parenting as a marriage builder.

it is a common and widely held theory and belief that parenting is hard on a marriage.  (most especially the parenting of young children.)  i’ve read all sorts of statistics and articles surrounding this theory, and, well, i’ve tested it in my own home lab.

we all know by now that my marriage has endured suffering, heartache, and weakness, and that it has also experienced deep love, passion, and true connection.  the facts and circumstances surrounding both our highs and lows are varied and dynamic; while i’m certain there is much more to come for us, pat and i have already been through a lot together – the richer and the poorer.

so much of our time these past five years has been filled with parenting.  parenting, y’all.  kids: the drain of your time and money and youth.  kids have zapped a lot of what pat and my’s relationship had been built on: travel, dinners out, morning sex, lazy, long days in bed.  it all seems so obvious, right?  you start putting energy into your kids, and there is less energy for each other.  it’s basic math.

and yet.
upon reflection (and there has been so much reflection.  reflection until we’ve been blue in the face), having kids has had significantly less to do with our previous hardships than i originally may have guessed.  not only this, but i know for a fact parenthood has enriched not only our individual lives, but our marriage.

parenting with my husband is a privilege.  it is hilarious and hard.  it is endless inside jokes and eye rolling.  it is laughs in bed about what they said earlier that day and frustrated sighs at the kitchen sink over how much they are annoying us.

parenting with another person is sharing a love for your kids that no one else can have or know – like a secret club that only you two get to be members of together.

finley always poops during dinner.  it’s just, her time.  it’s like clockwork.  99% of the time, pat is home for dinner, and so 97% of the time, he gets to be the one who wipes finley when she is done.  he’ll be sitting there next to me at the table when we hear her yell “iiiiiiii’m done!!!!!” and he’ll usually say something under his breath to me like, “let me just finish CHEWING my food please.  no chewing food while wiping poop.”

about an hour ago finley pooped while i was eating chips and hummus in my kitchen.  and as i heard her yell, “iiiiiiiii’m done!!!!!” i smiled so big, with all those chips in my mouth.

i smiled so big, thinking of pat.  feeling so close to him, so connected.  much in love.

and so i finished chewing,  tended to finley, and came over here to write this point:
i picked the right person to wipe my kids’ asses with,  and it’s a daily blessing for my marriage.

 

 

pictures and videos and life things happening.

the end of summer has snuck right up, and somehow we are less than two weeks away from the girls starting school.  this is the first year where finley’s school schedule will feel legit, she will go every morning, and edith will go m/w/f mornings.  i’ll pick them both up in time for lunch.  i’m sad that they are getting so old (!!!) but i think this is a good amount of time for them to be out of the house with a new baby coming – it guarantees i have some time for p during the week without the older girls around.

since we are still in dallas and still in our house, we had to make some living arrangement changes.  i’ll start by saying, while i’m still not SO in love with dallas all the time, i am SO in love with our house.  i don’t think we will be in it forever, but, as far as houses go, i could easily never leave it.  over the past year it’s finally felt so lived in, decorated, colorful, and homey.  the space itself is great and we love it.  what i’m saying here is: we’ve moved a lot around the last couple of weeks within our house, and i’m going to do a separate post on that next week!

so, for now, here are a few pictures and videos of our last few weeks.  summer has been the perfect time to soak up all this time with each other before the madness of the fall. hope y’all are staying cool!imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

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motherhood. and feminism.

i am so sick of motherhood being something i have to defend.  when, exactly, did being “only a mother” (which is a bullshit phrase to begin with) become some sort of social and supposed-personal problem?  when did it become anti-feminist?  who said it was not enough?  am i only supposed to feel empowered if i do something else besides mothering?

let’s start here.
number one: motherhood, and staying at home with my kids to raise them, has never been my biggest problem.  it has never been the reason i have felt depressed, lonely, self-destructive, fearful, or weak.  yes, motherhood has prohibited certain freedoms.  it has taken away the previous state of my vagina, my stomach, my boobs, and my short-term memory.  i don’t have as much personal time; i don’t have as much social time; i don’t have as much sex time.  i eat meals alone with my husband basically never and i sometimes lock myself in a bathroom to say fuck.

and, still, “only being a mother” has never been the core issue.  ever.

my biggest problem has come from deep-seated anxieties and fears around my own sense of self-worth and my security within relationships.  these fears are from my upbringing, and they have played out and manifested themselves in several ways.

number two: do you think being home with my kids all day every day is some sort of cotton candy, head-in-the-clouds existence?  do you think it doesn’t take guts, and strength, and patience?  do you not believe you need a strong brain and an open heart to raise young children, day after day?  do you think because i’m not paid money for the work that i do that it’s somehow inferior to a woman who is?   you’re wrong.

staying at home with my kids takes guts, and strength, and patience. being a mother who also works away from her kids takes guts, and strength and patience.  being a woman with a career who doesn’t have kids takes guts, and strength, and patience.

stop pitting me against supposedly stronger examples.  i am also a strong example.

number three: i get it.  believe me, i get it.  i get that when you stay at home with young kids you can feel like you have nothing else; that the sacrifice of time and brain space is immeasurable to a point that can take a toll; that there are giant, giant markers of your identity that you oftentimes cannot find, and this can be pretty unhealthy.  for everybody.

do i always fight the good fight?  no.  do i always stand up for what i believe in?  not every time.  do i sometimes stay up at night wondering what the fuck i am doing with my life?  you bet.

