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Rabbit-Proof Fence

It’s not often that I have the opportunity to sit and watch a movie in its entirety. By not often, I mean it never happens. It has taken me up to 3 or 4 days to complete one 90 minute movie. Such was the case for Rabbit-Proof Fence. I found the movie to be enjoyable, because I am a sucker for true to life or based on real life stories. I felt that the subject matter was infuriating. Shortly after watching the movie, I posted on Facebook:

“Life is cruel enough on its own, why do people feel the need to help it in its cruelty?”

We get one life and people consistently devalue the life of others. It’s sad and sad is not a big enough word for it, but is there one?

Though I watched this movie several weeks ago, i came to mind today after watching a so-called debate on Facebook. It seems to be common for someone to think that if they did something, everyone else should be able to do it as well. “I quit smoking while I was pregnant, there is no reason you can’t”. “I go to school, run a business, raise 5 kids, make all my meals from scratch, you have no excuses.” “:I went back to work a week after giving birth, no reason you can not”. “my kids never did that, you obviously did something very, VERY wrong. (loser)”

Seriously. 

You can not judge another person’s outcome on your very own experiences. 

I feel like I should repeat that, but I won’t, so please read it again. 

We each have our own lives, our own experiences, our own set of windfalls, and misfortunes. We can set out and attempt to achieve something that another has accomplished and have our results turn out completely different. This doesn’t mean one person is a failure, it simply means that life is different for them! They most likely had a different set of cards handed to them. 

In fact, I have a deck of cards sitting in front of me. I can shuffle them, hand out ten cards per person, and rarely will any of those people be holding the exact same cards. It usually does not work out that way! 

Back to Rabbit-Proof Fence. I was thinking about Molly Craig. She was kidnapped by the government along with her younger sister and a cousin. They were sent to a camp 1500 miles from home to be re-educated. Shortly after arriving at the Moore River Native Settlement Camp, Molly plans to escape. She, her sister, and cousin watched the tracker bring another girl back to camp, who had escaped, but was quickly found. Escaping was pretty much not an option. The stakes, and punishment for being found, were pretty high. 

Molly did it anyway. It took 9 weeks to walk 1500 miles back to her home in Jigalong. It was not easy, but she accomplished what she set out to do. She and her sister were reunited with their mother and grandmother. Why did others not accomplish their mission? Were they failures? If Molly could do it, why couldn’t they do the same? What if Molly had listened to the girls that said it was impossible? What if seeing others brought back to camp and severely punished had deterred her? 

Her journey, while it looked the same on the surface, was completely different from any of the other girls. She had a different set of circumstances, a different background, different knowledge, and different opportunities. They may have been trying to achieve the same goal, but they were achieving it with a different life. Those other girls were not failures for not achieving what they set out to do. The wind could have blown in a different direction for them, yes, it’s as simple as that!

So why don’t we start encouraging people in THEIR journey and stop projecting our experiences on them? Am I advocating that we should not share our experiences? Absolutely not. Our shared experiences can be encouraging to other people! We do not have to criticize another because their experience did not turn out exactly the way ours did. We can recognize that the tools at each of our disposals are not the same, even if they appear to be. Stop saying “if I did it, you can too”, because I will drop you in the middle of nowhere, and tell you to walk 1500 miles home. If Molly Craig did it, we all can, right? Yeah, if we need to walk that far, we could, how many of us theoretically need to make that trek though?

So, encourage! Share! Please, though, let’s not discredit someone’s experience because it doesn’t mimic our own.

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Five Mistakes I’ve made in Marriage

My most popular posts, by and large have been on the topic of marriage, followed closely by finances/ saving money. This is a bit ironic, since these two topics are near and dear to my heart. I am passionate about my marriage, your marriage and the marriages of people I barely or don’t know. I don’t have marriage figured out. I am far from the perfect wife. One, because the perfect wife doesn’t exist. Two, because I’m selfish, and self centered and I want what I want and I want what I want yesterday. Not in a few minutes, dear. 🙂 I am also pretty excited about finances and saving money. Maybe since these are the most widely read topics on my blog, that passion is coming through my words? 

