Learning to fight better, accept more, appreciate daily and stay in love with my husband

Posts tagged ‘parenting’

Vomit In My Hair, Love In My Heart

I have to admit that when I imagined being married, when I was a little girl, I didn’t picture myself sitting next to the toilet bowl, with vomit in my hair and my husband standing next to me wondering what to do.  It is not the picture of romance is it? . . . . Or maybe it is.

Of the many health issues that I am prone to, migraines is one of them.  A handful of times a year, I find myself at the mercy of pain that debilitates me, has me bent over the toilet heaving, blinded, thinking I am dying, that there is no way to the other side of the pain.

For those of you who suffer from migraines, I know you understand.  For those of you who don’t, I hope that you never have to know the feeling.

Sadly, I had to spend all of Saturday in bed, in the dark, with a washcloth over my eyes, drugs at my beside, unable to keep anything down, praying every second for the pain to pass.

I literally could think of nothing but the pain.  Nothing but trying to stay as still as possible and stop the hurting.  I didn’t think about my kids or wonder what they were doing.  I didn’t worry about if they had food or if they needed anything.  I physically couldn’t begin to think about anything other than pain.

At about 4 in the afternoon, after the pain had subsided enough for me to open my eyes, it dawned on me that I hadn’t given my kids a thought all day.  More than that, I hadn’t had  to give them a thought.  I was secure in knowing that Daddy was there and they would be taken care of.  I didn’t need to worry about anything.

Then I thought, how lucky I am.  I am so grateful to have this person to share my life with, even when things suck.  How lucky I am to know someone has my back.  That someone is there so share in the endless and exhausting responsibility of parenting.

If I had been a single parent, I am not sure I would have made it thru the day. All I could think was, how do single parents do it?  How unbelievably challenging it must be.  To not even be able to be sick for one day.  God bless all of the single parents out there who have to get thru each day without the support of a spouse.  My hats off to you.  You are saints. You are truly amazing.

Thank God, that I have support of a great Hubby.  One that I don’t have to tell what to do.  He just did it.  Without complaint.  He let me recover in the silence of the room, drove 30 minutes away to get me medicine, and brought me french fries when my stomach had settled.

When I was able to think enough to find gratitude, I thought, this is what marriage is about.  It is about supporting each other when you are at your worst. It is about taking over when the other can’t stand on their own feet.  It is about reassuring that everything will be okay.  It is about saying, “Your Beautiful” when they have vomit in their hair.  Now that is love.  Now that is worth fighting for.

Today’s Lesson In Marriage:  Find gratitude for in my most desperate moments for all that Hubby does to help me through.

photo credit: demandaj via photopin cc

My Pity Party In the Closet

Lately I have been standing center stage with the spotlight blinding me at my own pity party. There are only two people on the invite list, myself and my husband.  And my husband wishes he could just ignore the invite all together.  It is embarrassing to say, but it is true.

I am not sure what is up.  I just think that sometimes the stars align just right. They align in perfect order so that I can look at them and find everything wrong with the world.  Just in line to turn a normally positive and optimistic girl into a pessimistic stranger.

That is me.  The unrecognizable girl, laying in her husband’s lap in the closet, bawling for no real apparent reason, unable to pick herself up off the floor.

The stress of a bad business decision, unknown finances, an excess 10lbs that wasn’t there last year,  the undeniable stress of work and parenthood.  Stacking on top of each other all at once and, WHAM!  The once strong and happy woman of yesterday is the dark cloud of today.

I know that regardless of my list of excuses, sitting in the closet checking off all that is wrong is ridiculous.  In my moments of clarity I know that.   I know that I am quite capable of getting up off of the floor, dusting the carpet lint of my clothes and wiping the mascara smudges off my face.   In the heat of the moment though, I need to be reminded.

In comes husband, who provides his clothes as a snot rag, his lap as a pillow and his hands to move the hair out of my face.  Soothing and listening. Reminding me that I am better than this.

When I said, “I don’t know what to do.”  He replied, “Just start with what you do know.”   That simple statement stuck.  Start with what I know.

