Saturday, July 28, 2018

how to be happy when your husband works late

1) Don't save anything to do when he gets home.

I used to "save" the dishes, sweeping or other chores for when my husband came home. He minds Reuben so I can easily work without interruptions. However, this meant when my husband arrived home there was a lot to do (and I was rushed and anxious) OR he came home too late and Becky was ready to nurse and not play with Daddy, or I was too exhausted to do chores. Now I try to get the dishes, laundry and chores done before 5pm so everyone can rest whether or not daddy is home.  This way there is no expectations of work in the evening and daddy working late does not throw off our groove.

2) I don't expect a break when he gets home.

I've said this before, but one of the main reasons I get so upset in the evening is my expectation for some type of break. I've worked hard all day, I deserve a break, right? Well, not really. I deserve nothing. Expecting no break has helped my sour mood become less...sour. Yes, I do get breaks. But not all the time. I have humbly come to realize running a household, managing my children are ways I worship God. Seeing chores and parenting and marriage from a holy standpoint has greatly influenced my mood and expectations surrounding personal rest time.  It's also helped them feel less like "lists of things I begrudgingly have to do" and more like worship.

3) Treat my husband with love and respect and always be happy to see him.

One way to a grumpy evening is to be upset with my husband just because he's late. Right when he arrives. Or send him desperate text messages letting him know I am sitting there waiting for him to save me from being crawled upon by two hooligans. Is he two hours late? Three?! Why?! Nothing like a sour, upset worn out wife crabbing at you right as you walk in the door to make your evening sparkle, yeah? Hah. Now I try to act happy to see him no matter who is melting down and how tired I am, and no matter what time it is. At least he's finally home, right? I try to treat him with respect. I mean, he does not walk in the door crabbing at me, so why should I crab at him right when he gets home, even if it's late? It's not like he wants to be late or chose to be late: he had to work overtime to fix an issue or get his code finalized, or whatever engineers do.

4) I realized he wants to be home too.

I don't know why this one didn't occur to me, but often I would feel like my husband was punishing me by working late. Like he did it just to make me upset or angry or because he didn't want to take responsibility for our household and help me at home. Once I realized that internally I was feeling this way, I legit wanted to laugh at how ridiculous it sounded. Sure, my husband is not perfect and he can be dense as a newly hewn log, but he loves his family and does help a lot! He cooks, he holds babies, he changes poop. He wants to be home with us. He works late because he wants to keep his job (and so do I) and that is that.

5) I no longer let him being late put me in a bad mood.

A lot of what I am learning in my 30s is that while I can't control what the world gives to me, I can control my output: aka my mood. In my 20s I let my emotions control me more often than I would like to admit.

I don't have to like that my husband is working late, but I also don't have to let it completely destroy my day. I can have (gasp) a positive outlook about it! I can be an adult and work hard on my end to make sure our house is in order. I don't need to crab at the kids. I don't need to feel upset and defeated. I can be okay even when he works late. I am in control of my response. Mind blown.

6) Set realistic exceptions.

This one applies to the whole topic of raising kids. I expect myself to get too much done, and I expect my husband to arrive home at a reasonable hour and help me to get things done. This is preposterous, as he's always late! Now I try to set realistic expectations to help curb the let-down feeling that arrives as the eight hour work day rolls on by, sans husband. After five years of being married to a computer engineer I expect him to be late now. But I still hope. I try to realize he will probably be at least an hour late every day. Usually two hours. And I plan for the days where he will be very late, and bedtime will have to be completed solely by me.

These are the things I try and do to keep the peace in our household when my husband works late. What do you do? Please give me all the tips.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Reuben Turns Three

I already uploaded these pictures to Facebook, but look how old my baby is! He's three! He had his first (non-family) birthday party. He's THREE. Wow. I cried the whole day before but on the day he turned three I was fine. He's so big. And he ate a lot of cake! We had a very relaxed pool party with friends and food and lots of fun.

Reuben turns 2 and Reuben turns 1.

