I Don’t Treasure Every Moment

I feel like I’ve been bombarded lately with reflections on motherhood. Some have been my own, prompted by unpleasant interactions with my boys. Others have been on blogs that I read or in pieces shared by friends on Facebook. In turn, they’ve brought me down, given me comfort, and frustrated me.

When I review them together, I take away the following lessons: Keep reflecting. Keep trying. Always aim for improvement, but don’t aim for perfection. And above all: Don’t worry about treasuring every moment. Treasuring your children is enough.

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The “every moment” debate is hardly new. As soon as you have a baby, older mothers command you to “Treasure every moment! They grow up so fast!” You know they mean well and they miss having small children around, so you smile and nod. Even though you’re panicking inside: “I’m exhausted/hungry/uncomfortable/stressed out – how am I supposed to treasure this?” So you go to your good girlfriends and your favorite mommy blogs for comfort – the ones who know that there’s absolutely nothing to treasure about cleaning vomit off your child’s crib at midnight.

But increasingly, I keep seeing admonitions like “treasure every moment” and its relative, “babies don’t keep” from young mothers. From those who are in the thick of it, just like me. And I have to admit: coming from them, the message really gets under my skin. I don’t understand how those women are able to live their lives like that.

Now, I’m quite aware that our children are infinitely precious, that their lives can be fragile, and that our time as mothers to little ones is fleeting. I understand the feeling behind “treasure every moment” and “babies don’t keep.” And I concede that for some – those who have lost babies, or whose children have life-threatening illnesses, or who struggle with fertility issues – the messages must be especially powerful. I admire those who can keep them in the backs of their minds at all times.

But I don’t, honestly, understand how “treasure every moment” and “babies don’t keep” can be fully lived out on a real-life, day-to-day basis.

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Here’s an example of what I don’t get – some thoughts from a mother regarding her young daughter:

“What she doesn’t know is that I’d hold her every day just like this. She could ask me anytime, anywhere, and I would drop whatever I was doing to take her up into my arms and feel her warm little heart beating next to mine.”

It’s a lovely image, but it doesn’t resonate with me. I just don’t feel this way.

I know a lot of people will think I should. I know that lots of women will tell me that holding my child is more important than anything else I could do with my time. But here’s the thing (and this is where my circumstances differ from the author’s): My children aren’t the non-cuddly type for whom such requests are rare. Both of my boys ask to be hugged or held more times in a day than I could possibly count. Both of them are borderline OCD about bestowing kisses on not one, but both of my cheeks. Both of them would spend hours at my feet (like, literally at/on/between my feet) every day if I let them.

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Just the other day as I was trying to prepare lunch, my two-year-old came into the kitchen with a pathetic little face and a “Hod me, Mommy.” He did it again, and again, and again – roughly once every three minutes. The first few times, I obliged him. I knelt on the floor and threw my arms around him and held him tight and told him that I loved him. I gave him kisses and I absorbed his sweetness. Then I had to peel his arms off of me, I hoisted myself into a standing position, and I shooed him away so that I could resume making our lunch.

I did it again and again and again. And then I snapped. Because the lunches still needed to be made. I was fifteen minutes into the chore and all I’d done was warm the pan and pull out the bread and cheese. I wasn’t getting anywhere shifting my increasing bulk onto and up from the floor every three minutes to cuddle with my (admittedly very cute) little guy. So I yelled for him to go, GO into the other room. And yes, I felt guilty about it.

Those “treasure every moment” and “babies don’t keep” admonitions – they carry so much pressure. How in the world am I supposed to keep my household functioning and my children fed, clothed, and clean if I spend the whole day rocking, reading, and playing? And how in the world am I supposed to treasure every moment when I’m pulled in a hundred different directions and babies are crying and toddlers are fighting and toys are blaring and somebody’s sitting on my feet while I’m trying to make dinner?

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I can’t. I just can’t.

