Tag Archives: husband

Five Minute Friday: Beloved

They were on sale the day after Christmas. Nothing fancy. Nothing exciting. Just two plain gold bands. A thicker one for him and a delicate one for me. That’s what you get when you marry at 19.

With the wedding just around the corner (at least that’s how it felt with stacks of wedding magazines and enthusiastic, wedding-crazed mothers in the mix), we knew we had to check one more item off the to do list. It didn’t seem that romantic to find the cheapest alternative at the Boxing Day sale. But, that’s what you get when you marry at 19.

We agonized about what to engrave inside our rings. We may have had a few less frills, but we didn’t want to skimp on the meaningful stuff. We wanted something that would still make sense in 10 – 20 – 50 years. Something timeless. We wanted something that would be ours. Something “us”.

And it has been. When you marry at 19, you grow up together. You live on a laughably small budget. You sacrifice. You change. You meet someone new. Someone lying next to you in bed each night and you fall in love with them all over again, every 10 -20 – 50 years. That’s what you get when you marry at 19.

Those plain gold wedding bands may not fancy, but they are timeless; they are “us.” Inside they say:

This is my beloved. This is my friend.

February 029

So here’s us, 18 years later… still skimping on the extra frills, but heavy on the meaningful.

Once again, linking up with lisajobaker.com for 5 Minute Friday writing flash mob:

On Fridays around these parts we like to write. Not for comments or traffic or anyone else’s agenda. But for pure love of the written word. For joy at the sound of syllables, sentences and paragraphs all strung together by the voice of the speaker.

We love to just write without worrying if it’s just right or not. For five minutes flat.

Here’s how we do it:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat with no editing, tweaking or self critiquing.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in my blog’s footer}.

3. Go and tell the person who linked up before you what their words meant to you. Every writer longs to feel heard.

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To Love and To Cherish in Real Life

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,

while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

~ Lao Tzu

Cherishing…

romanceIt’s not like in the movies. Where they roll the credits and the absurdly good-looking, skinny folks prance off into the wild, blue yonder with nothing but adventure and excitement and passion and equallly good-looking children in their future. Of course, the good-looking children arrive to well coifed, only slightly flustered Moms after 20 minutes of pushing (and the dramatic breaking-of-the-water-in-the-restaurant scene, which always seemed strangely thrilling to me).

In real life, there’s a lot more sweat. And tears. And long stretches of less exciting stuff.

In real life, cherishing is less about passion and more about dirty socks. And casserole. And scraping your wife’s windshield for her.

In real life, marriage is work. But it’s worth it. Not because of the Hollywood-esque perfection of it, but the gritty closeness. The intimacy of the mundane. The humour that doesn’t come with a laugh track, because no one else would get it, but just the two of you.

You can’t cherish someone in a 90 minute highlight reel. It takes a lifetime.

STOP

5minutefridayOnce again, I’m joining Lisa-Jo Baker for her Five Minute Friday writing challenge.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking

2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. That is like the one rule we all really care about. For reals.

So here’s me, where cherishing looks a lot like taking out the recycling bin. And for the record, there’s passion too. Especially if you volunteer to wrestle the kids into their pjs and put them to bed, so that your wife can write her blog.


What Do You Say?

Last month I sat around a table with 1/2 a dozen sticky faced toddlers. Each one clutching a mangled dixie cup of cheerios in their hot little hands. Upon reaching the bottom of the cup they lift hopeful eyes in my direction. The more assertive personalities hold up their cup beseechingly.

“What do you say?”

Each one, in turn, squeaks out an adorable “pa-wease.” Even S rubs his tummy to sign the word.

After that, it’s smiles all around, flush with the success of snack acquisition and the effusive praise that comes with having “SUCH good manners.”

This is what we do. We teach our children what to say.

Say “Hi” to Grandma. Wave “Bye-bye.” Tell your brother “No thank you! I don’t like it when you throw sand in my eye/take my toy/hug me until I fall to the ground/bite me on the shoulder.”

We give our children words to foster relationships, stand up for themselves and express their feelings. We teach them how to treat others, and ourselves, with respect. Words are the sticks and stones brick and mortar of relationship development.

At the end of a meal our big kids are expected to clear their plate and say to whomever prepared the meal, “Excuse me, thank you for my dinner.” It’s a pretty habit we admired in the respectful, well-behaved children of other families we know. We do the same in the hopes that one day our children will morph into something similar.

