Friday, July 23, 2010

Friendly Fire

Friendly Fire is inadvertent firing towards one's own or otherwise friendly forces while attempting to engage enemy forces, particularly where this results in injury or death, and though it doesn't really say so in the official definition, it seems to happen more in marriage than it does on the battlefield.  Well, the injury part - not the death part so much...

I recently had a "row" with my spouse, and after the smoke had cleared, and everyone had a chance to explain, we realized that due to bad communication, (and some situations out of context), we had turned our emotional guns on each other.

After a heated discussion over lunch, we left each other in a huff.  We are both of us rather stubborn individuals, and not likely to concede in a battle where we feel we are RIGHT.  That's what you want in a good lawyer, and it's what a good lawyer wants in a freaking awesome wife.  While stubbornness has its place in not getting walked on, the best lawyers are also the best diplomats.

After our little tiff then I was surprised that he asked me out to dinner. Texted me, actually.  Being married to a lawyer, I felt the need to be mentally prepared with logical arguments backing up my sound reasoning, and wasn't quite sure what I was in for.  But I knew that, by gum, if a ship was going down, it wasn't going to be my own.  After a toe-to-toe afternoon, I was ready for ROUND 2! *ding!*

So, it was surprising to learn that the conflict was actually a struggle at work. An insane work week filled with lots and lots of stress. He apologized for unloading on me - I had felt the full force of the blast, but the conflict had originated elsewhere.   A stupid comment from the night before had lit the powder-keg, and instead of turning our guns on the source, we had turned our guns on each other.

Pat Benatar croons that Love is a Battlefield, and in many ways it is.  The minute you get married, the world starts trying to tear you apart. Work wants all of you, children want all of you, and with what is left over, sustaining life takes its share in the form of cars, bills, and mortgages.  Grocery shopping, planning, kiddie care, lawn mowing and laundry also exact their due. What is left is usually two ragged and tired people. And the love that blossomed so easily while dating becomes ridiculously hard to keep growing!  Its far easier to snap at each other, blame, and point out faults. 

Unless.  Unless you do as Joshua Chamberlain told 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment when they were in a tight spot at Gettysburg and, "Fix Bayonets!".  During the Civil War, the men of the 20th Maine were up against the rocks of Little Round Top, outnumbered by the Confederates with nowhere to retreat. It was imperative to keep it together.

You see, if the Union line broke, the Confederates (red) would literally divide the Union army (blue) and conquer; surrounding the Union armies on both sides. (As shown in this lovely little pic -->)

After 3-4 hours of heated combat, the 20th Maine ran out of ammo.  With no means of being supplied, Col. Chamberlain hollered for the men, up and down the line, to ready themselves with nothing but the bayonet on the end of their musket, and to fight like hell. Which they did.  The Confederates never got behind that line.

No whinin', complainin' or nit pickin'. It was time to focus on the task at hand, the enemy at hand, and get the job done.  Marriage is like that sometimes.  There are "things"coming at you left, right and center with not enough time, energy, or money to easily deal with it.  And what a surprise that maturity is not always commensurate with age. (I'm pretty sure y'all would have thought our arguments were pretty stupid and petty.)   But if you let it, wisdom and experience will give you a birds-eye view of certain conflicts, and help you get the higher ground so you at least have a shot at a good outcome.
So, after a lovely dinner at the Texas Roadhouse, we did just that.  We walked around the grounds of the Timpanogos Temple.  We talked.  We strategized.  We listened to each other and exposed our weaker sides.  Now we know what to cover.  And our ship is not going down.

We are "fixing bayonets", identifying the true enemy, and we will not let anything divide us.  My dad told me something about how lucky he felt to marry my mom because, "She's the one you want with you in the fox hole!"

I always thought that was terribly unromantic, but wisdom has shown me how true it is, and how valuable to sustaining a marriage.  And I want my honey in the fox hole with me.  We are better together than we are apart, and he has got my back - and I have his.  So long as we keep our guns pointed in the right direction, we have a good chance of surviving this life long enough to enjoy it. So, "Fix Bayonets" baby, here we go.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Oops, I Did it Again...

This is supposed to be a therapeutic post.  I confess that I did it again: I wore the ugly shirt in the bottom of my drawer today, and ought to be publicly shamed for it. *breathes in*  I have tried to rationalize it, but the truth is - is that I did it out of convenience, and I should have had better sense.

Yes, it was the only thing that would go with my stretchy yoga pants, but that can no longer be an excuse. Because, I say "go" but I only mean that in the most obtuse fashion sense.  It "goes" better than a button up shirt.  Its also easy to nurse in, and I know, I know!  Convenience aside, when you start looking really bad, its time to stop being so lazy.  I got to this point by neglect.  I neglected to take it out of my drawer. Matthew and I stayed up late watching Jim Gaffagin (neglecting to get to bed on time), and then I neglected to get up early, and had to hurry and get Abigail out to horse camp this morning - and it was there!!!

