Bernadette The Brave

I’ll never forget the day I met her. Not long before I’d put up bird feeders for the first time, something I fell into after busting the blue jays snatching peanuts I’d set out for squirrels. How had I never noticed these loud and … Continue reading

The Seven Year Itch.

It was nine years ago.

My husband (then-boyfriend) and I were on vacation in San Miguel de Allende, along with his sisters and their spouses.

Our last night there, we headed out for a late dinner at the most romantic restaurant in the city. Seated around a large table, we were perched perfectly on the roof-top and under the stars.

We’d only been dating for a year, but I already knew that, if he let me, I’d love him forever.

With a quick glance, it was easy to spot the unmarried couple of the bunch. We couldn’t keep our eyes (or hands) off of each other, and I’m shocked no one suggested we get a god damn room.

Someone at our table laughed loudly and told us, “Oh, I remember when we used to be all over each other like that. My how things change after you get married.”

I blushed, and thought to myself…

Yeah right. Things will never change for us. Impossible. We’ll always feel this magic and these butterflies – no matter what.

* * *

A couple of months ago, we were out with a newly engaged couple.

It had been almost ten years since the night I ate chips and guacamole, and humped my husband’s leg under the stars.

Seven years married, we were now the ones sitting at the other side of the table.

A smile crept up on my face and, leaning in, I whispered to my husband, “Oh, I remember when we used to be all over each other like that. My how things change after you get married.”

* * *

March 11th made it official. We finally made it over that seven year hump everyone talks about. You know, the itch.

And, seriously, you guys, it’s been so easy!

You know, in a walking barefoot over open flames and rusty nails kind of way.

Because, here’s the thing.

Getting married?

That was easy.

But, being married?

That’s hard as shit.

Despite all that I was told, marriage is so much harder than I ever imagined it would be.

And, I say this as someone who is married to, and in love with, their best friend.

But, trust me on this, no amount of love can safeguard a marriage from its struggles, hardships, and low-points.

Because, for most of us, there will come a time when…

You love each other, but you don’t like each other.

You get bored.

You feel like roommates rather than a married couple.

Your heart aches for those feelings and flutters that come with first getting to know someone, and falling in love.

There are times when you’ll simply coexist. You’ll pass one another all day long, quickly running by to grab a diaper or prepare a bottle, without so much as a single touch.

You’ll mourn the freedom and ease that came with your independence.

You’ll become annoyed at things you once found OMG SO ADORABLE!

You’ll resent their opinions, views, and values when they collide with your own; You’ll take it personal.

You’ll take everything personal.

You will take each other for granted.

And, while these things aren’t always toxic in themselves, if left unsaid, they become straight-up poison.

Small things fester and turn into big, scary monsters.

The things left unsaid will simmer inside of you until, inevitably, the pot boils over and one of you finally explodes, and screams, “I just can’t do this anymore!”

And, this is the moment when you’ll finally hear all of the things left unsaid…it’s when you’ll start to listen.

Everything around you will stop.

You’ll pull back the rug and, one by one, sort through all that’s been swept underneath it.

You’ll look at what you have and all that you’ve built together, and you’ll try to envision your life without it, only to discover that the thought alone is too much to bear.

And then you’ll frantically search for the reset button, pushing it over and over and over again, like an elevator that’s gotten stuck.

After the feelings have been cleaned and gently put back together, you’ll discover that the butterflies never went anywhere, you were just unable to hear the flutter of their wings because of all the noise.

So, yes, marriage is hard.

But, if you’re lucky, it’s the best kind of hard.

I’ve learned so much about my husband these past seven years. And, I’ve learned just as much about myself.

Through his eyes, I’ve seen how defensive I am at times. I’ve learned how quick my temper is, and how completely irrational I can be when it comes to having serious discussions in which our opinions differ.

I take it personal.

But, I’ve come to recognize that most of these reactions stem from my insecurities. My anger usually has nothing to do with him. The issues, deep-seated, are mine and mine alone, and I’ve carried them with me long before I walked into this marriage.

(And, yes, of course he has his own issues, but that part of the story is not mine to tell.)

I feel like there’s definitely something to the seven year mark. It’s like I’m just now learning how to be married. Or, maybe, I’m just now learning how to be an adult in the good times and the bad.

During arguments in our early days, I would cry and shout, “You don’t care about anything I say. You never listen to me. I feel so alone!” And, after a couple of fuck yous, I’d stomp away, making sure to slam a few doors on the way out.

Finally, some years in, I took a long look in the mirror and realized that I hadn’t been listening to him either. I was so busy talking about myself and where I was coming from, that I never even bothered to ask where he was coming from.

It’s such a funny and odd thing we humans do – always shitting on the person that we love the most. We shout things at them we wouldn’t dare say to anyone else…only because anyone else wouldn’t stand for it. Anyone else might hate us if we showed them who we really are…if we showed them all of us.

Like, when I was pregnant with Leo, desperately clinging to my sanity, I got right up in my husband’s face and yelled, “I WISH YOU WERE DEAD.”

I know.

That’s an awful thing to say to anyone, and the worst kind of awful when it’s to the person you love the most.

Months later, when I was me again, the first thing I did was apologize for that awful outburst.