I don’t know why God uses me for marriage or finances. I’m stumbling through these things just like anyone else. In fact, when it comes to marriage, I have screwed up just about every day. Sometimes I know I’ve screwed up. Other times it takes people hitting me with a 2 X 4 (ouch) to wake me up. 

Here are 5 mistakes I’ve made in marriage. 5 mistakes I’ve repeated in marriage and 5 mistakes I hope to never make again. Just to be clear, that’s 5 mistakes total, not 15. Ahem, I haven’t made quite that many. 😉

  1. Expecting my husband to fill my every need. This is a pretty tall order. I have a lot of needs. Some of these expectations are known, but sometimes I want him to know what it is and fill it, because we are in love and people in love don’t have to be told what to do. They just know!!! Right? Yeah, I’ve learned, not so much. He’s human. I’m human and when we’re humans together, we mess things up. My husband is a man, not a God, but at times I’ve treated him as if he has failed because he hasn’t met my every need. Newsflash to me: he can’t. It’s just not possible. 
  2. Being too proud to apologize. Proud. Stubborn. Same thing in this case. I act like having to apologize for a misstep will paralyze me. What? Me? Admit to a mistake? Eh, eh, eh. Yeah. I’ll be honest with you. For years, I would drag my feet. I would mope. I would hope that my mistake would just be swept under the rug. Now, my husband is the forgive and forget type guy. He would forgive and forget sans apology, but last month, yes last month, for the first time ever I sincerely apologized to him. I knew I had screwed up. I knew I made a mistake. I found him, looked into his eyes and I apologized. When I asked for forgiveness, he said “of course”. He’s obviously a better human than me. The bonus is… it didn’t kill me. I LIVED TO TELL ABOUT IT. I’m waiting for the shirt. I survived Apology 2014. Yes?
  3. My way or the highway. I’m pretty smart, so naturally I know how to do stuff better than my husband. Load the dishwasher, do laundry, discipline the children, pay the bills. I know it all! That attitude actually hasn’t served me well over the years. I’ve discredited my husband’s honor as a husband, a man, AND a dad. He felt like he was stupid a lot of the time, because I didn’t give any thought to his ideas or his way of doing things, but when I started listening to him, I realized “hey, um, wow! This guy is pretty smart. (he married me after all) Maybe I should listen to him more.” I’ve learned that a lot of times his ideas are much better than mine. 
  4. Not tonight, dear. 😉 I bought into the lie that once we were married, I never had to put out… unless I felt like it. Well, dude! I just never felt like it. I was tired, I had a headache, people have been touching me all day!!! If there was an excuse I could use it. But here’s the thing… I do things for people all the time that I don’t technically feel like doing. I do dishes when I don’t feel like doing them, because they need to be done. I help the kids with their homework when I don’t feel like it. So many things,but I neglected my husband and the things he needed, because I figured he was an adult, he could do those things himself. UGH. Really? So I stopped saying no. Hear me out, sometimes there is a good reason for saying no, but just because I can? That’s not a good enough reason in my  book. He’s not a dictator or an abuser, so I feel good about not saying no to him. I have found that even if I’m not in the mood when we start, I am when we get going. 😀
  5. I can do it myself. I’m pretty independent. I have learned how to do most things myself and I bristle at the thought of letting anyone help me. Even if I didn’t quite know how to do something, I would stumble through it. I think I have screwed up a few things this way. Over the years I have learned that it’s okay to accept help, and it’s okay to ask for help. I have learned that he likes it when I come to him for assistance with anything. It makes him feel good to be needed. It also lightens the load for me, because I have someone helping me! Win, win, and win. 

So, do you want to admit to your mistakes? I went first. It’s your turn. 

