The Mom Conundrum

It is one of the great mysteries of motherhood: How can we LOVE being with our children and LOVE being away from them?? I absolutely adore spending time with my kids! For crying out loud, I even homeschool! There are weeks that I am literally with them 24/7…most weeks. I LOVE teaching them! I LOVE taking them to the park! I LOVE doing family activities!! I really LOVE family togetherness!! However, the other day when we left to pick up our new van…I was giddy! I was excited to get the van, of course, but I was giddy to be alone with my husband!!

We drove 2 hours by ourselves. I read my husband a hilarious article on Facebook and we both laughed. We listened to the music we wanted to, we stopped and looked at campers that we have no intention of buying, we ate lunch together, and we talked about dreams we have for the future. It was wonderful!!!

A few years ago, we went on a weekend away. I think it may be the only weekend away since kids, now that I think about it. I was so excited! We had a great time!! Dinner on our own! Going places that kids can’t go! Staying in a hotel without having to put kids in bed. It was WONDERFUL!!! Yet when it was time to go home, I was pretty sure that I could run faster than my husband could drive! I was ready to be home and I missed my kids so much!!!

Why is this? How can we love being with them and love being away from them at the same time?!?! I honestly think the answer is, as mothers, we have two halves: motherhood and the woman we were before motherhood. The person we were before kids, enjoys revisiting those care free days where the only concern we had was our own wants and plans. The person we are after kids lives for their needs and they become the center of our world…our heart walking on the outside of our bodies. Sometimes I think I lose that girl, the one I was before kids. But when I have time away from them, I find I don’t want to stay there for long, because I miss them too much.

It is strange how two seemingly contradictory feelings can live in one person. And yet, they do! Talk to any mom. Most of us feel this way!

It is a grand thing to be a mom!

The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.

-Jessica Lange

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that you love or hate. Some people think it is a giant money maker for Hallmark and florists, some LOVE everything about it, and some hate and despise it. Personally, I really like Valentine’s Day. I think much of how you feel about the big love day has to do with your expectations or the expectations that you feel are placed on you.

Today is the 20th anniversary of our second Valentine’s Day when we were dating. We hadn’t been dating very long for the first, so it was pretty low

….never in my wildest dreams did I expect to see a two drawer filing cabinet with a big, red bow on it.

key. On the second, however, we had been dating well over a year and I had high hopes. We already knew that we were going to get married, but I knew I wasn’t getting a ring yet. I can remember him pulling in to pick me up for our date! I was so excited! He said that I had to come to the car for my gift. I don’t know what I was hoping for, but I can tell you that never in my wildest dreams did I expect to see a two drawer filing cabinet with a big, red bow on it. I was stunned! And not real sure how to react….I mean, who gives office furniture for Valentine’s Day? I was polite, but he could tell I was really confused. I mean, it was a FILING CABINET!!! He began to explain that he knew that I had trouble keeping all of my college papers together and organized for my portfolio, so he thought this would help. It was actually a super thoughtful gift. A whole lot more thought went into my filing cabinet than flowers or jewelry. Not that we haven’t laughed about it for years! But if Valentine’s Day is truly for showing someone how much you think of them, my husband (then boyfriend) hit it out of the park! It was just not what I was expecting or what we are taught to expect, so I was disappointed.

I have had Valentine’s Days where I got jewelry and flowers and chocolates. That being said, my husband and I have had years where we watched a movie at home and ate pizza and showed each other the card we WOULD have bought each other, but didn’t. Many years ago, I told my husband that I didn’t want him buying me flowers for V Day. They jack the prices and the flowers die quickly. I told him to buy me flowers a day or two later when they clearance them! Plus, I prefer daisies or carnations to roses. I also told him not to get me any expensive jewelry because I don’t wear it. If I ever see something that I really want, I let him know. We also take turns planning the day. I mean, he’s my valentine too….it shouldn’t all fall to him! My point is that we laid out our expectations. Now there is no disappointment and my husband enjoys the day better because he doesn’t feel such pressure to do everything he is “supposed to”.

Truth be known, if we handled most things in our marriages, relationships, friendships that way we would be happier. It is difficult to meet expectations that we don’t know we are being held to. For example, my husband is great at washing and drying the clothes! He will diligently start a load, dry a load, and put it in a basket. I LOVE the help, but when I go downstairs there are 20 gazillion baskets to fold! I felt like I was drowning! I would get so mad! I was mad at my husband for WASHING. THE. LAUNDRY. Which makes me sound like an idiot! Finally, I just told him that I got super overwhelmed and if he was going to do it, I needed him to slow down and let me know that there were baskets to fold BEFORE he filled the basement. Problem solved. I let him know my expectation and he met it. He thought all along that he was meeting (or exceeding) my expectations by washing as much as he could.

