They shouldn’t be my everything and I’m proud that they’re not.
There are a lot of moms out there that would judge me for not having my entire life revolve around my children. For not making raising them the only priority in my life. For not devoting the entirety of my time and energy into my children. (Please don’t misinterpret this to be that I don’t devote an EXTREME amount of time to my kids, because I do, just not all of it.) For not putting my role as “wife” and “friend” on the backburner while I fill my role as “mom.” For not making “parent” the most important thing that my husband and I share. But I’m quite confident that my husband and I are doing it right.
The other week we asked my in-laws if they could come into town in August and stay with our kids while we went away for the weekend. And the “Sure!” was quickly followed with “You’re going away alone again?”
Yeah, we are. It’s hard with children this young for my husband and I to go away on a full vacation alone for a slew of reasons. So we make it a point every few months to plan a weekend alone. And we’ll probably continue to do so until all of our kids are in college. Because our marriage is the center of our family. And I think that’s the way I think it should be.
My husband and I love our children. I love them more than I even thought was humanly possible before they were born. Those little souls are the world to us. But they’re here on this earth because my husband and I loved each other and wanted to start a family. It all began with the two of us in love and that’s how it’s all going to end.
Our goal in raising our family is to help each of them develop into a strong, confident person who is caring and is going to go out and make a positive difference in the world.
We want them to live. To truly and deeply live. To live more fully than my husband and I are right now.
We want them to be independent and adventurous. To experience many places and things and let those experiences seep into their being and make them an even better, empathetic and more compassionate version of themselves.
We want them to go off to college. To fall in love. To get an education. To have stories and times they can only share with their friends because they’re not the types of things you want to share with your parents. We want them to fail over and over so they learn to pick themselves up and dust themselves off and then keep going.
To raise children that will become the adults we want them to be means that they are going to have to leave us. We want them to. We want them to have a life of their own that has us in their inner circle but doesn’t have us as the epicenter. We want them to be out in the world on their own loving and living their life. After they are grown we want our home to be a place where they are certain they will find acceptance and love and laughter but we also want them to create a home like ours for themselves.
Out of my lifetime, and their lifetime, my children will live with me for 18 years. And do not doubt for one second that I won’t cherish every minute of that time that I have them under my roof or take it for granted. Or devote most of my life during those years to catering to them and for them. Or shed thousands of tears the day they leave my house to really start building their own life. Because I most certainly will.
And do not question if whether in a situation at gunpoint and I had to choose the life of my child over the life of my husband if I would choose the life of my child. Because I would 100 times out of 100. And I know my husband would do the same. I gave life to my children. And I believe it is my responsibility and privilege to protect their well being and safety at any and all costs.
But the 18 years my kids will spend under my roof is about 1/3 of the time my husband and I will be spending together. And our life and success as a family unit is largely dependent on us as a couple, not us as parents.
And that is why our marriage is just as high of a priority as raising our children is. Because ultimately our marriage governs how everything else in our family plays out. It’s why we try to spend so much time together as an entire family- because we like hanging out with each other. It’s why our kids will be able to recognize a healthy relationship from an unhealthy one. It’s why they’ll have the belief that true love can last. It’s why they’ll know that you treat people with kindness and respect. It’s why they’ll know that in an argument if you want someone to listen to what you are saying you don’t raise your voice. It’s why they’ll know that a home should be a safe haven. It’s why they’ll know that they can always count on their family. And it’s why they’ll know that in life for anything to be successful you have to put effort in to it, marriage included.
So that’s why in August my husband and I are going away for the weekend by ourselves, again. Because our family is our entire universe but it revolves around our marriage.
“God’s love is not shown in the person who knows the most bible verses. It is not felt in the person who casts judgments on who is worthy and who is not. It is not spread with the removal of basic rights for our neighbors. God’s love grows when we live it in action. When we share His word through our encounters with others, through our charity, our forgiveness, and through sacrifice.
We spread His love when we give, not when we take.”—Melissa, of DearBaby.
It’s never good to hear one of your kids calling your name at 2:30 in the morning.
And it certainly is not good to hear them say “I am so sorry I peed on the carpet” as soon as they see your face.
And it is even worse when you hear “I don’t know where. I forget. But I’ll try and find it with my foot.”
But if you’re going to be stuck looking for a human pee stain on your upstairs rug in the middle of the night, thank goodness it’s for a little girl who tried to change herself and got tangled in her tank top and was so relieved that you weren’t angry with her for peeing on the carpet that in between every comment like:
"Did you find it yet?"
"Why is this soap white?"
"I might have to poop. Nope I don’t have to poop. I bet tomorrow I have to poop."
"Tell me about behaving good and bad again like you did today."
"Say ‘kids’ not boys and girls."
"No, ‘kids’ not children."
"Are your eyes closing?"
"If you were going to paint your nails right now would you use purple or blue polish?"
"Guess what kind of cake Aunt Jenn is going to have for her birthday."
"I don’t know what kind of cake she’s having. I just wanted you to guess."
"Are you sure I have to go to bed and that it’s not morning yet?"
Last night while getting the last of the things in order for this morning the conversation went from this:
“Do I have a health care proxy?”
“Yeah. We signed our medical directives when we did our wills.”
“Everything is going to be ok, right? There’s nothing to worry about is there?”
Of course I think it is going to be ok. And it will be. But that doesn’t take the normal fears about going under away.
So I just said exactly what gives me comfort when he’s around me. And told him what I tell my self in my head when I’m nervous about something:
"Everything is going to be fine. I’ll be right there."
“[A]ll parties agree that Proposition 8 had one effect only. It stripped same sex couples of the ability they previously possessed to obtain from the State, or any other authorized party, an important right—the right to obtain and use the designation of ‘marriage’ to describe their relationships. Nothing more, nothing less… . Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort.”—
Judge Reinhardt, finding Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional.
For the past few years, every January the two of us sit down for a special evening of future planning.
We have supplies: a good dinner, pens, paper, a list, a calendar and a bottle of wine.
We set goals. For ourselves individually, for our family, for the two of us as a couple.
We makes resolutions. We challenge ourselves. We make goals and say them out loud so we become accountable for them. Last year even involved giving ourselves a motto for 2011 ( which was “I’m gonna f*cking rock this!”)
I’m not entirely sure what will end up on paper tomorrow night. I’m still giving it a lot of thought.
But I am sure that the plans for 2012 will involve growth, adventure, love, and dreaming big.
I’m so excited to see what this new year will bring.