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Friday, February 21, 2014

My Non-Olympians

I really admire the dedication of Olympic athletes. It is amazing to literally, be the best at what you do, not only in your town, but also your state, the country and the world.   I know it takes years and years of dedication, which is hard to believe when some of these athletes are teenagers.
As I was watching the snowboarding event I was interrupted by my oldest who burst into the room wearing only his pajama bottoms. He proudly showed me his thumb, which was raw and the top layer of skin had worn off. "I have gamer thumb!"  He was so proud of it. As his pride escalated, my shame surpassed it.

Look what I have done.  I have created a "gamer". It has been a rough winter in the Midwest. Snow, rain, snow, more snow, wind and frigid temperatures. This has been going on since Thanksgiving. His gamer thumb is an obvious lapse in my parenting. A white flag saying, I can't come up with another thing for you to do inside, go play your video games.   If gaming was an Olympic sport, he would surely earn a gold medal. But it's not.  Neither is sewing, which my second son has taken up.  One day he decided he wanted to make an enormous doughnut pillow by hand. He would at least get a silver medal for hand stitching baked good replicas.  My third son's interest vary, but he is always very dramatic.  Sometimes his performance of being fatally injured at the hands of one of his brother's is so convincing even a trained actor believes him.  My last son would place in the top 3 of destruction.  Destruction of anything, Legos, Play-doh, egos. And for a three year old, he can come up with some pretty creative insults.  The other day he asked Jack if he had a bajina. He knows very well, Jack doesn't have a bajina, but not only is he using a word (pronounced incorrectly) he is not suppose to, he is calling his brother a girl in one fell swoop.

I'm not really painting my decade of parenting in a positive light am I?

My husband could win a gold medal for eating whatever he wants and not gaining a pound. That really should be a sport.  I work out more than I care to admit, and people don't notice. But my boss asked me what Don did because he was so muscular. Huh? Again, HUH?  I try very hard to not get annoyed with this, but its hard at times.  In fact, I believe Fin got the idea to sew a pillow after watching his father eat two krispy kreams in one minute flat.

Then there is me. This morning, like any morning I arrived back home from the gym around 6:45. This always shocks Oscar and he really thinks I sleep in the garage.  Usually he is alone sitting at the kitchen table waiting to be fed. Everyone else is asleep, despite setting various alarms around the house that apparently only a toddler can hear.  This is where my skills come into play.  Don can wake up, do the three S's, get dressed, eat like a lumber jack and be out the door in 10 minutes. Leaving me with a choir of boys who try and convince me in unison that it is Saturday and they don't have to go to school.

I manage to feed, clothe and herd, them all out the door and to school on time. Not to mention myself who can take a shower, give a spelling quiz, text a neighbor and get myself ready for work in enough time to grab my coffee and go. In addition to being a gold medal gamer, my son has learned to make my coffee and have it waiting for me on the table.

I get a quick glance in the mirror before I leave and realize that my combination of cardigan and messy bun which at one time was cute, now looks more and more like Mrs. Garret.   But, you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the Facts of Life, the Facts of Life.

Although we may not be flying down a hill on skies or going face first in the skeleton event we are achieving greatness in our own right.  I was so happy to see the commercials which highlighted the parents of Olympian's who have trained just as hard, just behind the scenes.

I know that none of my boys will be Olympic athletes, but you might just see a techie or Barista, a uniform designer or concession stand manager, a commentator and a demo crew on the sidelines which will make me just as proud.

My mom once told me she was so proud of me after I backed my car into a parallel spot, I was 35. Which proves that even the little things can make a mother's heart sing at any any age.

Greatness is achieved on a quieter unknown level also. It may not earn a Gold medal, but for a me, having a sip of the most perfect cup of coffee as I walk into work seems to cancel out our imperfections and  reminds me that I have a lot to be proud of.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love More.

Around Valentines Day I get a little nostalgic. It's hard not to, with all the commercials and ads and numerous cards, candy and pressure to show your love for someone with a gift.  My husband and I really don't do this.  I have never had a moment where he opened a box with a big diamond in it and I jump into his arms and giggle. The only time he has done that is when he proposed, and he said I looked like I was going to vomit.  The truth is... I was.

