If you were able to catch my last post about my shopping debacle with the girls, I must give a follow up post. I finally came to the conclusion that I was really the one at fault in that situation. :)
Let me explain...
I am blessed to be in community with many women of different ages and places in life that have children and can offer wise suggestions and advice. I also try to take every opportunity to go to events for other moms to socialize, learn, and ask questions. So recently at a mom's coffee event at church, I asked a friend who has a little girl close in age to my oldest daughter Malachi what she does at the grocery store. She was so kind to share her tips with me. She told me that she and her husband have been talking to and training their daughter on how to behave in a grocery store since she was about six months old and she has it down and knows what is expected of her. Wow-before their daughter even understood what was being said she was being taught the correct behavior. Light bulb moment for me!! I was actually quite embarrassed when I think about how much this makes sense and how far I was from the mark in this situation. I've worked w/ kids for many many years and I've ALWAYS told parents to set clear expectations, follow up with praises and /or consequences, and just be consistent. Funny how this tidbit completely evaded my memory when it came to own my grocery store issues.
For the longest Malachi was super easy to handle at the grocery store. She was the only child for close to a couple of years and she would sit in the basket and as long as she had a snack or toy she was set. Before she could really talk and ask for things, I had no problem with her begging wanting chips and candy that she saw. She also wasn't as familiar with those types of snacks so she had no reason to want those items anyhow. So it wasn't until recently when I would try to bring both girls, that along with her new level of independence and vocabulary, all the begging and whining began. I never really had a clear grocery store expectation set for her because for so long it just wasn't a problem for me. Then when it became a problem I was so worn down by the whining that my goal was just to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible without losing my temper and/or sanity. I'm also not sure why but I honestly thought it was just a stage that she would grow out of...haha!!
After my conversation with my friend, the very next grocery trip I set clear expectations for Malachi. I had her repeat them back to me as well as the consequences for misbehaving, and icing on the cake I also said a little prayer out loud for her behavior so Malachi can hear what I was saying (I promise this praying method has worked wonders for me when it came to her sharing at school). Instantly it was like I was shopping with a different kid. I didn't even have to resort to what I'm sure at some point many moms have done, you know the threats, bribing, and sometimes giving in just to have some peace and quiet. I am happy to report that so far I have taken both girls back to the store a few times since my crazy trip a couple of weeks ago and all is well. There have been absolutely zero tears, begging and whining and we all leave the store in good spirits. Thank God!
Things have definitely changed in my life after having kids, some things I expected and some I’m just learning my way through. Every once in a while I have to laugh about what is going on just to keep from crying. Lets just say between a teething toddler and and a headstrong preschooler, things can get quite crazy around here. I don't think my girls are much different than most kids their age however these experiences can definitely be challenging at times. So this is for the mama's out there who may be experiencing the same and may need to vent without sounding like you don't adore your children as much as I am sure you do.
Grocery store shenanigans the other day...
-Malachi, my three-year-old spotted those fun little shopping carts w/ the car in front to drive for two. Perfect I think, both can sit and play while I shop. Side note: I typically try to shop w/ one or no kids so I can focus but I figured it would be ok. At first things were cool and when I say at first I mean like the first 15 minutes or so until Micah was trying to use Malachi’s steering wheel instead of her own…let the whining began...
-Micah, my one-year-old, took off her socks and lost them in the store but kind people brought them back to me. She had no shoes on because she took those off in the car and tossed them around and I had already put them on her feet several times and finally just gave up.
-Malachi (let me also mention had no nap at school that day) then proceeded to beg and whine to get out of the car but there is no room for her in the cart with our groceries and she would be trying to touch everything if she was completely out of the cart...so the answer is NO. This didn't stop her from hanging partially out of the car the rest of the time. OH and FYI-This whining NEVER stopped until we left the store- really maybe not until bedtime (insert crying emoji) . The whining was however coupled with constant begging for chips, then candy, then an apple bar, then ice cream, and basically ANYTHING else she spotted along the way to which I repeated NO. This was after she had already whined for goldfish, which they both fought over and spilled everywhere (mainly Micah).
-By the time I made it to the check out line Malachi was crying loudly and Micah was grabbing and bending up magazines by the register and crying when I took them from her. The looks I got!! Some of sympathy and some because I am 100% positive I was driving people and workers as crazy as my kids were driving me. They probably couldn't wait for us to leave but of course I had to come back and return a magazine that Micah accidently "shoplifted" out of the store. I couldn't wait to get back home and put on a kid movie so I could breathe.
