Tag Archives: Marriage

To the happy couple – my words to my niece as she marries …

I’m thankful to have a chance to be a part of today’s ceremony. It is always a joy to speak of love and the beauty that a day like this means not only to the couple, but to all of us who have found love and experienced what it means to commit your heart to another.

I learned a long time ago that finding your mate isn’t about finding someone you can see yourself living with the rest of your life. It’s about finding someone and realizing you can’t possibly imagine living your life without them. The first case is focused on the admin logistics of a lifetime together and the second more pressing interpretation, and the one I think brings us here today, is about the total faith and commitment of your most vulnerable self to another. Not because it will be easy, but more because you realize when it is not easy, you still want that man or woman to be the one by your side.

I would suggest that being in love on days like today is easy. It is when times are hard, when things are in chaos and when you are at your most vulnerable that real love shows itself in the form of that one man or woman who is there every time to lend strength and comfort to make you stronger than yourself and better than yourself when you are alone. I know that every married couple here, who utters the words “I love you” to another has experienced times when you’ve looked to your husband or wife and asked them to carry you through things you didn’t feel you could navigate alone.

I know too, after being in my own marriage for 28 years, that revisiting the type of love we witness today is an affirmation of our own beginnings and our early surrender to the promise and trust of marriage. In a way, I envy my neice and Steve. In a way I wish I still had that brand new love, that clean fresh rain of passion that you are experiencing now and will experience in the coming years. After consideration however, I will tell you a secret. If you do this right and if you guard the other persons heart and trust as I believe you will, your depth and understanding of true love will only grow deeper and more beautiful. Your depth and understanding of how strong it makes you to be so vulnerable with someone, your depth and understanding of how easy it will make the hardest of times and your depth and understanding of why today, you are giving yourself to one person for the rest of your life will be one of the greatest gifts you will ever receive.

Love that is true, love that is faithful and love that is vulnerable, scary, at times equally painful and exquisite in nature is as unique as a storm that opens to a rainbow, as beautiful as a winter that yields to a spring and as satisfying to see as a flower that blooms from a beautiful and youthful bud.

You have both had trials, you have both had victories over those trials and today you stand to yield yourselves to one another in love. We are grateful to share your day and as I shared at your sister’s wedding Becky, all of us are here to help you and Steve recognize there is nothing you cannot overcome together, there is nothing we will not help you grow through and there is nothing that will stop the growth of our faith in your love.

Becky asked me to read a sonnet by ee cummings. It is not an easy poem to read as cummings designed it to been seen and felt for the way it was written as well as for the words he selected. At no time in the poem does he capitalize the letter “I” to separate his importance from the importance of his love and save one or two semi colons there is no punctuation to mar the flow of the words. In particular cummings separates phrases visually as if to allow him to whisper to his loved ones heart quietly and yet still in full view of the reader.

I will however, do my best to help you sense the depth of his faith and surrender:

 

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Be gentle with one another’s hearts. Be gentle with your words and strong in your commitment not just to each other, but to the promise of love.

beckys-photo

 

 

“Why Me” (A Thanksgiving Reminder)”

“Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, “Why me?”, then a voice answers “Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.”
Charlie Brown

We all get overwhelmed. We go to places that make us wonder what we’ve done to bring such challenges to our lives and question how in the world we’re supposed to cope when so many things are going wrong. The voice that tells you “Nothing personal…” is only slightly satisfying. I really believe you, and me, and everyone else; we need to look at the things in our lives that ARE working and that are, in fact, going better than we could ever have hoped for. When those things come to mind, we need to be just as diligent and ask:

“Why Me?”

When we are facing a challenge and friends rush to our sides to assist us:

“Why Me?”

When we suffer a serious accident, and somehow survive:

“Why Me?”

When we have a child who is struggling with school, and we have teachers who join with us to assist in moving them to success:

“Why Me?”