I’m not so deluded as to believe it is always the honest expression of heartfelt gratitude. Some nights is sounds more like “excusemethankyouformydinner, it’s MY turn with the iPad, put it DOWN, it’s NOT FAIR, where’s MY ice cream, DON’T touch me, MOOOOOOO-OOOOOOM.”

Other nights we get the sullen, slumped shoulders version which sounds like the exact opposite of gratitude “Ex-cuuuuse me. Thanks for my ‘dinner.'” And we launch immediately into a lively post-dinner discussion about attitude and tone of voice, which is always fun. “What do you mean? That’s my normal voice. I always talk like that.” This actually does have a ring of truth, since sullen-pre-teen-cool is becoming our new normal. Sigh.

But we plug away. Every time they say the words, they go through the motions of Grateful. If nothing else, it is a reminder that meals do not magically appear on the table; they are a gift of time and effort, and hopefully (most nights) some small amount of skill.

Manners are a big deal in our house. I went toe to toe with the speech therapist who insisted that the sign for “want” was the strong verb B needed to use most in her communication. I insist on “please” when she needs something. It may seem like a small thing, but when words are few, they should be the right ones.

And hopefully attitude will follow action.

The easy part is writing all of this about my children; yet another parenting technique we subscribe to. The hard part is applying it to myself.

Glen and I had one of those rare lingering disagreements this weekend (we usually have heated/hurt feelings/cry/make up/I-can’t-really-remember-what-the-big-deal-was-anyway/quick fights). We are tired and overwhelmed and in this life stage, with head colds all around, it’s probably inevitable. But the lingering is worrisome. And unhealthy. And I haven’t been ready to let it go.

I won’t go into the details (mostly because they are pretty stupid and petty), but we both felt disrespected and devalued. Me, by his actions and he, by my words.

I’ve been absolutely certain that actions trumped words. Wasn’t that the point? Not what we said or how we said it, but what we DID. Sure, I had been a little bit wrong, but he was wrong-er.

So there.

Then this morning I dusted off this blog post that I had started weeks ago: pontificating about the importance of words. Gah. I suck.

I thank the doctor for his time. I say ‘please’ to the waiter who brings me a drink. I excuse myself from a meeting rather than abruptly walking out. I would never demand or yell or belittle someone I had just met. Doesn’t my family, and especially my husband, DESERVE respectful words even more than the strangers and acquaintances I practice my manners on all day long?

I know they do. And when I am feeling entitled and ungrateful and irritated, I can only hope that saying the right words will help adjust MY attitude too.

So here’s me, thanking my husband for all he does. He speaks to me with respect and that means a lot. I’m sorry.


The Evolution of Sexy

Tonight I find my husband particularily sexy.

He pulled a giant hairball out of my drain yesterday. And no, that is not a euphemism.

That’s just the kind of thing that does it for me.

It got me thinking about the origin of sex appeal. And the movie Magic Mike which was just released in theaters. The trials and tribulations of a male stripper has been cheerfully labelled “Mommy Porn.” It is meant to appeal to women of all ages. Finally, some eye candy for the ladies! But I don’t get it. Not really.

If grown women are going to drool over Channing Tatum, I think his character Leo, in the Vow, would be a better bet. The funny, long-suffering husband who loves fiercely and sweetly. That’s a whole lot sexier than smarmy bump and grind with strangers who paid for you.

I think most of us mature past pointless eye candy. Hopefully. As women, we need more.

Sure, I’ve been known to ogle my man. He has rugged, masculine good looks, deep blue eyes and other physical attributes I will detail for him privately (after all, both our moms read this blog and it will remain PG). Suffice it to say, I think he looks sexy.

But this alone isn’t what has made him irresistible to me after more than 20 years together. He is more than just an attractive physical specimen.

He has snot trails on the shoulders of his black t-shirt. He has a soother and a matchbox car in his pocket. He has a strange clay sculpture on his desk and rainbow scribbles on the wall of his office. He has a sparkly bow in his hair to “make him pitty.” He loves our children without reservation. And THAT is sexy!

He makes me howl loudly – with laughter. He tries to seduce me with lyrics from the Wiggles (I’m Robot number One, flip the switch to turn me on…), and it usually works. He knows all the inside jokes and can deliver a punch line with a single look. And THAT is sexy!

He has perfected his Attentive Listener Face, and is able to contemplate changes to his hockey pool line up while simultaneously allowing me to vent about our latest potty training debacle. He navigates messy family politics and is always on my team, if not always in agreement. He sticks it out to fight through the issues, big and small, though his every instinct screams at him to flee conflict at all costs. He endures hormonal tirades and diffuses teary, self loathing recriminations. And THAT is sexy!

