Surrender to the Rhythm

Fall is rolling through like a dump truck driving through a nitro glycerin plant! (Christmas Vacation reference for all you Griswold fans.)

I just opened up my blog and realized I haven’t tended to it since the end of September. Eh. Life happens.

Pretty much the whole month of October Keira (age 4) spent in San Antonio with Mimi and Papa. I’m sure that makes me sound like an awful mother to have one of my children spend four weeks away from home. I can say it wasn’t torture for her. She loves being with Mimi and Papa. She really needed some one on one attention from an adult figure in her life. I had a friend with five kids tell once that sometimes you can’t do, be, and experience everything with your children (especially when you have a bunch of kids). Although I want to be the one to give her one hundred percent of my attention all of the time and be able to give her that one on one times, it’s just not possible right now.

During the month of October I also started trying to figure out a direction I wanted to go or a focus I wanted to have. I’ve struggled with this for awhile.  While my world is pretty busy with unschooling four kids I do feel a push to give in a capacity I’ve not been able to in awhile; well, really since I was a teacher.  There was fulfillment in my soul when I taught teenagers.  The urge to serve and truly give of myself is just a part of who I am.  I’m unable to go back to something full time and still unschool my kids with the way our lives are right now. I’ve tossed around a few options and really thought about what I am passionate about. There are a lot of things I am passionate about but I also have to take into consideration how my choices will affect my family, fulfill my need to serve, and maintain my personal code of morals and ethics.

I really enjoy being a part of the birth world. I enjoy being present and encouraging new moms, friends, family, etc. through this huge change in their lives.  It’s healing to me and hopefully of some benefit to the woman.  I feel that if I’m able to help and give to new moms in ways that I did and did not receive when I was a new mom, I may help them discover their strength and also prevent some of the unpleasantries I experienced as a new mom.  There is something powerful and transformative about being a woman, about pregnancy, birth, and about becoming a mother.

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I’ve learned so much over the years of birthing four children myself, having a miscarriage, being around birth, lots of reading and research, watching the highs and lows, learning what I can and cannot say or do, when it’s appropriate to insert myself, when to back off, and when to just toss my knowledge aside and just be present in a women’s journey even when it isn’t what I would choose.  I’ve learned so much about freedom of choice and the way that is right for me may not be right for someone else. My ego has been shattered enough with friends and family by my well-meaning intentions and my knowledge of birth that I may have just enough wisdom to do good without judgment.  I’m not saying I still won’t open my mouth and insert my foot but I’m hoping that these incidences of stupidity will be less as time goes on. I also file this stuff under “Reasons I like myself better in my 30′s than my 20′s.”

It’s called wisdom.  I’m gaining that like I gained weight in my pregnancies.

I see the parallels between art and birth.  Sometimes birth is the first time a woman has truly experienced art because she is the artist.

I’m comfortable in my knowledge in the areas of pregnancy, birth, natural parenting, alternative medicine, real food, unschooling, and dance. I’ve also learned a great deal about photography but I file that under dance as well because it’s all art. Art, birth, and being human. All of this has molded me into, well, me.

The struggle now is to figure out what I want to do with the knowledge and experience I have while also thinking about my family and knowing my limitations.

I’ve begun the process of getting certified to become a natural childbirth educator. The reading, research, getting connected with resources, and just figuring it all out has taken a lot of my time. There’s so much that goes into this. It’s a lot. I am enjoying it. My mind is sorting through it all. It’s a process.

I’ve a had a few moments where I’ve felt that cold fear creep up my spine and wondered if I made a huge mistake diving into this. Gah. I hope this isn’t a giant f*ck up. I think that comes with the territory of putting yourself out there. Risk. Risking financially, risking failure, risking rejection. That voice in my head that constantly says I’m not good enough.

Much like birth, I’m riding the wave where it’ll take me and trusting in the process.  I must surrender to the rhythm that is this journey.

Free as a Bird

“Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild.

So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you.

And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.”