After this experience I was just done! I decided to text Wesley, my husband, lots of emoji faces and those funny #images on my phone that explained how I was feeling just to vent... I also said I am no longer taking them both to the store which I know I've said multiple times in the past...smh. When Wesley did get home Malachi who typically tattles on everything Micah has done for the day and usually leaves out what she has done- did mention to Daddy (on her own free will) that she was not listening in the store, was crying, and asking for candy which cracked me up.
Oh well this too shall pass and I really can’t stay annoyed at my two sweet and cuddly girls for long anyway. I’ve also had many many moms, whose children are now grown, tell me that one day I will look back and miss all these crazy days no matter how hard they may seem now.
My adorable little "shopping monsters!"
I honestly didn't even know what to title this post. I write when I feel passionately about something and sometimes its a jumble of random thoughts that come to me that I just need to get out...so please bear with me ;-)
I am amazed of the stories of people from different countries who come to America with little to no money and/or possessions and after much sacrifice, help from family, and hard work they build businesses and sometimes even wealth that spans generations. The stories from the parents and grandparents of 2nd and 3rd generation Americans is something I've been interested in for a long time and could sit and listen to for hours. Its something about the dream, struggle, victory that makes for a great story; The sacrifice to have a better life for their children and future generations.
It seems like many immigrants and refugees who come to America are constantly helping their families back home. Coming to America is a dream many people have all around the world and they come and work multiple jobs, long hours, and continue to send money to support extended families. My sister has a friend from Cameroon, Africa who through a specific lottery in his country was able to come to America. My sister says he has about 400 or more family members back home that he knows well and has a relationship with. He supports many of his family members back home through his jobs in the US. If any family member or close friend comes to the United States he and his network of people in the states support and help them get acclimated to being in America. They would give their last to help each other out. They collect a portion of their money each month that eventually helps support each person within the group and it allows people to be able to take trips back home, pay for expenses, start a business, buy a car, a home, etc. Im most intrigued by this level of support for each other and have heard of these sort of scenarios time and time again within other cultures as well.
I just watched, Meet the Patels on PBS, which the basis of the documentary was more about an Indian family trying to find their thirty-year-old son a wife in somewhat of an American-like way, but partly traditional way, but I saw much more in this story. Other than it being really funny and gave a lot of interesting history on their family background, I saw how much love they have for their culture and what family means to them. Seriously the dad paid for his son's flights all over the US just to go on dates with Indian ladies he thought would make good wives (haha). I'm not saying I approve in their methods or anything like that, but it was interesting to see how their traditions have spanned many generations and the level of support within a family. Ravi Patel's dad came to America w/ five dollars in his pocket, after his extended family pooled together their money just to send him to America. He lived with five other guys in a small apartment just to go to college and make something out of his life and support his family. This in essence seems to be the story of many immigrants around the world.
I also watched another documentary recently on PBS by Frontline called, Exodus and I have to say it was one of the best documentaries I had seen. I will go into more details about this in another post because it deserves much more time, but it basically showed the personal and difficult journey of different families and people who were escaping Syria and a guy from Gambia to make it to the UK and different parts of Europe for asylum and basic freedom. In this film I seriously felt like I was right there with them on their specific journeys and felt the fear, hope, and sometimes hopelessness in their experiences. It was extremely gut wrenching and emotional. I was terrified for them and couldn't imagine being in their shoes. The common motivation driving all of them in this super dangerous underground journey, that had seriously taken the lives of many, was their family and their determination to provide a safe and better life for them.
I may do a part two to this post just to further explain what I see in these family networks because I have many many thoughts about this. Like I said earlier I am super intrigued and I just think there is something more to the idea of family and what that means to some people. I always wonder what is the point of each generation having to start from scratch or point zero in life? It seems like many families who are business minded, have wealth, or worked hard to make a better life for themselves tend to pass those skills, lessons, and/or businesses down to the next generation to prepare them or at the very least support them in their own businesses or life endeavors. Please hear me out-I don't believe anything is owed to anyone in that sense and that we all, especially in the US, have the capability to work hard for anything we want in life. I just want to think that as a parent, if I have the wherewithal, I would love to prepare and set my kids up for the best possible start and chance to succeed in life.