Happy Birthday Reuben!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

run to God in times of trouble

I've been a christian around five years, and I've just now began to run to God in times of trouble. In the past I would do a mixture of the below:
  1. crab about my problems on the internet
  2. feel sorry for myself
  3. be a cranky couch lump
  4. feel depressed
  5. buy things / distract myself with media
  6. pray for God to change my "problem" and wonder why he wouldn't
Today I want to talk about number four "praying for God to change my problem" and why I have quit doing this. First of all, I don't think it's wrong to pray for God's help or ask him to fix situations and issues. But I now see it's not the only thing a christian should do in times of trouble.

You see, most of my life has been spent reacting. I react to a problem and let it control my mood as I cycle through the list above. I feel bothered. I feel like whatever "thing" I am going through is unfair, and this mindset sours everything around me.

Recently I have began to see how futile this all is and how all the things I am doing are wrong.

Here is what I do now.
  • Problem happens.
  • I want to give in to my pity cycle
  • I fight myself by reading the bible, praying and studying God's word
  • I realize that in the Grand Scheme of God's plan, my problem is a flea, a mote of dust, a speck in the Eye of God and I feel silly for letting it control me
  • Peace, acceptance and joy (even through I still have a problem)

Of course it's more complicated then a mere list can denote.

I'll try and give an example: Last week my Grandfather fell and was admitted to the hospital. The same day my husband announced he has mandatory overtime all week, and possibly next week. My kid turned three, Becky is growing two teeth. Our church had a really stressful meeting. A good friend of mine almost died giving birth to her 11th (12th?) baby. My extended family is dealing with a really upsetting issue that is unbelievable, and I am having legit heart issues that I need to see a doctor about.

All of that is just overwhelming and it all happened in one week.

My first desire was to just give up and spend the rest of the week on the couch. My husband would come home to no dinner and a crabby wife. I couldn't do it. How could I keep the ball rolling when I can barely function? I stared directly into my own defeat, afraid. Life seemed ruined, how could anything good happen while all this stress was going on? Better give up and just let the misery run its course.

Instead, I forced myself to read my bible and pray every morning. And I didn't pray for God just take away my problems and fix it all so I could be happy and get on with my jolly life; I prayed that God would give me the strength to make it through the week. I prayed that he would give me peace of mind about my heart, no matter what the doctor has to tell me. I prayed for my grandfather's recovery (he starts rehab this week) and for his wife. I reached out to my women's group to pray for my friend who just gave birth (it's a girl! and she has red hair!) and today I brought her a meal. I made sure that my husband was greeted by food upon his arrival to our home, no matter how late he came. I know if I'm completely wiped by his mandatory overtime, he must be exhausted too. I know he also is feeling the effect of all the things that happened last week too.

Every time I felt like falling apart I ran to God. I won't lie, it was hard. Most of the time I didn't want to. I just wanted to vege out on the computer or eat chocolate and lay on the couch and feel sorry for my life. But repeatedly humbling myself before the Lord helped hold me together AND made sure my perspective was in the right place. Instead of the focus being on me and what I was going through, my eyes were on Him.

Don't think everything was all roses. I still had a stress-argument with my husband one morning that we both had to apologize for, and I still let my toddler watch a little much TV and I tried to make time for myself to relax and reflect because I knew I needed it. I was mean to a friend because of my stress. And my house is nowhere near as clean as I would like. But my mood: my mood is where the biggest difference has reigned. And the mood affects everything.

I'm learning more and more that in times of trouble and times of stress and hardship I need to run to God. It won't fix the problem. But I need God like plants need rain and life needs breath. Without him I am only able to perpetuate my sin and wallow in it like a pig.

God never promised life would be easy or rosy. In fact, he promises the exact opposite. If I am to follow him I need to get used to alpine climbs and sudden drops. But God is with me every step of the way and I am not alone.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

trying something different

The past four weeks I have began trying something different. I don't know if it was a conscious choice or a gradual change, but now that I look back I can clearly see how it has both improved my life and given it a purpose.

The first thing I did was stop focusing on the following things:
  • my phone
  • facebook
  • tasks that need done
  • to-do lists
  • past hurts
  • future milestones
  • my own feelings
  • expecting a break when my husband comes home 

I struggle with creating boundaries with social media. The difficulty arises when I am stressed; I end up spending a lot of time on my phone or on Facebook when I need to zone out or calm down. I have known about this issue for awhile, and tried several different things. I desperately want to nix my phone addiction and replace it with a positive: read my bible, listen to a sermon, read books to the toddler, turn on some music or actually confront the stress-issue head on. I don't like the easy cop out of resorting to starting at my phone.

