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!

I didn’t cry

Yesterday, Spouse and I celebrated eighteen years of marriage. Wow – our marriage is an adult now! As must be usual on an anniversary, I mentally revisited our wedding day. Like so many other life-changing, significant events, the day is etched in my mind, even though it seemed to fly by, and in spite of the fact so much time has passed.

The Princess has asked about our wedding day, as any young girl will. She asked how I felt as I walked down that aisle towards Spouse. “Did you cry buckets, Mom?” No, I didn’t cry. I’d waited to find just the right person, and I was so ecstatically happy, I simply grinned from ear-to-ear. There’s a photo that shows my Daddy hardly holding it together as he walked with me, and then me, walking next to him, cheesy grin on my face, my eyes lit up. I didn’t know then how much work marriage would be, but I knew I’d been blessed with a man who would work just as much as I to build the life we both wanted. So, I didn’t cry. I didn’t need to cry. I wasn’t even really that nervous about it, other than I really didn’t want to trip on that long walk towards him.

Lots will happen over eighteen years. There’s a country song out right now that says it better than I ever could, “It All Started with a Beer” by Frankie Ballard. You see, we met in a big country bar (think Urban Cowboy). And yes, he bought me a beer. We danced, we talked, I told him I’d go out with him but I was NOT in the market for a boyfriend, at all. And yet, here we are, eighteen years later, three kids, a home, a life together. The song talks about good times and bad, times when money was a problem and times when it wasn’t, times when we’re getting along and times when we aren’t, but more good than bad, and we’re still here. We’ve moved more times than I care to recall, struggled with infertility, had job/career changes, learned what prematurity is and what it will do to a family, been handed miracles, struggled, fought, wondered if we would make it, battled financial troubles (along with the rest of the world it seems), cried, laughed, yelled, sighed. We’ve three gorgeous babies, a happy home, a good life.

If I’d known all this that day eighteen years ago, would I have cried? I don’t know. I don’t think so. I still smile when I think about him (most of the time), still smile when I remember that day, still feel the choice we made to create a life together was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

So that’s why

I had a thought last night as Spouse and I had yet another conversation about and with Big Man on homework, grades, accountability, and attitude…..I now get why people who’ve been married, and happily so, for a very long time, can completely derail when their kids are teenagers. This. Is. Really. Hard.

I realize I sound like I’m on replay right now, but I’m still shocked, almost daily, how difficult this parenting of teens is. I know Spouse and I keep looking at each other with kind of the same look we had when we brought our precious oldest child home from the hospital – the look of, “well, now what do we do?” I am shaking my head and gritting my teeth quite a bit. I thought I’d outgrown the yelling mom I used to be. Yeah, she’s back. I’m at an utter loss much of the time, and those  frantic “When are you going to be home?” texts to Spouse have resurfaced.

We know we’re supposed to be on the same page. We’ve had a lot of conversations lately talking about what page that is, what our plan is. But then I’ll reach the end of my rope, and hand it off to him, but then I think what he does isn’t what I would have done, and we’re back to not being on the same page. Or he will get frustrated and hand it off to me, but then he won’t like how I handle it. I get where marriages can suffer stress. I think we’ve talked more in the past three months about BIG STUFF than we have in the last three years.

I’m pretty sure I wear that dazed new parent look a lot these days, and my kids are sixteen, fifteen, and twelve. Who are the aliens who’ve taken over my children? What in the heck am I doing?  What in the heck are they thinking? Are we all going to survive?

We keep talking. I suppose that’s the key. We still try to make us a priority, even if it’s just in twenty-minute, sit-on-the-couch-after-they’ve-gone-to-bed increments. We talk to friends who have survived this season and come safely out the other side, with kids who have become really decent adults. We drink wine. We laugh at ourselves. We lay down expectations, and draw solid boundaries. We shake our heads, a lot. We yell some. There’s probably a lot of deep sighing. And we just hope we all emerge from this season, once again exiting a parenting fog.

Friday Favorites 6.17.16

First off, I just had to laugh at myself, because, the day before my birthday, I had to look at the calendar to check what the date was for the title of this  post. Good golly, yes, it’s summer! The Princess’ cheer coaches blessedly decided Friday morning practices weren’t a necessity. Can I get an Amen? The Herd (excepting Spouse) was able to sleep in this morning. It was glorious!

How’s your week been? It took me three days to recover from the end-of-school insanity and the big fundraiser we hold every year – which was last Saturday. I was that deep-reaching kind of exhausted. I took a 2 hour  nap Sunday, a 1-hour nap Monday, and I was still completely out before 10pm Monday night. I’m giving myself a week to get everything in the house back where it goes. I think I’m finally back to normal.

This week, I have a complete mix for you as far as posts I’m sharing. Kinda goes along with my theme of being all over the place this week.

