Mommy Monday

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Yesterday, Huff the Hubs and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. Some days it feels like we just got hitched, other days it seems like we’ve been married for a lot longer than six years (ya feel me?).

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Many people say that the first year of marriage is the hardest. I don’t agree. I feel like every year has its challenges. But, to be quite honest, the past two years have been the most difficult.

Now, before I begin, I want to preface by saying I spoke to Huff the Hubs about this and let him read this post beforehand so everything you’re reading has been Huff Approved. And also, this is not a husband-bashing,  “woe-is-me” post either. I really want this to offer encouragement for those couples going through similar seasons in their lives.

When HtH started graduate school, I was so excited for him. I thought it was going to be an awesome time for him to feel a little more intellectually stimulated because work was starting to become monotonous. I knew it would mean a “new normal” for us… I just didn’t realize how overwhelming the new normal would be.

In the two years since he started grad school, we have added a new member to our family, bought our first house, and I quit working full-time. For about six months, every single job around the house fell on my shoulders. I’m talking cooking, cleaning, lawn work, taking out the trash, feeding the kids, getting them dressed, nursing the baby (in his defense HtH can’t do that), laundry–all on top of working full-time. (Don’t get me wrong, Huff the Hubs helped out, too. He hasn’t been some lazy slug that comes home, plops down, and did nothing. He has helped out when he can in between writing papers, going to classes, and studying for hours on end. But even he will agree that the majority of the housework and kid-raising has fallen on me.)

Huff the Babe didn’t start sleeping through the night until he was about 9 months old so I was doing everything around the house, while also waking 3-5 times a night to nurse a VERY cranky baby.

I was emotional, angry, resentful, and could be set off at the slightest thing.

I. Was. Miserable.

I’ve found that its during those times that The Enemy really sneaks in to hit you while you’re down, whispering lies into your ear.

“This will never end. It’s always going to be like this.” 

“If he really loved you, he’d help out more. Sure, he’s been at work all day and he has a test tomorrow, but you haven’t showered in two days. Who’s the REAL victim here?” 

“He didn’t say you looked nice today. He’s probably having an affair with someone at work.” 

“You’re marriage is failing. You need to accept that now.” 

“You two can’t recover from this.” 

These were all thoughts I have had (on more than one occasion) during this season of life. (Now, if you know us, you know that we’re Bible-believing Christians and we believe this is it–we’re making our marriage work come hell or high water. And even though we clung to our faith, it was/is still difficult. Why? Because we’re human. And humans mess up. And humans sometimes let their emotions and circumstances rule their behavior and thoughts. Thank God–literally–for grace.)

It didn’t help that we were both so tired all the time and barely had energy to greet one another at the end of the day let alone do anything else. Couple our exhaustion with barely speaking after the kids went to bed (HtH would start homework AS SOON as the kids were in bed and he wouldn’t come to bed until I had already been asleep for a few hours) I was beginning to feel like we were roommates who just so happen to sleep in the same bed.

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This went on for about a year. I knew we could do better. I knew it because we had been better in the past. I just didn’t know how to get to that point. Finally, after a big, blow-up fight (I can’t even remember what it was about. Probably something ridiculous because that’s what happens when you’re physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually exhausted–you cause an enormous fight over something as trivial as placing the mail on the counter instead of in the basket. Yes, that’s happened. Aren’t I a neurotic delight?!) we decided to go to counselling.

We’ve been before; we try to have a “relationship physical” every time there’s a new, big change in our lives. But we hadn’t been in over a year and SO MUCH had changed. After that session, I started to see improvements.

We began praying together at night, talking more honestly about how we were feeling, and making more time for one another. We began emailing/calling each other during the day just to see how the other was doing. We made a rule that before he greeted the kids when he first got home, his absolute first order of business was to greet me and give me “first kiss”. Why? Because these kids need to know that Momma and Daddy put their marriage first: before the kids, before the jobs, before everything except The Lord, our marriage got top billing. It may sound simple but these little gestures have really buoyed the health of our marriage and our attitudes.

We had to lay down our selfishness, lay down our need for constant affirmation, and really take a hard look at what the other person was experiencing. We had to (and still do) continuously remind each other, “We’re a team, let’s act like it.”

Is it back to the way it was two years ago? No. And I don’t know if it will be. But you know what? I’m okay with that. Why? Because we’re not who we were two years ago.

