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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A while back, I saw a story circulating on Facebook from Parents magazine. It was about a mother named Merritt Smith that had to take her 4-year-old daughter to the hospital because a male classmate had punched her in the face. The poor girl required stitches!

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Source: Parent’s Magazine Online

 

When Smith checked her daughter in at the hospital’s registration desk, the male employee heard why Smith’s daughter had been brought in and said, “I bet that little boy likes you.”

……

……

I bet that little boy likes you.

 

I’ve heard this a million times before.

 

A girl gets pushed down on the playground by a boy: “Oh, he’s just doing that to flirt.”

 

A girl gets her pigtails pulled: “That boy must have a crush on you.”

 

We say these things, not even really thinking about what the implications are for young women. We try to make light of the situation to help the girl not get so upset. Then, we see young women grow up and find themselves in abusive relationships people think, “Why didn’t she just leave?” or “Doesn’t she realize that if he’s hurting her he doesn’t really love her?!” or even, “Didn’t her parents raise her to know that this isn’t how a man should treat a woman?”

 

How could she know these things when, since her youth, she’s heard, “He pushed you? He must like you.”

 

And what about the boys? Why are we giving these kids a pass and chalking it up to “boys will be boys” or “that’s just how he shows affection”? We’re subconsciously creating a culture of abusers by endorsing the idea that hurting equals flirting*.

 

This is one reason I am terrified to have a little boy. I feel like I can raise strong, confident young women. I can teach them how a girl can be anything she puts her mind to and that you are more valuable than what you look like. But how do I raise a young man to be confident and strong but also tender and caring? How do I instill in my son that yes, you can roughhouse, you can play Wrestlemania in the backyard and you can pretend to slay dragons and ogres…but also channel that energy so he doesn’t hit out of anger or frustration and you most certainly do not hit girls?

 

After some thought, I understood that it all starts with me and Huff the Hubs. We, as parents, have to model the behaviors and values we want our children—male and female—to learn and imitate. Not only that, but we’ve got to break the cycle of perpetuating the myth that, if a boy hits you, he must like you**.

 

As parents, we all have to show our kids that hurting does not equal flirting.

 

Have you come across this in your years as a parent, teacher, aunt, or uncle? How have you handled the situation?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I am also a firm believer that you do not have to hit someone to hurt them. I was in a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship for years that left inner wounds. In the context of this blog post, however, we are discussing a story from Parent’s magazine and the results of telling children that physical harm equals affection or attraction.

 

**I realize that some people may read this and think, “Geeze, it’s just something innocent that people say. My parents told me this all the time and I didn’t end up in an abusive relationship nor am I an abuser. People need to stop being so sensitive.” Well, I’m glad you never had to deal with someone hitting you or telling you things like, ‘You’d better lose weight or I’m dumping you’. Because I can tell you that things like that are hard to forget. However, it is our job as parents and people of influence in children’s lives (i.e., teachers, aunts, uncles, grandparents) to teach them to show one another respect and dignity.

 

 

 

 

 

Mommy Monday

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Some days, I feel like a horrible mother. I’ll lie awake in bed, thinking over the day’s events and list all of the things that I did wrong.

I didn’t tell my daughter she was smart, I only told her she was “so beautiful”. Will that give her a big head? Will she only find value in her looks? 

I didn’t get in the floor and play blocks with her, I just read a book to her. Is she going to miss out on critical cognitive development? 

She didn’t have a vegetable at dinner. Now she’s lacking the vital nutrients she needs to be successful in life and I’ve effectively doomed her chances of getting into a good college. 

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Then, after worrying about all of the things I didn’t do right, I try to justify it.

Well, I had to cook dinner. Even though she’s not two yet, she could see I was busy and she’ll understand, right? Right? 

Even though I don’t go into an office, I still work all day. I was tired and didn’t feel like getting on the floor and chasing her around. That’s valid. 

 

After this, I start to get a little resentful.

Well, maybe if I had help cooking, I could’ve played on the floor for half an hour with my daughter like Someone Else.* 

Why does He get to come in and look like the hero and ‘Fun-Loving Dad’ while I’m stuck doing all of the housework?!* 

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I’ll lie awake and stew for a little bit and feel myself getting angry at the bearded man lying less than a foot away. I think of all the things I’ve done and how I’ve carried this family through. Who cleans? Me. Who cooks? Me! Who takes care of Huff the Babe, makes sure we have food in the pantry, and keeps track of everyone’s appointments? ME. ME. ME.

Then, I hear a Soft Voice. “Who gives you the strength to do it?”

Humbly I have to say, “Not me.”

Finally, my thinking changes.

Who pays the bills so that I can go grocery shopping? 

Huff the Hubs.

Who pushed himself through college to get a degree in Electrical Engineering so we could have a better life? 

