And so, here I am. I wanted to write about several things, really. It never fails--I leave the blog alone for a bit, then when it comes to mind, so does about 1,000 topics in my head and not enough time to type them all down.
Anyways, I had one too many cups of coffee today, it's the middle of the night and I'm alert. I could clean, but, instead, I'll blog. *giggles*
Well. Here I am. A wife. I am married. Papa has not only met me face-to-face, but he still agreed to marry me(!!!) And get this-he still loves me! Even after a few months of saying it repeatedly in some way,shape, or form, it still shocks the heck out of me.I'm not going to get emotional here...but let it be said, the God crazy love story between my husband and I brings tears to my eyes each time I think about it. But, *wipes eyes with a tissue* not going to go there today. You guys see enough of our sappy stuff on Facebook. *blows nose*
No, today I'm going to talk about my first few months as a wife. In some ways, it was what I expected, and some ways, it's not. It's funny, how people enter into marriage thinking they have it all figured out, only to have some curve balls thrown along the way. I guess God's just funny like that.
Okay, so...what did I expect? I guess this list is short, because honestly, I didn't have much to compare marriage to. I sort of expected it to be an extension of what Papa and I had already had-a long distance relationship, up close. He is a trucker after all, so it's not like I was really expecting a huge shift in our everyday lives. We get married, I see him on the weekends...but for five to six days a week, it was supposed to be pretty much like it was when we only saw each other on the rare Skype and the pictures we saw on Facebook/texted each other. Our saving grace to keep connected while he's on the road was, and still is, the phone. I didn't really think much about how we were going to handle the weekends past...er...*ahem*...but I figured, we'd do okay.
I expected lots of cuddling and kissing. Ever since we started flirting, it was made known-I am not the overly physically affectionate one in this marriage, he is. I guess the reasoning is really just my upbringing- my dad wasn't overly affectionate in public. My mom wasn't either(and if she was, I never saw it). That was one thing they both had in common-they always looked so uncomfortable showing PDA in public.Plus, I know it sounds weird, but cuddling and kissing are in my mind, the beginning of something more. I'll let you decide what that means. But, after years of being single and attempting and re-attempting to suppress every urge...cuddling and kissing people that aren't my kids were a good way of avoiding the issue. Lastly, these things are, again, just the message I received growing up-a sign of vulnerability. Growing up with the idea of feminism to the radical it has become, PDAs are a sign that "I" need "you" to fill some sort of(physical, emotional,etc.) need in me. I am a woman of the 21st century- "I" don't "need" anyone, and PDA's, I can do without, thank-you-very-much. Or, at least that was my thinking.
Ironically enough, although Papa feels awkward in public settings, he has little to no issue with PDAs. He can throw a whopper of a kiss at Walmart, he can hold my hand like he's afraid I'll blow away(and with this crazy thing called "Dust storms" that I'm not used it, there is always a chance I very well may. But I'll talk about that, and other things I've never knew about until I moved to Idaho, in another post). Not that I'm complaining. I'm not. After years of telling/ducking and dodging people at church, "Yeah...I'm not a hugger. But I'll fistbump/high five/jazz/glitter hands ya anyday!" and wondering if my body would ever be viewed as more than a floppy place for the kids/animals to land/paw/kick in their sleep, it's nice that my husband does this every possible moment, for no reason whatsoever.
I half-expected him to like my cooking. I mean, I still have a ways to go when it comes to refining it. I rarely burn anything now, and the smoke detector doesn't serenade us with the song of its people as we eat, so that must be a good sign, right? *nervous laughter*
I expected it to be easy for me to transition from being a single mom all my adult life to being a married woman. Being a single mom is one of the toughest jobs in the world, so shifting to being a wife and stepmother should be a cakewalk, I thought. I sort of went into marriage with a Rosie the Riveter mentality, "I can DO this! I got this! If I can raise three children, as an only parent, and people claim I do a good job of THAT, surely(!!!) adding on a husband and two more children shouldn't be that much a struggle for someone like me! "
*rolls up sleeve to show muscles that can take on the world*
*realizes they aren't muscles but floppy boob-like arms*
*quickly rolls sleeve back down and makes a mental note that I really need to get back into doing yoga again*
While some of y'all more experienced folks laugh at my somewhat overconfident outlook...I suppose I'll share the unexpected's...
