Love is in the air, romance abounds, restaurants are booked and vintage love songs fill the air on my favorite radio station; no doubt about it, Valentines Day is just around the corner!
As I sit, at yet another stop light, singing at the top of my lungs to the sappy '70 and '80 love songs blaring through the speakers, I can't help but laugh at the undeniable looks of judgement and smirks of condemnation from fellow highway motorists. I'm not quite sure if their obvious disgust for my behavior stems from the fact that I'm not "acting my age" or rather, they are simply allergic to "morning" people.
You see, I am very aware of the stark differences between "morning" people and well, people who are NOT "morning" people! Case in point!
THERE'S A SPOUSE IN MY HOUSE!
After 30+ years of marriage, one would think that many of our differences would have merged to form a somewhat meet in the middle, marital evolution, if you will.....NOT even close!
Hubby is definitely NOT a morning person. He would much prefer to stay up late and sleep half of the day; whereas, I am quite content calling it an early night and up before dawn.
I have to ask, what's up with you "non-morning" people anyway? Seriously, you really have to have a good 45 minutes alone with your coffee before someone can say "good morning" to you?
THERE'S A SPOUSE IN MY HOUSE!
30+ years ago, I had no idea that saying "I do" and pledging to "love until death do us part" meant that I was embarking on a lifelong learning curve! Before the end of the reception, the dynamics of my little world and routine changed. I would soon realize that learning to live with a "non-morning" personality was simply one of many idiosyncrasies that would surface !
Like all young couples, we faced and endured many challenges, from children and jobs to finances and schedules. Over the years, I have discovered that there is something to be said for the solace found in a relationship that is comfortable, but remains fun! Relationships weather life's storms, trials come and go and disagreements or, dare I say, arguments happen. LOVE is constant, while LIKE, on the other hand, is subjective and depends on the day. Oh, c'mon, you know it's true.
Ah, but I digress. The subject is Valentines Day; the one day set aside each year dedicated to celebrating love. I'm not sure when or how it happened, but somewhere along the way, commercialism crept into our expectations and inflicted a steroid induced guilt trip if one failed to shower their love with flowers, candy and/or gifts of shiny baubles intended to proclaim to the world their undying love and affection. It is important to remember that true love rarely depicts the romance glamorized in greeting cards.
YES, THERE'S A SPOUSE IN MY HOUSE
Here are just a few things I've learned over the years:
Everyday is an adventure of sorts; so move forward, jump over (or crawl under) life's hurdles and quit agonizing over reality. Accept the fact that knees creak, bifocals are necessary and uttering groans when getting up off the couch are just part of the aging journey.
This year, preserve the budget and celebrate Valentine's Day the right way...with pizza delivery, a box of chocolates, cuddle on the couch and enjoy a classic movie....or two!
Have you heard the story of the Bread Family Christmas? I didn't think so. Time to grab a cup of hot cocoa, sit back and relax as I share with you one of the most illusive stories never told.
Although very little is known about the origins of the Bread family, their ancestry can be traced all the way back to the days of Moses and the leavened lineage of the Manna’s.
A long time ago, the wind was howling, snow was falling and it was a very, very cold Christmas Eve night. Corn & Ginger Bread were busily preparing for holiday guests to arrive for their annual Christmas celebration.
The Bread’s were blessed with six little muffins, each one embracing unique, individual personalities:
Excitement was in the air as the little muffins anxiously awaited the arrival of well… you know who? However, the excitement was less than a reality for Corn Bread, he was stressed and worried because the troubled economy made raisin six little muffins difficult. It goes without saying that times were tough for the Breads. Everyone, was cutting back and tightening their belts, or at least trying too, as many Breads were being sliced away from everything they had known.
Day after day, Cornbread would roll to the factory because they kneaded the dough. Through it all, Ginger Bread never seemed overly concerned. Ginger went about her sweet way, smiling through the worst of times. Inside the little canister they called a house, Ginger Bread always made everyone feel a little bit better and could always transform a bad day into a good one.
