Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is Parenting For You Pt 2

A couple months ago, I wrote a post for my sister who is getting married soon. I wanted to give her some advice/tips/warnings to give her a small idea of some of the things she'll have to deal with once she becomes a mother.

My biggest piece of advice is to wait a little while before having kids because you're getting married to be spouses, partners in life etc etc etc. not to help populate the earth. Haha, I've got that part covered! Enjoy being married to each other for a little while. You're young enough that there's no rush. However, when the time does come, your world will never be the same. There's tons of love and joy involved. I promise. And nothing you've experienced to date compares to becoming a parent. But because that also is as true for the love part as it is for the chaos that will ensue, I feel the need to give you a few more pointers. I could give you advice until my brain is empty and it still won't fully prepare you for some of the strangeness you'll encounter, the weird conversations you'll have or the smells that will haunt your dreams. But I'm going to go ahead anyway.

1. Learn to say "NO". To everything and everyone. This applies to several different situations. First, say no to family, friends, bosses, strangers... Your first priority is your husband and kids. Someone kindly and wisely said to me recently, "Your family is your first ministry." Obviously, learn to do it respectfully and in love but learn to say it. Jess, I know you. You like to make others happy. You enjoy being involved and helpful and outgoing. But don't ever sacrifice your home life for it. The second half of this is meant for your future kids. Chances are, you will learn to tune them out. Not necessarily a terrible thing. It's your brain going into survival mode. When you have multiple people jabbering at you constantly, your brain will learn to shut out the "white noise". However, the dangerous side effect of this is accidentally saying "Sure" or "Uh Huh" or "Yup" when you don't realize what you're really responding to. The potential danger is allowing your kids to paint on walls. Or go fishing in the toilet. Or sharing the giant SAMs club sized bag of M & Ms with the dogs. Or let them ride the dog. Or jump off the top bunk. Or parachute off the balcony. The list goes on. Just learn to automatically say "NO!" 

2. Date. Often and regularly. I know you guys are in the "We're almost married and in love. 'Blue birds sing when we walk by and flower petals float on the air and angels sing for us'" stage. I'm not saying that ends when you have kids but things change. It's just part of life. Spending time alone together is important to keeping your sanity AND your unity. 

3. Start developing serious OCDs now and then let my kids stay with you for two weeks. I could use the break. And you need to learn how to handle having your OCDs shaken up. I was remembering the other day when it was just me and Alessandra during the week and the hubs would fly home on the weekends. Every Thursday and Friday, I did the same cleaning. And the house was in pretty decent shape. Not the case now. Now, the only thing I'm OCD about is how the dishwasher is loaded and that's just because I need to be able to unload it as quick as possible before the kids decide to "help" and dump food into the dishwasher onto the clean plates. Ugh. For real though. You need to learn how to break all your habits, good and bad, without crumbling. 

4. When you finally get pregnant, don't listen to anyone's advice except mine. You'll get too many conflicting stories/advice. You know I'll give it to you straight. And that I've done it a time or two. Or eight. How many kids do I have again? I lost count...

5. You and Geoff need to start whispering to each other. Have full conversations in whisper. This is also two fold. First, you will NOT want to wake your sleeping baby. They're cute but if you wake them, they turn into dragon babies. They breath fire and turn red and break sound barriers with their screams of rage. Smaug looks like a kitten compared to a baby that has been woken from its slumber. Master the art of the whisper. Better yet, learn sign language. On the flip side, one day, your house will be so noisy that you can't hear a darn thing but you're going to need to communicate. If you learn to whisper, it'll help you hone in on each other's voices. So amidst the noise, you'll recognize the sound of the whisper and know to listen. Turn on all devices and practice. Lots. 

6. Come up with code words now. And make sure they're words that if the kids repeat in public, you won't be massively embarrassed. Like don't say things like "Can we play tonight?" when referring to intimacy. The kids WILL ask about that. Don't call it "Boom Boom" or something equally awkward. Call it "brussel sprouts". Give it a term that they will ignore. Better yet, just whisper it. Candy and toy is another one. I swear that I could say, "I need to pick up candy for the church party" downstairs and a kid sleeping upstairs with the door closed will fully wake up and say, "Candy??? I want candy!!!! {Mongo wants candy!!!}" Again, brussel sprouts might be appropriate. 

