I’m at that Stage


mountain

Something has shifted recently. Everywhere I look marriages are rocky, hanging on by a thread or have already taken a nosedive off a cliff. Then I remember that I’m 35. And most of the people I know have been married as long as I have, or longer.

If I’m not hearing about divorce, it’s separation, or infidelity. Every time I hear about another marriage falling apart it shakes me to my core. I have a fleeting moment when I think: but we’re solid, we have a strong foundation, we’re going to make it. But I believe we all have those feelings about our marriages, until we begin to doubt them.

I had no idea how hard marriage could be. Our two personalities, sometimes like oil and water coexisting in the same home. Sometimes clashing together, sometimes melting like butter. But always constant, and never questioned.

Then children come along. And they need you. Your protection, your love, your energy, your everything. How can a marriage not suffer just a little bit under all this pressure and exhaustion?

I know I have lost myself in these roles of wife and mother. When I have a day to myself, I often can’t remember what I like doing. What Cristina likes doing.  I have to think about it for a bit, and then a list of things come to mind: reading, watching a move in the theater alone, eating all-day breakfast in a restaurant – near the window with a good book, getting my hair done, shopping, writing, sitting by the lake and listening to the waves…

I don’t have enough of these days to fill my bucket. I need more of them. I feel like there are only breadcrumbs left of me sometimes, and I want to make a whole loaf of bread with them, but how?

This shit is hard. But it’s also required. All these stages in life are needed to shape me. One day I will look back on this version of myself and want to reach out and hug me. Because I’ll recognize how raw and used up I was. I’ll want to say: I’m so proud of you. You did it. You bloomed.

And then I think of my husband. And how he must feel at this stage. He listens to me complain all the time. He works so hard. For the past five years it was only him working, supporting our family. I think about all that pressure. And then coming home to me, who hasn’t spoken to a grown up all day and I just start talking and won’t stop… and the kids miss him and jump all over him… the two of us, just needing a friggin’ break from all this chaos for just a minute!

This stage is hard. I can understand why some marriages can’t withstand the pressure, and crack.  I can understand how spouses can feel used up and exhausted and have nothing left. But I also feel like we need to hold ourselves accountable for the promise we made to each other.

We need to speak up when we’re suffering, I don’t mean complain, I mean have an honest conversation with your spouse about the pressure. And listen to them too, cause they’re just as thinned out as you are. Just hear each other, and be sympathetic. The worst thing you can do is shut down, or be selfish and only take care of your own needs. Because the moment you said “I do” you became a team – and it should always be the two of you facing the exhaustion, pressure, worry, needy kids, overwhelming tasks together.

I could go on writing, but I’m not a therapist. I’m just a woman who is figuring her shit out and sharing it with you.

My only piece of advice here is to take care of yourself – this is the advice I suck at taking myself by the way so I kinda hate that I’m giving it. Ask for time alone. Offer each other time away. And ask for help with the kids, AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE, so you both can have time together without the pressure of everyday life.

Who’s at the next stage? With preteens or teens who have calendars filled with activities and attitudes that can sting… how do you keep your shit together and your marriage strong?

The Annoying Habit that Drives My Husband Crazy


side table
Photo Credit: Thehouseofsmiths.com

 

My husband will tell you that he thinks I’m the best wife and mother, that he adores me. But if you ask him about my talent at leaving books, journals, notepads, pens and pencils around, his head might explode. It’s the one thing I know drives him absolutely insane. I’ve tried working on it, but I can’t stop.

As a writer, I often get bitten by the creative bug. I’m filled with absolute panic when I can’t find a pen to jot my idea down and get it out of my head and onto paper before it turns to dust. So naturally I make sure they’re available even at the expense of my husband’s sanity.

Our home is pretty organized and tidy even with an eleven month old crawling around (I’m not superwoman, I just have a great husband who helps me keep on top of what can turn into crazy clutter). But scattered on side tables, the kitchen table, the dining room table, the countertop, the fireplace mantel, and any other object with a flat surface are a few books, pens, notepads and journals.

I’m currently in the middle of reading six books. I love reading. But I also like different genres including autobiographies, thrillers, Christian literature, and psychology. Throughout my day when I have fifteen minutes to myself I like to read, but my mood also changes throughout the day so I like having a few options.

