Closer

Spouse and I have been married 19 years today. Go us! We have, as all other long-term married couples, been through it…ups, downs, sideways. We’ve had our share of not being even close to the same page. We’ve had seasons we were both so exhausted with just living there wasn’t energy or time for anything else. We’ve struggled, we’ve fought, we’ve battled our way through. He still makes me laugh. Still loves me. Still seems to find me somewhat attractive. And we both still choose each and every day to do what it takes to keep us, our family, together. He matters to me.

Parenting is rough on a relationship. We both bring our own upbringings to the table of parenting. We both bring our issues and insecurities to the parenting table. We bring all our wins in life, and all our regrets and wish-we-hadn’ts. That’s just the way of life. We do have different parenting styles…I am for sure the tougher, hard-ass parent. But then I’m around the babies more, thus I’m forced to be the enforcer.  When the kids were toddlers, he was very much the “let them eat dirt and cut each other’s hair off” parent. I was the rules, structure, routine, solid nap and bedtimes parent. We had lots of conversations about what to do, when we should allow the kids to do certain things, and so on. I didn’t think of it as a cornerstone of our relationship however. We just did it.

You think just having kids itself is a game-changer, and it is. But – and I’ve said this before – it’s nothing compared to parenting teens. Now that is a serious game-changer. I’ve seen it tear apart more than a few relationships. It is so hard (unless you don’t care about your kids, who they are, and who they’re on the road to being….then I guess it wouldn’t be that hard). There are so many bigger things to worry about, think about, deal with, face when your kids are teens – driving, friends, parties, boyfriends/girlfriends, phones, social media, not to mention those big scary possibilities of drinking and drugs.

I’m going to say this….parenting three teenagers has truly brought Spouse and I closer. We talk more. We have to talk more. We continually check in to make sure we’re on the same page. We keep each other in the loop. We discuss how to handle each new thing that comes up. As difficult as parenting teens is, it has had this side-benefit for our relationship.

The other thing we’ve realized is we have more time for us. We now have two full-fledged drivers in the house, besides us. We’re no longer spending hours and hours every weeks getting kids to and from. We also don’t need sitters. They’re even savvy enough to go get their own dinner at a local restaurant if we leave them money. It’s so freeing! And we realize it is very important for us to spend more time on our relationship, because in a few years, all three will be out of the house and off to college or life, and it will be just the two of us again. We need to know how to do that.

Yeah, closer. That’s the way it should be, isn’t it? Happy Anniversary to us!

This ain’t no fairytale

(Before I begin, do you  have any idea how much that title kills me? First of all, “ain’t,” much less “ain’t no”???? OUCH)

On Friday, Spouse and I celebrated 16 years of marriage. It did get a bit lost in the shuffle of the day as it was also IEP meeting day, and a two-performance Nutcracker day. We did exchange gifts – of which mine to him was a total fail. But we didn’t go out to dinner. We didn’t do anything special at all for just us. Saturday involved more Nutcracker and two Christmas parties. Sunday – you guessed it, more Nutcracker. It was just another day. That didn’t really bother me. It wasn’t a biggie anniversary, such as fifteen or twenty years. And the day just represented our life right now – kid-involved, busy, chaotic. That got me to thinking about marriage in general.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I was waiting for my Prince to swoop in and save me from myself. I looked for him actively. I tried to be whatever I thought I should be to appear perfect so I could find him. I spent way too much time and energy on the entire process. It was only after going through the few disastrous relationships I’ve mentioned before that I learned I needed to save my own self. I needed to be okay with me. I needed to like me just as I was before anyone else would like me as just me. I needed to learn to be okay with being alone. I needed to learn that perfect fairytale relationships, perfect fairytale princes don’t exist. Once I figured that all out, I was ready, although I wasn’t super conscious of it at the time.

When Spouse and I met, there was no pretending to be anyone. I was brutally honest – I didn’t want a relationship. Because I wasn’t looking for Mr. Right anymore, I wasn’t trying to be his perfect mate. I let him see the real me, right out of the gate. We were in a holding pattern for over six months, although we spent every day on the phone, and every weekend together. He saw the real me, in all my crazy, OCD, perfectionist, insane family glory. And he stayed. But don’t get me wrong – a Prince he was not. Then one day, I realized he was who I wanted. Luckily,  he felt the same. Eighteen months later, he proposed. We planned our perfect winter holiday wedding, and it was beautiful. We did not live happily ever after, because, well, marriage is not a fairytale. It’s messy. It’s fun. It’s miserable. It’s breathtaking. It’s ugly. It’s beautiful. It’s hard. It’s the easiest thing ever. It takes making a choice, sometimes consciously every day, this is where you want to be. There are days, sometimes weeks, at a time I don’t like him very much. I’m sure he would say the same of me. Every once in awhile, we will go through a period of time where we seem more roommates than a couple. We get busy with kids, work, friends, life. We are distracted from our relationship. And then we will take some time, a moment to breath, and it all comes back together again. I don’t need him, but I want him. That makes a difference.

