Many of my friends on facebook decided to share something they were thankful for every day during the month of November until Thanksgiving Day. I missed a few days there at the end, but today I am feeling extra thankful for my husband, Robbie.
Let me tell you about my sweetheart. First off, the first thought that would pop out of his mouth if I started telling him this would be, "Me???" That's one out of a thousand reasons why I love him. He is so modest and never has the attitude that I should love him. Does that make sense? He does so much for me and our little family, but he never has the attitude that I owe him my love or that I owe him anything really.
I met Robbie in high school and the first time I saw him, I knew he was sweet on another girl that was sitting across from me at the cafeteria table. I could tell he was flirting with her and I could tell he really liked her. I could also tell he was kind of a dork, so I thought, "Man, I feel sorry for that girl cuz he likes her so much." Little did I know his silly charm would win me over a few years down the road.
Fast forward a few years and we finally get married. I don't want to go into all the details of the nine years we dated before we got married. That is a story for many other days.
Back to the present. Today I am feeling especially grateful that I have the privilege of being a stay at home mom. My husband works hard and we make sacrifices so that I can be the one who takes care of our little girl. I have never ever ever ever heard my husband complain about being the one to go to work every day while I get to stay home. He has never given me the impression that he resents me. In fact, he supports it, and he wants this lifestyle just as much, if not more than I do. He would consider it a personal failure if I had to get a job to help support our family. Not that I want him to feel like a failure for something like that, but I truly consider it a blessing to have a husband that is not only willing to provide for his family, but truly wants to be the one to provide. I have heard of husbands that refuse to work. This is NOT my husband.
Sometimes he tells me that he doesn't enjoy his job, but he never complains about work. He is a man that is not afraid to work, and work hard, for his family. He is a man that will do whatever it takes to provide for us, and I am truly thankful for him.
My husband loves being a daddy. He is in love with our little girl, and it melts my heart to see how much he adores her. I am thankful that I married a man that takes his role as husband, provider, and father to heart. I am thankful that he saw something in me that I couldn't see. When we were in high school and college, I would speak of becoming a mother, and especially a stay at home mom, with disdain and resentment. I resented the fact that we had decided that's how our family would operate. I hated the thought of becoming a mother. I thought, "What would I do?" I am thankful that my husband, then boyfriend, knew that those thoughts were nonsense and was willing to take a chance on me anyway. Now that I am a mother, and especially a stay at home mom, I wouldn't want it any other way. I wouldn't want to have to work a full time job and not see my little girl as much as I do. I teach flute lessons for about five hours a week, two of which she spends with a family from church, and I miss her so much it hurts. I love her.
I will admit that I am thankful to be able to teach flute lessons and to pursue a doula career. I am thankful to have something of my own, something to pursue that is separate from motherhood and...wife-hood? Is that a word? And I am so thankful that my husband supports, encourages, and sometimes even pushes me to work for my dreams. Even when my dreams change from year to year.
I am thankful for my husband for so many reasons other than the fact that he supports me in being a stay at home mom, but this is what is on my mind today. I was able to start my day exactly the way I wanted, I was able to eat, go to the store, shower, and do dishes exactly when I wanted to. I was able to play with a cute baby today. Unless your job is a babysitter or working at a daycare, who gets to play with cute little babies while they are at work? Now my sweetheart is waking up from her luxurious three hour nap and I get to go cuddle and kiss her, and I get to be the first one she sees after waking up, because I have the best husband in the world!!!
I saw this quote over at Sofia's Ideas and loved it. The color scheme and little house remind me of Emily's blog over at Joyful Abode, so check her out too.
As I was searching for an article to illustrate the continued courtship in marriage that I was hoping and planning to write about, I found an article by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and his wife Patricia about courtship, problem solving and unity in marriage. If I had a highlighter in my hand, the entire article would have been bright yellow! Every word seemed to apply to me.
I love the LDS.org website and all the articles in it. At the end of the articles are generally discussion questions, and this article is no exception. I will attempt to answer the four questions at the end of this article.
1.Do you find yourself trying to “rush things needlessly and unnaturally” in your life? If so, what can you do to “be happy with the season you are in”?
