A Friend for Festus, a children’s book, by Jennifer Greene-Sullivan and Illustrated by Joshua Wichterich
When I was deciding the conflict possibilities for this book, I really felt that there needed to be an internal conflict for Eve. Festus’ animal instinct to hunt isn’t a conflict that he will ever overcome. However, Eve could change over time.
As a teacher of young writers, I often remind them that a story’s plot is perpetually driven by the conflict, yet here I am writing children’s books that very often has very little in the way of conflict. Let me be frank, there is only so much a personified (or not personified) animal can do with conflict, so the internal turmoil needed to come from a human character.
It’s not hard for me to remember my past experiences as a child to draw from, especially since I am often known as the resident “drama queen” of my family. I always have felt that drama queens get a bad reputation because often children have BIG emotions and struggle with the proper verbal skills to handle them. Young children often internalize his or her response to problems because they are still learning the skills of problem solving as well as the ability to communicate their feelings.
That is true for my character Eve. By no fault of her own, she has to move in with her aunt and uncle for an entire summer and live on their farm. This is a cultural shock to her as well as an emotional transition. Festus’ shift to house pet gives an opportunity to have those two characters bond. Since it is a Christian children’s book, it is based on the following scripture:
John 15:12-15 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
The edited the ending of the book after the first publication of it because it didn’t truly feel like the internal conflict was resolved. I wanted to feel and to see Eve and Festus as well adjusted and fully functioning inside their new family environment.
The idea of Esmerelda overcoming the Pocket Fuzz Monster will finally be published 22 years after I first jotted down the idea. In 2001, I brought my newborn baby girl home, and I got to experience a wonderful rebirth of childlike wonder and imagination. Anya, my oldest daughter, was fierce and unafraid to try new things, without a hint of worry or of danger.
She played with vim, and she introduced me to wild imaginative characters that she introduced through acting out make believe sitcoms and plays in her little playroom. She found excitement in the most mundane objects and circumstances.
As I watched her grow and reveled in her play, I found myself becoming more imaginative and creative. Thus, I began to sketch a children’s book character named Esmerelda who took great imaginative journeys while existing inside the real world as an ordinary, yet precocious young girl. I typed the first children’s book with Esmerelda in 2001 and emailed it to my dear sister-in-law with the title: Esmerelda’s Surprise. After the manuscript, I listed future titles: Attack of the Pocket Fuzz and Esmerelda’s Pink Poodle Pocketbook.
The first book found itself lost in my email outbox until 2020 when I finally had her illustrated and published her in January 2021. Then to my amazement on the way to work one brisk fall morning in 2021, I pulled in the parking lot of my former elementary school that had been closed since I entered the 7th grade. While I stood in the parking lot, staring into the doorway of Chester Elementary School, I quickly saw the plot of Attack of the Pocket Fuzz run amuck through CES hallways.
The plot and the characters blossomed on my commute, and I scribbled my ideas in the NOTES of my eyephone. I wrote it in a week before I sent the manuscript to my illustrator, yet since its completion in June of 2022, I stalled on the formatting. It seems too daunting a task for me to complete. Finally, with some editing help, I am ready to publish Attack of the Pocket Fuzz on March 1, 2023!! I hope you all love Esmerelda and her dog Rudy as much as I do.
My Illustrator, Joshua, sent six more painted pages for “Purposeful Day” this morning. He and I are finishing up the last few pages and font styles for this book. I am still on schedule for an end of January release. For this blog post, I would love to give you all a sample of “Purposeful Day” with a few illustrations. As always, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
“‘The stone which the builder’s rejected has become the chief cornerstone.'”(1 Peter 2:7, Psalms 118: 2)
by Jennifer Greene-Sullivan
Sarah and Sammy Stone live among all the rocks in the quarry.
Unlike the other rocks, Sarah dreams of being chosen for a purpose.
“I wonder what my purpose is?” She asks her brother Sammy one bright, summer’s day.
“What do you mean, Sarah? This is where all Stones stay in the quarry–for always.”
In her heart, she felt different, maybe a little odd. “I believe I will think positively on my purpose today, Sammy.”
“Alright,” is all he could say.
Later that afternoon, several men visited the quarry, and the rocks began to whisper of masons, and workers, and plans.
“Sammy, the men came and placed their hands on my face. I saw them blink and gaze at me. I know they have something special planned for me.”
