Sir Smiley and I celebrated our ninth anniversary on Wednesday. This was his post to me on Facebook: “9 years ago today, I became lawfully able to let you experience my nighttime farts.” Seriously folks…this is real love. I like, totally heart this dude. He has me smitten…rocks my socks off..completes me…the list is endless. He’s a trombone, guitar, piano, accordion playing stud who looks good in his uniform, can make even Bob Newhart smile, and is mine all mine. Nine years was short and nine more won’t be enough.
And believe it or not, I have actually learned a few things along the way. In honor of my nine years of marriage, I have decided to impart some of this wisdom (if you can really call it that) to you. I have sorted this into two categories…for him and for her.
For Him (these may or may not have actually happened):
Never compare your wife to the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
When you’re wife tries to create a romantic atmosphere for some “mommy and daddy time”…don’t tell her the love songs in the background are gonna make you ralph.
Chewing on the sheet and then announcing, “I had some sheet in my mouth” is not a pick up line.
Do not poke your wife’s hairy leg and whisper, “Just like Sasquatch.” in an awed whisper.
Do not use the phrase “Open Sesame” as an attempt to transition from conversation to more amorous activities.
For Her (I had to come up with these on my own. I asked for Sir Smiley to help and he said it was too hard. But I figured it was only fair for the girls to have some rules…add your own in the comments!):
Stop attributing emotions to him that he hasn’t expressed.
Do NOT ask any of the following, “Does this make me look fat?” “Will love me even if I…(fill in the blank)” “Do you think she’s pretty?” or any question that you either don’t want answered or want answered in a very specific way.
If the kids are asleep and the house is quiet…do not crawl into bed, beckon your husband over, cuddle and hug and kiss…and then roll over and go to sleep.
Want some actually semi-serious advice? Check out this post I wrote almost a year ago.
Have your own thoughts or suggestions? Add them in the comments!
Here he is folks…the love of my life…
Yeah, so the title is extraordinarily uncreative. But my brain is feeling uncreative and I didn’t feel like forcing something that would look both uncreative, forced, and quite possibly corny. Corny to the point of making you cry. So I went with blatantly uncreative. Aaaaaaaanyway….today is Valentine’s Day. I have also heard it called Single Awareness Day. I have watched the gamut of various Facebook postings ranging from pictures of fabulous flower, chocolates, and other gifts…to gushing on other’s Facebook walls…to rants about the evils of Valentine’s Day. I have to admit I don’t take huge issue with Valentine’s Day. This is coming from a girl who never dated at all until she was 21, and that aside from her husband only dated one guy for a few months. Valentine’s Day was not usually spent with a significant other. That being said, I did get gifts and have fun. My dad was awesome at sending us a little something for the ladies in his life until we were more seriously “attached”. In college huge groups of us would go out to the local Baker Square and hang out every Valentine’s Day. When I got a job as a teacher I would get all kinds of goodies from my students. To me it was a day to show anyone you cared…not just whomever you were dating/engaged/married/whatever else.
I can see how it would start to bother someone who is single and doesn’t wish to be. I also get that stores and companies totally cash in on it. But what holiday don’t they? Maybe we should rant about birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. But each of these holidays has some good points…celebrating others. I honestly can’t understand the idea of taking offense to a holiday that is all about demonstrating love for each other. It certainly shouldn’t be the only time we do. But you have bigger problems than a silly holiday if that’s the case. But seriously, to say “I HAVE to show love to my spouse! The nerve!” I look forward to any and every chance to show Sir Smiley how important he is to me. Valentine’s Day is just another chance to do just that and I’m hardly going to complain. By the way…I am not offended by people who don’t like Valentine’s Day, anymore than others should be offended that I hate coffee (don’t get me started).
So to Sir Smiley…you rock my socks off! To all of you, Happy Valentine’s Day! May you spend it with the people you love…whether it be with friends, family, kids…with a cheap dinner at home or an expensive dinner out and about. This is a chance to show them you love them…make it one of many.
In case you didn’t know this…I’m married to a cop. They don’t always have the usual workdays. In fact, Sir Smiley’s schedule is pretty much the opposite of everyone else’s. For the past five years he has worked what we call second shift. So basically the early afternoon until late at night (11 to midnight or so usually). For the past two to three years he has not only worked second shift, but he has worked second shift on Fridays through Mondays. Our weekend is the middle of everyone else’s work week.
None of our kids are in school yet so there are some positives to this. First off is the fact that when we go on dates, all the places are empty. No packed movie theaters or hour long wait at a restaurant. We also have three whole days off together, in the middle of the week. We can go to the park together when it’s empty, and no dealing with rush hour either. We can have a nice leisurely morning together too.
