I don’t give a lot of marriage advice. I mean, every couple is different, and you have to find your own groove. The most I’ll usually say is “Marry someone you truly enjoy spending time with” and “Be most excellent to each other, and party on dudes.” But, I’ve been married going on 11 years now, and there’s one piece of ubiquitous advice that has always rubbed me the wrong way: “Never go to bed mad.”
This is really dumb advice.
We tell people all the time to “sleep on it” when they’re facing a big decision, and it’s because we know that sometimes you just need to let your brain work on something while you stop thinking about it, and maybe things will seem clearer in the morning. We know that big decisions take time and marination. But we tell people in a relationship that they have to solve all their differences and arguments before the sun sets on them?
Sometimes the thing you’re fighting about is just stupid, and you’re so far in that you forgot that fact, but you’ll realize it when you wake up in the morning and it no longer seems to matter as much.
Sometimes, particularly if you have small children, you’re not really so much in a fight as you are sleep-deprived and irrational, and after some sleep you’ll realize that the whole thing wasn’t even a disagreement.
Sometimes one of you is a hot-head and needs some cooling off time.
Sometimes one of you is an internal processor, and you’ll be able to work stuff out and communicate your side more clearly after you’ve had some time to work it out in your own head for a while.
Sometimes everyone will be able to be calmer and more receptive if you continue the discussion over a cup of coffee the next day.
Sometimes, going to bed mad may even mean one of you storms off to bed and the other conks out watching TV on the couch, and you both wake up missing each other and in a more loving frame of mind the next day.
Sometimes, without the pressure of WE HAVE TO SOLVE THIS RIGHT NOW BECAUSE WE CAN’T GO TO BED BEFORE WE RESOLVE IT, you can actually have the space to come up with a better, more amicable resolution.
Sometimes you really should just go to bed mad. Because in the morning, you’ll find you just aren’t mad anymore.
So, there’s my new piece of relationship advice. Screw “never go to bed mad.” Sometimes you should just sleep on it.
My girls have fallen in love with “the puppets,” by which they mean The Muppets lately. No, this isn’t some sort of tie-in with their new show that apparently premiered this week, because I haven’t seen it, and I’m not on the Muppet payroll. (Although, Kermit, call me!) We have a few Muppet movies on DVD, and they’ve been watching those, particularly the newer one with Jason Segel that came out when I was pregnant with them, which Jon and I saw in the theater, which I totally SOBBED through because I was hopped up on double twin hormones and feeling very nostalgic. Anyway, one funny thing that the girls have picked up on from the movie is a song Amy Adams’ character sings while eating alone about “having a me party.” When we were out to lunch the other day, they saw a woman dining alone, and asked me if she was having a “me party.” And I’ve heard them say to each other when they feel like they need a little space or alone time, “could you please leave me alone? I need to have a me party.” I kind of love it. Both the phrase and the fact that these tiny people are self-aware enough to know that they need some alone time once in a while. And I love that it’s phrased positively, like a party, instead of negatively, like loneliness.
As a mom of three-year-old-twins, I don’t get a lot of me time. You know how society is always making us think we need to “do it all” and asks us how we “do it all” and creates a lot of insecurity around “all” and even though we know it’s a giant, soul-killing lie, we just keep buying into it, anyway? We all know this, and yet we keep on tap dancing, juggling flaming swords, just praying that we don’t get maimed too bad when it all falls down.
I’m tempted to say something like “Can I be real?” and make a candid admission, but here’s what I’m really going to say: you don’t need to ask permission to be real. You don’t need to sneakily confess that you’re not doing it all. Because deep down you know no one is, and you know that’s just life, and there shouldn’t be guilt there. I can’t even figure out how to do MOST OF IT, let alone all of it, in one day. I can be a few but not all of the following in a given day: a good mom, a good wife, a good friend, a good cook, a person who exercises, a person who writes, a person who took a shower today, a person with a clean house, a person who makes time for her spiritual wellbeing, a person who gets enough sleep. Which is why I just love love loved this post, “Limiting All” by a woman whose voice I have really come to love lately, Amanda Magee. In it, she writes, “Unclench your hand, let everything fall down, if for no other reason than to give your arm a rest and to regather the things so they fit better in your hand. We are all sitting precariously on towers of our own making. They don’t have to reach the sky or carry the world, they just need to hold us and that starts with us accepting that ‘all’ is not something we even want.”
So, a great gift my husband has given me the last three days is he’s given me some “me party” time. I know that we both want each other to take time to nurture ourselves, but work schedules and actually taking advantage of the time we do have doesn’t always work out. But this week, it has. Namely, for the last 3 days, I’ve gotten out for 45 minutes to an hour to just take a walk in the lovely finally starting to cool off weather, basking in the sunshine, earbuds and a podcast in my ears. Because while I love doing Zumba in my den, it’s just SO FREAKING NICE after basically being cooped up in air conditioned spaces for the last three months, to get some fresh air in my lungs and just be by myself and listen to stuff that feeds my mind.
