27 December 2007

My Anniversary

Eleven years ago today, I married my husband, Andy. I have to say that these have been the best 11 years of my life. Has every day been perfect? No, of course not, but it has been the growing closer through all things that has made my life wonderful. From the birth of our three sons (Peter, Drew and Michael) to the deaths of his grandmother, my parents, and the miscarriage of our precious Jordan, I wouldn't change a thing.

This morning, my mother-in-law called. Now, I will admit that I have not been the most patient person as of late with her, but this time of year tends to be hard on me with missing my parents. It was very sweet of her to call this morning and wish us a happy anniversary, but why did she need to tell me that as I get older I will realize that an anniversary is just another day? It really annoyed me, I must admit.

It isn't that I expect a big celebration every year because, quite honestly, it just can't be that way. We got married 2 days after Christmas, and by the time the holiday is over with, there is usually no energy, and no money left to celebrate. Most of the time we lump Christmas and Anniversary presents together, and just go out for a quiet dinner. Last year for our tenth, we did celebrate big-two nights at a B & B! To me, I would rather do something big every few years so I don't take things for granted.

So why did her comment bother me? I'm not sure. It should sadden me that she doesn't see her own marriage as a reason to celebrate. I guess this is one of those things that I will need to show by example. A marriage is what you make of it. Andy and I have made ours of love, respect and trust. I am very blessed to spend my life with him. Happy Anniversary, Honey!

Daddies get to do the fun stuff...What?!?

For the past week, Andy and I have been having a parenting discussion. It is about having fun with your kids vs. being the disciplinarian.

Last night's discussion went like this:"Your Aunt Peg called...she mentioned that Diane had tickets to the Walking with Dinosaurs show and Diane is taking Lizzie. I wish we were taking the boys," I said.

"Why isn't Grady taking Lizzie? I don't mean to sound sexist, but that is a Daddy thing," my husband said totally innocently.

"I can't believe you just said that! Why do only daddies get to do the fun stuff?"

Yesterday was only the latest in what seems like an on-going discussion about parental roles. I have given this a lot of thought lately. Why do daddies have more fun? Is it the fact that, at least in our house, I am home all of the time with the kids. I do get stuck with some of the more mundane tasks in our household, especially where the kids are concerned:

"Mom, I have a spelling test tomorrow!"
"More juice, Mama!"
"Mom, will you wipe my hinie?" (This one is from my son, Drew, usually, at 5 AM, and ALWAYS to me.)

I also seem to be the one to have to discipline them and keep things in line:

"Stop playing soccer in the house, boys!"
"Michael, don't hit your brother!"
"Drew, you need to wipe your own hinie!"

And then Daddy comes home, the fun begins! The wrestling, the tickling, the chasing. Sometimes I feel like I have 4 boys, not 3! He does get to have more fun with them, but WHY? Last weekend, he took them tubing IN THE SNOWSTORM! Last night, he let Peter stay up later to watch Survivor:China. Am I too focused on the mundane that I can't have fun with my children? Maybe so...But , let me tell you, when all of the fun is over, and my boys are tired and ready for bed, it is me that they come to for one more hug, one last kiss, and that makes it all worth it!

Personal Differences

Quite often I am pegged in the six pack (I admit sometimes I am the one who does the pegging) as the misfit, as the conservative one, the one who doesn't think the way everyone else does. I decided it is time to do some musings on what makes me, well, me.

When we decided to do some writing and see what we came up with, I did give some thought to how it is that the six of us have remained friends for so long when, quite often, in many ways, we are drastically different. I have always said that women are their own worst enemy. I truly believe this to be the case. Women are critical about everything: how we look, what we believe in, working mom vs. stay-at-home mom, breast-feeder vs. bottle-feeder just to name a few. I had never really thought I was so different as a female growing up, even in those difficult teen years. It was when I had just graduated from college that I really began to feel the pressure of how different we, as women, can be...

The year was 1992. I had just graduated from the University of Dallas, a very conservative Catholic school. I had spent most of my college years involved being involved in college politics. I was a member of College Republicans, Crusaders for Life, as well as co-chair of Young Conservatives of Texas, UD chapter. I went out praying in front of abortion clinics, even marched at the pro-life rally in D.C. in 1991 on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It was an incredible experience, and I was surrounded by people, including many strong women who felt just like me. Then I came home after graduation and reconnected with my high school friends, and I discovered how it feels when people, particularly women, don't believe in what you do.

