Monday, November 19, 2012

Betty Crocker? Sorry, You've Got the Wrong Number...

In just two months of marriage, my husband and I have tackled the concept of roles in marriage on a regular basis -- sometimes directly through conversations and other times indirectly by the decisions we make wordlessly about what we will and won't do in the business of making a team in the home.

I grew up in a fairly "traditional" family organization: my dad worked outside the home full time Monday through Friday, and for many of my childhood years, my mom stayed at home with us and cooked all the meals (and sent lunch and coffee every day with my dad). My mom was our teacher, as we were homeschooled, and she was also the household manager and cook. She taught all of us how to do chores properly, and tried to teach my sister and me how to cook. (I wasn't at all interested in paying attention, but it seems like my sister learned a lot.) 

My husband grew up part in South America and most of his life in the U.S. He brings a different perspective on work and marital roles, but still one that is heavy on the "woman is responsible for the home" concept. I think his mom actually worked, cooked, cleaned, and mothered. Dad worked outside the home a whole ton, and did a bit of occasional cooking (he was actually a professional and very talented chef for some time). 

One of the toughest things for me to figure out as a new wife is time management. I am not sure how to juggle 3 meals a day for 2 people and keep an entire 1-bedroom apartment clean at all times, while simultaneously working a more-than-full-time demanding job in a management position, and trying to juggle hobbies that are truly important to me. I was finding no time to exercise, which is the one thing that helps me balance my mental/emotional/physical health. I know my performance as a wife has been sloppy, haphazard, panicky, and only occasionally soaring. One of the toughest things about this is that I know as disappointed as I was in myself, I was also disappointing my husband. 

For a little bit, I got buried in my sense of shame and disappointment. I didn't really know what was wrong with me -- where was my inner Betty Crocker?? This meant that almost every moment I spent anxiously considering all the things I could be doing and wasn't, and I couldn't sort out the "shoulds" in order to know what I really ought to be doing next. I was wasting way too much time frozen in anxiety, and, if we're honest, self-pity.

After many conversations, some of them pretty tough, my husband and I have agreed that perhaps being a woman/wife today isn't the same thing as it was for my mom, or even for his mom, or the majority of American wives 20+ years ago. It was time to do something about our expectations of self and one another. He has agreed to be more generous in his estimation of my efforts. I have committed to changing my scatter-brained ways of managing bills (easier said than done) that seemed to work for me as a single woman. 

My husband told me that he thinks the home is mine -- I am the manager of it. Therefore, if I see that something needs to be done, even if I can't do it, it's my job to delegate it. This took a lot of pressure off, and I felt empowered. It means that I need to always be thinking if there is something I can be accomplishing rather than twiddling thumbs or watching TV, and that I need to be efficient with my time, but it also means that I don't have to DO everything my own self. I need to be aware, and ask for help. My husband manages the finances in the daily as well as for our future. This is helpful to me because when it comes to finances I feel like I am always ad-libbing.

We've also decided to try out a new routine:
  • Rather than expecting that I make breakfast and lunch every day, I will make sure that breakfast and lunch items are available M/W/F. I'll get the coffee going, but on those mornings I go to exercise, and hubs gets his own breakfast and lunch ready. Then T/R, I will stay in and make a hot breakfast and prepare lunch.
  • Rather than expecting that I make some sort of fancy cuisine every night, I'll make something large on Monday night (or another night if it's better) that we can eat off of for a few days (lunch leftovers and dinner leftovers!), and then I'll do a couple simpler meals two other nights. My husband is a great cook (like his dad), so he is also willing to cook a meal once or twice a week. 
I know this sounds terribly mundane and maybe overly planned, but the mundane is where marriage gets hard, am I right? It was crucial for me to figure something out that didn't make me feel like I was failing if I didn't make coffee, breakfast, lunch, exercise, do laundry, clean the whole apartment, read, pray, walk the dogs, and get dressed to the business-casual-nines every morning before 8am. Then how about we don't go into the manic details of my office life, and finally I end the day with some sort of chef extraordinaire demonstration in the kitchen and more cleaning and pretty much my life is nothing but a cycle of insane non-stop behavior. Somewhere in there I am supposed to be a good companion to my husband, as well! Maybe some women can handle that, but I CAN'T (I tried -- no can do). 

I'm looking forward to trying out our little agreed-upon routine adjustments. I tried to test it out last week, but both of us got deathly ill and it was also a short week. This week has Thanksgiving smack in the center of it, but I'll give it a shot anyhow. 

Anyway, I'd love to hear ideas from other people on how they figured out division of roles, daily meals (healthy!), hobbies, and just generally having a life once getting married. I also don't mind some quick recipe suggestions or time management / organization tips. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I know that there are a lot more things going on in this world today than a sports game. Most, if not all of them, are more worthy of heartfelt prayers than what I have on my heart today.