I didn't expect to dread Sundays. Sundays are normally the days that Papa goes back in his truck away from home and out on the road. When we were almost two thousand miles away, it just seemed like another day. I never saw him, so I didn't think seeing him and then not seeing him would be that big of deal. It would suck a little, but I was somewhat immune(in my head, anyways) to the trucker's wife departure symptoms. Yet, the first weekend he left, I felt lost, and somewhat empty. What was life like without him home, again? How did I sustain life before as a single woman? Who is going to get the spices off the insanely tall cupboard while he's away? How on earth was I supposed to function without him being home? Wait-I'm expected to do stuff without him?! Women mentioned it on trucker's wives pages, but I always thought they were being overly dramatic. Some women would(and some trucker's wives, to some extent do) ENJOY their husbands gone that long, for pete's sake! Surely, this must be an exaggeration!
But as his truck rolled out of our driveway and on the way to his job, I cried. I still do, sometimes, although not every single Sunday. I am a somewhat emotional person, but I never thought the sight of him departing for the week would bring me to tears. Suddenly, the house seems bigger and I feel smaller, incomplete. Even though its been almost five months, it still takes me until at least Wednesday to stop counting out five plates as I serve meals. I had to start planning out our week ahead on Sundays, because if I don't keep busy, the bed will feel more spacious and suddenly the road will seem more dangerous. I've had to limit my time on Facebook on Sundays,too-one bad weather report or one traffic accident, and I'm regretting not kissing him once more before he left and wondering if he left the house with seasonally appropriate clothing.
I'm also re-playing out the whole weekend in my head. Did I display enough love to him-was I cold and unfeeling to him? Did he get enough cuddle time, hugs and kisses,etc. to sustain him for the week ahead? Did he eat enough food, did I feed him too little? Did I put enough clothes in his duffle bag, enough food in his cooler? Why did I get my feathers in a bunch over that(insert random thing to get mad about here), when I should have just been loving up on him! Did he remember a coat, just in case?
As we sit in church, I am trying hard to focus on the pastor's sermon, the worship music, and keep my mind centered on the prayers. In the corners of my mind, though, I am taking a mental note of the time, wondering-will today be the day the pastor accidentally forgets his sermon, gets lost coming to church and hey, what do you know? We now three hours to spend as a family, without others,before hubby has to get back on the road! But then I remember, the pastor lives next door to the church, his sermon is mostly already memorized, and dang it, I actually like church. Stupid internal conflict.
Secondly, I didn't expect to crave his affection. Remember my little "I'm a feminist that doesn't need anyone" speech?
Yeah, screw that.
I really thought the weekends would be satisfactory for affection. But as Sunday turns into Monday, I forget what do with my lips aside from speaking and eat chocolate. Why are they on my face, anyways, if they can't kiss my husband? What's the point of having speed bumps...er, I mean "curves" if my husband's hands aren't there to touch them? Why does my back feel so random when he's not there behind it, embracing it as I cook? Suddenly, my whole body feels like a puzzle missing complete pieces. Even meals feel odd. Isn't this the end of dinner? Where is my thank you kiss for the meal? Even though I am not overly affectionate or a person to normally initiate signs of affection yet...suddenly, I feel at odds without it.
Third, I didn't really expect him to have any ideas about food. I had tried before we got married to rack his brain on what he likes and his response was almost always the same- "Warm, cooked food." Now that he's somewhat used to my cooking, he's now throwing ideas at me that I wouldn't otherwise come up with.Rules on food are being broken, questioned. Who says we have to put ground meat in our lasagna-can we put, say, roast beef or brisket in there instead? What constitutes as a pizza topping/sauce/cheese? Can you crush onions somehow to make them blend in with the food? Why can't you put green beans in shepherd's pie? At first, it felt like a low-blow to my cooking skills, but now, it challenges me. His ideas, no matter how strange they seem at first to me, are showing me that he is finally taking an interest in how his food is made. He is not just ramming it down his mouth as he drives, like he always claims. He is actually taking time to think about food, how it can be better, how we might be able to sneak in more better, sometimes healthier options. He not only semi-likes, but loves my cooking, and is helping me to be a better cook. It's a win for everyone, right?
Lastly...I didn't expect being a wife and stepmother would be a transition I clearly wasn't ready or fully prepared for. I believed I was ready. My step kids will love me, just like the neighborhood kids back home, I thought. We might butt heads for a very short period, but after a week or two, they will, just like the kids I babysat, see that although I am strict, I am also one of the best adults you could ever have around. I am the cool but firm mom! You can tell me anything, and it stays right here, like a vault! I am the one who doesn't take no bull, but will gladly watch Disney movies and make home baked cookies with y'all... and although cool, you'd best be calling me "Miss Jenn" or else, now here's some milk to go with that cookie *smiles*. I had won over some pretty tough kids back home, kids that wouldn't listen to their OWN moms. Surely I had seen/heard/disiplined everything when it came to kids and could handle it all.
You know those movies where the kids are running wild, and the parent/caregiver is hiding off somewhere, like a closet or something, hoping for a few moments of peace and sanity? I've always laughed and thought...that's just in the movies!