(do all sorts of people do these exact same things and ask these exact same questions? pretty sure they do.)

i am a well-educated, dynamic, thoughtful woman.  i care about myself, i care about those i love, and i care about the world around me.   i  didn’t “leave” these things behind to “only be a mother” –  i am that woman still, and i am also a mother.

i live inside a choice i got to make about what i wanted to do with my time and my life.  i think long and hard about the examples and the messages i give and will give my three daughters.  

and so, i refuse to believe i am not pulling my feminist weight.

because, in a fair fight, there is no winner of “best female,” mother or not.

 

a book.

i’ve had a tough time writing recently.

this happens to me, from time to time.  and it’s hard for me when it does.  writing has supported and carried and gotten me through the toughest times of my life.  journaling on pieces of paper as an adolescent, endless creative writing classes in college – poem writing, free writing, memoir prompts.

and then, just over five years ago, this blog.

the book has always been there.  the dream of a book.  the secret, hidden, way-down-there-inside-me truth that knew but didn’t want to say: i want to write a book.

because everyone wants to write a book, don’t they?  i used this (i still do), as a way to dismiss my dream, and well, myself, even.  “oooooh whatever, everyone wants to be a writer.  who doesn’t want to write a book?  no one even makes it as a writer so what’s.the.point.”   (meanwhile, did you know that plenty of people actually have zero interest in writing a book?! what?!)

but sometimes, when we want for something deep inside us, fear puts on the mask of trivialization.

and until we can figure out why we keep living in fear, action is hard to take.

i spent just about a year in intense therapy.  i broke open my life, and exposed it, all the pieces, for me to see.

my therapist, in one of our last sessions a couple months ago, asked me:
“and why, callie?
why do you think you blew everything up?”

i guess so i could see the raw footage.  so i could shed some of the facade.  so i could face who i was and where i came from.  so i could live inside a life i made, without all the fear acting as a fog.

and so, with some of this fear fallen by the wayside…i could make room.

i could make room to write a book.

the fetus of this book, that is almost so brand new it’s almost entirely still an idea, a thought, a dream…is beginning to grow.  there are some pages.  i haven’t yet seen the heartbeat, i still don’t know for sure if it will ever deliver.

but.
i hope stronger each day for its birth.  i hope in a way that seems…
attainable.

it will take years.  it will take sacrifice.  it will challenge me, and hurt me, and love me back.

as all real, good things do.

 

bedtime. and a shower moment.

the girls share a bedroom and a bedtime routine.  they have always shared a bedroom, but it wasn’t until six months or so ago that we started putting them down at the same time.  (until then, one parent would take each girl, or one parent would do one girl followed by the other. ((we would read to finley in our bed and then move her after she fell asleep in our bed or, if edith was already asleep, move her right after reading and cuddle time.))

once edith rounded two and their sleep schedules and habits fell more in line, we blended this process, and it has been really useful for me and pat.  it gives one parent a “night off” from bedtime to decompress, go out and do something, finish up some work or writing, etc.

*pat and i usually alternate nights, but we’re flexible based on what else is going on, how i am feeling, etc.*

i had always wanted the girls to share a bedroom from the beginning.  i’m not sure what my reasoning is here (we have enough bedrooms for them to each have their own), but it just seemed like the right fit for their dynamic.  they are close in age, they share so much, and they are also incredibly attached to one another.  (and actually, while in houston last week, they shared a queen sized bed every night and slept more soundly than they had in WEEKS.  pat and i could not stop peeking in on them to stare at their little arms and legs splayed out on each other’s faces.  it was so good.)

i’m sharing these logistics because i know some moms read this blog, and i am always interested in how other parents are doing meals, sleeping, etc. etc.  when you have kids you have to base your decisions on your own family’s personalities and style, but it’s also so curious to hear about how other families are doing things!

but the real story lies here:

last night i did bedtime.  pat snuck out right after bath to hit golf balls, and after two books in e’s bed i walked finley over to her bed, tucked her in, and got back next to e.  the three of us talked about our day and said a prayer.  (finley likes to ask god every night for “no bad dreams.”)   then i put on some soft music and laid with edith until she fell asleep. (which took 3 minutes.)  i crawled out of edith’s bed and went to kiss finley and lay with her for one minute.  she is always quietly awake waiting for me, and she wraps her arms around my neck and whispers, everytime, “mom, how much do you love me?”  “finley, i love you more than 100 million trillion jupiters.”  “YOU DO?!!?!?”  