But I gotta tell you, my heart is with these boys from DC United, today against the Houston Dynamo.

We need to win by 3 to continue in the playoffs.

My husband tells me that it's not a sin to pray for the Boys in Black to win today, so pray I will! God works in mysterious ways. 

Boys in Black...

We've got your back.

In prayer. 

I have become a faithful fan. 
I am legitimately part of Olsen's Army, as I've even appeared in a pump-up video on TV!
I know these guys. I'm proud of them. They are young, they are underdogs, they have heart, and I love them. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Little Autumn Wonder

This tree is in my neighborhood park. It stands at the center of my vision as I turn down the main street to get to my apartment. It is majestic and awesome. Several weeks ago, with every leaf intact, it turned bright red and proud and full of absolute, breath-taking beauty -- literally. I'm telling you, good thing our speed limit is 10 mph, cause this thing was so beautiful I almost lost control of the wheel. I wish I had taken a picture of it's wholeness, but then there is something almost more beautiful about it when the leaves start to fall and just keeps on standing firm.

So blazing and bright -- it sends a message. It will not be ignored. This beautiful color-turning tree commands humility and wonder. Silent, still, immovable. Not showy, but undeniable in its power.

This is glory. This is the kind of natural occurrence, a thing of terrible beauty that happens without any involvement of an outside agent, that makes me know in the pit of me that something living, conscious, soul-filled, artistic -- some ONE made this tree, and designed it's processes, and started the repeating cycle that would remain in place unshaken for century after century.

And each year after year, these colors matter to one little me. And millions of other little people just like me.

Trees are worshipers of the best kind. They are rooted and grounded. Their branches raise upward, toward the sun, all of their days. They are un-self-conscious in their beauty. They simply live and grow and reach up and up, providing shade and offering a glimpse of heavenly design to passersby. Trees take nothing for themselves. Everything they do brings glory to their maker, and gives enjoyment to world around.

Trees are so solid and rooted, but their leaves are another story.

(I am more like a leaf. I am always leaving. I am shaky, I can be unsettled by a stiff gust of wind. My colors change, but not always beautifully. I fall to the ground every so often. I really identify with the plight of the leaves.) 

I find it so interesting to learn what is happening with the leaves as their colors transform. During Spring and Summer, they are green due to the chlorophyll which is present in the leaves and aids the process of photosynthesis, which is essentially the leaves using the sunlight, water, and other chemicals from the environment to make food for the tree to live and grow. Green leaves mean a busy, active tree.

The problem is, days get short. There isn't enough sunlight through the Winter for the leaves to continue photosynthesis. The trees store up enough "food" for the winter during Spring and Summer, and as Autumn comes the busywork slows and the tree gets ready to rest and thrive off the store.

The brilliant colors of the leaves are a signal that some of that stored food is trapped in the leaves. They're showing off a little bit -- They've done their job and done it well. Autumn colors are almost like the leaves' way of having a little party for all they've accomplished. Afterward, they fall down to rest.

I hate the Winter. I get easily depressed by short days, extra darkness, and leafless, dead-looking plants. I grit my teeth and must use great force to get myself outside on a daily basis. It's just rough, every year, and I know I'm not alone. Watching the leaves change color is like a tragically beautiful piece of music.

Autumn's loveliness makes me ache that something so beautiful is right in front of me, but the knowledge that it means Winter is coming is almost too much to bear. It's a little glimpse that beauty comes in difficult places. Seasons change -- the good ones and the bad.

This year, I'm trying to plan ahead. Plan things to emphasize happiness and keep busy and warm and surrounded by the things that matter and that remain regardless of the seasons.

I'm learning something from the trees, like always. They look lifeless and barren in the Winter, but in reality, they are resting. They are relying on stored riches, which they built up in times of plenty to survive in the scarce times. This is what enables them to stand firm -- stored riches, and a willingness to enter into rest. 

Look at that tree. No fear. Let the leaves fall -- they've served their purpose. This tree is ready to stand firm, surviving on stored riches and a peaceful hope for the future of Spring. This is who I want to be! Unshakable.

When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet...

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.

Joining the Army -- or 7 Quick Takes Friday

Internet connection temporarily intact (this will make sense in a moment)! Joining Jen's army tonight. You should too!

  • Currently composing in Word because for some reason my laptop cannot remain connected to the wifi in my tiny apartment. Could it be the PS3? My husband’s Toshiba seems to have no problem remaining connected, and neither does the PS3, but all our Apple products (both our phones, his iPad, my laptop) can’t seem to hold a connection for 2 second together. Does anyone know why this might happen?

  • Asked myself in the shower if there is any way to have too little self-pity. I decided there is no such thing as “not enough self-pity,” so I can pretty much attack that ugly trait with all I’ve got. No holds barred!

