Tuesday, November 1, 2011

{grab a coffee and a chair.  this is a big one.} 
i have to let things simmer for a bit.  
i sit on things before i post, sometimes for awhile, so i feel good about what i say,
and am sure i was totally honest.  and of course, witty.
my brain doesn't work that quickly these days, so have had to think a bit.
but i'm back.
the perfect pumpkins have been been picked.
{say that fast 5X.} 
 i've come close to overdosing (a few times,) on caramel apples and pumpkin muffins.
{gracie's not bleeding.  jack was swinging my camera bag around last week and whipped her across the cheek.  nice.}
little pumpkins and pirates,
princesses and tired parents are rolling out of bed this morning,
after a late night of trick-or-treating, 
dumping pillowcases and pumpkin buckets out on the living room rug at 9pm to sift and sort,

{are you kidding me?  this is everything i love and despise about our culture.  hand me a peanut butter cup.}
i sit half-awake, as always, this november morning, constantly amazed how quickly we bounce from one event, one month, one season to the next, with our children.  
how quickly time flies when you're a parent.

the hype and anticipation in the days preceding are always fun and full of excitement,
the big day arrives and is gone in a flash,
another memory added to our parental rolodex.
but an event, a day, that will be forever etched in to the minds of our children,
slowly, over time, molding what will be, the image they have of their childhood, as adults.
the sweet moments, the heartwarming ones, that will soothe their struggling teenage heads or finding-their-place-in-the-world-twenty-something hearts, 
with peace and appreciation and gratitude for all they've been given, and reminding them they always have a place to come home to.
so we enjoy the last of the fall leaves,
{the tree in our front yard, rules.}
an even cooler view from gracie's room.
as we await the first snowfall,
from tricks-or-treats, we move to turkeys and trimmings.  
frosted dashboards and frozen pipes.
an overflowing basket of mismatched boots and hats and mittens 
and the mental preparation we stay-at-home mom's start to undergo, 
as we bow our heads and plow forth, shoulders following staunchly behind,
head first into the long winter ahead.
the morning is so dark, dark enough to lull me back to bed, warm under the covers, completely ignoring my alarm and ANY small voice of motivation i had to get up and workout before the kids wake up.  screw that. 
so i collapse back to my pillow, aside my snoozing 7-year-old (yes, back in our bed.  has been having morning seizures again.  need to look at med change with doc this week,)
and waiting for either the sun, or my fricking-early-rising 3-year-old to pry me from my much-needed slumber.
as we head in to another holiday, another season of leaf-less trees and frosty ground,
i want to talk on something new, something i don't usually discuss here.
because, i guess, it's just been easy, unlike parenting.
the business of marriage.
it lS like a business sometimes.
you have to nurture it, make sure it's always moving forward, progressing, growing.
need to make sure everyone involved is happy, getting the help they need,
but doing their part as well.
calling that much needed but sometimes annoying 'staff meeting' when things get off track.
thankfully, not over a conference table with crappy coffee and sweaty coworkers.
but necessary to schedule, in our jam-packed life.
you need to check in.  you need to communicate. 
we women complain about our husbands when we get the chance,
they do the same.
but REALLY getting to the nitty-gritty of MARRIAGE, our inner most thoughts and feelings on this huge business we're running, the ones deep below the surface, are not easy to share.
we keep our talk with our friends and neighbors, at the surface.  typical and humorous.
but there's always more.  we save that stuff for our most intimate of friends. 
the ones who bare all, hide nothing.  the ones who's marriages look rosy on the outside to everyone else, but you know the real deal.
but isn't that everybody?  
we ALL have our struggles.  
and if you don't, you will.
and i like to share.  so here goes.

