Friday, August 23, 2013

The Trust Language

Respect is a funny thing. We often don't realize how much we crave it until we aren't getting any. In the same way, we I often don't realize I'm being disrespectful until after the words have left my lips or the actions have been completed.

Have you ever read The Five Love Languages? If not, stop reading this. Go buy it now. Read it cover to cover.

I am Words of Affirmation, while Chris is a pretty equal combination of Acts of Service and Quality Time.  More than anything, I need Chris to tell me that he loves me - and he does, every single day. Even when he is angry with me, he makes sure to tell me that he still loves me no matter what.
He needs, on the other hand, for me to show him through acts and time. Lately, this means doing the dishes whenever I can help, picking up P from cheer practice, and helping him clean up the house. His bilingual love language is tricky for me, though - because I try to find ways to do these services while still ending my day with one-on-one time with him after the kids go to bed. I've recently failed at the latter. I spend so much time making sure I bond with the kiddos and help around the house, I neglect his need for quality time. Essentially, I need to do a better job at being a good parent and a good girlfriend. The two things are related, but require very different attention. The daddy in him needs me to speak in Acts of Service, but the man in him needs me to speak in Quality Time.

Why is this important? Because even though he and I are fantastic at speaking the other person's language to them for the purpose of showing love, I still tend to show respect in my own love language, rather than his...

Instead of showing him that I respect him through acts of service, I tend to verbally express my respect. For example... when I made the colossal mistake of invading the ever-sacred privacy of his phone (ladies: big no-no!!), I decided that telling him about it was the best way to show respect. In my mind, I was sure that being honest was the right thing to do - one respectful action cancels out a disrespectful action right? Wrong. Even our 4 year old knows that. And since Chris is an acts-of-service-kinda-guy, he would have preferred me to show respect by not looking in the phone in the first place.
[Side note: In hindsight, I agree. I trust him completely and there is nothing in his phone or Internet history or school record or grocery list or any other crazy thing that my nosey little eyes need to be a part of!]

I am now working my way through learning to respect in different languages - especially if it saves us an argument and the back-pedaling-hogwash of asking for an apology rather than permission. Our different languages were very apparent - and at the same time, completely irrelevant - to me after the apologies had been shared and I sent him this cutesy-ooey-gooey picture:

His response:
"love is trust."
Brain, I beg you: Please etch this in stone somewhere and repeat it daily. Perhaps love languages don't always take precedent. Maybe respect doesn't necessarily have a language. Or maybe Chris said something even truer than true - if love is trust, then the languages we speak to each other are trust languages. The only reason you even learn the other person's language in the first place is because you love them enough to be faithful, respect them enough to make an effort, and because you trust that they will do the same. Your love language is the very core of your trust in the other person.
Love is trust.
love is trust.
l o v e. is .t r u s t

Monday, August 19, 2013

What in the blue blazes is a Boohbah?

“How hard is it to keep your cool?”
Pretty hard sometimes. I find that small children have given me a snapping threshold that would make Gordon Ramsay say “Whoa, cool it lady.” Inanimate objects seem to be the main focus of my wrath because they won’t be taken away from me if I really start spitting cherries (best. phrase. ever.) Instead, I find myself hulking the tabs off the effing nappy because they won’t peel up, drop kicking a basket of socks across the room because I can’t find a pair that matches or swearing that if I ever find the murther furking jackhole that put 14 previews on every kid DVD, I will chant “Kali Ma” as I plunge my bare fist into their chest and pull out their still-beating heart. Breeeeeeeathe.

