Years later, I met and fell in love. I had a baby. I got married. I grew this blog, and occasion, I shared our relationship on here. It felt right. After all, it was a lifestyle blog, and he was and is in my life. Like most couples, we struggled, and like many couples I kept much of that to myself. I worked on it tirelessly. For about a year I paused friendships, just so I could see the lines jump back on the screen. beep. beep. Tell me it’s still going. It was, just. Just. I would always have a just.
I became an advocate for couples therapy-seeing how it could blow life into two individuals who found themselves in the trenches. But the just was always there. And it wasn’t simple. It was complicated and personal and private and we both always knew. Not many others did. But we kept at it. I kept at it. I’m a woman after all. A black woman, to be specific. A black woman with two young kids to be exact. We just don’t give-up.
For one, we were young. Two, we grew kids and businessess simultaneously. Three, it had already been so very long.
But at the beginning of last year, after about a year in my own therapy, I think I settled on one of the hardest things a woman and mother may have to. I decided that the just was too loud. The kids could feel the just. I felt the just. He felt the just. We, then decided to restructure our family.
Looking back, 2017 was the hardest year of my life. How does one run a site for women, while keeping a very real thing–a very real and tangible experience for myself while so many women face the same circumstances? But I look at my kids, made in love, and I look at our love, and I look at our healing, and realize, this isn’t just the just. It’s so much bigger. And so, this story will always remain private– for us. Where it rightfully belongs.
During this time, I’ve realized so much about myself. I realized the way love can expand and layer and move in different directions-if allowed to. I want to teach my children, that strength is sometimes knowing when exactly to change things. It’s knowing that the very thing that has scared you you’re entire life, isn’t something that you have to run from. Strength is knowing when to be quiet, when to love, when to step back, when to restructure.
After I shared this on Instagram, many of you messaged me, reading in-between the lines and expressed that you were too in a similar place in your marriage. I wish I could give you all the advice I devoured for months. I wish I could give you all the hugs I asked for and needed. I wish I could share this in a way that felt both graceful and insightful. But my daughter (who can read) deserves this story. My son deserves this story. My long relationship deserves this private story. I deserve to hold on to this story. In private. In our family.
And so, a changing relationship looks a lot like a restructured family. Something not bonded by the struggles of two people trying to figure them out, but by the love in which it was initially built, and an acceptance in the way families often look in 2017, 2018 and so on.
In light of this, I want to make an effort to continue to share varying stories based on parenthood. Not just motherhood. I want to continue to peel away this ideology that nuclear remains the only way. I hope that the stories these women write on the blog for you over the course of this year and the years to come, and the example of the image with just me, River, and Oak, will help you peel that away too. All in all, I wish the same things for this space as I do for my family: community and welcoming peace, even through the grit.
(photo by Andre Wagner)