Everything Else

This week was killer.  I have been bouncing from mommy to business owner all week with very little transition time to change my costume.  I have been networking, transporting children to camp, cleaning on the fly, having meetings and developing ideas for our company every day.  I would like to say my brain is mushy this afternoon but in reality I feel like it’s firing so quickly I can’t shut it off.

My inbox is overflowing with notes on customers, Darfur, upcoming events and probably bills among other things.  I am sure that many of you reading this can give little sympathy for a life so similar to your own. This year is the first year in history where women are the majority of the workforce.  Not to mention all of you who are just stay at home mothers.

I’m jus’ playin’….

This morning on the Early Show a woman was sharing details about how many married couples are not having children.  Nearly 18% of all women between 40-44 have never had children.  She said that the reason for the number increase was because of all of the choices in birth control. Also to be considered was that having children is no longer a cultural norm.  We as women, armed with birth control (natural or not), can choose that raising children is less preferable to just about anything.


Then she said the hated phrase….

Women truly can have everything.

My neurons started to fire out of control in reaction to such a fallacy.

Women can have what they choose but they most certainly cannot have everything.

I can own a business, volunteer to serve on non-profit boards, raise children, have a hard won healthy marriage, enjoy the greatest girlfriends, community garden and read a good book in between.  I can, with prompting, call my grandmother, to fill her in on my life since she refuses to join Facebook.  I can clean my bathroom while my children bathe and write a blog while they nap.  I can do a lot of things but I can’t do everything.

I have had to sacrifice pursuing music.  I have sacrificed a stomach without stretch marks.  

Stretch marks always seem to come up.

I have sacrificed time with my family.  I have sacrificed finishing a college education, traveling the world and becoming a humanitarian aid worker (in my dreams).  I can’t find time in my schedule or the money in my bank account to visit my brother in Chicago for the weekend. I have a great life but it doesn’t include everything. I think it is that fallacy driven search for having it all that fuels discontent.

I do have a husband that does not babysit his children.  He does not help with the chores.  He won’t share his money with me either.

The children are his so he cares for them on a daily basis whether I am home or not.  The laundry, dishes and dust are the result of the family that lives in this house.  They are not chores strictly reserved for the person in the house with the vagina.  Although, it would be convenient for the lot of men I have in my life (including 2 male cats and one male dog) if chores were.  We have shared our resources since the day that we were married and maybe a little before. Does this cause problems.  Sometimes.  Especially when I need retail therapy and he buys a new tool.  
My husband is a co-parenting, house cleaning, bank account sharing member of my family.  He gives me everything.  Not because he is the bread winner and that’s his job.  He gives everything because when we married we became one.  Not instantly.  We are still merging. 

The truth about our marriage is that I cannot have everything and neither can he.  He sacrifices too.  But for every hole we feel because of our mutual decisions, there is our commitment to each other that acts like the Dutch boy plugging the damn.  We can have all that we choose and so far, it’s pretty freakin’ awesome.

Love Lessons

Dear Friends,
I spent an afternoon enjoying the view of rolling hilltop vineyards, sunset lit city centers in Verona and a heroine who is so under loved your heart aches for her throughout the movie.  I was hidden away in a movie theater with one of my best friends watching Letters to Juliet.  I was unsure about spending theater money (as opposed to netflix money) on a movie that I hadn’t even seen previews for.  All things being equal, when a girlfriend calls and asks you to sneak away, you go.  

I loved it so.  It was terribly romantic.  The kind of romance that makes you wistful.  It was very clean.  There was no American Pie humor in this film at all. The film was about loss, courage and of course, love.  Love from the perspective of having the courage to step out on faith and grab it.  I cried and laughed and begged the man to chase her.  Everything a weepy girl is supposed to do during a romantic film.  I met my obligation.

A few nights before, I went and saw Shrek Forever After with the boys.  I was amazed to find that the movie was much better suited for a date night.  The basic plot, without any spoilers, is that Shrek grows tired of marital bliss and starts looking for excitement.  He doesn’t know what he has until he looses it.  The kids loved the movie but I left with a new desire to not take my life for granted.

All of this to tell you that I love my husband.  I think our love is exceptional.  Not because it’s easy to love him or because it’s easy to love me.  Our love is exceptional because it’s hard won.  It’s marriage and not fairy tale land.  It takes a daily decision to love each other and some days it takes longer to make a decision in his favor.

Today I found this challenge on another blog purely by chance. It’s very “The Love Dare”.

I am not participating in this challenge but I have been thinking about what specifically makes our marriage so exceptional.  Starting with my 50th blog post, which I have hustled my husband into writing, I am going to write posts about our relationship.  I am going to share our love with you.  I am going to write about romance, faith, children and even *gasp* sex.  Let’s say it together….sex.  
The post on sex (Did she just say it again?) will include a giveaway.  Of what?…Sorry. I can’t tell. Guess you’ll just have to read that post!

I am no authority on love and marriage.  I am sure that many people would disagree with my opinions about certain topics.  I am going to share our love with you.  Ours.  Take what is useful and discard the rest. I am nothing if not honest about what I share with you. 

In other news, my next post will be about toddler discipline.  A reader needs some tips to help out a friend. ;)

Peace and Grace,

Trust Me

When I was fifteen I was seeing seven different boys that all thought I was their girlfriend.  My physical prowess being naive made me fall just short of the title skank and landed me squarely in the category of extremely fickle.  I enjoyed dating.  I enjoyed gifts on Valentine’s Day in multiples.  I especially loved spending all the money I saved on the weekends, due to free entertainment, on myself.  I feel a little guilty now.

