A Selfless Man in a Selfish World

IMG_20170814_061957_246I’ll never forget the night we met, the way we fell into conversation seamlessly and became friends almost instantly. There was hardly a moment from that first meeting when it didn’t feel right having you at my side. It’s surprising then, how long it took me to decide for sure that I really loved you, that I really wanted to marry you. Looking back though, I’m glad I took my time. Not because you’ve disappointed, but because we were so, so young and because I realize better now than I ever could have then just how significant that choice of life partner really is. IMG_20170814_062137_610We’ve been married for nine years and together for twelve. I hear those numbers and think I must have done the math wrong—how are we old enough to have been together for twelve years? But then I look at the life we’ve lived in those years and it hardly seems time enough to contain it all. Moving across the country, a condo we could barely afford to heat, a tiny downtown apartment, our first house, and our ridiculous farmhouse remodel. We’ve traveled, made two babies, worked various jobs, and started a business of our own. In all of it, I’ve learned something significant about you, about the man you are and what a lucky girl I am to have you at my side. IMG_20170814_061844_794I’ve learned in a loud world preaching self-promotion and a me-first mentality, a man who is humble, who is self-sacrificing, who sets his own wants aside to better serve his family—that is a rare find, you are a rare find. If I had understood just how uncommon your character is when I was 19 and toying with who to marry, I would have made my decision much faster.IMG_20170815_074139_745You have always loved me well but never did I realize how well until we had children. These years with little little ones are intense. We don’t sleep through the night. Someone always needs us and the margin of time left for each other or anything else can be thin. But in a time when I’ve seen many men step away from the intensity of home and family, I’ve seen you step in and stand up. IMG_20170721_215341_888You work a high-stress job all day followed by a long commute each night. But still you walk through our door ready for the next job—the kids and house and wife still needing you, still wanting what’s left of your time and attention. You get on the floor and play with our son, sit and give a bottle to our daughter, show up with ice coffee and a warm hug for me because you remember not only yourself and your own hard day but think of me and what my day might have been like as well. You mow the yard with our son on your shoulders and help wrangle two children on different schedules into bed. You give from the moment you get up to work and provide for us until the moment you hit the bed again at night.IMG_20170721_215210_339We are old enough now to see the marriages of friends and family crumble. It stings, watching people you love fall out of love with each other. I realize when a marriage or family falls apart, there is likely some level of fault on both sides. But I’ve seen too that many of the marriages I’ve watched disintegrate have done so because a man who took on a wife and family and all that home life requires decided one day (or many days over and over) that he didn’t want that life after all. It’s not that he didn’t love his wife and kids, he simply loved himself more. So he left.

But you have stayed. You have been humble. You have been selfless. You have listened and served and worked on behalf of others when your time and talent could have easily been used to promote self or to earn more money or to have more hobbies and things. You could have bought that boat and spent your days on the lake like you’ve so often talked about—but you’ve chosen our family first instead a million times over. There’s nothing in the world wrong with a boat, but a man who can discern where his time, energy, and money are most needed and who is selfless enough to live accordingly is a rare find indeed. IMG_20170707_211648_100How incredibly humbled and thankful I am that you are mine. I hope I love and serve you half as well as you love and serve us ❤

When Motherhood Isn’t Your Thing

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I always knew I wanted to stay home and raise a family. Before Darren and I ever decided to marry, I told him what I wanted to do and he agreed–someday, when the time was right, I would leave the workplace and stay home. And that’s exactly what I did–after 6 years of marriage, work, home buying, and traveling, we decided it was time to start a family and whole-heartedly welcomed a baby into our lives.

I loved the first year at home–though of course, at times, it was very hard and was a huge adjustment from my former office job. That first year was just me and Roman most of the time as Darren was working, going to school, and remodeling our house. From sun up to sundown (and plenty of times throughout the night) Roman was in my arms or at my side. I was zeroed in that first year, present and focused on enjoying my baby boy before he was no longer a tiny little thing in my arms. I am proud of that first year and have very few regrets about how I spent my time with our son.

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But this year, with a now 18 month old toddler, things have been different. I’m struggling. No, I’m drowning. I’m starting to realize that the baby stage was my happy place but this whole toddler stage just isn’t my jam. Roman is a wild, busy little thing and we are both going a little batty being stuck inside during these long winter months. He’s bored and I’m bored and we’re both driving each other crazy.

Truth be told, I want to put him in daycare and go back to work. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that but I’m just surprised to find myself feeling this way after so many years of wanting to start a family and stay home.

Maybe I’m just tired, discouraged, or disillusioned. Maybe it will pass as things often do.

Or maybe motherhood isn’t my thing and it turns out I’m really not all that good at the one thing I spent my whole life preparing for.

I don’t know.

I know Roman isn’t going to daycare because it makes no sense for me to go back to work right now. By the time I settle into a job and know what I’m doing, I’ll be pregnant again. That’s just where I’m at in life right now. I want more children and I want to stay home with each child for at least the first year and you can’t just hop in and out of work at your own leisure. So for right now, my life is at home.