Sammy frowned and replied, “Sarah Stone, don’t go thinking that there’s a life outside the quarry. All Stones remain here–for always.”
A week passed, trucks, cranes, and front end loaders descended upon Sarah and Sammy’s domain.
The machines were driven by the masons and workers that had visited that summer’s day.
Sarah barely spoke audibly, “Here’s my chance. Certainly, they will pick me.”
Instead, the machines pecked and scraped and maneuvered Sammy outside of the quarry.
Sarah remained, heart broken, and rejected.
End of Excerpt
I cannot wait to get the book trailer done and publish it to Amazon! Here is hoping for a January 30 or January 31 release date!!
Your actions ironically seemed to be at my expense.
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Nelson Mandela
I wrote the backbone of this poem on the way home from Tennessee. I finished it up tonight 12/9/20. I’d like to thank Post Malone for offering me the rhythm needed to fix it. “I Fall Apart” sometimes these days myself. JGS
Well, I guess it is a sage adage that the “HITS keep coming–and they don’t stop.” Since Sophia, my second daughter, turned 14, it’s just been one whirlwind disaster, followed by another. My beautiful daughter, Sophia, suffers from Impulse Control Disorder, depression, and anxiety. There are no words to describe how beautiful she was as a young child or how genuinely playful and sweet I remember her to be.
Her personality was so unlike mine that it seemed so easy for me to love her. Anya, my oldest and I, are so much alike that we often struggled with the definition of authority inside our home. Anya often felt she was the adult, and I was the misbehaving child. Sometimes, even at 19, she rants or begins to lecture me about what I should have said or did in that moment. I immediately shut her lecture down with my well practice harshness. We have experienced this dance so many times over the years.
It seemed that each time Anya and I launched ourselves into our inappropriate banter that Sophia was always quiet, stoic, and wide eyed. She always looked so happy afterwards like she was the winner of the argument. She viewed herself the winner because she never caused me to argue, time after time.
I assumed that is why she looked happy, smug like a silent winner of our arguments. Now that I reminiscence on her silence, I ask myself: what was she actually doing? Was her intention merely to remain quiet so that she didn’t draw attention to her own frailties?
Could it have been that we bored her devious mind? All I seem to do lately is ponder the what ifs, but I realize that searching all of memories of Sophia’s childhood will not help her now.
I need to narrow my focus. Her behavior drastically changed on in 2018. Sophia received a cell phone from her dad for Christmas 2017, but Chris and I were adamant about our daughters not having cellphones until they could drive. Unfortunately, I let her have it. In February 2018, her dad called to ask that Chris and I meet with him and his wife to discuss Sophia and issues concerning the cell phone.
Chris and I will never be the same. I saw the tears run down his face when we saw the sexting texts and photos that she was sending several different guys who were much older than her. For two years, she was not able to have a phone. However, the lack of a device did not stop her other drastically dangerous behaviors.
October 6, 2018, Sophia convinced her friend who was a novice driver to take the Ranger out of our yard and ride on the dirt road. Her novice friend wrecked our Ranger with all but one of our children, including our cousin’s daughter on board. Sophia lied on the side of the road wounded and dirt covered with gas pouring all over her head. Her right foot dangled, sharply to one side while her tibia and fibula remained jagged and broken outside of grated skin. Her wound gaped open with broken shards sharply jutting outside of her skin. I chose to life flight her and her friend to the Navicent Children’s Hospital. Her friend suffered a serious concussion, and Sophia survived a five hour surgery to place a rod and screws into her leg.
She spent three days in a hospital and four months on hospital homebound. It took her wound two years to heal, and her leg hurt constantly to walk on it. She finally walked without limping or swelling after a year and a half.
Sophia’s wound October 2018
During her rehabilitation, her mental health deteriorated quickly and drastically. I called a psychiatrist after she returned from her dad’s house during the homebound experience because she was so horribly depressed and had obvious symptoms of PTSD. The nightmares and the panic attacks haunted her daily. My sweet little girl with an addiction to electronic devices was now broken mentally.
Her new doctor switched her medicines for depression, anxiety, and PTSD so many times in the first six months of 2018. We searched for the right combination to help her. She went to her doctor monthly and saw her therapist. However, by November 25, 2019, she was angry and suicidal. We spent the week of Thanksgiving last year worrying about her while she spent the week hospitalized at Coastal Harbor in Savannah. The devastation of watching your child cry constantly and ask to die breaks a mother’s heart.