My husband and I talk all the time about what we want for our girls and future generations. We could never compare our lives to what immigrants and refugees may experience just to have a better and safe life but we want to understand that level of selflessness and family support that takes place. Wes and I have learned a lot of lessons (the hard way!), but we really want to prepare our girls for life so that some of our biggest mistakes they could possibly avoid and start life out on a better foot. We want them to enjoy being kids and their youth but also be prepared for what the world has to offer when they get out there. We want to be their #1 supporters of their dreams and goals and find out what their interests are and allow them the opportunities to explore them more. We want to live, support, and enjoy life with them right now and not wait for one day when this or that happens...beacause tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Our job is to love them/teach them God's love, be physically there for them, support, and prepare them for the real world and we are excited about what their futures hold. Prayerfully with God's guidance, we can also start something with this generation that can prepare and change future generations to come!
Have you ever told your child to do something OR to not do something and they didn't listen? Maybe you are trying to teach your child good manners, sharing, or a positive lesson. I was thinking about all the things I say to my girls and how these lessons and their reactions are great reminders for my own life in my walk w/ Christ.
I probably tell my girls especially my oldest Malachi that she needs to listen to mama and daddy MULTIPLE times a day. I usually follow up w/ something about listening the 1st time I say something and I shouldnt have to repeat myself. Children have an acute way of just tuning out what is being said especially if its not something they want to hear. When I say children I really wonder if I need to be included in this category as a child of God. ;) How often is God trying to tell me something but I don't listen and I do things my own way and suffer the consequences of those actions. Maybe God even has to repeat himself multiple times before I get it. I think about when I tell my girls to sit down on the couch and one decides to jump and play around anyways and falls and comes crying to me to console them. How often am I that same child crying to God when I'm not obedient and looking for him to console me.
Forgiveness and Love
We can learn a lot from children about forgiveness and showing love. I can discipline my girls and they are hugging my legs or trying to sit in my lap shortly thereafter. They easily forget and don't hold grudges. They are also the best at showing love too. My youngest, Micah, throughout the day comes and gives us hugs and kisses randomly but at the most precious moments. It just melts my heart. I know I could be better/faster at forgiveness and showing love to others especially since I am called to be more like Jesus as a Christian. How blessed am I to be loved, redeemed, and forgiven by God!
I will correct Malachi when she says she "can't do something," because I don't want her to limit her capabilities and I want her to try something instead of just giving up. This is a huge lesson I need to repeat to myself as well because how often in the past have I given up on a goal out of fear or feeling like I couldn't do something- more times than I'd want to admit. One thing about kids that I love (especially really small kids) is that they have tons of confidence. If I ask my daughter if she is an artist, or the best singer, or best anything she will say yes confidently as she shows me her picture of squiggly lines and sings row row row your boat at the top of her lungs.... At this age she could care less about what anyone is going to say about her. If she wants to wear her fireman hat from school throughout our shopping trip to Walmart she is going to do it. If she feels like a good cry/ meltdown (anywhere!?!) she doesnt care who is watching. The emotions of toddlers are mind boggling- ;0!! Oh how I sometimes wish I could be as carefree as a child not worrying about what anyone thinks about my decisions; to just have the confidence to completely walk in my purpose no matter the obstacles placed in my path is what God desires for me.
The joy that my girls experience makes me so happy as their mom. They get to be kids, play, and be themselves. I took them to the library for story time recently and Malachi and Micah rolled around on the floor playing w/ each other and giggling like they were the only kids in the room. Although Im not sure if the other parents appreciated all the noise they were making while a story was being read and after I finally got them settled down some, I smiled thinking about how sweet it is that they play and enjoy each other as well as themselves without a care in the world. If Micah hears music, that she is excited about, no matter where we are she will show off a few of her moves. ;-0. Its pretty entertaining to watch! They are joyful and loved and I can definitely take some pointers from them on enjoying life and sometimes just living in the moment. Yes I may have a never ending list of to-do's but tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Sometimes I just need to stop "being an adult" for a moment and sit on the floor and roll a ball back and forth, have a dance party, build a house out of blocks, play dress up, and enJOY life from the perspective of my girls!
Hopefully you have already read Part 1 on what I experienced while being pregnant. I hope I didn't scare anyone with my experiences, but honestly these are all the things you could read about in the, What to expect while you are expecting, book or really any other pregnancy book.
