Tag Archives: relationship

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 #5:

“I am God’s favorite”

Lesson #2 I spoke briefly about my “intentional parenting” that my husband and I actively practice with our daughter. I am in no way a professional, nor do I have 100 children to test these theories out on, but I can just tell you what we have learned (through trial and error) with our daughter. All of this stems really from my desire to create a positive inner voice and rock solid self-esteem. Recently, my brother decided that he would quit his job and move to Hawaii on nothing but a dream. When I asked him if he was scared, he simply replied, “Why should I be? I am God’s favorite.” I laughed at his response and then later on in the car it bugged me how I could not get this amazing sense of arrogance and self-love out of my head. My brother has a big personality and his filter is seldom engaged to his mouth, so I know what he said, hereally meant. Religion aside, I started thinking about how I want my daughter to adapt this sort of mentality. If someone says something nasty to her, I hope she is able to look at that situation with the same arrogance and self-love that my brother has. 

I wish I could emphasize how badly we wanted a daughter; we prayed for her and spoke about her like I was already pregnant. What would she look like? What kind of personality would she have? Maybe it was my hormones, but my joy quickly became fear. Instead of questioning what she would be like, I quickly began to think of all of the terrible things myself or female friends of mine had experienced and I started thinking “how can I protect her from…” If you think like that, you are bound to go crazy which I found out the hard way. I focused on what I wanted her to know about herself, how we would create the little voice inside of her head that would guide her through her life.The interesting parallel is that once you know who you are, no bully or difficult situation can defeat you. Meaning that many times in our life we get to the point of defeat and second guess who we are. Maybe we didn’t get that promotion or job offer and we start second guessing if we’re really qualified. Maybe we get called fat and we start to think that every time someone looks at us that’s all they see. Maybe our boyfriend just broke up with us and we’re not sure if we’re valued or capable of being loved. Whatever it may be, I want my daughter to be able to look in the mirror and seeexactlywhat I see: a big, smart, strong, silly little girl who is independent and brave.  So, below are the things my husband and I talked about when we started our “intentional parenting” journey with our daughter.

“You are big, smart, strong and silly.”

In my life, I have seen little girls called beautiful, cute, pretty a dozen times over and the effect that it had on them. Now, I think my daughter is one of the most adorable little ladies I have ever seen, but if you find affirmations in things that change then your self-esteem is based on something unstable. You will go through puberty and have acne, you will gain weight, you will lose weight, you will get wrinkles and stretchmarks and go through awkward periods of your life. What does not change and what I want my daughter to build her stability on is that she is big, smart, strong and silly. We do hand motions when we tell her each of these things just so she hears it and sees it and can be remembered easier. And my love, if someday you read these blog posts just know that you will be a grown woman and I will do those motions of big, smart, strong and silly to embarrass and remind me until you remember. Don’t tell me to stop, because I am not going to.

When she puts together a Lego set or helps me with dinner and is covered in flour, as much as I want to tell her how beautiful she is and how much I love the dimples in her cheeks – we tell her how smart she is and how she learned how to (fill in the blank!).  This is not to say that we don’t tell our daughter she is beautiful, because I can already hear the army of angry people in my head, but we never let the “cute” or “adorable” outweigh the big, smart, strong and silly comments.In Lesson #1 we talked about the five love languages and to an extent this applies to those affirmations. When you tell your spouse how smart they are for doing the family’s taxes or how considerate they are for fixing something around the house all of a sudden those affirmations become their own positive inner voice. I have spent years telling my husband how amazing his hugs are (seriously – you’re missing out) and now he will arrogantly tell me, to come get one of his hugs. I don’t say arrogance in a bad way, just that he has so much self-love that he knows.
If you have a child, what sorts of inner voice affirmations do you hope to instill in your child? If you do not, what inner voice affirmations do you wish you were told as a child?

Lesson #2:

OWN the dog food

I parent my daughter in a way that I call “intentional parenting” which is something I am looking forward to talking much more about in the future. When I am making a decision or responding to a question o f hers I try to be very deliberate in my response. There are so many different ways to parent and it feels like everyone has an opinion regarding EVERYTHING related to parenthood. I try to live my life without any judgment. I recognize that everyone comes from their own background with different expectations, culture and struggles than I do. I had never experienced real judgmental people before I became a mother. I am sure there were people who spoke behind my back about my relationship or career or family, but never to my face. I’ll never understand why a group of women who know how difficult it is to raise another human being, are so tough on one another.

When I had my daughter, it was hard for me to get dressed. I felt like I was constantly going and going, that putting on clothes or brushing my hair felt like a waste when I had so many other things to get done. My mother made me feel guilty, like if I didn’t immerse my child into social activities then she would be awkward and inept to handle elementary school. I decided one day to get dressed, put on deodorant and pack us up for the day to hang out with perfect strangers. I was nervous to meet new people and had come up with a handful of excuses why I couldn’t go. But I went. I sat in a room in the library with other babies, my daughters age, and listened to the other mom’s brag about how great their newborn was doing in swimming lessons, or how well they were at sleeping at night and how great cloth diapers were for their babies and the environment. It seemed like the more I listened, the more I realized that I had no idea what I was doing. My daughter screamed when I put her in the tub (let alone a POOL!), she would sleep for 4 hour stints and then would be up, I had chosen to use disposable diapers because the thought of doing any more laundry made me want to curl up in a ball. 