So I choose to pop the bubble of that pressure. Instead of giving in to it, I tell myself: Don’t worry about treasuring every moment. Treasuring your children is enough.

I don’t go so far as to treat motherhood as some awful, horrible burden. Those exaggerated articles bother me much more than the sugary-sweet “I would hold my children all day if they wanted me to” posts. But still, if someone were to listen in on the litany of grumpy thoughts that run through my head while reading those young mothers’ “treasure every moment/babies don’t keep” words, they might well be appalled. And they’d probably be even more appalled to listen in on the thoughts occupying my mind during my boys’ daily crying/whining/fighting/pleading fests, which, to be honest, feel like assaults on my senses. The listener might well think I take those boys for granted, that I think more of my own needs than theirs.

But it’s just not true.

I think my children are the most beautiful people in the world. I am in love with their long eyelashes, their soft cheeks, their twinkling eyes, their love for hugs and kisses, their curiosity, their kindness, their creativity, their spunk. A hundred times a day, I see my boys pass me and I feel a pang of gratitude for their precious little lives. I accompany almost every diaper change, hand washing, and car-seat buckling with a kiss. I can barely begin to describe how intensely I love those boys.

And through any number of decisions, in small and big ways, I put their needs first. My daily life revolves around serving them. P1170404

But my boys aren’t the only ones in my home who have needs. We parents have needs too. Some are simple: my husband needs to have big, hearty, healthy, home-cooked dinners more nights than not. (Which takes a not-insubstantial amount of planning, time, and effort on my part.)

Some needs are more complicated: I have a hot temper and an easily over-stimulated, overwhelmed mind. (And let me tell you, that’s not a great combination for a mother of small boys.) I have learned that in order for me to be able to handle all the noise and fighting and demands that come with little boys, I need to have an ordered background (note: ordered, not necessarily clean). I also need to have some short pauses of quiet during my day. (And if I have to get that quiet by turning on the television, so be it.) I am infinitely better equipped to be kind and patient with my boys when those needs are met.

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Telling me to forgo an ordered home and quiet personal moments in pursuit of “quality time” with my boys puts me in a hard place: It’s a choice between (a) personal sanity but supposedly neglected children and (b) stress and anger but supposedly loved children. Neither choice is acceptable.

So I choose instead to smash that “babies don’t keep” lens through which some view parenthood. I don’t think it’s accurate anyway. Parenthood is not an either/or situation. It’s an and/and/and situation.

My service to my boys is not limited to my “quality time” with them. Yes, I serve my boys when I read to them, play with them, and shower them with hugs and kisses. But I also serve my boys – and my husband – when I clean their clothes, when I prepare their meals, when I do the dishes. All of these tasks are part of my role as wife and mother. I do myself and my family a disservice when I treat some of them as unimportant.

That said, I’m never sure whether I’m striking the right balance. Sometimes I look happily around at my (rarely, I promise) clean kitchen and I spot a lonely little boy. Sometimes I put off all my chores to do fun things with my children, only to melt down later because I’m so overwhelmed by what has stacked up. Sometimes I find myself shouting “Go! GO into the other room!” too frequently.

That’s why I keep reflecting. That’s why I keep trying. I aim for improvement, but I cut myself a break by not aiming for perfection. I know that I’m not capable of it. I have my own set of struggles and inadequacies. So do my boys, and so does my husband.

By the grace of God, I’ve come to realize that I shouldn’t waste time ignoring or being ashamed of those struggles and inadequacies. Rather, I should take them into account. I should factor them into our plans. For me, a large part of that is granting myself the following: Don’t worry about treasuring every moment. Treasuring your children is enough.

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7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 22): Thanksgiving Edition

Today I figured I’d offer 7 Thanksgiving-related things that I’m thankful for. (Is that “Thanksgiving” enough for you?)