― Stephen King, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption: A Story from Different Seasons

The girls wake up between 6:30am-7:00am every morning even though they are unschooled.  I say “even though” because unschoolers stereotypically wake up later.  I make a cup of hot tea, put a cardigan over my pajamas (because I’m too lazy to strap on a bra that early), and walk out there with them as they wait and play with a friend who does attend school to catch the bus.

On a recent morning the girls discovered a bird’s nest in a tree.  It was on a branch low enough that I could lift each of them up and they could look in.  I ended up taking some pictures of the birds in a very wobbly step stool in which the girls not-so-confidentally told me that were holding stable for me to get the pictures.

nestlings
Over the next few days we checked on them every morning.  They started growing their feathers and one day they were gone from their nest.  The girls were sad.  They wanted them to be there forever, I suppose.

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Of course I tried to explain why the birds need to leave the nest and even tried to prepare them for what would be happening a few days before the birds left the nest.

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On the first day they saw them they wanted to keep them as pets.  I explained that capturing wild birds, especially nestlings, would most likely end in their demise.  Letting them grow and develop naturally was the preferred method here.  It was then suggested to me that we could use our blender to puree food to feed to the birds.  Problem solved.  The baby birds just needed food and they’d be good to go.

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Except all living things need more than just food and water to thrive.

Drawing parallels between the baby birds and the way we are allowing our children to develop as naturally as possible were obvious.

Our goal is to let them leave the nest when they are ready.  We don’t want to kick them out prematurely, before they have their wings and can fly.  We also don’t want to force them to stay or be caged up.  It’s a bit of time before we will be entering that phase of parenting.  It’s worth taking time to think about after all the thing I hear from all the parents who’ve come before me is that it all goes so fast.  The days are long but the years are short.

I hope when we are in those years with each of the girls I can look back and remember these baby birds in their nest.  They were so helpless in the beginning.  Over time they grew wings until one day they just flew off.

Lucia Lost Her First Tooth!

Lucia’s first tooth lost was her front left tooth.  That little bugger has been wiggly for some time.

The dentist let us know awhile back that that both of her front teeth’s root were dissolving prematurely.  What this means is it’ll be a little longer than average for her permanent teeth in those spaces to come in.  That hole will be there for awhile.

There's our Lucia!  Part smile, part growl.

There’s our Lucia! Part smile, part growl.

We were on a bike ride around the neighborhood when she came up to me with a some blood in her mouth and said the tooth felt like it was almost going to come out.  She needed to get a drink of water and after looking at the situation I was a nervous that if she were to drink water that she might swallow the tooth.  I let her know the predicament and I asked her if she wanted to just pull it out.  She said no.  I asked her if she wanted me to do it.  She said yes.

Lucia's first lost tooth.

Lucia’s first lost tooth.

First tooth!

First tooth!

A little backstory.  We call Lucia our bullshit sniffer.  What we mean by that is that she can sniff out insincerity a mile away.  We have to talk real to her.  Give it to her straight.  She doesn’t like adults who act nice.  She knows when it’s not genuine.  I think this is why she doesn’t like childcare or church.  Most adults instinctually speak to children a different way than they do adults.  Lucia does everything but roll her eyes.  Wait, she has rolled her eyes.  When adults act this way she automatically files them away as unsafe and untrustworthy.

First tooth gone.

First tooth gone.

So, for her to trust me to pull out her tooth was a HUGE deal.  She trusts me.  It’s taken 6+ years to gain this trust (and many more years ahead to keep it).

I told her straight up what was gonna happen.  It would continue to bleed.  It might hurt.  She appreciates brutal honesty.

We had a busy day the day she lost her tooth and I was unable to get pictures of it before bedtime.  So, the tooth fairy wrote her this note and the next morning we got pictures.

Note from the tooth fairy.

Note from the tooth fairy.

On our way home I looked back and Aurelia was talking to her recalling when she lost her first tooth.  They are both in the lost tooth club now. Lucia rode her bike back home with more confidence and is walking taller, ready to tell everyone about her first lost tooth.