Love is scary.  You don't see that on the commercials.
When I say I get nostalgic, it's not for my memories of past romances. It's of my childhood.  I loved decorating a shoebox and placing it on my desk. The smell of conversation hearts and the anticipation of getting little cards from everyone with my name on it. Spelled correctly!
I also remember waking up to a card from my mom and a  kitchen table decorated with hearts.  When I think of love, I think of what I felt as a little girl. Grown up love is challenging and what I am starting to figure out,  always evolving.  When Don and I started dating I thought I knew love.  I think I knew lust.

I understood marriage about as well as I understand an IKEA instructional manual.  I saw the pretty outcome,  I had all the pieces to make it and even the tools, but it is never as easy as you think it will be.

After 12 years of marriage and 14 years of dating we are still in the learning stages.  At times, marriage is really fun. At times it is taken for granted and other times it is so frustrating. It can be reprieve from the outside world. But other times I want to escape it.
And I consider myself lucky to be in a good marriage.  I'm not saying I want to be unfaithful, or leave for good, but sometimes I think about how nice it would be on my own and not immediately associated with anyone else.
I had coffee with a close friend of mine. I mentioned how her husband had done something amazingly cute on Facebook as an ode to his wife. I admitted I was kind of envious of the attention he gave her.  She gave me a look and said, that was the result of a full blown argument where she told him she had been living with a drone who apparently couldn't see her for the past three months.  
Another friend admitted that she and her spouse were in a rough patch after 16 years of marriage.
Rough patches are subjective. A rough patch could mean infidelity. A rough patch for me in college would have meant that my boyfriend decided to go out with his friends instead of me.  Now a rough patch means something that sometimes is unspoken.  Despite our best efforts, there are times where Don and I are just not on the same page.  I don't know what leads to this. Sometimes it can last a few days, sometimes a week.  It's as if our lines of communication have been disconnected.  Where you get into real trouble, is if you don't notice, or worse don't care.
It takes one of us to just come out and admit, that they have been distant. Or that they have been wrong, and that is hard.   Not to mention hurtful.  I don't talk about my marriage  with many other people, I figure if I have a concern, I should go to the source. After all, they are the only other one in it.   But I have friends, and I am a willing and good listener, and it seems that many women have similar problems.  What it comes down to is the feeling of being unheard.  I am also friends with a lot of married men and can say that 90% of the time, it is not intentional or even personal.
It goes back to the escape urge.  When Don has come out of one of those places where I feel that he doesn't care about me, he has told me I did nothing wrong. As a woman I automatically assume that I did, or that I'm ugly or boring and want to know how to fix it.
I think men especially just need quiet once in awhile. Settle into their own thoughts, and not be asked to solve everything.  Sometimes when you live quietly,  you see the beauty that is all around you. Don just needs to escape the noise every six months or so and I let him.

But it has taken me over a decade to figure that out.

I guess for me, love is more private than public and although I appreciate the thought of showing love for someone on a particular day, I won't go out of my way to show my spouse just because it's Feb. 14. I seem to  stumble across a quotes that just seems perfect for what I need to hear or read that day. Today this one showed up in my inbox:    

There is no remedy for love but to love more. - Henry David Thoreau

There are times when love hurts.  Not just romantic love, but all love. Rather than giving up, or fostering hate, just love them more.   In my case, when he hasn't done the dishes, or leaves his socks by the bed for the 400th time..... love more.  When he is distant or quiet, love more.  You can love someone more even when you don't want to.  It is as simple as giving thanks for them, even when you want to karate chop them.  This is what I hope to master in the next decade or maybe next couple of decades.

When I worked in a coffee shop an old guy would come in and get the same thing everyday, a medium coffee, black with two ice cubes.  It was usually at an off time around 11 a.m.  He would just sit and watch people.  Sometimes I would sit down with him, mostly because I wanted to get off my feet.  But one day he said" Do you want to know the secret to a good marriage?"  I wasn't even engaged at this point, but of course I said yes. I have never forgotten  him or what he said and I find his words creeping into my thoughts often.

He said "Every night I would roll over and look at my wife and think I got the better end of the stick, and every night she would look at me and think the same thing."

Love more.