Category Archives: reflection

Lesson #12:

BC Era = “Before Children” Era

My husband and I do not go out on many dates. I don’t mean that to sound whiny and I do not feel like my relationship suffers because we don’t go to the movies or out to eat. I very much enjoy spending my time together as a family and would prefer pizza and pajamas over a fancy dinner and a dress any day of the week. The interesting thing is that I love our “deck nights” more than any date he’s ever taken me on. A few times a week I will put my daughter to bed as my husband starts a fire in our backyard, gets the lawn chairs out, prepares himself a cigar or a drink and we just sit out there and talk. Not the superficial “how was work” talks, but we have some enlightening conversations out there about our relationship, our family, our careers and society. It sets up a very comfortable environment to discuss issues we may be having, or struggles we are internalizing or exciting dreams of the future. I find that when I leave these conversations that my “cup runneth over” and I feel closer to him. Believe it or not, he loves them even more than I do.

We started dating when we were children and so our BC Era is a span of almost 9 years. The boy I first started dating with a varsity jacket, a thin chin strap, acne faced and awkward is not the confident protector of man I lie next to at night. I think the entire point of dating when you are married is to reconnect outside of wearing the “mom” and “dad” hats. The point is that when your kids are off and living their own life that you don’t look to the man next to you and have essentially no idea who they are anymore. I think as a society we put unnecessary pressures on what that dating looks like. The first point I want to make is that dating is exactly what you make it. I’ve seen plenty of couples out at a nice restaurant just sitting on their phones barely speaking or touching each other. Secondly, a date is more about reconnecting and learning about each other rather than a location. Lastly, a date is about dropping the titles we carry around in our everyday life (manager, wife, mother, sister, daughter) and just seeing the other person for who they are.

I fell in love with my husband on a cold day in April 2008 at the Paine Estate in Belmont, Massachusetts. As cliché as it sounds, I walked away from that date knowing that I wanted to marry him. I look back at photos of that night, and you can just see it in our eyes. My husband absolutely loves astronomy and had convinced his astronomy teacher to let him borrow his telescope. We went to the Paine Estate late at night and he set up the telescope under the moon. It was a beautiful and chilly night. I think he spent more time getting the telescope ready to look at the stars than we spent staring up at the sky. We forgot to bring a blanket and after standing around for a while, I was freezing and wanted to leave. He wanted to stay under the stars so I took off my jacket and put it under us on the ground and we snuggled next to each other and he put his jacket on top of us. We were nose to nose and just talked for hours. I can remember this night so vividly. Nothing fancy, two silly children who forgot a blanket and were probably past our curfew.

To my second point, dating is about reconnecting and learning about each other. Full disclosure, there are times where we are so excited to see each other and have time together after our daughter goes to bed, and we end up sitting on our phones. Yikes! I know! So when we have our “deck nights” we make sure to say that phones are away so that we can focus on each other. Of course we make the exception to check the baby monitor, but other than that we dedicate our complete focus on each other.

Lastly, we make it a point to not focus on talking about our daughter or work the entire time. While it is one thing to blow off steam or reflect on the cutest thing our daughter did that day, when we come to each other for our “deck nights” we come as individuals – not just mom and dad. My husband loves his cigars and a nice whiskey so we make sure that he is able to indulge for our “deck dates.” It’s important that we remember and know each other outside of those titles. Sometimes we have to hold each other accountable for this one.

So, if you have a young family (or a large family) and coordinating time to go out on a date sounds more like a chore than something you’re excited for. Consider doing something the two of you, like a long walk after dinner or a fire in your backyard. A date does not have to be dinner and a movie, or a dress and fancy dinner – a date is what you make it. It changes with the seasons of life and is meant to make you feel closer to your spouse.

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Lesson #9:

Grace is forgiveness that is not deserved

The ability to hold a grudge is not a characteristic I claim very proudly. It is without a doubt that it is an inherited trait, but one that I work diligently to be able to compensate for. My husband will tell you that my superpower is the ability to go “ice queen” on anyone in my life. What he means is that if I feel that someone has done me wrong or hurt my feelings, I have the ability to just shut down and shut off. I go completely numb and do not move forward until I am done processing and on my own time. That means no amount of apologies will make me change my mind – it has to be my own decision. While he lovingly jokes about my similarities to Queen Elsa, there is a lot of truth in it. In a fight or flight situation, I will chose flight every single time. I think my “ice queen” abilities is just a defense mechanism I had developed as a child that allowed me to turn off my emotions and become numb. 2015 was time for me to “Let it go” though. No pun intended.

I carried a lot of my hurt and anger for years towards people. People that I know were probably not missing my involvement in their life or giving me a second thought. The anger that comes with going numb can consume you to where it affects your every day life. In college I was a much different person than I am now and that is largely because I feel this overwhelming sense of numbness towards a lot of situations I had encountered. New Years Eve 2015 my husband and I sat around a fire in our backyard and talked about any resolutions we wanted to focus on and mine was that I just wanted to let go of all the “ice” I had been carrying around. I felt like I was carrying this heavy load.

Like I said, holding a grudge is a characteristic that I own about myself. So while this resolution sounded like something I could “poof” and make happen, it was very much a journey for me to overcome. At first I thought that in order to forgive, I had to confront the very people that I had suffered from. In the process of this journey I realized that to forgive someone, unlike what they taught you in grade school, wasn’t something that I needed to tell the person. I did not have to say “I forgive you” or wait for an apology. I needed to be able to release that anger within myself and come to peace with the hurt that I had experienced.

That meant I needed to extend a lot of grace. Grace meaning the forgiveness that people might not be deserving of and to extend grace released my ownership of the pain. There is comfort in knowing that you are forgiving someone who doesn’t deserve it. Oftentimes when we talk about forgiveness we think that relieves someone the responsibilities of their actions, but what grace does is acknowledge that they are at fault, and that it is no longer a burden for me to bear. Grace is marriage is something I am looking at talking about more, so hang on for a future post.

I say this because everyone has pain and hurt they carry around with them every day. The release and freedom that comes when you extend grace is directly related to happiness. You know I want you to be happy. I want you to forgive whatever it is in your heart that is holding you back, whatever is causing you to feel like you are carrying a burden, let it go. You don’t need to call up your father and say “I forgive you for…” or call up your ex-boyfriend and tell him “I accept your apology” but what you DO need to is forgive them in your heart and release that energy back into the world.

I want you to write down names of people or situations you have yet to heal from. You don’t have to go in detail, and if the sight of their name makes you cringe then just do initials, but throw that in the fire. Maybe literally or figuratively but let the ice that is your burden thaw and extend grace to people who do not deserve it. We’ve done a fire in our backyard every single New Years Eve since then as a good reminder of how I want to start my year.