Mini-van, Music, and a Mis-hap while facing the beast

Posted by on Apr 30, 2013 in From My Perspective | 1 comment

When I sat down to write today, I started to vent about the constant natural disaster that is my mini-van.  As I searched for the proper adjectives to describe the disgusting mess, I realized it was so bad that I couldn’t do it justice.  So I closed my computer and headed to the garage.  It was time to face the beast.

It was actually a perfect day for the job.  Even though it was raining, it felt great to open the garage door to keep myself cool with the fresh, brisk air.  I turned on Channel 95.5 and sang along to Detroit’s best hits to entertain myself.  As I scrubbed the filthy, winter-stained leather with a rag wet from a bucketful of water and OxyClean, the beats of Justin Timberlake, Rhianna, Bruno Mars, Pink, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and others did the trick to energize me through the two hour project.

Our kids were 4, 4 and 6 when we got this van, so it’s been through the wringer.  72,000 miles and 4 Michigan winters later, it will never again shine or sparkle.  “Clean enough” was the best outcome I could hope for, no matter how hard I scrubbed.  Unfortunately the rain prevented me from spraying off the soiled and sticky grooved rubber floormats, but other than that I was mostly satisfied with the results.  It wasn’t a fun job by any means, especially when I stepped my foot down into the dirty bucket of water, but I felt very productive upon finishing the task.

When I finally decided to call it quits, I pushed the power button to close the endgate.  I was confused when it remained open, but didn’t think too much of it.  I reached up and shut it manually, then went to close the side slider door.  Again, the power button didn’t work.  I turned the key off to silence the radio so I could figure out why the power doors weren’t responding.

Oh crap.  The key.  It had been in the “ACC” position (whatever that means) for the last two hours so I could whistle while I worked.  I cringed with leery anticipation as I slowly turned it to the right to “START.”  When the engine made a sick clicking sound instead of rolling over, I can’t say that I was surprised.  Disappointed?  Yes – but not surprised.  For good measure, I tried one more time.  Still nothing.  My musical entertainment had killed the battery.

So, naturally, I did what any smart, spoiled wife would do – I chose to ignore the jumper cables that I had just placed back in the trunk, and retrieved the keys to our third car.  I then left to go pick the kids up from school.

Craig will get home tonight around 8:30.  When he does, I’ll break the news with a sheepish grin.  He’ll take a deep breath of annoyance and roll his eyes.  Then he’ll go out and jump-start the van back to life without complaint, because he won’t be able to deny his relief that it was me who faced the beast instead of he.

 

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Never go to bed angry…unless you’re married to me

Posted by on Apr 22, 2013 in Family Life, From My Perspective | 0 comments

At a recent wedding reception, Craig and I were seated next to a couple who had been married 38 years.  Naturally everyone at the table was curious to know their secret.  I lost interest quickly when the wife offered her advice:

Never go to bed angry.

This morning while cruising Facebook, I stumbled upon a picture of a fairytale couple dancing blissfully in a grassy meadow.  He dipped her with smoldering adoration as she gazed into his attentive eyes.  The caption of the picture read: 60 Ways to Make Your Marriage Rock!  I stopped reading after #2:

Never go to bed angry.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the theory behind this cliche.  But for me, it’s not beneficial or realistic.

I would qualify Craig and I as happily married – not to be confused with blissfully married, because we all know marriage is tough, frustrating work at times.  But we are generally a happy couple.

Early in our marriage, this wasn’t always true.  Want to know why?  Because we were determined to adhere to the fool-proof method for a happy marriage:

Never go to bed angry.

Well that was a mistake.  Let me explain.

  1. Before I go to bed, I am tired.
  2. My body wants to go to sleep.
  3. My mind is not fresh.
  4. My patience is gone.

If I get angry, the four items mentioned above leave me less rational than normal – maybe even irrational.  When this happens, I no longer fight with Craig.  I fight with myself and force him to bear the brunt of it.  Round and round I go, over and over again.  Craig has no hope because I’m impossible to rationalize with when I am irrational.

After engaging in too many late-night battles desperate to save our marriage by not going to bed angry, I started to recognize a consistent fact:

Not going to bed angry only makes me more angry.

When I am tired and angry, it’s very hard for me to settle my temper down.  Craig becomes the target of my tantrum – and the fight is never fair.  I’m not proud of this character flaw, but I am aware.

Now, instead of letting a minor spat spiral out of control into a ridiculous fight, we agree to sleep on it and discuss it in the morning.  I wake up rested, fresh, and patient – not angry and irrational.

We offer each other our grievances, followed by commitments to do our best to make the problem better.  Apologies come quicker and smiles return faster.  Why? Because we agree to go to bed angry.

This is what works for us.  It’s also why I stop listening or reading when advice starts with the word Never.  Because Craig and I have learned through marriage and parenting that the only cliche that starts with the word “never” that can be trusted is the following:

Never say never.