She seemed a little better initially after her hospitalization. Unfortunately, within a month, she was anxiously picking her skin so that she had small, bloody whelps all over her arms and legs. She would pinch the skin between her fingers, and Sophia explained to her psychiatrist that her nervousness stops when she picked at the skin on her arms and legs. She continued to gain weight. Her grades suffered.
The light was no longer in her eyes. All these symptoms and problems should have made me scream: “DON”T MAKE IT WORSE!” I never learn. I gave her a cell phone for Christmas 2019 since it had been two years. Certainly, she had learned from her mistakes, but I did not understand that my child was an addict yet. This is a new discovery–a recent scab to pick. Regretfully, I did not yet understand what Impulse Control Disorder was, nor how it affects Sophia’s behavior. I did research, but the signs were foreign to me. Obviously, I was in denial.
I usually decorate for Christmas on the day after Thanksgiving, but this time, I did blogging things instead. When I was a child, I was brainwashed to believe that Christmas was the over commercialized holiday from hell. My parents were both self employed.
My mother was a beautician, and my daddy was a farming correctional officer. They made it a Christmas tradition to over-extend themselves financially to give my brothers and I a wonderful, memorable Christmas gift experience. I have fond memories of Christmas mornings, but after that, Mama complained about our gifts for the rest of the year. Even as a single mother, I dreaded the holiday, but since Chris and I have married, I find myself really enjoying it.
It doesn’t even bother me that we have FIVE children to buy for because I start saving around summer time for upcoming Christmas presents. Frugality can happen ALL year long! When we moved into my childhood home in 2018, I LOVED how we chose to remodel everything. I surprising take pride in decorating the house for Christmas, and I look forward to opening gifts with the kids on Christmas morning.
I was so happy to have a husband and a nuclear family after being single for a decade that I embraced the Christmas experience. The living room has become my favorite room to decorate for Christmas. Our farm house chic style really speaks to my soul.
This morning, Sophia grabbed all the Christmas “stuff” out of my closet and randomly placed it all in the living room. I set up the order, and she and Kasey decorated the trees. Sophia and I went to the Dollar Store to get a few more strands of lights and ornaments. Then, we returned to finished up the decorating with LOTS of batteries.
Don’t tell Chris, but I have three more trees coming from Amazon Tuesday. These trees are the birch limbs with white lights. I laugh at myself because I only want skinny trees or the stark contrast of LIMBS, lighted in all their glory.
Merry Christmas and Happy Decorating Success, World!
“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” – Charles Dickens
Well, I have officially completed the Google Play upload of my books. The Adventures of Lee-Lee are LIVE. So far, I have had no nibbles. I am hopeful that I can figure out how to market myself appropriately and get some copies of Lee-Lee in the homes of children.
In 2018, My brother, James, and sister-in-law, Leigh Ann, bought Tom Sawyer Farm in Roddy, Georgia. My brothers and I were raised in Roddy, and Tom Sawyer’s was our first job. We worked at the peach orchard, and I drove James to work everyday until I graduated and moved to Valdosta for college. He and Leigh Ann talked about buying the peach orchard for several years, but they both put their heart and soul and money down in 2018.
They took a leap of FAITH and worked the farm as their full time jobs. There are no words to describe Leigh Ann’s business sense that just complements James’ instinct to farm and to teach his children and other people’s children to farm. The farm has become totally transformed from what it was when Tom owned it. They have peaches, strawberries, blueberries, and local produce. They have merchandise, and they have CHRISTMAS lights.
Our family moved from Roddy to Yonker when I was nine years old. One must understand that Roddy and Yonker are incorporated communities that exist side by side. They are historical communities in Dodge County, yet they are tiny. What now is Hwy 257 used to be Railway 257. The railroad allowed these two communities to coexist and prosper in the 19th century and early 20th century. Now, the highway runs the former route of the railway, and these two communities are small, rural bumps in the road.
About the time the Greenes moved closer to Yonker in 1987, a neighboring family the Tripps started an elaborate Christmas light display in their yard. They put up “The Yonker Lights” for years, but as the Tripps got older and their children moved away, they decided to stop decorating and having visitors in 2016.