Back to Unschooling!

It’s that time of year again when schools nationwide are starting back up.  And us?  We are still on that unschool train.  (Choo-choo!)

Sing it with me!  Come on ride the train!

Sing it with me! Come on ride the train!

I tell myself that we commit to unschooling one year at a time.  We’ve made the choice to walk into another year of unschooling.

If the girls were in a traditional school setting, Aurelia would be in third grade, Lucia first grade, and Keira would be pre-k.

Do my kids know the same things that a public school kid would no?  Probably not.  Do public school kids know the same things my kids know?  That would also be a most likely a hells to the no.

I try to find ways to explain what we do that is different than a traditionally schooled kid to people who may not completely grasp the concept of unschooling and I came up with a puzzle analogy.

Imagine you are given a puzzle.  For giggles lets say it’s a 1000 piece puzzle.  How would you go about putting it together?  Would you start in the center, would you look at the picture on the box, would you put it together with the edges first, would you commit to doing it all at once or would you take breaks?

Now image the puzzle pieces are bits of information we gather or learn throughout life.
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Unschooling allows a person to put together a puzzle in any order they want.

I (along with other people in their lives) provide our children opportunities to absorb information; I provide them with some of the puzzle pieces, so to speak, and some they gather on their own.   They put their puzzle together at their own rate and in the order that best makes sense to them.  There are things my kids can do and know that a schooled kids their age cannot and vice versa.  One way isn’t necessarily better than another.  It can be difficult to fully grasp this concept because we all (myself included) have a schooled mindset that tells us children should know certain things by an exact age or grade.

How do I know if they are learning?

I look for progress.  For example, are they doing things and know things now that they didn’t know this time last year?  The answer has always been yes.  That’s how I’ve measured success in unschooling.  No, it’s not with percentiles or any other quantitative forms of measuring.  My assessment is more qualitative and observable.  I look at the whole picture of their lives.

This next year we will be spending time inside, outside, playing, reading, watching movies, going into Houston for various activities like Aurelia’s Houston Museum of Natural Science class she so adored from last year, Aurelia and Lucia are taking an art class through the YMCA’s homeschool program, and Aurelia and Lucia are going to be joining a homeschool choir.  (When classes are advertised as “homeschool” classes what that basically means is that they are classes offered during the normal school day hours and not that you have to sign a secret pledge of the underground homeschool coalition and know the secret handshake and password.  But if you are asked, the password is pimpinhomeschoolbiznitches.)

The girls have expressed interest in taking a trip outside of Texas.  I know they all would like to fly on an airplane but I’m not sure that is in our budget (flying a family of 6 round trip is at least $2k).  I’m glad they have the desire to see other places and to travel further.  I wasn’t that adventurous when I was a kid probably because I knew it wasn’t an option with the obstacle of school.  I suppose now our goal is to figure out how to make it happen.  How much do they give for donating organs or my eggs?  I jokingly (or not) told Sal there had to be some sort of niche in the stripping industry for a post four baby, stretch marked body.  Someone would want to pay to see that sexiness strip.

I digressed…a little too much.  I shouldn’t always write everything I think.  Filter, Valerie!  Wrapping this post up.  Unschooling.  Yes we are doing it again.  Putting together a puzzle is pretty much how unschooling works.  You do it your own damn way.  The Lopezes will be busy this fall and I need to get my shit together.

Peace, pimpinhomeschoolbiznitches!

Summer 2014 Wrap Up

This summer was crazy busy.  We were on the go a lot.  A lot.  Driving here and there.  Having guests.  Trying to not melt in the hot and humid Houston summer heat.   We made memories, dammit!

Our summer started early.  In May we spent several days in Galveston at a beach house with Sal’s parents and brother.  That was pretty sweet.  And when I say pretty sweet I mean effing awesome.  I really could have spent the whole summer there.

On the beach in Galveston in May before all the nasty seaweed hit later in the summer.

On the beach in Galveston in May before all the nasty seaweed hit later in the summer.  May, before school is out is definitely a good time to go.  Water is a little cool but the weather is awesome and the sand was so soft.  

Aurelia on the beach.

Aurelia on the beach.

Lucia having fun on the beach in Galveston.

Lucia having fun on the beach in Galveston.

Keira posing

Keira posing

Elisha posing as Daddy was behind me coaching them on modeling.

Elisha posing as Daddy was behind me coaching them on modeling.

I could post ALL of the beach pictures as there are a ton but I’m certain that unless you’re me or their grandparents you probably don’t care to scroll through that many on this blog post.

Then on May 27th my sister gave birth to another baby boy in San Antonio.  I got to be present for that.  What an awesome experience!  Yup.  Still convinces me that if I were able to pursue midwifery I’d not hesitate.  Watching a child be born is amazing.  My experience with birth has only been on the side of the person doing it.  This was my first time supporting and watching a birth.

That's my newest nephew, Xzavier!

That’s my newest nephew, Xzavier!

My sister took this of us  just a couple hours after he was born as she sat in her bed at the hospital.  Another drug free natural birth for her!

My sister took this of us just a couple hours after he was born as she sat in her bed at the hospital. Another drug free natural birth for her!

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Lucia hesitantly petting her cousin’s head.

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Aurelia LOVED holding him.

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Trying to lure their cousin away from one of his brothers. Good luck with that.

The Lopez girls and their newest cousin.

The Lopez girls and their newest cousin.

Sal and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary this year.  We took time out to spend a three nights in Wimberely by ourselves.  We drove into Austin a few times.  We even zip lined.  That was a blast!

The cabin we stayed in in Wimberely.

The cabin we stayed in in Wimberely.

Being silly in the huge bathtub in our room.

Being silly in the huge bathtub in our room.

We arrive back in San Antonio and I got a chance to take my nephew who will be a senior in high school this year to see Texas State University and get a formal tour.

Alkek Library in the back.

Alkek Library in the back.

Sticker shock at the price of books.

Sticker shock at the price of books.

Good luck hand shake from LBJ's statue.

Good luck hand shake from LBJ’s statue.

For the 4th of July we went back to San Antonio to spend time with family to celebrate.

4th of July in San Antonio

4th of July in San Antonio.  Lucia with a sparkler.  

 

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Aurelia and sparklers.

 

Elisha not too fond of the fireworks.

Fireworks!

 

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Elisha not too fond of the fireworks.

This summer Aurelia took swim lessons at the Y.  She loved it.  It was really cool to be on the sidelines as well as just leaving her with the instructor for her lesson.

Jumping in!

Jumping in!

Floating

Floating

 

Images uploaded from my phone.  Becca was her swim instructor.  They had a great time together!

Images uploaded from my phone. Becca was her swim instructor. They had a great time together!

My brother, sister-in-law, and their boys came to Houston for a visit as they are moving to North Carolina soon.  I’m trying to push past the selfish sadness of them being further away and cover it up with happiness for them.  I know this means that their boys will get good quality time with their soon-to-be retired grandparents.  It will be good.

Rogan playing at our house.

Rogan playing at our house.

Rhys playing at our house.

Rhys playing at our house.

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My brother, Danielle, and their boys Rogan and Rhys.  

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My brother, Danielle, and all the kids.

My brother, me, and all of our kids.

My brother, me, and all of our kids.

Then we had our annual visit from the Pattersons.  Aurelia and Logan have been friends since their daycare days in Bedford, Texas.  Kim, Logan and his sister Ali’s mom, has been really awesome and brings them here each summer so far.  I’m so glad they came.  It was an awesome time.  Well, minus the stomach bug everyone except Kim and I developed while they were here.  There was vomiting and diarrhea everywhere.  It was a par-tay!

The Pattersons visited over Sal's 35th birthday.  These are the kiddos hanging over the balcony area upstairs to drop balloons on him as he walked in from work.

The Pattersons visited over Sal’s 35th birthday. These are the kiddos hanging over the balcony area upstairs to drop balloons on him as he walked in from work.

Aurelia and Logan. They pick up where they left off and just "get" each other.

Aurelia and Logan. They pick up where they left off and just “get” each other.

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Minecrafting time!

Aurelia, Lucia, and Keira spent two weeks towards the end of summer with Mimi and Papa in San Antonio (on top of Aurelia and Lucia spending time there earlier this summer by themselves).

Over Labor Day my sister and her family are visiting us as well.  That will be eight children in our house.  It should be chaotic and fun.  Hey, there will be memories, dammit!

So yes, this summer was jam packed full of activity.  I had to seriously limit the number of pictures I posted here because I took thousands.

Okay, Fall 2014, here we come!

Can I Be Selfish For a Minute?

At first glance I’m sure the title of this post might be off-putting or make me look like a horrible person.

As my youngest child is nearing two years old my life is shifting.  I’m starting to find my breath.  It feels good to breathe.

Currently we have no plans for any more children so my view of this is from someone who is closing the chapter on having children.  Yes, I understand that as I write this, I’m probably setting myself up for a fifth baby.   I’ll cross that road if it comes.

Here’s the thing.  I’ve spend the last over nine years either pregnant, post-partum, about to have another child, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, attachment parenting, and more.  Sometimes all at once.  It’s a lot.  It’s not come without great consequence for me mentally, physically, and emotionally.   (Of course there are wonderful things about being a mom and I don’t mean to diminish those.)

Yes, it is good to give of yourself.  Yes, it is good to serve.  Serving others is something that is inherently a part of me.  I do it well.  It’s a strength of mine.

Here’s the kicker though.  I’ve been doing it to the detriment of my own life and health.  I’m really horrible at balancing this.  I often realize it too late and I either snap or crash.

Maybe other moms get what I’m saying.  Or maybe this feeling is unique to mothers of many children.  Or maybe I’m just being whiney about this stuff.

I’m getting into this mother groove.  I feel confident in my choices.  I’m no longer the newbie on the block.  I’m relaxing into motherhood.  Somedays I get clarity that everything will turn out just fine (even though I’m not cloth diapering our fourth child because it’s just too much work to wash another load of laundry every couple days).  I’m letting go of some stringent belief systems I’ve had because my goal is the path of least regret.  Sometimes that means letting go of fundamental belief systems I used to stand for or at least loosening the ties.

Now that I’m in my thirties I have a better sense of myself, what my strengths are and what my limitations are.  There are so many things that I would love to do.  This is where the limitations come in and figuring out where the line of selflessness and selfishness is.  At what point is it too far in either direction?  I’ve already gone too far in one direction and experienced the consequences of that.

I’m just not sure how to get fulfilled in a way that isn’t to the detriment of my family.  Many times the choice does seem to be between my needs versus their needs.  There is no middle ground.

I’m just gonna jot some things down that I’ve toyed around with doing.  I’ve found a way to talk myself out of it for the reasons I’ll list beside them:

Becoming a midwife – Biggest con:  Um, so who cares for my kids??? Yeah, that’s not gonna work.

Getting a PhD in education and becoming a professor and seeing which university would want a professor who would rock the boat on traditional education – Biggest con:  $Dinero$.  I finish paying off my bachelor’s degree a couple years ago.  I’m not gonna get another loan just to pay off when I’m 70.

Opening up a Sudbury-style Democratic School – Biggest con:  Money again.  Time.  How to do this with my kids?  I suck at this kind of thing.  Plus the tuition for these schools is like $7000/year or more and my goal isn’t to just hit up all the rich kids for this sort of thing.

My list is actually longer of things I’ve thought about doing.  Everything comes with a price.  Maybe not always monetary but there is a price to pay for adding something else to my plate.

The number of kids we have does play a role in my ability to do anything.  As I type this, I’m currently only responsible for the toddler and she is nursing as I am typing.  I seem to not be able to blog as much because I have four children and they all need me and varying times of the day.  Writing takes focus.  I often cannot focus long enough to have a clear thought to jot down.