Sexy is strong enough to be gentle.

Sexy is secure enough to respect a woman and want her to succeed.

Sexy is selfless and loves through better and through worse.

So flex and pose all you want, Hollywood. But I’m a grown woman and there is more to sexy than that.

So here’s me, married 17 years today to the cute boy who sat next to me in Social Studies. He gets sexier every year!


When I was 16…

Twenty years ago, the boy I had a huge crush on took me on my very first date. Turns out, it was my only ‘first date’. Because sometimes one is all you need.

When I was 16…

you took me on a walk at Glenmore resevoir. You told me you had a question for me, but you kept changing the subject and clearing your throat. We talked about exams and schoolwork. We talked about our friends. We talked about the gifts we had gotten at Christmas. We talked about the weather, for Pete’s sake. I wondered if you were ever going to get to the point. Finally, as we turned towards home you blurted out “doyouwantogooutwithme?”

Of course I said “YES!” and then tried desperately to act cool about the whole thing.

When I was 18, you took me on a walk at Glenmore resevoir after dinner. You put your suit jacket over my shoulders to keep me warm. You were fidgety and nervous. I wondered what was wrong with you. You got down on one knee, right in the snow, and blurted out “willyoumarryme?”.

I think there was some stuff about how much you loved me et cetera… but I was crying and laughing and entirely giving up any pretense of coolness, so I don’t really remember.

When I was 16…

you reached over and took my hand for the first time. It was a bit awkward. We hadn’t figured out how to fit our fingers together just right, but you didn’t let go all the way back home.

When I was 23, you held my hand while we waited for the results of the pregnancy test. You held my hand in the hospital waiting room. You held my hand when the doctors told us our baby had died, and during labour and delivery. You held my hand when they took him away. You didn’t let go, not then and not through the sad, sad months to come.

You held my hand through 4 more children. Two girls, another stillborn baby boy, and our youngest who came one month early with a little extra in the DNA department.

Our hands fit together perfectly now; we don’t even have to think about it.

When I was 16…

we played Monopoly and you tried to slip me money so that I would win. You crushed me. I was embarrassed because I wanted you to think I was smart and capable, and because I really, really like to win.

When I was 30, we started family games night. Candyland, then Trouble and Sorry, eventually chess, Scrabble and Monopoly. You help the girls here and there, you give them tips, but we don’t let them win every game. It’s more fun that way, a real challenge. Because we all really, really like to win.

When I was 16…

we went to A&W for dinner, then to see Beauty and the Beast in the theatre. I was skeptical that anything could compete with Little Mermaid. We shared popcorn, and halfway through the movie you put your arm around me in one quick, smooth motion, and then let out a sigh of relief.

You were so cute! I couldn’t believe how fun this dating thing was turning out to be.

When I was 36, you took me to A&W for dinner, then to the movies for our 20 year “anniversary”. Beauty and the Beast 3D was playing and that seemed romantic, but we decided to see Sherlock Holmes instead. We’ve seen enough kids movies to last 3 lifetimes. I ate all the popcorn and you drank a huge pop. You had to go to the bathroom 3 times and I teased you mercilessly about it.

We still laugh and act like teenagers when we are on a date. I have more fun with you than anyone else.

When I was 16…

you walked me to the LRT station. I leaned in to hug you and you stole your first kiss. I was shocked. Church girls like me didn’t expect that on a first date. But you were worldly and wild like that.

When I was 22, you decided you wanted to serve God with your life. Your family thought we were crazy. Mine thought we were saints. They were both wrong. I knew our life wouldn’t be normal or easy; it wasn’t what I expected. But you were brave and devoted like that.

Now we live in the real world, and that ministry life is a memory. We’ve learned a lot since then. And the kissing has just gotten better and better.

When I was 16…

we had our first fight. My friend Claire and I smoked a cigarette in the alley behind my house. The next week I drank half a pitcher of real margaritas at a restaurant and got a little tipsy. You were appalled when you found out. You wondered who I was. I called you a stuffed shirt.

When I was 19, we had our first married fight – day one of our honeymoon, at the breakfast table. I ordered Eggs Benedict and you had the pancakes platter. I snagged a piece of bacon and popped it in my mouth. You looked at me like I had kicked your puppy. Apparently, you do not share food. This has not changed.

But you’ve shared everything else with me for the past 20 years, so I’m not going to complain. You can have all the bacon.

