Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ways to Tell if Your Marriage is Going to Last


I have been married for 13 years. Today, the average person's life expectancy is near 80 when just 100 years ago it was only 49.  So when you got married back in the olden days,  you could assume you would only need to deal with your partner's annoying habit of leaving his socks everywhere for another 10 years and then you would both be dead.  Well, today if you got married in your 20's  and live until you are 90, I have news for you.  You may be with that same person for three and a half times longer than you were alive when you met them. That could mean 65 years of socks, are you ready to make that commitment?

There are a few common experiences that will test your marriage to see if you are going to make it the long haul or if you should consider an exit strategy. 

Move with your Partner

And by move, I mean furniture.   When we lived in Los Angeles I put a overstuffed (and overpriced) couch on lay-away. By the time it arrived, we had already moved twice.  I mentioned it was overstuffed right?  When they dropped it off, it was very clear that it was not going to make it up our stairway to our apartment.  But I didn't accept that.  After three hours,  we got it stuck in the stairway which trapped our neighbors in their apartment.  We then proceeded to say some things to each other that would make Reservoir Dogs look G rated.  At one point I thought he may just let the couch go to kill me and get it over with, but he didn't.  Eventually, a saw, a lift and some homeless people willing to work for $20 allowed us to finally get it in our apartment to watch Sex in the City on a 2 legged beat up new couch which now smelled like hoboes. 

Lesson:  that despite yelling threats and obscenities to each other, in the end we could forgive and forget…until we moved again.

Bachelor/ Bachelorette Parties

Getting married is contagious amongst the 20's crowd. So for at least a decade we were in numerous weddings and this always includes bachelor and bachelorette parties.   This is a way of life people.  If you can handle the fact that your husband spent your hard earned money and placed it in the g string of someone named Krystal you can bet her bottom dollar that are going to last.   This is a risky scenario and one must proceed with caution. Honesty is a noble thing. I was glad my husband told me he went to a poor lit topless bar.  However, when I asked him if the girl was attractive, he could have opted to lie, or at least withhold information. I still wonder if Krystal could do that trick with her who-ha. Note: that was 10 years ago.  I still remember. 

Lesson: Honesty is best, but a little discretion is advised. 

Bring a Baby Home

Of course once you have reached this point, I hope you have good intentions to stick it out with your partner. Having a baby is a monumental reality check.  I'm talking about the actual birth. My husband always said he loved me inside and out. Now he really knows the depths of my insides.   If that doesn't send them running, you are in luck. But making it through the first week is the real test. By the second day of being a family of 3, my husband and I found ourselves sitting on the kitchen floor crying. All three of us.  We couldn't figure out who in their right mind would have let two clueless adults leave the hospital with no prior knowledge of how to care for a baby. We were suddenly awarded tenure into parenthood with absolutely no credentials.  But eventually we figured it out. It was a team effort though. 

Lesson: If sleep deprivation and a sudden realization that you are a parent doesn't break you, it is a good chance nothing will. 

Travel 

If you can travel together with kids and not leave one another along side the road, or parachuting out the plane window, you are destined to live in marital bliss for all eternity.  One time, my husband and I thought it would be fun to take all four of our sons on an airplane.  That is all you need to know.  Since flying is no longer an option ( yes, we may be prohibited for a year… or five.) Driving across the country together, stopping at truck stops, staying at hotels will no doubt test even the most solid couples. 

Lesson: If a child vomiting in your hands while speeding down the interstate because your spouse got lost doesn't steer you off your marital track absolutely nothing and I mean NOTHING will. 



The common thread with all of these situations is that they took a fantastic amount of will, patience and a tremendous amount of love. Not the first dating kind of love. Ugly, resistant, dirty, exhausted love that has evolved with time. But had we thrown in the towel  the first time we got a couch stuck in a stairway, we would have never experienced the humor in it the next four times we did it.  If you can make it through extremely hard times then your marriage is worth fighting for.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

2 little lambs


Yesterday I had a hard time waking up.  This is usually not a problem for me, but I had a heaviness in my body that made it difficult to move.  I skipped my morning workout and made my way into the kitchen.  My stomach was aching, a nagging pain that persisted and I couldn't figure out why.  A rush of warmth ran through my body stopping right at my heart. My body remembered the date, my brain didn't.   I didn't say anything to anyone, not even my husband.