Huff the Hubs.

And who supports me through all of my craziness, no matter how insane I get? 

Huff the Hubs.

 

The Soft Voice returns and asks: “And Who has trusted you with all of this?”

You, I say.

“And who are we supposed to serve?”

Everyone. 

“And how are we supposed to serve?”

Sigh. Gladly. 

Soon, instead of tooting my own horn, I’m shamefully reproaching myself for my attitude. I have turned my own insecurities into a “Battle of Who Does More” and before I knew it, I was contemplating shaving off one of HtH’s eyebrows.**

As if knowing the train of thought that had already derailed in my mind–and in perfect timing–HtH rolls over and says, “I love you.”

He still loves me. After all the things I think I did wrong today, he still loves me. Finally, I can fall asleep.

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Do you ever do this? How do you talk yourself out of the “All About Me” trap? Do you find yourself growing resentful because of your motherly duties? How do you split responsibilities with your spouse?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*This is not husband-bashing. These are real thoughts I’ve had (and I know other women have had). They may not be accurate–actually, they’re not accurate–about life in the Huffman Homestead. Huff the Hubs is an EXCELLENT father and laughs, plays with, reads to, and loves Huff the Babe so much. He is also a WONDERFUL husband and helps out quite a bit. We’re a team.

**I wouldn’t do that. Well…maybe. No, I wouldn’t.

There’s An App For That!

Alright people, now that the hub-bub of the holidays are over (and it’s a Monday, and we all know diets can’t start on any other day of the week) we can officially start working on our New Year’s Resolutions!

 

It seems like the toughest part of keeping a resolution past February is lack of accountability. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard (or said):  “Well, I would go to the gym/save money/eat healthier, but I don’t have anyone to go with me/know where to start/have motivation.”

 

Thankfully, there’s an app for that! And by “that” I mean all of your excuses-ha!

 

Sparkpeople

Used For: Weight Loss, Healthy Living

Price in App Store: Free

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This is one of my FAVORITE apps! I’ve been using this site for over 5 years now. It’s similar to MyFitnessPal (which I’ve also used) but SO much more user-friendly. You can track your calories eaten, fitness minutes, calories burned, and water drank! And, you can sync it with your FitBit! (A little shameless plug: I used this app when I first started trying to lose weight and it helped me lose 35lbs!)

 

Good Budget

Used For: Money Management, Budgeting

Price in App Store: Free

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Huff the Hubs and I are all about Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps and implementing the Envelope System. The gist is you pay in cash for everything you purchase because it has more of an emotional connection to you. You also separate your money into envelopes labeled “Groceries”, “Gas”, “Food”, etc.  But, it’s not for everyone. Some people hate carrying around envelopes and others don’t like toting a bunch of cash in their purses because they like the convenience of debit/credit cards. Thanks to the Good Budget app, you can still utilize the Envelope System without carrying caboodles of cash! Just note the amount budgeted for each category and then track where you spend! Super easy!

 

Coach.Me

Used For: Wellness, Healthy Living, Relationships

Price in App Store: Free

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This app is an all-over-the-board-motivator! Whether your resolution is to stop complaining, start working out, or learn to play the piano, Coach.Me is there to help you achieve your goals! There are tips, forums, and plans to get you motivated, moving, and feel great—inside and out!

 

 

Are there any apps that have helped you? What are they?

Writer Wednesday

Its Writer Wednesday, peeps! Here’s today’s prompt:

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It seems as though most break-ups happen before Spring Break and before Christmas. Why? Two reasons: alcohol and money.

 

Many people (especially those college-aged) break up before Spring Break (“WOOHOO!”) because they want to be free to pursue other people (and by “people” I mean drunk-idiot-Jersey Shore-rejects) while stumbling around Cabo with a Mikes Hard Lemonade in one hand and a Camel Light in the other.

 

Others end their relationship right before Christmas because they believe if they break-up before Christmas, they can use family obligations as an excuse, when they’re really just scared that they’ll go bankrupt searching for that Michael Kors purse that you “just have to have” or that you’ll break up with them because their gift-giving capabilities were on par with Joey’s ability to speak French.

 

Here’s my advice: stay home and set the bar low.

 

You don’t need to go out to have a good time. Stay home, save your money, and stop shaving. Show each other that you care by watching four hours of old Star Trek episodes and listening to books on tape. Don’t worry about giving that “awesome” gift. Buy practical gifts. Yeah, those Louboutins are cute, but where are you going to wear them? You’re not J.Lo. No one is going to photograph you stepping out of your 2001 Ford Taurus at Target wearing those things. You’re not going to find true love in the foam pit at Señor Frogs. But, you might just find it falling asleep with Cheeto dust on their face during a DVR’d episode of The Voice.