What did I know?  I knew I needed to get up off the floor.  I knew I needed a little time to myself and I knew I needed to move my body some so that I could start to feel good again.  That is all I knew, but it was enough.

I am still short-tempered and falling into tears easier than usual, but everyday is a new day.  I set new exercise goals, ones simple enough to do with minimal effort.  I cut some pages out of a magazine for inspiration and posted them on my closet wall where I can see them everyday.  I asked my husband to take over with children a couple of nights a week, so I can have some peace to think, I started writing in my daily accountability journal again.  Little steps that move me in the right direction.

Through all of this, there is one thing that I found easy gratitude for.  My marriage.  I am so grateful that husband and I have spent so much energy strengthening our marriage.  What would happen if our marriage was rocky on top of all of the stress that my meltdown has put on us?  It could be disastrous.

But, all of the work we have done has helped prepare us for times like these.  It has given us a real foundation that keeps us balanced when it feels everything else is going to crumble.  That foundation boosts me.  It gives me hope.  It reminds me that I have done something right. . . . .  A strong, loving, supportive, forgiving marriage.  That definitely has to count for something right?

Today’s lesson in improving my marriage:  Keep up the hard work.  It will pay off in ways you can’t imagine

photo credit: Evil Erin via photopin cc

Hit The Road, Jack!

As promised here are some things that I have learned from the many family trips we have taken. Maybe you will find a little tidbit useful to incorporate in your upcoming family travels.

– Save ahead of time for the trip. It is great to have money that you have already put aside for vacation. We stash a little bit here and there every year so that by the time vacation rolls around we have what we need to do what we want to do. It would to have sucked to have traveled to Galveston, but not have had the funds to play on the pier. Even if you don’t have a lot of money for travel you can take a road trip closer to home. You don’t have to travel 4500 miles to reconnect with your family and get time away.

– Planning ahead is best. Some of the biggest arguments husband and I have had on vacation have been over which hotel to stay at. I just want a clean bed and shower he wants it to be the cheapest bed in town (clean or not). I say, come to an agreement on where to stay before you leave and book the rooms early. There is nothing worse than looking for a place to rest your head when you are tired and hungry. It just sets you up for arguments.

– Learn about your destination ahead of time. Is it expensive? Will you have to pay for parking everywhere you go? How far is it from other places you may want to visit? What is the weather like? I feel it is best to know these things ahead of time. It would be awful to find out you have to spend $25 a day in parking when you get there and realize you didn’t budget for that.

– Bring lots of activities for the kids. For road trips and long airplane rides you need distractions. It doesn’t have to be continuous, but something to help pass the time is very helpful. This year I brought road trip games that I had prepared before we left and I brought goodies for the kids to periodically reward them for good behavior. I also bought a few new things in the dollar section of Target (like little white boards and road atlases for each of them) so they had new things to look at or play with on the drive. We also let them listen to their IPod or watch movies on the IPad, but I did make sure that this time was limited. The point of a family vacation is to connect and communicate. You can’t do that if you are plugged in the whole time.

– Be still for a while. We like to travel somewhere and then stay for a few days before we move to our next destination. It not only gives you time to explore certain places, but also breaks up the monotony of being in the car for so many days. A vacation should feel like a vacation. Time to relax and unwind a bit. If you pack too much in, you will only feel exhausted and unrested. Make sure you take some time to chill. Have a day with nothing planned. Those are always my favorites.

– Get the kids their own room. For me, this is key for a happy vacation. Husband and I must have time to connect too and can’t do that easily in a hotel room with the kids in the bed right next to you. We always try to get a suite that has a door so that the kids can have their space and grown ups can have theirs. If we are in a place for a week or so, we will rent a house on VRBO.com. It usually ends up being around same price as a hotel would be, but you have a lot more space. The kids love it too. They need a break from Mom and Dad too!

– Plan activities for everyone. Give everyone a say in what they would like to get out of the vacation. In Texas, my daughter wanted to swim, husband wanted to visit Dealy Plaza, son wanted to visit the Nasa Space Center, and I just wanted to sit in a quiet space and read. We accommodated everyone.