Me doing anything other than what I’m doing now would dramatically shift our family dynamic and I don’t want to go back to the stress and struggle when both Sal and I were working outside the home.

It would be nice to bring in some sort of income into our family though.  Maybe we could buy a house at some point instead of rent.  Hell, even Michelle Duggar, queen of fundamentalism Christian subservience brings in an income.

I do have moral and ethical reasons for not doing certain business ventures.  I refuse to screw over anyone or take advantage of people for the sake of my own profit even if it means “I’m taking care of my family” or “he’s just a successful businessman” or however else people justify the morally reprehensible things they do for money.  It’s just not my style.

So, let me be selfish for a moment and dream about the things I want to do.  I want to add value to the world.  Yes, I’m sure people could argue that me staying home with all four children and unschooling them is adding value.  I’m sure it is.  There are just moments when I want to do something with a paycheck attached or reach out to more people than just my husband and the four little humans in my house.  Maybe I want to do that as an escape from the difficulties that is parenting four children?

I feel that lump in my throat as I write these things because it is just so real.  I struggle with the guilt of wanting to do more outside the home and knowing what it would mean for my family.  I struggle with the overwhelming responsibility and stress that is doing what I’m am doing with no monetary value attached and no validation whatsoever while I watch people who have as many or more children than I doing things outside the home that bring in a paycheck, validating their self worth other than being Mommy.

That’s where I am right now.  I wanted to be selfish for just a minute.

 

 

 

My 10 Year Wedding Anniversary Reflection

Congratulations!

Happy Anniversary!

That’s what we are supposed to say, right?

Couples celebrating an anniversary will say things like:

We’ve been through ups and downs but here we are!  Love you, babe!  You are the love of my life!  I love you now more than ever!

(blah blah blah)

Well no shit, Sherlock.  No marriage I’ve ever known has been peachy all of the time.

June 26, 2004.  Our wedding day.

June 26, 2004. Our wedding day.

I’m aware that I often view the world in a twisted upside down sort of way.   Maybe my outlook has something to do with my inability to graciously accept compliments (working on this – it’s a middle child syndrome issue).  Or maybe it’s because I like to delve deeper into the meaning of words.  To me, those phrases sound empty and cookie-cutter.

What is it we are trying to say when we say these things to married couples?  Congratulations for making it this long??  Whew.  We all know marriage can be real shitty death trap and we hope that at least today, on your anniversary, you are happy??  Or welcome to the marriage club.  Misery loves company!

Don’t mind me while I sidetrack a bit….  It reminds me of people who are tired from work and complain about their job all the time but let their friends know when there are job openings and offer to pass their resume along and even help them get the job.  And once they have the job they put their arm around their friend and commiserate with an, “Yeah, this place sucks.”  Another analogy is a person works this job their whole lives and instills in their kids to follow a similar path because it’s the “best” way.   How do you know if it’s the best way?  Is familiar always the best?  Have you tried an alternative?  Why do we see the status quo as the better option?  Okay, I’ll now resume with my irregularly scheduled blog.

Sal and I try to look for anniversary gifts for each other that correspond with the year.  The 10th year is aluminum.  When I think of aluminum I can’t help but think of my roll of foil in the kitchen.

10th Anniversary Traditional Gift:
Tin or aluminum. The pliability of tin and aluminum is a symbol of how a successful marriage needs to be flexible and durable and how it can be bent without being broken.

I’ve torn sheet after sheet off a foil roll.  In order to get foil to tear there needs to be sharp edges or put just the right amount of force on an edge it’ll tear.  Foil crumples very easily.  It also bends and molds to conform to whatever it needs to.  How much can aluminum foil bend back and forth and crumple before it is torn or broken?