When the farm was purchased, James proposed to Leigh Ann that they purchase the Tripp lights and bring the Christmas lights to the farm. I cannot even fathom the magnitude of work it takes to create a walking display of lights to make Christmas on the Farm happen each year. Last night, we visited with them to spend time before the day the lights on the farm opens for business.
Suddenly, Roddy will be a flurry of visiting people. The Tripp Yonker lights have been transformed into a new creation. James and Leigh Ann have added more displays while keeping the original ones. For this year, they have created a fire pit for families to roast marshmallows and make smores. We loved being the first to enjoy it last night!
My favorite is the farm scenes. The farm scenes are dear to my heart because they took my daddy’s farm equipment and incorporated it into the light display.
When daddy died, my brothers very amicably separated his farm equipment between each other. Douglas took the 1466, and James took the 966.
The old Gleaner combine and Daddy’s Super C found it’s way to the farm too. Douglas hauled the Gleaner without a back end to the farm when we had to remove Daddy’s farm equipment from my grandmother’s place in Roddy after it was sold. Now, it has a glamorous new life in LIGHTS! The Super C is frozen in time while pulling an old John Deere. Pieces of my daddy’s life and legacy live on through his children each day.
We even had our family portraits taken on the bridge, gazebo, and dock he built with his own hands, which now belongs to me. Our ability to share and to focus on passing Jimmy Greene’s legacy on to our children and their children is a testament to upbringing that my mama (Cynthia) and my daddy (Jimmy) gave us.
James and Leigh Ann have taken Daddy’s love of farming and turned it into the magnificent farm with Agra-tourism that blesses so many families. When my family visits the farm, we roam happily and free, making memories that will last a lifetime. I am so proud of my brother and my sister for their tenacity and their hard work. I know that my daddy is just as proud of them and the gift they give to our community. They have put Roddy and the Yonker lights back on the map!
I would like to wish them a prosperous and a fun opening night at Christmas on the Farm! I love you both and the children to the moon and back!! I am so excited to get to see my happy place, covered in lights with a visiting food truck from now until December 27.
Dates: Thursdays – Sundays, Nov 27th – Dec 26th, week of Christmas Times: 6pm-10pm Santa: Santa will here every night, socially distanced of course! Admission: $5/person, Children 2/under free Parking: All Parking is in the REAR of the farm. Follow the signs. Concessions: Hot beverages and delicious food will be provided by Touching Lives Ministry. Come hungry and eat with us!
This month my extended family took family pictures to give to my mother for Christmas. These pictures included my brothers and their families as well as my maternal grandmother. My brothers and I have given my mother and grandmother ten grandchildren.
I am so proud of how close we are, and I always look forward to spending time with my family. These new photographs freeze a moment in time to have forever. After my daddy and paternal grandmother died in 2016, I realized that my photographs of them mean so much to me. I want to pass these beautiful photographs down to my children’s children.
On another note, I find myself really being proud of the photo with my mama, my husband, and sister-in-laws. Deeann is my brother Douglas’ wife, and Leigh Ann is my brother James’ wife. Chris is my husband, and Cynthia is my mother. In laws can seriously be the unsung heroes of a family.
These spouses are the glue that keep the family together! They are the warriors behind the scenes. My sister-in-laws not only keep my brothers healthy and happy, they also come to my rescue on the regular!
We have fought battles together at our kitchen tables, trying to save our family legacy. We have eaten barbeque chicken while the kids run around and play. We sat in courtrooms together, praying for a favorable outcome. My sister-in-laws rally around my troubled children, mentoring and loving them in ways that I am unable to do. In laws can make or break the extended family with their drama and dissension.
These people here have strengthened our family unit while blessing and enriching the lives of our children.
Thank you, Leigh Ann and Deeann, for your love and support. I love and appreciate you so much. Mama and Chris already know how much I love and appreciate them. It takes a village to make a Jennifer happy!
Our family acquired a fifth wheel camper in 2017, and we have continued to camp regularly since Liam was a baby. One of our favorite parks to visit it Chester Frost Park in Chattanooga, Tennessee. My mother and father-in-law also live in Chattanooga, so we really enjoy getting to spend time with them at a park, which is just two miles away from their house.