In a rush to get out the door, I grabbed what was clean and handy.  Only, we went to a family reunion in Idaho this weekend, so there wasn't a whole lot of "clean" to choose from.  And as I was rifling through my drawers there it was.  Its a white shirt that I bought while I was expecting.  The ribbed sleeves, neckline and waist looked fairly cute for someone who was clearly having a baby, and clearly wanting her shirt to cover underneath the bulge.  But many washes and a 3 month old baby later, I have been meaning to toss it. Its time, its old, and it is NOT flattering.  Its down right trashy lookin'.  But then I just put it on ... one more time; until I go shopping for a better one, or until I can wear a smaller size, until I find something athletic that "goes" with yoga pants (yet can also be respectable in the grocery store,) etc. etc.

Then, like today, I catch myself in the mirror and jump back with a, "GAAAH!  I should NEVER wear this ugly shirt in public AGAIN!  I look like I just waltzed out of the trailer park!!!  Oh me, why don't I have the sense god gave a lemon when it comes to getting dressed?"  So.  I'm gonna do it.  I'm gonna wash it. And. And DI it.  Just so long as I can get it in the DI bag before I need a convenient shirt to nurse in.  Dang.  Maybe just keep it for days where I don't leave the house in it...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Confessions of a School Mom

I don't like the summer this year.  There I said it out loud.  Or at least wrote it. I am a school mom in a summer hell, and if I didn't think it would traumatize the children, I would make a paper chain of days left until they go back to school.  Danika asked me what has happened to me.  My blogging has dropped off completely; no pics, no witticisms, and nothing thoughtful.  How can I explain that - mainly due to this massive inconvenience to my life - I can barely keep it all together, let alone THINK.

The house looks like it has been tumbled through the dryer, and I have to fight for the will to sit in my kids room and tell them, again, to pick it up.  Make their bed.  Get those toys off the floor. Put your clothes ON. *siiiigh* Of course, I didn't know that there was a difference between a "school mom" and a "summer mom" until I took an innocuous survey that would tell you; it basically tests whether you like your days scheduled and structured, or more free flowing and spontaneous. After 10 incredibly "scientific" questions the result was overwhelming. *angelic chorus*  I am a 97% Bonified School Mom.  Why?

Because I love the school time of year.  I love that we all have to get up, get dressed, and have to GO somewhere. I can make a quick early morning stop at the store, right after the last kiddo springs merrily off to class.  The small kids take naps as scheduled, and in that peace and quiet of the morning I can BLOG, get the laundry going, pad about the house picking up stuff without anyone undoing it, start the dishwasher, wipe off the counter, and thoughtfully prepare for dinner and what the afternoon will bring.  I make phone calls during this quiet time - either to make appointments, research, or call a friend to catch up without being peppered by children's tattling, and questions about whether they can have some juice RIGHT NOW, and random screaming.  I am organizing, recharging, and putting my little world to rights.

Summer is none of these things.  And with a newborn babe, a busy road by my house, and young kids not old enough to self-supervise, it is ESPECIALLY none of these things.  I sat in a friends house yesterday, and confessed my hatred of Otter pops.  She has 6 of her own kids and said, "Oh I KNOW!  The clipped ends all over, the drippy syrup, sticky fingers, sticky faces and stained clothes!  I told my husband that if he ever brings them home again, he's dead meat!!"  Oh soul sister.  Thank you.  I didn't have to say it.

You see, when other mothers beam about the delights of having their kids home for the summer, I have always felt a particular guilt that either I was a rotten mom, or that I had rotten kids.  Now I understand that it is neither of those things.  I am a great mom - 9 months out of the year!  My kids have homework done on time, projects completed, and an awesome "Market Day" entrepreneurial experience!  They wear clean clothes, have early morning scripture study, get to school.... pretty close to on time, with their backpack, lunch and permission slip signed!  Later on, we have a sit down dinner at the table.  With a fruit, vegetable, and  A CLEAN TABLE CLOTH!

I scream A LOT less during those months....

But for now, it is summer.  It is hot.  We are home.  All of us.  All the time.  We are sick of each other.  Everything fun requires time and money, but worst of all it requires getting everyone dressed and into the car.  And I don't want to take a newborn to the pool and simultaneously try to keep the 2 yr old from drowning.  Grocery trips are a nightmare for all of us.  I hate the germs (and the food) associated with the play land.  It is not fun for me to keep having to do a head count to make sure no one is being molested. The vegetable project is a failure; meaning that the strawberry plants died, but the pumpkins and weeds are growing like gangbusters.  Every time I pull into the garage I think that we should organize it, followed immediately by the thought that it is too hot to organize it right now.

I am weary.  I am out of synch.  There is cereal on the counters and the floor.  The spot of toothpaste that I meant to get up off the carpet has been upgraded to "needs the carpet cleaner" status.  And I would do it, if the kids could ever stop tromping on the hallway carpet.  I am just not a summer mom.  This is not fun for me, and I will be glad when it is all over. And when it is you will see me blogging once more and doing this: