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Happy Friday, girl. Date night for you? Date morning maybe?
I had two friends separate from their husbands this month. Heart breaking stuff. I know exactly the meat grinder this next year will be for them because I’ve lived it. And no, I’m not talking about Angie, although I mourn for her too.
Tend your marriage, darling. Tend that main relationship in your life. It’s just too easy to take it for granted till you’re so far down the road you don’t know if you can find your way back.
And, just to be clear, I am not in the never-divorce camp. I have advised other friends, because of spousal drug use, serial cheating, or abuse, to leave and get the best attorney they could find. And a therapist. And a big dog.
But, for the majority of us, we should stay. We should stay and make it work because we are married to men who are trying. Don’t take that for granted, sister. Not every man is willing to try.
And I know your man’s not perfect. No, I do, I know that. Because he’s breathing. There is no perfect. Sorry, Cindy, there is no prince.
But then, actually, on second thought, there are princes, aren’t there? The guy who goes to the grocery store at 6 AM for milk. Prince. The guy who cleans up the throw-up, or dog poop, or who scoops the disgusting, rotting leaves out of the gutter to keep your home nice. Prince, prince, prince. The guy who will sit and have tea with your four year old, or play basketball with your preteen after a long day at work. The guy who makes dinner or breakfast or school lunches. Royalty, I’m telling you. The guy who goes to a job he doesn’t love to get the money to pay for food and house and ever-larger pairs of shoes for all those little feet. Is any of this sounding familiar?
I know this is hard. I know that there are ways you’ve been disappointed. I’ve been divorced and remarried and I’m telling you, there is no perfect. Saying my vows the second time was so much harder because I knew what I was getting into this time.
I’m a better wife this time around. I ask for what I need instead of fuming that he doesn’t know. I know now that sadness and fear look a lot like anger in a man. I try to figure out what he needs instead of assuming he is being unreasonable. I do not indulge in that most destructive pastime of dwelling on his faults. When I find myself doing that (because I’m human too and it’s so horribly delicious to just tick off the ways he’s wrong and you’re right, isn’t it?) I stop, and force myself to acknowledge the ways that I’m wrong and imperfect too.
Marriage is work. And it’s worth it.
Date night. Go for a walk around the neighborhood. Sit on your front stoop with a beer or a glass of wine and talk about the day you met. Laugh about the funny things that happened when you were dating. Talk about the ways he’s a great father, or a great lover. Put a fire in the fire pit and lay your legs across his lap. Tell him what you respect about him. Every good thing he’s done, tell him, let him know that you notice. Talk about the awesome life you are building together.
Feed your marriage, darling.
Life is easier with two grown-ups. Life is easier when you have a partner who has your back. You picked this wonderful, imperfect guy for lots of good reasons, right? Remember those.
Good morning, Mommy. How is your week going so far? Are you mostly on track? Mostly is good.
I always try to live in an awareness of how blessed I am. On Wednesdays I try to take the time to actually write it out. Awesome exercise. Give it a go, see what you think.
What are you grateful for today?
I’m grateful for swing dancing and big band music and Converse all-stars.
I’m grateful that there is food in the fridge. That my children are healthy and happy and that they enjoy being in this family. Thank you, God for those children. My joy. My life.
For hot and cold running water. For clean air outside. For dependable electricity.
For crispy fall apples. For hot nachos with melty cheese. For carrot juice and wheat grass. (For my children, aghast, who hate wheat grass, “Mom! That’s like, LAWN CLIPPINGS!”)
For snuggling on a cushy sofa with blankets and reading books out loud. For popcorn. And frozen junior mints.
I’m grateful for videos of people hugging on facebook, especially people hugging cops, or folks of different colors or backgrounds. We are all human. We all want to be loved and respected and valued. I’m grateful for every single human being who takes any step toward affirming that.
For stinky little boy feet. And lavender bubble baths.
I am grateful that all my children can go to the school of my choosing. I’m grateful that I have a husband who agrees that the material sacrifice we undertake in order to send them to private school is worth it. That my kids are allowed to talk about God in school, I’m grateful for that. And grateful for their uniforms, less competition, less distraction, easier mornings.
