Wednesday, October 24, 2012

You Don't Bring Me Flowers

This was one of the most popular songs of 1978, the year I was born. First off, they don't make songs like this anymore. For all the cheesiness, it is well written and thoughtful. Babs and Neil bring it in the song, and I would rather listen to it than most of the crap that MTV plays between Teen Mom 25. It is a song about a couple that has let their love die out. They stopped working for it, but they aren't ready to let go of one another. When I was younger, it was impossible to imagine how you would hit a point in your marriage where you would struggle with this. When you are first married and adoring one another, it is easy to find simple ways to show your appreciation for one another.

As a couple ages and becomes parents, those simple gestures become much more difficult and much more important. Justin shows his love for me by letting me sleep in on Saturday or picking up the crying child. I try to keep our home functioning and our child happy, so that he can work -12-20 hour days- and not have to stress out about home. As a new Mom, it is challenge to also be an attentive and loving wife. 

I don't want my husband to feel that our son has replaced my need for him or become more important to me than my marriage. Obviously, being Harrison' Mom is an answer to a deep and longing prayer. It has changed my entire view of the world. Everything is different, how I look at things, how I spend my time, how I approach my career, familial relationships, friendships, and yes, my marriage. 

Becoming a mother has made my marriage even more precious than it was before. I feel as if it is this fragile thing that I must protect. We aren't having marital problems and somehow a lack of sleep has made us more in love than we ever before, but added responsibilities, extra financial stress, and constant exhaustion can make finding the time to have an real conversation difficult. 

I am constantly struggling to find a way to connect to Justin, not just as the mother of his son, but as his wife. This can be hard. Harrison is in the center of our universe. From that moment, one year ago today, that we discovered he was coming our focus has been on him. I am proud and happy that we are thoughtful about our parenting. Coming up with family traditions, enjoying watching our son discover the world, and working through parenting trials have brought us closer, but these cannot be the only way we reach out to one another. 

For the past month, I have consciously been focusing on ways to appreciate Justin as a husband. I am looking for ways to celebrate him beyond the amazing father he is. This can be hard, not because Justin doesn't have qualities worth celebrating, but because life is stressful and hectic and I am tired and overwhelmed. It is in those moments that I remember the verses from our wedding: "Love is patient,love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, " Corinthians 13:4-7. 

I am trying to take each quality of love and work on it. Patience is tough and exhaustion makes kindness a constant choice. I have to think about how I speak to my husband. Too often I am harsh or unbecoming in my words, too often I pick little fights based on small annoyances and don't stop to remember that my job and purpose is to love this man. 

For the past few weeks, I feel that God has put this issue on my heart to remind me that I need His guidance and love in order to be able to offer that same unconditional love and grace to my husband. My Grandmother told me that true marriage happens when you love your husband when it is difficult. At that  moment, you are choosing to pour out love and feed your relationship instead of pouring out anger or resentment and hurting it. She and my Grandpa were married for over sixty years, so she must have known what she was talking about.  

I am a work in progress, but I am determined to pour love into my marriage. From the moment I fell in love in with him, Justin has been my home. If the rest of the world fell away and I was left with just he and Harrison I would still be blessed beyond my imagination. Each day, I am working on remembering that and reflecting it in my actions, and fortunately for me my husband considers getting pizza to be one of the most romantic things I can do for him :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Humble Reminders

Yesterday I was reminded how powerful our words are. I had an interaction with a student whom my words had caused anxiety and stress. A few weeks ago, I opened my mouth and inserted my foot. That set up a situation where when I had a conversation with a student, they were already feeling intimidated and words that I viewed as honest and helpful, were taken as critical and harsh. Now, I know that my words were taken through the filter of an emotional 8th grader, and my first instinct was  to blow their hurt off and chalk it up to middle school drama.

Something stopped me from doing this, and put this situation on my heart. I ended up pulling the student in, apologizing and having one of those great conversations that remind me why I became a teacher in the first place. You see, I had forgotten that 1. as an adult my words are very powerful,
 2. middle school is a horrid thing to go through, and 3. kindness and humility are good for everyone.  Apologizing to this student may have made them feel better, but it was huge relief for me. It felt like I was throwing off the cloak of crankiness and self-centeredness and remembering that the world is bigger than me.

Too often I embrace the idea that I am too busy, stressed, tired, etc, to stop and be kind to anyone. I feel like I have absorbed a societal disease that is reaching pandemic levels. I see it on television, on the road while driving, at the store, in my own relationships and interactions. We as a society appear to have be losing the ability to stop and make time to be kind.  I feel like as we become more "connected" via media, we become more disconnected from basic manners. How often do I encounter someone who budges the line, or expresses annoyance that they have to wait, while they are typing away on their cellphone? They don't make eye contact with anyone around them, and barely acknowledge the person helping them. How often do I hear "I am too busy to deal with that"? I think it is time we all acknowledge that everyone is busy and move on.

My words were brusque, because I was solely focused on myself. Due to that focus, I hurt a child's feelings. I made a child cry, and that makes me cry. If I had just taken a moment to stop and think, to put on my manners and really listen to what the child was saying, I could have avoided the whole situation. How often have I hurt others in the same way? This is not the person I want to be, and more importantly it is not the example that I want to set for my son. I want him to see that treating others with kindness and consideration is a reward unto itself.

Yesterday, I had to force myself to slow down and take fifteen minutes to talk to this student. Yes, it was fifteen minutes past when I was supposed to working, and yes it was fifteen minutes away from my son. However, that fifteen minutes was a powerful reminder of the importance of kindness. My apology was heard, and I felt like the student and I left with a much better relationship than we had before. For that fifteen minutes, I was able to let them know that I remember how scary middle school can be, that we don't all do things right,and most importantly that their thoughts and feelings mattered. They were able to reminded me that I need to be conscience about how I treat others and more humble about my day. It may sound strange, but I was thankful for the reminder.