Party Plans

Well, hubby’s birthday is next week.  As usual, he wants me to plan a special surprise for his day. I could waste time explaining why that creates mixed emotions for me, but neither you nor I want to wade though that.  We’d rather have some fun, wouldn’t we?  😉

So, what are we doing this year?  Bowling, go-karts and kayaking all got crossed off my secret list, leaving the “picnic party in the park” option as my current plan.  I want this to be fun, so I’m busy compiling ideas…  probably more than I’ll actually accomplish, lol, but the possibilities are tantalizing!  Oh, Pinterest, you provider of endless ideas…

Pinata for the big peoples, pull-string pinata for the little ones  (looks way easier than the other actually), games that correspond with the theme (more on that in a bit) and a picnic supper with friends and family.

Hubby loved the new Avengers movie, so I’m using that as the party theme.  I already ordered a cake topper; just need to decide what kind of cake to make.  Chocolate, most likely. 🙂

What’s that?  You wonder if I realize this sounds more like a child’s birthday party than a grown man’s?  *coughs*  Yes, well, trust me, he will love it if I go all out with games and fun times.  The little-boy-on-Christmas-morning spirit is strong with this one!  And that’s a good thing. 

I’m supposed to make a trip to town soon, so I’ll do the birthday shopping that day.  And then try my hand at pinatas… will be a new experience for me.  Wish me luck!


Fairytales Aren’t Real

The most frustrating part of verbal and emotional abuse is that there are no visible bruises.  If you trust anyone enough to share a bit of the truth, they generally don’t believe you.  “You look happy.”  I’ve gotten pretty good at smiling even when my heart is breaking, thanks.  “Surely you’re exaggerating.”  I wish I were.  “You must be causing it.”  Well, I’ve spent nearly four years walking on eggshells, trying to serve and please so the swearing and breaking things won’t start again.  I’ve stopped talking to men my age, in hopes that the blatant accusations of unfaithfulness might stop.  Several times, I’ve gone without food, water and/or heat, because all the money had been used for “fun projects” instead of paying bills. I’ve listened to the tale about how I’ll never be good enough.  I’ve changed my hair color, because it was said I’d be more attractive if I did.  I don’t ask to go places because I get scolded for “wasting” fuel.  I’ve lived through emotional unfaithfulness and have been told there’s nothing wrong with completely confiding in a woman you’re not married to. Even if you’ve had sex with her.   I’ve had everything I say discredited and ignored.  I’ve been called “just the wife”, and yet I’m “stupid”if I say words hurt.  When I calmly say something wounded me, I get accused of lying and making up the very things that were just said. 

So if I’m somehow causing the abuse, you’ll have to explain it to me.  I’ve sought Christian counsel in many ways, followed the advice and still end up walking late at night – crying under the stars and asking God for wisdom.

I once hoped to be like Beauty and the Beast, calming the anger with love and understanding.  Now I know that some beasts don’t want to change, no matter how gentle the beauty.

Awkward Life Moment…

#26.  When you make a witty comment on Facebook and then realize that person you are talking to hasn’t seen you in years and probably doesn’t know you are joking…  but you’ve already pressed Enter and deleting the comment wouldn’t help anything…  so you sit there praying they don’t think you’re weird…  🙂

Milk and Baby Powder

Yesterday’s Facebook post:

     Kaitlyn came to me, complaining that her shirtsleeve was wet. I assumed she’d spilled her drink. Then I found the little “ghost” with crunchy hair… evidently Kaitlyn’s shirt got wet while she was pouring her glass of milk on her little sister! (Useless fact of the day: evidently, Missy sleeps better after a milk bath.) Oy vey!

First off, I can’t believe I used “evidently” twice.  Moving beyond that triviality, how does one deal with a child who pours milk on her sibling?  I chose to discuss why that wasn’t nice, why we would need to discipline for that, and discipline her.  

And then go give baths.

I added that antic to the “ingenious and slightly devious things my child has done” list.  The list that helps me keep a sense of humor and adds some perspective as to how “easy” parenting actually is.