Taking care of my mind/body is something that often ends up on the back burner, because I am taking care of small people, trying to nurture relationships, and also trying to squeeze out time to do the thing I love the most: write. But the thing is, a lot of the time, I feel like all my creative energy gets used up in the course of just trying to create my best self with which to interact and parent my children every single day. I mean, I’m literally writing the character I inhabit all day every day, trying to put affirming, patient, peaceful words and thoughts in my mind and my mouth, trying desperately to construct the reality I want them to live in. And since I’m a person who writes about my life, sometimes being actively in it makes it hard to also observe it and package great insights wrapped in words. I know it’s hip to talk about living your life as if you’re writing a story these days, but man, that’s how I see my world. I’m writing a story with my life all day, and sometimes that leaves very little headspace or energy for actual writing. Which then creates guilt because my writing is this big key piece of my personality and sanity and wellbeing.
So, anyway, these last three days, I’ve walked a total of 8 miles or so, and I’ve been listening to interesting things along the way, and today as I was trucking along, I was straight up moved to tears listening to Elizabeth Gilbert talking to Rob Bell on his Rob Cast (episode 36). You should really listen to the whole thing, because it’s super special, but the part that made me cry as I walked was when a mom of a young child asked Elizabeth about finding the time to write in the midst of motherhood and all the fatigue and busyness that comes with it. And she basically told the woman that she needed to give herself permission to not be writing right now, and to take care of her “animal body” as much as she could, by getting enough rest and being kind to herself. And at that moment, the piece of me that feels guilty that I don’t get to do more writing, guilty that I so often open this page up with empty hands and nothing to offer, guilty that I can’t even do MOST OF THE THINGS in one day, that hard little piece of me broke open a little bit, and some light and some air got into my soul, the same stuff I’ve been basking in on my walks.
Intellectually I know I can’t do most of the things in the same day. And I need to let that be OK in the season I am in right now. I will write when the planets align, and when I have something I need to say, I will fight to make the time to do it. And when I need to take care of my animal body with a long walk in the sunshine and something inspiring in my ears, I will accept with pleasure the gift of time to do it. Today, because I have accepted that gift, my legs are a little sore, and my heart toward myself is a little softer, and I found the time to write way too many words about it, and there’s banana bread cooling on the counter. That’s not ALL, by any means, but it’s enough. And I’m so much more interested in enough.
Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I wanted to share what has become one of my favorite traditions. In need of both art for my bedroom wall and occasional cards for my husband, a few years ago, I started buying him fun handmade cards that, after exchanged and read, can be framed and hung up on our wall. Sometimes I make the cards/art myself, other times I buy from Etsy, but over time, many of these cards have become part of a gallery wall in our bedroom. One in particular that says “Let’s Get it On (I’ll just brush my teeth)” (by Linocut Boy, no longer available) hangs in our bathroom– I thought it was a funny joke on long-married romance. I like that these little pieces of our love story get to hang around and add beauty and sweetness to our days long after the holiday that necessitated their purchase.
In case you, too, are interested in frame-worthy Valentines, I decided to round up a few here. If you click each image, you will be taken to the card’s listing on Etsy, and each shop name is also a handy link to the shop itself.
I can’t really say I was ever around friends and had a husband remark upon his wife’s body to me, but if I were ever around a couple and the husband smacked his wife’s booty and told her she looked hot in her yoga pants, as our toddlers played nearby, as I examined the stain on the knee of my own leggings and wondered if it was snot or what, exactly, I would think, “Good for them. They’re adorable.” And maybe also a little bit of, “Gag, get a room, you two.”
Yesterday afternoon, something I’ve waited actual years for happened:
My child said “I love you, mama.”
Etta and I had just picked up Claire from preschool, and we were driving to the gas station when she looked up from her snack (peanut butter cookies), caught my eye in the rearview mirror, and said, “I love you, mama.” Pure. Magic. I tell her I love her all the time. I sing her a little song that goes, basically, “I love my Bear Bear, my Bear Bear loves me.” But I’ve never coached her to put those words together, wanting it to be truly her idea when she finally said it. And then she did. And I melted into a puddle and seeped onto the floor and still somehow managed to type a blog post.
I know it will be a while yet before my Etta girl puts those magical words together, as she’s been on her own little path, speech-wise and has only just recently started putting words together into phrases. Some notable Etta utterances lately: “Uh oh, I broke it” (her perfect first sentence), “Trolley, where are you?”, “My hands are dirty,” and “Otter, come here.”