I was 3 months pregnant with our fourth baby.  I had only told close family and friends and a few co-workers because it was obvious that my belly was bloated all the time.  Just like the previous times, we had gotten pregnant quickly and the only thing I was nervous about was that our next baby was going to be so close in age with Jack, four kids in 5 1/2 years. We were crazy.

The previous week I had had my blood work done and things looked good so I was surprised when I got a call from my doctor. He said that he wanted me to have tests done again because my numbers had dropped since my first round early on.  He said he just wanted to be sure everything was OK.  So I left on my lunch break and despite already giving enough blood for a vampire thanksgiving, had even more blood drawn.

The next day as I was picking up my son from pre-school,  my cell phone rang. I cheerfully answered and I could tell by my doctors calm tone that he was going to tell me bad news.  My son's class was outside so I took the call in his classroom. I paced back and forth past the paintings, blocks and dolls as my doctor told me that I was going to miscarry.  I didn't want to believe this so I kept him on the phone by asking the same question. "Are you sure?" hoping he would give me a different answer.  He didn't. He told me what to expect, cramping, bleeding… I had already tuned him out.

I stood in the classroom staring out the window at my son with a secret that only I knew.  I didn't want to believe it was true I stood there until one of the teachers startled me.   I fought back tears and put on a happy persona and retrieved my son.   As we drove home it was silent and the only sounds I could hear were those of a swarm of angry protesters outside of the University which I work. Pro-Life activists were protesting because President Obama was the Commencement speaker.   Planes flew overhead with  Pro-Life banners.  They waved a horribly graphic photo of a dead fetus. Screaming that it is not a choice, it is a life!  It felt like they were screaming at me.  I wanted to scream right back, no it's not a choice, if it were I would have a live baby inside of me instead of a dead one.

The images they held were too much for me and I couldn't hold back the tears.  They didn't stop for 3 days.

Despite believing that the doctor was wrong, he wasn't.  He had explained the pain, what it would look like, when it would likely happen exactly as it did.  I woke up at 4 in the morning and miscarried.  Don woke up to find me in the bathroom crying, repeating that it was over, it was over, it was over.     He was still trying to process the information I had told him the night before.  The reality was jarring for him as well and he didn't know what to do or say so he left me alone. Very alone.

We had become so confident in our baby making ability.  Having 3 babies without any problems gave us a false untouchable cockiness.   The best way Don helped me was by calling everyone who knew.  I couldn't say the words.

I felt foolish mourning a child that nobody knew about.  A tiny baby that was never born still was able to leave a huge empty hole in my body.

I vowed that I could never do this again.  I couldn't see past my failure to carry a baby and felt like it was all my fault. Eventually Don convinced me that we should try again. With hesitation I agreed.  Three months later we got pregnant and miscarried again.   The second time was just as hard as the first. And that solidified my argument that something was wrong with me, something I did or didn't do was causing my body to reject babies.

I don't know if the pain deep in my belly yesterday was a coincidence or a body memory but it briefly took me back to that moment.

It's hard to silently mourn something that didn't physically come to fruition, and whose presence was only felt by me. My other son's don't even know it happened and at times I feel bad about not acknowledging their sibling's existence. But it would only cause them pain and  I can't burden anyone, especially a child with a pain that they could never understand.

Any mother who has carried a baby knows that feeling.  That feeling that each child I carried felt distinct and unique and those two were not any different. The amount of meaning attached to one's life can't be determined by the amount of time they spend on the Earth.  I would be lying if I said I didn't miss them.

People say that when you miscarry you grieve what could have been. No, I grieved what wasn't.
And it is done in solitude.  And I understand that.

When I awoke this morning the physical pain was gone.  As I checked my phone I noticed a photo I had taken the day before and had set as my home screen. It is of two little lambs at a farm where my son had a birthday party.  I smiled and thought sometimes signs are given to you that you miss.