He’s no prince. I’m no princess. This ain’t no fairytale. But it’s our marriage, it’s our life, and I love it. He still makes me laugh. He still makes me feel cherished and wanted. He is an awesome daddy. He takes care of us. And amazingly enough, he still seems to love me. Go figure.

VegasLove

Unanswered Prayers

Garth Brooks has an old song, “Unanswered Prayer.” I’ve always had an issue with the title, although not the subject, of the song. You see, I don’t think God leaves prayers unanswered. I just think some people believe when they don’t get what they ask for, there’s no answer.

I’m so happy God didn’t give me what I asked (okay, sometimes begged) for when I was 17, 20, and 25 years old. I thank Him every day these days He didn’t say yes then. I know now He was preparing me for the big yes He sent me when I was 26.  Those boys/men I thought I wanted so desperately were all wrong, though I couldn’t see it at the time. Yet I learned from them.

Tomorrow is the fifteenth anniversary of the day I married my big yes. He may joke about being only 18 of the 19 things I put on my list of things I wanted in my future spouse. Said list was created after my 25-year-old no. Yes, he’s not everything on that list. But 18 of 19? I think that’s pretty awesome. When I wrote the list, I never thought I’d find anyone with even half. It wasn’t six months after I wrote that list I met M. Hmmmm…I’m pretty sure God knew what he was doing.

When we got married, I had no idea what craziness life was going to hold for us. We’ve been to hell and back, numerous times. We’ve had our rough patches. We’ve fought. We’ve made up. We’ve existed as roommates occasionally. We’ve witnessed miracles. We’ve worked, loved,  laughed, cried, yelled. We’ve been battered and bruised. We’ve done richer, and we’ve definitely done poorer. We’ve thrived in health. We’ve crawled through sickness. We’ve survived more moves than I care to count – thought thankfully we’ve been in the same place for 11 years now. Through it all, we have loved, honored, and cherished (even if there are some days we don’t like each other that much). We’ve created a home. We’ve created a family.

He holds me when I cry. He laughs at my crazy. He has helped me learn to laugh at myself. He makes me smile when I want to just crawl away into that cave. He makes me feel loved. He makes our marriage my safe haven. He encourages my dreams. He tolerates my OCD. He tells me I’m beautiful, especially when I’m feeling at my worst. He suffers through our daughter’s dance recitals. He coaches our boys’ teams and takes them to the driving range. He sits at the finish line for my races.  He helps my parents. He gets when I need my girlfriends.

I remember clearly the night we met. I recall with great detail the day he asked me to marry him. And every minute of the day we married is etched in my heart. Fairytale ending? Not so much. Life is too messy for that. But deep, enduring, true love? Yes indeed. My prayers were all answered.

 

Blah

I’m feeling somewhat melancholy today. What a word, right? The weather is cloudy and cool. I’m tired. I just can’t seem to pull myself out of the dumps. Blah. A short while ago, I realized I have seven hours before I can even think of relaxing. Gah. Seven hours. School pick-up, homework, a drop-off at the dance studio, dinner (which I haven’t even decided on a menu much less taken anything out), clean-up, pick up at the dance studio, bedtimes and then finally, relaxing time. (head crashing forward into desk) I’m tired.

Little man is still doing better. He finished the week of half-dose of his anti-anxiety med yesterday. We are anti-anxiety-med-free. Am I worried? Well, considering I’m pretty much always worried about this kid, yes. I’m worried. Our goal two months ago was to get his anxiety to a level we could start therapies to help him cope better when triggers arose. Not that this was the only medicinal option. But I feel we’ve gone backwards two steps.  He sighed a huge sigh of relief this morning not having to take his “blue pill.” I’m holding my breath wondering what the next few weeks hold for him. But we soldier on. We haven’t had a repeat of the conversations of early last week, thank the good Lord. He says he’s feeling better. His teacher says he’s doing better. Me? I just know how this goes. Honestly, I don’t know how much more I have in me for this year.

In two weeks, the Princess will be in the middle of Nutcracker hell week. Three straight nights of rehearsal, dress and non-dress, then three days of shows – four shows total. I will be playing chauffeur, and waiting through all the  rehearsals and shows. Oh yeah, I signed up to be the Dance Gram mom-in-charge again, so there’s that. We only have 100-200 more dance grams to make, then I’ll run the table at three shows. Did I mention that’s the same week as Little Man’s IEP meeting? And our fifteenth wedding anniversary? And the neighborhood Christmas party?

Big Man is home sick today. He can’t kick this cough. I took him into the pediatrician a couple of weeks ago. Doc checked his lungs, and they are clear. But he’s been lethargic, along with the cough, and now he’s added a low-grade fever. It’s that time of year.

Negative Nellie strikes again. I know I’m down. I know I’m letting it build up on top of me. And as well as I know the Princess is going to have her usual exhausted meltdown somewhere in the middle of that first week of December, I feel my own meltdown coming on.  Blah, blah, blah.