I’m grateful for green tea, my friend since my body decided it doesn’t like coffee anymore. And for crispy almond butter toast that I share with the dog every morning. I’m grateful that my husband does not see me feed the dog my toast.
I’m grateful that my legs work. And my eyes. And my brain.
For my husband and I making it through the tough times. Because there will always be tough times. For the times of laughter and warmth and love that are also a part of choosing a life partner.
For strength of mind and heart; for knowing who I am, because I didn’t always.
What are you grateful for?
My life goes better when I have a goal and a plan. Everything. The day. The week’s meals. My workouts. It all goes better when I take the time to plan.
Take, for example, your wedding. You wouldn’t say, “Well, everybody pretty much knows how this goes. Let’s just wing it and see what happens”. That would be interesting, but it’s a rare woman who would trust that day to chance.
Or dinner? Dinner without a plan is pretty much Cheerios at our house. Even with a plan it’s still Cheerios some days, but we have a better shot at actual vegetables if I have planned out the week’s meal and done the shopping over the weekend.
Everything goes better when I have an idea of what I want for an end result, and when I then set up a detailed road map to get me there.
Does everything always go according to plan? Absolutely not, but it’s a lot easier to modify and adjust than it is to build the plane while you’re flying.
My day. Goes best when I take an hour in the morning to assess the day before, what needs to happen today. Do I have on or off-site meetings, what is coming up in my week, what does my family need of me? Mom, wife and athlete are there on the list with worker-bee. If those obligations aren’t on the list, they somehow never get the respect they deserve.
Set out all the to-dos, organize them in order of importance, figure out how to delegate what is falling off the bottom of my list. And then, begin.
Those are my best days.
How about you, sister? Do you have a plan?
Good morning, girl! And then there are those days when you just have to laugh…
Like Monday for me. I got the time of my plane departure mixed up in my head with the time I needed to be at the airport. My husband kindly pointed this out to me an hour before my plane was supposed to leave. I was in the shower at the time. I’ll let you imagine that little scenario on your own.
Twenty minutes later, we are at the airport. I am at the counter, shaking, panicked, trying to check a bag for my week-long business trip (the bag I spent two hours packing the night before). Unfortunately for me, the cutoff time for checking a bag is 45 minutes before your flight. It is 42 minutes before my flight and the gate agent is resolutely refusing to check my bag. “I can book you on a flight leaving tomorrow at ten” he says. We argue and we argue about the difference between 45 minutes and 42 minutes and he is unmoved and it is now 35 minutes before my flight.
And then, standing there in my decidedly un-businesslike black yoga pants and favorite travel swing top, I had one of those moments of clarity. One of those, what-really-matters-here moments.
I can live without my stuff, what I need is to get my body to that meeting.
No, I told the gate agent, get me on my plane.
I pull one pair of heels and a dress out of my suitcase, stuff them in my purse and leave the bag at the checkout counter (yes, I really did). I pray that noone will steal it in the time it takes some family member to come to the airport and pick it up). Grab the boarding pass from the gate agent and RUN.
I race to security, apologize, beg and bully every single person in line to let me through to the front, purse and computer through machine, body through x-ray, run to my gate. Arrive with fifteen minutes to spare. Call husband, whose phone is off. Call mom, please come pick up my bag? Mom says of course, and I wonder that I am a grown-ass woman and yet still depending on my mom. Google consignment stores in the city I am flying to. Board plane, feeling strangely light and giddy.
In the hours between landing and the beginning of my meeting, I uber over to the consignment store and buy enough clothes for my five day meeting. Shirley, the owner, was beyond fabulous. She gave my 50% off everything I picked out, and we laughed the whole time. “Just breathe” she kept telling me, “You’re going to be fine”. Then Target for a toothbrush, deoderant and the bare minimum of make-up, and TJ Maxx for a clearance-priced suitcase (ugly, but vastly servicable) to stuff all my new stuff in.
And here I am.
