April 2, 2014

Respect and Love

Or: don’t smash the cake in your partner’s face.

This is something that’s been popping up more frequently in my life recently. The casual disregard and putting down of one’s partner as if it were expected/to be admired.

I don’t get it.

Example: the disparaging comments/behavior on reality shows like Flipping Vegas. I’m a huge fan of makeover/reveal shows – I get sucked in. Over the weekend, there was a marathon going on so I had ample exposure while doing my chores. These people are not nice to each other – behind each other’s back and to each other’s face. This makes me sad in my heart, because honestly – what a terribly scary place to be. The one person who is supposed to have your back, listen to you and lift you up… is instead stabbing you in the back, ignoring/yelling and tearing you down. I found myself just begging – Listen to each other! Ask for help! Leverage each other’s strengths to bridge over the weaknesses! I feel like so much of the stress and drama could be alleviated with simple communication. I’m not an expert, but I’ve found this to be true in my own life.

Example: Shoving wedding cake in your partner’s face on your wedding day. Ugh. I hate this so much. Admittedly, I’m a nerd for traditions/origins, and the symbolism here is lovely to me. A physical manifestation of your commitment to provide for one another. So what does it mean if you smear cake across your partner’s face? It’s rude, inconsiderate, and makes the other person feel terrible – and like they have to reciprocate to "get them back". (Not to mention my totally girly comment of: Dude – I just spent $$$ on this hair and makeup to look my absolute best on this fantastic day… and you ruined it. WTF.)

I have a hard time with disrespecting your partner. By no means do you have to LIKE them all the time, every day. Real life comes with frustrations, bad moods, and short tempers. And spending your life with someone (not just the bright shiny parts) means you’re probably going to run into these grumpy spots from time to time. But in my mind, it’s awfully difficult to build up that trust, love and respect for someone when you’re trash talking them or calling names. Privately or publically. Love takes work, patience, and vulnerability. You can bet that someone who anticipates harassment or shaming won’t be opening up anytime soon – which may stunt their relationship's growth.

Everyone has their own style – I’m a grownup, I get it. Couple A is going to have a different way of handling their relationship than Couple B. I don’t want to be consulted or have approval over your relationship decisions. I just can’t get that old school rule out of my head: Treat others as you would like to be treated. And there’s NO WAY that so many people want to feel shamed, embarrassed, frustrated and angry.

I think it’s a bummer that so many negative relationship examples are set in front of our little ones, families and society – like they’re a badge of honor. Instead, I want to surround our family with strong examples of commitment and love, friendship and joy. I hope to show my son the power and beauty of a loving relationship between his mother and father – one that doesn’t involve smashing cake in his father’s face. 

April 1, 2014

Trying to remember:

Don’t let the mundane numb your life.

We’re all guilty of letting it happen.

Getting annoyed with the day-to-day. Snapping at your spouse/partner/child/dog over nothing at all. Feeling like you’re slogging through the motions, barely hanging on. Not seeing the beauty, joy and blessings all around.

It’s a grind. All of it, all the time. Wash, rinse, repeat. And when things get hard? Forget it. Add the stress of worry and the feeling of living in a pressure cooker, and then your walls are closing in. Doesn’t matter if you’re the mama, the dad, staying at home, going to work, any combination of the above. We get sucked into the dull, the monotony, the tunnel vision, the bad news.

For this, we have each other. That crazy whistle when your husband sees you walk into the room? (Nevermind that you’re at the highest level of frump-dom.) The so-cute-my-heart-might-explode giggle of joy from your baby when you come home from your work day. An old friend just knowing when and how to reach out to let you lean and let go. That smile, or unexpected act of kindness – right when you need it most. That’s all of us taking care of each other.

It doesn’t just take a village to raise a babe, it takes a village for us ALL. We get in the most trouble when we try to go it alone, be an island, refuse help. In my case, I decide that I’m not going to let anyone in or see me less than perfect… then I’ll have this big “reveal” when everything is  in order. The big joke? Nothing is EVER in order. Nothing is ever PERFECT. And the people who love me love the REAL me, not the fabricated image I have in my mind.

So for the first time, I’m allowing myself the gift of grace. Cutting myself some slack. When I fail, or stumble, or fall, I’m not immediately jumping on the “hate Alex” bandwagon. A few years ago, if I got derailed by lack of focus, or distraction, or whatever… I’d yell at myself (in my mind, don’t worry) and immediately determine that I couldn’t do it. Shouldn’t do it. Wasn’t worth it. Then BAM. Have another helping of frustration and self-loathing. Ugh.

I have James to thank for this. I’m always going to be my absolute toughest critic – never letting up on myself. But when I think about my sweet little boy… am I going to cut him off when he stumbles, fails, falls? No way. He gets all the chances he wants to perfect his technique, so try something new, to take risks.

Why can’t I have the same? Turns out, I can.