One day you are falling in love and everything is so new and exciting, and the next you are five years down the road with two children. Sometimes you have to wonder how life seems to go so fast. So many of my friends or family members got married around the same time, and it really only seems like yesterday. Now, here we are five years later.
My longest relationship before my husband was only 7 months, so you would think that it would feel incredibly long to me in that aspect, but it doesn't. If you want to know more about our love story you can read about it here (note that I wrote it some time ago;)
We talk about it frequently, how fast time has gone by. We have also been talking about recently how we had no idea what we were doing back then, how clear that will probably continue to become as the years continue to pass. We met in August of 07 and were married by November of 08, crazy talk. But everyone in our lives that we trusted encouraged us to do so, and we were more than willing to listen!
To celebrate we went to downtown Denver and went to Yard House. For an anniversary gift I found this journal at Barnes & Noble called "Reasons Why I Love You" where it had writing prompts to fill in things I loved about him, our memories, all our firsts, etc. I filled out the first 4 or 5 chapters before I got tired and ran out of time. It was awesome at dinner to give it to him and watch him read it and to my surprise he also answered all the questions about me as well. That was really good for my soul to hear and I highly recommend doing something like that on anniversaries.
So, without letting more time pass without reflecting and thinking through what we have been through,
here are a few things I have learned about marriage in the first 5 years.
1. Marrying the Right Person is Vital
This might seem like a no-brainer, but I have realized as thing have gotten hard, confusing or overwhelming that had I married anyone but Daniel, things would be so much harder. We are really so opposite in so many ways, but it works for us. I tell him a lot that "you are everything I never knew I always wanted". Up until the time I met him I would have rambled off a list of things that I had wanted in a husband, I am not so sure that they would have been the right things for me. I am convinced God intervened in bringing me Daniel, and believe me I gave him LOTS of great suggestions ;)
2. Always Be Willing to Change
We talked about this when we were dating, that one of the most important values to have in a spouse was the willingness to accept responsibility for wrongs, problems, etc and be willing to change. Now sometimes the way that plays out is over months and months, but I think it's really important. Being right for the sake of being right only works in a marriage for so long without causing major problems. If I have learned anything through having depression is that life is a journey and at no point do we reach the end, we are always in process. Both being willing to say that about yourself and recognizing it your spouse is all about grace.
3.Serve One Another
If I were honest I would admit that I am the weaker partner in our marriage. For all the excuses I could list, what I do know is that Daniel has made me a better woman and a better wife. The number one way he has done that is to serve me, constantly, no strings attached, simply because he loves me and wants the best for me. No, he doesn't do it perfectly all the time, but what has happened is that because I feel so loved and taken care of so well by him, it has made me want to love and serve him more as well. I came into the marriage, probably like most single people, thinking in a "tit for tat" kinda thing. A "what have you done for me lately" kind of mentality. But the way my husband functions 80% of the time is that he does what he does for me out of love, not so I will owe him and not because he owes me. I think its taken me a long time to figure that out, but it has started to slowly change the way I even subconsciously love.
4. Love is More Than a Feeling
Again, this is another one that you may hear all the time, but its very true. Fairy tales and romantic comedies don't always do real love justice. Many of those idealize love that is, in the end, shallow at best. Real love is holding hands when your world is falling down all around you. Real love is seeing someone at their weakest or their worst and still seeing something wonderful and beautiful. Real love is challenging one another to be better. Real love is trying, always trying, (longer hugs, meaningful touch, picking up their favorite treat etc) even when you don't feel like jumping each others bones. When you take those vows "for better or for worse, in sickness or in health, for richer or for poorer" I don't think you really grasp what you are vowing anymore than you can know what it's like to be a mother before you are one. It's not always easy to love someone and you won't always feel loving towards them, but when that feeling comes to you again, the depth in which it now stands is something that far outweighs that first crush or butterfly feeling.
5. Decide Who Comes First
This is a fairly new realization for me, even though I would have acknowledged the concept from the get-go, I recently realized I wasn't doing this practically. Depending on our family of origin and our roles and relationships within these we may have a harder or easier time with this decision. And sometimes its just a matter of transitioning or deciding who gets the loudest vote in our lives. I tend to need everyone's approval, especially those in key relation to me. Daniel is super easy going, go with the flow, I pretty much always have his approval so I found myself needing it from my family. I began to notice that their opinions still held more weight than my husbands, and that, essentially we let others lead us as we were focusing outside first rather than inside our home and family. Sometimes other family members are more than willing to tell you how you should or shouldn't live your life, many times simply because you asked or need them (not maliciously intended, most times.) As my depression interspersed with this I realized that I needed to put Daniel and his needs and opinions back in first place and he needed to lead me by sharing what those are. My husband and children come first and if others may be put out because of that, I need not be afraid of that disapproval.
Obviously all of these things are lessons still in process, we certainly haven't mastered them but these are the five that stand out to me most at this point.
What would you add?
Here is to 65+ more!
Who are you? What makes you unique? Why are you here?
So, call it the existential questions of all time if you will. Stuff that most mom or beauty blogs are not necessarily made of, but I have been thinking this over a bit.
