It’s lovely to celebrate one’s birthday during such a gorgeous and gratitude-filled season. At Thanksgiving, even those who have experienced a troublesome year can’t help but bask in the bounty of blessings.
As you might expect, research consistently demonstrates that expressing gratitude can support a healthier mind, body and spirit. Well, I don’t know about you, but I want as much of that as I can get!
I spent my absolute favorite birthday on a 3-day cruise with 2 other families. We were celebrating my dear friend, Ann’s, 50th birthday. As it happened, that November 22nd was a personal trifecta of Thanksgiving, my birthday, and the “Captain’s Dinner” on the ship! The pinnacle of the celebration was when my husband and I joined the conga line and danced around the perimeter of the room to the pulsating rhythms of “Hot, Hot, Hot.”
Our humiliated children begged us to sit down. No way! Olé, Olé! This birthday girl was having the time of her life and reliving one of the memories of my first date with Frank.
It was a wedding reception.
I guess he was pretty confident about our future. The reception was 3 hours away. Thus, our first time spent together was a marathon of driving, eating, dancing and driving again. Although a few decades have passed, I still remember much of our conversation that Saturday in March of 1993.
I am so very grateful that Frank was bold enough to ask a near stranger on an all-day date. The rest is history.
This brings me to counting my additional birthday blessings. I am immensely grateful for:
I could wax on into infinity, but I will spare you the words.
Thank you ALL for blessing this blogger. I celebrate YOU today.
Do children and marriage mix?
The group of 4 answered without skipping a beat. The response was a big “NO,” spoken in unison.
One friend mentioned that newlywed life is bliss, and then once the kids come, “all hell breaks loose.”
Another coffee companion responded that “when the kids hit about 4th grade, parents turn into taxi drivers. The family dinner goes to pot. Parents stay up spending time helping kids with homework and projects (which should be a four-letter word).”
Has our culture become so child-centric that couples experience less alone-time to nurture their unions?
If so, how long has it been this way?
You may be interested to know that I squandered 3 hours in a futile attempt to locate credible data on this subject. Research on the internet can be quite laborious. I have found 10 websites that claim couples spend 4 minutes alone together per day on average.
I find it very intriguing that I am unable to locate the original research study which produced this finding about “couple-time.” You see, there is an unfortunate phenomenon in blogging and online news publications. One author quotes another author who quotes another author and on and on it goes…
Many internet writers never bother to look for original sources.
I find this immensely irritating.
But, back to the subject at hand!
I have no idea as to the amount of time partners spend together sans offspring.
Regardless, most couples would agree that more is better.
Unfortunately, there are so many distractions in today’s culture that prevent this precious partner time:
(I must briefly digress. My older son created his California Mission Project completely independently. The day he brought it to school he cried as he viewed the other projects, complete with light switches to turn fire pits on and off and manicured gardens that defied the fine motor skills of a 12 year-old.)
Back to the subject at hand.
Can a happy marriage and healthy children coexist?
I believe it can. But honestly, as couples we need to fight for alone time as if our lives depend on it. The distractions are formidable. Thus, we must be like warriors fighting for the most important relationship of our families.
According to Carol Lindquist, Ph.D., author of:
Happily Married with Kids: It’s Not Just a Fairy Tale,
“The irony is that a strong relationship with your partner is one of the best things you can do for your kids,” Lindquist says. “You and your husband are modeling a good relationship, which sets your children up for better marriages themselves when they grow up.”
So, having been lost in the labyrinth of distractions, my husband and I have recommitted to our alone time.
Our marriage depends on it.
This Veteran’s Day, as we honor persons who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, please consider supporting a very worthwhile organization.
1. Mind: Combat Recovery Program (which “addresses the mental health and cognitive needs of warriors”)
2. Body: Physical Health and Wellness Program
3. Economic Empowerment: Including programs such as the “Warriors to Work” program
4. Engagement: In part, through a peer-mentoring and alumni program
We know that families who engage in charitable works benefit by learning firsthand how giving time and money can make a difference. Children discover how volunteering boosts one’s feelings of self-esteem and empathy for others.
The Wounded Warrior Project also assists warriors by providing support to their caregivers and families.
Hoping we can all mark this day by honoring the Veterans in some way,
“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.”
Well, my response is Y-E-S!
Recently, I’ve experienced friends suggesting uninvited solutions to reduce the stress in my life.
“Acts of charity always make me feel better.”
“What is the least fulfilling involvement in your life?”
My auditory response to being told what to do is akin to the Aleatoric (or chance) Music I learned about in 6th grade. This form of music leaves some part of the composition open for interpretation. Maybe I’m a purist, but personally, the sound of some of these pieces is akin to the acoustic sensation of nails on a chalkboard.
But, I am sure that I, too, have made this very error; I have told friends how to live their lives.
If you are reading this, and were the victim of this enormous mistake on my part, please forgive me and know that I will do my best to not repeat this highly inappropriate communication again.
Good friends are good listeners. Particularly when circumstances beyond the friend’s control are creating a season that simply must be lived through, in the best way the person is able to manage.
Years ago, my son’s violin teacher shared a very astute observation:
“Concert-goers either come to hear the music or to listen for the mistakes.
If they come to hear the mistakes, they are missing out on the whole point of the music.”
At that point in my life, this musical wisdom was like salve on a smarting wound. At the time, I was offended by being judged by relatives for the way I was raising my children and the mistakes of which I was guilty.
I was not and never will be a perfect parent. I was using my teaching expertise to help me in a very unnatural role. I had been given two instruments and I had never been taught how to play them.
My parenting music was fraught with unexpected broken strings, notes out of key, and several bouts of stage fright when faced with serious decision-making.
The sting of being criticized for my lack of virtuoso parenting performances will forever remain. I always forgive. But, I’ll never forget.
This recent bout of unrequested suggestions has struck some familiar chords.
Sometimes, parents experience difficult seasons. No one can EVER know exactly what another has endured and may continue to experience.
Often others don’t want sympathy.
Personally, in such circumstances, I just want someone to hear the dissonant notes of my present life song.
We all long to be heard.
We desire to be validated for the music we play, albeit imperfectly.
Validation doesn’t mean we agree with another’s decision-making. Rather, it means really hearing what another has to say. It is demonstrating that we understand the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and actions.
I long to be the kind of friend who comes to hear others’ words, mistakes and all.
After all, even the most famous musicians work to improve their craft.
None of us really ever “arrive” at perfection.
For me, this is just as God intended.
Note: If you are in the mood for some enchanting autumn music, please see the following link: Music for Fall-Autumn. At present, my personal favorite is: Barber’s Violin Concerto, op. 14, I: Allegro. Enjoy!
As each day passes during this precious senior year of my older son’s life, I am continually reminded.
I am reminded that once the foundation is laid, we are to stand back and let our children prepare to walk completely on their own.
I am reminded that memories of infancy through the teenage years, become more cherished each day.
I am reminded that as parents, sometimes showing our children the way seems like it will never end.
But, now I am aware that this new stage of “standing out of the way” presents new challenges.
As parents, we never stop growing.
Have a wonderful Wednesday!