When Paul and I met I had just been broken up with for the first time.  It only took 20 years for me to find someone that I loved.  When that boy told me he loved me and then abruptly changed his mind it was catastrophic.  Kharma is so nasty. Nasty enough to warrant a period of avoidance of public gatherings and a routine of Wheel of Fortune, romantic comedies and ice cream self medicating. All of this that eventually caused my father to remind me that if no one ever loved me, he always would.

With his words came my bouncing back.  In my own curious survival style I began to heal up, lose weight and laugh at life.  I was done with games now that I had been stung.  However, trusting has never come easily to me.  My fierce independence and childhood baggage make the feeling of needing someone foreign and uncomfortable.

Paul walked into my life and I would swear that I felt him enter the room before I saw him.  My mother often jokes that I never came back from our first date.  It’s very true.  We were inseparable.  We moved in to his house. Something I said I would never do.  I justified the decision based on the fact that he said he loved me and that he wanted to marry me.  I trusted him.

Eleven months into our relationship my period was late.  Actually, that’s only a piece of the story.  During those 11 months Paul wrote me love notes, he took me white water rafting, camping and even let me tell him what colors to paint the rooms in his home.  We gardened, which was a first for me.  I met his family and he met mine.  Suddenly I began to lose my mind and that’s when I realized that I had missed my period by an entire month.

After spitting perfectly good Chinese food into my napkin, Paul offered the idea that I might be pregnant.  I did the laugh that turns into a confused look and then deep thought.  When I finally took the pregnancy test I was shocked how quickly that little line blasted bright pink.  I carefully place it on the toilet and told Paul we had to wait three minutes.

In those three minutes I began to go over his promises in my mind.  A child is the true test of a man’s commitment.  I was unmarried and extremely vulnerable.  Have you ever seen Maury?  I was one step away from welfare checks, full time day care and full time work.  I was seeing a future that scared me to death.  I was seeing a future based in the possibility that Paul would let me down.

When the three minutes were up we went into the bathroom to “see” what the results were.  I waited for Paul’s response like the guillotine in an execution scene.  Paul looked at me and immediately his response was excitement, joy, love and a bit of trepidation.  His response allowed me to be happy about having a baby.

This is my Paul.  He is honest and good.  He has flaws and gets on my nerves more times than I would ever tell any of you, but he is always here.  When he says he is going to help me, he does.  When he says it will be done, it is.  He is as dependable as an old clock and as steadfast as biter biscuits on a babies face. 

I don’t trust him.  Not completely.  I choose to, every now and again, take a leap and tell him what I need.  I ask him for help, I allow myself to need him and he loyally steps up to the plate.  Paul is a good man and a man of his word.  He proves it everyday by always supporting us, always coming home and always loving us. I do not consider myself a stupid woman but this is a lesson that for me, may take a lifetime to learn.

It is a good thing that marriage was meant to last just that long.

Nail Polish Connections

Marriage is hard and sometimes I just plain don’t like it.  Maybe that’s unfair.  I love my marriage but I hate that sometimes we allow other things to become road blocks in our relationship.  Our responsibilities sometimes dupe us into thinking that lesser things are our priorities when they are not.  We forget to sit in the silence of the home we created together and be thankful for our love.

This weekend while at Mass a video was featured for the Diocese Service Appeal.  The video showed all of the ways that our Catholic social services care for our local community.  Every year I am moved to gratefulness.  This year I felt a sudden sense of longing when I saw a couple who had faced significant marital and health challenges hold hands and pray the Rosary.

I am not a prayer of the Rosary.  I am a relatively new Catholic and still make up most of my prayers.  I enjoy the Our Fathers, Hail Marys and the Blessed Bes in the quietness of my day when I need to find God in the laundry room, or the carwash or the waiting room.  Wait, that might make me a Rosary prayer afterall.

So late last night I laid my soul bare before my beloved and we prayed.  The children were all asleep.  The dog had been let out and the cats fed.  The day brought it’s stress to our door.  The bills were laid out and ready to be paid.  Our plans were still in motion and our cellphones were charging. 
We stopped and connected to each other and to God.

This morning as I went through the day I noticed that the clear coat of nail polish I painted on my finger must have only been half dry when we started to pray because Paul’s fingerprint is embedded in the polish on my middle finger.  I keep running my finger over the surface of the enamel and remembering how we held hands last night.  Isn’t that just the way God works?  We found a moment of peace in our relationship and God has found a way for me to take it with me into the next week. 

I often wish that my moments of clarity would stay with me the way they hit me the first time.  The elation, surprise and astonishment never last.  They eventually give way to new ideas, new challenges and new conundrums that I try to digest.  God granted me the need to write, which is my way of remembering what I was praying for last year and how that prayer was answered.  I enjoy the ability to say to God with a clenched fist, “Not cool! Not cool at all, God!”.  I also enjoy finding that he had a plan that was better than mine all along. 

Imagine for a moment, that He who created the universe, may have an idea or two on how my little life should be run. 

This Sunday he gave me a tip on how to make my connection with my husband stronger, fuller and more sustaining.  Last night we listened and it was the best sex we ever had. (well, without actually doing it.)