Trading Places

Calli Tyler Photography (c) 2013

Calli Tyler Photography (c) 2013

This is what I’d like to be doing right now.

My amazing husband got me a pistol for Christmas and I have only shot it twice; one of those times being yesterday. I was having so much fun plinking away at the steel targets. That has got to be one of my favorite sounds.

Unfortunately, having kids (and lack of personal funds) really limits the amount of time I get to spend at the range. I’m sure MANY moms can relate – maybe not the range specifically, but fill in the blank with ANY hobby you enjoy. Whether you’re a stay at home mom, working mom, single mom, married mom, mom of one child, or a mom of twelve children, we all know how it feels to really want to go do something and not be able to whenever we want.

One of my favorite things to do, pre-children, was to go spend the day at the beach on my day off from work. I would wake up at 9:30, put on a suit, tank top, flip flops, shorts, and grab my dog. We’d be loaded in the car and on the road by 10:00. Arrive at the beach around 11:30 and then we wouldn’t leave until it got dark. Charlie had fun playing in the sand (not really – he hates the beach) and I got to work on my tan and relax.

It would be a dream come true to do that just one more time.

I love all the time I get with my children, but you lose a lot of freedom when they arrive. That’s just a sacrifice you make when you have kids. The thing that really gets to me though is how taboo it is for moms to talk about MISSING that freedom.

We’re not saying we would ditch our kids on the side of the road so we can score a couple of hours having brunch and mimosas with our girlfriends or that we would trade our kids in for a night on the town – we’re just bitching about what a pain in the ass it is to have to find a trustworthy sitter, pay for said sitter, make plans, PRAY the kids don’t get sick and cause plans to be cancelled, and then be home at a “reasonable hour” so aforementioned sitter isn’t ticked off at you and never wants to babysit for you again.

Not to mention how frustrating it is to have your entire day scheduled around someone else. Even if you’re a working mom, you do this to some degree. Wake up at the crack of dawn, get yourself ready, get kids ready, make breakfast, be out the door by 6:30 justtttt in case you get stuck behind a school bus at 7:00 or caught in school traffic, arrive at daycare at 7:30 (after getting stuck behind a school bus… three times), drop off kids, arrive at work at 8:02, freak out because you’re late, leave work at 5:00 and speed so you get to daycare by 5:45 so your kids aren’t the “last one.” Yeah. We all plan our days out around our kids, to some degree. And it’s TIRING.

The other day I caught myself thinking, I really wish I could trade places with my husband, just for one day.

Simply because of this: I’m envious.

Not because I think he has it easy (he’s military – his schedule is unpredictable and he deals with a lot of idiotic issues) or because I think he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Not because I get angry when he goes and does “fun” things without me. Not because of any other stupid, petty reason you can possibly come up with.

I’m envious.

envy

My husband is a wonderful man and I have absolutely ZERO complaints when it comes to him and the things he does. He provides everything we need. He works hard, sets goals, and successfully accomplishes everything he sets out to do. He is honest, loyal, trustworthy, caring, considerate, optimistic, understanding, and loving. On top of all that, he’s charming, just as goofy as I am, and incredibly handsome.

Heart, be still!

I KNOW he doesn’t have it easy. He sometimes works from 5:00 AM until 7:00 PM. Sometimes he’s gone for weeks at a time, with no communication. He has to deal with people patronizing him pretty frequently and his schedule is NEVER the same. He’s often away from us. BUT, when he IS home, I’m envious.

Because being at home with the kids and taking care of the house is basically my “job,” it’s kind of a given that I will always be here with them (unless I’ve had time to make plans for something). So when he’s home, it’s easy for him to say (after asking if he’s needed for anything or if we have plans), “Hey honey! I’m heading out to the range for the day,” or “Do you mind if I go meet up with the guys for breakfast?”

Do I have issues with him doing these things? Nope. I never have, unless it interferes with prior plans. Do I resent him when he makes plans without me? Never. He deserves time to himself to do the things he enjoys as well. Can I do this too? Well, yes… kind of.

I know that he has zero issues with watching the kids while I go and do something I want to do. He has told me this more times than I can count, and I appreciate it more than I can say. However, it still requires planning and a fair amount of work before I can head out the door and that makes it frustrating.