marriage, like parenting, is not for the weak of heart.
it's not a job you can really be 'trained' in or prepared for.
you can head in to it all cocky and arrogant,
firmly rooted in your belief that 'we're not those people.'
the ones that separate, break up families, have affairs, divorce.
like parenting.
you just jump in, hopefully feet first,
always with the mindset, that you'll be great and survive it all. 
learn as you go.
but what have i learned?
no matter how long you've known each other, 
how deep your history,
how well you've nestled in to each others' families, 
differences, quirks,
how 'in-love' you were or are,
how physically attracted to one another,
you just don't know how an illness, a tragedy, a job-loss, kids. . .
my God, kids alone, disciplining, caring for them, 
is enough to throw a perfectly wonderful relationship completely off course.
the stress that comes with raising and being responsible for little ones, can yes, bring couples together, 
but just as quickly, call them to opposing teams. 
can expose the rawness and ugliness that looms in ALL of us,
bringing out the absolute worst,
that makes little dents and dings at the exterior of your otherwise, 
steel-clad love.
over time, wearing away and rusting that structure.
testing it's strength and durability in ways you'd never imagined.
that's where the rolling of the sleeves and digging of the heels comes in.
do you make the choice to start to repair?  smooth those dents out?  
or run?
as a tired, overwhelmed young mom, let's be real here.
you've fantasized.  i've fantasized.
not just about ryan gosling showing up on my door step in skinny jeans and a black motorcycle jacket and a beard, of course, to rescue me from this crazy life of marriage and parenting, (sorry honey,)
or far-east, month-long vacations (by myself,)
but of running.  far and fast.
you have those days too.  where it all just seems like too much to bear.
cancer.  seizures.  the future, not just of for your kids, but your marriage.
it's a lot.
not to mention the power struggles between you and your spouse.
is everyone doing their part?  working full time AND having to jump right in to being mommy or daddy at the end of a long day? 
keeping puke-buckets close by in the wee hours of the morning,
a stopwatch to time the next seizure,
time for a quiet moment for just the two of you, to talk without interruption,
it's the way it is, but not always easy to get used to, or accept.
staying home all day with kids, shuffling from school to activity to bath to bed, sleepless nights, sick babies, high fevers. . .taking care of it all so your husband can sleep and be ready for work?
that's a long day too, but again, it's what you signed up for.
finding common ground amongst all of it, is where marriages thrive and survive.
learning to have patience with each other, 
ESPECIALLY in times of great stress or just raising little ones.
floating by on little sleep let alone much time or patience for each other and our own needs.
realizing in ALL of it, that your happiness should NOT be dependent on what your spouse does or doesn't do, but getting caught in the trap, in your tired and weak moments,
that they ARE the key to your happiness,
and every mistake, missed step, miscommunication, 
takes the business of your marriage down a few notches on the fortune 500 list of best relationships.
oh, the little things help.
but finding a grounded-ness in YOURself, brings it all together.
and i have come to believe and learn,
that sometimes, you just have to accept.  that in accepting, you let go.  
not give up, just let go for the moment.
accept what you're feeling, thinking, and carry it along with you, no matter how annoying, painful, heavy.  
that in accepting, you're brought more clarity, more peace, more strength and courage to move forward in to a better place.  and able to BE more for your spouse.
we can't fix everything.  a truth i have a hard time with.
i'm a fixer.  if a friend comes to me with a problem, a gripe, a complaint, i can't just listen.  i have to offer a suggestion, advice.  that's just how i am.  yes, it's super annoying, but i always think or know there's a solution to every problem.  you can always make another choice or make things better.
BUT i realize now, sometimes, you do that simply in accepting your situation.  
accepting the things you really CAN'T change and having the courage to change the things you can.
that serenity prayer really holds a lot of weight, in WHATEVER you're dealing with.
accepting that your ships may be sailing on different seas,
passing by quietly in the night,
but with a little more love, appreciation and LOTS more patience,
those ships will connect and dock again at the same place.
because a marriage, no matter how great,
ALWAYS takes work.  ALWAYS.
learning each others' 'love language,' 
what feeds the marriage and what doesn't,
but also knowing when to say, 'hey, this isn't working.  we need to try something else.'
or 'hey, we're not on the same page here.  here's what we need.'
i bring it up now because brian and i recently celebrated our 8-year anniversary,
(have been together 15.)
and that's insane, when i see that number written.
but time's funny like that.  it sneaks up quickly and passes even faster.
leaving, thankfully, a trail of memories in its wake and HOPEFULLY a more enlightened and fulfilled SELF if you've been doing your homework.
but back to the marriage thing.
it's work.  something else your mom doesn't tell you before you walk down the aisle.
something you have to discover for yourself, maybe eight years, two years,
heck maybe even 6 months in to it.
add the sacrament of marriage to your ever-growing resume.
because it truly is a job.
i will say i did NOT jump in to this life head first.
with blinders on or donning rose-colored glasses.
i have had my share of boyfriends prior to meeting brian,
had LOTS of time to figure out what i needed, what i didn't,
brian and i dated for SIX years.  i had a good idea of who he was,