“I would never let my kids become my whole life.”
I used to go over to my “previously cool” friend’s place and think how sad it was that her house was overrun with sippy cups, Polly Pocket shoes and Dora the Explorer crap. Now I lay in my hippy bed reading Goodnight Moon until my right eye twitches and they fall asleep. Then I look at their perfect, little faces and wonder how I ever lived without them.
--Excerpt from "When I Have Kids, I Will Never..." by Amy Morrison
Okay. I had to include these excerpts for two reasons.
  1. N has a bookcase built in to his bed; there are loads of beautiful little boy books for beautiful sweet little boys, and I love getting to relive my childhood while I read him those stories. But for whatever reason, after we finish Goldilocks or Jungle Junction or Dr. Seuss, he insists that I read him the Boobah book. I have no idea what a Boobah is or why they are made to be so absolutely horrifying, but I read N the Boobah book every single night before bed. Every. Single. Night. Apparently they have squeaky voices, and I freaking refuse politely object to making them. The Cat in the Hat, the three bears, Toadhog in the Jungle - they all get fun voices. But the Boobahs and the loony-toon who created them can bite me.
                 [Seriously... What IS this? The longer you look, the scarier it gets.]
  3. More importantly, even as I typed that, I knew it was a lie - the Boohbahs occasionally get a fun voice because N loves it and I suddenly become some kind of crazy bedtime guru that cures all fears of the dark and "I want another drink of water!" meltdowns. Ever since I started the Boohbah book before bed, it's been an amazing bonding experience, I love him a little more each night, and he finds it hilarious that he gets the "snug as a bug in a rug" chime from me after every story time.
Fun bonus: by reading the Boohbah garbage and avoiding the Kali Ma-jackhole-heart-plunge-I-don't-wanna-go-to-sleep disaster, I give Daddy and me an extra hour of "adult time." Mind you, I use the term loosely. Last night after the kids went to sleep, we watched Far and Away, practiced our Irish accents, and viciously tickled each other for twenty minutes. 
The Boohbahs are getting to us.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Making Memories

I knew that dating a man with kids would change nearly every aspect of my life. But I had no idea it would change my entire support system.

Of course, my family and I are as close as ever. My wonderful mother, aunts, and stepmom have all taken interest in my new role as a step-whatsit. They offer calming advice, personal experience, and an unending supply of "It's okay, this is normal" when I admit that I have no idea what I'm doing. My mom, in particular, has jumped right in with me, assuring me that not only am I a positive influence in their lives, but also affirming my decision to be their other mom.

[Just a few of my amazing family members.]

A few years ago, one of my best friends began having children. The almost 2- and 4-year-olds now lovingly call me Aunt Corky, and I get to spend a lot of quality time with them (especially since N is so close in age). However, it wasn't always so easy to spend time together. Not long after they were born, their mom hinted that, once you become a mom, your support system changes. It is suddenly easier to spend your free time with other parents, rather than non-parents. I didn't understand this - and was slightly offended by it - until now.

I used to go out - a lot. It was rarely wild and crazy, but it was still out on the town, dressing up, new friends, and a girl's night out every weekend. Since Chris and I met about 10 months ago, I can count on one hand the number of times I've gone out. And even fewer were those instances as fun as they used to be. Once I became a step-whatsit, it suddenly became wildly uncomfortable for me to be galavanting around town, Even though I still loved - and needed! - time with my girlfriends, it was suddenly more important for me to be setting a good example for our children. This meant I was suddenly wondering if my girlfriends would be interested in a night in watching animated movies and sipping Capri Sun, rather than dressing to the nines and showing off our stems to people we didn't know.

While I'm trying to help save up for back-to-school shopping and a $500 Youth Cheerleading extravaganza, my other girlfriends are having dinner dates, weekend vacations out of state, attending concerts, and racking up bar tabs that I haven't seen in almost a year. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS. Admittedly, I even sometimes envy their ability to do so. My only point is that I suddenly realize what Lindsay hinted at nearly 5 years ago. Being a parent changes your support system. Remaining friends with non-parents once you become a parent takes effort. It takes time. And it takes priority juggling. Being a step-parent adds a little extra "oomph" to the scenario, especially when friends don't understand why I can't just spend a night away from the kids that "aren't really mine."

To that, I say this: I could.

But if I'd gone out on Thirsty Thursday, I would have missed P getting her very first cheer uniform at practice, and celebrating with a dance party in the garage with her dad. If I'd gone to a concert on Saturday, I would have missed N asking his daddy, "When will you get married? Because if you got married, then we'd all have a mom around all the time, and Courtney wouldn't have to go home at night because she'd already BE home. So when can we do that?"

[P's first cheer camp]
Friendships are not static. They change, the dynamics change, the logistics change, the circumstances change. I still love my girlfriends just as much as I always have. I miss them more and more each day, and there are days when I JUST want to sit and have a margarita with them and feel a little bit of nostalgic "normalcy." But I now understand why my parent-friends seemed to disappear for awhile when they became parents. Your heart is suddenly SO filled with love, you just don't know how to carry it around town without spilling ooey gooey feelings all over everyone.

 [My flower from N: "This will be better than any present Daddy gives you, I promise!"]

To be perfectly honest, with the kids heading toward pre-k and 5th grade (and puberty and slumber parties and escalated temper tantrums and Ew, don't hug me, my friends are looking!), I want to hang on to this overflowing ooey-gooey--ness for as long as my hands can stay on them.
So friends, please please excuse my absences. I'm busy making memories.