San Francisco, December 2004

San Francisco, December 2004

Marriage is so, I dunno…weird.  Depending on our background, culture, religious or non religious upbringing, it is highly likely that we view marriage differently.  Some people will stay in a marriage regardless of it’s quality holding onto the literal definition of those words “til death do us part” and focusing on quantity of years versus quality of years.  Some people bail the moment difficulty arises.  Most married couples dance somewhere in between and focus more on the figurative meaning of the phrase “til death do us part.”

Chicago 2005.  I was pregnant with Aurelia in this picture.

Chicago 2005. I was pregnant with Aurelia in this picture.

2006  Aurelia's 1st birthday.

2006 Aurelia’s 1st birthday.

Many people have a list of do’s and don’ts in their marriage.  These are conditions in which they’d stay or leave (unconditional love, my ass).  An affair is a popular one with which we tend to test a marriage (in reality or theoretically).  There are people who swear they’d be out if the partner had an affair since that would be much like death to them.  Some people would stay.  I’ve know couples who’ve left and couples who have stayed.  I must say it’s pretty sobering and a wake up call to hear these stories regardless of how they turn out.

Lucia's birth at home in Bedford, TX.  I put Sal in a headlock while pushing.

Lucia’s birth at home in Bedford, TX. I put Sal in a headlock while pushing.

2008 Lucia's baptism

2008 Lucia’s baptism

The dance of marriage is so nuanced that it is impossible to have hard and fast rules.  The moment I realized this was the moment I let go of expectation and literalism.  The moment I put my checklist down of what I thought needed to happen or not happen in my marriage was the moment I began to be more present in my marriage.  I think that is the point.

Honestly, I don’t know what the future holds.  I could turn into a real pain in the ass to deal with and Sal says (say this like head like Californication’s Hank Moody), “Peace out, Mutha Fucka!”  Sal could all of a sudden reveal he’s had an affair the whole time in our marriage and fathered six more babies with four different women and is madly in love with a fifth woman and wants to leave our family and join a drug cartel.  Yes, I have a wild imagination hence why I also cited the possibility of me being a pain in the ass.  It’s a reality.  I am kinda difficult to deal with at times.

Fall 2009

Fall 2009

April 2010.  Birth of Keira.  Just moment after I gave birth to her in the bathtub and this was Sal and I working together to carry her to the bed.

April 2010. Birth of Keira. Just moment after I gave birth to her in the bathtub and this was Sal and I working together to carry her to the bed.

We’ve had honest conversations about our marriage.  These conversations help uncrumple our foil but it never returns to smooth and flat.  The creases remain.  A couple months ago Sal genuinely apologized for things he had done early on in our marriage than made us crumple a bit.  He admitted he was immature and probably wasn’t ready for marriage at that time.  If I’m honest, I wasn’t ready either.  We married anyway because we were “in love” and while we have many many great and wonderful memories in our first ten years we also have some dark times and things that were done and said that we cannot undo.

Spring 2011

Spring 2011

 

I’m not one of those people who thinks it is necessary to go through pain, suffering, and hurt in order to do or be better.  The hurt and pain we caused each other were definitely not necessary.  We’ve talked about the things we did wrong and the things we’ve done right (I think in the first ten years we’ve done a lot more wrong than right).  At times the conversations are hard and at times they are easy but they are always freeing and therapeutic.

There are sometimes when he has had to hold the relationship together by himself.  There are times when I have to.  There are times when neither of us wants to be around each other and there are times when we can’t get enough of each other.  We’ve cried together, laughed together, yelled at each other, threatened to leave, and held onto each other tightly.  We never need to hurt in order to know what love is.

Fall 2011

Fall 2011

Before we met each other we had vastly different plans for our lives.  Neither of us really had a desire to get married at all.  Mine for reasons along the lines of “Fuck all men!” and him for reasons of “Super important to me, being a nerd is!”  (Did ya catch that Star Wars fans?)  Regardless of our individual life plans we met and became victims to that early stage of love that makes a person stupid.

