When Life Throws You Lemons

As a mother of 6 months old twin boys, the answer is YES……my hands are completely full. However, I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. These two baby boys are the “life” sized lemonade I made with the big fat lemon life threw me. In 1997 I met, and married, my life time mate. Or so I thought. After 14 years of marriage and 3 amazing kids, my husband Capt. Nathan Nylander was killed in action while deployed to Afghanistan. My whole world, as I knew it, came crashing down around me. All the plans we had, gone. All the time we expected, gone. I was left with nothing but my thoughts and memories along with all the goodbyes and “I love you” I took for granted. At that moment I knew my life was going to be different, but I never imagined it for what it is now. The lemon in our lives seemed too mighty to squeeze. Everyday I lived on and made it through for my children. My pain and agony had no place on my face. I could only force myself to smile, and show my children that life must go on. It had to or what was the point of living.

Soon after Nathan’s death, I found myself in a relationship that in a million years I would never have thought I’d be in. This guy was too young, too soon, too close. Everything you can convince yourself was wrong with the relationship I tried on myself. Blake knew and worked with Nathan, and to him, it was a sense of obligation that brought him to us, but a blessing from God that he stayed. My children and I were in a dark world, but Blake’s persistent presence every day kept us going. My eldest at the time was only 12. As you can imagine, losing your dad at that age was devastating. My son sank into a deep and dangerous depression. My daughter, 9 at the time, cried herself to sleep every night clinging to anything that was her dads to get that last scent, that last feeling of closeness. As for my youngest, he resorted to self-blame. How do you tell a 7-year-old, his daddy’s death is not his fault without breaking down? My heart hurt for my children. As moms you all know that feeling. Your newly walking baby falls and hurts himself and you run in to swoop him up and comfort him. Your heart breaks to see them cry in pain. Or your 5 year comes in with a bad scrape from falling on the swings and mom comes to the rescue with a kiss and band aid. For my kids, at that moment, their biggest “band aid” was Blake. He comforted them and lifted their spirits in a way that only someone with a truly huge heart could. How could I not fall for the man who saved my children? That’s when I began I peel that sour fruit that was a nuisance in our lives.

After 4 years of marriage, Blake got the baby bug. Why wouldn’t he? He was 13 years younger than I and at a stage in life where most of his peers and men around him were becoming new dads. Only problem was, I physically could not have anymore kids. In 2007, I had to endure a full hysterectomy. Adopting was an option, but I really wanted my husband to experience the feeling of having his own, biological children. That’s when the idea of surrogacy came into our lives. Although, our babies would not be biological to me, I had no objections to raising his kids, seeing how for all this time he was helping me raise mine as his own. In 2016 we began our journey using an agency in Canada, but the whole process was abroad in Ukraine. In October 2017, our boys, Russell and Connor were born at 37 weeks via c-section. Completely perfect, healthy and loved. At 44, I was a mom again to not just one, but two babies. Not what I thought I’d be doing at my age, but this time it was different for me. This time I was going to be present all the way. By then my older 3 were, 18, 15 and 13 and I already knew how quickly time will pass.

After our loss, my perspective in life is completely different and my everyday ways of life are not so much focused on the motions we all go through. Now I focus on the bigger picture, the what ifs, the would haves, and should haves. I no longer allow them to haunt me. Whatever my kids or husband want to do or share in, at the moment, becomes my top priority. For years, I spent too much time worrying about petty things - was the house picked up, were dishes all done, was the laundry basket empty. Time I took away from precious little moments I should have been paying more attention to. No more. The time to be a mom is now. The time to be involved and focused is now. Believe me in 18 years, and I promise they will come fast, you will have all the time you will want or need to keep house or run errands, etc. When my boys fuss because they want to roll around a while or take a stroll around, I stop everything and do it. When my daughter says, “Hey mom, lets go to mall,” just because, or my 14-year-old wants a new game at Game Stop, I am ready and out the door. The times my eldest takes the time to call his mommy from college (usually because he needs money, but who cares), I am completely his for that moment. There is no chore, no meal, no dirty clothes, or unmade bed that will take me away from these moments. I know this will sound very cliché, but take it from someone who has squeezed that lemon juice and sweetened it up, “tomorrow can not guarantee what you have today”. Live every minute. Kiss those babies whenever you can or want, whether they are 6 months or 19 years old. Tell them you love them. But most importantly of all, don’t miss a single minute of it. Live every day as if it was your last, so that in the end you can look back without regret and without remorse for what passed you by. Every day, I drink my lemonade with joy and happiness enjoying every sip.

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