7. Open your mind. Embrace Dora. I remember walking in Target before we had kids and seeing an entire isle full of Hannah Montana stuff and saying to the hubby, "Our kids won't be into all that mainstream, commercial stuff. We'll make them cool individuals. I don't want that stuff in my house." 6 years later, I can sing along to every Dora song, I know the names of all the CARS characters, Hello Kity and I have conversations and I like to go into the Mickey Mouse club house because "it's fun inside." You will have plenty of battles to fight once parenthood starts but open your mind now. Because chances are that anything you say, "When I become a mom, I won't let my kids do that" is exactly what you'll end up doing. That being said, Dora can take Boots and her magic stars and fly to the moon. And stay there. Oh. And my gut instinct was right about Hannah Montana. Hot mess! 

8. I was going to tell you to hang out at places where there's lots of kids but since you don't have any of your own yet, that may be super creepy. I don't recommend that you hang out on the playground in the mall because once people see you don't have a kid with you, they won't hesitate to call security on you. But you have friends who gave kids. So offer to babysit them sometimes. The goal here is to let them get their germs all over you. I mean it. Let them rub their snotty little faces all over yours. You need to build up your immunities. Get sick now. Because once you have kids, you won't have time to get sick. And if you do, the whole house will fall down around you. I'm still trying to get the house straight after thus last month of being so sick. It's frustrating. So go help your friends out at their houses when their kids are ill. Expose yourself to the "tiny yucky germs" as much as you possibly can. 

9. You guys need to steal each other's stuff and hide it. Let him take your phone when you least expect it and have him hide it somewhere real good. Make sure the battery is dead so you won't hear the ring. Or take his keys and hide them. Or his shoes. Learn how to be master "finders" now because the kids WILL play "hide and seek" with your valuables and they WILL forget where they hid it. If it can be hidden, they will hide it. And be prepared. You CAN hide things both "out in the open" and in the strangest places. I HAVE found my underwear in Little Man's Puggles book bag. And when I asked "Uh.... What's up with this, Homie?" he DID respond "I wanted to hide them" while laughing. 

10. Go to a local farm and beg the owners to let you put baby oil on a piglet and try to put clothes on it. Then you'll get an idea of what it's like to try and dress a hyper kid. Adrina thinks it's fun to be naked. And she thinks getting dressed is a fun game. Sometimes putting clothes on her involves chasing and running and wrestling and giggles or crying. Sometimes hair gets pulled. And once babies learn to roll over, trying to put clothes on one while they're flipping all over the place is a real challenge. Dress a pig to practice for the todler, dress a fish to practice for the baby. There's a whole lot of flopping around that happens. I'm a little surprised God didn't create humans with more arms and legs but He knows best. 

11. Last, but definitely not least, learn how to break into your own house. You've heard the stories about how many times the kids have locked me out of the house. In the rain. And I had no key outside. Or no shoes on to run through the area where the dogs poo so I could get to the front of the house. And how I've stood outside yelling the kids names or throwing rocks at their windows to get their attention so I could beg them to come let me in. And how, on more than one occasion, they stood there at the windows laughing and waving and mushing theirs faces on the glass. For real. Learn how to break in. Just don't tell anyone else how you did it. 

If I had the time, I'd just write a book. Because I could go on all day long about all the weird things your kids will do and say or the embarrassing things that will inevitably happen or the ridiculous contraptions you'll have to learn how to use. Maybe one day I will. But that day is not today. Adrina just walked past me with out pants. Again. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lesson Learned: Let My Husband Lead

I wanted to write this post on New Years Eve but I've been so sick and nothing comes out of my head coherently. I read a verse that a friend posted on their facebook page this morning though and realized that I just need to write this now, as it's been on my heart for a while.