Because being “Mom” is my “job,” it is, always has been, and always will be my duty to ensure that my children have everything they could possibly need and that my husband has everything he needs before I go anywhere. So… diapers, snacks, nap times, what to cook for dinner, clean sippy cups, etc. Then I’ve gotta get myself ready… it always feels like it’s a much bigger production than it should be for just a few hours to myself.

This is going to sound kind of silly but when he says he’s going to do something, I find myself thinking, “Damn! He beat me to it.. again!” See, most of my girlfriends are parents too. So if one of them calls me up to do something, it usually doesn’t happen until later in the afternoon. If he makes plans, he usually knows before 2:00 PM. By the time a friend calls, it’s like 3:30… I’m in yoga pants with no bra and I ain’t moving (just kidding… but seriously).

I think I’m just going to make a master calendar and pick one day each month and write “DO NOT PLAN ANYTHING! THIS IS MY DAY. RESERVED!” on a random Saturday.

Then he can’t beat me to it and I’ll have plenty of time to plan. 😉

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Worrywart Mommy

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Preschool.

School in general is somewhat of a touchy topic for me because I had a rough time with it. Not so much with the actual class portion of it all; more so with the kids. Kids are MEAN. They say mean things. They judge. They pick on other kids. Feelings get hurt. Blah blah blah. I wasn’t one of those kids that got picked on and then went and sulked in the corner though. No way. I’m too loud and too outgoing for that. Instead, I sucked it up and did my best to let things roll off my back. I discovered that I’m good at making it LOOK like things don’t bother me when in reality, I let things get to me far more easily than they should.

I’m a worrywart. I worry way too much about every little thing. I KNOW that my 3 year old is more than likely NOT going to be judged by the other 3 year olds if he has a little bit of syrup around his mouth, but it isn’t the 3 year olds I fear – it’s their moms. Moms (women in general, really) can be catty! There’s no other way to put it. And I’m not talking about ALL moms, but we all know there are catty moms out in the world. They judge your every little move:

“Her kid is wearing THAT?!”

Well, yes. My child IS wearing that. HE picked it out because I am teaching him to be an independent individual and he is learning how to make choices for himself.

 “Is that jelly I see on his cheek? Gosh, doesn’t she wipe his face?” 

Oh, that? Yeah. I guess it is. I let him wipe his own face (ya know, the whole “independent kid” thing) and then I wiped it when we got here. Kinda hard to get every last spot when they move around.

“Oh I would never send MY child to school in a stained shirt like that!”

Well…. it WAS clean – until he spilled chocolate milk on himself in the car. Whoops.

And I have one thing to say to all the judgmental, self-righteous moms out there: Take that holier-than-thou attitude and SHOVE IT.

The moms of the preschool world aren’t the only terrifying thing though. My kid was recently sent home with a progress report. Not one that says “This is how your kid is doing in math/reading/science,” but one that tells you how they are doing developmentally. Well, that makes me worry too.

When my son was about 18 months, he had several “red flags” for Autism. Anyone who has an autistic child or who has ever had some of those “red flags” come up knows how terrifying this can be. It can really make you question a lot of things. I decided to wait until his 2 year check up before making up my mind on whether I wanted him to see a specialist or not and I’m glad I did. He had zero “red flags” at that appointment and his doctor wasn’t the least bit concerned.

After working with a therapist, we determined that the reason for a lot of those “red flags” was mostly due to the fact that his biological father and I were going through a divorce around that time. Moral of that story is “Do your absolute best to never yell/argue in front of your children.”

With that being said, I still worry when it comes to my son’s development. I worry that he still isn’t caught up with the other kids his age. So when his progress report came home and there were a few things marked as “working on,” I immediately began wondering “Am I doing everything right? How much of this stuff should he REALLY be doing at this age? Do ALL kids do these things? What can I do to get him doing this?”

I’m sorry, but I think that all the growth charts and percentiles and milestones that doctors have put in place for our children are just plain stupid. I feel like many parents (and some doctors even) use these milestones as deadlines when really they are more like estimates. Your kid didn’t start crawling at 6 months? Okay. Neither did mine. They weren’t sitting at 5 months like Betty-Lou’s daughter down the street? Who gives a flip?! My son sat at 6 months and my daughter at 6 and a half months. Not walking by the time they turn one? Don’t pressure them. My son started at 11 months, a friend’s daughter started at 10 months, another friend’s daughter started at 8 months, and my daughter is now 13 months and she doesn’t even stand alone for more than a few seconds at a time. Every child is different.