If we focus solely on the things that are challenges, we just don’t realize how each day brings positives we will miss when our head is down and shaking in dismay. We miss our opportunities to be thankful for today. I am not a Pollyanna, I have suffered many hardships in my life. As I’ve grown through them I’ve come to realize they were a gift that brought focus to the good times in my life. They provided clarity to my thoughts about “the routine” and sharp edges to what is really hard and what is just nonsense. They’ve helped me put into perspective how fleeting time really is.

Now when my sons, rush off the bus, jackets flying and backpacks bumping up and down; when they rush up the driveway in a full out race, laughing and fussing about cheating and head starts; all the time with their eyes smiling. I’ve come to understand that I am witness to the morning of their lives. That’s when I ask:

“Why Me?”

and that’s when I say thank you for all the moments that have shaped me and brought me to this place.

At Thanksgiving especially – look around at your place in this world and ask

“Why Me?”

It’s sometimes overwhelming when we realize just how lucky we are.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.

All’s Fair…

I remember when they were little guys I worried about leaving them for even a minute.  I was sure they’d tumble down the stairs, tumble off the couch, fall from their high chair or choke on their applesauce.  In any one of those scenarios I was SURE they’d kill themselves.

I imagined the days that I would have four relatively functioning human beings in the house that could chew and swallow without monitoring, walk up and down stairs while holding onto the railing, and get up and down from the couch like they were pros. 

They can do all those things at this point in their lives and I realize I don’t worry they will kill themselves, I worry that they will kill EACH OTHER.

Did I KNOW that if placed properly the cushion from the couch made a great sled to slide down the stairs?

“NO.”

Did I KNOW that if two brothers each pick up a leg of a third and start swirling in unison that the exact WRONG thing to do was yell:

“STOP THAT?”

(Because they WILL stop that and boy number three will go flying head first through the air to land squarely on the only rock for 100 yards.)

“NO.”

Did I KNOW that despite various warnings to quit playing so hard, giving the obligatory 1 to 3 countdown and then standard:

“Don’t make me come over there.”

Did I know that those steps would not impact their decision to use a slingshot and a rock as an artillery piece to remove their sworn enemy brother from the swing set?

Again I say:

“No.”

 I was raised with one other sister; a sister.  Now certainly there was some physical interaction that might not have been um, ladylike between my sister and I, but for the most part we really didn’t mess with each other on that very visceral level.

We were sneakier.

We would start fighting and then run and hide as our mom hunted us down with an egg turner. 
THAT was fun.

We would spit secretly in the others milk and then smile like a cat eating a canary as the unsuspecting sister took a big ole gulp of the white stuff.

THAT was fun.

We would figure out what tiny little thing, filled with nuance, would bug the HELL out of the other one but look perfectly innocent to our parents and if we were really lucky would actually get our parents angry at the victim and not the silent attacker.

THAT was a fair fight for my sister and me and

that is what we chicks bring to adolescence, perhaps even adulthood. 

Even today when my husband and I are fussing I’ll do something I KNOW will bug him to death, but not be grounds for divorce.  Trust me with him it isn’t too difficult, since the way the toilet paper rolls over the holder is a point of concern. 

When we were newly married I would often get up first and find something in the room to move just a few inches to the right or left.  I’d watch as he went through his bleary eyed morning routine somehow knowing SOMETHING wasn’t right.  He’d sit in his chair visibly uncomfortable and would finally with a look of relief stand up and fix whatever it was he’d found out of place oblivious to any hand his loving wife may have had in his torment. 
Just those few moments of discomfort were enough for me to feel “even” if in my mind he’d done something I’d seen as unreasonable the night before.    I’d sit there hugging my legs on the couch just about ready to BURST with delight.

Passive aggressive?

Maybe.  What would he prefer, a slingshot and a rock?

He’s just lucky he doesn’t drink milk.