Most of all, just treasure the moments. Each is so special. Even the times you are arguing you may look back on with a grin. Like remember that time that we took that dirt back road through Arizona that took us 5 hours longer than we anticipated and we were thoroughly pissed at each other by the time we it pavement? I will never forget 🙂

Today’s lesson in improving my marriage: Continue to take family vacations and build precious memories.

4500 Miles

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4500 miles.

That is how far we traveled on our recent summer road trip. It took us 26 days from start to finish. When I say us, I am referring to myself, my husband and our 2 kids ages 4 and 9.

Where did we go? We drove from California to Texas and back again.

When we told people our plan to travel that far, for that long, in a car, with two children, here is the response I would get, “Are you crazy? My kids would go nuts, why Texas? It’s so humid there.”

Here is my response to those people; maybe I am a little crazy, you could do it, and Texas – why not?

26 days, 9 hotels, asking a stranger to jump our car 5 times, 2 water parks, visits with family we never get to see, discovering an appreciation for the beauty of Texas, two 4-year-old meltdowns, 3 swimming pools, endless take out, the white sands in New Mexico, one Texas Ranger baseball game, the butterfly museum, the natural science museum, the heat, shopping in Bandera, the flowers in Fredricksburg, the quirkiness of Austin, the lightning storms, the river in San Antonio, the rides in Galveston, the upset stomachs and headaches, the joy on my kids faces, the humidity, the romance my husband and I lovingly call “Bandera Nights,” the Dairy Queens, the bats in Carlsbad, the meteor site in Arizona, the Grand Canyon, the memories.

This was not our first endeavor on a long road trip with children. When our daughter was a baby we drove up the coast to Canada. Let me just say, if you haven’t driven the California and Oregon coast, you should consider adding that to your bucket list. It is beauty beyond words. We have also taken road trips through New Mexico, explored Colorado and sat in awe in Utah.

Although, not my favorite thing to do, we fly too. Last year we flew to Florida and explored the Keys and we have traveled through Wisconsin and Hawaii. All with our children.

Summer vacations were a tradition when I was growing up. Once we took a 3 week road trip from California to Washington DC.

My husband didn’t travel as a kid. His family didn’t have the money or really the thought to do so. I remember thinking how sad it seemed that he had never been to Yosemite or the Grand Canyon. Two sites everyone needs to see.

When husband (then boyfriend) and I were 18 we started our own tradition of taking a big vacation every year. Back then it meant staying in dive hotels and living off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Kool-Aid.

Now, we still live off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but we stay in nicer hotels.

If I look back on all of my years, the memories that stand out the most are those from family vacations. From squishing in the front seat of my parents car, marveling at the Smithsonian, getting my foot stuck in the Texas mud, to unexpectedly camping in Bryce Canyon with my husband with no tent, carrying my daughter on my back on the suspension bridge in Vancouver, being overwhelmed by the sunset in Kauai, to an unforgettable night on the lake in Wisconsin. Each unforgettable memories.

Don’t get me wrong. Traveling is not all rosy. Living out of a suitcase gets old, trying to entertain two children continuously is exhausting, and arguing with husband about what we should feed the kids is ridiculous.

I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

What a family vacation does, for us, is bring my husband and I closer. He is able to focus on me rather than on work and I can stay up late snuggling because I don’t have to worry about getting up early the next day. It gives us the ability to give our kids the undivided attention that they always crave and gives us shared memories we will never forget. Like the scorpion in our room in Bandera, TX. A real scorpion!

I have learned a few things though, about how to make a trip successful. Especially a trip with children. The last thing that you want is to be at each other’s throats, because you can’t stand to be together for another minute.

Stay tuned for some of the travel tips that I have learned through our years of family vacations.

Today’s lesson in improving my marriage: Talk about where we want to go next year!

Don’t Cry Over Loosing a Tooth

Sometimes life’s lessons come from the most unexpected places.  That was the case for me this week.

One lesson learned was at Panera, during one of my writing sessions.  In a place such as that it is hard to ignore what is being said at the table next to you.  I promise I wasn’t purposefully eavesdropping, but sometimes the ears just hone in on a conversation without really realizing it.