The birth of Elisha December 2012

The birth of Elisha December 2012

We both agree we were immature when we got married as most people are when they marry in their 20′s.  We were clueless how all the pieces would fit together or what would happen when they didn’t.  We both resisted change and both resisted giving up pieces of ourselves so that we may fit together.  He felt he gave up more of himself for our family and I felt I gave up more for it all to come together.

When I was first married I did have judgments toward people who divorced.  I was ignorantly self-assured early in my marriage because I was still in that stupid love stage and also because I was in my 20′s.  Have I mentioned how cringeworthy my 20′s were??  Let’s face it we’ve all done plenty of stupid things in our 20′s.  I’m just glad my 20′s aren’t documented on social media.  I use to see people who got divorced as not trying hard enough or there was always one party to blame.  Ten years later I can see precisely why and how marriages dissolve.  And you know what?  I hold no judgment now.  I see exactly how it happens and how often times it is a slow death over time.  Sometimes divorce is a good thing, even healthy.  There are couples I personally know have divorced and they are much healthier people because of it.  I also know people who really should consider divorce. (If you think I’m talking about you, then I probably am.)  These people have already died in every other way except a physical death.

Fall 2014

Fall 2013

Married people aren’t some superior group of people.  Marriage isn’t a marker of if you’ve made it or not.  Duration of a marriage means diddly squat.  Marriage isn’t necessarily evil.  Marriage isn’t necessarily heaven either.  I reject the idea that there’s someone for everyone, in order to be happy a person must be married, or that single people are sad and lonely.  There are plenty of people who are extremely healthy and happy being single, just as there are many unhappily married couples.  It isn’t a bad thing to be single.  It can be the healthiest thing a person chooses.  The hierarchy of relationship statuses is bullshit.

I understand why some people consciously choose to remain single.  I understand why some people consciously choose to marry.  The key to happiness isn’t choosing one or the other by default nor is it placing one above the other.  It’s knowing which one is right for you at what time and being respectful of another person’s mind, body, and soul in whatever your decision.

Sal and I have talked about what it would have been like if had waited longer, a few years perhaps, before we got married or even not married at all.  How would it be different?  Would it be different?  Would we be pliable like aluminum?  Would we have bent back and forth more or less?  Would we be crumpled?

May 2014 Windy Day on the Beach in Galveston

May 2014
Windy Day on the Beach in Galveston

We also think about if our children come to us as a teen or in their early twenties wanting to get married what will we say?  What if they never want to get married?  Would either be because of something we did or didn’t do?

It’s easy to get carried away in measuring successful marriages in number of years when we should be measuring successful marriages in the quality of those years.

For now, in this moment, I am happy with my foil.  My marriage crumples, bends, and smoothes out, although never as smooth as it was in the beginning.  Sal and I are happy AND healthy.  We both have contributed to the way our imperfect piece of foil is.  There are things that cannot be undone.  There are also plenty of things I am glad I’ve experienced within our marriage.   I do not know what person I would be if I hadn’t married or waited to marry or married someone else.  Would I be happier?  Miserable?  The same?

Ten years later I know myself better, I know him better, and I know marriage better.  I am more mindful when I am handling my foil; my marriage.  I can’t take back the past.  I can’t predict the future.  I am here now and present in my marriage.  And I think that is the point.

—–

As I was writing this blog, I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons kept popping into my head.  

I Will Wait – Mumford & Sons

Well I came home
Like a stone
And I fell heavy into your arms
These days of darkness
Which we’ve known
Will blow away with this new sun

But I’ll kneel down
Wait for now
And I’ll kneel down
Know my ground

‘Cause I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you

So break my step
And relent
Well you forgave and I won’t forget
Know what we’ve seen
And him with less
Now in some ways
Shake the excess

And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you

Now I’ll be bold
As well as strong
And use my head alongside my heart
So tame my flesh
And fix my eyes
A tethered mind freed from the lies

And I’ll kneel down
Wait for now
And I’ll kneel down
Know my ground

Raise my hands
Paint my spirit gold
Bow my head
Keep my heart slow

‘Cause I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you