Ginger Bread made sure that the little muffins got a quick nap earlier that day, so they would be wide awake for the festivities. After a couple of hours, Ginger sang, “rise and shine”. Waking up was a little difficult for the little muffins as they seemed to be stuck in the warmth of their surroundings, but a little bit of careful nudging and they were ready to greet everyone.
It wouldn't be long before the "in-laws", the Loaves, would arrive. This added to Corn Bread's stress. Their rye sense of humor was never received well, and most of the time they ended up behaving like heels. Yet, year after year, Corn Bread kept hoping that this would be the year things would be different.
As customary, Breads from all over the country would soon be arriving from yeast to west and everywhere in-between. Aunt Éclair and Cousin Pita were the first to arrive. Uncle Crumpet soon followed. Uncle Crumpet always made Ginger Bread nervous because sometimes he would arrive a little half baked.
Time moved quickly and soon everyone arrived. Ginger Bread's house was filled with Breads; more than three dozen were gathered around the oven. The clock ticked ever so slowly as the little muffins anticipation grew. The little muffins were almost crumbling with excitement, when suddenly.......a loud POP was heard outside the little house, followed by a giggle. It was time! The moment they had been waiting for.......
There he was, easily identifiable by his characteristic hat, shirt and no pants ensemble. Yes, it was the famous Dough Boy himself, delivering goodies, fresh from the oven. He spoke not a word, but the giggles were endless. Dough Boy was soon out the door, on to the next oven, but they heard him exclaim as he soared out of sight, ....Happy Baking to all and to all a good night!
As Labor Day quickly approaches, I am reminded that perspective and current state of mind can dramatically impact definition.
Labor Day, officially recognized as a Federal Holiday in 1894, celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers. However, I am sure that many people (women) will agree that Labor Day, when referring to childbirth, exemplifies the word, “work!”
It is important to clarify Labor Day from an expectant point of view in an effort to dispel the Mis-Conception of Childbirth.
These days, it seems that family planning is particularly popular among many young couples. They are intent on making their mark on the world, starting careers and having their “ducks in a row”, before starting a family.
The word “trying” is often used in reference to starting a family. Regardless of whether you were “trying” or one that proclaimed the words “whoops” or "WHAT"?.....you are all in the same boat, so sit back and hang on tight. That’s right, lift your head from your porcelain paradise and remember, meals are always temporary; length of time is the only variable.
Initially, the giddy excitement of knowing that you are the vessel that carries another life is overwhelming. The desire to learn everything possible about this nine-month journey is exceptionally strong and soon-to-be moms endeavor to read every book and article written about this expedition. Detailed explanations are sought after, from mood swings to delivery and everything in-between. It is recommended that this information, along with advice from friends, relatives and even strangers, be taken with a grain of salt. No pregnancy is book perfect and the likelihood that your baby will be the next Gerber® Baby, is slim to none.
A first time expectant mom knows the exact week and day of her adventure; however, with second and subsequent babies, month and due date vicinity are subjective. Excitement abounds around the first time expectant mom, but this enthusiasm fades quickly with each additional announcement.
As a new mom, with no previous babysitting experience, I was totally unprepared for the responsibility I was about to accept. In retrospect, I am certain I would have benefited from a guideline to follow; thus the reason for the following list.
FIRST BABY DO’S AND DON’TS
Daily if possible! For the next four to seven years, it will be necessary to tote a bag full of items everywhere you go. This bag will contain a variety of items based on the child’s age, including bottles, pacifiers, diapers, baby oil, baby lotion, wet wipes, toys, coloring books, rattles, baby nose aspirator and so on. In addition, it will be a long time before you will be able to enjoy a dinner out without saying the following statements:
LABOR DAY ARRIVES
It will seem like an eternity awaiting the arrival of your bundle of joy and you will soon learn that birthing classes falsely made labor sound bearable. The phrase, “you will feel discomfort” had to have been written by a man. Discomfort, DISCOMFORT; try anguish, torment, agony or torture, as these words better define the pain.