When Chris and I first got married, we had quite the time blending our children into one functional family. I had two children who had lived with just me until they were in 6th and 9th grades, and Chris had a 3rd grader. Suddenly after a decade of being single, I brought a man home, got engaged, became pregnant, and got married. Our girls were flung into an instant family, and I wish I could say that it was an easy transition for us all, but even Bailey, Chris’ daughter struggled. Usually, she is so laid back. She had been the only child until she was nine, and she awoke one day as the youngest of three. Then, by the end of that year, she was the third child of four. Today, she is the fourth child of five.
We took our children to a therapist, and Chris and I worked with couples counseling for the first two years too because we needed the support helping our children bond with us and each other. Sometimes, I think that God helped Christ come up with the two ideas he had to help with the bonding.
He brought home about twenty chickens one Saturday, which I loved since I always raised chickens as a little girl. Our girls, however, had never reared poultry. To our surprise, Bailey and Sophia became the chicken whisperers. They quickly found common ground with our hens, roosters, and turkeys. They didn’t even seem to argue as much while sharing a room.
Next, Chris took us all, even baby Liam, to a Facebook Marketplace hook up. (I am laughing at that choice of words. 🙂 We had a date with a Byron couple to look at their fifth wheel camper. It had a four bed bunk house, which would give us enough space to have all four girls in the bunks. Liam sleeps on the couch most of the time, so a good sofa is all he needs.
We paid cash for that camper Spring 2017, and I began to plan our first trip. We’ve camped all over Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee so far. I need to branch out to other states, but so far, I do not feel we have time to spend more than a few hours in the truck for a trip. Traveling with a baby or a toddler limits the time we should and can spend inside the truck.
We’ve camped together as a family now for four years, and our children have successfully bonded. Sophia and Bailey put in to stay longer at Chester Frost this trip. I did love the lazy, quiet time on the lake this time. I usually have an itinerary and plans, but this trip, we just did what we wanted. We played outside, watched the deer, and visited with Mamaw and Papaw (my mother and father-in-law).
I had the most fun, watching Liam play in the mud of the dried lake bed.
Bailey fished with Papaw, and she and Sophia took walks and escaped the campsite as often as we would let them. I must admit that our camping trips really do improve my marriage too!
Don’t tell my husband about this, but getting him to come home before dark or on the weekends is HARD. He is such a dedicated business owner and provider. He works so hard for each of us, and he spends so much time working on the farm or at S & S FAB and Welding, LLC. I am always so impressed with his success and dedication.
When I beg him for quality time, he often laughs at me, pats me on the behind, and drives away. However, he never seems to mind taking off for a camping trip! We get to spend quality time with each other and the kids while getting out of the house for a few days or a week. I have enjoyed our trips so much more than I ever imagined I would. In fact, I can’t wait to retire in 15 years so we can camp more!
In the beginning of my Wheeler County High journey, I met Lucy. She’s had my heart along with the rest of the Class of 2021 from the beginning. I admit that last year I had a lack of leadership responsibilities, so I got to focus on teaching and learning about my students. As I have gotten older, I have learned to focus on RELATIONSHIPS, and the leadership will come later. I am so THANKFUL for the young adults in my life and my work at WCHS. It does an old teacher’s heart good to get gifts like these!
So, I have made a Barnes and Nobles account and have attempted to download my ebook and paperback for three days now. I gave up on the ebook for right now, so I am focused on the paperback. I have embedded my fonts from word to pdf for the cover like 115 times to no avail.
I have watched YouTube video after YouTube video and have done just as instructed, yet my fonts are still not embedded. I am the most excited about having my books at Barnes and Nobles, but I am not sure I can ever get the downloads correct. HELP me, GEEZ!
For the last part of the work week, I have been busy working on a 2nd Edition of this book in my series. When I originally wrote it, I do believe I must have had clumsy fingers and a grieving mind. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but we had just moved into my dad’s home after he passed away and maybe it wasn’t a good time to write that book yet.
Now that I am revising and rewriting, I see a lack of story line, all my mistakes, and I feel disappointed in myself. However, I must remind me that I am looking at the original book from a less mournful lens. I can clearly read my grief and loss, which makes for better poetry not a peppy children’s book. I have a better sense of my character as well as how I want him portrayed.
I also feel that I have a better handle on my layout process, and I am finding more peace while totally rewriting instead of feeling the sting of loss as I write. Writing is such an emotionally driven task for me that I definitely see the benefit from removing myself from the first edition for an entire year.