My husband has also mentioned I am on my phone a lot in the evenings (the highest time for tension in our home) and that it makes me feel unapproachable to him.

From now on I hope I keep firm boundaries in place with both my phone and Facebook. Do I still use it? Yeah, but only once a day instead of multiple times throughout the day. Will I need reminders? Yes, of course. Am I 100% healed and no longer feel the longing to pick up my phone and zone out? No, but it's been gloriously restful to have some space from social media. It's helped the dynamic of my family and my focus. I created boundaries by plugging my phone in across the room from where I nurse, turning off notifications, and generally trying to forget it exists. So far, so good.

When I finally created some space from my phone, I realized that tasks and to-do lists are a main point of stress in my life. These things (or thinking of them and how much I had/hadn't completed) are a driving force behind the mood of my day. Did I get a lot accomplished? I must be a good mom. Is the house a mess and the baby crying? I am a failure. Under the urge "to do" I would crab at my toddler, crab at my husband and be a ball of anxiety and stress.

So I decided to stop thinking of days in terms of how much I got done or didn't get done. I decided to spend all that time I had spent looking at my phone or feeling depressed about how much I wasn't doing/how little energy I had doing what I could when I could. This may seem laughingly simple; but it has revolutionized my life. As time progressed I began to see that organizing my house, doing the dishes, cleaning and making dinner are not weights to be carried or burdens that are crushing me. They are the ways I worship God. They are the ways I glorify him. These things don't oppress me: instead they show love, honor and respect to not only God, but also to my husband. I think back on the last five years and how much housework felt "unjust" to me, and I laugh. I mean, I don't always enjoy it, but now I see how it all fits into God's plan and purpose and I have peace.

I've struggled with my husband working late since we had Reuben. I mean, every time he works late it forces me to work late. I've tried expecting him to come home late, but this mindset didn't help. I am usually frustrated, overwhelmed and touched out when he arrives.

I realized once again that it's my expectations that cause me to feel this way. I expect to get a break when he gets home. However, this rarely happens. This is why I get moody and irritable and go sit and nurse and stare at my phone. Everyone needs a break; but with two kids I definitely have to plan and openly communicate my need for some space. Instead, I expect my husband to come home and start helping. And he usually comes home stressed and ready for a break himself! He wants to eat dinner, relax and use the bathroom in peace and not be greeted by stressed to the max grumpy wife. I don't know why it's taken me almost three years to realize this, but such is life.

Thus instead of expecting a break for myself when he gets home, I expect to give him a break. And that was the change I needed to make! Sometimes I get a break, but often I don't. Resetting my mindset to his needs and making an effort to communicate my needs has revolutionized the family evening time together. I've since come the realization that I don't "deserve" a break. I am doing my job. I deserve nothing. Now when I do get a break I am able to enjoy it fully with  peace and grace and thankfulness in my heart. Before I thought of it as a "right" for my hard work.

The second thing I did was choose a ministry.

A lot of my issues and moods come from focusing too much on myself. I realized I need to focus on others. I realized I needed a ministry, a way to give back. I used to volunteer a ton before I had kids. Unfortunately, I have limited time and energy. But I knew right away what I wanted to do. I want to bring meals to tired moms. I love cooking--and I already cook for myself, so it wouldn't take too much extra time from my day! Yet it is SO needed.

I have made it a priority to bring at least one family a meal a week. It's been four weeks, and often I have made more than one meal each week. I have a meal already scheduled to make tomorrow for a lady who just had a new baby. I'm not doing it to feel good--but honestly because I know it's needed. Those meals I received after I gave birth to Reuben and Rebekah were so necessary to my healing and rest. And looking outside of myself and filling a need in my community has helped me emotionally and spiritually.