  •  Some days are just a gift. Today was busy to the last, but it was so good, somehow. Good moods, good vibes for the weekend, the end to a tough week, little triumphs, and it doesn’t hurt that I enjoyed a super sweet and fun date night with my husband. We went to the reception for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom ten-miler. They were revealing the new t-shirt design for 2013, and showing off their social media sensitivity (apparently they select two “social runners” each race… interesting trend you can check out on Twitter @cucb). Hubs won a guaranteed race entry AND a t-shirt, and we got some 2012 race shirt leftovers for about half price and twice the neon + reflective strips. Special, since that’s when we got engaged. Sometimes I get a reminder how good it is to marry your best friend … forever. Ok, enough syrupy stuff.

  • How about this dreidel?  I mean, did we really need to make the dreidel into a plush dog toy? I put it to you that NO, no this was not at all necessary. Which is why I didn’t buy it for my dogs. Thanks, Ross. Keepin’ it weird. But okay, they did have some other stuff my dogs needed...

  • Ross moved on to bigger and better things, and I finally acquired a selection of mis-matched frames for my big, empty dining-room-that’s-really-part-of-the-living-room wall. I don’t have pictures in them yet, but Snapfish keeps kindly reminding me that “I have free prints, what am I waiting for???!!”, so soon I will humor them and use my free prints. You watch.

  • Beth Moore, in a lecture I heard this week, made a fab distinction between irritation and tribulation. I think we sum this up in our mod society by saying things like “#firstworldproblems” or “#whitegirlproblems” or something of that sort whenever we know we are complaining about something trivial as if it is devastating. Beth was talking about how sometimes we waste so much energy on our irritations, so we are burnt out when it comes time to handle the tribulations, which are ultimately for the purpose of perfecting a good work in us. And the point is, let’s not get caught up so much in our irritations so we can be prepared for the tribulations. When I say it, it doesn’t sound groundbreaking, but when she said it, it did. Anyhow, can’t stop thinking about it as I drive around in my car getting irritated with all the slow drivers.

  • Exactly W H A T is NBC going to do in place of The Office and 30 Rock? "Whitney" is definitely not going to suffice. Maybe it will be a show in which Justin just raps it out about what he's going through as he tries to get over Selena. I know we're all interested.
Now go visit Jen and the rest of the QTers and keep reading for her suggestions of what to watch on TV once The Office and 30 Rock are both gone.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

woman becoming

Just over a week shy of 2 months married and 2 months large and in charge at work. It's been nonstop action. Most days, lightly controlled chaos, similar to that "flexible" hold hairspray. I am less flexible than my hairspray, so these days can try my mental state from time to time.

The problem is perfectionism, because I have in my head what a "perfect" woman would be and do in all my varied roles, and this imaginary person lives 10 times the life I do in 3 additional dimensions. Pretty much, this woman is a monster and eats losers like me for breakfast.

The other problem is comparison. I compare myself with women I've known recently or in the past who've done my job much better than I do, and all I can see is my own failure to live up to their performance after 2 months of doing what they've been doing for 10 years. I compare myself with my mom and my husband's mom, who've also come on the radar with decades of experience not only at being godly women in general and wives in particular, but also very good mothers on top of it.

Admittedly, I also compare myself with other bloggers that I love, who all seem to be married moms of multiple children who they stay home and mother full-time, and blog/tweet/pin/facebook/speak publicly and also write books in their spare time. And where do they get this spare time when motherhood is a 24/7 job of keeping humans alive???

I really don't have the slightest clue how to add children to this mix, but thankfully, I don't have to worry about that ... indefinitely?

I tried to take some pressure off myself by finding a blogging community of women who are doing what I'm doing: trying to be a God-fearing woman plus a semi-traditional wife and also a bombshell and also a powerful businesswoman. Turns out that not too many of those women exist and also write blog posts for solidarity and troubleshooting. Or maybe they all just get so good at so smoothly that they don't need an outlet for expressing ideas and getting support from others?

Well, when I feel like I am failing at something (or all the things), my tendency is to duck and cover. The impulse is to hide from the things or eject the most difficult situations. Right now, I don't have the flight option, so I'm going to have to stand in the ring and fight. I'm just going to have to keep trying to figure out how to be all things that I am becoming.

Accept imperfection. Receive grace. Grow in patience and let time pass to create growth. Sometimes the immersion course is most effective. Other times, it's the daily slog through class after class that imprints the lessons into the long-term memory.

And, most practically, keep trying new things. If the way I thought it should be organized doesn't work, try a new way. Realize that I can't be all my roles perfectly 100%. Receive grace.

Step into a new role that is a sort of conglomeration of many things that women in our society have the opportunity to be. I am not 100% homemaker, not 100% writer, not 100% businesswoman. I AM 100% God's woman, and He has given me the chance to do many things right now, according to what HE has asked of me: love & obedience. Receiving grace. Not being anxious. Asking for help.

Saturday, November 3, 2012