Same thing with the growth charts. My son is 3 and a half and weighs 29 lbs. I worried that he was underweight because I know a lot of kids his age who weigh over 30 lbs. Well, we went to his doctor for a check up and turns out that he is perfect! Not underweight at all. He’s just a string bean. His pediatrician said that for his height to weight ratio, he is right where he should be. She also said that with him being as active as he is, he’s probably always going to be on the skinny side.

Then you have my daughter: 13 months and only 17 lbs 7 oz. She is a petite little thing. But she was 5 lbs 10 oz when she was born – she’s always been small. Her doctor wanted me to put her on formula at 9 months because she wasn’t “gaining enough weight” and was in the “zero percentile” for weight. I asked her doctor to look at her height and tell me how much she had grown – she gained several inches and was sitting at the 33 percentile mark for height. So while she didn’t “gain” any weight, she did continue to grow. Plus, she had started crawling 2 months earlier and was shedding baby fat because of it. Once I pointed those things out, her pediatrician’s whole tone changed to “Oh! Well in that case, she’s fine.”

I don’t like worrying, but I’m a mom. It’s kind of my job to worry about every little thing.

But I really wish our society didn’t try so damn hard to give us things to worry about!
C’mon world… help out the moms.
Make our lives just a LITTLE less crazy.

Marriage is not a game

My ring finger. Yes, I have a wedding ring too. (This picture was taken while my finger was healing, so I didn’t have it on).

Okay… so this is a topic that is very close to my heart. Some of you reading my blog don’t know me at all and some of you know me very well. For those of you who don’t know me at all, I have a tiny back story to go with this (it’s really NOT tiny… I’m just going to give the very short, VERY edited version).

I have been married before. Actually, I have been married two times before. This is not something I really like to talk about and I’m not exactly proud of it. I always thought of marriage as being something that you should only do once and when you ABSOLUTELY KNOW it’s the right person. I STILL feel that way. However, I learned that sometimes people get married for the WRONG reasons or to the wrong person.

BUT, I also learned a lot about how a marriage SHOULD work and what I wanted when it came to marriage.

My first marriage was most definitely for the wrong reasons. He was a nice person and had some great qualities that I admired and loved, but it was rushed and for the all the wrong reasons.

My second marriage was a combination of being for the wrong reason and to the wrong person. I was pregnant at the time and I believe that played a big roll in it. I think we both thought it was the right thing to do. Long story short, we started off with a lot of resentment and anger between us and that led to a lot of isolation and detachment… which led to more resentment and anger on both sides. A vicious cycle. Arguing became the norm in our house. I reached a point where I decided enough was enough and didn’t see a way for it to be fixed – not without both of us trying equally, and I didn’t think that would happen. I felt that divorce was the best solution. I didn’t want to be in a relationship like that and I didn’t want my son growing up in an environment that was emotionally unhealthy.

I don’t regret making that choice. Going through something like that forced me to take a very critical look at myself and what I could have done differently from the start. I decided that if I were to ever find myself in another serious relationship, I was going to do things very differently. I took a lot of time to learn about myself and what my ideal relationship is. I thought about the things I value in a person and what would be a definite deal breaker for me. I also rediscovered my faith and began growing in it and discovering what an impact it really has on my life.

Then I met the man I now call my husband.

When we started dating, I didn’t immediately think “This is the man I’m going to spend the rest of my life with.” In fact, neither one of us wanted anything serious. Then again, love isn’t one of those things you can schedule or plan out.

“So, you want to realize you’re in love with me on the 5th? Let me check… Yeah, sooo that’s not gonna work with my schedule. Can it wait until March?”

As if.

I honestly can’t pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with him. It was like a candle being lit. The spark happens and it catches the wick, you see a glow, feel a little warmth and before you know it, there is a flame there. And that flame starts off small at first, but then it gradually begins to glow brighter and grow in size.