With luck and better direction, the second edition will tell a sincere story with a more enthusiastic tone and mood. I’ve completed the first 11 pages of rewrite as of this evening. These pages are true to my voice and my goals. I am so excited to finish the rewrite and resubmit the new book this weekend!
I am determined to make the last two months of 2020 more productive and more positive than the first months of this pandemic stricken year!
I am so excited that my third book has gone live on Amazon. So far, the Kindle version is ready to go, and as of right now, I have some formatting issues to get the paperback version edited for printing. When I started this book, I was dealing with much emotion surrounding my idea of having my dad be a character with Liam. Daddy died two weeks before Liam was born, and I will never see him hold or even read to my son.
In my imagination, I tried to create an environment where Jimmy Mac and Lee-Lee have a special bond. I also struggled giving this book conflict. I felt like it needed a problem/solution of some kind, and this is a children’s book. Thus, the question remains: how to have a problem/solution in here at all? Of course, I created the layout on Canva, converting the presentation to a pdf. This pdf was then uploaded into Kindle Publisher. Once I had the file, then all I had to do is preview and publish.
My main issue with publishing the paperback is the formatting of the Canva pdf, which has margins (inside and outside) that are too large for the format of my book. So, I get to figure out how to shrink them down, and thankfully, Amazon does give suggestions on what the issues are, how to fix them, and how to try again.
I am so blessed that Amazon has given me platform to self publish, but it takes a lot of work on my end with formatting, layout, images, and text. It seems that I get carried away with document and design that I lose my focus on the story line itself. Pat (Dr. Miller) always told me in Journalism while in graduate school that she wished I could layout a dominant image and design a page as well as I could change modes of writing. I must confess–I still struggle with layout and design. But I was never a journalism major now was I? I was simply a Rhet/Comp grad student with a preference for literary nonfiction, which I NEVER get to write.
On a more positive note, I found out today—that 58 people have purchased my children’s books in the last two days. Also, my poetry book as been printed and shipped to six different people since Halloween. I cannot describe the joy I have just to see any spike in readers at all. Why do I work if not to be read? The reader is the most important collaborator. If books aren’t read, the collaboration has failed.
I hold onto hope for my writing, and I nurse it like a newborn child. I have spent so much of my life after college working, paying bills, and rearing children that my real talent got put on the back burner. I refuse to give up. I still have so much to say and so much work is coming out of me. It’s hard to focus when a million children’s stories are shuffling in my head with poems constantly fighting to get out onto the page each day. Now I have found a strong female led in a three chapter novel I am writing mostly at night when I should be sleeping.
It’s 1 am, and I must be quieting the soul and all the literary beasts trapped in the cue.
Benjamin Franklin always said he could sleep when he is dead.
“There will be sleeping enough in the grave.” Benjamin Franklin
Things yet to do…
Edit all margins
Upload modified text
Get paperback to be LIVE
Complete edition 2 of book 2
Continue to add Grandma’s pictures to my poetry book
There has been one child I haven’t written about as of yet because I really didn’t know what to say or even how to get my feelings out to the blog page. I have not yet written about my beautiful stepdaughter, Bailey. Even now as I sit at my writing table inside the camper while Liam sleeps on the camper sofa, I see Bailey running and playing in the yard. She looks lovely with beautiful tanned skin and sun-kissed blonde hair. She appears so carefree and innocent from a distance.
Every few minutes she stops playing and pokes her head in the camper: “You still writing a story. What is happening in it?” I must say that she is the most inquisitive child. For every action, there is a set of questions in Bailey’s mind. 🙂 I remember the first day I laid eyes on her: she was the sweetest, cutest little Bailey I ever did see. Chris had, unbeknownst to him, named her after my grandfather: Bailey Carroll Greene. My stepdaughter’s full name is Bailey Caroline. I knew from the first moment we met that I was destined to love her.
The journey of love has been ragged, jagged, and tiring, yet it has been one of compassion and understanding nevertheless. She has serious learning disabilities, and I found myself in denial for many months. The teacher in me believed that I could tutor the disability right out of her. I just knew that the more we worked that the more she would learn, but I soon understood that the more we worked the less fun she had. The more tired she became. I cried so hard that day that we left her IEP meeting, and I had her IQ written in the report in my hands.