I woke up our fourth son and gave thanks that we didn't lose hope.

And recognized that although the outcome for those little souls wasn't survival, it doesn't mean they are not alive in me. I just have to take the time to notice the good things all around me.



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Worry is my middle name


There was a brief moment in my life that I think about from time to time. It was the only moment that I didn't know how to worry.

It is a preserved memory because it stands out as a lone instance.  I was four, I climbed up a television antenna outside of my house, onto the roof and was running back and forth amazed with the new perspective a high place gave me.   I didn't have a care in the world.  My mom was in the kitchen and heard footsteps on the roof and ran outside to see her daughter on top of the house.
As you can imagine, she began to panic. At that moment when I saw her face is the first time I remember worrying.  I wasn't worried about the two story drop, I was worried because my mom clearly was. My brother helped get me down and she clung to me like I was about to fall even though I was safe on the ground.

I hadn't thought about consequences yet. But I remember hearing my mom tell the story over and over and the numerous "what if's" that accompanied those conversations. "What if she would have gone to the front of the house?" " What if I would have been too late?" What if, what if, what if." I would witness her getting more and more upset every time she told the story as if it were happening again and again.

Obviously, none of the what if's happened. I was safe. 33 years later and my mom still tells that story.  For a long time I felt ashamed.  But once I became a mom it was less about me and I realized it was more about her and her perceived failure.  That is something I can totally understand.

Since that day I have spent numerous hours worrying.  I worry about everything.  When I was young I had severe stomach problems that were undiagnosed.  Now I know it was worry turning my stomach inside out.  I worried about the safety of my family. I worried about my school work. I worried about my body.  I spent a tremendous time worrying about my outfit and even more time worrying about what other people thought of me.

Throughout college, worry was my constant companion and something I relied on. 

As a grown women I have found that my worry has left it's mark on my face for all to see. Battle wounds of prominent vertical wrinkles on my forehead. Not smile lines, worry lines.   My mom said if I made faces someday my face would freeze that way. Well it has. In a constant state of worry, I look worried even on the rare instance that I'm not. 

I worry about the same exact things I did when I was a kid. I worry about the safety of my family and about my work. I worry about the way my body looks,  I worry about my outfits and sadly, I spend an exorbitant amount of time worrying about what other people think of me.

Even the people that are closest to me. I struggle at times because I worry that my husband doesn't think I'm attractive or that the boys don't see me as a good mother.  What I'm actually feeling is my own sentiment mirrored back at me.  I don't think I'm attractive and I don't think I'm a good mother. I have told myself this long enough, that it starts to feel like a truth.

Imagine if I turned my thoughts towards the possibility that I am wrong?   I wouldn't doubt Don's admiration. (After all, he married me.)  If the love I give to my son's was reflected back to me from  their eyes,  I couldn't possibly worry.

But, when I shower them with constant worry, the same thing is reflected back. The last thing I want is for them to hesitate through life because they saw the angst on my face.  I can lead them down a path of worry, or let them take the lead and be behind them to catch them if they fall.

Worrying has gotten me to this point, which despite myself, is pretty great.   When I was little, I never did fall, my mom was there to catch me before I did.   Keeping your children safe is one thing, instilling useless fear in them so they won't try is different.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Shave and a Hair Cut, 2 t*ts






You would think that having a boy would eliminate the drama when getting their hair cut.  This is not the case. I have been through so many bad hair cuts.

The boys never ask for a hair cut.  They will be looking like sheep dogs and not ask for a hair cut.   After I cannot stand looking at them anymore I take them in.  Where I live, there are several cheap and easy places to get a hair cut.  After trying one chain we will call "Mega Clips" at every local location and having my boys walk out with inconsistent bowl cuts, I decided to make it my mission to find a new place.

Sure, we have gone to salons. But spending $75 dollars and 2 hours for four boys to get haircuts every month is not an option. I mean, my hair doesn't cover the grey (or remain blonde) on its own.  I would rather spend that money on myself.