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—1—

I am so incredibly thankful – and I feel it most acutely at this time of the year – to have a little family of my own. I’ve talked about it before (here and here), but Brennan and I both spent about a decade of our adult lives single (single single, as I put it in one of those pieces) before we started dating. For much of that time – with no boyfriend, no dates, not even any real prospects – I seriously wondered whether I would ever have a family of my own. I never took that “husband and kids” future for granted. I hoped and prayed for it, but eventually I had to try to come to terms with the idea that it might not happen.

For this reason, I feel a particular sympathy for singles, of course, but also for couples experiencing fertility problems. I’m sure I don’t understand half of what they go through, but I very much understand the heartache of wondering on that one, very important point: Will I ever have a family of my own?

When I think on gratitude (and I’m grateful to have had so many reasons to think on it), the image of walking tends to come to mind. “I walk with gratitude,” is how I think of it. With this step, I think with gratitude on the big, loving, supportive family I was born into. With this one, I think of all the friends who have added so much to my life. With these few, I think on how I’ve been blessed to be able to live out my interests in community, church, politics, history, music, and service. With this one, I think on my kind, handsome, interesting husband. With these two, I think on my lively, loving, gorgeous boys. With this one, I think on my tiny son moving within me.

And I am wowed. I have been so blessed.

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—2—

I am thankful that my childhood Thanksgiving memories include something so wonderfully unusual for an American to have experienced: a blessing of the hounds before a fox hunt. When I was a child, my grandparents had a farm next to a historic manor that sat on something like 1,000 acres. On Thanksgiving morning, we and other members of the local community would pull into the Manor’s long drive and walk out onto a grassy area where the hunters and horses and hounds were all gathered. We kids would be giddy with excitement, staring at all the horse trailers and the beautiful animals with red-clad hunters on their backs. We’d walk out on the field, shivering yet showing off our holiday finest, trying to get glimpses of the hounds between all the people milling about. After a while, a priest would say a blessing over the hounds, and they would be off. Then we’d all pile back into our cars and drive next-door to my grandparents’ for our big (midday) dinner.

—3—

I’m thankful that with our big, pitch-in-together family, we get the benefits of a massive spread of food at Thanksgiving without anybody killing ourselves over it. My grandparents roast the turkey and do sweet potatoes and a cranberry salad while everyone else brings the appetizers, the other sides, and the desserts. Each of the dozen or so families that usually come bring 2-3 dishes, and we have more food (and a better selection!) than anybody could possibly want. Yet (I don’t think) any of us feel like we’re under the terrible stress that so many Thanksgiving cooks describe this time of the year.

(For anybody who cares about such things, here’s what our spread usually looks like: turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, sauerkraut, green bean casserole, corn pudding, spinach or broccoli casserole, green salad, cranberry salad, ambrosia or a Jello salad, rolls, a variety of dips or finger foods, pumpkin pie, apple pie, some other pie(s), pumpkin roll, cookies and/or brownies. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.)

I promise you it’s not as bad as it sounds: we generally have around 50 people to feed.

—4—

I’m SO thankful that this year… drum roll… my parents took my boys home with them on Thanksgiving night! And they’re keeping them until Saturday evening!

That’s like 48 child-free hours! I have about two weeks’ worth of tasks to fit into the 30 hours I’ve got left, so I’d better get cracking!

—5—

Following on number four, I’m thankful that this year I actually got to play cards with my family on Thanksgiving evening. My family is really into cards and board games and though I love them too, normally I’m chasing after small boys or my (deservedly) tired husband is itching to go home. But this year the boys went home with Mom and Dad and the hubby and I had driven separately, so mama was free! It felt marvelous.

—6—

I’m thankful that my husband fits into my side of the family so well. He’s from Minnesota and we’re in the greater DC area, so we don’t get to see his family as much as we’d like to. But Brennan really enjoys being around my family and especially loves talking politics and hunting with my brother, uncles, and cousins, so he looks forward to these gatherings as much as I do. My uncle has started a tradition of having a “turkey shoot” (really, a trap shoot) at his small farm on Thanksgiving morning, which Brennan looks forward to all year. So he starts Thanksgiving day there with the trap shoot and my aunt’s delicious homemade cinnamon buns, while the boys and I enjoy the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with some homemade goodies of our own. Then we all meet up at my grandparents’ for dinner.