Yes! Yes! Yes! I have a terrible habit of assigning an age to when I "should" have accomplished so-and-so. I was supposed to graduate college at 22 and then get married immediately after. When I was in high school I wanted to be married by the time I was 20. The closer I got to age 20, the more I realized that wouldn't happen. I decided it would probably be easier to just finish college and then get married. Well that didn't happen either. I wanted to get married earlier rather than later so that I would be able to have my three children that I planned to have by the time I was 30 years old. At 30, I wanted to be "done."
I didn't get married until I was 25, but I still felt like I was "old to be getting married" and "behind." The average marriage age was 25.9 for women and 27.6 for men the year we got married, but I still felt like Robbie and I getting married at 25 (me) and 26 (him) were old for a couple o' Mormon goobers like us. Once I was finally married though, the age thing didn't matter so much. I was just soooo happy to be married! Yay!
Now that I am 28 with only ONE baby, I can see that the whole being-done-by-30 thing isn't going to quite work out the way I had hoped. Unless, the next pregnancy....wait, no, not gonna say it. But now that I have become a birth junkie and have developed such a love for the whole pregnancy and birth experience, I am in no hurry for my child bearing years to be over. I want to hang on to this for dear life. I want to hang on to the years that my little sweetheart is just a little girl and still loves me the way she does. I whisper in her little ears, "Please don't grow up too quickly!" And as I look at her right now, she's just removed her pajama bottoms for no reason other than to learn how to do it, I just feel a warmth in my heart and want to cherish this moment forever. I want to enjoy it so much, that when I look back on it, I won't feel a need to miss it. Is it possible?
I believe the only way I can truly be happy in the season of life I am in is to make a real effort at reminding myself to enjoy these moments. When I start getting that little twinge when I hear about another 28 year old woman who is having her 5th child and I start feeling behind, I need to think, "Now hang on a minute, Kristi, you have a beautiful little girl over there. Would you change anything? Are you truly ready for your childbearing years to be over already?" Because this is something that I am currently working on-trying to enjoy where I am in my life right now-I find that mostly what I need to do is TRY.
2.Do you currently have a budget that works for you? Are finances a source of contention between you and your partner? What can you do to improve your money management skills?
Unfortunately, we do not have a budget that works for us. Finances are a source of stress in our marriage, but I do not believe it is a source of contention between Robbie and me. I am thankful that neither of us blames the other for our situation, though I know Robbie takes much of the burden of our financial struggles on himself as the provider. He blames himself a lot and he gets a case of the "shoulda's" sometimes. We are working hard to get things back on track, including paying our tithes and offerings, and searching for better employment. I'll admit, marriage has taken us on a whirlwind adventure of disorganized finances and we weren't perfect at the whole tithing thing. With the help and advice from our Bishop, we have been working for awhile to get things back on track. It's not easy, and it is not easy to do without either while being surrounded by many affluent people at church. It's humbling (I guess that's my nice sugar-coated word when what I really mean is embarrassing) to be around people our own age or even younger than us who live in huge houses and have the fantastic high-paying jobs. I suppose it's not really embarrassing to me that we live in a two bedroom apartment, because I like it AND I can barely keep up with keeping this place clean. How would I manage a house? What embarrasses me is all the things I can't do, such as bake dozens of homemade cookies for primary activities because we can't afford the ingredients or I can't make little handmade trinkets for the sisters that I visit teach because we can't afford for me to buy the materials. I can't always go to the little activities that one of my friends invites me to because we can't afford the gas to travel that far that often. But this is all part of saying no and making do. It's trying to still hold my head high as mentioned in the article. "Make do with what you have. Do without. Say no. You can hold your head high even if your clothing is not the most stylish nor your home the most regal."
I will admit that holding my head high is really really......really....hard to do.
To improve our finances, we need to be able to face our finances and not be afraid to open those bills each month. We need to come up with a plan and do it TOGETHER. For so long I tried taking care of our finances alone. It stressed me out way too much because I just could not make the decision of what to pay and what to delay. I had to talk about it with my husband. We are getting better at discussion and coming up with a plan, but we just couldn't do it alone. We needed to talk to our bishop and get his eyes on the situation. I feel a lot better now that we've come up with a plan with his guidance. I don't feel as if we are so alone now. I feel like we have the Lord on our side now after admitting to the bishop that we need help. I suppose if things are just so bad, and one feels like throwing in the towel, then the first step would be to talk to the bishop. Then do what he says, no matter how difficult it may be. I thought it would be terrible to talk to our bishop, I thought he would say mean and awful things and we'd be severely chastised. But we weren't! I felt like a weight really lifted and that we really will be able to get things under control. It'll take time, but with the Lord's help, we'll be able to do it.