1992 was an election year. Bush (41) was up for re-election. A relative unknown named Bill Clinton was seeking the presidency as well. I was at dinner with Diane and Brenda, and the election came up. I said I was voting for Bush. It never occurred to me that these women I had known for so many years (8 to be exact) could possibly vote any differently. How can you not be voting pro-life? I asked. (I do realize that this is not the only issue, but this was and is still a big one for me) You're a woman! How can you not be pro-choice? was the response I received. I was absolutely dumbfounded...how could this be? Why don't they think the way I do? How can I change their mind? How can they be my friends?

You see, I used to take politics very personally. I used to feel slighted if someone didn't feel the way I do. I came to realize that I would live a very anxiety ridden life if I continued to feel this way. I do, at this point in my life, feel both compelled not at all apologetic for my beliefs. So, it is at this point that I can explain why I am not pro-choice, but instead 100% pro-life. I am putting it all here in black and white for you to read. Not to start an argument, but to help explain who I am and what I believe.

I do believe that life begins at conception, that God gives each of us a soul from the moment that little sperm hooks up with an egg. That is the core of my belief, and because of it I feel there is no possible reason to end that life. There is always another option. There have been many experiences in my life that have solidified this thought for me.

When I was in college, I was diagnosed as rupturing ovarian cysts. This was very painful, but the more important issue was that there was a possibility that I could not have children due to the scarring that could occur from this. I would stand outside of abortion clinics on Saturday mornings praying the rosary for the women who would go there that day that they would have a change of heart. I knew that there were other women who definitely could not have children and would love the opportunity to adopt the baby they were carrying.

In my senior year of college, I decided to look at the abortion issue from another dimension. I was a psychology major and had to write a thesis on a given topic. I set out to study the psychological effect abortion has on a woman. This was a year long project that involved interviewing women who had had an abortion. These women suffered for years with the guilt of what they had done. Many turned to drugs and alcohol and hit rock bottom. It wasn't until they had gone through intensive counseling that they could deal with their pain. To me, this is one of the biggest disservices that the women's movement has done. They tell you it is your body, your choice, but they don't tell you you're going to feel like crap emotionally for a very long time, if not forever. A couple of years ago, I actually had a friend tell me about her abortion 20 years after she had it and about how bad she still felt. In the end, I never felt it was her choice, but one her parents and boyfriend foisted upon her.

Last, and probably most importantly, I think that becoming a mother made me pro-life in a way that no other experience could. I love these new commercials by the Veritas Society with the very early pictures of babies in the womb. I don't think I can begin to describe in words how carrying a baby makes me feel, but I will try. I, as a woman, as a mother, have been given such a special privilege to not only create life (with the help of God and my husband :) ), but to feel it develop and grow inside me. There is nothing like seeing the heart beat at that very early ultrasound, or even better, hearing it! There is nothing like feeling the baby kick for the first time. We are so blessed as women to be able to do this important job of carrying, and developing that new life in-utero. It is so special and so important that I do firmly believe that to end that life is not only detrimental to the baby, but also to the woman. There is always another option!

So, ladies, this is where my entry ends. I was finally able to answer the question posed to me 15 years ago. These are my beliefs, and I am proud of them. I also feel secure enough in myself and in our friendship to be able to explain to you.

Christmas Blues

Andy has had a sore throat for about two weeks. It's not strep-that would have turned into scarlet fever days ago. The downside of him being sick is that I have had to listen to him complain since he got sick. This morning, he told me he was tired of his throat hurting. My response, "I am tired of my heart hurting."

The holidays used to be such a great time. I loved seeing my family! I loved following all of our little traditions, now my heart just isn't in it. I would love to just pull the covers over my head and wait for Jan. 2nd. I feel like when my parents died, part of me died with them. They were truly what held our family together. Christmas, 2003 was the last normal set of holidays. It was the first time we took over Christmas Eve from my parents because we finally had our own house. Even though I was worried about space for everyone, I plowed ahead anyway. It was one of the happiest holdays I can remember. Little did I know that by the following year, Mom would be gone, and Dad only would have two Christmases left with us.

This topic is a hard one for me, but it is why I feel compelled to write about it. I know how lucky I am to have had my parents until my mid-thirties. There are many who don't have that luxury. But then the holidays roll around, and I also have to contend with the passing of both Mom and Dad's birthdays, and I just want to scream, "It's not fair!" I think what hurts most is that my children won't have the opportunity know my parents, and what truly great people they were, seeing my Mom spoil them, and Dad making pizza on Christmas Eve.

How I just want them here, and how I want people to understand. I want to be able to write to the six pack and say I am having a really bad day, but then I think they are probably so tired of hearing me talk about my parents. So instead, I will trudge ahead through this month, and wish how I had just one more holiday...