I can tell you this: his smile is what caused that initial spark.

Before I knew it, I realized I was in love with him. The thing is, just when I think I can’t possibly love him any more than I already do, he goes and adds to the fire. The love I felt for him in the beginning is NOTHING compared to the love I have for him now. That love grows daily. I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up dying at 30 because my heart is going to explode from all the love it will be holding. That or my heart is just going to grow and grow and grow. All I know is I’m looking forward to it. I’ll die a happy woman, either way.

Loving my husband is not hard. I don’t consider it a chore. I don’t feel like it’s a competition where we are trying to one up each other and I do my best to not ask too much of him. I make an effort to treat him with respect, at all times. I take him into consideration with every decision I make. I’m open with him. I tell him I love him every chance I get. I make spending time with him, alone, a priority.

Best part of it all is that I do these things and it’s all reciprocated. There are times where he returns my love and then some. He does this with no expectations of reward. He’s not the type of person to think “Well if I help with the dishes, maybe she’ll let me go to the range.” (He knows I won’t tell him “No,” unless we have something planned) Instead, he does things because he thinks it’s something I will like or because he recognizes it’s something I would appreciate. He is considerate and I appreciate that by itself.

It’s absolutely amazing how wonderful marriage can be.

To be honest, I was surprised the first time I ever had that thought. My other marriages were total flops, I grew up with divorced parents, and divorce is now a pretty common thing in our society. People crack jokes about life being over once you get married, how your sex life is going to take a dive into the dumps after a few months and never recover, how there’s always going to be that “one thing” about your spouse that drives you nuts… We have a habit of making marriage sound like this awful commitment.

Aside from those things, I see a lot of people getting really defensive when it comes to marriage. Far too often I have seen my friends complaining online about how their husband didn’t bother to help them with the dishes after dinner or how their wife is always complaining that they don’t pay enough attention to them. Unfortunately, social media only adds to this problem.

People vent to everyone BUT their spouse. I’ll admit that I’ve been guilty of this in the past, but I realized how destructive it can be and learned from it. I don’t do this with my husband. Ever. If I ever have a problem with something he has done or if I’m having an issue of my own, he is the first person I go to. We talk about whatever the issue is and then that’s it. I feel a million times better and in the long run, so does he because I’m not posting crap about it all over Facebook and sharing our problems with the world.

Our marriage is between US. I made vows to my HUSBAND – not my husband, Aunt Martha, Uncle Ryan, Grandma, Grandpa, my girl friends, old friends from high school, my best friend’s brother, or anyone else. So if I only made vows to ONE person, why share every single problem with all those other people? It’s just not right. It’s disrespectful to your marriage and places your spouse in an awkward position because now they have all these people looking at them and thinking, “Why did you do that?!”

Are those people going to work with you on fixing the issue? No. They aren’t. They are going to pat you on the back and say things like “Oh, honey! I’m so sorry!” or trash talk your spouse – worst part is, you’re probably not giving them the full story and now your spouse looks like the bad guy. That’s not fair to them.

Want to know the secret to having a happy marriage?

The trick is making a conscious effort. Marriage takes a lot of work – it doesn’t maintain itself. You have to get up every day and think “I’m going to do everything I can to put a smile on their face,” and then DO IT. Treat your spouse the EXACT way you want to be treated. It’s as simple as that. Being kind, courteous, considerate, and respectful can go a long way. This is true of any relationship.

I don’t do anything because my husband “tells” me to do it. This isn’t because I’m stubborn (I am) or because I’m being defiant. It’s because my husband never “tells” me to do anything. Not once has my husband ever said something like, “You need to go do  the dishes,” or “You have to go vacuum the house.” But he has said things like, “It’s really nice to come home to a clean house,” or “Could you make sure this gets taken care of?” I hear things like that and my first thought is “I like coming home to a clean house too,” or “I really should have taken care of that when I said I would earlier,” and then I make sure I do what it takes to make those things happen. Not because he “told” me to do it, but because I know it will make him happy and he will appreciate it.

As his wife, I want nothing more than to see my husband happy. If I have to do a little bit of work to make that happen, then you’re damn right I’m going to do it – even if he doesn’t ask me to.

After all, marriage is about one thing: love.

“LOVE: unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.”