Denial broke housekeeping that day. A new stepmother grew out of denial’s leaving. We still played and worked, yet we focused on other concepts. The concepts would be to help increase her adaptive life skills so that she would be better prepared for the working world. Twelve year olds probably do not think about jobs and careers very often, yet Bailey does. Her dream is to become a cashier at Walmart, and I plan to ensure she achieves that dream. Unfortunately, I cannot say how much time I will have to work with her because my time with her may soon be limited.
Her mother and mother’s father decided in December 2016 to begin working on a custody suit that they filed in December 2017. We have spent most of 2018 dealing with lawyers, worrying about court dates, and trying to raise a young woman who cannot fathom the severity of this situation. Some days like today, I steal away from the others and cry. I ask myself questions like: what will become of our family? how will she make out away from Liam and the girls if custody changes? what will I do with myself? how will Chris handle things?
I search for someone to blame. Someone to hate. However, blame and hate are not welcome in my heart or my house. Bailey is still the same loving, caring beautiful young woman she has always been. She deserves all the love and support I have to give her regardless of these sad circumstances. Thus, I will blame it all on the pink polka dotted suitcase in the back of our Ford
The polka dotted suitcase arrived at our house at 2 pm today, and at 2:02 pm I escorted it outside and banned it to the back of the Focus. Bailey asked a million questions: why can’t I have it? can I just get my things out of it? where’s it going now? Ultimately, the bag has done nothing to Chris nor myself. Have mercy–it is simply a bag.
On the other hand, the bag represents all the hurt, abuse, and miscommunication that we have had to endure for the last seven months. Her mother packed a bag for her to take with her on our vacation next week despite of the green polka dotted bag that sits on Bailey’s bed right now filled with clothes from her drawers or toiletries from our house.
The “Indian Giver” sent a bag that must be returned, which insinuates that we cannot provide clothes and toiletries for Bailey ourselves. A text preceded the bag which stated: make sure that I get the bag and all the stuff in it back after vacation. The Indian Giver also insinuated that we do not provide clothes for Bailey in a previous argument with my husband. Chris takes such pride in his ability to provide for his family; in fact, he doesn’t even complain much when I ask for money to make a clothes or shoes run to Target. Believe me these children can outgrow clothes and shoes like the wind. A man, a father, or a husband deserves to be treated with respect, and it is a basic principle of why a man works to support his family. When someone belittles a man who works hard and supports his children well, it is disrespectful, hurtful, and never forgotten.
With all this background information in mind, I must leave my feelings in the trunk with that damned bag. I am the angel of the home; (eighteenth century women would scoff at that remark) I am the voice of reason; I am the MOTHER. Motherhood already demands that I remove my own feelings at the front door along with any bad habits, mood swings, or personal desires. I may not always succeed at motherhood, but I attempt to get it right weekly, daily, and hourly.
I will lock all my aggression, sadness, confusion, and emotional responses inside that bag before Chris drives it back to its owner. Bailey deserves an impartial stepmother who focuses on her best interests, not my own. Even my thoughts as Chris’ wife must take a backseat to Bailey’s best interests. So, I will stand in the driveway and wave farewell to the pink, polka dotted suitcase. I will send my feelings, thoughts, and prayers with it when it goes. The devil may be inside that suitcase, but I refuse to let him out. My Bailey is more important than symbols real or imagined. My Bailey is more important than the chaos that surrounds us. She is my child, real or step. The love we share overcomes a multitude of sins so my grandma would say. Pray for us. If you can’t do that, then think positively because the devil went for a ride in the back of a candy blue Ford Focus while zipped inside a pink, polka dotted suitcase. That is where he will remain.
**Indian Giver is used as a pseudonym to protect the innocent :-).
It’s been a labor of love to spend the last three weeks tweaking this book so that it fits the parameters for hardcover. I have uploaded the incorrect inside matter, changed the margins of the cover, and redesigned the back cover. I have done seven sets of edits, and I have just prayed that it would be over soon! Right now, on this VERY day, A Friend for FestusHARDBACK is LIVE on Barnes and Noble.com.
Of course, the eBook and paperback are still available on AMAZON, but having this book available with a hardcover makes me happy. There’s nothing like watching a child play and read a hardcover; truthfully, I prefer to let my kids drool all over the hardcovers. The drool makes the book more realistic and enjoyable. 🙂