One of the little girls in our Mom’s Group, crawled up to her mother, Christine, and started to get fussy. Christine, obviously a little embarrassed that the other children were quiet while her daughter was having a meltdown, frantically went through her diaper bag until she pulled out a bag. Her daughter was thrilled and started to wave her arms in the air as she saw it. It was just about to glance down at my phone when I heard one woman say “did you really bring goldfish to feed your daughter?” Christine was pale as a ghost now, and started to stutter as she tried to explain to a group of mother’s acting like a bunch of detectives. The “detectives” dug in further questioning Christine about all of the chemicals and processed foods she is giving her daughter. Christine looked gutted and the longer I waited for Christine to stick up for herself the more mad I got. I didn’t want to step on Christine’s toes but I felt like I needed to step in. After about 5 minutes of listening to this interrogation I belted out, “my daughter at dog food yesterday – so at least this is human food.” Christine looked at me with relief as the women quickly changed the subject to talk about what everyone almost caught their children eating and less focused on the goldfish.

I sat in my car in the parking lot of the library with such anger. How could they be so judgmental and VOCAL? How could goldfish be so taboo?

I learned that if you OWN your struggles with parenting, no one can make you feel less without your permission. I OWNED that I am not the earthy crunchy mother who knows what her child is doing at all times – and yet I know that I love my daughter, I know that she is healthy and that I am trying my best. No one is making me feel guilty or unworthy without my permission. If anything, I can laugh at my struggles because she gets into all sorts of stuff! As soon as I put the struggle out there and accept it – their power goes away.

I just want you to know that you are doing an awesome job. If your kid has never seen a  television or if you need to put on the television every day for some peace. If you feel your kids the most organic, non-GMO delicious meals ever known to man or if your child has goldfish snacks. Just know, that a happy parent and a stable home is far more valuable then anything else in that child’s life. Do not give anyone the power to make you feel less than. OWN your struggles.

Lesson #1:

Shattering Expectations

I want to preface this blog by saying marriage is the most difficult and rewarding thing in my life. I want to create a dialogue and be able to share true struggles and successes with other likeminded people about love, family and the balance of it all. I mean it with every fiber of my being, the world is a better place because my husband is in it. There is no doubt in my mind that I married my soulmate and someone that I am oftentimes undeserving of. I got married at 22 and was in no place to listen to anyone in my life tell me about my marriage. My husband and I went through marriage counseling before our big day (shoutout to Pastor Bill!) and were hit with some difficult questions regarding what expectations we were coming into this marriage with.

I am a child of a very messy divorce and it has tainted the way I view love. At one point in my life I found myself being very untrusting towards relationships (much like a “how long until you’re gone” game.) and at the first sign of a struggle, I was gone. My husband and polar opposite, comes from a household where his parents have been together for over 30 years and divorce in his family is not as common and accepted as mine. In fact, I can’t think of a single family member that has not been divorced on my side.

My expectation, I learned, was a very romantic view of marriage. Probably because I did not have a stable marriage in my household I had to learn what marriage looked like through movies. I expected love to be effortless and blissful (like the universe brought two people together). I knew that once you got married, you created a family unit and I spoke during counseling about how he would make me feel every day. For those of you who have been married for a while you’re probably laughing. Romantic, but not probable. My husband, however, was much more of a realist. His expectation is that we were going to go through some dark days but that he would never have to question that we were a team and approached struggles together. His expectation was that we would kiss each other every day and that football games were non-negotiable parts of his life.

Okay, so he didn’t say the last part although we schedule our Sundays around when the Patriots are expected to play.

If you are engaged or married and haven’t done the 5 Love Languages test I strongly suggest you and your spouse do it. I had been with my husband for 7 years by the time we got married, and after taking the test I felt like something clicked-for each of us. My husband feels love by physical touch followed closely by words of affirmation. So when he tells me his expectation is that we kiss every day, he is really saying that he wants to feel loved every day even when we don’t like each other. My love language is quality time followed closely by acts of service. Could we be any more opposite? My expectation in a marriage is that we spend time together and that he show me he loves me in small ways like making the bed so I don’t have to or putting my favorite soda in the fridge so it’s cold when I want it.

The harmful thing about expectations is that oftentimes we are not honest with ourselves or our spouses about what we want. So this week I challenge you to take the 5 Love Languages test or share 5 expectations in marriage with your partner. Even if you assume they already know what they are, share them and as your partner shares don’t feel the need to respond, just listen and discuss how your expectations in love and marriage can be met – as a team.