I don’t have a problem with committing my life to home for as long as this is where I need to be. I’m just struggling to figure out how to make this whole home all day every day with a cranky toddler thing work in such a way that there’s some peace and happiness in our lives again.

I want to be a good mom, not the cranky, frustrated one I’ve become of late. But how do I reconcile who I am and how I’m struggling with patient, loving parenting and a happy, healthy home?

Beats me.

If you have answers, I’m all ears.

I’m sorry this isn’t my usual “life is beautiful and magical” type post but I’m just not there right now. This isn’t a mommy blog but I’m knee-deep in motherhood and struggling to find my voice in this space as I once did. I miss writing and photographing and I’m determined to get back to it. But in the meantime, this is where I’m at, this is why I’m absent, and until I can come back with something nice to say, I’m not coming back at all :]

That Time I Almost Blew It

I tend to take things very literally. Like, way too literally sometimes.

So here’s what happened.

Darren and I had been on one date. That one date was the only time I had ever seen Darren in my life but I liked him. We were in college and one evening after that first date I walked past him in the library. He was standing at a computer and when I walked by I punched him in the back, grinned, and kept on walking. When I walked back through the room Darren was still standing at the computer and I stopped a few computers down to check my email.

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Handsome Mr. Darren walks over and asks me if I want to go get an ice cream. And I was like, “no.”

That’s it. That’s all. No explanation, just no. Because, here’s the thing, I don’t really like ice cream and at that particular moment I literally didn’t want ice cream so the answer to his question was just no.

If he had asked me if I wanted to go out with him again, I would have said yes.

If he had asked me if I wanted to get a coffee and talk, I would have said yes.

If he has asked me if I wanted to go running around the building in the dark, I probably would have said yes.

But ice cream? No.

Poor guy. The time between the first and second date can be quite delicate, you know, when you’re waiting to see if the other person likes you enough to ask you out again or if they just sort of dodge you instead. So being the kind, sensitive person that I am, I flat-out turn Darren down the very next time he tries to talk to me. Ayy, yayy, yayy.

Lucky for me Darren is very persistent and kept asking me out…and he must have asked me the right questions after the ice cream mishap because here we are.

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Oddly enough, it was a while later on an ice cream date when I realized that I loved him…but I still don’t like ice cream so the answer to that is still no :]

You & Me

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Dear Darren,

Five years ago I said “I do” to you. That was pretty smart if you ask me. I love you for lots of reasons…some reasons I can’t always pin down or articulate, some I can. Here’s a few—I love you {in part} because:

268012_10150229426821517_7391311_nYou make  me smile

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And you make me laugh…a lot…sort of foolishly at times…until I can’t stop and everyone is staring at me…so thanks for that.

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I love you because you are silly and don’t take yourself too seriously.

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I love you because you are gentle and kind and good to every living thing. Your heart is huge and I love every inch of it.

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I love you because every winter, the first time it snows, you build me a miniature snow man and leave it on the counter for me to find.

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I love you because, hello, those arms are absolutely fabulous…oh, and you built that frame to go around the mirror for me…but mostly I like your arms.

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I love you because you work so hard and because we have invested ourselves in so many projects together. Thanks for teaching me how to sheet rock, babe.

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I love you even though you throw me in the lake sometimes.

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I love you because you are adventurous.

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I love you because you pick flowers for me…and you get kisses for it too :]

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I love you because you are the best uncle to our nieces and nephews and I know someday, you will be the best dad too.

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I love you for so many reasons and am thankful for each day we’ve had together and I look forward to each day to come.

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P.S. I love you very, very much for agreeing to build a fort on the living room floor and stay up all night watching movies to celebrate our 5th anniversary. Seriously, do they even make men better than that? I say no.

Understanding and Respecting Our Differences

I was talking with one of my unmarried friends the other day and she mentioned something interesting to me. She was a little frustrated because she finds people assume she has lots and lots of free time just because she’s single. People at work say things like, “Oh, you can take care of this office party because you don’t have anything going on. I would help, but I’m so busy with the wife and kids!” People at church do the same thing—ask her to take on lots of extra activities and responsibilities because they assume as a single girl, she has lots of free time that married people don’t have. But the funny thing is, as a single girl working and providing for herself leaves very little free time at all.

Even though Darren and I both work full-time, being married give us the advantage of being able to split responsibilities. Every morning Darren makes breakfast and packs lunch; I always make dinner. Darren takes care of the bills while I do the laundry and we both go grocery shopping together. Neither one of us has to do everything around the house because we are able to split and share our household responsibilities; my single friend doesn’t have that luxury. She works full-time plus manages all her other responsibilities without help.

Her words resonated with me because I get frustrated by a similar problem when I talk to parents. I’ve had several moms say things to me about how nice it must be having so much free time and not having anything to do. Once when I was talking to a mom friend about how busy and tiring life is, she got irritated and asked me what I even had to do without kids. Um, other than work all day every day and cook and clean and everything else? Nothing, I have nothing to do at all ;] Now I do understand that my busyness is very different from a mom’s busyness. I may work all day and have plenty to take care of when I get home, but I don’t have kids pulling on me or needing all my time and attention.