Except....this summer tho.(*-_-)
I was in my bathroom...not hiding! I may or may not have been hiding. Okay, I was probably hiding. Chocolate may or may not have been involved. So was frantic/tearful calls to hubby.
Oh, and lots of praying. I was doing lots of praying. They nearly all started out the same..."LAWD, give me the strength...!!!" But it was out of religious habit than desperation, okay? I start all my prayers out that way.
Okay, not really...ever.
Except when my nerves are shot.
Which was pretty much as soon as I opened my eyes each day.
And every moment afterwards.
...But hey, no one can say I don't pray for those kids!!!
And we had heart to hearts....not the kind I was used to back home, though. Kids back home would confide in me things they wouldn't normally say to anyone past their age group-" I secretly like that girl on the bus", "I actually like to watch wrestling, but my parents say I'm not allowed", "I wish I could leave this house already, I'm so sick of living in such a strict house!", "My mom's lover sleeps naked and they don't think I know...". I knew secrets they only shared with friends, but I could give them adult advice in a way that wasn't condemning.
However, I couldn't do that with my stepchildren. Our heart to hearts were more along the lines of-
"I wish you'd make boxed mac and cheese like my REAL mom does!"
"I can't WAIT to go back home!"
"Why can't you be just like my mom?"
"I don't want to use the bathroom! It takes too long!"
"Why can't we have candy like we do all the time at home?!"
I couldn't give them advice on these matters, because I was in the MIDST of these matters! I was the reason they complained! ME! Can you believe it? The mom that was cool with every kid suddenly was public enemy number one-not for a little while, but for an entire summer! Instead of remaining cool but distant on the matters, I lost it every single time-
"I don't care what kind of super processed food your mother made you back home, here we eat REAL food, and from scratch, YOU GOT THAT?!"
"Well, next summer, we'll ask you if you want to come over, and if you don't want to come over,then... FINE! Do you know who wanted you here for the summer? Your dad, me, and my kids. But if you want to break all our hearts by not coming, hey, it's YOUR CHOICE!"
"I'm sorry I don't let you get away with everything, and actually prefer you didn't act like hooligans while we are out in public! Gee, I must be so horrible in your eyes, because I expect you to have this crazy thing called MANNERS and RESPECT for elders...Well, shame on me, right?!"
"Well, guess what? If you don't want to use the bathroom, then you can clean yourself up when you go in your clothing, because you are TOO OLD for me to justify putting on a diaper and wiping your butt! I REFUSE to clean up a five year old's poop! Ain't nobody got time for DAT! But good luck trying, buttercup! Now, get your be-hind in there N-O-W!!"
I wasn't calm, cool and collective.
I was losing it, and losing it daily!
But, God gives grace to the...uhh...humble.
....Not that I was acting the least bit humble. But, hey, the step kids are back home with their mom, and I have another chance to try again...the next holiday break they get. Or next summer, if they still want to come back...whichever happens first. We did have some good moments, we did have some, "hey, I may still finish off this summer as cool mom!" moments. So, who knows? I know I goofed up this summer, but maybe by next summer(or whenever they decide to come back), I will be more humbled and God will give me more grace, and I might still have a shot of these kids actually liking me. Hey, I might even have a shot at "step mother of the year award"...instead of winning an honorary mention for "Worst Step Monster of the Summer".
And going from single to married in mindset?
Yeah...that was...*big sigh*...yeah.
Not exactly what I was expecting.
The biggest issue I have is this notion called joint decision making. A part of me wants to go on cruise control and let Papa Bear take on all the big issues for our household....but, another part of me, the perfectionist, hey, I am used to being the only decision maker me, is quickly exclaiming, "Don't you dare!".
You mean to tell me...I can't just let him make all the big, tough decisions, and I make all the smaller, and most times, cooler ones? But, at the same time, I can't make all the shots? Hey, what is this, anyways?!?
It's called a marriage- it's a fine line, that middle ground, and yes, I'm...I mean we are working on it. Sometimes day to day, sometimes minute to minute. But we are still working on it.
Second issue I'm butting heads with? Sharing. Yes,contrary to popular belief, when it comes to sharing certain things, I am a greedy, self-centered two year old screaming, "MINE!!!". Normally, I *like* to think of myself as a giving person....
Shirt off my back? Hope you don't mind looking at my stretch marks-here ya go! Last bit of some really good food? Eh, I wasn't all that hungry anyway- you take it. Want my stupid-easy recipe for chocolate peanut butter fudge? Don't tell your friends, but I'll totally write it down for you, send it to you in an e-mail, or text it to you...which would you prefer?