What did I experience Post pregnancy??
1. Exhaustion-again!!: It's something you just can't ever prepare for! My 1st baby actually was and still is a great sleeper but all nursing mama's understand that even if you can sleep when the baby sleeps- nursing, pumping, engorgement, other children, hunger, and life sometimes gets in the way of that rest. Not to mention the time (and worry) you spend checking in on baby just to make sure they are breathing and everything is ok.
2. Episiotomy during delivery- need I say more!! Just look it up. The healing process was no fun at all.
3. Engorgement/nursing- when your milk 1st comes in OMG the agony! lol You go to bed one way and then you wake up looking like Dolly Parton! I had ice packs, heat packs, everything for the pain. I had no real problem nursing 1st child, from the start she latched on great so outside some normal initial soreness things were good. Second baby however had difficulty latching and lets just say I had anxiety the 1st month+ whenever it was time to nurse her b/c the pain was so unbearable. I consulted a lactation specialists a few times and eventually things got much much better but I had to nurse through the pain for over a month.
4. fun water squirt bottles for your bum, big most dangerous granny panties, topical anesthetic sprays and mega sized pads - I won't go into more details here.
I could go on but I want to end with the WHY.
For it was you who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Psalms 139: 13-14
I don't know how anyone can go through pregnancy and not be a believer in God. There is no way to explain the intricate details of what happens as you grow a life, outside of Christ in my opinion. It is beautiful how our bodies can change/adjust to protect and nurture a baby. No matter how sick I was, I was also in awe of the miracle growing inside of me.
I adore my kids and even when Im exhausted at the end of the day and just can't wait for their bedtime, I actually miss them when they are sleep. I love how my two year old (Malachi) is a mini version of myself. She cracks me up daily by the things she says and does. My little "bossy boots" who tells me to be careful and slow down while I'm driving. Who asks me if I'm ok if I cough or bump into something. She tells Wes his music is too loud and to please turn it down-something I say all the time haha. Micah gives endless hugs and greets daddy at the door after a long day at work with the excitement of a puppy. Its the cutest thing EVER! Malachi makes up songs in the car and when the Curious George cartoon's intro song comes on Micah dances like she is at a party. Where did she get those moves?!?!
They melt my heart with the love they have for each other as sisters. Malachi rubs her sisters back and Micah gives Malachi hugs and kisses. They run after each other giggling, ride on the same bike together all the time, and Malachi climbs into the pack and play just to play with her sister and keep her company when Im trying to cook. Everyday I feel blessed to have both girls and it does make me regret the daily threats to Wes while pregnant, that I wasn't having another child after the 1st ;). I know that all the pain and exhaustion I experienced while pregnant and the post pregnancy craziness was completely worth it to enjoy life with these sweet girls. I would never trade all the snuggles, kisses, and hugs I get for anything in the world.
FIRST- NO, I'M NOT PREGNANT NOW!
In my small group the other day one of the couples just celebrated their 13th wedding anniversary and was sharing some marriage tips they had learned along the way. It was asked, how they decided to adopt their 2nd child which lead to a brief hilarious explanation of the wife's personal experiences while being pregnant which I could completely relate to. I was surprised by how many others in the room agreed that they did not enjoy being pregnant due to all their symptoms as well. I've talk to women who LOVE being pregnant and felt better pregnant than when not. We had ladies in the room who didn't have children yet and one commented that she loved getting the real upfront experiences because sometimes she feels like no one really talks about it- at least not in a raw unfiltered way. Maybe it always seems so glorious from the outside looking in. Before I became pregnant I only had one person EVER say to me that they didn't enjoy one bit how they felt being pregnant and explained why. She was someone who at some point was told she wouldn't be able to have kids and now has three so I know she wasn't trying to be negative. I just remember thinking wow she is the 1st person to ever be this upfront with me- no filter-and I appreciated it as well!
I am going to preface this post with 1. These are just MY personal experiences and Im going to be 100% real. This may not ever be your experience w/ pregnancy and God bless you if so! 2. I want to be sensitive to the fact that some people may be experiencing infertility and I am not trying to be negative about the blessings of pregnancy in general or seem ungrateful, just provide an opportunity to share openly what I went through. 3. Last I will break this post into 2 parts so pls try to read both parts so you can see where I'm going with this (wink, wink)
So to all the people who say you forget all the hardships of being pregnant after the baby comes...in the words of my daughter, when I ask her if she did something she is not supposed to do, "NO NOT ME!" I actually remember it as if it were yesterday but I can say it obviously doesn't affect me in the same way because after my sweet girls came I became busy loving, nurturing, and raising them but trust- I definitely remember. My favorite description of how I felt while pregnant was "like I'm dying," not that I have any clue what dying feels like but if I had to imagine... Here is my list of SOME of my biggest symptoms.