Grateful that, by the grace of God, I managed to get here, on time and fairly focused. Grateful for Shirley, who clothed my rattled ass at garage sale prices. Grateful for my mom, who dropped everything to go pick up my suitcase.
Plans? Plans are good. Plans are important.
But, if the need arises, I hope you can drop those plans and run like hell into your unexpected new reality. Take care of the core.
And laugh. Again, we none of us is perfect, but life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.
Good morning, Mamma, happy Monday. Back at it, yes? As we head into our weeks, can I ask you to take a minute to review the weekend, the upcoming week and what you have planned for next weekend? Are you living your values?
Tough question, isn’t it?
If an objective observer were to follow you through your day, what would they say you value?
Another tough question.
But so important. There will never be all the time, money and energy that we want. But there can be enough. There will never be a convenient or easy of it for us; but it can be good. Decide what you value, apportion your resources accordingly and then stick to your guns if life pushes back.
It takes effort to live your values. It doesn’t have to be expensive, fancy or complicated, but we do have to make some conscious decisions about what to do and what to cut out.
I gave up a race recently to watch a friend’s toddlers for the weekend. I love her and want her to have a strong marriage, I love her kids, my kids love her kids, and there are not that many people you can entrust your toddlers to for three days. I’ve already had one big, expensive race this summer; I can give this one up and pick another smaller race to do instead, later in the month. Do I have a pang for my big race? Sure, but I still made the right decision.
I gave up my grad school to have the time to home-school my youngest. THAT was a big values decision and not an easy one, but I did the right thing. My career is fine, and, more importantly, my kiddo’s test scores went from the mid-thirties to the high nineties. And, most importantly, he’s happy. Back in a regular school now, but he wouldn’t be where he’s at today without those two years of home-schooling.
Do you could watch a TV show, or go for a walk as a family? Do you go to the Happy Hour, or spend those two extra hours with your kids? Do you hand kiddo an iPad or pull them up onto your lap to read books out loud?
Our actions are where our values become apparent.
Decide, Mamma. Decide and then pursue your life with passion. Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. Don’t let any negative sarcastic somebody rain on your parade.
Go, live it, girl.
Live it in such a way that when you look back at the lovely mess that was your life, (no insult intended, everyone’s life is a mess, girl, this stuff’s not easy or tidy) you have no regrets.
Good morning, Mamma! Happy Friday! Time to maybe plan a weekend surprise for your kids? These are memories that really stick because there is so much emotional power in a happy surprise.
My husband is the spontaneous one in our marriage. It is such a gift. I’m getting better at it, but still. The kids joke that if I hadn’t married my wonderful, mostly stoic, Swede, their lives would be safe, productive and highly nutritious.
I laugh. I have to, because there is so much truth in that caricature.
I have learned from my husband the gift of the unexpected.
Our kids, ten years later, still talk about the time that Daddy asked what they wanted to do that day and, when they responded with, “drive to *next state over*!”, he said yes. They drove eight hours round trip that day, road trip extraordinaire. I was on a business trip somewhere and they got such joy out of calling me and telling me where they were. They still talk about that day and, when they do, they still laugh about it. Total cost of that lifelong memory: Gas, and two stops at a Dairy Queen for road food.
Easier surprises are things like mom suggesting we build a fort in the living room and then telling the kids they can sleep there tonight. Yes, they’ll probably be up at midnight asking you to take them to bed, that doesn’t matter, it’s the adventure of it, the break from routine.
Waking them up with fresh hot pancakes tomorrow, that’s a nice surprise. It’d set a fun tone for the weekend too.
The biggest surprise we ever pulled off was when we told our kids we were going camping, and when we got them in the car, pulled out the passports and told them we were travelling to a foreign country instead. I LOVED that moment! That kind of adventure clearly takes planning and resources, but you’d be surprised at what you can pull off with Groupon Travel and airbnb.com.
We spend so much of our lives planned and prepped down to the minute, I get it, we have to, or we’d die. But, every once in a while, let your guard down and let in the unexpected.
It’s about joy.
Go have some of that this weekend.