YAY! Ashley is back home with us! As turbulent as it can be at times, we really feel like home is where she belongs right now until she figures things out and we can guide her a little more. Raising a teen is tough for parents but I realize that it is also tough being a teen. How soon we forget. Being 18 makes you a legal adult but mentally, most 18 year old kids are not ready to take on the world and live independently. You may think you know everything at that age, but you don't. Kids want their freedom to come and go as they please, do whatever they want to do, and answer to no one, but want their parents to hand them money when they want it. Life doesn't work that way for the majority. Get used to it. You will always have responsibilities, obligations, choices to make, consequences for your actions and work to pay for all of your shit. Learn to deal with it.
I respected Ashley for coming to us and apologizing for her bad behavior. I also like that the shirt she chose to wear said, "Respect your elders." I thought it was funny. She's a good kid. We all have our moments. I always try to understand how she was feeling at the time of an argument, why I didn't approve of the way she handled herself, and then I suggest better ways for her to express herself. We discuss ways she could have been handled the situation to achieve a more positive outcome while still making her point and avoiding conflict. It is illegal nowadays to beat your kid with a wooden spoon so that's the best I can do. LOL! Chris is the best at giving advice and Ashley tends to take him more seriously than me. Both of the conversations you saw with Ashley, Chris and me were a lot more detailed than what was shown. The gist of it was that she was always welcome back home, but only if she was ready to live by our rules understand why we have rules, and to respect the rules and us. We went over what we expected of her. It got emotional because I don't understand how little things escalate to a fight between us. I wanted her to know that I love her and that I'm not her enemy. My delivery may not always be right, but my intentions are always in her best interest. My advice is given through my life experiences. I wish I could save my kids from heartache by sharing with them all that I have learned but sometimes they do need a little tough love and have to learn from their own experiences. Sometimes that is very hard and frustrating to watch. One day it will all click with Ashley. One day Ashley will be very successful in many ways. She's a very smart and talented girl. We have faith in her.
For those of you who have been asking about how Chris and I met, I will tell you the story. Chris and I met the summer of 1996 when Ashley was only five years old. At the time, I rented a chair in a salon doing hair as a licensed cosmetologist in Las Vegas, Nevada where I had moved with my ex-husband and my parents in 1990. I also would work my salon schedule and appointments around certain weeks when I was modeling at conventions that frequently came to our town. It was good money that I needed and I enjoyed doing it. I don't really like to call it modeling because it wasn't as glamorous as print work and runway, but I had fun doing it anyway. I modeled clothes, shoes, accessories, electronics, computer programs, just what ever came to town. I never took jobs out of town because I had to take care of a small child. One day my Dad, who was senior vice president of operations at the Riviera Hotel and Casino, told me that a coworker of his knew a guy that needed a model to work in his booth at a trade show in Chicago. It was for the the NSGA (National Sporting Goods) trade show or something like that. I could never afford a vacation, so a trip to Chicago sounded like a pretty good deal to me and came at a time when I really felt like I needed to get away. My Dad's coworker was a guy named Steve Shiripa. You may know him by his character on The Sopranos. Steve is actually the guy that introduced me to a friend who hired me to do that job in Chicago. Meanwhile, Chris was a jobber in the wholesale apparel business and was building a new company. He was returning from vacation when he and his brothers decided last minute to go to the convention in Chicago. Chris was living in New Jersey at the time. Fate and destiny at work. Chris and his brothers happened to come by our booth and his brother just happened to know one of the girls I was working with through her sister. Small world. Chris and I were introduced. I thought nothing of it, besides the fact that he was a handsome guy with pretty blue eyes and dimples who was very quiet and seemed shy, but sexy at the same time.
Chris and his brothers came back around later that day and invited us to a dinner they were having. I originally said no because I didn't know them well enough, but the girl I was working with kept insisting that she knew them to be good guys. She told me that Chris wasn't going to go unless I went. I found that strange and hard to believe because Chris and I hadn't spoken much, but I was intrigued at the same time. I finally agreed to go to the dinner but only if we met them there. Chris and I sat across from each other and basically tuned everyone else out all night while we talked and laughed. We had an instant connection. I had a great time with him. When I left, we exchanged numbers to keep in touch, never thinking it could go anywhere because of the distance between us. From that day on it was nonstop visiting and ridiculously long and frequent phone calls in which we really got to know each other and became the best of friends and fell in love. That went on for about five years. There was a year break between us after three years. I really had no desire to move to New Jersey at the time and pull Ashley away from my family and friends and he couldn't make the move to Nevada. We couldn't move forward. I was so in love with him and I wasn't dating other people, but I was scared to make the move. After our year apart, our failed attempts to get each other out of our minds and attempts of being with other people, we both realized we were just meant to be together and it wasn't worth fighting it anymore. We had missed being in each others lives so much. We knew we loved each other but I just didn't know where he would fit in and where it could go. We reconnected and then a year later he came to me and proposed to me right in front of Ashley. I had to make a decision right then and there. HELL YES! I decided to go for it. I knew if I didn't that I might regret it the rest of me life. I knew that I loved Chris, he made me laugh, we both enjoyed a lot of the same interests, we had the same family values, and wanted similar things for our future. I felt safe with him and knew that he would always take care of me and Ashley, and he'd treat her like his own daughter. It was the best decision I ever made! We've been together 14 years and we're still going strong. I still see my Nevada friends and family often. It all worked out.(While dating Chris I also went on to work for Lancome and worked on-call for swing and graveyard shifts as a cocktail waitress for a local hotel and casino called Samstown. I also freelanced as a makeup artist, just in case you were wondering.) That's the end of my long ass story and the beginning of a new one that you're more familiar with ... my life in New Jersey.