1. Nausea, nausea, and more nausea and not just what is expected in the 1st trimester- I was sick from start to finish. Record day of times I spent puking my guts out (only way to describe this b/c its really that violent for me) was 6x's and that actually happened many many days to where I was loosing weight instead of gaining at different points in my pregnancy. I threw up so much that my two year old (who witnessed it- mostly b/c what parent gets alone time in the bathroom???) would pretend to be throwing up in the trash along side me. I also almost got into an accident once while driving and throwing up on my way to work- so it scared me as well! I was on meds my entire 1st pregnancy just to be able to eat and then I just suffered through my 2nd pregnancy b/c I was afraid of the potential side effects on my baby.
2. Ive never wet my pants so many times in my life (well maybe when I was potty training as a toddler) I figured out a system b/c while I was throwing up I ALWAYS peed myself so I had to sit on toilet and throw up in trash bag at the same time. I had to keep extra clothes and extra trash bags in my car AT ALL TIMES.
3. Smells/taste buds change- contributing to the nausea. I couldn't even be in even the drive thru of Chick Fil-A w/out gagging and any of their food would cause me to throw up immediately. I was actually terrified to eat there for a while after I had my 1st child JUST from the memories. I remember craving white castle burgers one day but the smell was so bad I had to pull over and put the burgers in my trunk and drive with all the windows down just so I could breathe- I found some way to eat them and then threw it all up afterwards ;0 . If Wesley had on any cologne he couldn't be near me, b/c I wanted to gag. I absolutely love Italian food but couldn't eat it my 1st pregnancy- ugh no pizza either. I ate McDonalds sausage biscuits (almost daily) and anyone who knows me knows I don't like McDonald's meat products (yuck) and I don't eat sausage biscuits EVER! Second pregnancy I ate taco bell soft tacos about 3x's a week- another place I typically don't eat at when Im not pregnant. Ive never spent so much money eating out in my life.
4. A type of hunger that there are not words to even explain. I wasn't a mean pregnant woman unless it had something to do w/ food. You feel like you haven't eaten in weeks even if it was only a couple hours ago. I seriously cried over food probably a few times a week- esp if my order was wrong or I didn't get the exact sauces I was supposed to have. Wes has driven back to taco bell from home b/c I didn't have the specific sauce packets I needed. I had a full meltdown (tears and all) in O'charleys b/c my food took waaay too long on Mother's day which was pretty embarrassing-that poor manager! I also had periods of not even knowing what I wanted to eat that would also end in tears b/c my baby would change it up on me and decide she no longer liked a certain type of food typically right after I ordered and paid for it.
5. Lack of sleep/insomnia (btw not sure when or if this ever really fully gets normal-I guess i'll sleep when they go off to college haha). I slept a ton at the start of my pregnancy b/c of the level of exhaustion your body experiences felt like I had ran a marathon everyday even if all I was doing was laying on the couch! Then I was always super uncomfortable and between living in the bathroom to go pee every two hours or so I barely slept the last trimester.
6. I'll clump these last several experiences into one category titled- "I just want to feel normal again":
severe acid reflux, severe heartburn (I felt like I was breathing flames), gassy, 1st pregnancy-my chest and back broke out horribly- I seriously couldn't even wear a v-neck tshirt, tons of scary dreams, constipation, hemorrhoids, breathing difficulties, dizzy spells, always thirsty (I drank several gallons of water a day during my 2nd pregnancy), always feeling miserable, braxton hicks contractions, wearing the same clothes over and over again, high levels of agitation, extreme lack of emotional control, back pains, no energy, etc!!
You see pregnancy for me was not a glorious time at all. Honestly I'm terrified of getting pregnant again b/c I was MISERABLE both times before, but I would do it all over again to have my two beautiful and sweet girls. Was all of that pain and anguish worth it? ...Yes it was absolutely worth it. Did I threaten my husband daily and say I didn't want to EVER be pregnant again during each pregnancy? ...Yes!! Did I wonder what made a woman crazy enough to have more than one child?...Absolutely!!