The popular thing today seems to be “natural” childbirth; personally, I think “natural” is overrated. My advice is to begin asking for drugs before you really even need them to ensure that you avoid being told, “I’m sorry, it’s too late.” Actually, I see no reason NOT to be knocked out like they did in my mother’s day. Having my baby cleaned, powdered, diapered and then handed to me doesn’t sound half bad.
Last but not least, recognize that your spouse has absolutely no clue what to do, what is happening or what to say. Totally insensitive comments are inevitable, so brace yourself.
Hubby: Do you want to watch TV to take your mind off things?
Me: Do you want to retain the shape of a TV?
Hubby: Just breathe.
Me: Great advice Einstein, the one thing I didn’t have to think about.
Me: I am focusing, on the PAIN!
Hubby: It’s almost over.
Me: Yea, right, that’s what you said 6 hours ago!
Hubby: I love you.
Me: Yea, yea, like that’ll ever work again.
Hubby: I see the head.
Me: Well, Hot Diggity Dog
Me: You’ll think push when I push you out of this fourth floor window
Hubby: The doctor is on his way
Me: Here or does he have another golf game?
Hubby: Do you want some crushed ice?
Me: Yea, stick a block under my fist and I’ll crush it!
When everything is said and done, you will have experienced the ultimate human achievement and will take home with you a beautiful, dependent little life that has absolutely no regard for your fatigue, hunger or emotional state. Ironically, if you are a successful parent, this beautiful, dependent little life will grow into a teenager that has absolutely no regard for your fatigue, hunger or emotional state.
Happy Labor Day!
There are moments in time when a single, ordinary comment can send a person into a complete tailspin...so with that said, here is my story.
It was just an ordinary day, just an ordinary comment and just one little word that changed my perspective. For the first time, I realized that my response, to a simple question reflected the way I saw myself.
My children were very young and I worked part-time to avoid the baby sitting dilemma.
So...what do you do?
I’m just a mom.
Later on that day, that single phrase hit me like a ton of bricks! Just a Mom! Just a Mom! What was the matter with me? Did I really say that! Yes, I work part-time and I AM a Mom; a busy Mom; a tired Mom, and often a frustrated Mom, but just a Mom?
Where did that come from? I mean really, is someone just a Doctor, just a Lawyer,just a Nuclear Scientist? Oh, well, I digress. Why on earth would I use the word just to describe my career, my destiny...my life?
When one accepts the role of Mom, it is one of the most important jobs in the world...if not THE most important. Therefore, how dare I, or anyone else, demean the status of such a vital position? A Mom’s day begins before anyone else awakes and ends long after everyone else has retired for the evening.
A Mom’s responsibilities are endless. Breakfast’s must be prepared (even cereal, after-all, someone has to get the bowls out and pour the milk), pack lunches, do the laundry (every day), ensure the kids leave the house “appropriately” dressed for school, teeth are brushed (can’t assume), hair is combed and see that the kiddos arrive at school or the bus...on time!
Then it's time for the mom, who is employed outside of the home, to hurry and get ready for work, hoping her shoes match (who among us hasn’t arrived with two different shoes of similar styles) and double checking the seams on clothing (you know you have worn that blouse inside out before). For the Mom who is not employed outside of the home, the routine of household responsibilities must be tackled.
Whether employed outside of the home or not, mom inevitably has to pick up dirty clothes that have been left wherever they were removed. (Side note: I find it amazing that spouses and children have difficulty seeing things on the floor; they will look at it, walk over it, around it or even through it, but will never pick it up.)
Meals, whether baked, fried, crock-potted or micro-waved must be prepared, dishes have to be washed or loaded into the dishwasher, carpets require vacuuming from time to time, linoleum demands to be swept and pre-fabricated furniture will not dust itself.