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—7—

I’m thankful that, a couple of years ago, I had the good sense to decide to view the holidays through an ultra-realistic lens.

Before I was married with my own children, I had these perfect little images in my head of what it would be like to create perfect little holiday experiences for my perfect little hypothetical children. (Okay, I wasn’t that unrealistic: I had enough exposure to small children to know that none of them – my own someday-children included – would be perfect.) But I had enough invested in this idea of perfect, sparkly, greeting-card-worthy holiday scenes to become pretty darned disappointed with my own less-than-perfect first holidays as a wife and mother.

So after a couple of years, I knew I had to do something about it. I couldn’t walk away from every holiday, ever, for the rest of my life, feeling disappointed. I needed to lower my expectations. (That sounds horrible, doesn’t it? But it was true.) I needed to realize that any stresses, difficulties, or hang-ups I have with myself or with others on a normal day would be there on a holiday too.

I needed to give up my ideas of fancy special-occasion clothes and pretty place-settings for an elaborate holiday dinner. Because that’s just not what we do. In my family we do a rowdy, casual potluck for something like 50 people. We haven’t had an “adult table” and a “kid table” in years: we have people sitting on every chair, sofa, and patch of floor they can find. We no longer bring out the silver and the real plates: we’re smart enough to use disposables. We no longer have a roaring fire: it’s just too darned hot with all those bodies packed into a moderate-sized home.

In my family, the joy of the holiday is in being together. We do not prioritize taste or décor or even peace. All that counts is that we’re together.

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(Let me express my pride for a moment that my one cousin who works in retail, a teenager, has her priorities enough in order that she gave up time-and-a-half at her workplace yesterday to come to our family Thanksgiving dinner. We’re thankful that she had a choice, and even more thankful that she chose us.)

I’m thankful to have finally embraced that “All that counts is that we’re together” thing. The first few holidays of my married life were the most miserable I ever experienced. The last few have been the absolute best. I attribute that entirely to two words: realistic expectations.

 

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Be sure to stop over to Jen’s to check out the rest of the Quick Takes!

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 20): Back to Blogging, A pirate ship in my family room, and Get me to Texas!

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—1—

I think it’s about time I breathed some life into this barely-limping-along blog, isn’t it? I’ve posted precisely two new pieces in the past month – way worse than the dozen or so I’ve been averaging since I started blogging. Sure, I had a decent reason for some of the lull. And really, except for the fact that I’ve had a difficult time producing finished pieces from all the writing I’ve been doing lately, I’m not too fussed by that only-two-posts-in-a-whole-month thing.

But the bottom line is that I’ve realized I’m a happier person when I’m productively blogging. Just like I’m a happier person when I’m involved in a choir (check), and in the middle of a good book (nope), and keeping up with the dishes (nope). It’s time I checked off at least two of those boxes, right?

So last week, in the middle of my aforementioned writing-related frustration, I issued a pathetic Facebook plea for blogging ideas. And I received some good ones. (Yay! Thank you, lovely friends!) I’ve been busy writing ever since. Next week, I’m planning a Let’s Kick This Blog Into Gear Week. Not quite as intensive as Jen’s Epic Blogging Challenge from the summer, but close. Here are a few things I’ve got in the works:

—2—

In response to the Facebook plea, a long-time friend of mine jokingly answered, “The new affordable health care act is always a fun topic.”

“Ha!” I thought. “That really is funny. I wouldn’t touch that thing with a ten-foot pole.”

I chuckled to myself, thinking about how wound up people are on the issue and how absurd it would be for me to write on the topic anyway, given that I don’t have a strong opinion on it. Or even a clear position for or against it.

Chuckle, chuckle.