Please check out part 2- Post pregnancy craziness :-0, but also WHY it is all worth it!
"Don't Just Survive...Thrive. Practical help for real families"
This was the title of a marriage event Wes and I went to last week at our church's main campus. It was sort of like a date night w/dinner, nursery open for kids, and great fellowship w/ other married couples. The title was enough to get me excited b/c I don't know about you, but the word "surviving" has been our go-to word to describe life ever since we had our second child. I've heard that saying "The days are long but the years are short," and I get it completely. My girls are growing up so fast and many times I just want to stop time and keep them both small, but Lord only knows some days feel like they lasts forever especially when Im in the throes of disciplining, cleaning, calming down meltdowns, and negotiations.
Check out the Thrive event which was recorded here. I will share some main points that I walked away with. These principals are probably not new to you but they were absolutely a needed reminder for me because when life gets busy I typically forget everything I've learned and get in survival-only mode.
* Marriage is not 50/50 its 100/100- We both have to give our ALL into the marriage not just half; Realistically speaking we are human so there are going to be times when someone just can't give 100% but the goal is a total of 200% so that means one of the spouses may have to give much more. Pastor Mike Glenn, the speaker, gave an example of when he was going through cancer and he said he may have had only 20% to give as a husband at the time while his wife was giving 180%, or after his wife had their twin sons the scale was off b/c she couldn't exactly give 100% to the marriage due to exhaustion and taking care of babies. We strive for 100% and then we do what we need to do to meet the needs of our family throughout each season.
* Communication is key. Men and women communicate differently and we need to understand those differences. My husband is quiet and I'm the talker in this relationship. I heard on a radio station the other day that women on average use about 7,000 words or more each day while men use about 2,000 words or less. (I am not 100% sure that these numbers are fact but either way I think we can all get the point that us ladies talk significantly more than men :)
* PRAY for your spouse daily. Simple task right? Sadly sometimes its not as easy for me b/c I'll just face it- I want to talk to Wes about all the things I need him to do and change instead of talking to God who created Wes and knows more about him than I do. This is not saying I can't and shouldn't tell Wes how I feel (remember communication point above), but I also need to take my cares, worries, and frustrations to God b/c He is essentially the only one who can change my spouse and really many times its me who needs an adjustment if Im honest with myself and He can definitely assist there too. ;-0 We had a time at the end of the gathering where we held our spouses hands and prayed over each other and then we had to commit until the end of the month as a start to just pray each day over our spouse.
Last we had to plan our next date night before we left. Something happens after you get married, after life gets crazy, and maybe you add kids and growing careers into the mix that you may forget to date your spouse. Think about the things you did to get the attention of your spouse before you got married and figure out ways to foster that now even in the mist of whatever crazy season you may be in and enjoy your dating your spouse!
Gift bag for each couple from the event with some great tools. I started reading Crazy Busy, and it's good and very relevant to the way my life feels right now ;-0
Why is marriage so complicated at times. Honestly if your life and marriage is full of rainbows and butterflies then maybe this post is not for you. But if you've ever asked yourself whoa, wait a min what ever happened to the all so famous "happily ever after" ending in marriage then read on. Why is it that when you get married, rarely people explain how hard two imperfect people coming together to become one really is? Leaving and cleaving, yes all biblical but non the less super hard.
In the day and age of social media marriage can be misleading. On one hand all you see is the happiness and the joy two individuals share. Their lives must be so perfect right? But on the flip side wouldn't it be awful if we tweeted and posted about all our frustrations with our spouses or shared every disagreement on Facebook as well?!?? There's enough negativity there already!! I can hear it now OMG can you believe how so and so's husband completely ignored so and so's feelings, or maybe how dare she treat her man like this and that... It's really a social media catch 22. How much sharing is too real? How much being too real is being too negative, and on and on. But in being real how often in a marriage do we step on each other's hearts strings and only focus on our own wants and desires? Really more often than not especially when we are lead by our core sinful natures. Isn't it easier to think about ourselves?