I picked the best man in the world when I was 16. I let you think it was all your idea, but I knew what I wanted. And I really, really like to win.

So here’s me, SO incredibly grateful that I got to grow up with you by my side.


Commas

I love to write and I always have, ever since I started writing short stories about Rascal the Raccoon in the back of my grade 3 exercise book when I was supposed to be learning my times tables. I may not be the most brilliant author of all time (every single Rascal Raccoon story started and ended exactly the same, after all), but I’m fairly confident in my skills, except for one thing: I’ve never been very good with commas. It seems like such a small thing, but it can make all the difference between a well-crafted sentence and a wordy, unreadable mess.

I didn’t always appreciate this fact. When I recruited a friend to proofread my English 11 essay on Macbeth, I was frustrated by his insistence on punctuational accuracy. I mean, who cares about commas, periods and semi-colons when I have important things to say? But he knew these little breaks make a huge difference. He was a good editor.

So, I decided to keep him… and now, when my husband edits my blog posts, he teases me about my poor punctuation. Even with the casual format of blogging, I need to do better. In my last post he had to add only one comma; that’s my all-time record!

“Say it out loud; wherever you take a natural pause, that is where you put a comma” he says.

I’ve never been good with commas, in writing or in life. There are times when I need a deliberate pause. Time to take a breath before moving on to the next thing.

I tend to operate at two speeds: go and stop. When I am really busy, I often forget to eat or even to take reasonable bathroom breaks. There’s nothing dignified about a 35 year old woman doing the pee-pee dance, because she just had to get one more thing done. And on the rare occasions when I’m not busy, inertia begins to set in and it’s hard to get my butt off the couch at all. Yet life, like good writing, flows best with an unhurried rhythm and the occasional pause.

Today I needed a pause. I needed to get out of the house and find some solitude. I felt guilty about it. I worried about all the things I should be doing (knowing full well I wasn’t going to do them even if I did stay home). I asked my husband repeatedly if he minded, until he was irritated at me for thinking the world would fall apart if I left for a few minutes. “It must be hard being a single mom” (his new favourite line from Modern Family). When I finally took a walk in the woods, it was EXACTLY what I needed. Why do I fight it?

What if I took a few minutes each day to enjoy what is, rather than worry about what still needs to be done? What if I saw interruptions as a natural pause in my life, not a ghastly inconvenience? What if I took a moment to pray, to listen, and to catch my breath, whenever I can, all day long?

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

~ Jesus (Matthew 11: 28-30)

I’ve never been good with commas, but I have a good editor who’s teaching me to do better.

So, here’s me, embracing the comma.


The Flaw

I’ve kept quiet for many years about this. Okay, not exactly, but mostly I suffer in silence. Since I started this blog I have taken the opportunity to sing my husband’s praises through it. And he really is the best guy around – a wonderful father and human being. But sometimes he really bugs me.

It’s not a marriage thing; anyone you spend a lot of time with will find it. That thing, that seemingly insignificant, small thing that irritates you like nothing else. Other people may barely even notice, but this thing will drive you batty. Perhaps I am more neurotic than most, but I have quite a few pet peeves.

Thankfully, Glen does in fact understand the correct way to load toilet paper: from the TOP people! He understands the need to put the toilet seat DOWN (which makes my first thing in the morning dash to the bathroom much more pleasant). I am forever grateful to my mother-in-law for raising a son who puts his dirty dishes in the kitchen, dirty socks in the hamper and dirty self into the shower.

However… he does have one dark flaw, and it is something I “have a thing about”. Each week I collect, sort, wash, dry AND fold the laundry. I’m somewhat anal about it. Growing up, wash day was Monday, and I cannot feel quite right with the world if we have dirty clothes kicking around on Tuesday, or heaven forbid – Wednesday. The rest of my life may be descending into madness – dishes to the ceiling, crunchy floors and grimy bathrooms, but we WILL have clean clothes on Tuesday.

After busting my butt to produce this minor housekeeping miracle, I expect the neatly folded piles of clean laundry, which have been conveniently delivered to each person’s room, to be PUT AWAY. Each of my children puts their own clothes away. It was one of the first chores they learned. Even the baby was doing her part (as soon as she was able to stand on her own – I’m not a monster). It could be because their mom is the laundry Nazi, but I like to think it’s because this incredibly simple task is the least they can do to assist me with my Very Important Work (aka: laundry).

We talked about it when we were first married and he agreed. Not a big deal… totally something he could do… he was happy to help, and yet it hardly ever happened. All week I would eye that basket of clothes on the floor while he rummaged through it for what he needed. Determined not to nag, I decided to just ignore it and see how long it took before he actually put his shirts IN the drawer. Five laundry baskets precariously stacked with a smattering of clean clothes in the bottom of each one and STILL he would rather hunt through the stacks than empty the things.

I like to think of myself as a reasonable, peace-loving human being, but this could very well have pushed me over the edge. He really wasn’t trying to be a jerk or disrespect me in any way. He just doesn’t see it. In fact, he floated the idea of doing away with drawers entirely, just living out of the baskets.

Eventually I realized that this little, but extremely crucial issue could cause our relationship serious stress. Relationships can be destroyed by the silliest things. Friends, siblings, co-workers, room-mates… pretty much anyone who is up in your face long enough for you to want to punch them in theirs. Of course, in the end it’s not about how to fold the towels or who is a better driver, but it can start there. The spark that starts the fire doesn’t need to be a big one. I watched a bitter divorce unfold with the major battle being who should clean out the garage.

I know wives all over the world have been putting clothes away for centuries without complaint, but somehow I got it in my head that I shouldn’t have to. And I don’t, I really don’t. But I decided that this would be my act of sacrificial love. It may not seem that romantic, but it is a marriage builder in our home.

For more than a decade I have been putting shirts, pants, socks and boxers away while repeating the mantra “an act of love, an act of love, an act of love.” To be honest, I don’t think he’s even noticed. Every once in a while that irritation sneaks up on me again, but it’s good for me. Glen says it all the time – love isn’t just a feeling, it is an act of the will. And in our house, that means drawers full of clean laundry.

So here’s me, grateful that he loves me by overlooking the garbage I leave in his car, clipping my toenails in front of the t.v. and even peanut butter breath.


the CAKE

Every year, since time began, the women in my husband’s family have prepared a 4 layer, boiled icing, chocolate drizzled, MADE FROM SCRATCH German Chocolate Cake in celebration of each person’s birth. It is tradition.

In my family of origin that means something we sometimes do, if we feel like it. In in-law”ese” it means, a task or experience which is absolutely required and essential. If you don’t do it, you are out of the family. Or will wish you could be.

Shortly before I was married my Mom-in-law sat me down to have “the talk”. No, not sex; I wish it were that simple. This was about the legendary family cake and my new responsibilities as both a wife and, someday, mother.

You have to understand. I am not what you would call “kitchen friendly.” I think it’s a complex recipe if it calls for a can of soup AND shredded cheese. As for baking – someone like me is why God created Duncan Hines cake mixes (or why God created Duncan Hines in order that some day he would create cake mixes). Why, oh why, couldn’t the family tradition be DQ ice cream cake?

I can regale you with tales over the years of my many struggles with “the cake.” There have been tears, muttered profanity, botched attempts hastily thrown in the garbage, desperate calls to my mother (what does “fold in” mean?) and some years it just hasn’t worked out. But I keep trying. I even sift the flour for pete’s sake.

This year was no exception. A clue as to how it went… here is my husband’s facebook post:

The more my wife curses the cake she’s making for me, the more I appreciate her for making it. She’s very appreciated at this moment…

The cake layers were uneven and gaped. So I put a lot of icing on. The icing didn’t work quite right – perhaps cooled too long (since last year it wasn’t not long enough). It was super sticky, so I piled extra on. It slid down the cake, pooled on the edge of the plate and onto the counter. So, I put more on.

Every year without fail, this project causes me stress and frustration. So I’ve been asking myself – why do I do it?

Because, he makes me laugh…every day, at least once, but usually more.

Because, when we argue he talks in outline format (A…, point 1, 2…) and it’s strangely endearing.

Because, he is crazy about his girls and enjoys being their dad so much he wants another daughter.

Because, he is brilliant (don’t tell him I said this – but he’s way smarter than me).

Because, he is sexy and makes me feel that way too.

Because, he is the first person I want to tell when something good happens.

Because, his is the hug I need when things go bad.

Because, he really, really, really likes the cake.

Marriage is about loving that other person in the way they actually need and want – not the way that is convenient or makes sense to me. Now, I may still moan about this cake with my sister-in-law and I doubt it’ll ever be my favourite thing to do. In 364 days I will re-read this post and hopefully I will have a better attitude for that cake, because he really is worth it.

So here’s to Glen – a better man than I deserve. Happy Birthday G!


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