"The Tightrope Walker"

"The Tightrope Walker" by Jean-Louis Forain

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What's Your Passion?

JD and I had a wonderful day on Sunday...and the whole day was about ME!   How's that for self-indulgence?!?!

JD and I frequently have the same frustrating conversation about having a passion in life.  JD has many passions that all involve physical activity and sport, but mine on the other hand are a little more mundane and quiet.  Since our interests are so different he often struggles to see my likes as being self-defining the way his athletic pursuits are.  As a result our conversation usually sounds something like this:

Me, "I want more time to do things I like and I would like to feel like you support me."
JD, "I am happy to support you in whatever your passions are, but what are they?  You don't like biking or running or anything like that, so what is your passion?"  (Note that JD is the one that uses the term passion.  I would just say I have hobbies or favourite pass times, but for JD it is sort of an all or nothing scenario.)
Me, "Huh, I shouldn't have to tell you what my 'passions' are after being together so long!"  (Oh, oh!  Turning into an argument! Lose the attitude!)
JD, "Well I know you like to read, but how can I support you in that.  Take the girls and leave you alone for an afternoon?"
Me, "Well, yes!"  (And, that usually puts a quick end to the discussion which will likely occur again, word-for-word, in a few days.)

In a lovely turn of events, JD arranged for our little ladies to spend the day with his parents and we went to an art gallery that I have been wanting to go to for a long time.  Although the gallery is small and only took about two hours to tour, the whole day turned in to a great chance to reconnect.  It was about an hours drive to the gallery which offered a great chance to talk.  The art was wonderful and it was really fun talking about what we liked and didn't like about all the pieces.  After the gallery, more driving as we tried to find some where to have lunch (which was again an adventure).  In the end we spent almost the whole day alone together, and we both realized we couldn't remember the last time we spent THAT much time just the two of us.  Very much time well spent!

The most important thing is that I felt validated and like my interests hold value.  I also recognized that although our interests are so different and don't easily include the other person it is important we figure out ways to do just that.  Who knows, maybe before long we will join a book club and mountain biking club together!  (Did I mention that JD really hates to read and I can't even ride a bike!  This could get interesting! lol)  In the end we both have share the same "number one passion" - our family.  Biking, reading, and the other stuff takes a backseat to just being together as a family, parents and a couple!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Measure of a Marriage.

I'm hesitant and slightly apprehensive to publish this post, but when I set out on this blogging adventure almost a year ago I made a commitment to myself to record it all.  The good, the bad, the ugly and the truth as I see and feel it.  More than anything else this blog is for me.  If you happen to be reading I hope you can connect with my life and my family's journey without passing too much judgement or thinking too poorly of me - after all aren't we all just trying to figure it out one day at a time?

I've been spending a lot of time lately trying to determine how to measure the success of my marriage.  Looking back through this blog I realize when I've written about JD and I the topics have often been filled with humor, love, sarcastic annoyance and a deep sense of pride in our commitment to each other.  All of this is true and honest, but our life together isn't all roses, rainbows and lollipops.  We definitely disagree, argue and struggle like other couples.  We have faced our fair share of small uphill battles and, like many couples, we tire of working hard to keep it all together.  Perhaps our best kept secret (or at least I think we hide it well) is the volatility of our marriage.  In my own mind, I often think that the ups and downs of our marriage imitate that of manic-depressive cycles.  When things are good they are really good, but in a flash things can get rough....really rough.  Right now we are in a rough patch.  There are some rays of hope, but we are struggling (or maybe just I am) to keep it all together.

It is times exactly like these that make me wonder how to sum up the success of our marriage.  After all we have lots of things working for us: we are definitely in love, we share a terrific family, we make each other laugh, and (most of the time) we are best friends.  But for everything we have working for us we have something else working against us.  According to the statistics we are actually doomed!  For example, high school sweethearts like us have a 98% risk of divorce, couples who marry at 24 and 25 like we did have a 33% divorce rate, couples in our income bracket are at increased risk for divorce, and couples with irregular work schedules just like ours again have an increased risk of divorce.  I could go on with the doom-and-gloom statistics, but it is all rather overwhelming.  As foreboding as these statistics are I figure we are already beating the odds - together for 13 years, married for almost 7,  2 lovely girls and all while working weird schedules and piling up the debt.  Success, right???

Trouble is it doesn't always feel like success.  When I resent JD for being gone (at work) all the time and hate feeling like I'm a single parent when I have a husband - it doesn't feel like success.  When JD is grouchy as hell and nagging beyond belief because his work schedule is exhausting - it doesn't feel like success.  When we argue over our mounting debt, my inability to get permanent employment, or decisions that have come and gone - it doesn't feel like success.  When we struggle to find time to be together and make that time count - it doesn't feel like success.  The third baby debate, cars, new houses, crummy self-esteem, bills, being tired, hopes for vacations or new sports gear - they all get in the way of feeling like it is success.