I recently watched my 2 yr old at the library walk up to another child who was playing w/ Legos and attempt to take a few as she told the kid the they were hers(btw the Legos were property of the library). I didn't hesitate to tell her to share and to be nice- obviously bc she shouldn't take things from others but a small part of me bc I didn't want the other moms to think I'm raising a selfish little drama starter (wait a min aren't most two year olds selfish in the grand scheme of things and don't get me started on the drama ugh!!) I promise another topic for another day but anyhoo why was it so easy to reprimand my daughter about sharing and being nice when honestly I need to take my own advice sometimes when it comes to my own relationships especially with my husband. I would say for the most part Wesley and I get along pretty well and after 11years of marriage we are starting (yes I just said starting...marriage is a LONG process lol) to really understand the way each other works and thinks. Yes we are so different but I really couldn't imagine me marrying someone just like me, no matter how much over the years I've tried my best but failed to make him more like me. (Once again another story for a different day)
So where's MY happily ever after fairy tale ending or even that blissful over the top look that you gave each other while dating/on your wedding night now that you are a few years into the marriage you ask?? I wrote a post about a book recently that asked "what if marriage was designed to make you more holy than happy?" So I'll ask, what if your happily ever after is really comprised of ALL the "real stuff" that make up a marriage- the good, the bad, and even the ugly at times. When I look back over my eleven years there are both ups and downs that have brought us to where we are today. TONS of growing pains along the way I promise. Sure some stuff could have been completely avoided if we were more mature in our thinking earlier on but it all makes up our unique story. I will go into more detail of our journey along the way but let's just say two young SUPER BROKE college love birds are bound to make an interesting start to a marriage story. (Inserts laughing crying emoji and my favorite eye roll one here!).
Im learning more and more that MY "happily ever after" is actually all in the process that takes place within my marriage; it's not one particular destination spot that we land on and we have finally arrived. Life has a way of throwing curve balls as they say (BABIES, miscarriages, loss of employment, deaths, etc) and it's what you do in those moments that will grow you and your marriage. If you can stick out the course and maneuver the crazy waves that you may (WILL!!) encounter along the way you may be on your way to building a strong relationship. I know personally Wesley and I have a lot more learning and growing to do. We believe God has much more to accomplish in our lives and marriage. So if you think you've already got this marriage thing figured out after few years in, good luck to you! After a little more than a decade I'm personally still reading marriage books, we are involved in a marriage small group, and just constantly trying to grow. Through my experience once I get over one hurdle there are typically more to jump over, duck under, and shoot sometimes just go completely around along the way. Personally going from just my husband and I for about 9 years to now my husband, I , and our two small girls had me breaking out all new books to read! Talk about really flipping the script after we thought we had things figured out.
I'll end with restating that I am constantly on journey to my "happily ever after" because it honestly just doesn't just happen after you said I do. Also trust that sometimes it may not feel or look anywhere near happy but I definitely feel blessed to know 100% that we are super committed to our ..."ever after."
In this day and age where we essentially have access to what everyone is doing, saying, eating, wearing, going, etc just by the click of a button, I can see how hard it is to get caught up in comparison. As I talk to people each day and even experience in my own life, comparing is one of the easiest things to do but also can be damaging to the soul. Comparing is something we learn early in life. We learn to compare what belongs in a specific group or category. We learn how pick out objects that don't belong. Its part of normal early learning but something happens as we get older where it's no longer just about learning but it becomes a way to classify who is doing better, who has more, looks better, etc .
Here is a small list of examples of things people compare...
- how well a child is or is not doing
-pregnancy bellies/pre-baby weight/post baby weight loss :0
I have personally compared these areas in my life AND had people voluntarily compare them for me. Its pretty depressing and unnecessary when you think about it. I remember getting frustrated when someone kept comparing the stage my two year old was in with another two year old at the time. Ok so the other kid has all their colors down, using way more words, and fully potty trained- great! At the time Malachi thought everything was purple or the newest color of the day and thats ok we will figure it all out, and btw she talks up a storm now (at least at home);)
My experience is when I start comparing what I have with someone else (and for some reason its typically with someone who has more than me) in a way that I am upset or sad about where I am, I feel like I am basically telling God that I am not grateful for what he has done in my life. The problem with comparing is that we never truly know what is going on in someone's life outside of what we can see on the surface. I sat in conference before where the speaker was sharing his journey to success and he said that before he truly had the life he was currently living, to everyone looking in from the outside, his family looked like they had it all together, was financially set, had a great job, but that if anyone really knew what was going on they would have seen that they were really drowning in debt, unhappy, and stressed out to no end.