“But then,” I thought, “I do actually have plenty of opinions when it comes to health care reform in general, and even some when it comes to the Affordable Care Act in particular.” Maybe it would be good to express my neither-for-nor-against opinions. We’ve got quite enough of the rabid for’s and against’s, as far as I’m concerned. Maybe it’s time for some of the muddled middle.

So I’m throwing caution to the wind. Next week I’ll be giving you my miscellaneous, muddled thoughts on health care reform. In two parts, because even my muddled thoughts are lengthy.

—3—

The same friend, in more seriousness, also suggested that I write up my take on how to raise children who don’t feel entitled to everything.

Now, of course I don’t really know how to guarantee that outcome. My oldest child is only three years old. And even if my children were grown and happily settled outside of our home, I concede that all individuals are different. All children are different; all parents are different. There is no one recipe for success.

But I think it’s important to parent with a recipe in mind. (And not one that you find in a book.) I think it’s important, rather, to consider the qualities you value in adults you admire, and contemplate how to instill them in your children. I also think it’s important to consider your family members’ personalities and your household situation, so as to devise practices that will help everyone and everything (schedules, space, etc.) to get on as well as possible.

In sum, I guess you could say that my parenting motto would look something like this: “Think not on the type of childhood you want for your children, think rather on the type of adults you want your children to become. Also, think of your family’s sanity.”

If you’re not turned off already, come back next week for an example of a parenting “recipe” via my own personal parenting philosophy.

—4—

And one more topic for next week: We live in a pretty interesting old house, so my best friend suggested its history as a good subject for a blog post. I haven’t known quite what to do with the house, as far as the blog is concerned, but I really would like to write about it. And now somebody’s asked. So, what the heck. This 150-year-old Victorian beauty (poetically juxtaposed with the dinosaurs, racecars, and Happy Meal toys strewn throughout it) will get a treatment on the blog next week, too.

—5—

Moving on.

I’m assuming that all of you who read Conversion Diary or Moxie Wife saw this week’s big conference announcement, right? (For those who didn’t, those two lovely bloggers will be teaming up to host a conference aimed at Catholic mothers next July in Austin, Texas.) I am absolutely one of the throng of women who gasped and squealed and did a little dance when I read the news. (Okay, it can hardly be called a “dance” – more like a groggy little wiggle, as I was still lying in bed at the time.) Whatever – I was excited. And I was calculating like mad, trying to figure out how I could get myself there. The biggest hurdle is convincing my husband that it wouldn’t be a terrible idea for me to fly by myself to Texas with a three-month-old in tow. I’m working on it.

Of course, Jen and Hallie have received a tremendous response to the announcement. And the (lovely) venue they’ve chosen won’t be large enough to accommodate everyone who says they’d like to go. So there’s a good chance that there will be some disappointed ladies come registration time. And who knows, I may be one of them. Ah, well… c’est la vie. For now, I’ll just keep on being excited and hopeful. That’s way more fun than anticipating disappointment.

—6—

Given my current “condition,” weepiness keeps sneaking up on me these days. A few hours ago I started crying because… Shutterfly has some pretty Christmas card designs. Ahem. Here are some other things that have made me cry this week:

  • The officers and sailors of the current USS Dewey granted a Pearl Harbor survivor’s dying wish, and in doing so, treated him with the utmost kindness and respect.
  • This video of the typhoon wreckage in the Philippines. Those little girls… oh, my. I just want to reach through the screen and touch their little faces and give them some small measure of comfort. Awful, awful, awful. (By the way, please consider helping the excellent Catholic Relief Services, which has a strong on-the-ground presence in the Philippines, to provide much-needed aid to the storm’s victims.)
  • A British WWII Veteran died with almost no one to attend his funeral. When the word spread, hundreds gathered to honor him.

Need a tissue?

—7—

As you might have guessed from Take number three, I am not a very fun mom. However, I occasionally experience little bursts of ideas for fun (and easy! always easy!) activities for the boys. I landed on a good one this week. I moved our coffee table out of the way, slid our sofa and loveseat together, and told the boys it was a pirate ship.