So, if it isn't success what is it?  It definitely doesn't feel like failure.  Hard work?  Yes.  Happiness?  Mostly.  Exhaustion?  Often.  The end?  No.  Love and happily ever after?  We will see.

We can battle through anything, but knowing and having the will are two different things.  I know that JD has the will because he has a strong self-identity and is happy with himself.  However, I also know that my will isn't as strong as his.  Not because I'm not strong willed, but because I've been dedicating my motivation and energy into making changes just for me.  Feeling self-satisfied and content in my own skin will probably be a life-long struggle and that makes it really hard to have the drive to tend to my marriage.  This is when I ask you not to pass too much judgement - I recognize that I have a quality husband, wonderful children and a lot of great things in my life; and yet, I'm admitting that I have doubts, needs that aren't being met and even a strong selfish streak.  I feel quite torn between making me happy and making we happy.  Who comes first?  Me, him, us, them?

And now it hits me - I haven't found the balance yet.....

Monday, February 14, 2011

Clever at 20-months?

Molly has entered a lovely phase of cleverness.  In our ongoing attempts to encourage her to talk we frequently find ourselves saying, "Molly, can you say (what ever the word of the day is)?"  More often than not her simple response is, "Yes!"  Clearly a clever way of ignoring our attempts.

Better yet, the babysitter went to get her from a nap and upon entering the room she told Molly she was very stinky and asked her if she had pooped.  Molly responded by saying, "No.  Baby poop," and pointed at her baby doll.

And the all time favourite: yesterday she walked right up to her dad, hit him twice on the face, turned around, walked to the "time-out step" and took a seat.  Interesting since only her bigger sister has time-outs.  And, by self-punishing immediately did she think her bad behaviour would be negated?

I find myself wondering if all second children are like this because they have a sibling to role model, or if our bold Molly is just as devilish as they come.  I have often thought that had Molly been our first child - with no fear and as a sly as a fox - we may have been scared into abstinence.  The best (and worst) thing about Molly is that as soon as she has done something naughty she (strategically) gives the best hugs and kisses she can muster!  There truly is nothing better than getting squishy, chubby, gooey, love from a toddler!

Kids Say and Do the Darnedest Things.

I've learned so much from Sophie in the last few weeks.  For example, did you know that geese fly in an arrow NOT a 'v' because it points the direction they need to go?  Or, did you know that if you sit on a cloud you will fall through because a cloud is made of water and when we don't wear life jackets in the water we fall to the bottom?  This clearly implies that sitting on a cloud is safe when wearing a life jacket.  Sophie is simply a bottomless pit of useful information.  I don't know what I would do without her!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Current Score: Molly 3 and Mommy & Daddy 2

Game 1:  Molly is put to bed on Tuesday night in cozy fleeces jammies with a zipper all the way down the front.  Wednesday morning brings a snow storm and an opportunity to sleep in, but of course Molly is awake at 6:40 am.  I choose to ignore her until about 7:10 which was a HUGE mistake.  I discover Molly completely naked!  Jammies off, diaper in a heap and all the bedding wet with pee.  Strip the bed, bath the toddler and feeling thankfully I'm not rushing to work this morning.  Good morning to me!  Score - Molly 1, Me 0

Game 2:  Molly is put to bed on Wednesday night in jammies with snaps down the front, more challenging than a zipper I hope.  Thursday morning Molly wakes fully dressed and I think I have scored a point.  Within minutes of being dressed and seconds of arriving in the kitchen for breakfast Molly has a b.m.  Straight up her back and out the top of the diaper.  Back upstairs we go to change all of her clothes.  Did I mention I had put her in a long-sleeve onesie?  Something I rarely do, but it was extra cold outside.  Poop up the back in a onesie is always extra disgusting!  Who has time for this in the morning?  Score - Molly 2, Me 0

Game 3:  Molly is put to bed on Thursday night in the same snap-up jammies since they worked so well the night before.  Friday morning Molly I discover Molly with her jammies completely open and diaper open on wide side and pushed far down her other leg.  Yuck, again!  Now seriously wondering if the zoo takes donations of young children?  Score - Molly 3, Me 0

Game 4:  Daddy puts Molly to bed tonight.  Lucky lady is looking unusually fashionable with an undershirt that only has snaps in the crotch and is on OVER her snap-up jammies.  Daddy was so fearful that of a naked toddler in the morning that he didn't care what she looked like.  Thankfully, Molly wakes Saturday morning fully dressed.  Score - Molly 3, Me & Daddy 1

Game 5:  Molly is put to bed with the undershirt UNDER her jammies this evening, and wakes Sunday morning fully dressed!  Woohoo, we might just turn this thing around! 
Score - Molly 3, Me & Daddy 2

With two more games left in the series, who will win this weeks battle?  It sure better be Daddy and I  because I've already entered the phone number for the closest zoo in my speed dial and carefully thought out what items to pack in Molly's suitcase.  We love her dearly, but clothes and diapers are non-negotiable!