Babe, you know that I don’t really wish you were dead, right? Like, not at all. It was really me that I wanted dead. And I needed a punching bag, only one that would still love me after I punched it. I’m so sorry I went psycho on your ass.

When I sat down to write our anniversary post, I pictured it being all romantic, full of sweet and schmoopy words.

It was in that moment that I saw the big picture – when I saw the fact that, while I treasure the good times so much, it really is the hard times that have made us as strong as we are today.

I have shown him all of my cards.

Funny, loving, ugly, and hateful, he’s seen the whole deck…and he’s still here…loving and accepting all of me one day at a time.

And, to me, that is more romantic than anything.

Happy Anniversary to you, my sweet husband.

You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and there’s no one else I’d rather walk barefoot with…over open flames and rusty nails.

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I’m Not a Co-Sleeper, But I Co-Sleep.

Before I had Luca, I was adamant about many things.

Like, he wasn’t going to watch too much television.

Now, at almost four years old, he can pretty much belt out every cartoon theme song that’s ever be written.

He wouldn’t be big juice drinker, because of the sugar factor. Selfishly, this was more for my benefit than his, because HAVE YOU SEEN A KID CRACKED OUT ON FRUIT PUNCH?

This bit me in the ass hard, after discovering he was allergic to the milk I’d been poisoning him with for two years.

I would not spoil him with material things.

He has approximately 4,034 dinosaurs.

And the big one, I WILL NOT BE A CO-SLEEPER! Nothing against people who are, it just wasn’t for me. My bed was my bed and his was his.

End of story.

Until it wasn’t.

He now crawls into my bed every. single. night. around one in the morning, sometimes earlier.

It hasn’t always been this way. He used to fall asleep on his own each night, and wake up in his own bed each morning.

I can’t recall exactly when it happened, maybe sometime towards the end of my pregnancy with Leo, or when we switched him to a big boy bed in another room, or possibly when he became aware of things that go bump in the night.

Whatever the catalyst was, it caused me to begin lying next to his bed each night, until he was out cold.

This backfired on me rather quickly. He grew accustomed to having me by his little side when trying to fall back asleep. So, when he’d wake up throughout the night and I was gone, he couldn’t go back to sleep without me.

I became his security blanket…his pacifier.

Fine, as long as he was still sleeping in his own room, I could deal.

Then one day he got sick with something minor, probably a cold, so I brought him into my bed to snuggle.

And again the next night.

And the next.

Everyone had an opinion on it, as everyone usually does.

Ohhhh, bad move. You’re never going to get him out of your bed now. Tough love. Let him cry. It will only take a few nights.

Everyone’s balls are so much bigger from the sidelines, aren’t they?

But, it wasn’t like he was being a spoiled child or taking advantage of my weak nature. My Luca is so very sensitive. To everything. And, for this, I am so very grateful. Because, I want him to be sensitive. But, as little as he is, it can be really tough to process, and feel, all those emotions.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a total pushover. If he’s throwing a fit because I won’t buy him a toy, I have no problem letting him throw himself on the floor, kicking and screaming.

I don’t indulge that sort of behavior with him.

Most days, anyhow.

But, this? This is different.

The kid is terrified of the dark. How can I possibly take a tough love approach?

I’m especially sensitive to this because I was TERRIFIED of the dark as a child. For years, I’d lie awake at night in tears, my tiny body buried under my covers, because everyone knows they make you invisible. I’ll always remember the sweet relief that came with crawling into my mom’s bed.

For the past year, I’ve tried to get him to stay in his bed. There have been many late night shouting and crying matches, leaving us both frustrated and drained.

Then one day a thought occurred to me. I pictured myself a decade from now, looking back on this period in our lives, wondering what I would tell myself.

And I have no doubt what it would be.

Why was I ever so fucking hard on my baby because he wanted to sleep with his mommy?

The regret would be excruciating for me.

And the silly thing is, I was being so hard on him because of all the well-intentioned shouts from the sidelines. Because of what other people were telling me was right and wrong.

But, you know what I’ve decided?

Fuck other people.

I know they mean well, but this is my baby and my life…AND MY BABY!

Someone recently approached it from a different angle, asking me, “Well, how is this affecting your quality of life?”

And you know what?

It’s making my life better.

I love scooping him, his blankie, and ten dinosaur friends into my arms when he’s scared and crying in his dark room. The relief on his face is a relief I know all too well.  When he falls onto my bed and snuggles up next to me, all the worry is gone from him.

And, I love waking up next to him, with his crazy, beautiful bed-head.

Isn’t all this my job as his mother?

Sure, there are nights when I’m frustrated, with a foot in my eye and a dinosaur up my ass, but it is what it is.

He needs me.

And really, I need him just as much.

As a parent, there are so many battles we have to fight. So, I’ve decided that this will no longer be one of them.

Because, if he doesn’t feel safe in his own house, where can he feel safe?

Besides, the day will come when he won’t want to sleep with me. I’ll eventually be replaced by some skanky high-schooler with piercings in odd places.

Bitch.

So, for now, I’ll continue letting him crawl into my bed each and every night, until he decides he doesn’t need me by his side to face the night anymore.

But, there’s one thing I want to be really clear about….

I am not a co-sleeper.