Parenting Tip of the Day:
     Small children find it difficult to measure time when we’re away overnight.  If you are going on a trip where you’ll be away from your children, consider leaving them a treat per night in a jar they can see (perhaps a Hershey’s kiss per night for example).  As they eat their treat, they’ll be able to see how many are left and can understand that when their treats are gone (at the rate of one per day dad), mom will be home.  An alternate idea is to have marbles in an “Away” jar and each night they can move one marble into a “Home” jar.   It’ll give them more of a sense of control and you can answer the “When will you be home mom” with a concrete answer like “When all the kisses are gone from the jar mommy left for you.”

Yes, Virginia…ummm…Jacob

“Mom, can I ask you something?” it was his 11th Christmas.

“Sure hon.” she replied; knowing, sadly, what was coming.

“Mom is Santa real?” he said, seeming almost afraid to speak the words.

“Why do you ask sweetheart?” she delayed while she tried to gather her thoughts. This conversation had played out many times in her head and as often as she Googled it, none of the answers she read fit the approach she wanted.

“Well, most of the kids in school say that you and daddy buy the presents and that Santa isn’t real.” he mouthed, although he couldn’t look her in the eye.

“Hon, I’m going to tell you something.” she began.

“You have to understand that as long as you believe in Santa, he’ll come. If you stop believing in Santa, you’ll still get presents, they’ll just come from mom and dad. That’s how it works.”

“When I was your age,” she continued, “I stopped believing in Santa, and all my gifts were still there on Christmas morning, but they were wrapped under the tree. They were still gifts, but they weren’t magical anymore.”

“But can’t you just tell me mom?” he said, looking for the facts; as kids his age are so prone to do.

“Jake, I’m your mom. It’s my job to make sure you DO believe in Santa. It’s my job to make sure that you always have a place where the impossible is real; where rainbows are chased just to find the gold at the end, where love can happen at first site and marriage means happily ever after. It’s my job to give you guardian angels, leprechauns and tooth fairies. I cannot tell you there is no Santa, and I never will. I can only tell you that as long as you believe, he’ll be here on Christmas morning.”

“Do you understand Jake?” she asked.

“No, not really.” he replied looking confused.

“Do you want a cookie son; maybe some candy or something?” she tried even though it was only 10 in the morning.

“Oh sure mom, that’d be great thanks.” he said as he raced to the kitchen.

“Not a problem son.” She said with a relieved smile; yet another mommy crisis solved by food.

Parenting Tip of the Day:
It is a terrific idea to limit the number of toys Santa brings when the children are younger. My number was five, my friend’s only one. My children knew that was the limit when they wrote their letters to Santa each year. As they get older, the cost of the “Santa” gifts becomes much greater and buying the electronic stuff can become a budget breaker. It also helps keep a child’s expectations in check.

Sex: Before and After

I miss sex.  There I’ve said it.  I know I’m a woman, and a MOM, but I miss sex and I want it back.  With the advent of babies, something happens to sex.  It goes from this adult playtime status, to an issue of guilt. 

When did we last have sex?

Do we have to have sex?

When will we have to have sex again?

It’s kind of like you still need your ovulation calendar next to your bed but now you’re using it to figure out just how long you can go without sex before its considered spousal abandonment.

The whole crazy part of this is, when you finally get around to having sex; you like it.  You lay there thinking:

“Why don’t we do that more often?”

You don’t do that more often because come about 9 pm, when you have the choice of going to bed or taking your first bath in 3 weeks, you take the bath. 

The long evenings of sitting together, cuddling, sharing a glass of wine and then melting into each other’s arms, morph into something much more visceral after children.  A typical encounter goes something like this:

“Where are the boys?”

“Downstairs watching the Power Puff Girls.”

“Quick, hold the door shut.”

After the birthing process the luxury of lovemaking is replaced immediately by rocking, diaper changes, breast feedings and burping, and later by visits from footie pj’d little boys.  It was YEARS, YEARS I tell you; before I slept through the night without having to tend to some little person (baby through toddler). I finally told the boys, when they were old enough to understand, that they couldn’t come into my room unless something was wrong.  How did that go?

“Mommy – something’s wrong.” whispered the teary voice at 2 am.

“What is it son”, I whispered back.

“I…I don’t know”, was the response.

