Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Marriage Is Not for Sissies

September 30, 2000
Tomorrow John and I celebrate 15 years of marriage!  Happy anniversary to us!  If you asked me 15 years ago if we would be celebrating this I'm pretty sure I would have answered, "yes!" in a confident manner.  There hasn't been a day that has topped our wedding day (aside from the birth of our children).  I loved our wedding day.  The Ohio weather actually cooperated.  The leaves were in rich shades of autumn; the sky was bright blue with puffy white clouds. We had a big wedding and a fun reception surrounded by lots of friends and family.  I felt incredibly loved that day.  We danced.  We ate.  We laughed.  We danced some more.  

If I knew then what I know now I don't know that I would have entered into marriage with the same zest I did 15 years ago.  I had no idea how much work marriage can be.  I didn't know the challenges that would meet us.  What I did know then was that I was very much in love, and like many young adults, I wanted the "happily ever after."  Thank goodness for being young and the ability to focus so much on that present moment.  

15 years has provided us with some difficult lessons.  15 years has given us moments that have taken my breath away.  In 15 years we have moved 4 times, had 5 cats, 1 dog, 1 gecko, and 2 amazing kids.  We have had moments of heartbreaking sadness and moments of surreal happiness. We've traveled as far as Hawaii and Cancun, and to Ohio more times than I could count.  We made it through hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, National Championships, and stormy nights with 2 kids in our big bed.  The best moments of our marriage never made it onto social media.  We have some of the dumbest inside jokes of all time, but they still make me laugh.

At our wedding reception John made a toast to me in front of our guests.  Sadly, we have no video footage of this...if we did I'd probably watch it almost daily (however, see photo).  
My niece, Ryliegh, then 5, listening to the toast

I was not expecting that moment.  In that toast he said, "you make me want to be a better person."  I remember standing beside my mom with my hand over my mouth, tears in my eyes, holding her hand.  I was stunned.  I think for us that's what has worked.  I know I'm a better person because of John.  He helps me realize my potential.  

I think in 15 years I have chosen time and time again to put someone else's needs ahead of my own (and not in an unhealthy way).  There are days that this comes easier than others.  There are days that my ego screams at me for doing so.  There are days I want to give into my selfish ways and there are days that I have; those days never turn out as well--John doesn't refer to me as "Boss" for nothing. :-) 

Our marriage is not perfect.  Marriage is hard.  Marriage is certainly not for sissies.  Marriage calls me to "show up" when I want to pull the covers back over my head.   I read once, "marriage is love turned inside out so that the seams show." I think it's about being willing to be vulnerable and loving another person's imperfections (and accepting our own). John said on our 10th anniversary, "we've been bent, but haven't broken."  We aren't finished growing and learning and changing. For that I am grateful.  

I don't think I got the happily ever after that I wanted so much 15 years ago.  I think I got a version that's even better than what I could've wished for.  I'm more realistic now. I think I better understand those vows I promised to John all those years ago. I hope so anyhow. 

Thank you, John for being the love of my life and my very best friend.  You make me want to be a better person. 

Thank you for reading.

Our perfect cake

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I Am Good Enough

I am a recovering perfectionist.  It's difficult for me to accept things in life and things about myself as "good enough."  I journal about it.  I collect quotes about it.  I talk about it in hopes of diffusing the expectations I place on myself, people, places, and things. I meditate on it.  I pray about it--about how to let it go.  I am better than I used to be, but there are days when the familiar feelings creep in.

Having high standards can be a good thing.  A friend once told me this trait means I have a strong character.  My parents used to call that "stubbornness."  My Gram and John sometimes call that "bossy."  Perhaps those are just a couple of the forms this beast can take on.  I do have a tendency to be bossy...I admit it.  I like to take charge.  I do have high standards.  However, here's the downside; I sometimes have such high standards that the goals I set are tough to achieve or worse yet, when I do reach them I feel dissatisfied.

To me, my most important job is being a mom.  And, so naturally my perfectionism seeps into my role as a mom.  I saw the pictured quote online the other day (see "quote collecting" above).  I have been mulling this over.

Summer vacation just ended.  It's day 2 of the school year.  Monday night these thoughts of how we spent our summer where swirling through my head.  My natural tendency was to beat myself up. I was thinking of the ways I could have done summer better.  Maybe I didn't play with the kids enough.  Maybe there were days I played too much, which was why people were running low on underwear and clean clothes.  We didn't study math facts, but we did read a lot.  We stayed up too late and slept in most of the days of August.  There was fun though...there was a lot of fun.  Fun is important to me.  Fun is the exact opposite of perfection.  Fun says, "I'm lost in the moment."  Fun says, "my face hurts from laughing."  Elliot's sense of humor grew as much as his height this summer.   There were moments he made my face hurt from laughing so much.  Those are the moments I forget about perfection.

I am not a perfect mother, far from it.  This quote reminds me though that there are so many ways to be a good mom.  I think I am a good mom.  And I think, just for today, I will focus on more ways to be a good one instead of a perfect one.

Thanks for reading.

Having fun playing Headbands with Syd