After I left the hospital Joel and I decided that I would come home. At least for now. Truly, it was the only option. It is best for the kids and we have full-time care so I won’t be alone. That was Joel’s one condition, “Just in case.” He explained. 

I have set up a little respite for myself in the guest area on the 3rd floor. It is a big open room with comfy furniture, high ceilings and wide open windows overlooking the back garden. It also has the world’s most wonderful bathtub where I spend at least an hour every day.
I never took baths before. I was too busy and my mind was always racing. But now it is one of my favourite parts of the day.
No one every pops in to visit me. Of course, I see Jill every Sunday but I haven’t heard from any of my old “friends” at all. Joel tells me they ask after me and a few of them sent cards and flowers when I was in the hospital but since then, nothing. I don’t mind. I think it would be awkward. I don’t know what I would say to them now.
Every morning I get up early and make breakfast for the kids. I never really cooked before either. Secretly I was afraid I would be terrible at it. But now I don’t care. In fact, I love my time in the kitchen. It doesn’t always turn out how I want it to but they never seem to mind. 
Often one or both of the kids will wake up while I am still getting things ready and they will stumble in, bleary-eyed, and watch. We will chat about the day to come and sometimes, if we have time, we will steal a snuggle on the couch nearby. We nuzzle noses and share our dreams from the night before and I think to myself, “How did I live without this?”
But it is not quite as wonderful as it sounds. Joel will peak his head in nervously every few minutes, afraid that things might be unravelling. I don’t really blame him, I guess. I just smile reassuringly. It will just take time.
The funny thing is the kids don’t seem to be fazed at all. They had a few sessions with a psychologist when I was first hospitalized and have been back once since I got home but she seems to think there is no reason to have them go regularly. At least not until Joel and I figure out what to do long-term and who knows when that will be. I can’t see beyond the next hour at this point. It is still beyond my grasp.
I marvel at my children. 
Once our morning ritual is over and Joel leaves for the day we are not alone again until he gets home which can often be after they are in bed. I know this will change but it still makes me sad sometimes. Nora is here in the day and she is fabulous. I tire easily and she will takeover when I need to rest but until then she just sits quietly while I play with the kids. I know she wants them to be close to me. She will often smile sweetly at me, thrilled to see us happy together.
But once Nora leaves at 6:00 pm it is Jessa’s shift and everything changes. I am now the outsider. I have usually retreated to my room by the time she arrives only coming out to read and kiss the kids at bedtime because that is what she has approved. She watches me, judging, from the rocking chair in the corner as the three of us snuggle on my daughter’s twin bed interrupting me to say, “Just one more book.” Or, “Time to say good night.” 
When Jessa is here Jessa is in charge. And she never lets me forget it. I believe she likes this shift of power. I can feel it. It’s like revenge not only for what I did to my family but for all of those years I treated her like “the help”. The few times I try to make a suggestion she turns to me, glaring, and tells me she only takes direction from Mister. That’s what she calls Joel.
I mentioned it to Joel once but he shrugged it off reminding me that Jessa was here when I wasn’t, which seems like a low blow to me but I ignore it. And then he reassures me that it will just take time. She is very protective of the children. I need to earn her trust back. I don’t think about it too hard because when I do I wonder whether Joel has actually instructed her to be like this and I think I am better off not knowing.
  • Maria

    time to stand up to Jess! totally agree with Candace, you are the mother, no matter what happened – you never abused your kids & you are actively participating now, let the past stay there…good luck, I love reading this journey you are taking!

  • Candace

    Lyla, I think it is great that you are making the kids breakfast and enjoying time with them. See? You can do this! You can be the mom you want to be.
    After the truth has finally come out, Lyla, I don’t think either you or Joel are better off not knowing anything. That is a path back to the disenfranchised past you have already lived through. Tell Joel you are going to ask directly because you do not want to keep secrets or have doubts anymore. (Tell him you miss him when he does not come home until late, as well. Say you understand it has to be this way. You just want him to know how you feel.)
    I know you are healing, and I’m happy for your time to do so, but don’t relax and stop striving and lose your chance to take charge. Not many people have carte blanche to re-create themselves, absent any other responsibilities. Do not let this gift pass! And do not allow yourself to become a perennial victim as you slip back into “helpless” habits and excuses and let people tell you what to do.
    Assert yourself with Jessa and remind her that you are still the mother and the wife, and she is to answer to you, as well. Say you appreciate her loyalty to the kids and Joel, and that you understand she has her own feelings about what happened, and indeed, about you. She’s entitled to those private feelings, but she is NEVER entitled to disrespect you (especially in front of the kids), or to tell you she does not answer to you. (Make that clear to Joel, too.)
    I think it is okay to show some soft underbelly and make it clear that you want to be respectful to her, too, and let her know you are happy to clear the air and try to improve if there is something about your behavior that has upset her personally in the past. But the bottom line is that if you cannot achieve a mutually respectful relationship with YOU, as the mother, in charge of the kids until Joel gets home, it is SHE that will be leaving the home.
    You have a lot to answer for, as you know, but you do not have to answer to Jessa, and I fear her open hostility suggests an agenda to get you back out of the home.

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