Confessions of a New Wife…

After the hours planned, dollars spent, and stress endured, J and I finally walked down the aisle a couple of weeks ago. The day was perfect and beautiful: our friends and families were on hand to enjoy the gorgeous venue, delicious food, and amazing atmosphere. Everything was wonderful and we were beyond thrilled that all of our hard work paid off. Plus, we were Mr. & Mrs.!

Wedding Photo

We spent the week after the wedding getting the gremlins ready to head to their mom’s house in Texas and entertaining J’s parents. If you’ve never tried to get three boys to pack for a month long trip, you’re better off than I am. We also spent time trying to excavate our home from the mountains of gifts and mayhem.

Since J has been single-parenting for a while and I’m no spring chicken, we each had a house full of stuff. Combining the best of our existing possessions and integrating the BEAUTIFUL items gifted to us by our nearest and dearest was akin to a game of twister: shift a little here and a little there and hope that the whole thing doesn’t go crashing to the floor.

J’s mom spent a day helping me clear out the contents of the kitchen to make way for our new shiny things. We cleaned and organized and arranged. We broke down boxes and hunted down matching sets of food storage containers and corralled collectible cups from various baseball stadiums (stadia? stadii?). We ruthlessly discarded and filled my car with donated items for Salvation Army.

With in-laws gone, kids on a flight, and a holiday weekend to ourselves, J and I finally had time to just be married.

Just the two of us. Alone. All by ourselves. No distractions. At all. Nothing to do but let the weight of the enormous life-changing thing we just did wash over us. Like a tsunami. Oh boy.

Here’s the thing: In my head I knew, I knew, that getting married wouldn’t really change anything.  Oh, sure, I have a new address and a new name. I have a new *ahem* extra-curricular activity. But J and I are still the people we were before the ceremony. We still have the same weaknesses, the same flaws, the same insecurities and neuroses. I knew that putting a ring on it wouldn’t actually change any of that. I knew that only God has the ability to take on my imperfections and redeem me and that getting married wasn’t going to change my struggle.

But maybe, just a tiny part of me thought it might. The tiniest part down in the deep recesses of my heart, the part that I keep to myself, the part that is scarred and hurting and broken thought that just maybe, when someone committed to me for the rest of our lives, I would finally feel worthy. I would feel lovable. I would feel like enough.

Spoiler alert: I still don’t feel like enough.

My husband (!) is the love of my life. He is a good a godly man and I am proud to be his wife. I love him so deeply and truly that it’s astounding to me. I want his welfare above my own and I am constantly seeking to be the partner for him that God called me to be. My husband loves me completely. He is strong and kind and generous. He worries about me, prays over me, and he has gone out of his way to learn how to live with and love someone who lives with anxiety so that he can carry me through in the moments when my brain won’t let me function correctly.

But he can’t complete me. He’ll never make me enough.

I’m still selfish and insecure. I’m still anxious and bossy and stubborn. I still worry about things I should give to God and let my feelings get hurt too often. I still hate waking up in the morning and going to bed at night. I still hate doing laundry and foods that are too squishy and not getting my way. I’m inconsiderate and single-minded and I get impatient when someone wants to talk to me about a topic I’m not interested in.

There’s still work to be done, and there’s only one guy who can do it. It’s not my husband’s job, it’s my Father’s.

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Doing (almost) everything wrong: instant motherhood.

William Shakespeare once wrote:

be-not-afraid-of-greatness-some-are-born-great-some-achieve-greatness-and-some-have-greatness-thrust-upon-them

Substitute greatness with “motherhood” and I fall into that third category. I wasn’t born a mom (because…that would be weird) and I didn’t achieve motherhood. Instead, I had motherhood thrust upon me. Not with an infant (or two) that I could bond with, nurture, and mold, my kids are fully grown little people with opinions and personalities and eternal souls that I’ve been given the amazing privilege of helping to raise.

And I’ve discovered the secret of motherhood. Seriously, I cracked the code.