I don’t remember what the conversation was about, but I do remember the man at the table saying, “I’ve learned to lower my expectations.  It is much easier to go through life that way.”

I was stunned by the comment and felt an incredible sadness for the man and what he might have experienced in life that caused him to have such a defeating outlook.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t disagree more.

I couldn’t imagine having this attitude toward my life.  If I didn’t have high expectations, life certainly wouldn’t be as rewarding as it is.

In my marriage, I have very high expectations.  Do they get let down sometimes?  Absolutely! But because I expect so much, I work hard to achieve all that I hope for. Expectations and hope give me the drive to work at things to make them better.

All I could think was, I don’t ever want to be a person who sits in Panera and shares how low my expectations for life are.  Expectations are what drive us to greatness. I want greatness!

Another lesson came from my 9 year-old daughter.  She lost her second molar, in a week, a couple of days ago.  When she came out of the bathroom holding her tooth, this is how the conversation went.

Mom, “Wow, My baby girl is loosing all of her teeth.”

Girl, vehemently shakes her hear and says, “No, I don’t want to.”

Mom,” Why not?”

Girl,” Because I want to make it last.”

Mom, “What do you mean, you want to make it last?”

Girl,” I don’t want to grow up.”

Mom, “Well you still have several years left of being a kid.”

Girl,  in tears, ” I know, but this year I am going to be in double digits!”

She proceeded to tell me how she loved being a kid and didn’t want to be  a grown up, because kids get to do things that grown ups can’t do.

I was all choked up.  I couldn’t help but think, either I am doing an awesome job as a Mom because my daughter is enjoying her childhood so much, or I am doing a lousy job as an adult, because my daughter dreads the day it is her turn.  My guess is a little of both are true.

Being a Mom, naturally full of guilt, I couldn’t help but focus on the latter.  Do I portray adulthood as so bad?  Maybe.  She sees me constantly on the computer working. She sees my fatigue and short temper at the end of the day.  She sees me struggle to make time for play. She sees the endless  and dreaded chores.  She sees me trying to balance finances.  She hears me argue with her Daddy.

It is haunting to think about how she sees my life, a mirror as to how my husband and son see me.  How I see me.

I am far too often wrapped up in life that I forget I have two little admirers taking notes.  Showing struggle and resolution is important, but more important is showing the joy.  I feel it inside, but am certain I don’t express it as I should.

I want her to imagine the beauty of adulthood.  Falling in love, parenting, freedom.  I am certain that I don’t show the affection I feel toward my husband often enough in front of her.  Maybe if I did, she wouldn’t fear adulthood like she does.

It is quite apparent that I need to lighten up.  Stop making life so hard.  Show the joy and affection in my marriage so that my daughter can look forward to experiencing that for herself one day.   Express  and point out the joys in life, rather than just the struggles.

Maybe, I just looked too far to into it.  I mean, who doesn’t wish to still be a kid?  Free of worry and stress?  But, being an adult sure has its perks too!

Today’s lesson in improving my marriage:  Don’t forget you can learn a thing or two from strangers and 9 year olds.

A Moment In Time

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I spend a lot of minutes thinking about “time.” Such a precious yet fleeting word.

I think about how there never seems to be enough of it. I seem to say, “I don’t have enough time,” on a daily basis.

I don’t have time to excercise. I don’t have time to write. I don’t have time to work. I don’t have time to play.

I think about my children. How time has robbed me of the baby years. How much longer will my daughter hold my hand crossing the street or want me to brush her hair? How much longer will I be able to pick up my son or sing him a bedtime song?

I think of my dad. How his 83 years are creeping up on him. How his body is slower than it used to be. How he can’t hear me as well as he used to. How much longer will he be here to meet me for breakfast or to cry at special events?

I think of my mom. How she will be turning 70 next year. How does that feel to reach such milestones? To know that what lies ahead is far less than what is left behind.

I think of my husband’s grandmother who died a few weeks back. How she had lived 40 years after her husband had died. She had had enough time. Time was far too long.