Then I discovered she’d unscrewed the knobs on the entertainment center.  I’m still looking for some of them.  Discussed and dealt with the situation.

Today, she upstaged both of those feats.

Today, Kaitlyn poured a bottle of baby powder on her sister. 

And the freshly vacuumed carpet.

But mostly on her sister.

While we were between the discuss-and-discipline stage and the bath-time stage, the phone rang.  Evidently the discipline only revived the rebel spirit.  Kaitlyn found where I’d put the baby powder (yes, I’d moved it higher) and proceeded to give Missy a fresh dusting with the remainder of the bottle. 

“Sorry to cut this conversation short, but my daughter is patting her sister’s head to watch the little clouds of baby powder.”

We had a refresher course on why we don’t do that and then proceeded to the bathtub.  Both girls were pretty well covered in powder, which was great fun to wash out of Kaitlyn’s hair.  Missy has so little hair it didn’t matter.  She was just extra white.



Addressing the Rumors (or, things I don’t like to talk about)

It’s been over a year now since our separation.  You might remember that time: when I left and lived with a relative for six weeks?  When no one knew what was really going on so they created lots of rumors?  When people called “to see how you are, sweetie” when all they really wanted was to find out juicy tidbits about our problems?  When I kept smiling but said little to appease their curiosity?

I like to accentuate the positive in life.  Talk about the good things.  Gloss over the ugly parts.  Keep the struggles hidden.  I was also raised with the philosophy that you praise your spouse and publicly build him up.  When those things combine in an unhealthy marriage, it results in no one seeing any problems.  “The perfect couple.”  There were lots of good things!  Always have been.  I love the man I married!!!  But – news flash – there were problems.  Not just normal, learning-how-to-be-a-married-couple problems.  Bigger stuff.

So, while everyone was telling me that I looked so thin and needed to be doing things differently, I was quietly carrying a lot of pain in my heart.  “You never told us that!”   I tried.  Remember the blog I used to have?  The one where I occasionally revealed a glimpse into what was going on?  The little clues I left in my casual ramblings, hoping someone would care enough to notice?  Either no one ever did, or they just didn’t believe me.  That happened a lot, too.  I’d trust someone enough to tell them a tiny bit of what was happening, and they’d tell me that couldn’t be true.  Surely I just needed to be a better wife.  I shouldn’t say such things.  So I stopped telling people.  Until it came to the point where I was advised by spiritual leaders that I needed to find a safe place for a little while.  That was the first time anyone besides my family ever acknowledged this was a real problem.

So I went to a safe place and felt like myself for the first time in years.  I hadn’t stopped loving my husband; I was just done being a doormat.   After a botched attempt at counseling – don’t ask, it makes me mad how we were treated – things improved enough that I came home after six weeks. I’d never given up on our marriage, but sometimes changes don’t happen unless there is first a drastic action… like a temporary separation.

We’re still together!  And I’m not being overly dramatic when I say that’s a miracle.  Because no one thought we’d make it.  We’ve come a long ways since then.  There have been good changes and life is a little better now.  True, I’m still hiding things behind my smile, because you honestly don’t want to know.  Or need to know.    We still have stuff to work through – who doesn’t?! – but I think we’re slowly and steadily making progress.

So why am I saying all this?  Why now?  Why does it matter?

I’m tired of being pestered about it.  I’m tired of hearing that I’m the (a. shameless hussy – it wasn’t phrased that nicely -,   b. terrible mother,   c. psychotic woman, or  d. fill in the blank) who “left her husband.”    I’m tired of people insinuating that I wasn’t living for the Lord and I’ll probably leave again.

Pardon me, you might not expect this from the quiet brunette, but you’re dead wrong.  Please stop the gossip.  The details are none of your business.  Your facts are wrong, anyway.  I did the hardest thing possible because it was the right thing to do.

Our marriage is continuing to grow.  We’re happier.  We’re closer.  We have beautiful daughters whom we love very much.  I’m done looking back; now let’s move forward.