But there are some aggravations. First of all, everyone else operates on a totally different schedule from us. Church functions, friend’s parties, and basically all social gatherings tend to happen on a Friday through Sunday rotation. Meaning if I want to go to the church potluck, I have to pack up three kids, haul them around, and then keep tabs on their actions by myself. This past Sunday it was a Super Bowl party. Even the NFL is plotting against us. It led first to Sasquatch screaming that she had to puke, only to stand over the toilet and belch loudly. While she announced, “I guess I don’t have to puke”…King Toot sneaks behind me and dumps some poor kid’s phone in the toilet. Three kids is too many for this poor mom to keep track of alone. (BTW, I think King Toot was plotting that for weeks and finally saw his chance and went for it). Also, my kids didn’t get the memo that daddy works late so they should sleep in. No matter what, they are up by 7 am. So I have a husband crawling into bed around 1 to 2 am and then kiddos getting up at 6:30 or 7. It feels like it’s been years since I have had a decent night of uninterrupted sleep. Usually it’s four to five hours at a time…tops. Finally, there is the fact that he’s gone during the worst times. Basically, Sir Smiley is home spending time with the kids in the mornings. You know, that time of day when they are all well rested and fed? The happy time where they all play so nicely together and for a brief moment you feel like you’re living in a Rockwell painting? But then comes lunchtime. The kids are screaming at each other and/or you because they are both hungry and tired. Coincidentally this is right when Sir Smiley needs to head out the door. So I get to try and get him out the door and all three kids fed and settled down for a nap. But then comes the witching hour (see my post here for more details). Six o clock rolls around and I’m trying to cook for them all, and feed them (while they pick at anything I make them…and I mean ANYTHING), give them baths, pick up the house, get kids to bed etc. He’s at work, so I’m doing all of it solo. Not to whine too much because I’m not a single parent…I do have help. But this is my blog and so I get to whine about what I want. All I can say is, if you are a single parent and your kids are still alive…you are a superhero.
All in all though, I’ve been doing this a while and eventually the odd way of life became the norm. He actually works early in the morning until the afternoon tomorrow and will be home for dinner. It’s thrown me off and I’m not sure what I’ll do with myself. But now that I think about it, we scheduled dr appointments in the morning because that was when he was usually around…so either way I seem to be doomed. Now to try and keep three kids from touching anything in the waiting room because who knows what germs are on those things and we have finally gotten over a long string of colds. Piece of cake (*long pause followed by hysterical laughter).
I think Mother’s Day and Father’s day are very important days to celebrate. It’s such a good time to reinforce a grateful attitude in our children for what their parents do for their kids. But this can take on many forms.
To the guys – Do something for the mother of your child(ren) on mother’s day. Do something for your mom on mother’s day. It doesn’t need to be big, or elaborate, or have some über wow factor. It just needs to show them you thought of them and care. My hubby did not buy me a present or a card this year for Mother’s Day. But it was one of the best Mother’s Days ever! He gave me the entire weekend off from kid stuff. Yesterday I slept in until 11:30. Not only did I sleep in, but while I was sleeping he changed a couple poopy diapers. But not any poopy diapers. One was a poop explosion (he called it a pooptastrophe)! He came into King Toot’s room and witnessed something traumatic. King Toot had pooped all up his back, up his shirt, into his hair. Not only that, but it also squirted down and out one sleeve and he was making what Sir Smiley described as “poop angels” in the crib. He had to pretty much bring King Toot to the bath tub and hose him off. As Sir Smiley finished cleaning that up and had given King Toot a bath, he came out into the living room and smelled something rotting. Thinking the girls had hidden some food somewhere he seeks out the smells source. Only to realize it was coming from Urpling. After cleaning up that mess, he fed them all breakfast before I had even gotten up. You want true love ladies? It takes a real man to clean up poop angels from your kiddos crib without making any loud gagging sounds or loud complaints. He did this all quietly so I could sleep in. Today he took me out and took care of the kids all day. I was able to relax, chat with family and I DIDN’T HAVE TO COOK! It was awesome.
To the gals – Accept what they offer you and demand nothing. Do not tell them they have to get you something. Do not tell them a list of specific requirements they need to meet. Do not focus on what they should be doing for you. Instead, let them take the reigns and actually have a chance to show you how much they love you. Love cannot be forced. So let it just come at it’s own pace. But even more than that, accept what they have to offer you. I struggle with allowing myself to just accept love. I always work to earn it. So this weekend, I really had to focus on letting go. To just sit back, relax and not WORRY about whether he was annoyed with the kids, or intervene if he seems to be stressed. He wanted to do this for me, so I let him. And let me tell you, it was tough! But it was so worth it! I know how hurt I would be if I tried to do something nice for him and he just took over and did it all himself. So why would it be any different for him?
Get the kids involved! More than anything else, this holiday should be about teaching our kids gratefulness and respect. I have a handmade card with Sasquatch’s hand prints in it. The best present ever! Let them pick out what to do and let them start to express themselves in their own way. Sasquatch gave me a back rub at dinner. It was probably the worst back rub ever in that she had spaghetti sauce all over her hands and she was really rubbing my elbow. But I loved it! These are the things we should encourage and cherish. To all you moms out there, Happy Mother’s Day!
Basically gals, free up your loved ones to honor you this Mother’s Day their own way, and look for the little things they do that will make your days,
The toughest part for me about staying at home is balance. I often feel like because I “don’t work”, everything should always be done. The house should always be clean, I should do long and involved activities with my kids, healthy and balanced meals should be made, I should work out every day, etc. You get the picture. This also means I feel guilty if Sir Smiley helps too much. He works full time and is going to school. He has a lot on his plate. But I also think that too often I am trying to earn love through what I do. About a week ago, Sir Smiley took time off from school for a couple months to help with the new baby. Being the awesome guy that he is, he has thrown himself into everything to give me a break. I had spent the past four months having to run the house and all three kids by myself, so I was pretty run down. His help has been amazing! But it has also been a learning experience. You think after eight years of marriage I would have figured this out, but not so much. I have been learning to just let Sir Smiley love me, even if I haven’t done things to earn it. Yesterday Sir Smiley watched the kids and fed them lunch while I took a much needed nap. He even swept and mopped the floors! That night he went grocery shopping and then cooked a fantastic meal for me. It was delicious and all I had to do was sit down and eat it. We ended the night eating brownies and watching Fellowship of the Ring. It was fantastic. It reminded me how lucky I am that I am not in this alone (All single parents, you must have super powers. My hat goes off to you and you’re awesomeness because I would have gone postal after a week.). It also reminded how ridiculous it is for me to try to do it alone. I have an amazing parter in this who loves me, loves our kids, and wants to help. So here’s to Sir Smiley who helps preserve my sanity, loves me even when I’m neurotic, and makes me laugh even when I’m so frustrated I want to cry. My honest to goodness, real life prince charming.
So I thought I would take some time to share my infinite wisdom on marriage. (insert sarcasm here…they really need to make a sarcasm font). I really don’t consider myself an expert by any means, so take all this with a grain of salt. But I have been married for 8 years now (which seems to have become the new golden age of marriage) and we are still very happy together, even with having three kids under the age of 5. So, shockingly enough, I have learned a few things during the past eight years. Mostly through trial and a LOT of error, but I thought I would share them with you. Please, if you are or have ever been married with children, add a comment at the bottom with any advice I may have missed! So here we go: (I’ve noticed I really love bullet points…maybe it’s because my thoughts are so scattered it’s the only way to stay on track)
- Talk, talk, talk – Take time to actually talk to each other. About anything. Whenever you have been apart, share stories with each other about what you did. This helps maintain a closeness even when you’re not together.
- Advice books- Sir Smiley and I were lucky to be fairly similar in our approaches to life, but even we ran into conflict over certain areas. But some areas that are usually problem areas we managed to sidestep, purely on accident. During our first month of marriage we were in a bookstore just wandering around (you know, back when we had no children to corral or chase around). and we found a book entitled “Venus and Mars in the Bedroom”. We bought it just for laughs and started reading it together. Lo and behold, we actually learned things about each other! I think the key thing was we read it together and it became the spring board for discussion about a topic that usually is hard to talk about. But I think reading advice books together is a great way to open up discussion, whether you agree with what the author is saying or not. Key point though is you should read these together. I’ve noticed it doesn’t help for one person to read without being able to cash in on what their spouse is thinking. This experience has led me to read and discuss a lot of books with Sir Smiley (For Women Only, The Five Love Languages, Captivating and others)
- Fix ’em while they’re small – Don’t wait for problems to become overwhelming before you deal with them. Talk about them early on, before it becomes more difficult to discuss objectively. Don’t talk about them in the heat of the moment, wait until you are both calm before starting a conversation. Also, check your attitude before you start any difficult conversation. It’s not always what you say, it’s how you say it. What’s your purpose in bringing this subject up? Is it to really stick it to your spouse? Or do you actually want to improve your relationship through this discussion? Just the simple act of making sure your priorities are in order helps the conversation to go much better! As you talk, avoid absolutes like, “You never…” or “You always…”
- Practice, practice, practice – Having successful conversations about difficult things takes practice. Use each conversation as a chance to learn what things push his/her buttons (and thus you should avoid) and also what things helps your spouse open up. Sir Smiley became much more receptive to what I had to say when I would start out by admitting that this won’t make sense to him, but it’s how I feel so we need to work it out.