We are veterans of “grad school combat”. We’ve been in the trenches together during the most difficult days. The days that begin with a sense of dread and end with you crying into your pillow. The days that you feel you’re all alone and there’s never going to be a reprieve. The days that you think, “Is this it? Is this really all there is?!” Thankfully, with school ending in a little over two weeks, we are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

We were talking the other day and I said, “You know in Band of Brothers when there’s a guy using the machine gun and then there’s his ‘helper’ that’s loading the bullets? I feel like you’re the shooter and I’m the bullet guy.”

“I don’t know, babe,” Huff the Hubs said. “You’ve been more than just a bullet loader.”

“Maybe then grad school has been our One Ring,” I offered. “You’re Frodo, because you’re carrying the weight of school. I can’t carry the ring, but I can carry you.”

“YES,” HtH replied. “That’s exactly it!”

Yes, the past two years have been excruciatingly difficult. But you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It has shown us what we’re made of. It’s shown us that we can survive some pretty dark days; those days you don’t want ANYONE to know about. Its shown us that seasons come and, even though you may not believe it, seasons end. Its shown us the worst of each other, and also the best. But most importantly, its shown us that despite all the bad that’s come, we’re still standing, still fighting for one another, still committed, and still here.

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Mommy Monday

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Sorry I’ve been M.I.A. for a bit, my sister and her brood were in town and we had to cram in a year’s worth of memories and fun in just eleven days! Its been a whirlwind around the Huffman Homestead full of cousin sleepovers, late nights, lots of ice cream eatin’, and TONS of giggles. Now that the Smiths are back in Ohio, we can get the kids back on a normal sleeping routine. Which, in and of itself, is a lot like trying to tape a document back together once its been run through a shredder.

 

 

Sleep training (and sleep re-training) is the worst. Solidarity, Mommas.

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Tomorrow is the Fourth of July and I know many of you with small children will be loading up the family and taking them to see fireworks. May I offer you a piece of advice?

 

DON’T DO IT!

 

Seriously. Just don’t. Why? Oh, I’ll explain. Welcome to my presentation: The Seven Stages of Going to See Fireworks With Babies and Toddlers as told in gifs.

 

Stage One: Excitement

Husband: “Honey, the Air Force Base/church/local petting zoo/tire and lube express is putting on a fireworks show for the Fourth! We should take the kids!”

Kids’ reaction:

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Your reaction:

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Stage Two: Prep

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“Johnny needs diapers, wipes, a sippy cup, and hat. Suzy needs a water bottle, a change of clothes, and her favorite bear. We also need bug spray, sunblock, lawn chairs, snacks, a cooler…”

 

Stage Three: Finding a Spot

You will NEVER find one close enough no matter how early you arrive.

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Stage Four: Waiting For the Fireworks

“Mommy, when do they start?”

“Mommy, where are the fireworks?”

“Mommy, I want to go home!”

“Mommy, I need to pee!”

“Mommy, I’m hungry/hot/thirsty/have to pee AGAIN!”

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Stage Five: Pandemonium 

The fireworks start and the children lose their ever-loving minds and scream, cower, and hide. Meanwhile, you’re trying to keep everyone calm so you don’t make a scene/ruin someone else’s time:

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Stage Six: Regret

You to Husband: “WE’RE NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN!”

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Stage Seven: Denial and Forgetfulness

The next year…

Husband: “Babe, let’s take the kids to see fireworks!”

You:

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Sound familiar?

Mommy Monday

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As moms, we know that our work never stops. There’s always laundry to fold, dishes to wash, boo-boos to kiss, tantrums to soothe, and booties to wipe. Our “shift” is never over; its a 24/7/365. The oh-so-funny ladies at My Life Suckas knows what we’re talkin’ about. Just check out this parody of Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic— you’ll be feeling hashtag same, sistah.

 

Mommy Monday

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Today has been one of those days, y’all. Those days that include you literally biting your tongue so you don’t completely lose your ish, sneaking into the other room to inhale a bag of chocolate, and counting down the seconds until naptime.