Winkin’ and Blinkin’ (The Hidden Agenda)

I think small children have an unspoken agreement that there should always be at least one member of the family awake at all times, preferably two, if Mommy is nearby.  Bedtime is divided into shifts, where they alternate sleeping and tearfully heralding the hours.  I can just imagine the conversations: “Wake up, sis, I can’t keep crying any longer; it’s your turn.  I’m going to get some shut eye;  see if you can keep Mom awake for another hour, okay?”


“Planned” Baby

Recently, someone pointedly asked me if we’d “planned” to have Missy. Want to know what that question seemed to insinuate?

“Was she wanted?”

I gave a gracious reply, but have replayed that moment in my head many times since. Did we “plan” to conceive? (Never mind that it’s truly no one else’s business!!!)  Yes, we both wanted to have another child. Yes, we were happy when we learned we were expecting. But if Missy had been a surprise, would it really matter? My father’s conception was a surprise to his parents who had assumed they were stopping with two children, but no one would look back and regret his birth. Least of all me, as I wouldn’t even exist if God hadn’t created him! I know many “surprise” children, and every mother is thankful for them. So why is it still considered polite to ask if someone’s baby was planned? I realize it’s a normal question these days, but it just hits me really wrong.

For the record: I’m not talking about birth control or family planning. That’s not even close to what I’m trying to say here. I’m talking about each life being significant, because God made them.

Was Missy wanted? Yes. Has she added to our lives? Yes, oh, yes! She has given us so many new experiences as parents, things we never had with Kaitlyn.

Kaitlyn arrived five weeks early, surprising everyone, and changing everything. Trying to work through what was happening in our lives created tension at home. Hospital bills took everything we had, as we tried to survive on our small savings. Jesse’s job was given away as a “favor” for a friend of the boss, and we didn’t know if we’d have any income in the near future.

Though Kaitlyn did great and got out of NICU after only two and half weeks, she still had some challenges for a while. She was on oxygen: if you’ve ever carried a newborn and diaper bag into a crowded restaurant, try adding an oxygen tank to that mix. I remember standing in a tiny two-stall bathroom with no changing table, trying to change Kaitlyn’s diaper while keeping her gear out of the way so other women could crowd into the room… and no one was kind. People loudly whispered about my lack of competence as a young mother. 😦

Kaitlyn struggled for weeks to learn how to breast-feed, so I was pumping every two hours. If you’ve ever done that faithfully, you know that doesn’t mean you get two hours of rest before starting over. Assemble the breast-pump and bottles, pump for however long it takes, then put milk in storage and steralize everything. Oh, and don’t forget about actually feeding the baby! I was getting about fifteen minutes between pumping to make food, do laundry, etc… and turning into a zombie. One night, I thought I was holding Kaitlyn and panicked because she didn’t have her oxygen on. Hubby woke up and asked why I was holding my stuffed rabbit.

Kaitlyn had reflux and was colicky for months, screaming through the evenings and nights. I walked with her, drove her around town, did some crying myself, and tried to keep from going crazy. Hubby and I were on edge most of the time… the crying was almost more than we could endure. .

Now, you need to know I am forever grateful for the gift of Kaitlyn. She has thrived, despite her premature birth, and continues to bring us incredible joy! 🙂 But our memories of the infant stage are mixed with some difficult times.

This time, God has given us a special gift: being able to enjoy the first few months in a new way. We didn’t have to bounce back and forth between home and NICU. Finances were tight as always, but Jesse still had a job with steady income! We got to come home the very next day and didn’t have to bring oxygen with us. We didn’t have to do overnight tests to monitor her oxygen levels. I didn’t have to use the breast-pump unless I wanted to! Instead of being stressed out because of a baby, we found ourselves relaxing and enjoying her more, sharing amazement at how different a full-term baby is.

God knew we needed Missy in our lives. And how anyone can pointedly stare at her and ask me if she was “planned” is beyond my comprehension. Children are miracles.

So if you ask me if she was a “planned” baby, I’m going to smile and say, “Yes, God planned her as a special blessing in our lives.”