Tell my, I mean our babies what to do? I'll rip your eyes out. Oh, wait we're married...I'll give you a nasty stare instead. You want the computer to watch Netflix? You can't handle the computer!! What do you mean, I can't have ice cream for dinner/unplanned movie night when you're not home?! Why not?! Oh, yeah, I'm not supposed to be greedy with the funsies. *licks last bit of ice cream off carton* Err...Opps.
You see, I am still very much a selfish person in the ultimate selfless relationship. God doesn't use the illustration of marriage when describing the relationship between Jesus and the Church for nothing. Jesus' love for the Church is supposed to look like a marriage-selfless, willingly serving the other out of love, loving the other more than yourself. Or maybe marriage is supposed to look like Jesus' love for the Church(?) Wait, I'll get back to you on that....*nervous laughter*
Marriage is a very giving relationship. You're supposed to share all things with your spouse-because you're no longer just "you", but "us". Not sharing with your spouse is supposed to feel like not sharing with a part of yourself, because you are no longer two separate people but one in God's eyes.
....I just wish my brain, mouth, and emotions would get the memo. I shouldn't allow anger to rise up in me every time Papa goes to correct the kids. At the end of the day, he's in the same boat I am-just trying to raise God-fearing, respectful, wonderful kids. And seriously, will the internet world come to an end as I know it, just because I'm not there? I'm gonna take a guess and say...no. Well, maybe. Okay...no, the answer is definitely no. And sharing fun is, ironically, more fun. Yes, we may all get say, less ice cream than if there were a few people less, or we might be able to finally be able to hear what that one actor is saying if we watch it alone, but c'mon...where's the fun in that? Family fun time is not about me, or him, or the kids, the movie, or food or whatever. It's about having fun together. And considering hubby is gone pretty much everyday of the week, why should I not willingly want him to come home to some fun times, instead of a mere "honey do" list?
You know, it's so funny. I went into this marriage thinking it wouldn't be hard to maintain. I mean, we had an almost 2,000 mile, long-distance friendship/on again, off again, why are we doing this again(?)...relationship we maintained for almost 4 years-now THAT was tough. I really thought marriage would be...dare I say...easier. Maybe the kid in me really thought, we were as so many said, like a fairy tale. We had so many obstacles that, through God's grace, we've overcome before we got married. So, we should be living that part at the end of the fairy tale, you know, that "and they lived happily ever after!" part. It should be total and complete bliss compared to all we've been through.
The reality of it is, yes, it's bliss. There are moments where I can't believe I should be, and deserve to be, this happy. There are moments when I have to look up at the sky and ask God, "is this really the life you thought for me? It's too good-are you sure I'm not just dreaming again?"
But, there are moments...that are not so blissful. These are the moments I forget one of my favorite sayings-"when you point the finger, you have four more pointing back at YOU." The not-so-blissful moments are largely because I think I'm right, or better, or not in the wrong. Do I always realize it quickly? No. Do I, once I realize it, quickly apologize, give it a name, admit my fault? Nuh-uh.
While everyone loves a good fairy tale, do you know why many people don't like the follow-ups, after the "happily ever after's"? Because they're real. The metaphorical big, fire breathing dragon nearly every couple had that separated the two from being together is now slain. Now they have to tackle the dishes, together. The wicked witch(I don't say metaphorical, because several people call her a relative of some sort) that does everything in her power to keep the two of you from meeting and ultimately, changing life as y'all know it? She's now a distant memory, and in her place, finances, budgets, and stepping out of your comfort zone(in communicating, sharing,awkward holiday dinners with her and extended family,etc.) take her place.
My first few months as a wife are beyond what I-the borderline perfectionist, I-hate-surprises-because-they-make-me-cry-and-I-hate-crying-so-I-think-of every-possible-scenario-and-try-to-plan-out-how-to- overcome-it-in-my-head-minus-the-crying... me could comprehend. I wish I could say it's all roses and rainbows all the time, but I'd be lying. Sometimes it is farts and loosey-gooseys(random TMI-I still can't fart or go beyond number one in my husband's presence, or while he's within ear shot. I have no problem if he does, but I for some reason cannot. Does everyone go through this after they get married and lived together? Or am I just being weird, as usual?). Sometimes I feel like I have a Ph.D in wifeolgy, while most times I feel like I haven't got a clue.
Thank God that he not works up to the "Happily ever after" 's, but also the days that follow. Praise God that he gave me such a forgiving, determined, and loving husband to model to me what I should strive for on the days when I'm feeling less than forgivable, ready to go in fetal position and cry, and quick to be bitter. Thank baby Jesus(okay...and the teen and adult one, too) that he gave us the best example of love for others beyond love for ourselves.
Thanks be to God for the wonderful crazy train we call "marriage". :)
Until Next Time...