If you’re like me, on days like this you’ve got to laugh to keep from crying. And I’ve rounded up a bunch of parental puns sure to get you through until your hubs gets home so you can hide in the bathroom to drink wine and surf Pinterest. Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Mommy Monday

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A week or so ago, I spent the night away from the Huffman Homestead. My sister and I were hosting our little cousin’s (who is basically a little sister to us) bachelorette party. Huff the Hubs called me and said he and his parents were taking the kids downtown so Huff the Tot could ride in the Cinderella carriage. Immediately, I panicked. And let HtH know all the terrible things that could wrong:

“There are tons of cars downtown; Huff the Tot is a fast little thing and can wiggle free from anyone’s grasp. What if she runs into traffic?!” 

“Downtown is dangerous! And, I love you, Babe, but you’re not the most observant person. Can you REALLY keep an eye on both kids?” 

“Huff the Babe does NOT need to be out in this heat! He’ll need a hat, sunscreen, bottle of water…Maybe its best not to go!”

Then, Huff the Hubs said four words to me:

“Be where you are.”

I let that sink in for a minute.

Be where I am?! He thinks I can “be where I am”?!

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How could I possibly “be where I was” when my husband–my life partner, my teammate, my man–was taking our sweet precious baby angels to the perilous cesspool crawling with drunks and kidnappers known as Downtown?!

This, friends, is what its like to have OCD.

After I had Huff the Tot, I went to counselling for post-partum depression. After I talked her ear off for an hour, she asked, “So how long have you had obsessive-compulsive disorder?”

“What? I don’t have OCD. I have post-partum.”

“Actually,” she said, “you’re dealing with PPOCD. And I’m willing to bet you’ve been dealing with OCD a lot longer than this.”

As we went into my history, it was obvious. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t realized it before. My OCD isn’t necessarily the compulsive part (i.e., turning light switches on and off/washing my hands/touching a doorknob so many times), its more of the obsessive part. The terrible “what-ifs” (AKA, intrusive thoughts) will pop into my head and they just can’t leave.

Hence, my imagining all of the hazardous things awaiting my family in the heart of the city.

“Be where you are.” 

I let those words ring in  my mind. This was actually something I had learned in counselling: my obsessive thoughts about everything that could happen were not reality. Could something bad happen? Sure. But the likelihood was low and chances were that they would all have a great time.

And you know what? They did. I mean, look at that face:

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The rest of the evening, I tried to not focus on those annoying thoughts trying to get me to panic. Instead, I focused on my cousin–the lovely bride-to-be–and had a fun time! Some days its difficult to work through the panic and realize that my thoughts are not me and I am not my thoughts.  Other days, its not too bad. Thankfully, I’ve got a great support system and wonderful family and friends to help me through it all. Not to mention, a great husband that gives me great advice in just four little words.

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Mommy Monday

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This weekend, I described my #threenager as a “rabid monkey hopped up on speed”. And y’all, its the truth. I don’t know what it is about three-year-old’s but they are CRAY. My dad usually says, “What do you expect? She’s only been in the world three years!” But still. The way a toddler can go from sweet to downright unhinged is insane! I seriously think this is a way a toddler’s mind operates:

 

“My mom just walked into the bathroom and shut the door. She’s probably in dire need of my attention. I better go open the door twenty-seven times to make sure she’s okay.” 

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“What is this thing they keep calling ‘bedtime’? I’ve NEVER heard of this phenomena! I’ll probably never be able to eat anything ever again! I’ll ask for an endless parade of snacks and cups of water, because this is my first bedtime EVER.” 

 

 

“How dare my mom ask me if I want chicken nuggets! Of course I don’t! I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!” *PB&J placed before child. Child sees sibling eating nuggets* “I MUST HAVE THOSE CHICKEN NUGGETS! PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY IS GARBAGE!” 

 

“I’m really tired. I don’t think I’ll nap. Instead I’ll just scream, cry, kick, and throw a tantrum whenever someone so much as looks in my direction. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.”

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“Wow, Mommy cleaned my room so well! She even organized my books. I think I’ll dump them all out on the floor.”

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“Mommy’s carrying the diaper bag, her purse, my brother, her car keys, and a drink. Yeah, I think I’ll ask her to carry my blanket and cup, too.” 

 

“My Daddy’s driving. Now would be a good time to tell him I need my shoe that I purposefully took off and threw into the seat behind me. How should I let him know? Ah, got it! I’ll scream bloody murder! That’ll work!” 

 

“I see Mommy about to lose her last thread of patience because I painted the walls with my markers. I better go give her a hug so she doesn’t come completely unglued.” 

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Sigh. Gotta love those little maniacs.