|Me and Charlie, 2004|
Charlie and I have been together 19 1/2 years (since he was 16 and I was 17) and married almost 14 yrs. We have 6 crazy, fun, amazing kids! (and to think before he met me he never thought he would ever get married, let alone have 6 kids). He is and always has been my best friend. We do most everything together as a family (including grocery shopping) and I'd rather spend time with him, even with the kids around, than go have a moms night out with "the girls" (no offense 'girls' ;0). Not that I don’t enjoy hanging out with like minded moms (believe me, I DO!!) but if I had to choose, spending time with him wins hands down! And believe it or not, the times he has been asked to go out with the guys, he will often decline (though I promise you, I tell him I am fine with it if he wants to go).
What will we do today on Valentines Day? Who knows. We have been busy and as usual, we never made any plans. Maybe we’ll make a special meal for the kids, maybe some heart cookies for dessert and then watch a movie or something. One thing we won't get to do is go out alone. We have only gone out without any kids probably 10 times (or maybe even less) in over 11 yrs. It’s cool, that is life with little ones! We do stay up hours after the kids are in bed so we can hang out together alone (even if I DO often have to go back into the bedroom to nurse a baby to sleep every 1/2 hr).
It works for us! We don't need huge plans or to have a big night out (though every once in a while it would be nice ;0) We are content to just live life in the moment we were given and enjoy what we have now, because the next stage of life will be different (though I am sure also exciting).
You know how people (often experts) say it is important to have "date nights" and go out without the kids and stuff. In fact it seems that once a mom has a baby one of the first things on her mind is getting to the point where she can leave the baby with a sitter so she can “go out”. Well sorry, I am NOT leaving my babies when they are little (and Charlie doesn’t expect or ask me to). I wait until I am sure they are fine without me (and with a family member they love) for a short time, and that is often closer to 18mo – 2 yrs. So as it works out, by the time they are that age, I am pregnant again so we have a window of a few months where we can go out before I have another baby (and then we are not really alone because I have a huge belly baby making their presence known ;0) Now that I think about it, I am not sure if we even had a chance to go out alone last year before I had Dagyn. Charlie’s mom was on her way to our house (all of our family are 3 hrs away) to let us go out to dinner but my water broke the night before, so we spent the evening meeting a new baby instead of getting our dinner alone (and we wouldn’t have traded that for anything!!)
|in college, 1995|
YES, it is so nice when we do get a couple chances to go out alone every other year. I LOVE it! But I don't think it is mandatory for 'happiness', at least it isn’t for us. I think happiness is losing preconceived notions and finding contentment where you are and making it work for you (the same can be said about parenting babies and young children). For us, that means maybe losing a bit of sleep at night so that we can spend more time together (and sometimes that is just both of us sitting on the sofa doing computer stuff . . . like right now, or playing a video game, or cleaning, or watching a movie, or talking). For me, it may mean trying not to fall asleep when I go in to nurse a baby back to sleep for the third time . . . because Charlie is waiting in the living room for me to come back out and finish the movie we had to pause . . . again, LOL.
You know how you always hear people say that marriage is a lot of work . . . in order to have a successful and happy marriage you have to work at it!! We have talked about it and agree that we can't relate because it has never felt like that to us (not that it makes us any better than anyone else, but it is just how it is). Maybe it is because we have the same interests and likes . . . I mean we agree on almost everything! Our personalities complement each other too, I am strong willed about some things and he is more easy going, so we don't butt heads much . . . and we are both just laid back and “logical” about a lot of stuff. So a lot of things are just no big deal. I think a big thing is that we recognize each other’s strengths and respect that. We are Christians, and the Bible talks about submission (which I believe goes both ways) and it is very easy when there is mutual respect . . . there is no need for ‘submission’. I respect his role as provider and father. He is extremely intelligent and if there is something he feels is important I don’t question it (I have no reason to, I trust him). On the other hand, he absolutely respects my instincts as mom, and would never question what I feel is best as it relates to birth and caring for the little ones . . . no matter how crazy it may seem, he takes it all in stride and usually says “that makes sense”. He is very good about me having such strong feelings and opinions, and even when I get very verbal about it (though I really think he likes it when I get all riled up about stuff, LOL). And we both feel that whatever is the most natural just makes the most sense.
|Thanksgiving 2010 (I am pregnant with Dagyn)|
He doesn’t act embarrassed when I run my mouth, even out in public! If I am venting about something I am passionate about, he will often join in and agree with me. He prefers to go to the store with the whole family, no matter how crazy it will get. And when I run into a friend when out (or if I am stopped by a stranger) he very patiently waits for me to stop running my mouth, even if it has been ½ and hour (or . . . longer). He doesn’t care that I am nursing 2 or 3 kids and they nurse till they are 4-5, and has even defended it to his friends. He doesn’t bat an eye at “playing midwife” during our births. He sleeps in the bed, sandwiched between kids, being kicked in the head, having kids lie all over him, and he has never once said “hey, let’s try to move the kids out of the bed”. He has NEVER once complained about the messy house, or the naked babies who never have diapers on or the piles of slings and carriers filling up the back of the car (OK so he has complained about that last one a time or 2, LOL). He is happy to just go with the flow . . . how awesome is that!!
Geez neither of us are perfect, but we know that too!! I have ALWAYS joked that God put us together because He knew that only we could tolerate each other!
|The most recent picture I could find of us together, Jan 2012|
I would love to have more date nights . . . and I say as with everything . . . "maybe we can do that when we are 50" But instead of forcing it, or leaving my kids before I think they are ready, or thinking that it is mandatory, or resenting that we don't get to go out alone often, I am content and happy with the stage of life I am in now and make it work without having to leave my kids or make sacrifices that I am not comfortable with (because if I am not comfortable with it, he wouldn’t be either). I will definitely enjoy being able to do more stuff just the 2 of us, when the kids are older and don't need us as much. I actually think about that often, though I joke that we will not get alone time even then because we will probably be constantly babysitting grandkids . . . . but I know we'll enjoy that too.
As for now, we are happy to enjoy our date nights at home, eating ice cream, watching movies, just hanging out, with the occasional interruption of a crying baby or screaming toddler of course. It is what it is and that is what makes it so cool, we don’t need more than what we have at any given time. We are blessed with an amazing family! If we can’t be happy with life as it is right now . . . then I am not sure that anything could bring us happiness!
|The day Dagyn was born . . . look what we have created!!!!|