These things are the things I have changed and they have made me a better mother and wife, and a better steward of my time. I'll write another post of what I have added to my day that further facilitates peace and calm in our family home. As much as the above toxicity needed to go--more needed to come in. I'm learning and growing and have never been more excited about the future of myself and my family.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

sometimes I think women have it rough

Lately, God has been teaching me a lot about patience and submission. Patience with His will for my life, and Submission to that will.

Life after Becky's birth has been very difficult. I have been dealing with feelings of anger and helplessness. Postpartum is hard. Most of managing a baby falls on the woman, and I am a woman who has two kids under three.

Some of it is my choice: I breastfeed, so I am my nurslings only food source right now. And it's wonderful that I can breastfeed. So many want to and can't. I see the grace in it; how I save so much money (formula is expensive) and I love the fact that I am able to soothe Rebekah with just a lift of my shirt. Yet it also does not allow me space from my child. Sometimes all I feel like is a milk machine. Sometimes all I do is hold a baby. Sometimes this makes me very weary and vexed with life. I am more than a mother; but I am a mother. These two things must exist together, but often I feel at war with myself.

Recently I have been struck at how much my body has changed after giving birth to my two wonderful blessings. There are rolls. There is sagging. There are times I look in the mirror and don't recognize myself. I mourn my prebaby body still, and probably always will. I think this is unique to women--my husband, although a loving and Godly man who I greatly esteem--cannot quite understand. His body is unchanging, his sex drive unaffected by small humans, engorged breasts and sleepless nights. He goes to the bathroom by himself, showers by himself, mostly unaware of my lonely days of parenting while he is at work.

That reminds me of a funny story. I was in the shower, and my husband decided to get in the shower too. I had asked him to watch the kids, but two minutes into my shower he decided he also needed to be clean, and I heard him start doing just that in the other shower downstairs. And of course that was when Becky started crying, and I could hear her. I thought he would get her, (because I specifically asked him to watch the kids) but he continued showering. So I got out.

That was when the fight started. I just wanted to shower alone, I said. Can't you just watch the kids for 10 minutes so I can enjoy some hot water? He looked baffled. You always take a quick shower, he said. He assumed I'd be right out. Yes, I explained. I usually take a quick shower. But this time I specifically asked you to watch them so I could enjoy a shower by myself for quite a while longer than I usually do. You could have taken Becky with you, I said. You could take her in the bathroom and put her in her chair. I do it all the time.

He looked so confused. Take her with me? I remember him saying that was impossible, how could he shower and watch a baby. That was too many things at once.

And that was when I realized he had no idea that I have to take one of the kids with me when I use the bathroom. Every time. Whenever I am alone. It dawned on me, as I stood there dripping wet in my towel and trying not to cry in frustration, that when he is home we are together. I've never left him with both kids. He has never parented them alone yet. He has no idea.

I told him I always have to take one kid with me when I shower or when I use the bathroom. Every time when he isn't there. His eyes got wide, he'd never thought of it before.

How else would I shower? I asked. I mean, the two year old will sit on his sister. That can't happen, so one of them must come with me.

Our conversation eventually ended, but I'm still thinking about it. And laughing.

I was upset that day, but now I chuckle. Communication really is key in marriage! I need to communicate my needs more for sure.

It's been almost six months since Becky was born, and I have left him with both kids for a few times when I've run out now--but never long. The breastfeeding--you know, you need breasts for that. And it happens frequently. More frequently than I would like sometimes. Hah.

Anyway, women that choose to have children--its a burden I think we alone carry, like the weight of the baby in our bellies--for awhile, postpartum. So many intricate things I do at home for my husband that he never even hears about! I am glad God made women strong to carry this burden.

I was struck by that today.

I am trying to look at my body with pride now, not with disdain. A body that carried two babies and lost four. A body that allows me to do the things I love and be the person I want to be. A gift from God, not a tragedy. It's hard. I feel ruined sometimes. I look at my husband (who recently lost 50 pounds) and how pregnancy and childbirth has unaffected him physically and I am envious. Then I look at myself, and all I can see is the effects of my pregnancy on me and how it has changed me. I carry these marks and these afflictions upon my body and I, only I, know that weight of that. It's strange sometimes.

But God is good. And he will give me what I need to carry me through these two pregnancies, and any others He sees fit to bless me with.