Date Night: What Is There to Do?

That’s right people, here it is — my very first VLOG post. Check it out and please leave a comment. Let me know, what the heck do you do on date night?

P.S. This is also my very first post done entirely on my iPhone in the car. Technology rules!


Do Good Moms Make Bad Wives?

Every classroom has one. Maybe she’s even you. She’s the mom who lives and breathes all things motherhood, using every ounce of energy to provide the precious little ones with the ultimate childhood experience. She bakes from scratch, has dinner on the table every night at 5 pm sharp and can whip together homemade costumes for the entire 5th grade cast of Wizard of Oz faster than you can say “And your little dog, too.”

Don’t even get me started on her crafting skills. While I try to avoid eye contact when I see that my son’s teacher needs tiny fall trees cut out, that lady knows her way around a glue gun like nobody’s business. She’s like a cross between Martha Stewart and MacGyver, using pipe cleaner and a rock to create memorable holiday gifts.

Sure, most of us struggle with the simple task of juggling homework and soccer practice — there’s no shame in that, right? Nope, not her. She not only gets it all done but heads up the carnival committee and organizes the next class party at the same time. I want to scream at her “My God, woman, don’t you sleep?” But I’m starting to think that if you showed up at her house in the middle of the night, you’d see her put away on a shelf with the rest of the wind-up robots.

But for every other mom who thinks that she’s perfect, setting the bar the rest of us can’t even come close to, there’s a certain someone who’s anything but impressed… her husband. Because while she’s spending sleepless nights frosting cupcakes and sewing costumes, he’s feeling neglected and going to bed alone. Which brings me to my question…

Do Good Moms Make Bad Wives?

Getty_021113_DivorcePapersJessica is no stranger to the good mom, bad wife question. In a recent conversation, she revealed to me that she believes her dedication to the kids was a major contributing factor in the recent demise of her marriage, creating resentment, competition and feelings of neglect in her husband. “He hated that [I always volunteered] because it set into the time it should’ve been fed into him.”

But was he partially responsible for leading her to a life of extreme motherhood in the first place? Jessica admits that throughout her marriage, she’s often felt unappreciated and not supported emotionally, leaving her with unmet needs. Using her time with the kids to fill those needs was good for the kids and her. “Because I needed validation and emotional gratification that he wasn’t providing, the kid stuff was easy to take on. I always get a ‘thank you.’ Volunteering is very validating for me, it’s rewarding and fulfilling.”

I think almost anyone who’s walked into their young child’s classroom can relate. The feeling you get when your kid notices your arrival can be pretty intoxicating and knowing you’re making an impact is exhilarating. But what happens in a few years when your kid begs you not to come and refuses to be seen with you? After years letting your marriage run on auto pilot, I wouldn’t be so sure your spouse will be waiting with open arms.

The National Healthy Marriage Resource Center cites spending time together, showing respect and exploring common interests as a few of their 10 Tips to having a healthy marriage. I’m no therapist but I’ve got my own tips.

  • Call each other names There’s nothing worse than hearing a couple call each other “mommy” and “daddy” when there are no kids in a 100 yard radius. Referring to each other by name is a tiny, yet effective, way to recall the person you loved pre-kids.
  • Just say NO Say it with me… “I can’t volunteer to run the bake sale this time.” Say it, own it, live it. I promise you, if you utter those words, you will not die.
  • Just say YES Rumor has it, men often lose interest in alone time after hitting a certain age. Turn him down time after time and I guarantee he’ll lose it with you much earlier. Just sayin’.
  • Prioritize Listen, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be involved with the kids. Volunteering and running the activities show is a positive thing and helps connect you with the kids. But do you really think Groundhog Day requires individually-wrapped holiday gift bags filled with pencils and Punxsutawney Phil-shaped erasers?
  • Forsake all others That’s right, it’s in the vows. Somewhere between sickness and health and richer/poorer, you agreed to forsake all others. While we think about staying faithful to our partner in the biblical sense, vows were about putting each other first. I’m not saying to neglect the kids but they won’t exactly suffer by seeing their parents put each other at the top of the list, instead serving as relationship role models.
  • Stop making excuses I know I can be the first to suggest skipping date night in order to save a little cash. But the price of dinner and a sitter is nothing compared to the cost of divorce. So put on some lipstick and get your butt out the door.
  • Skip the crayons Here’s a date night rule to live by: If there’s a play area in the restaurant, find somewhere else to eat. Chain restaurants are packed with screaming kids and stressed-out parents, not the atmosphere to encourage kid-free conversation and romance. I know you love your never-ending breadsticks, but save Olive Garden for family night, OK?