Am I have a pre-midlife crisis? I doubt it.
But I am coming to realize that I am not completely sure who I am or maybe who I want to be.
I know that most people who pop by this blog are bloggers themselves.
So, tell me, what drives you to write what you do on your blogs?
Those of you who have successful blogs or the blogs you admire?
What do you suppose drives them?
I think for most of my life, being the oldest child and people-pleaser that I am, that I have figured out what is expected of me from most people. I am quite needy for acceptance, I have found (I hate admitting that) and so I have made myself "easy" to accept. And so my first question to myself in making decisions is not always that easy for me. I view myself through other peoples eyes, and not my own. Does that make any sense?
Recently I have been realizing that my acceptance is chained to people, which makes ME chained to them. Keeping everyone happy has become a sort of self appointed job. And then when I fail at that, I consider myself a failure. I have a hard time setting goals or even figuring out what I really want at all because I don't consider my opinion as important as someone else's. This is ludicrous when you write it out like that. But I am starting to see that it is true, and my reaction to that is anger many times. I want to get angry at the people I am chained to, even though I am the one who walked up to them and locked my handcuffs to them myself. I think I need someone to direct my anger towards, because certainly I can not be that disconnected, that separate from myself. Certainly the bully that rages in my head, beating me with the idea that I should never step out into something risky, possibly success or beauty inducing, because I might fail, or worse, become proud. I must stay in my place, you see. Certainly this is something I can change if it dwells inside me. And I know I can, I just need to give myself time to hash it out, to process it, to recognize who I am apart from keeping people happy or doing what is always expected. Like I am working for love, earning that paycheck of acceptance.
I was looking at a few ideas online about having a "life theme". That if you can figure out what your life theme is then you don't waist time running around doing a bunch of wrong things. This was why I could never decide on what I want to study in college, and when I consider going back, I have this fear that I will use so much time and money on something I really don't want to do in the long run. I know I want to do something, but I can't really pinpoint what that is. So my current goal is to get a goal.
I also found this list that you can fill out that helps you figure out your life theme. I won't get into all that right now but basically I think I have a passion to help people in some way. Because of the things I have been through I have a desire to let people know they are not alone, that their life and story matters, that in fact, being a human being is hard, for everyone. And that this is a journey we are on, and that they are not a lost cause because they haven't figure it out yet and reached this mystical destination.
But how does this translate into blogging or a job or a degree? I am not completely sure.
What I do know is that this is where the hard work is.
It's easy to just go through life ignoring things that need to be worked through, figured out, dug up.
I want to figure out what makes me come alive, what makes me tick, bring joy and is truly my bliss.
Being a mother is certainly part of that, but I am not afraid to tell you, that it is not the only thing either.
I thought it would be good to write a little about my family and life as it is right now, more than anything to remember this time, to remember the kids, to have a record of some of the good and bad, in detail.
Two of the lights of my life at the moment are, for sure, my kids.
Ashton is almost 4! I really can not believe it. He is getting so long and tall and has pretty much lost all his little baby chub, no more little belly for him. He is also saying so many funny things.
A recent one talking to Eisy, "Hi, this is my girlfriend, mom". Ha. He is frequently asking if he can marry me and I explain to him I am already married to daddy, and he says "no, I want you to marry me!"
His current favorite things are the Wii, even though we don't have one. He plays it at my parents house and love to make and re-make the Wii characters and says at least once a day, "I have a good idea, we could get a Wii and get two controllers and we can play all the sports together!"
He also loves watching Handy Manny and I think that it is because they speak Spanish. He has always been fascinated with other languages, but he is constantly saying "por favor, or vamanos" or asking me what certain words mean. He also learns other phrases that seem far too advanced for a not yet four year old, like last night he said to me "so, what's your point?" He is so handsome and getting more so every passing day, his eyes are going to do the ladies in! He is so happy, that is what I love best. He has gotten over his constant whining which happened when Eisy arrived. No doubt we still have LOTS of whining and adding a new family member is certainly a work in progress but overall he is just happy and constantly telling me, "I love you so much!" I am already sad that school is quickly approaching, but I am certain he will love it, socially and academically.
Eisy, what a doll!
I can be having such a hard or sad day and that little one just makes me smile no matter what. He is our little smiley baby, he loves to smile and laugh. He more just says one laugh, but its definitely some sort of laugh. I think he is just going to be a jovial type of kid because he smiled at 2 weeks and laughed early. He doesn't cry unless he needs something, change, fed, or tired. Sometimes he gets over tired at night and has a hard time relaxing but other than that, if he is awake he is always smiling at us. He really loves interaction. If you are holding him he just stares at you the whole time until you look at him and he loves to coo and "talk" with us. When we are out, he just seems to still sleep the whole time. He is a chubby boy with delicious rolls! Ashton never really had any chub apart from when he was first born, so these rolls are new for us, and he is a big boy for 2.5 months old. He easily fits into 3 month clothes and its now 3-6 month size as opposed to 0-3 months. He seems easy going overall, just loves that interaction so maybe he will have spending time as his love language.