- I’m too tired – We parents fall into this trap all too often. We invest all our time and energy in our kids and leave no room for each other. But if you want happy kids, you need a happy marriage. So my rule is simple. If I’m too tired to do special things for him (sex, back rubs, etc.) then I shouldn’t expect him to do special things for me (dates, cards, long conversations). But even better…refuse to say “I’m too tired”! When I cut those words out of my vocabulary, it was amazing how much closer and happier Sir Smiley and I became. He was so happy that he wanted to do special things for me and vice versa. We turned the downward spiral into an upwards one.
- Be creative – Spending time together is important to stay close and happy. But this is no easy feat with kids underfoot. So sometimes you need to get creative. Find another couple with kids and trade date nights. The Y and many churches have date nights they’ll provide for parents. Order pizza, rent a movie, and hang out in your room after the kids are all asleep. To keep the romance alive, Sir Smiley and I have a sexy board game we play together. Whatever you find that keeps the spark in your marriage going!
- Seize the moment – There are those rare, unplanned moments when all the kids are quiet. Don’t waste it! Those are perfect times for a nice quickie (wink, wink), a little back rub, or any other activity you enjoy together. Time alone is precious when you have children, treat it like platinum!
- Activities – Find activities you both enjoy! I tried paintball and mountain biking when we first got married, but that didn’t work. He tried coming to chick flicks with me but he spent most of the time making gagging noises and threatening to shoot various characters with his paintball marker. But finally we found we love scuba diving and hiking. These are things we can do together that we both have a blast doing! You’re far more likely to take the time to find a babysitter, arrange time off, and actually go if you both are excited about the activity.
- Both have a say – I’ve noticed recently that with many parents, one parent has more of a say in decisions than the other, especially with regards to the kids. This will only damage your relationship in the long run. You both should have an equal say in what happens. I spend more time with the kids, so I tend to discipline more. But we both agreed on how we discipline and on large decisions Sir Smiley is consulted first.
- Share the load – I may stay home, but this doesn’t mean I should do everything. I struggled with this a lot when I first had Sasquatch. I felt since I “didn’t work” I should do everything. But it hurts Sir Smiley’s relationship with his kids if he doesn’t do anything for them. But this also means you need to let your spouse do it his/her way. Yes, they may change the diaper differently, swaddle the wrong way, hover too much, etc. But whatever it is, at least they’re doing it and you don’t have to. So let it go.
These are just a few of the things I have learned over the years. It is hardly comprehensive, and there are many who have much more wisdom than I. If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to seek advice. We’ve all been there and, despite what some people want you to think, no one’s relationship is perfect. But you can be happy, even with small children underfoot!
One thing I was not prepared for when we became parents was the impossibility to have time alone with my hubby. Sure you can have time together, but it is rarely deep, quality time. No more hanky panky whenever you feel like it, you must plan for every contingency before even attempting “mommy and daddy time”. Even just time to sit and talk without interruption is difficult. Today was no exception. I came home exhausted from bible study after a long week of no sleep due to teething and the stomach flu (my kids, not me). I was going to head to bed as Sir Smiley had the day off and told me to go to bed. But first we thought we’d try to sneak in some time together. First we here Sasquatch calling from the other room, “(King Toot) has a burger!”. “Huh?”. “It came out of his nose!”. So off goes Sir Smiley to check and as he is heading out of the room we here her yell,”He just urped!”. Sir Smiley cleans him up and comes back in. Urpling follows him in. Now, Urpling’s favorite activity is to go around collecting various objects she knows belongs to mommy or daddy and bring them to us. Today she found my iPod, glasses, Sir Smiley’s watch, and my water bottle. She would hand them to us saying “Mommy’s” or “Daddy’s” with the appropriate item. After that she found Sir Smiley’s leg and started climbing and bouncing on it. Then Sasquatch starts calling for Sir Smiley from the other room, asking for a hug. Finally, King Toot got mad and that was that. Oh well, there’s always bedtime.