None of us have any clue what we’re doing. 

Oh sure, there are books and blogs and recommendation. I’ve done research on blended families, on step-parenting. I’ve adjusted my expectations and made several (dozen) lists. I’ve learned so much along the way. An absurd and ridiculous amount. So much that I often forget the things I learned before and make the same mistakes 6 or 8 dozen times.

For example: did you know that you don’t actually have to engage with your child when they are being ridiculous? So when you send them to straighten up their room and they insist that nerf guns spread out across the entire floor is”good enough” because they need an arsenal, even though we’ve been over and over what counts as a clean room all summer. Apparently you don’t have to get into an unending “No it isn’t,” “Yes, it is!” battle of wills with an 8-year-old. You can just say, “you know the expectations,” and WALK AWAY. Magic!

Anyway, there are days when I feel like the absolute worst person, like I shouldn’t even be allowed around children. When they are mad at me, I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut and when they are hurting, you better step back.

But then there are these moments, beautiful and glorious. The moment when Little One didn’t throw a fit when he sat next to me instead of J at dinner, when Flipflops asks me for help with his summer reading. A random, unprovoked hug or a thank you or an I love you.

I’m pretty sure I’m doing almost everything wrong. Maybe, just maybe, though, I’m doing something right.

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Chub Chub No Rub Rub

We need to talk about something serious.

Chub Rub.

If you’re a thigh-gapped freak who isn’t familiar with this phenomenon (sometimes called inner thigh chaffing) then Chub Rub is the unpleasant sensation of wearing a skirt or shorts in the summer only to have your thighs rub together in a way that convinces you that you are riding a bicycle on the surface of the sun.

It isn’t pretty.

1af251a911cb1919854f96c6cdad03aaIn my skinniest days, I have still never escaped the tyranny bestowed upon me by chub rub. I have great legs, don’t get me wrong, but I’m much closer to becoming a mermaid than a flamingo.

There are a number of home-grown solutions to this epidemic including baby powder to absorb moisture and lace, garter-like thigh protectors you can purchase. I’ve even been known to don Spanx in order to avoid the burn. Frightening commercials about the potentially cancerous ramifications of getting talcum powder anywhere near my lady bits have left me a little gun-shy of the white stuff and you can’t wear Spanx every day.

So I thought I was doomed to a life of painful rashes, bumps, and walking like a cowboy. But then I observed J getting ready for a half marathon. Before putting on his socks, he rubbed down the tops of his toes, his heels, and anywhere else on his body that might chaff with Glide.

original-product

Hold the freaking phone.

This stuff has changed my life. Runners and other athletes have apparently known about this stuff for years, but I think it’s basically awesome. No more chub rub, bra line chaffing, or heel blisters. Ladies! Wear your maxi skirts proudly and with confidence, the reign of terror is over!

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PS: This isn’t a sponsored post. I just think this stuff is really cool. That’s why there are no links to a purchase site. Ask the almighty Google or check at your local drug store or sporting goods store.

Suddenly, chaos.

I spent the weekend with J and his three (!) boys. It was the first time I met them and I was more than a little excited, with a healthy dose of nervousness sprinkled in for fun.

I thought the biggest struggle was going to be packing for a weekend of endless possibilities of activities and weather. Despite what the calendar says, “spring” in the DC Metro area has decided to sleep in a bit and winter has stepped in for an encore. Add in a less than locked-in schedule, a couple of 5K runs, and church on Sunday, and my weekend bag was having a bit of an identity crisis. I was also the only estrogen in the sea of testosterone where five men regularly reside. FIVE! That means no bobby pins, flat irons, or clear nail polish in sight.

*brace yourself chickadee*

Turns out, the biggest challenge of the weekend was a matter of pets. J and the boys are dog people; friendly, energetic, loud, outgoing, did I mention loud? I’m more of a cat person.