who'd he'd be, 
his character, the charm, intelligence and sensitivity included in it.
it was a no-brainer.:)
DESPITE our initial feelings of love,
we never know what's to come.
how our marriage will be affected by the stress of kids,
trauma, tragedy,
and geez, even our ever-changing thoughts, opinions, feelings,
our own personal growth.
so here i am.  8 years in to marriage.
and although i love my husband, 
think he is quite amazing most of the time,
and truly believe i couldn't have found anyone better,
well, we fall in to weird spots every now and again.
the noise of raising children, running a home,
car-pooling, paying bills, reffing living room wrestling matches, 
that it wears on a woman.
and a man.
i don't care how amazing you are. 
we all have our breaking point.
and i've hit mine. . .but only temporarily.
it's not a pretty place.  where you question everything in your life.
your ability as a mother, are you REALLY supposed to be doing this?
were you REALLY cut out for this?
is this REALLY the right man for me?
can we really have a lifetime of love?
those inner cravings and fears that make you want to jump in your car at 5pm on a tuesday,
before he gets home,
and take off.  with just a change of clothes and head for the hills.  literally.
montana.  wyoming.  colorado.  
get a part time job waiting tables in a roadside truck stop.
leave this life behind and start over.  
dreamy, yes.
unrealistic and ridiculous.  obviously.
but as a mother, working or staying at home, i think it's ok to go to this place every once in awhile.
the life of a mother is heavy and arduous.
terrifying and exhausting.
they should do a remake of the 'farnese atlas' sculpture.
only with a disheleved mom and three kids on her back.
geez, no wonder my neck and shoulders are such a mess.
that's how heavy it feels some days, literally feeling like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.
i'm just speaking on what i know.
i can't speak of our men,
the equally heavy burden that many feel, of having to provide.  
putting food on the table, roofs over our heads, clothes on our backs.
with little to know appreciation, not nearly enough sex, or affirmation.
i'll stick to mothering, thank you.
over dinner, a friend and i talked about that much sought-after balance.
with marriage on one side, being a parent on the other.
two separate jobs but two that both feed heavily in to one another.
we both kind of agreed that really awesome moms were crappy wives and really awesome wives were crappy moms.
and what if you feel you fall in the middle?  like you're really not at your peak performance in either category?
that would be me.:)
another switch was flipped when charlie turned 3 a few weeks ago.  
independence raging through his little body.  he won't let me do ANYTHING for him.
can't help him get dressed (even when he's pissed and screaming and can't get his shirt on right,) won't let me open doors for him, buckle his car seat, hold his hand, wipe his butt. . .you name it.
(and teaching him to follow my newest house rule, which i try to enforce daily, and now am sticking to it, no eating in the living room.) 
this child just adds to the stress, trying my patience daily.
riding that fine line, whether between the kitchen and the living room,
or of disciplining to just giving in.  because i'm tired.
now, i do A LOT wrong as a mother.  
i've introduced things in to my children's lives that they'd be so much better off without. . .under my constant care for the past 7 years so far, they've picked up a lot of my habits.  
my rage and ability to get frustrated easily, curse words, that they've heard so often, they actually scold ME when i say something.  God bless 'em.  
their impatience.  i'm sure there's more.  (but now i'm just feeling horrible about my parenting skills, so let's end with that.)
i'll say they HAVE learned independence.  and i see it the most now in charlie.  although frustrating sometimes, i'm proud of it.  give myself a little pat on the back.  and allow myself to believe i've done ONE thing right.  
my kids are good.  and they are independent.  
yes, they need me, i nurture, i love, i hug, i hold, but i let them figure things out and deal with consequences without me.  they're smart and get it.  even charlie.  i've made it very clear i won't be there to pick them up every time they fall, scrape a knee, bonk their head, ESPECIALLY when they were doing something they weren't supposed to.  they have to learn.  
so this maybe sometimes cold and 'tough-love' way of parenting, has served me well recently.  my 3-year-old gets up in the morning, goes to the bathroom (standing up, mind you,) throws his night-time pull up in the garbage, finds undies, gets himself dressed and wakes me up.  i am amazed by that.  (yes, i'm bragging.  let me have this.):)
jack will look for things to do, so that he can earn his allowance for the week.  or ask what he can help with.  vacuum the rugs, unload the dishwasher, switch the laundry. . .(the little things i have to do each week that i can easily pawn off on him.)  
asks me when i'm huffing and puffing around the house in the morning before school,
because grace won't get dressed or charlie dumped a box of cereal all over the floor (hey, i didn't say they were perfect.)
'havin' a rough morning, huh, mom?'  as he slurps his cereal.  
'it's tough being a mom isn't it?  do you need a hug?'  
sometimes i think he's mocking me.  but it's so well-timed and sincere. 
and i have to smile.
but this independence and sense of responsibility gives him/teaches them 'we are ALL a part of this family, and you WILL help out to make this house run.'  
(and yes, when mommy's losing her schmidt?  you should offer up help.)
oh, i'm sure it will come to a screeching halt when they turn 16 and hate me and my rules and rigidity, but whatever.  i'll enjoy it now while i've got them under my thumb.:)
but per usual, like most of us women, we are so hard on ourselves.