Are you a better mom or wife? Share your tips to a healthy marriage and how you balance both in the comments below!

Love, Marriage and Jazz Hands

[Caption Contest]

Ten years of marriage. A whole decade. Our tin/aluminum anniversary. Who would have thought Jeff and I would pack so much life into ten short years? Let’s see, we’ve lived in four houses, had three kids, survived six surgeries… we’ve experienced more love, loss and growth than I could have ever imagined. I can’t even think about the next ten without smiling and then breaking into a cold sweat when I think about how things will change over the next decade.

[Don’t miss 5 Random Wedding Fun Facts from November 30, 2002]

During our recent Thanksgiving weekend family photo shoot (with the ridiculously talented Renee Bowen Photography), we decided to take a couple of shots to express our feelings about our ten year anniversary. Now your job is to caption it!

Comment by 11:59 pm on Friday, November 30. Our top 5 picks will be shared on Facebook for readers to judge (through Sunday 12/2) and the top vote getter will get a little holiday gift from me (don’t worry, it won’t be tin). Good luck!

The Magic of 11.11.11

11:11 a.m. on 11.11.11

I’m a dreamer. Always have been. As a child, I would lie in my bed at night and let my imagination run wild like tiny movies, each one creating even bigger hopes of what my future would hold. And boy were they creative. You know those silly chick flicks where the guy speeds across town, runs through the airport and stops the girl just as the plane is going to take off? Yeah, I could have written one of those bad movies before I was even old enough to date.

On a separate but related note, I also had a big-time fascination with the number 11. Being the 11th child in my family was just the beggining, I would choose 11 any chance I got, so much so that the number 11 became part of my identity, at least within myself. I would make a wish at 11:11 each day, wear #11 whenever I played sports and can even remember how disappointed (like to an unnatural level) I was as a senior playing high school softball when a teammate grabbed #11 before me and wouldn’t give it up.

So take my over-the-top dreams and the love of those double ones and what you get is a girl who would put more energy (i.e. pressure) into hopes that the number 11 would make her dreams come true. I remember as a 20-something single girl convincing myself that my knight in shining armor would arrive on 11.11, bringing eternal love, affection and babies along with him. Year after year, I would publicly announce how special 11.11 would be, just for me, because that was my number and I knew that something life changing will happen.

Then this year came around. 11.11.11 is a date that will only come around once in our lifetime, it needed to be a day to remember for all eternity, right? While I no longer look at the world the way I did as a young, naive girl, I couldn’t help but hope that something — anything — would happen to make the day just a bit more memorable than the others.

Being Veterans Day, the kids were off from school. The mere chance to have a day free from all the usual chaos of a quick breakfast, getting kids dressed, teeth brushed and the hurried collection of jackets, backpacks and homework folders was quite lovely. For Jeff, not needing to drop Lucy off at preschool and the promise of lighter traffic gave him a few extra minutes to sip coffee with me and toss around some plans — for the day ahead and the immediate future.

With the kids home, there was no chance I was going to get any work done. I resolved to spend the rest of the day running errands, feeding the kids. and attempting a dash of “me” time, translated as a little P90X yoga workout in the privacy of my bedroom while kids played loudly and occasionally asked (see: screamed) to get in and talk to me (see: referee the latest disagreement).

But it was right there, smack-dab-in-the-middle-of getting Lucy’s glasses fixed, taking the kids out to lunch and getting flu shots that the magic of 11.11.11 appeared.

I love my life.

The husband who wants to have coffee with me and looks at me like I’m the prettiest girl in the world… the kids who cry when offered special time because they don’t want to be without each other… the ability to work on projects I love while having the time and flexibility to juggle activities, homework, behavioral aids, etc. — I’m actually living the life my 20-something self could only dream of. Because happiness is not about grand gestures and over-the-top moments, it’s about being with those you love and loving the life you’re living.

A magical realization that came to me on 11.11.11.