  • I’d picked all my favorites for the day, when a few new posts popped into my feed. I, of course, checked them out before starting in on this. And I found this on kelzbelzphotography which is ironic as I was having one of those days of “uh, yeah, not really sure I like him much today.” If you’re married, why did you marry your spouse?
  • Sarah at Running on Healthy is one of my running heroes. She’ll be running a marathon tomorrow, and leaving her precious baby girl for the first time. Go cheer her on, and if you’re a parent, share some advice how to manage the guilt the first time you’re away from baby.
  • Sunday is Father’s Day. I haven’t written my Daddy post yet, but trust me, my Daddy’s kind of amazing. Peg at Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings  wrote an awesome post in honor of her dad. Love this one. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!
  • Joeyfully Stated captures just one way having children will humble the heck out of you.
  • The title for today’s post on Fisticuffs and Shenanigans had me completely intrigued. Then it had me spitting my water all over my computer screen.
  • I must need humor today, or am in a funky mood and am finding the most random stuff completely amusing. This at Square Peg in a Round Hole also resulted in some water-spitting.

I have no animal photos this week. Have I mentioned the level of tired going on around here? I will tell you the Damn Cat has been leaving more “treasures” around the house this week. Today, there was a mouse butt in the entryway. I kid you not…just the back end of a mouse. I can’t make this stuff up. I think he’s still trying to prove  his worth after we fired him  upon returning from our Hawaiian vacation to find a mouse had taken residence behind the refrigerator. Oh, and we finally captured the lizard that had been trapped in the dining room for two weeks. He’s been safely re-homed outside where he belongs. He seems the type to be a repeat offender though. Time will tell.

Happy weekend!

 

The Story of Us

We went to a get-together last night to meet the neighbors who moved in across the street last month. It was kinda cool, as we learned new stuff about the neighbors we’ve known for awhile At one point, the stories began of how each couple had met, which I found most intriguing. You see, yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the day Spouse and I met. So while our story was very pertinent to the day, I’m always interested to hear how other couples come together.

February 3, 1996…..Two of my friends and I decided to drive to a big city (I lived in a rather rural suburb with almost zero night life) an hour away, to a big country bar we’d been hearing about for years. Girls Night Out. Oh yeah. I was a  year off a rough break-up, completely NOT wanting a new relationship. I just wanted to hang out and have fun with my friends. But not long after we walked in, each grabbed a beer, and found a good spot to people watch, three guys walked by. I caught eyes with one of them, but that was it. A bit later, we moved to a different spot. Those boys walked by again. And then they walked by again. After the third pass, that guy I’d caught eyes with walked up to me. I don’t even remember exactly what he said, but we started talking, and pretty  much hung out much of the rest of the night. I liked him enough to exchange phone numbers, but I was clear I didn’t want a boyfriend, nor really to date anyone, especially someone who lived an hour away.

We talked on the phone for a couple hours the next day, which would set a pattern. We talked pretty much every day, and a few weeks later, began getting together on the weekends. I was adamant what I did on my time was none of his business. While I didn’t date anyone else, I didn’t want to be accountable in the least. That went on for about six months, during with time he was by my side for a minor surgery I had to have, when my dad was in the hospital, my birthday, and a few fun weekend trips. Finally, in August, I think he’d had enough. He told me he wasn’t going to hang out any longer, invest any more emotion if I wasn’t willing to give back the same. I realized I didn’t want to be with anyone else. We were officially Boyfriend & Girlfriend. Just over two years after that day, we were married. And the rest, as that old cliche says, is history. Five moves, three kids, 17 years of marriage…..twenty years since we locked eyes. And that’s the story of us…..

The language of families

I had the pleasure of going out to lunch last week with my mother-in-law and aunt-in-law.  As we sat on the patio of one of our favorite wineries enjoying our meals, talk turned to families (my aunt’s youngest daughter is getting married in July). We shared some funny stories of growing up, talked about family – including some not-so-fun stuff, and how each family develops its own language per se, its own way of communicating. Even dysfunctional families have their own language. It becomes part of us, who we are. When we become involved in a relationship, we go into that family knowing our own language, but have to learn the language of that family. Sometimes learning that new language is more difficult than others.

I loved the idea as we tossed it around. It makes sense. That learning of your spouse’s family’s language can take years. It could take a lifetime. Even now, almost seventeen years of marriage, we are still trying to figure it out completely. We know each other’s backgrounds, how we were brought up. We’ve been around our families enough to  know how things work. But sometimes we just don’t understand each other completely because there’s a glitch in the translation.

My family’s tendency was to shut down, shove emotions – particularly anger and disappointment – aside, keep the peace, don’t engage in argument or conflict. I know that’s my language, my comfort zone. I know it isn’t a great way to go. It can result in resentment, hurt feelings that could be easily resolved if I’d just open my mouth. He’s helped me learn to talk about things, most of the time, to not shove them down. It’s not always easy, and I fail frequently, but we’re pretty good. He has a tendency to laugh when things get emotional, especially when I’m angry. Trust me, after a few horrific arguments when he started laughing and I was sure my head was going to explode, he learned it was probably better to keep a straight face. But if he’s mad at me, he lets me know. He won’t always talk about it to the extent I’d prefer, but then sometimes he knows it’s his hang-up causing the frustration, at which point I have to ride out his silence knowing asking him repeatedly will just delay his return to normal.

We’ve developed our own language for our little family. Our kids will take that with them into the world. It’s the way our family communicates. It goes beyond traditions, family stories, and things we’ve done together. It’s the nature of our family. Some day, they’ll each have to learn a new language. They’ll adapt, and with their spouses, will create new languages for their little families.

What’s the language of your family like?