 I’ve also figured out that men don’t do as well without sex as women do.  We start to feel lonely and a bit dismayed at not feeling connected with our husbands but men; men get MAD.  They start thinking they’ve been replaced (which is ridiculous when you consider what we’re talking about here…I mean I love my kids but I’d never dress up in a push up nightie for them (for those of you that know me, I apologize for that visual)).

Men take it personally that you think your pillow looks more like George Clooney than they do.   It really isn’t anything personal; it’s just a matter of fact that the idea of getting into bed at night and doing ONE MORE THING seems absolutely impossible.  You’ve given everything, absolutely everything; giving any more of yourself to another human, even a tall one, is simply out of the question.

My husband and I did go away about two years ago and it was like old times.  The “Do not disturb” sign was already singed by the time we got it around the door handle.  That was when it dawned on me that I didn’t dislike sex, I just wasn’t willing to reduce it to its more basic elements and that was what was causing the issue. 
When we got home I stopped over at a place I was working and everyone commented on how good I looked.

The moms in the group knew.  They remembered that glow.   

On the way home I made one more stop; Wal-Mart.

My purchase:  “Power Puff Girls-The 2 Hour-Movie”

Hey, I’m not dead you know.

Parenting Tip of the Day:

I read in a magazine that boys are more likely to be sexually responsible if their moms are the ones that talk with them about sex.  I don’t know why the research has shown that, but I’m giving it the old college try.    I’m also putting salt peter in their food.  It’s why I get paid the big bucks.

 

Jersey Hair

I want to thank Sarah Palin.  Not for her obvious dedication to our nation’s political process, not for the FABULOUS entertainment I’ve received from the Saturday Night Live skits at her expense; I want to thank Governor Palin for bringing back big hair.  I’m from Jersey originally, and while I’m sure the Governor doesn’t call it this, where I’m from we call it Jersey hair.  The girls in my family are pros at Jersey hair and now we can once again take to the tease.
   
Women have always liked big hair in a shoulder pad kind of way.  If you have big hair it makes your waist look smaller.  Think about it.  It falls right into Tim Gunn’s fashion teachings of proportion.  If you have big hair you can put ribbons and stuff in it and people are so busy looking at it they forget you’re fat.   You can wear sunglasses in December, big ‘ole banana clips and big, hooped earrings.  Why, now you can even BUY big hair and set it on top of your little hair.  You can match the color, the highlights, the quirky little braids, so even if you don’t have your own big hair, people will think you do.  All you need to pull off that little ruse is a prop, like a can of Aussi Mega Spray (since Aqua Net has gone the way of Fresca) and they’re thinking it’s all you. 

I remember when I first reentered mainstream life.  I went to my son’s school with a fake Coach handbag, fake finger nails with a fake French maincure, and fake big hair, and thought:

“Finally, I’m a real woman.” 

Men like fake hair too.  Of course they don’t like it on their own wives.  But they love it on movie stars.  They look at those ladies with their luxurious locks piled way up high and just tingle at the thought of taking out those hair pins.  I don’t mess it up for my husband.  Let him think that Heather Locklear and Pam Andersen really do have that look when they wake in the morning.  I’m pretty secure in the fact that even when they do divorce next time-I’m safe.

Heather to Pamela:
   “Hey, do you think that guy Steve is still available?”

   “I don’t know Heather-why don’t we call him.”

Of course if I use anything fake the men in this house are up in arms.  I once put fake geraniums in my flower pots out front because the heat of the summer had burned the others off.

“MOM”, my 8 year old yelled in the middle of Michael’s.  “You’re going to use FAKE FLOWERS?”

“Shhhhhhhh…” I flapped at the air looking around for neighbors.  “Just till the new flowers bloom honey.”

“Oh my God mom, I’m gonna be so embarrassed.” he cried.

Lord forbid I put on a bosom enhancing bra and low neckline.  Sam came in one evening playing his Game boy as I was getting ready to head out to a holiday party.