Multi-tasking is a must when juggling homework, after-school activities, ball games and band practice. A Mom may not be a doctor in real life, but definitely plays one at home. A Mom’s responsibilities never end. Doctor appointments, picking up a sick child at school, dropping off forgotten homework, paying bills, balancing the checkbook, and most important, ensuring that the last roll of toilet paper or all of the shampoo has not been used.
The moral of this story is this....employment status is irrelevant; a Mom works full-time! As a Mom, you are never JUST a mom! A Mom’s work is hard, heartbreaking at times and the pay is lousy. Being a Mom is a lot of things, it’s just that JUST, ain’t got nothin’ to do with it!
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!
As Valentine’s Day approaches, it's time to take a proactive approach and refuse to get caught up in the hype. This Valentine's Day, allow your thoughts and actions to precede and replace the mindset of a frantic purchasing driven quandary.
30 years ago, a shy young girl (and yes, believe it or not, I'm talking about me) married the love of my life. Together we leaped into marriage with a mix of blind faith and an unrealistic belief that together, forever we could simply “live on love" and change the world. We were ready to take on life's challenges. Boy, were we wrong!
Our wedding was small. We were married in a simple candle light ceremony in 1986, followed by a cake and punch reception. We couldn't afford a traditional honeymoon destination but planned to renew our vows and one day have a real 'honeymoon'! (Alas, still waiting on that one).
After our reception, we stopped at a drive thru for a burger on our way to the Owensboro Executive Inn where I had reserved the Honeymoon Suite six months prior. The hotel was packed with kids having parties because it was, of all things, prom night. Checking in, we were told that our "suite" had been given away but they would comp us a room, a room was on the top floor (6th floor I think). Anyway, the kids in the hotel had decided to jam the elevators, so we walked the stairs. So much for being carried over the threshold.
Life resumed and we were happy. 1986 was a time where we basked in contentment, solace and joy. One of the greatest things we learned early on as a couple, was not to take things too seriously. We learned to laugh at our circumstances. Looking back, I guess it was either laugh or cry.
We lived paycheck to paycheck, and still do to some degree, but I digress. The point is, we survived. We worked all day and feasted on simmered crock-pot meals, sandwiches and frozen pizza. I quickly adapted and became a coupon queen and a master of multitasking, as I tackled the demands of working full-time and taking care of household responsibilities.
Now, as glamorous as all of of this sounds; eventually, the reality train radically collided with the non-problematic world where we resided. The birth of children, bills and trials forced us to “grow up”, at least by the world's standards. Hubby found a 'day gig", (known as a job, in the rest of the world) and I began my quest for a better paying career.
30 years later, we can't help but shake our heads in disbelief that we actually survived those painstakingly, difficult years. Struggles are just part of the package. It's important to recognize that a struggle is really just a life hurdle. You have three choices when facing a life hurdle....you either jump over, crawl under or turn around and run.
Sadly, I think to many couples choose to run. You see, I have discovered that the root of a problem is not in the remembrance of past struggles, but rather in the failure to recall our reactions to circumstances. It is the reaction, not the circumstance that is ultimately reflected in a relationship.
This Valentine's Day, make a concerted effort to think back to the time when you first met your spouse. Remember the tough times, but recall the way the two of you endured and overcame the challenges.
I decided to take this challenge myself. These are a few things I remembered....and what I often failed to recall.
Finally, with Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, many couples are feeling like they are caught in a vise. Expectations from advertisements imply expectations of grand romantic illusions. Illusions that can be costly, increase stress, cause depression and plunge one further into debt, thus making one forget that being together is what makes LIFE GOOD!
When Valentine’s Day rolls around, if you can afford gifts, give them; however, if you can’t, accept it. Either way, this year, plan now to make Valentine’s Day 2016 memorable through genuine, LOVE DRIVEN ACTION! Realize that love combined with laughter means embracing what life has to dish out, take circumstances (good and bad) as they happen and recognize that a lifetime is but a fleeting spec in the universal time-frame. Learn that time spent together is forever embedded into memories and those memories live forever and that makes LIFE GOOD!