I think of my husband. How his hair is beginning to have more grey than brown. How his knees betray him on the basketball court. How beautiful it is to watch him grow older. What a precious gift to share with him.

I think of how I would give anything for time to slow down. How it flies by so fast it feels like sand through my fingers. If time did slow, would I notice? Would I then stop to take it all in? Would I then find a balance in work, love, family, play? Would I then be able do the things I have always wanted to do, but didn’t have the time for? Would I exercise or call my mom more?

What a precious commodity, time. What would we pay to have more of it? If we did have more, would we use it wisely?

Recent movies and a very vivid dream that I had, have reminded me that there will come a time when my parents are no longer here, when my children are grown and gone, and when I will loose my husband or he will loose me. Right here and now are the best days of my life.

Time . . . even if I was given more, it would never be enough. How could there ever be enough time to cuddle with my husband? To read to my children? To watch them play? To cook with my mom or chat with my dad? There could never be enough time.

Time. . . so incredibly precious. So, I will hold tighter to the time I have and be present in the moments that pass. I must make a conscious effort to make the time for the things that I love. Time will not make it for me. Moments are only here once. Each is a gift. An unbelievably precious gift. How blessed I am with time.

Today’s lesson in improving my marriage: Stop saying “I don’t have time.” I do. Right here and now.

Caution: Rough Road Ahead

Why is it that the learning never ends?  The second you think you have got it all figured out, Wham!!!!  Guess what? You don’t!

It would be so nice if the road of marriage was similar to driving on the highway.  At least on the highway there are endless signs to warn you and prepare you for what is to come.

Marriage, not so much.  How nice that would be!

These past couple of weeks I wish there had a been a sign to warn me. Caution: Rough Road Ahead!  At least then I could grip the steering wheel and brace myself.

Here is the problem; the second that I start to get a little cocky thinking, ” I’ve got this.  I have this all figured out,”   I am smacked over the head with the realization that, frankly, I have a lot to learn.

Here is what I mean.  I can’t say what where it started or what exactly happened, but things between hubby and I have  just been off these past couple of weeks.  We find ourselves bickering and arguing regularly.  We can’t seem to dig our way out of this little ditch that we are in where the smallest things set each other off. 

I feel like I am a child, regressing back to all of my old behaviors.    Trying desperately to remember all of the things that I learned last year about fighting better, taking accountability for my actions, being appreciative.  It seems all that flew right out the window.  “What is going on?”, I scream to myself while hubby and I are delving into the same  arguments that have haunted us for years.  Didn’t I learn how to deal with this better?  Aren’t I better than this person that keeps pointing the finger away from herself?  It certainly hasn’t felt like it.

I can’t say what triggered this little rough patch.  It seemed things were moving along smoothly, then one argument leads to another and before I know it I am a 4-year-old in an adult body.

Here is what I realize when I step away and force myself to get some perspective;  rough roads are just part of the deal.  “In good times and in bad.”  It is not the end of the world, as it feels in the heat of the moment.   

I see now that these rough patches are a test.  Can I rise above? Can I put into play all of the things that I have learned about maintaining a healthy marriage, or do I run and hide?  

I will not hide! 

So, our last big argument 2 days ago, turns heated.  Me yelling and stomping upstairs and forgetting I am a grown up.  I take a moment to breathe and think, “Come on.  Our marriage is better than this.”  And even though it is hard when I am upset, I take  a moment to think about everything that has been working for us in the past.  All of the tools that I have learned to fight better.  Be a good listener, be accountable  (no finger-pointing), show appreciation, be understanding of where he is coming from, don’t yell, remember that I love this person that makes me crazy.

I put these tools into play and painlessly, the argument dies with apologies, hugs and a feeling that everything is going to be okay.  

Things are not back to perfect yet, but I have spent a lot of time thinking and  have realized that a significant key to being in a healthy marriage is to always know that the “light is on the other side of the tunnel.”  I have seen it!  I know it is there.  I just need to hold on to the wheel.  Be cautious, proactive and  loving and we will get to the other side.

Today’s lesson in improving my marriage:  Rough roads are inevitable, but take the scenic route whenever possible.