We tried an old school barber shop.  It didn't workout well.  Granted, their hair looked ok, but it also looked the same as every other person who left the place.  I'm not asking for a complicated style, but my boys already look identical to each other, they don't need to have matching hair cuts to further confuse the public.

I decided to make a conscious effort to explore our hair cutting options by taking one boy at a time to various places.

I took my oldest son to a glorified "Mega Clips" and at first I thought things were going really well.  That was until she said " Hey mom, is this too short?" Unless I gave birth to you, please don't call me mom, and yes, it is too short but there isn't much we can do about now.. is there?

Next I took Finegan.  He has a ton of hair and was actually born with it. He also has massive eye lashes and equally massive eyebrows.  Someday he will grow into them.    My point is,  he needs a hair cut often or he will end up looking like cousin It.  He chose a male themed hair cut place we will call "Ball Clips".  The parking lot was packed.  I had never seen so many cars outside a hair cut place. The moment we walked in I wasn't sure if we were in a sports bar or a barber.  There were stadium seats facing a huge television. Behind that, more televisions and more sports stuff.

He loved it. I didn't.

I put our name in and there was a 30 minute wait. I typically wouldn't wait that long, but Fin really needed a hair cut and "Ball Cuts" must be legit if this many people were willing to wait.  When we sat down I became acutely aware that I was surrounded by men.   The hairdressers were all young women and dressed in tight referee outfits. Now, I am familiar with actual female referee attire and I will say that these were not accurate representations of that.
Not only were all the men middle aged,  apparently they were all named  "Honey" "Hon" and "Sweetie".

A few years ago Hooters closed in our town. If you ever wanted to know if those waitresses found other jobs, rest assured, they did.

When our name was finally called, the women asked his age. Nine he said. She then then proceeded to ask him if he would like the deluxe package which includes a head massage, or a super deluxe package that would include and a warm face towel.

Again he is NINE. He said yes, I said no apparently with a look on my face that said WTF?   Then she confessed it was her first day, she came from... you guessed it, " Mega Clips".  Good lord! Why have you forsaken me?

I decided to stay with him while he got his hair cut giving her very specific instructions that I knew she would not follow.  While sitting there I got a glimpse into why "Ball Cuts" was so popular, and it wasnt the hair cuts.

I overheard a conversations where the hairdresser expressed how much she missed her client. And he expressed that he was just in for a free "touch up".  But letting her know he was going to leave a big tip.

If these girls were actual Hooters waitresses previously, then they must have broken a lot of plates because the amount of times they dropped something in front of the chair only to bend over to pick it up was alarming.  That explains the big tips.

A sad looking man walked in.  Sad because his wife decided to walk back with him when he got shampooed. She probably wondered why her husband was getting his hair cut so often and decided to investigate.

Next, a few teenage boys came in and asked how long the wait was. By now it was 40 minutes.  No problem! They were willing to wait.

I felt out of place. I hadn't noticed that there were no other children present. The hairdressers were probably looking at me like I was a horrible mom to subject her son to barber shop grade lap dances. I was ruining their mojo.  By the time I glanced back to my son he had convinced her to give him a butt cut. A 1984 legitimate butt cut.  I didn't care. I just wanted to get out before my son became a man right before my eyes.   

I have been a cocktail waitress, I understand flirting for a big tip.  But back then I was dealing with intoxicated individuals.  I guess with the omission of alcohol one may resort to flattery.  But what I do not, cannot and will not ever understand how these men can't see right through it?  If someone tells you that you have a strong head of hair and your hairline has recited back to 1971, chances are they are pulling your chain. Which to be honest, I'm not confident that there isn't a little chain pulling going on if you know what I mean.

There was a dimly lit back room where the head massaging took place,  where I'm sure that more (Ego) stoking goes on.

When we returned home Don asked how it went. I said he should never ever go there, it wasn't worth our $17. 

By the time we left, that simplicity of an old school barber shop was looking more an more revolutionary. Where you got what you paid for,  a shave and a hair cut, for only two bits.