I just love the things they say, and I’m high on the love from my Claire Bear, especially.
I’m also feeling the love because my husband and I will be celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary on the 29th and are headed out of town this weekend for a little getaway road trip, just the two of us. My bags are packed, and I am so excited to get to have this time together. I’m feeling the love all the way around. I just love this little family of mine.
Sitting at the dinner table, the three of us hear a familiar clink in the driveway, and I can see smiles creep across the girls’ faces, sparkles arriving in their eyes, and then we see him, the hero and his trusty steed, or rather, my husband, wheeling his bike into the shed. They begin a chant, squealing and giggling, “DADDY! DADDY! DADDY! DADDY!” You’d think the star player were entering the stadium. And to us: he is. Some days he rides in like the cavalry, saving me from a day gone horribly wrong and saving my children from a mama at her wits end. But even on a day gone right, things are still just infinitely better when he’s home. Continue reading “happy father’s day”
My lovely sister is on her honeymoon, so I contributed a guest post at her fabulous fashion blog My Here & Now Life. Head over to find out how I planned a wedding in the pre-Pinterest era, what I loved about it, and what I’d do differently!
OF COURSE THEY ARE. You know who’s happy? People who get a full night’s sleep most nights. People who can eat a meal without getting up approximately 9 times to fetch things for people who fling food at them, spit out mouthfuls of fully chewed food for no reason, smear food in their hair, and inexplicably like/hate pineapple from one day to the next. People who can just go out of town for a weekend trip. People who regularly get to go to the movies. People who don’t have to schedule sexy times. People who don’t have to wipe any butts but their own. Let’s be real.
The good news is: the ultimate goal of my life isn’t “be happy.” And my ultimate hopes for my kids aren’t “as long as they’re happy.” Happy is fleeting, and happy is an illusion, and happy just isn’t a realistic goal for much of anything.
Here’s what I want: I want to be satisfied. I want to be challenged. I want to be grateful. I want to be loved. I want to love. I want relationships. I want to have a legacy. I want to make an impact.
All of those things are much more realistic goals for a life, a marriage, parenthood.
Thank God I didn’t/don’t expect my kids to make me happy. That’s far too much of a burden to place on another person. I do think they’ve already made me a better person, though, and I’ll take that.
Last week, my husband Jon and I celebrated 7 years of marriage, and in June, we marked 10 years of togetherness.
Everyone jokes about the 7 Year Itch. But I have it, y’all.
Except…it’s on my finger.
You see, somewhere in the last year, I developed an allergy* to my white gold wedding rings. Sure, some skeevy dudes may say they’re “allergic” to their rings, when really they’re not wearing them so they can mac on chicks, but this is no lie. Wearing my rings has started to cause my finger to immediately break out into a red, bumpy, itchy rash. I figured out it was the gold because my silver stacking rings, a Valentine’s gift that I wear on my right hand, don’t cause the same problem.
“I’m allergic to my wedding rings,” I announced to my doctor hubby one day, showing him the rash. He asked if I meant symbolically or literally, but thank goodness, the only itch I’ve got is the one on my finger. I’m not itching to get out of our relationship or marriage at all.
And my best friend and hubby was handy in diagnosing my problem too. It turns out it’s fairly common for people to develop allergies to the nickel used as an alloy with the gold to make it strong enough to stand up to the wear and tear it gets as jewelry. But he’s seen enough nickel allergies to know I don’t have it, since nickel is also commonly used in the hardware on things like jeans, and I don’t develop a similar rash to the rivet on the waistband of my blue jeans. Also, the gold posts on my pearl earrings have started irritating my ears, too. So, I am forced to conclude, I’m having an issue with gold, not nickel.
I’ve taken to wearing one of my silver stacking bands on my left hand as a placeholder, but I’d really like to get back to wearing my rings again. I hear a temporary solution is to coat the ring in clear nail polish, and a permanent one is to get it plated with rhodium.
As for seven years, I’m happy to celebrate how far we’ve come. Becoming parents has truly been the hardest thing our partnership has endured, far more stressful than moving cross country, grief, and trauma. Still, there’s no one else I’d rather be raising my family and living alongside.
We celebrated lucky number seven with a little road trip to Texas, spending a night in a bed and breakfast in Dallas, checking out the 6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and the Dallas Museum of Art, and then continuing to Austin for LOTS of tacos, a visit to the LBJ library (thankfully for me, my husband indulges my political geekery), visiting with friends, seeing the bats, and eating some BBQ. It was a lovely getaway, and we’re super thankful that family took care of our kids and pets so we could get that time together.
*Allergies can develop at any time, even after years of exposure without event to the allergen. This is why when people tell me they “aren’t allergic” to something like poison ivy, I always tell them, just wait! With enough exposures, you’ll eventually trigger a reaction!