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Appreciating the little things when lightning strikes and wine becomes jaded

Posted by on Apr 18, 2013 in Family Life, From My Perspective | 6 comments

I hate these days.  The days when I need to write because my head is fuzzy with thought.  But when I sit down, I can’t quite place my finger on what it is that I need to hammer out.  Certain ideas will emerge, then disappear.  For example: the word jaded just popped into my head.  Why?  I’m not sure yet.  But Steven Tyler and his stutter are now making it impossible to focus: J-J-J-Jaded.  Guess I’ll save that topic for later.

The cursor blinks impatiently.  As if it is annoyed with my lack of substance.  I’m annoyed too.  I feel like going deep, but I’m stuck in the shallow.  The sharks are in the deep, though, so maybe that’s why I’m steering clear.

Speaking of steering – As I drove home from drop-off on this gray and rainy morning, my heart was with my friend Tammy, who recently lost her husband.  Cory was a great guy, and I wondered when she missed him the most.  This made me think about Craig.  When would I miss him the most?

Do you know what popped into my head?  It’s awful.  I’m ashamed to even admit it.  It sounds so shallow, even to me.

The first place I thought I would miss Craig was at the grocery store.  Why?  Because I would have to buy my own wine.

(Before you inbox me the number to Betty Ford, let me try to explain.)

Craig loves to buy wine.  He has made friends with the owners at the local liquor store.  They take him to the back room and let him sample recommended bottles.  I can usually count on him being gone for at least an hour.  At least.  When he gets home, he takes his loot downstairs to his beloved cellar and takes great joy in making sure the shelves are perfectly organized.  Labels front – the whole nine yards.  When he is done, he selects 5 or 6 bottles he thinks I might enjoy and places them in our rack upstairs.  When he’s home in the evenings, he voluntarily opens and pours for the both of us.

He knows my favorite glass, and just how high I like it filled.  He offers me my glass of goodness with an anticipatory smile, knowing this little deed always makes me happy.  If he weren’t there to pour, a good glass of red would no longer make me feel full.  Instead, I would feel empty as I missed all the little things I loved about him.

Perhaps this is why I left my children sleeping in the house this morning at 6:19 when I heard lightning strike outside.  Craig had just left for a six-mile run.  The thought of him getting caught in the storm scared me to death.  He was surprised when he saw my mini-van approach him, and quietly frustrated when I told him to get in the car.  He knows that I don’t back down when the safety of my family is concerned, so he didn’t bother to argue.

The other day, amongst the chaos of raising our three kids, I asked, “Doesn’t retirement sound fun?!”

He agreed, but quickly asked for clarification.  “When I retire, will I have to start helping with the laundry?”

I assured him he wouldn’t.  However tonight I think I’m going to add a condition: “As long as I don’t have to help with the wine.”

Perhaps this is why the word jaded popped into my head this morning.  Because of Tammy, I now know that it’s naive to look forward to retirement with my husband.  Anything can happen at anytime.  So I will be thankful every time he pours me a glass of wine and continue to rescue him when it storms.

 

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Unnecessary Expectations

Posted by on Apr 16, 2013 in From My Perspective | 0 comments

The thing about having expectations is that your imagination can leave you very disappointed.  Because most often, your projected expectations are based solely on your perspective of a situation.  You expect people to react just like you.  Why?  Because that’s all you know.

I work hard to temper my expectations of other people and their reactions.  Even when we arrive at the same destination, our point of origin is always different – different past experiences, different ways of thinking, different preferred outcomes.

Neither set is wrong – just different.

I remind myself not to dwell on what I think an outcome “should” be.  Reality rarely coincides with the vision you’ve scripted in your head.  It’s impossible to control the thoughts, feelings, actions and compassion of others.  It’s also not fair to make assumptions about other people based on your singular definition of what is right and what is wrong.

At the end of the day, if you are reaching out in order to feel appreciated, then you’re not really reaching out.  On the contrary, you’re reaching in to fulfill a personal need for positive attention.

It took me a long time to realize this; not to mention many unnecessary hurt feelings.  Now when I put myself out there, I do it because I want to – not because I expect anything in return.  If the response happens to be gracious and positive, well surely that’s going to make me smile.  But if my actions go unnoticed or ignored, I don’t sweat it.  Because maybe what I had to offer wasn’t what he or she was ever looking for in the first place.  So how can I fault that?

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The Tough Truth

Posted by on Apr 12, 2013 in From My Perspective, Raising Great Kids | 0 comments

Recent tough truths that I’ve hated to admit to my 10 Year-Old:

You can’t be friends with everyone.

Not everyone is going to like you.

If someone consistently makes you feel bad about yourself, you have to let go of that relationship and the hope it will get better.

If something is making you unhappy, make a change.  Otherwise stop complaining.

I can’t fix this for you.

(And completely unrelated…)

You don’t have to be married to make a baby.  Heck, you don’t even have to like each other.

 

 

 

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