i find myself stuck, trying to find my way, trying to do my best and BE my best for everyone,

be everything to everyone that encompasses my little family
BUT also be everything i can to myself.
and during these times of challenge, stress, 
it's the little things that pull you through.
not just how awesome my kids are,
but for me, where i hold my breath and wait for those sweet moments when i watch jack wake up from a peaceful sleep, and stretch his lanky limbs, rub his nose and yawn, like every other kid.
when my 3-year-old sleeps in. . .until 6.
when my beautiful but tempermental daughter, becomes the 'easy' one.
 when my loving husband, gets up early and makes the kids' lunches for me, folds the remaining pile of laundry on the dining room table, because i ran out of steam the night before,
cleans up the kitchen after dinner. . .
because he knows it's the little things that help me out and bring a little more sanity back to my days.
and it is those little moments, that over and over, remind us what life is all about.
and in a marriage, 
reminding us maybe not why we came together in the first place,
but that we're here, in it together.
remembering that common ground at the base of our marriage,
{no, not our intense love of good coffee,}
but our love and respect for each other.
with patience to let each other figure things out and grow to be better,
but staying in touch, all the while, nurturing what is the core of this family.
our love.
and always remembering, no matter how stressful and scary things get,
we can find all the happiness, contentment and peace we need, from within.


MN Madrecita said...

Wow, what a great, and I mean REALLY great post! I've been reading your blog for quite some time and have maybe commented once? Huh. Anyways, I can so relate to every thought, sentiment, feelings, action, even the reactions. Ha ha...or maybe not so much.

PS. A friend of mine introduced me to that great little apple orchard and pumpkin patch you went to. What a gem!

PPS. Where do you go to get those ginormous mugs of goodness?

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