Almost 17 years ago the guy I had been dating, who by the way had slept over one night and never left, announced that his 9 month old daughter was going to be moving in with us. WHAT????!!!! I was living the life of a 19 year old party girl. It went something like this: Go to junior college in the morning,
The next day said boyfriend showed up at my/our apartment with the most beautiful bald headed 9 month old I had ever seen. In that moment, in the midst of a really stupid and confusing time in my life, I became a Mom. By none of my own doing I had been given the privilege to be Tristin's Mommy. I didn't know very much about how to be a parent so it's a good thing she was and is one of the most patient people I know. In the year that followed, I married the father of this sweet baby girl and gave birth to her brother. (not necessarily in that order)
Shortly before Tristin turned five, baby sister Kiley arrived and we moved to Texas. I was back home but this was a big change for the Yankee I married and my three babies. The kids thrived, we made friends and of course the best part we were with my family who all so much love the kids. One of my favorite stories about Tristin happened when she was in 1st grade. Tristin hate hate hates to be late. Actually all of my kids do. I wonder if it's from having a Mom who is ALWAYS late for EVERYTHING!!!???? Anyway we were running late for school she jumped out of the car to head in the building. As she was sprinting up the steps she passed a little boy with special needs struggling to get up the stairs into the school. She stopped and I swear in those seconds I could tell sitting out in my car she was weighing what would be worse, being late or not helping this boy. Tristin turned around helped him up the stairs, made sure he got in the door and I saw her haul butt towards her class before the door to the school even closed. This is Tristin. Her kind heart is her special gift from God. Unfortunately, there have been many things in Tristin's life that have tried to kill her spirit.
When Tristin was seven her father decided after years of not being faithful to me that he no longer wanted to be married. The decision was made that it would be in Tristin's best interest to stay with me and her siblings. The divorce truly broke Tristin's heart. Her biological Mom has been in and out, mostly out, of her life since the day I met her when she was nine months old. This is a very hard thing for any child but Tristin has struggled with it her whole life and continues to this day to have a tough time dealing with this rejection. I had a horrible relationship with my stepdad and was determined that I would be different with Tristin. I would give her all the love I never felt growing up.
I have always been hard on Tristin. I have high expectations for all my children but it seems like I was always tougher on her. I truly believe it was because she is the oldest. As she approached her teenage years we began to argue. A lot. Oh if only I could go back in time and know then what I know now. I took every eye roll, every sigh and every foot stop personally. If Tristin was moody I wanted to know why. I'm not sure why I thought I could force her to be in a good mood. Being the oldest child is tough, I should know I am one! I am doing so much better with a pre-teen girl this time around. I pick my battles and realize Kiley doesn't know why she is moody any more than I do. You learn these things with time.
Unfortunately for me, before Tristin learned how to deal with being a teenager and I learned how to be the Mom of a teenager her father started dating someone new. The dating part wasn't anything new that has always been a revolving door. However, this someone new was fun and had money and set her sights on winning over my Tristin. And guess what? It worked. Her father took me to court the summer before Tristin started highschool, she was thirteen, and asked to have my joint custody taken away. In this case as the only biological parent of Tristin in the court room the law was on his side. Tristin moved in with her Dad and his at that time girlfriend. Tyson, Kiley and I were devastated. We felt abandoned, betrayed.
Fortunately for me after some serious arguing on the part of my lawyer, it was agreed that Tristin would come to my house every other weekend and split holidays. The three kids are still together every weekend and every holiday. They are either all with him or all with me on weekends and holidays. He gets them the month of June and I get them the month of July then back to regular houses in August. It took a good year to mend hearts and to figure out how to be a Mommy from an hour away. Suddenly, this child, who I had taught to walk and potty trained, taught to read and tie her shoes and who had taught me how to be a Mom was living somewhere else and I had no say so in her daily life. I have had to learn how to be the best Mom I can be from where I am at. It took a long time to work out what my role was in Tristin's life after she moved out. I wish I would have figured it out sooner but there were so many hurt feelings involved. I hate that Tristin doesn't live with us. I hated it then I still hate it now.
Fast forward a few months and that super cool fun girlfriend who bought Tristin all the expensive clothes and took her neat places was no longer in her life. Reality hit and so did the consequences of the decision Tristin had made to live with her Dad. This was a very hard lesson to learn for a thirteen year old. Sometimes you can't undo the decisions you make. But let me tell you the good news! Tristin is an overcomer. She is a good girl with a kind heart. Her life has not gone the way she would have chosen to this point and it's certainly not the road I would have chosen for her. You never want your kids to take the hard path! Last year and this year Tristin and I have talked so much about making the kind of choices that are going to lead to her having a wonderful adult life. Controlling the things she can today to ensure a better tomorrow for her. Don't let the people who have let you down determine what kind of future you are going to have and let me tell you that girl has worked her butt off. There is no way on earth I would have worked as hard as her without someone pushing me on a regular basis and with the kind of freedom she is given.
I recieved this picture from Tristin today:
Tristin's going to Baylor!!
It has been Tristin's dream since she was nine and watching a baby story on TLC to take care of "early born babies" as she called them then. Over the years her dream has grown and become more specific. She wants to be a neonatal nurse practitioner and since 6th grade has wanted to attend Baylor University. She did this! She is making her dreams come true. I could not be more proud of her.
There have been many mistakes along the way and I'm sure there are going to be more down the road. I am so blessed to have been allowed to share in this ongoing journey with Tristin. I always tell her that she is the child I love the most. She can say it with me and if I catch her in the right mood she will. "I love them all the same but I've been loving her the longest!"
I am going to end with a picture of this beauty in front of her pick up truck that she bought with her own money. It's hard to believe that bald headed baby turned into a preteen with glasses and braces and into the gorgeous young woman she is today.