 That being said, I'm going to ask my husband now for mercy that I know I'll need in the future. I know you read this, Babe. And I'm about to say things that may want to make you say "But I thought you learned your lesson!" so I'm just going to ask you now, when I start to get a little rebelious, please lovingly put my in my place and don't let me "pull an Abby". Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your forgiveness, your compassion and your hard work. 

2013 was a long, frustrating year. And I'm to blame. At first, I was so ready to point the finger at my awesome pregnancy hormones but in all reality, it was because of my selfishness and stubborness that led us on the path we ended up taking. I have no problem now accepting responsibility for my actions and I think that largely has to do with how gracious, merciful and forgiving my husband has been about all of it. Without giving away a ton of personal information, bottom line is that I pressured him into doing something that I thought was right, regardless of how he felt about it. I was unkind and manipulative and self righteous and stubborn. I was pregnant and afraid and wanted what I thought I wanted. Sometimes though, God gives us what we think we want in order to show us that what we had was indeed what was best for us. And that is exactly what happened. I caused a lot of dissention in our home and it spilled into other relationships. And then, when I got what I thought I wanted and realized it wasn't what I thougth it'd be, I grew even more depressed and frustrated and well, just flat out crazy. I wasn't a good wife, a good mother, a good daughter. I was a pregnant, crazy mess. Not a joy to live with. And all because I didn't let my husband lead.

 I have a problem with submission. Always have. I had a hard time with it when I was a kid and I have a hard time with it as a wife. When some one tells me not to do something, I want to do it. When someone tells me I can't have something, I get consumed with wanting to get it. When my husband tells me what he thinks is best for our family and I disagree, I get pouty and mean and insulting. It's honestly hard to write this. It's true but it's icky. And I'm embarrassed that I've acted like such a spoiled brat.

 God set things up the way He did for a reason. Men lead for a ton of different reasons but one of them is because they tend to use their heads more than their hormones when it comes to family decisions. Women tend to base decisions more on emotions and feelings. Women, I'm telling you this now. Don't take offense to it, just hush and listen. When you're pregnant, try NOT to make big choices. Let your husband do all the thinking. Because you've got way more hormones than your body knows what to do with and chances are, they REALLY shouldn't be used for thinking. Lesson 1: Let your husband lead. Lesson 2: Do not succumb to your preggo hormones. Take a chill pill. Loose the air of entitlement you have just because your pregnant. Your husband doesn't owe you anything just because you're carrying his child. He has his own roll to play and it doesn't include stepping aside to let you run the family. Moving on.

 Ephesisans 5:22-33 talks about how, in a marriage, it is key for the wife to SUBMITT to her husband and for the husband to LOVE his wife. We have to be instructed to do this because it's so much easier for it to get twisted. It's kinda easy for women to love. We like love. And it FEELS good (remember, we make more emotional, feely type choices?). Thanks to society's newest slogan "Happy Wife, Happy Life" men are doing more of the submitting and the rolls are being twisted. It has nothing to do with who's the bread winner or who's career is bigger. I'm talking about who leads the family. The man is meant to lead, while the wife lets him lead, while the husband loves his wife and the wife respects her husband. Woman was never meant to lead her husband. I was not meant to make the major decisions for our family. And when I tried to overstep my husband's authority, it caused a lot of pain and set us back in many ways. We're in an awesome place now though.

The verse I read this morning was Proverbs 21:9, "Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife." This killed me. It would have been better for my poor husband to sleep out in the cold than have to be in our nice warm home with the monster I became. So bad.

 When we try to change things from the way God intended them, discord happens. Wives, your husbands are meant to be the leaders. Chances are, they wont lead without coming to you for advice. We WERE created to be man's helper. But if you don't let your husband lead, it will change the dynamic of your marriage and not for the better. Respect your husband's choices, even if you don't agree with them. Keep your hormones (and the attitudes that spring from them) in check. Don't be the kind of wife that causes problems for your husband. Chances are, he's got enough on his plate with being the leader of your family and doesn't need any more drama. It's a heavy burden to bare. Be thankful that it's on his shoulders and not yours. But support him under his burden. Be the virtuous wife that is more vaulable than rubies. 

Go ahead and thank your husband for being the leader of your family. Give him some credit. AND LET HIM LEAD!

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