We’re good friends with a family who dressed up as the Incredibles last Halloween. It was, well, incredible. Each family member matched perfectly with one of the characters from the animated movie, and they even had portraits taken by a professional photographer friend. I was impressed with the family as a whole; with the effect of five people showing up to parties in perfect costume, with the kids' enthusiasm for the theme, and for the parents’ willingness to be kind of goofy for the sake of their kids – and in Spandex, no less. I admired them as I sat in my standard blue jeans thinking, “There is absolutely no way I would dress up with my family.”
As family life unfolds, bringing, as it must, shares of both pain and pleasure, I find myself looking for comfort in places I never looked before. I've turned to comfort foods and the comfort of cooking, the comfort of sex with my husband of 22 years, and the comfort of good friends. I've rediscovered the comforts of music to calm my soul, books that speak to my scrambled emotions, and films and television programs that help to settle sadness. A noisy restaurant, and even occasional strangers have also offered unexpected comforts. I thought I knew by now everything that could bring me comfort, but it seems there's a source I've been overlooking—the comfort of my kids.
If we heeded all the research out there about parenting and marriage, no one would ever get pregnant. After all, babies make couples fight more and cuddle less. Equality goes out the window. Wives resent their husbands and husbands feel unappreciated. Everyone is tired and cranky, and couples inevitably become less satisfied with their marriage. Right?
I love eating dinner as a family, but helping my husband focus on family time can be a challenge. These are my tips for making dinner a true family experience.
We made a shocking discovery. I've got more clothes than my wife. Is this a big deal? Does it say something deep about us, going against gender roles? I certainly don’t think of myself as a metrosexual clothes horse.
Are men blind, or just oblivious? They don't notice the things around the house that make their wives nutso. These tips will help your man (and you!) overcome "male pattern blindness."
Self-improvement and I are old pals. At age 11, I decided to fix my thighs (aerobics); at 19, to fix my soul (daily mass). In my 30s, I vowed to fix my mothering (support group, too many books). I've spent considerable hours of my life delving into self-actualization, mindful growth, claiming my authenticity, expanding my horizons, seeking enlightenment, making positive affirmations, eating and being in some zone, and twelve-stepping to some new place that was always just another plateau. I took classes, joined support groups, journaled for peak performance. Then I realized that if I didn't stop the manic frenzy of trying to better myself, at age 95 I'd likely still never know the secret. Lately, I began to ask myself why was I behaving as if only the new, improved person I would someday be, mattered more than the me I was, the me I am, now? What was I showing my kids about judging oneself too harshly, about dissatisfaction as a default mindset? And did I really want my husband to think I wasn't pretty terrific as is? I decided to knock it off.
I love how calmly my husband reacts when his car is broadsided by a bicycle. I love how he’s ready to hug me well before I’m done yelling during a fight. But I don't love how his chill approach to life has him giving the kids a raised eyebrow and a head shake when I think they need a timeout. Honestly? Sometimes it sucks being the heavy. Every once in awhile, I'd like to be the one letting the kids off the hook while he enforces the discipline. It just never works out that way.
I determined that I wanted to be a writer when I was 5. At about the same time, I decided that I would also be a mother. 22 years later, I still wanted to be a writer... and a mother. And more than anything else, I wanted to be home to raise my children. So my husband and I sat down and hashed out how we could keep me at home full-time without going bankrupt, going into foreclosure, becoming homeless and perhaps resorting to cannibalism.
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