3.Do you feel that you are fully committed to your husband or wife—that you have fully invested all that you have and are to your marriage? If you feel reluctant or doubtful, why do you feel that way? What can you do to overcome those feelings?
Now, this is one I feel that Robbie and I are pretty good at. I am sure we are not perfect, but I don't doubt that he is fully committed to me. Someone told me once that he "reeks of love" for me. I certainly can tell that he loves me. I know he is committed to me. I don't know if he feels like he is, but his actions show me that he is. I hope my actions show him that I am committed to him. 4.Discuss the observation that “we can’t wait to be a good wife or a good husband or a good Christian just when we ‘feel well.’” What can you do on the difficult days to “bring the strength of Christ” to your union? This part of the article was so profound and another place where I felt like the authors were in my head. Sometimes when Robbie and I are both discouraged, I feel as if I have no more strenghth left to take care of his needs. I feel as if I just don't have it in me. Some days, I just am so tired that I don't feel like doing anything, much less take care of the needs around the house. I keep waiting for when I don't feel so tired. I ask myself, "Will I ever feel good again?" Sigh. Most days I have to tell myself, "Just suck it up, Kristi. Everyone is tired." I admit, I hate having to "suck it up." It annoys me and I feel like Lily when she doesn't get her own way. I want to drop to the floor, kick my feet and whine whine whine. (Don't say it, Robbie!)
I know know know that if Robbie and I did better at reading our scriptures, both personally and together, we would have more strength in our marriage. We do not read the scriptures together nowhere near the amount that we should, *cough-at all-cough*, so we really need to get on the ball with that one. We really need to make a better effort to spend time in the scriptures on our own as well.
So what started as a cute picture for me to share because I liked it turned into me accidentally finding an article about something that I truly needed to read. Funny how things work out sometimes.
I suppose it is no surprise that my little girl comes from a musical family. My husband and I love when she shows any inclination to have a love of music and it is so cute to watch how she reacts to various genres of music.
For a few weeks, Lily started doing a strange head bobbing motion that we could not figure out. My mom insisted that everything was okay and just a part of her development, but Robbie and I were becoming increasingly worried about her. That is, until Robbie discovered the source of her strange head bobbing.
As you can see, there is absolutely nothing wrong with our little Blue Danube baby!!!
Because I am a flutist, I have all sorts of little flute-like instruments laying around including recorders, penny, whistles, piccolos and fifes. Of course I am only kidding. They are put away in a safe place. Most of the time. I couldn't resist trying to get Lily to make a sound on one of my penny whistles, but this video turned out to be an advertisement for Fuzzi Bunz diapers more than a recording of Lily's first recital. That's okay. We love fluff!
She loves the piano too. Any chance she has to press those beautiful black and white keys, she takes. We were holding auditions at the Stake Center for the Summer Youth Musical, and during a short break, the pianist let Lily play for a little while. What a beautiful composition! I think we have a musical genius on our hands.
Lily loves the Backyardigans. She has developed her on variation of a dance to go along with the opening scenes to the show.
Her skills become a little more "advanced" and she has a little more control over her legs in this next one.
Sometimes Lily enjoys the music that we listen to during car rides, though I can never capture them on camera. One day I decided to pull into a parking lot and take a video of her head bobbing to a little bit of hip hop type music. This probably isn't the most appropriate song for a toddler to listen to, but hey, she doesn't really know what they are talking about. Hopefully.
There's just something about music that Lily loves! Even while she is eating a grilled cheese sandwich from Sonic in the front seat of the car while we take a break during a long trip home, she takes time to enjoy her music.
Nothing like some head bobbing and grilled cheese!
Maybe there are people in this world who want to be friends with me after all. I have been struggling for the past two years with trying to find a friend or two that I could really develop a relationship with, someone who I could confide in, someone like when I was in college. I have tried to be friendly with the people I meet, and there was one particular friend that I really hoped to develop a true friendship with. However I would always think, "She's probably not as interested in being my friend as I am in being hers." Robbie would try to convince me that she obviously wanted to be my friend because of all the things she would invite me to do and all the stuff we would talk about. I just couldn't understand it. As much as I wanted to be her friend, I just couldn't understand or believe that she truly wanted to.
Come to find out today, without realizing that it was obvious, I've built up walls around myself. She was trying to get through to me, and she would tell her husband, "I have known her for a year, but I still feel like we are just acquaintances." Oh.
I think she has been getting a little frustrated with me because I build up walls around myself due to our financial situation. My husband and I are of modest means, and we both come from modest backgrounds. We struggle big time with our finances. Not that we are irresponsible with our money, I am actually a tightwad. Majorly. But we just don't have enough income for how much it costs to live here. It's no one's fault. I suppose it was a series of unfortunate decisions, mainly what we decided to be when we "grew up," that led us to this situation now. That, combined with the fact that we are doing everything in our power so that one of us can stay home with our child(ren).
So this has led me (maybe Robbie too, but I can only speak for myself) to feel inferior to everyone around me. It has led me to question the motives of anyone who is nice to me, and it makes me feel terribly guilty that I have nothing with which to return the favors that I so often receive. I have tried, but I just can't do it. I have nothing. I have nothing to give and nothing to offer.
My friend tried to tell me that this is not true. She has tried to tell me this before, and she says I just brush it away. She can tell that it goes in one ear and out the other. I thought I was a great faker, but silly me, I should have known. I've never been good at hiding my thoughts. I've never had a very good poker face.
I finally just spilled the beans. I finally told her what the real issues are, and about some of the most humbling things we have experienced lately. It felt good to finally admit to someone what a loser I am. Only she didn't think I was a loser. Only she told me that they have a few of the same problems sometimes, only for different reasons.
I am thankful she had the courage to tell me what she was thinking and to let me know that she really did want to be my friend. I know it will be a long journey for me to try to feel like a person who has anything to offer, but hopefully it will be one where I can have success. I am thankful that she was persistent and didn't give up on me after so long of trying to get me to tear down my walls. And most of all, I am thankful that she gives a crap.
I have been pondering lately that I may have reached the point in my motherhood journey that I need to learn to let go. Last year I was obsessed with doing things on my own. It caused a lot of stress that people were helping me out so much, especially with babysitting Lily. I was able to meet two very special families who watched Lily on Tuesdays and Thursdays last year. The family that watched Lily on Tuesdays watched her for free. We wanted to pay something, but we just couldn't do very much. I tried sneaking money in Lily's bag, but she told me not to do that again. Instead I would bake cookies or brownies or sweet treats to try to return the favor. However, it still stressed me out because I felt like I was mooching. I was so ashamed and the shame really did a number on my self-esteem. I would get so angry at myself and beg Heavenly Father to please just please let us be self sufficient. Please let us take care of things on our own! The other family traded flute lessons for baby sitting, so I was able to feel at least the illusion of dignity. I appreciate that they were willing to work with me in that way.
Sometimes I would have to ask my mom for help watching Lily while I would play in concerts out of town. She did that and she seemed to love it. Still, I felt so useless because I have spent so much time trying to become independent and to be "grown up," and here I was still needing my mommy and still asking my mommy for help. Sometimes we still had to ask my mommy to help pay for things and, even though I didn't ask, she would always send us home with a whole bunch of much needed food.
So I spent an entire school year feeling worthless and stupid. I wasted my time feeling angry that I couldn't do it myself. I felt really resentful that I honestly, really and truly NEEDED other people. I needed the help I was receiving, and I hated that I couldn't do everything on my own.
A year later, we still really need to rely on others to help us get through. We have to rely on others even MORE now than we did last year. We need all the help we can get raising a family, and I suppose that's just the way it has to be. I just have to hope that those that help us are being blessed for doing so, just as we are being blessed by receiving their help. I just have to hope that we don't overburden anyone. As my mom would say I just need to "Get over it." I like to think that I just need to let go. I need to let go of the thoughts that, just because someone is blessing my life with help, that I am some sort of loser. I need to accept the fact, that as a mother, I really do need help from others, especially other mothers and that's okay! I hear about mother to mother learning all the time when it comes to birth and breastfeeding. Well, there is a whole lot more learning to take place other than birth and breastfeeding! There is more to life than just birth and breastfeeding and I will always need people to help me. I also need to understand that Heavenly Father places these angels in my life to help me. He is looking out for me, He loves me and He knows what I need. He is providing for me.
Why can't I accept that? Why do I feel ashamed and embarrassed? How do I learn to not feel ashamed and embarrassed with all the help I receive from other people? How do I learn to let go?