You don't always know the struggles and the hard work it took for someone to get to the place they are at now. We have either all gone through something hard, going through something now, or eventually will go through something in life that will test our faith or may disrupt our footing in life. God didn't promise an easy life to those who follow him. John 16:33, I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world. I heard somewhere that if we all wrote down our troubles and put it in a hat and passed around so that we could all pick a new one, in the end we would probably beg for our own problems back.
Yes some people are going to be doing better than you financially and vice versa, yes maybe another child will know more than your child or get into a better college, maybe someone seems happier in their marriage than you do at the time, maybe someone else takes much better trips and vacations that you do but its ok. Try to focus on the things that are going well in your life. For example, when I'm frustrated that I don't have that certain SUV w/ the 3 rows and all the nice upgrades that I desperately want (ugh my double stroller takes up most of my trunk space now!), I try to think about what we do have, which is two cars that are in good condition and completely paid off. Who knows what the future brings for us one day. Its not an easy task and at times I fail miserably at it but that is almost always when I'm looking at things from the wrong perspective. James 1:17 Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights; with him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning. When I look at it from this perspective, I actually get excited about all the blessings God is pouring out on others around me and know there is no need to compare b/c He has His own plan for my life.
Anyone who really knows my husband and I, knows that we are almost complete opposites in every way. We couldn't be more different. Different personalities, different upbringing, different approaches to conflict, different hobbies, and list goes on.
Wes probably has never had an enemy in his life. (HOW???) He is friendly to all, never rubs people the wrong way, always approachable even with bad news, happy and comfortable being himself. He is the same at home as he is out in public and thats amazing. He is just the nicest guy and loved by all!
I know I have great qualities as well, but in comparison and being real with myself: I've been known to rub some people the wrong way (I AM doing much much better now :) Im working on being more approachable and Im not the best with bad news (seriously my 1st response to anything negative is to cry-ugh!!). Im not always the most comfortable being myself except 100% w/ my husband and Ive grown a TON in the friendship department. It seems like being an extremely nice person comes easily and naturally for Wes but I've had to really grow in that area. Don't get me wrong I love helping people and I am a very loyal and real friend but my likability factor is nothing like Wes. ;-)
We grew up differently. Wes had many college graduates before him and I was the 1st in my family to go and graduate from college (my mom now has her Master's degree). He grew up with close extended family all around him and I barely know or talk to my extended family. There was financial stability for Wes and serious financial strain for us (my mom has an amazing testimony to this and now does EXTREMELY well for herself financially). He lived in one home his entire life and I moved every 2-3years being a military brat and I really enjoyed that aspect of seeing parts of the world and having many unique experiences. I could go on and on about our differences but I'm sure you get the point. Each of our personal experiences has shaped us to be the people we are today.
This is not to say that he is better than me or anything but we come from different worlds and somehow had to mesh our two worlds into one when we got married. We had to take the things we liked and leave behind the things that wouldn't work for our own family and that is not always easy but necessary.
Its funny how the things that you loved or thought was cute about your mate before you got married sometimes becomes the exact thing that drives you crazy about them during the marriage. Wes is my best friend and my favorite person ever but he can get under my skin like no other as well. In my small group at church we recently studied through a book by Gary Thomas called,
Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make us Holy More than to Make us Happy?
The title alone is deep. Really?? Marriage isn't about MY happiness? WHAT?? This was blunt but wonderfully put in my opinion. Happiness is a feeling that can come and go based off circumstances. And trust me circumstances change. This doesn't mean that you should be miserable in your marriage, but just don't expect your union to only be about your happiness. If you stay married long enough there will definitely be some miserable moments as there will be amazing moments too.
The book says " The key question is this: Will we approach marriage from a God-Centered view or a man-centered view? In a man centered-view, we will maintain our marriage as long as our earthy comforts are met. In a God-centered view, we preserve our marriage because it brings glory to God and points a sinful world to a reconciling Creator." So...wow... my marriage can be used as a testimony to God and can possibly steer people towards Christ. That's AMAZING!
The things that we have learned along the way is that even though Wes and I may be such DIFFERENT people we have to be on the SAME team when it comes to our marriage. It's inevitable that we are going to get on each others nerves and that things will not always (or may never) be perfect, but God has equipped us both to bring different things to the table that really makes our relationship work. Where I'm weak he is strong and vice versa and especially when we both are weak(which is frequently), trust that God steps in to make up the difference.