Edited to add: I’m really not as big of a jerk as I make myself sound. I promise! This is an accumulation of mistakes I have made over 16 years, so I think I get some grace in that regard. If my husband was speaking of me, he would never think these horrible things, much less say them. I tend to be harder on myself than anyone else is going to be. 

The Love Letter

I nearly jumped up. I wanted to rush out and show my husband what I had found. It was a love letter. It wasn’t to me, it was in a book, but it was exactly the kind of love letter I wanted to receive for myself. It had all the right words and all the best compliments. 

Something told me that I should maybe hold off on that a bit. I was tempted, so tempted. If he could just SEE the kind of letter I wanted him to write to me, surely he could come through on it. 

It was in a book I had checked out from the library. I can’t even remember the name of the book. I didn’t finish reading it, because from the first chapter and the synopsis of the book I knew that somebody died of cancer and I can. not. handle. death right now. So I returned the book. Unfortunately I can’t even give you a glimpse of what the letter said. 

I’ll be honest, I patted myself on the back for the restraint that I showed in not sharing it with my husband. I had a feeling that sharing what somebody else had written would be like rubbing my husband’s face in the fact that he doesn’t write those words or express those emotions. The kind of words and emotions other people receive and I desire. 

I am not always good at keeping my thoughts to myself. I think they need to be said, at any expense, so I was pretty proud that I had squelched the desire to jump up and show him exactly what I had just read. I almost told him that too, but again, something told me I should not share that information either. 

I’m not completely heartless. 🙂

The more I thought about it, the more thankful I was that I resisted. You know when your soul stirs and God starts asking you questions and you know it from the bottom of your heart? Yes. That. He asked me “how would you feel if your husband shared something with you that makes YOU feel like a failure? What if he told you that he wanted something that you weren’t capable of giving? Wouldn’t YOU be disappointed? Wouldn’t you think ‘but I do all this other stuff, because I love him and he isn’t happy because I can’t do. this. one. thing.'”

That made sense. 

My husband does things for me because he loves me. One night when we were driving to the store I asked him “How do you show your love to me?” and the first thing out of his mouth was “SEX” and I said “Yeah, okay, other than that! <laugh>” and he gave me a whole list of things that he does for me, because he loves me. And then he said “and I know your love language is words of affirmation and I know I am not very good at that. I am not good with words. I’m not good about leaving you a note. I’m not good about writing you letters. I know you need that”.

I reached across and held his hand and said “no. I want that, but you are doing just fine. Thank you.”

Sometimes I am so focused on what I want that I fail to see what I already have. At that moment, I vowed to start noticing the ways he shows his love to me. The way he dances with me in the kitchen, or how he grabs my butt when he thinks the kids aren’t looking, or when he gets my  water for me after we have already laid down for the night, because I am SO THIRSTY and there is a kid on my arm and I don’t want to move. He loves me, he really does, and he shows it in a million different ways and I am so blessed and why do I complain about the one thing he doesn’t or can’t do, like EVER? 

I’m learning. 😉

I feel okay posting this. He might see it, but he hasn’t read the last 200 posts of mine, so I think I’m safe, but just in case…. I LOVE YOU, honey! 

Sweet Home

I wrote this Friday morning. I held on to it and only shared it with a few friends, because I wanted to have my husband’s permission to share something so personal. I didn’t realize how emotional the experience would be for me. In the days to come, I will share, with permission, some of the conversations and emotions that have happened since.

One of my favorite movies is Sweet Home Alabama, with Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas and Patrick Dempsey. The scene that causes me to catch my breath every time is when Mel’s lawyer runs in and says “But you didn’t sign them”. He points to the paper, Mel looks at it and gasps. “Does anyone have a pen?” Nobody does. Well, nobody except her almost ex-husband’s mother. Stella hands her the pen, Melanie leans down to sign and hesitates.

Yeah. I feel like I almost lived that scene this morning. Of course there was no divorce in the works, because THE FIRST ONE TO LEAVE TAKES THE KIDS!