Dirty, blistered, sick, and bruised, I hobbled home on Sunday exhausted, but ecstatic. I survived my first excursion into J’s natural environment. I got to see him in a whole new light, and it only increased my affection for him. I’m honored that he brought me into this portion of his life and I feel really positive about how the littles and I interacted. It will take time for me to adjust to my extremely loud and high energy future, but I’m exited for the challenge.

12994310_592997390856512_6143785930623525137_nPoint of fact, you’ll probably be hearing a lot more about the kiddos moving forward. Here’s how you’ll know them:
Flip flops – 12,  loves video games, baseball, and pizza. Does not understand why we don’t wear clothes with holes in them.
MacGyver – 11, loves break dancing and taking things apart. Good at break dancing, still working on putting things back together.
Little One – 13 days shy of 8, loves hanging out with dad, board games, and doing whatever his brothers are doing.

Hope your weekend was at least half as fun as mine, but twice as restful.

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Stand by Your Man | How to help when there’s nothing you can do

“Sweetheart, I’m exhausted.”

His voice on the phone broke my heart a little. God, how do I make this better? I feel so helpless.

When J is in pain, I’m in pain. It’s as simple as that. Whether it’s physical pain, like his hurt shoulder from a weekend of snow shoveling, or the weight of his responsibilities, I yearn to bear some of the burden. When I can’t make it better, I feel useless. After much consideration (and feedback that makes me feel like this stuff really works) I present 5 things you can do when you can’t do anything for your man. Or, you know, some much shorter, catchier title. Meh.

Pray for him

Get on your knees and plead for him. Pray that he would be strengthened, that God would protect his mind and heart, that he would not be tempted by sin in his time of weakness. Pray that you would have wise and encouraging things to say. Pray that God would use this hardship to bring himself glory. I think often we see prayer as a last resort, but it should really be a first response.

Listen to him

He may not want to vent; be ready to listen if he does. You will likely feel helpless as you are unable to do anything to ease his pain, but listening and standing by him as he walks through the valley are far more influential than you realize. Lend him strength by sharing his struggle; be sure he knows that you are always available to lend an ear.

Woman hugging a manRemind him that you are solid

During a stressful time in your man’s life, the last thing he needs is to worry that you are going to get fed up and walk away. Even if you feel like he “should know” how you feel, make a point to remind him that you are in it for the long haul and you aren’t going anywhere. He’ll know that whatever else may come his way, you’re always in his corner.

Tell him why you respect him

Women need love, men need respect. Make a list of the things you respect about him. It doesn’t have to be long, just a few things will go a long way to restoring his soul. Is he a great provider? Does he work hard? Does he take physical fitness seriously? Is he emotionally available to you? Is he a godly man?

When is that last time you told him how much those qualities mean to you, how much you respect him for all he does?

Be silly with him

No one can be serious all the time. He may be struggling through physical pain or emotional trial, but you can go a long way to lighten his mood. Send him a quick text with a funny meme, share an inside joke, or send him a selfie of a silly face. You’ll bring a smile to his face and remind him that you’re thinking of him in one fell swoop.

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The problem with toast | Turning down a second date…

I haven’t really talked about my breakup with A (whose name was actually Alex, by the way). Honestly, there are still moments when it feels like some sort of bad dream. No closure, no explanation, no logic. He evaporated from my life as quickly as he had appeared and I was left with a few months of memories and a broken heart. It’s still a bit painful, but I knew I needed to get back on the horse.

Enter: Kevin, 27, Engineer. He met, to my knowledge, all four of the non-negotiables for a potential life mate. We kept up through text messages, until our first date, earlier this week. Location picked, time set, and hair curled, I was equal parts nervous and excited.

The date was nice. Conversation was relatively easy and there were no obvious red flags (unlike bad date guy – remember him?). I’ve had dates where I couldn’t wait to see him again, dates where I was intrigued enough to want to see him again, and dates where I was certain I never wanted to see him again, but this wasn’t any of those.

I felt…nothing. Not nothing, I felt kind of the way I feel about toast; I like toast, but if I didn’t have toast in my life, It wouldn’t really affect me.

