Tag Archives: marriage

Our Kid-Free Staycation

20 Jan

I know this great hotel where the fridge is stocked with all my favorite stuff, all my toiletries are already waiting in the bathroom for me, and the booze doesn’t cost a small fortune.  Unfortunately I have to do my own housekeeping, laundry, and dishes, but when you’re staying for free, you don’t really get to complain.

Once every 6 weeks or so, my mom has been insisting on taking the girls for a sleepover.  The first time, I spent the entire evening tense.  Though I trust my parents explicitly with my children, giving up control is so very hard for me, combined with the anxiety that one or both kids may need only what mommy can give in the middle of the night.  With my 5 year old, I don’t worry so much, but Bean is still very-much a mommy’s girl and usually nurses down for the night.  But they do great and each time gets easier and easier.  Sunday afternoon, when we dropped them off, we didn’t even bother to take our coats off.

We didn’t have a reservations, tickets, or even a plan, but honestly it didn’t matter what we did as long as we did it without the kids.  Their constant demands were beginning to wear a hole in my head and it was getting to the point where I was hearing tiny voices calling “moooommmmmyyyy, I want moooorrreeee juuuuuiiiiiccceeee,” even in my dreams.  It was a hard day for me, depression keeping me from feeling the full joy of freedom, but I knew I would feel better out than at home, in bed, under my slanket (“no second-class snuggies in this house,” jokes my husband), watching yet another episode of Torchwood.

photo-6

Where else would one keep their giant canister of helium? Don’t you keep yours in the hallway? (obliging husband for scale)

So we headed into Cambridge.  I got an impromptu behind-the-scenes tour of MIT, along with a random juggling show in the main dome.  We stopped for coffee and decided to head over to Back Bay for walking, shopping, and dinner.  And we just walked.  Toured.  Snapped photos of things that stood out.  Because of the football game, even the best restaurants in the neighborhood had no wait, and we had a lovely dinner of fish and salads.  I think somewhere between the fife player outside the subway station, the flute and organ rehearsal inside the church, and the two glasses of divine Riesling wine with dinner, the depression lost and I found myself laughing again.  Debating the merits of science and religion.  Talking about my hope and dreams for writing and where my husband sees his career going after he completes his degree.

And the best part?  At the end of the evening, we went home.  To a quiet house.  So quiet that by Monday afternoon, it was too quiet.

We’re back to the hustle and bustle of dinner and the battlefield that is bath and bedtime here, but I feel recharged and re-energized.  “I was just calling to see how your kid-free time was,” my mom phoned this afternoon.  Amazing, mom.  Seriously.  Thank you.

Even the architecture here is smarter than I am.

Even the architecture here is smarter than I am.

 

Adam laughed as I peered in room after room saying "it's geektastic in there!"

Adam laughed as I peered in room after room saying “it’s geektastic in there!”

 

One of the stunning Back Bay churches.

One of the stunning Back Bay churches.

 

I love how in Boston, a 200-year-old church sits next to a mirrored, modern building.

I love how in Boston, a 200-year-old church sits next to a mirrored, modern building.

Gifts of Imperfection – Exploring the Power of Love, Belonging, and Being Enough, Week 3

24 Sep

You can find previous chapters using the page navigation above.  Brene’s book can be purchased HERE.  It’s awesome.

Gifts of Imperfection – Exploring the Power of Love, Belonging, and Being Enough

When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. Our sense of worthiness—that critically important piece that gives us access to love and belonging—lives inside of our story.

Brown, Brene (2010-09-20). The Gifts of Imperfection (p. 23). BookMobile. Kindle Edition.

I think back to my teens and twenties and feel like I wasted years and years attempting to “fit in.” Isn’t that what we all do in high school?  Try to figure out who everyone wants us to be?  I wish I could say that becoming a mother matured me beyond this behavior, but it only redirected my attention to who I was supposed to be “as a mother.”  I looked everywhere for the answer.  Parenting books.  Friends.  My own mother.

Brene calls this “hustling for worthiness.”  That phrase hits me right in the gut because I know the pain of changing in an attempt to belong only to find belonging slip through my fingers.  Worthiness was always just out of reach and clothed in self-doubt.  I was supposed to love snuggling my baby all night.  I was supposed to be happy staying at home.  I was supposed to feel like my baby and I belonged together.  Supposed to.  If you’re ever wondering if you’re hustling for worthiness, listen for those words.  They are my red flag.

The other portion in this chapter that resonates with me is about love.

To begin by always thinking of love as an action rather than a feeling is one way in which anyone using the word in this manner automatically assumes accountability and responsibility. — BELL HOOKS

Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Harper Paperbacks, 2001).

She shares the quote above and gives examples of times she’s struggled with practicing love in her own life.

I truly love Steve (and, oh man, I do), then how I behave every day is as important, if not more important, than saying “I love you” every day. When we don’t practice love with the people we claim to love, it takes a lot out of us. Incongruent living is exhausting.

Brown, Brene (2010-09-20). The Gifts of Imperfection (p. 28). BookMobile. Kindle Edition.

The stress of parenting small children (or even just the stress of everyday life) can make us forget that love is something you do.  My husband likes to say that he told me he loves me the day we got married and if that changes, he will let me know.  He practices love each day  instead.  This chapter reminded me that though I might tell him I love him every day, when I snap at him in an anxious moment, I am not practicing love.  And when I lose my temper with No1, I needed to be more mindful of showing her the love I feel for her.  It’s not easy, and not always possible.  But being mindful of how important my everyday actions are to the people around me has helped me feel more connected to them.  It makes me want to explicitly teach the language of worthiness to my children.

Let’s talk.  Can you think of a time when you felt true belonging? How did you get there?  How did it change your interactions with others or your perception of yourself?

How do you hustle for worthiness?  I know I fall victim to believing that perfection will lead to worthiness for me.  And pleasing.  I am SUCH a people pleaser and am actively working on learning to say no, putting myself first.  Is it performing, perfecting, pleasing, proving?  Or something else?

Disclaimer: I purchased the book Gifts of Imperfection on my own and am not being compensated for my review of the book or for promoting it. I receive no kickback from any of the Amazon links provided above. I simply love the book and want to share.

PPD and Marriage

14 Sep

Marriage is hard.  Marriage with children is challenging. Marriage with PPD is formidable.

Think back to your dating years.  Now imagine you arrange a date with a guy who has everything.  He’s handsome, smart, funny, caring.  He loves cats and doing dishes.  He washes his hands after using the restroom.  He compulsively buys presents – can’t help himself.  He picks you up, you drive to a restaurant on the beach, and find the perfect table for watching the sunset.  And then a loud man drags a chair over to your table and plops down in-between you and your date.  He blows cigarette smoke in your face as he introduces himself as Horace.  He talks over you and your date all evening, spitting chunks of food as he complains about every possible detail.  When you get up to use the restroom, he takes it as an insult and spends the rest of the evening sulking.  You finally ask your date who this man is and he tells you that Horace goes everywhere with him – they are rarely apart.  At times during dinner, your date seems to waver between being annoyed with Horace’s antics, trying to shut him up, and egging him on.  One thing is for sure. . . if you see your date again, you’re going to be spending time with Horace, too.

Would you go on a second date?  I mean, you really like this guy.  But Horace?  Who has time for him?  He makes spending time with your man nearly impossible and even seems to change who he is entirely at times.

Sometimes I think that’s how my husband feels.  I KNOW he loves me.  I know he believes in me – in us – and the life we are creating together.  But he’s fed up with Velma*.  I used to take his frustration with my anxiety personally and felt like he was angry with me.  In my defensive state, I would argue about how hard I was trying and tell him he wasn’t being supportive enough. But I’ve come to understand that he’s entitled to be angry. . . I’m angry.  I hate having an anxiety disorder and on my worst days, I want to whine and scream  like a child about it.

My husband just wants the partner he married.  He wants me – just me – with no Velma standing at my side, whispering that I’m not good enough and tricking me into starting an argument over something silly.  He wants to have fun with the woman he fell in love with over ten years ago.  He wants me to be happy.

It’s relatively easy for me to say this and take responsibility for giving his feelings respect because he is the definition of support. He takes the kids on weekend  mornings so I can catch up on sleep.  He is standing behind my decision to postpone the mood stabilizer so I can continue to nurse the baby.  He gently reminds me to take my medication if I’m feeling overwhelmed, and he adjusts plans to meet my needs.  We are a team this time.

His anger?  Isn’t AT me.  It’s FOR me.  For us.  And thought it may hurt some days, I have to afford his feelings the same respect he gives mine, and support him as he processes them.  After all, marriage is hard enough already with two kids.  We don’t need Velma’s lies about his frustration to make it any more difficult.

*Velma is the nickname the online PPD community has give to depression and anxiety.  We frequently tag our tweets about PPD with #velmasucks or #velmaisabitch or (my favorite) #velmaisalyingho. It’s a way to signal that we’re struggling and that we know that our mental illness is a separate entity from ourselves.

Jealousy

29 Aug

Annenberg Hall - The First Year Dining Hall

In just a few days, my husband begins his time as a PhD candidate at Harvard University.  Though his first class isn’t until Wednesday, he’s spent the last week in orientation, meeting with his adviser, and taking in the campus.  I am proud of him beyond words.  He has earned every last bit of this and is about to fulfill a life-long dream.  His excitement is contagious and it’s amazing to see him so enthusiastic and hopeful.  But.  Honestly?

I’m insanely jealous.

It’s not just the amazing sights, though they are enough to take your breath away.  It’s that he’s on this new adventure, entering a new phase of his life, learning amazing things from amazing people, and I fear being left behind.  I mean, he spent one day last week touring the grounds and got to peek into Annenberg Hall, and I…well I wiped toddler butt.

This is not a pity party.  Let me be clear.  I choose to stay home with my daughter and I am happy deeply content with the balance I’ve managed to find between being a SAHM and a music teacher.  And just like when I was teaching full-time in public school, I feel fulfilled by what I do.  But let’s be honest.  Although raising children is the most important thing most of us will ever do, snacktime and potty training do pale in comparison to Harvard when it comes to daily routine.  There is no glamor in the day-to-day life of a SAHM.  Although there are may perks (hellooo, pajamas at 2pm!), prestige and excitement are not among them.

Gate to Harvard Yard

 

The bottom line is that the jealousy is my problem, not his.  And I honestly think it’s absent of any deep-seeded longing for my life to change.  I mean, come on…it’s freaking Harvard.  How cool is that???  Who wouldn’t be jealous?  If it sticks around once the novelty of the new school year has worn off, I’ll know I need to reevaluate my choices and see if I want to do something different.  I know he would support me 100% regardless of my dream.  And so I’ve told him, ” Soak in every moment.  Don’t stop telling me about all the amazing things you see and people you meet.  Stay excited – I want you to revel in this before it becomes pedestrian and stressful.”  I really hope he does, because he deserves it.

 

 

Las Vegas Blues

15 Apr

I wish I had photos from our trip to Las Vegas.  Despite the fact that they would all be embarrassing, I would absolutely post them with pride – because we had a great time.  We let loose.  We partied like we hadn’t in a decade.  And I’m not one bit ashamed of any of it.  Maybe that means I didn’t party as hard as I think I did, but I’m the mom of a toddler.  The bar was set pretty low.

Our last day was spent having a two-hour lunch at Olive’s while watching the Bellagio fountains from a veranda.  We layed out in the sun, and I got to feel like a goddess in my little purple bikini bought just for the trip.  We went to a seriously terrible buffet at Terribles with the inlaws (thanks for dinner, guys!) and watched Penn and Teller turn coins into goldfish before boarding the plane to come home that night.  It was an amazing, indulgent day.

Olives View

Again, I took no pictures.  But this was our view from lunch.  Thanks, google image search!

Is it any wonder that upon returning home to four loads of laundry, a needy cat and toddler, and a messy house that both the hubby and I gave each other a look that said “Seriously?  Can we go back?”  In Vegas, I didn’t wash dishes.  I didn’t have to wipe anyone’s butt (Okay, except for mine, of course.  Although I bet you can find someone in Vegas who would do that, too, for the right price.).  And I could focus on myself and my husband.  The fact that I was still longing for those things had me feeling terribly guilty and anxious.  Did it mean I didn’t love my life here at home?  I thought things were pretty good.  You know, before I left reality for Las Vegas.

We’ve been home since Monday.  We’re starting to get back into our routine.  My eyes are no longer itchy and I’m already taking for granted that the air isn’t clouded with cigarette smoke.  I’m soaking up hugs from DoodleBug (whose picture I stole looks at on my phone constantly while on vacation).  I missed how she smells after bathtime…and staring at her hazel eyes…and the way she says “silly” without pronouncing any of the L’s.  I’m glad to have the peace and quiet of our little country neighborhood, interrupted only by the sound of my daughter humming Ode to Joy while she dresses up her stuffed animals.  Turns out I’m pretty glad to be home after all.

So I’m not going to let myself feel guilty for taking a few days just for me.  For my husband’s family (congrats to the newlyweds!).  And for my marriage.  Vacations are a break from the daily grind.  It makes complete sense that returning to that grind can be a tough transition, and I’m cutting myself some slack for feeling a little blue.  Besides, I’m not pining for neon lights or the hypnotic midi music of the slot machines.  It’s not the complete lack of responsibilty I’m missing.  It’s the escape.  The time to myself.  The fun.

Hubs and I have come back from this trip remembering how much fun it is to spend quality time together.  We’re both committed to setting a new routine that puts US back at the top of the priority list.  There’s a new energy between us:  more flirting, more cooperation, more understanding, more romance.  It’s as if we somehow packed a little bit of Vegas in our carry-ons and brought it home.

The pictures?  Would have been a nice.  But this energy is the ultimate keepsake.

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