Sorry. I’m shouting. 🙂

Today is the day. My husband is going for the big V and I don’t mean victory. This morning, he couldn’t find the paperwork that he needs, because this is what we do. We lose paperwork, panic and then someone steps in and saves the day. Today, I was that someone, which is fitting considering how many times that man has saved my butt by finding what I need. So I found what he needed, I choked back the tears and I handed them over.

This might sound like I am not okay with him having the surgery. I am. I know that this is where he is. I know this is what he needs. Honestly, I am a little sad to see this chapter of our lives closing. I can cite a few reasons why it’s a good idea though. 1. Condoms suck. For real. 2. Chad is 48. 3. We have 5 kids already. 4. Money. We never have enough! And on and on and on.

All of those reasons make sense and seem right.

BUT

I have never been one to plan life. I kind of take it as it comes. It’s been a little easier for ME to roll with the punches, because I never had a plan anyway. When I was a kid, my only plan was to not get married or have kids. We can see how well that has worked for me. I pretty much realized a long time ago that my plans suck. Charlee, our one year old, was not in our plans. I mean, we’re adults. We know that sex can lead to pregnancy which leads to a baby, but as far as saying “HEY! We’re going to have a baby 8 years after our youngest”, that did not happen. It just turned out right.

Now this chapter of our lives is closing. There will be no more babies from my body. There will be no more sweet surprises. There will be no more excitement of the risk being there. I know that many people have gone before us and had a vasectomy or tubal ligation. I absolutely know that they have moved on from that point of their life. If Chad had been able to have a vasectomy five years ago like he wanted, we wouldn’t have Charlee. He said that to me. “If I had done this when I wanted, Charlee wouldn’t be here”. That thought just seems inconceivable to me. She is truly the best surprise I never planned on. (Checks to see if “on” is a preposition. Finds out it is. Doesn’t care)

There are some people that think I shouldn’t be sad, because of the above reasons, but none of those reasons stop the sadness. I can know something is right and still not be okay with it. (Case in point… my daughter going to high school. Yes, it’s right, but it’s OH SO WRONG at the same time) This is a stepping stone in life. It’s a process I have to go through. The decision has been made, the reasons are valid, but my heart mourns the loss a little. That’s totally okay.

I’ve heard of people spending a life time of regretting their decision. I’ve had friends who have paid big bucks to reverse their tubal ligation or vasectomy. I’ve never wanted to be in that situation. I won’t be in that situation. Please, God, don’t make me eat my words. They taste yucky.

So, today is the day and I’ve shed some tears. I have some hesitation and I’m totally okay with it.

How’s that for a woman that can’t make up her mind?

Shut Up. Just Shut Up

The day after my brother died, I spent the day with my parents. Relatives had gathered at their house, presumably to show their support in the midst of grief. It was so normal, and it wasn’t. We gathered, we talked, we told jokes. No one ever really said or even talked about why we were there. My brother’s death was the elephant in the room. There was a point that I lost it on the inside. I wanted to stand in that crowded room and scream “SHUT UP! Just SHUT UP! This is not normal, this is not okay. Please, please shut up.”

I didn’t do it. Not because I didn’t feel like it, but because it just didn’t seem like the trait of a normal person. Even in my grief, I wanted to appear normal.

Today was another one of those days. I didn’t feel normal on the inside. I was feeling grief, but everyone around me was carrying on as we always have. The kids were laughing and joking and telling me about their day. My husband was making incredibly small talk. All the while, there was an elephant with us. He was around us, there was barely any room to move around him. Every once in a while he would crawl in my lap, lay on my chest and I could. not. breathe.

Even though most people knew he was there, no one wanted to talk about him. Once again I wanted to scream at everyone to shut up. And I can’t. It’s not normal and it’s not right.

Damn elephant. Go away. 😦 Everyone else, please shut up. I don’t feel like playing normal.