Daniel and I are about to celebrate our 5th anniversary, something else I can barely believe, it has seemed so fast. I guess having kids will make it feel so much like a whirlwind. I was talking to my friend yesterday as she enters into a new relationship with all the beginning excitement and butterflies and faiytale-ness. It just reminded me of our time of meeting and falling in love and experiencing all that we did. It was certainly a magical time for us as well. Life is so full of ups and downs and really hard moments, love becomes so much more than that "feeling" but it makes me want to work and fight for us as well. Having a new baby also puts a kink in things and it was easy to forget about that as we had a couple years been removed from that stage with Ashton. It is a matter of just "getting through" for the first while, which you do, and we know things change so quickly.
We were just talking last night about change and saying goodbye to seasons and learning to embrace the new ones, only for them to change as soon as you get "ok" with them. Life is all about change and welcoming new chapters and saying goodbye to old ones. We can't live in the same chapters forever, they are there for a time and then they are gone, forever.
Daniel and I have been through so much in these first five years of our marriage. I think we get this ideal image in our heads of how life is "supposed" to be, something we think everyone else is living. But no one escapes life and for all the wonderful, beautiful things that touch us, so do hard, painful things. I'm trying to grasp that I am not in a race with myself or anyone else to reach perfection in life, or in myself. There is no destination, we are all on a journey. Some roads are smooth and beautiful, and some roads are rough and dark, so it goes, for all of us.
Being a stay at home mom is both the most amazing thing I could do and the absolute hardest thing I could do all at the same time. I don't have a car and frequently feel like a prisoner in my own home with tiny little prisoners in there with me. I know its a phase of my life, and just like anything else it has taken me a while to get used to it, to embrace it for what it is, not what I wish it was. Let's be honest, I am still struggling with it a lot of the time. I know they will be in school so soon and life will turn directions again. I have no idea where that will be or what that will look like. I have no control, and in a society where the basic theme is "have it your way" I feel that I am somehow failing by not knowing. But we can make detailed plans, and even those don't always pan out. So, one day at a time it is.
Do any of you feel out of control? Is there anyone else who struggles being a mom, at work or at home? Does anyone else feel like their life isn't looking the way they thought it would? How do you adjust to that? What are the hard or good things? I think sharing this stuff helps us to realize we aren't alone, I would like to know your thoughts!
So, here we are in November, already!
As you may have noticed my blogging has dropped off again.
It was around this time last year that I stopped blogging for nearly the whole year.
I had another "episode" as I like to call them in regards to my depression.
It always seems to happen around the same week in October for the past three years.
After I had my meltdown I went back on my anti-depressants and have also found a counselor who I can hopefully see for the next while.
In talking to the counselor she said we would look into the possibility of me having SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder, which hits on the onset of the colder months.
It seems like a reasonable explanation.
Regardless, here I am again writing about this.
This is my blog, my life, my struggle.
but I think in reality I have been learning that I have not had much compassion on myself.
I am too concerned on keeping other people happy, rather than doing what is best for myself and my family.
It is certainly a work in progress.
I happen to be the oldest sibling in my family, I also happen to be rather vulnerable and open about my struggles and weaknesses. Maybe I shouldn't broadcast them so widely, but I do believe there is something powerful in being vulnerable.
However, I watched a video not long ago about those of us who do struggle with depression and about not sharing things with people whom are not "safe".
A sort of, "casting your pearls before swine", only for them to be trampled on.
There are those in our lives that just get us and love us and find value in us being a part of their lives.
There are others who don't get us, but certainly try their darnedest to at least stand by you.
And then there are those who may say they want to try, but in the end you just feel judged by them.
These are not safe people, not with something that is connected to your heart and soul in such a large way in which if they pull on, or heaven forbid, stomp on those connecting strings, they leave you more devastated then before.
I know I have much inner work to do, and like my psychologist friend pointed out, this is not something that is just going to be "cured" like I may want it to be.
It may be something I have to work around all my life, but ignoring or denying it, clearly hasn't made it go away. Wishing myself better or faking it for friends or family has only made it worse. This is something I have to make a priority for myself. How can I hope others will value my care if I don't value it myself.
Dealing with a long term problem or situation like this I now see is not for the faint of heart.
Finding those who stick around even when things are hard is not easy to come by.
People are just more loveable when they are easy to love, and that is true for everyone.
I find it hard to love people who are constantly negative, and yet I can be that way myself sometimes.
I am so thankful that the Lord loves me and is faithful to me no matter how I act and regardless of how I feel towards Him.
I am also thankful for the people He has placed in my life to get me through rough spots, hard times, hopeless moments. They are not always the people I want them to be or expect them to be, but there are people there none-the-less.
Here we are now, our family of four, standing on the precipice of what we perceive to be a new chapter. We may be moving back to California and while moving and change, with a baby, is not necessarily seen as an ideal situation for what I am going through, I am somehow ready. Ready to just be our family. Ready to start again. Ready to rely on my husband more wholly. Ready to start our own traditions and make our own memories. To make new friends and lasting relationships. Ready to have more warm days overall.
A new beginning.
A new hope.