It is difficult to meet expectations that we don’t know we are being held to.

If today you find yourself disappointed or maybe even irritated with how Valentine’s Day is going, ask yourself if your person knows what you are

expecting? Are you expecting flowers sent to your work? A fancy gift? A night out? Something very heartfelt (like a filing cabinet)? Let your person know!! They love you! They want to make you happy! Just give them direction. It doesn’t make it any less romantic, I promise!!

Love isn’t about finding a perfect person. It’s seeing an imperfect person perfectly. –Sam Keen

10 Tips for a Happy Marriage

We all want a happy marriage! So many times, it’s the little things that cause the problems. I don’t claim to be an expert, but here are a few tips from our marriage in no specific order:

  1. Laugh a lot! Sometimes it is difficult, I know. But laughter really is the best. Life throws so much at us and there are times that it is difficult to laugh at it. Really though, life is too short not to laugh! If you can’t find something funny enough to laugh at in your life, than I highly recommend checking out Dry Bar Comedy on YouTube! Trust me! You’ll laugh!
  2. Sharing the blankets is hard! We have a queen size bed and it always seemed like someone was without covers. Now I sleep with my own sheet and quilt and so does he! We can both burrito ourselves and roll with the covers as much as we want. Problem solved!!! And for those of you wondering, “How do you make a bed like that?” See previous post: Lowering the Bar.
  3. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! My husband always tells me, “Assume that I need you to spell it out for me!” Not that either of us are dumb, but we do communicate differently and have different expectations. Your partner is on your side….so share your thoughts with your spouse!
  4. Follow the same rules you expect of your kids! Be kind, don’t call names, if you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all, etc. Pretty simple actually!
  5. Play! Play board games, play tag, have a Nerf gun war (tons of fun!), joke around, tell corny jokes, play chase, have snowball fights…just have fun! Fun is a huge component that most adults are truly missing in adulthood. Notice that all of the above mentioned, are free!!
  6. Don’t say no to sex. I know this one sounds difficult, but physical intimacy truly grounds a marriage and keeps us united. The more that you say no, the easier it is to continue to say no. The more you say no, the harder it is for your partner to ask. No one likes being turned down. Try saying yes. Every time. I promise you won’t regret it.
  7. Jobs should be done by each person. I always say that we are a team and it doesn’t work unless we are both pulling as hard as we can in the same direction. My husband does laundry, I take the garbage, we’ve both mowed the lawn. The point is that there aren’t “his” jobs and “her” jobs. He works full time. I work full time educating the kids. To get it all done, we pull together!
  8. Fart in front of each other. I really feel that this is essential. I mean, I live with 6 dudes, so my life is truly a gassy mess! But gas is funny! Which brings us back to laughing together. Oddly enough, ladies, most men are impressed by gas…no need to hide your talent!!
  9. Be together! Togetherness is important. In this busy, busy world we live in, it is easy to get lost in the busyness and forget to be together. Cook together, read together, study together, drink coffee together, fold laundry…mountains of laundry together, watch movies together, work on the car together, exercise together. If you can do it together, do it together. It helps you strengthen your connection.
  10. I know that some things on the list are seriously tongue-in-cheek…I mean we do them, but you don’t have to fart in front of each other to have a happy marriage. This last tip, however, is the most important. Pray for each other. There are several reasons that I say this: A. because in this harsh world of temptation and struggle, your spouse needs your prayers. Prayers of protection, prayers of safety, prayers of wisdom, discernment, and strength. B. The more you pray for your spouse, the more endeared they are to you. Let’s be honest, Jesus said pray for your enemies and some times it seems that is our spouse. However, Jesus, King of the world, knew that when we pray for someone it becomes increasingly difficult to see them as an enemy. Therefore, the more you pray for your spouse, the more you think of them first. The more you think of them first, the more you put them first. The more you put them first, the more you love them more than yourself. The more you love them more than yourself, the more you love them like Christ loves the Church, the more you respect them, the more your trust them. Isn’t that the goal?

Disclaimer: I am no marriage expert! I have been married for 17 1/2 years. I know more today than I knew when we married. I will know more in the next 17 years than I know today. Most of what we have learned has been trial and error. I love my husband more today, than I did the day I married him and more than I loved him yesterday. He is a wonderful man….I married up 🙂 These are 10 practices that we honestly do in our marriage and I do believe they contribute to our happiness, although I hate it when he does #8 in the car and locks the windows!