Don’t misunderstand me; he was a really nice guy. He stood when I walked in the restaurant and paid for dinner without hesitating. He is close with his family and gets along well with his housemates. He’s good at his job and has a circle of friends for whom he makes time. There was just no connection, at all.

*People who are judging me: my life, my rules. Leave me be.*

He followed up with a text saying that he’d had fun and asking if we could get together later in the week. What to say? The toast analogy seemed callous. He didn’t do anything wrong, so I couldn’t blame that. I could have pulled a Houdini and just disappeared, but since I’ve recently been through a Houdini breakup, that would be cruel. I could have emphasized how busy I am and hoped he lost interest, though I’m not sure I can spare the bad Karma.

In the end, I decided to go with the truth (paraphrased and borrowed from this article):

It’s very sweet of you to invite me out again, but I just don’t feel a romantic connection here. It was really nice to meet you!

My goal isn’t to be mean. While it might sting to be on the receiving end of these words, I believe it’s far kinder than to lead him on or use some lame and/or insulting excuse. I wish him the best, but I’m not his best.

On to the next adventure, I suppose…

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It’s not about the nail | Understanding women

Stop me if you’ve heard this one:

Woman complains to man. Man tries to offer solutions to fix woman’s problem. Woman gets mad at man because she just wanted him to listen. Many gets confused and frustrated because woman is acting crazy.

Somebody (Jason Headley) made a short movie about it.

The scary part? I recognize how crazy this girl looks and I still understand where she’s coming from.

While an extreme case, this really does happen in relationships, even platonic ones. My advice (if you’re up for it) is to ask the complainer what they would like from you. Do they want to fix the problem, or would they prefer that you just listen and support them? Clear expectations, friends, this is what life is all about.

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Girl meets boy. Hilarity ensues.

I went on my first date with A just shy of 6 weeks ago.  I’ve refrained from writing about him too much because I didn’t want to jinx it, and because I’m nervous about the well-meaning, but notoriously protective people in my life.

In the past 6 weeks, I’ve learned a lot about A.  I know his favorite color (blue) and how he takes his coffee (black). I’ve learned that he can eat more than anyone I’ve ever met.  I’ve learned that he’ll play off a compliment, that he tries very hard not to say disparaging things about other people (even when he wants to), and that he likes anchovies on his pizza, which I find abhorrent. I’ve learned that he’s handy, but doesn’t do plumbing, and that he is left-brained to the end of time, sometimes with amusing results.

The thing that has struck me, though, is how much I have learned about me.

For example: I have never in my life ordered a pepperoni, sausage, pepper, and onion pizza.  Ever.  But, in an effort to be amiable, I agreed to this concoction (I put my foot down on the anchovies, though). Turns out, it was DELICIOUS.

It’s not unlocking the meaning of life, but it’s something.

I’ve learned that vulnerability isn’t weakness. It takes an act of strength to show your faults, your scars, your broken places.  It also requires discernment to evaluate to whom it is prudent to show them.

I’ve learned that relationships are not syllogisms.  If Simone says, “I’m free on Friday,” then A will plan a date. Sometimes it works.  Sometimes the left-brain kicks in on you and the response is, “Cool! You need a break.”

I’ve learned that friends and family give the best advice they can but, in the end, they can no better develop a fool-proof dating plan than they can predict the weather. How much easier would life be if there were a magic formula? Girl + Guy + XFactor = Happily Ever After. Unfortunately, life is more like a flowchart than an equation. This deeply offends my scientific mind.

I’ve learned that I am an impatient person.  Alright, to be fair, I already knew that. Nothing quite like introducing another person’s schedule, preferences, and routines into the mix to drive the point home. So far I’ve had lots of…um…room for personal growth.

I am no guru. I’m bumbling my way through, crashing into obstacles with the finesse of a pee wee soccer team. I’m learning, I’m trying, and hopefully, I’m only making the same mistakes 6 or 8 dozen times before I figure them out.

Happy Sunday!!