They. were. thrilled. They ran for their swords and their “pirate” hats (really, Revolutionary War-style tricorns), while I turned on their pirate shanty CD and made them treasure maps. They climbed on and off their “ship,” jumping and wrestling all over it while yelling “Argh, maties!” (Or “Argh, bebies!” in the case of the two-year-old.) They fought with their swords until somebody hit his brother too hard. And they perfected their jumps off the coffee table, onto (1) their ship and (2) the floor (er… the ocean?) (Confession: I totally encouraged the sofa jumping because I was trying to get a mid-air picture of it.) We’ve kept the family room set up like this all week. Their pirate ship happens to be a super comfy, cozy place to write in the evenings.

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So, three years into this Mom Of Boys thing (and maybe just about to learn that I’m a mom of THREE boys? My 20-week sono is next week!), they must be rubbing off on me or something. I may not be spending tons of time devising creative ways to entertain toddler boys, but some decent ideas are coming to me nonetheless. I guess I’m starting to think like them.

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Have a great weekend, everyone! I look forward to “seeing” you here often next week! Don’t forget to stop on over to Jen’s for the rest of the Quick Takes!

Five Favorites (Vol. 2): Anniversary Edition

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Linking up with Hallie for this week’s Five Favorites! Be sure to check out the rest!

(Updated to add that I’m also linking this post to Jenna’s “I Pray I Don’t Forget: What I Love About My Husband” at A Mama Collective. Check out those stories too!)

Tomorrow we’ll celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. To mark the occasion, I thought I’d dedicate this week’s Five Favorites to my excellent husband, Brennan. So here’s some background on our relationship, Five of my Favorite things about B, and some of my favorite photos from our wedding. (Randomly placed and more than five, because I needed to break up the looong intro in #1.)

— 1 —

Brennan is interested in things – so many things.

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In passing, this may seem pretty inconsequential: “Umm, big deal, Julie. Everybody’s interested in something. Even lots of somethings.” So let me back up for a minute and give you a little background on what lead up to our relationship. It should give more meaning to this and some of the other Favorites. Or maybe I just like to provide more information than anyone could possibly care about. One of the two.

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Anyway, I was single for what felt like a looong time before I met Brennan. And I mean single single, not dating-but-not-yet-married “single.” Other than three very brief relationships in my early twenties, I was alone and lonely, day-dreaming of my ideal man. (Does that sound a little pathetic? Sorry. It was what it was.) Toward the end of my twenties I had the blessed insight that I needed to adjust my outlook on single life and my approach to maybe/hopefully finding the man with whom I could share a future. All-in-all, it’s a longer topic for another day. But the pertinent part is that I refined the list of qualities I hoped to find in my future husband. I realized that, most of all, I wanted to find a man who was good and kind, moral, responsible, hardworking – and interested in the world around him. I knew that I could never marry a man who didn’t have those values. And I figured that if my husband had an interest in the world, a hunger to learn and do, then our life together would be an open horizon – something to be explored.

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We walked to the church, which was super fun,
except for how worried I was about the hem of my dress.

When I met Brennan, everything fell into place very quickly. Good? Kind? Moral? Responsible? Hardworking? Check, check, check, check… and check. But the clincher was really that he was interested in so many things. He caught my eye on eHarmony (yep, that’s how we met) because he said he loved bees.

Bees? Who loves bees? My beekeeper of a hubby, that’s who. A few years before, Brennan had gotten to talking with a co-worker who kept bees as a hobby. B thought it was interesting, so he started to read up on it. He read and read and researched… and the next thing he knew, he was putting together hive boxes and picking up packages of buzzing bees from unhappy postal workers.

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We gave out little jars of Brennan’s honey as favors.

Brennan has done the same thing with other hobbies: skiing, target shooting, cooking, home improvement, etc. On the house front, he’s taught himself how to do all sorts of useful things: woodworking, plumbing, mechanics, painting, even pest control. Brennan identifies something he wants to know how to do and he just figures it out. There doesn’t seem to be a “What if?” with Brennan – just a “How?”