“Mom,” he said while looking down, “can we make popco…..WHOA,” he said as he finally turned his attention to the breathing person in the room.

“Where did those come from?” he said. 

“I’m getting dressed up tonight.”  I explained “I want to look nice.”

Sam looked disgusted.

“Is EVERYONE wearing those?”

Talk about destroying the mystery of the evening.

So here’s to you Sarah Palin.  I’m sure we’ll be seeing you for years to come now that we’ve gotten the chill out of you; and frankly my sisters and I, and every woman who’s a Jersey girl at heart, thanks you.  Now if you could just work on shoulder pads, we’d really appreciate the support.
   
Parenting Tip of the Day:  At least once in their adolescence your child will cut his/her own hair.  It is a passage of rights.  Snap a photo, put the scissors higher and don’t beat yourself up.  When my guys played hairdresser our bragging point was they helped each other with the backs and were busily sweeping up when I came down from taking a shower.  While my words to them afterwards made clear that wasn’t their job-there were a couple of good belly laughs all around.  

Halloween Treat

We went to a friend’s Halloween Party last Saturday night.  It’s a great time for the children and as the years have progressed, so have the games in the sense of “scary sophistication”.  This is the second year the event ended with a haunted walk.  I’d left about 30 minutes before the haunted walk for a “chick chat” event with some friends.  When I reunited with my husband at home, he relayed all the gory details as he was laying on the couch watching the Red Sox Game (please sing a little angel sound in your head after you say Red Sox  in order to appease the baseball gods).  The oldest son made it through the haunted walk fine, he said, but the ten year old, Sam, was just miserable.  Steve said he could hear Sammy screaming the minute Sam’s foot hit the trail.

ANYWAY, about an hour later I went to bed while my husband watched the game.  I woke up at 4:30 am and realized Steve wasn’t in the bed with me.  (I made that “patting the place next to you” motion we do when we realize it is way too flat.)  Now maybe for some folks having their husband sleep on the couch is the norm but my husband NEVER sleeps anywhere in the house but in our big ole, king sized, overstuffed bed.  I thought perhaps he’d fallen asleep downstairs (not really but had to check anyway).  As I walked downstairs I then reviewed a conversation we’d had with some friends at the Halloween party.

We were discussing a couple we knew having marital problems and I was flippant in how I prioritized my own 20+ year relationship.  It was nothing derogatory but WAY more nonchalant than I actually feel.  I thought how I hadn’t spent any time at the party really talking with my husband and instead chose to chat with friends.  That’s not us.  We like each other a lot, and spend a lot of time just with each other.  As I reached the couch to see if Steve had fallen asleep, I was now concerned that perhaps I’d angered him with my attitude and proceeded to have an “uh oh” moment.
 
Steve wasn’t on the couch.  I went to check the guest room, ensuring first that his car was in the driveway—okay I was overreacting a bit.  As I got to the guest room stairs I looked up and saw Sam’s bedroom door  open.  Upstairs I found my 6 foot 4 inch, 200+ pound husband asleep in Sam’s itty bitty bed.  His legs were hanging off the side of the bed and Sammy’s body was molded around his dad’s torso. 

“Steve, honey it’s 4:30 in the morning”, I said while gently rubbing his arm.

Steve’s eyes opened immediately and he said quietly “Shhhhh, Sammy’s scared.”

“Hon, your back is going to kill you tomorrow.” I said back.

“I’ll be fine” he answered.

I went back to our bed shaking from the rush of emotion and love I felt for that man.  Just so everyone reading this knows I wouldn’t trade my man for anyone else in the world.  Any woman that ever tried to take him from me would have the fight of her life on her hands.  I pray you feel the same about your man and when you have a chance you shout it from the rooftops.  There’s nothing wrong with telling the world how lucky you are!

Parenting Tip of the Day:  One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is an example of what a positive relationship should be by living that relationship with your significant other.  That doesn’t mean getting along all the time, but it does mean treating one another with respect and dignity.  If you make sure they see the standard for your relationship, it will become the standard for their relationships.