I also have a few different journals. I write my day to day stuff in one, prayers to God in another, and quotes from books I’m reading in yet another one. I like having them accessible for when I read something inspiring, need to vent, have a prayer request or want to offer thanksgiving. So we have the problem with journals and books explained.

I tell Andrew that “I’ll try working on this annoying habit” but I don’t see how I can. I mean, I could create a drawer where I store all my go-to books, but the pens and pencils? I need to have them near me. I’m struck with ideas for blog posts, poems, and my journals all day long…in every place of the house…yes, even the bathroom…where I have a pencil.

What should I do? Sew together a fanny pack pencil case and wear it like a belt all day long? I love my husband, but this is one annoying habit I think he just might have to live with.

The Best Spouse in the Universe Award Goes To…My Husband!


About a week ago Andrew had to go away for a few days for work. In the days leading to his departure I was feeling nothing but dread in the pit of my stomach; I’d miss him terribly and would feel lonely. Not to mention we had a baby now so it would be way different than when he traveled in the past. I wouldn’t have him around to help.

I Have a Whole New Respect for Single Parents

It was just three days! Half way through day two I thought to myself: how the heck do single parents do this? If he was napping I could catch up on house work, laundry, food preparation, and myself (showering didn’t last longer than 4 minutes tops).

Andrew works from home and at about five o’clock every day he takes the long commute down the stairs to spend time with us. I never realized how much I look forward to that break. He plays with Jacob for an hour and I have time to do whatever I want. Usually dinner is in the middle of cooking, so I can go for a walk to get some air, take a super-long shower, go to the bedroom to lie down – whatever.  But for three days that break didn’t exist.

I Realized How Much Andrew Does

Andrew and I are an awesome team. He’s not the kind of man that expects his wife to do all the house work, care for the baby on her own, have dinner ready and warm by six, etc. He’s always told me that he believes marriage is about doing what we can to make life easy and great for the other person. It’s never one-sided.

We work together so naturally. If Andrew sees me dusting and he’s not in the middle of doing anything, he’ll vacuum. If I see him starting dinner, I ask what needs chopping. It’s a two-way street that works great. So obviously, I felt so overwhelmed with him gone for work those three days.

Our days usually go like this:

  • Jacob coos on the baby monitor
  • I get up to warm a bottle & Andrew changes Jacob
  • I feed Jacob his bottle & Andrew brews a coffee for us
  • He heads to work upstairs; I spend the day with Jacob & write or do house work during his naps
  • While Jacob plays in the Jolly Jumper at around four o’clock I start dinner (on fussy days that doesn’t always happen so smoothly)
  • Andrew comes back from work & plays with Jacob
  • I get time to myself for a while
  • We eat together
  • Andrew sets up things for bath time
  • I bathe Jacob, give him a bottle & put him to bed while Andrew…
  • Cleans up dishes, bath supplies, toys from the day & straightens out the living room
  • I come down from putting Jacob to sleep and Andrew & I can hang out for a couple hours

If Andrew didn’t help out so much, then relaxing together at the end of the day would be tough. I’d come down from putting Jacob to bed and still have all that tidying up to do. But since it’s done we can wind down together.

Those three days were tough. I didn’t have all that help. It made me miss Andrew so much; not just for all he does, but also for the wind-down time together.

I Don’t Do it All; I Just Have a Great Husband

Some people ask me how I have time to bake things or where I get the energy to write. When they see photos of me they’ll mention that I look well-rested for a new mom. I give all the credit to my husband. If he wasn’t so supportive and didn’t view us as a team, I’d be a stressed-out, exhausted, frustrated, annoying and unhappy woman.

He makes my life easier and pushes me to reward myself with time alone, spa days, a day at the mall while he watches Jacob and more. In turn, while he plays soccer once a week, goes for bike rides, or out with friends once in a while I hold the fort down at home. We do what we can to keep each other sane – and that makes us even more devoted to each other.

I always say I’m the luckiest woman to have such a supportive husband. That’s why he’s getting The Best Spouse in the Universe Award.