Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Feeling blue

One of Those Days

During the summer, I like to relax my schedule as much as possible because throughout the other three seasons, I am stuck on a merry go round that doesn't quit.  I like merry go rounds, but for nine months, that can make me dizzy!

I feel like no matter how much I try to move forward and make changes to things that frustrate me, I always end up back where I started, and I am just realllllly tired out.

The two little neighbor girls, ages five and eight, have been pushed into my life by parents who seem to see me as a free babysitter.  I don't mind that Therese has playmates, but I don't want to raise someone else's kids. 

Every morning at 8:15 or 8:30, an insistent knocking comes at my front door, which starts a chain reaction.  The dog begins to bark hysterically, everyone that is trying to sleep is jolted from their slumber.  I'm almost always up way before then, but I cherish being able to have my coffee leisurely and that just sticks in my craw.  It's those kids.  Today I called the girls over and I said, "STOP coming over here so early in the morning.  Do not come to my door until at least 10 am."  Now, we will see if they actually listen because they never do.

Something is desperately the matter with them.  I can't pinpoint it, but the elder one has told me at least three or four times that she wants me to adopt her.  They do not understand boundaries.  They continually walk inside my house.  They make a huge mess here and leave stuff behind every time they are over.  Each day, it's something, not just one or two things, but a dozen or more.  Shoes, jackets, cereal bowls, food, toys, and other assorted things.  I have told them to stop and they never do.  So, yesterday I said, "If you leave ANYTHING here again, you will not be allowed over the rest of that day."  The little one came, left a roll of toilet paper (I have no idea why she had that?) here, shoes, toys, etc., so I sent her home.  She bawled all the way across the street.  OH WELL!!!

 They have broken three of our solar lights.  They knocked over my statue of the Virgin Mary.  They pick up my cats and throw them.  They steal stuff.  The younger one stole a toy of Therese's and ruined it.  When Therese told her mom about it, her mother yelled at Therese "OH, do you really think she'd do that?", then 'Get out!'.  When the kid told her mom that she had stolen it, her mom said, 'Well, I can't afford to replace it!'.  That wasn't the point, the point was she should have taken that opportunity to discipline her child.

I'm just tired.  I have been raising my own family over half my life.  My kids are spaced out from 2 to 4 years apart, and it has taken enormous patience  and perserverance on my part to do this day in and day out for the past 25 years. I do not like that these parents don't take care of their own kids, but seem to think it's okay to send them my way.

I feel sorry for these children, but at the same time, I am very angry.  I don't see why people don't love their children enough to do what parents are expected to do.  It's not easy, I get that.  I've had awful days in my time as a mom.  Days when I cried myself to sleep.  Days that I got NO sleep.  Days when everything felt so darned frustrating.

But, I cannot excuse their parents.  Their kids will only be little for a short time.  Take care of them!

I'm struggling with some stuff here...feeling really tired...having major "female" troubles...trying to stay on top of things with my own family...

I guess I just needed to vent.  My day has just been terribly trying, even though it has not been a bad day in any overt way.  It's just ONE of those days.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Marital Harmony

With tomorrow's significance in the forefront of my mind--my 27th Wedding Anniversary--I am pondering why it is that I've been so blessed to have the good fortune of such a joyful union with John.

I think back to the beginning, when I was just a step away from childhood, yet a step away from adulthood as well...I was wedged in that teenaged zone where every decision feels weighty.  Pepperoni or sausage?  Blue eyeshadow or beige?  Still not understanding that the universe is so much bigger than myself.  Still of the mindset that Mom and Dad will continue to catch me if I trip and fall.

Yet, knowing that I stood on the precipice of adulthood and bigger things to come.  And pondering the fact that although still in high school, that somehow I already knew that I wanted to make a life with my young man and share my future with him.

I remember the day we pledged to marry each other--we were both very pure and childlike in our intention.  We picked twist ties from a pile in my parents' kitchen and wound them into make-shift rings.  We placed them on each other's fingers and made our pact--I was 17, he was 20.  That was a mere two weeks into our dating experience.

It sounds comical now, but it was romantic and thrilling at that time.  Our courtship lasted four years until the day we held our hands out to accept the gold wedding bands on our wedding day.

Why do so many marriages fail?  What happens to that fresh love that makes it grow old and stale?

I offer just a few ideas as to why my marriage has been a constant source of joy...

1.) In the beginning, John and I were open books to each other.  We held no secrets, we kept nothing of ourselves away from the other.  To this day, it is the same.  I have nothing to be ashamed of if he were to read my diaries, or to see my emails.  I honor him, and he honors me.