The thing that bothers me though is that people assume your life is easy just because it’s different from theirs. I wish we would stop judging and comparing our different lives and respect the various roads we are each on. Assuming we are busier or have it harder than someone else isn’t helpful; it’s judgmental and belittling. How would a stay-at-home mom feel if I told her I thought her life was so easy because she gets to stay home and do whatever she wants all day? That isn’t fair. I don’t know what life demands from her and it isn’t fair to assume she is lazing around just because her job is different from my job. Neither is it fair to assume that someone without children is lazy and selfish just because they don’t have kids to care for.

Talking to my friend reminded me to be sensitive to the different roads we are each on. It reminded me to be thankful for the help I have in my marriage and to be considerate of the time and needs of people who don’t share life with a partner. It reminded me too that even though people say stupid stuff to me sometimes, I’m sure I’ve said stupid stuff to other people too—stuff I didn’t even think about because my life is so different from theirs and I didn’t realize what responsibilities were weighing on them. It reminded me to be less sensitive and more gracious when careless words are said but also to be even more careful about my own words and the things I assume.

I hope we can all learn to be more considerate and respectful of each other and stop trying to prove that we are better or doing more just because we are doing something differently.

Four Years out of Forever

Saturday was mine and Darren’s four-year wedding anniversary. We were going to go to Quebec City in Canada to celebrate. That’s what we say every year. It’s always so hot and we always say, “you know, it would be so nice up in Canada right now.” But there’s just one thing about Canada…

Back when we were dating, Darren’s family wanted to take me to Canada. that’s a great idea—only I didn’t have a shred of ID on me. No worries, the Andrews say. It’s fine. You’re an American; the Americans will let you come back home. The Canadian border agents weren’t so confident but that didn’t discourage the in-laws. Off to Canada we go. It was lovely, of course—until I wanted to come home.

It turns out the State Troopers working the US/Canadian border aren’t easily charmed when you try coming back into the States without any ID. It doesn’t help that Troopers completely freak me out. What with their puffy pants and tall leather boots, Troopers remind me of two things: Male strippers and nazis. When I’m done giggling about the first, I’m completely freaked out by the second. So I try not to cross them fancy pants Troopers—especially by crossing borders illegally.

I did eventually convince the border agents that I was a very nice law-abiding US citizen. But now I’m scared of Canada. What if the fancy pants Troopers recognize me? What if I forget my Passport again? I think at this point it’s more likely I would row a boat to Cuba than cross the Canadian border with passport in hand.

So00000000000000…….I decided since I’m a good solid Missouri girl, it was time to introduce Darren to all that is the Bass Pro Shop ba da da da dahhhhh <—————- that was dramatic music.

You see, I love Darren and Darren loves boats so what could be better than wandering around the Bass Pro Shop looking at boats? I agree, nothing at all. We had a grand time and Darren even found just the right boat….I mean, not that we bought it, but yes, he found it. Maybe I’ll buy it for him for our 20th anniversary when we are shockingly rich. Yes, probably.

After that we decided on a whim to drive up to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We always drive over Portsmouth when we cross the bridge from New Hampshire to Maine and we always say, “That town looks cute. We should stop there someday.” So yesterday was someday and we finally went exploring.

Okay, everybody grab a pen and paper; it’s time to take notes. Repeat after me: Portsmouth is the cutest place on earth. Write it down. Don’t forget. Go pack your bags because really, I promise, Portsmouth is the cutest place you’ll ever, ever go. Tonight when Darren falls asleep I’m going to pack up all our worldly goods and move us there. He’ll forgive me eventually and I’m pretty sure it’s worth the risk.

These were some of my favorite things:

There’s a German coffee shop

Darren likes to give me a hard time about my German background. He also likes to remind me of his “pure and far superior English bloodline.” The man thinks he’s royalty. So I couldn’t be more pleased with myself when I got him into a coffee shop flying a German flag right outside.

He’s trying very hard to look like he doesn’t like the coffee but even he had to admit how good it was. Truth be told, it was even better than Dunkin’ Donuts—gasp. Speaking of Dunkin’ Donuts, I saw a man wearing a DD shirt that said, “Friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks.” I almost hugged him. But he was a stranger and that would be weird so I let him carry on with his peaceful little life.

I ordered a Dirty Chai Latte and Darren went around calling it a dirty German the rest of the day. Can you believe him? So you know what I did?

I opened the mouth on this fat cheeky shark….

….and I pushed him in bahahahaha! Take that you bloody Englishman.

 The German coffee was very good but you won’t believe what was even better…

There’s a vintage typewriter shop

Shut up.

And there’s perfectly inspiring street art

And there’s a man store 

And the city is old, old, old with cobblestone streets and beautiful old buildings. It’s so quint and peaceful and I’ve never been happier in my life.

I’m putting my things in a box right now. Don’t tell Darren.

Click here to read about the time we finally did make it to Quebec City 🙂