Likewise, Brennan has cultivated his interests in history, architecture, and politics by reading and reading and reading… The man loves the internet. And good nonfiction. And audio books that he can soak up on his commute to and from work.

Brennan didn’t grow up doing any of the above; he wasn’t influenced by beekeeper or carpenter or plumber or historian or architect or politician parents. He just happened upon something (many things) that interested him, he had an open mind, and he decided to pursue the new activities and ideas. With gusto. I love that. I can’t wait to see what will be inspiring my husband in ten or twenty years.

— 2 —

Brennan gets stuff done.

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Just as I love how Brennan is active in pursuing his many interests, I also love that he takes the initiative to just go ahead and do what needs to be done – even if it’s tedious or unpleasant. Me? I’m the procrastinating type. The type who avoids the things I find intimidating or disagreeable. But, big or small, Brennan does what needs to be done. Hours upon hours of schoolwork while also working full time? He does it. Paying the bills, going to the doctor, cleaning the bathroom? He does it. Doing preventative maintenance on our very old house? He does it. And not just that – he does it well, without a fuss, and with very few complaints. What a great example to set for our boys. (And, er… for me too.)

— 3 —

Brennan is a loving father and a patient teacher to our boys.

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On one of our first dates, Brennan and I visited an arboretum. Walking through the trees, Brennan spotted an insect hovering near some leaves. Very gently, he pointed it out to me, studied it a bit, and explained what it was doing. In that moment I thought to myself, “Wow. What a wonderful father he’ll be.” And he is. Brennan had very little experience with children before our boys were born, but he jumped in with both feet – doing all kinds of tedious tasks, showering the boys with hugs and kisses, playing all their wild games, teaching them about the world around them, and showing them great patience and a powerful love.

— 4 —

Brennan is a kind and supportive husband.

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This cake tasted so good that our guests gobbled it up before we could even get pieces ourselves!

I love staying home with my boys, but I am a social person by nature and I need to be around other adults. I need some mental stimulation and I need a bit of a break from the constant demands that come with having two very active young boys. I also need to feel like I’m giving something to my community. Brennan understands this, he supports me in my efforts to do things outside of the home, and he has never once complained about it. And it’s no small thing on his part: I serve on the board of a historic home an hour away from our house and I sing in our church’s choir. Both require my presence at times that necessitate B leaving work early. Sometimes hours early, meaning he has to make up those lost hours on another day. But Brennan says that if I really want to do something, I should do it.

— 5 —

Brennan has high standards.

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Gotta love the tiny spectators.

Brennan has high standards about lots of things – work, behavior, food, coffee and chocolate, goods and services that we buy – but let me feel flattered for a minute that he also had high standards when it came to finding the person he wanted to marry. When he was doing the eHarmony thing, going out on first date after first date, Brennan’s buddies at work started to give him a hard time. They’d joke about how he rarely made it to a second date. “What’s wrong with her this time?” was their standard question. One friend told him “everyone settles.” But my Brennan? He answered, “Not me.” He shared my conviction that it was better to be single than to be with the wrong person.

Perhaps this last Favorite sounds a bit self-gratifying. Certainly I’m glad that my husband didn’t “settle” for me. But more than that, I admire a person who will hold out and work hard for what he or she really wants. Too often these days, people expect instant gratification – in relationships, in their homes and careers, in their spare time. But Brennan couldn’t be farther from that. To achieve the kind of life he wants, Brennan works hard, he makes smart decisions, he sacrifices, and he is patient. He sets high standards for himself and he keeps to them.

I am so thankful that this man came into my life. I am grateful for all his hard work and careful planning. I am glad to have his love and his good company. I feel blessed to be building a life with him. Happy anniversary, Brennan. I love you.

Wedding Pic 9

All photos are credited to Gordon Eisner.