  If anyone has any doubts at all that I love my son, feel free to schedule a meeting with me and we can discuss the matter at great length.  (But you might want to cancel your plans for the next few days if you ever need to have that discussion with me.)

It’s so strange to think of Zack’s conception, really.  I was so very young, and I always say that I wasn’t really ready to become a mother at the time.  I thought I wanted to go to college and get a degree so that I could easily take care of my child(ren) if something happened to my (ex)husband.  But the moment I held Zachary, I knew I was ready to face whatever we had coming to us.  Of course, by that time I knew it really was going to be just me and the boy.  And that was just fine by me.  The only time I ever questioned it was when my three year old little boy asked me why he didn’t have a daddy.  (After getting to know his real father when he was 6-7, however, Zack no longer asks that question.)

Skip ahead five years from my conception date…I had a sweet, sweet four year old boy who was, admittedly, a bit more hyper than most other little boys we had play-dates with.  I was exhausted and frustrated a lot, but also very proud of my smart, sensitive Zack.  By that point, I had already been through two custody battles (sure wish that number never went up…), and was finally starting to be confident in my parenting abilities.  Zack was starting to read and so good at math; I had a decent job making about $300 per week (boy do I miss those days!); and I had a semi-active social life with church friends.

Part of me wishes it was still five years ago…but I don’t really wish to go back in time through Zack’s younger years.  Sure, I’d love to have him as a baby or a toddler or a preschooler again, but he’s just such a cool kid now.  I have loved every minute of every day of every month of every year being his mother.  It’s just that five years ago, I wasn’t struggling as much financially. I wasn’t quite so lonely because I went to church, and even had a social life outside of my church friends.  Five years ago was probably pretty close to the highlight of my life as a mother so far…though that’s not to say that there have not been amazing moments since then.

One year ago…now that feels like it was ten years ago, really.  A year ago I was living in northern California, of all places.  I didn’t really feel like I ever fit in there as most of my friends were a great deal more financially stable than I have ever been, but it was certainly a fun place to live.  Very different from the South, and overall just too different for me to reconcile with, but I enjoyed being there.  However, I was living under my mother’s roof with no income other than occasional child support, and if you know me at all then you know how miserable I was in that situation.  I had no say in things like how much I could go out because I couldn’t afford the gas to even drive Zack the two blocks to school on many occasions.  I was way too dependent on my mother, and that always has a tendency to spark very loud arguments between us, putting Zack in the middle (whether we wanted to or not).  I was so depressed, but I had moved there after a very bloody custody battle, so I felt like California was a good option for us at the time.  It got Zack away from an abusive father, and that is worth whatever I had to go through at the time.  

So now here I am, back in the South, almost two years out of my third custody battle in Zack’s nine short years of life.  Yes, it’s been five years since I’ve had a “good” job, but just a year ago I had no job at all.  At least now I can get in my car and drive wherever I need to go in town without fear that I will run out of gas.  Sure, I worry about whether or not I’ll be able to pay the rent each month, but the fact that I am able to provide a roof over our heads that is in MY name is astounding.  I mean really really astounding.  There are maybe a handful of people who really know everything I have been through in the past ten years, and I’m sure they would all say it’s pretty great that I have my own place again.  Zack and I have spent too many years “couch surfing” (well, not literally, but it’s the best description of how we’ve been living I can think of), and relying on my mother’s income.  So the fact that I am “scraping by”, not really being able to afford anything over rent and utilities at the moment, is something that I choose to be proud of.  I buy a LOT of household items from Dollar General, and we are given a lot, but things are starting to stabilize for us.  Maybe one day bills won’t be such a struggle, but if that takes a while, that’s OK.  Because Zack and I have both had such a roller coaster ride over the last ten years…and we’ve come through the ups and the downs, and will continue to do so.  I’m not rich, but that was never something I aimed for in life – even as a child.  I can only think of two things I ever really wanted in life, and being a mother is one of them.  I’m so glad that I was with Zack’s father ten years ago.  Wow, what an amazing journey it’s been since then!