(finley, y’all.  i highly recommend her for all your heart needs.)

i told her to sleep well and left the room, and decided to take a shower while i waited for pat to get home.  sometimes finley does come out so i made sure to pill around for a few minutes to make sure i could shower without being so scared by her sneaking in the bathroom that the baby popped out.

it didn’t work.  i waited several minutes but she still snuck out of her room as i was two minutes into my shower.  (thankfully my guard was up so no being scared shitless took place.)

as i watched her slowly walk down the hall to the bathroom where i was (i had also watched her slowly open the door and peer out), i thought, i’m just gonna let her stay in here with me while i finish my shower.  most nights we are strict about immediately walking her back to bed and saying, “it’s bedtime finley, please stay in your room.”  but, well, i was all wet.

and so she stayed.

she sat quietly and happily on her stool by the sink, talking to me, watching me, feeling, i think, happy to be with me in a space that she usually isn’t.  that feeling of “wow, mom doesn’t usually let me do this and it feels…special.  different.  random.”  she watched me dry off, put on my face lotion, and i let her rub belly oil all over my bump.

i’m not sure how much of their everyday bedtime routines i will remember as they get older.  i’m not sure if i will remember that we always read two books, or that they always prayed to not have bad dreams.  i’m not sure if i will even remember how pat and i alternated nights and sometimes he left to golf and i stayed to shower.  these things are so engrained in our daily lives as parents, they too often float to a place where we can’t retrieve their meaning.

but the moments, the minutes, the nights like last night – the times when she sneaks out and stays with me for a while, when i watch her little face watch mine, and i feel her little hand on my growing belly before i tuck her back in to bed…

those are the memories that won’t so easily float.

and they may just stay with her, too.

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the fourth, etcetera.

first off, i just googled how to spell etcetera.

secondly, our fourth of july weekend was so so satisfying.  the last two fourths we’ve left the city (for a lake or farm destination), but this year we stayed put and let the party come to us in the form of one of my dearest friends becky.  we had her with us all weekend which was festive enough, but then we did small fun things like head out to the dallas art museum, bbq all day sunday with a couple other friends, and eat homemade popsicles. i even got to sneak out for a dinner date with bex to one of my favorite dallas spots.  the long weekend hit all the right notes, and by monday evening pat was pacing around the kitchen whining about how he was “week-end out” – a good sign of too much sun, booze, and, in his case, ribs.😉

we leave bright and early saturday morning for one last trip to my farm and houston to see family and friends before we come back and settle in to wait for miss p.  i’m fully into my third trimester, and this little baby girl will be here before we know it.

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grit.

whenever i’m getting a sore throat or starting to feel suspiciously nasally, i make myself (or, my husband makes me), a giant mug of bone broth.  i toss in a handful of turmeric and some sea salt, and sometimes i get spicy and add ginger or garlic or even black pepper.  i’m not sure if miracles take place as i consume and digest this broth, but it’s never caused any harm i’m aware of.

plus, i kind of love the taste of it.

i just said i wasn’t sure if miracles took place as i consumed the broth, but here i am, a few sentences later, ready to take that back.  because it occurs to me as i’m writing this, that, even if my insides don’t heal right up because of the chicken bones and turmeric (which, come on, they probably do a little), i have created space to nourish myself.

(nourish is much, much different than medicate, or solve, or apply.  i don’t have a fever and “nourish” myself with tylenol.  no – nourish implies tending to, nourish implies care.  there is an element of love deep in the word.)

((and so, when i drink this broth, and nourish myself, i am preforming the small miracle of acting on behalf of myself.))

it takes me a while to sip on the broth.  it starts off hot, i blow on the steam.  i smell it.  i wrap my hands around the ceramic mug.  i stare into the eyes of my daughters eating their dinner while i nurse the broth and clear my throat.  then maybe i take a few sips, irregularly.

i come back to it after clearing the table and it’s drinkable – so now i am sipping it regularly, and the warmth slides down.  it’s ritualistic, and it’s little, but it’s grace.

(this is grace, yes? little rituals that keep us warm?)

then i fold laundry on the girls’ bed as their dad bathes them.  i half listen to their laughing and occasional whining and i half zone out.  i’ve left the mug in the other room.  i finish the laundry, and when i walk out the broth is coming on cold.  so my sips are more like drinks, and i take a lot of them in a row, until i’ve almost finished the cup.

i kiss both girls goodnight and tell them, holy shit i love you.  (i leave the “holy shit” part out of my words but i make sure to say it with my eyes.)

and then i get in bed, next to my broth.  and i take the last three sips and find each sip is full of turmeric, which has settled to the bottom.

it’s gritty.  it’s concentrated.
it’s strong.

and in that very moment i am struck by the fact that, sometimes, at the bottom, where everything has settled, that’s where you find grit.

where you find the strongest part.

the part you maybe knew was down there, somewhere, but that you simply couldn’t see, or taste, or feel…
until you got there.