2.) We strove for pre-marital purity.  Yes, that is an old fashioned notion in our society, but well worth it, please trust that.  We longed to be in union with each other from the start, but knew it would pay off in the end if we respected the chaste aspect of our relationship.  I can say that it has made ALL the difference.  Our marital intimacy has remained a renewing source of strength, bonding, joy, love.  Our honeymoon was a real honeymoon, where we opened a chapter that we had waited to open for four long years.  And, it was worth the wait!

3.) God has been the third party in 'us' since the beginning.  We prayed together from the start, even though John did not share the same faith as I.  We were both baptized Christians, but he was raised in a God-less home.  We found that prayer was a perpetual spring of strength for our relationship. 

4.) Open-ness to all life--in other words, as Catholics, we honor our fertility and have put our ability to pro-create into God's hands.  We never concerned ourselves with whether it was the right time to conceive a child.  We told God from day one that whatever His will was in that regard, that too, was our will.  I solemnly tell you, He has been more than good to us and has blessed us with beautiful children to raise, love, and enjoy.

5.) Creativity!  We do not and never had a conventional marriage.  We were never the type to drop the kids off at Grandma's and go for a weekend.  We packed up our kids and took them with us!  We had many covert romantic trysts, even with kids in tow, and what a challenge!  Oftentimes, a date would be putting everyone to bed, and challenging each other to a game of Scrabble or Yahtzee...or a movie rental.  Other times, it would be putting kids in strollers and taking long walks.  A trip to the playground meant we could sit on a nearby park bench and snuggle while the kids had fun a few feet away.  I have so many good and happy memories of those times.

6.) Being real.  What I mean by that is that we sometimes had to hold it together for the other one, to be the support-er.  I've had some pretty rough times over the past few decades.  Those earlier problems of what color eye shadow turned into things that dealt with life and death.  When our first born--Ian--came along, with some heavy duty health problems, I could have easily bailed.  I found it hard to breathe, I was stuck in a nightmare...I had a terrible postpartum depression...worry became my new normal.  John stepped up to the plate to be the rock of the family--to hold me up when I couldn't hold myself up anymore. 

When money was so tight, we had nothing left over on payday after paying the bills, or worse yet, we were short of money, we held onto each other and offered words of support.  In that stormy sea, we sometimes had leaks in our life raft, but we never sank!!  We just kept holding on to each other!

When troubles have fallen like raindrops from the sky, we've put up our umbrella and stepped under it, knowing that no matter what we face, we face it together.  Division is the first fissure in a marriage.  Once you let that crack happen, it's like an eggshell.  Pretty soon, you're left with a thousand cracks, and a big mess.  We just won't let anything separate our union.

7.) Valuing each other.  In all fairness, marriage isn't always perfect!  Just because I'm praising all the joy and love doesn't mean we haven't had our share of difficulties.  When raising a family, there are many occasions of frustration.  It's very important to learn when to curb your tongue, and when to speak.  We try to hold back when we're in a 'mood' because hurting the one you share your life with is never the right thing to do.  Part of the marital vow we said to each other was 'to love and honor all the days of my life'.  HONOR!  That is something vital to a marriage.  Giving your other half the honor that you vowed to give them is a precious gift.

8.) John and I have a similar sense of humor which helps a lot!  Sometimes a good belly laugh is what's needed.

9.) Staying attractive.  Okay, I don't look like I did when I was 17.  I have had six kids, so my body is a little different than it once was.  But, I view those changes as my battle scars--I bore children, bringing forth new life--how could that not be worth a few extra pounds and some stretch marks?  John and I have quite a few grey hairs, but again, the same principal as the battle scars--these are the stripes on our uniforms.  We're like Admirals now, where we once were Privates.  We've weathered stormy seas, and come out on top.  The greys have all been earned.  With all that said, I exercise.  I dress up for him.  I try to look pretty for him.  He does the same for me.  We don't want to take that for granted, but to continue to renew our attraction for one another.  I like it when I look at him, and think, wow, he's so handsome. 

10. We do little things for each other most days.  Oftentimes, married couples let things go.  We try not to.  He sometimes shows up after work with my favorite chocolate bar in his hand, or some other little treat.  He knows how much that means to me.  When he's at work, one of my favorite things to do is swing down to Country Fair and buy him a fountain drink and surprise him on the job.  Little gestures make BIG impressions.

I love being married.  If no one else likes me, if the world rejects me, I know that I have John.  He is my beloved and he has taken me to be his, and he loves me unconditionally. 

Thank you, God, for giving me my JOHN!!!