SHMILY

Do you know what SHMILY stands for?

If you ever took a pre-marriage class (or as we Catholics call it, pre-Cana), you may have heard the story behind SHMILY. And if you haven’t, I will explain it to you in a moment.

I’m telling this story because before I walked out of the door today, my husband handed me my travel mug full of coffee.

This is not something he usually does. Mornings are usually a fustercluck: me urging the girls to get ready, Dan wrangling Michael into pants, both of us adults trying to dress and eat breakfast before we are on the road. So I usually pour my own travel mug — and about a third of the time leave it sitting on the counter.

But this morning, as I was herding the girls out the door, Dan handed me my full travel mug, coffee with cream, and gave me a kiss.

And it made my whole day.

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The story they told us at an engagement retreat/pre-Cana weekend involved an older couple who were married for years. They would surprise each other every now and again by hiding a note with the word “shmily” on it. Or write “shmily” someplace unexpected (a steamed up mirror in the bathroom, in snow outside). When the other person saw it, they had to re-hide the note, or do their own shmily in return.

Finally, the granddaughter who was witness to these sweet “shmily” shenanigans asked (I believe it was at the grandmother’s funeral) what “shmily” meant.

It means, “see how much I love you”.

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If you haven’t done a shmily — ever, or recently — try to do one for the special person in your life. A note in their lunch. A text message, a post on their Facebook wall. Make them tea, bring them a beer, buy them a cookie. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. All it has to do is remind you both of your love.

It will make them feel so loved. And I bet you’ll feel pretty good too.

Show of hands, who knew what SHMILY meant before they read this?

Horndog

(Dad, this one may make you uncomfortable. Read at your own risk.)

I’ve always had a pretty high libido — no, let me rephrase that: When Dan and I got married, I had a very high libido. I had an enjoyment of and appreciation for good sex. Dan and I were well matched in this area (as well as in most other areas, for the record).

Then, of course, came four pregnancies, three live children, and, you know, nearly 11 years.

My libido dropped, and in some months (years?), disappeared down the rabbit hole nearly entirely. This was a bummer for Dan, who instead of an enthusiastic bed partner, got a dutiful one.

Since about March or April this year, I have noticed an appreciable spike in my libido. Which in some ways is delightful, although it does occasionally warrant extra cautious measures so as not to displace Michael as the baby of the family. I am excited to have my libido come roaring back (and, yes, so is my husband).

Dan and I practice NFP (natural family planning — NOT the rhythm method), and it’s kind of a drag. Plus my charting has really gone to pot, and I need to up my game there — I downloaded an app to my phone (oh yes I did), and that should help. We briefly discussed a copper IUD, and I may still have that conversation with my midwife, but for now NFP is it. (Permanent sterilization was not on the table, for either of us, which has some to do with our Catholicism and a lot to do with REALLY SHARP OBJECTS near our parts.)

I hate the stereotype of the married couple who don’t have sex; I hate even more the stereotype of the horny father and the sexually unavailable mother. I understand (now) the physiological reasons for the latter, but eventually reestablishing sexual intimacy should be viewed as a given. And for that matter, something to look forward to.

I sometimes wonder about the reasons for my elevated sexual interest. Is it a function of a biological clock? In which case, poor clock. Your imperative has been fulfilled three (almost four) times over. Is it a function of more sleep? More independent children? A renewed ability to focus on self? A continued desire for all levels of intimacy with my husband? All of the above?

Is this type of surge common to 40somethings? Or if not age-related, could it be related to reclaiming of the body for something other than reproduction? If a woman has several pregnancies in her 20s, when her last baby reaches a certain age, does she look around (presumably in this scenario at her husband) and think, “I gotta start hitting that more often?”

I know. Lots of questions, and probably everyone’s answers are different.

Being this horny (again) is distracting. In a good way, but still. And even when my libido wasn’t raging, Dan and I managed sex (or like activities) about twice a week on average. The thing about sex — if you like it anyway, which I do — is that even when I didn’t start out in the mood, I still often managed to have a pretty good time. Good lube helps, in case you need a #protip.

These days, I have dirty, dirty dreams. I spend too much (?) time fantasizing at my desk and sending my husband suggestive texts. Again, he’s not complaining.

Speaking of texts, I don’t really get sexting — do you just delete the pictures from your phone or camera later? What the sexiest thing to sext? I’m guessing cleavage, which if that’s the case, I should just stick with suggestive texts.

What say you, readers? If you’re in a long-term relationship, what keeps the home fires burning? If you’re a mom or dad, did you have to regain your mojo? How do you manage your sex life? Do you schedule it, or wait for the mood to strike you both? Or do you go along with the partner with the higher libido, compromise? What’s your favorite lube? I’m a fan of the old standby, Astrolube, although Dan and I have experimented with some fun KY combinations. (TMI?)

Belated: Happy Father’s Day

It always struck me as a little unfair that babies usually said “da-da” before they said, “ma-ma”. At least, my babies did. In some cases, the sound/words were close together — Michael of course being the exception. He’s been saying “dah-dee” for *months*, and only just started saying “mah-mnee”. He’s making up for the lag by saying “mah-mnee” every .7 seconds, though.

From an evolutionary standpoint, saying daddy first is probably advantageous, right? You’re this little wrinkled defenseless being, your mom, while soft and good smelling and your food source, probably isn’t bringing home the bacon otherwise, or scaring away the saber-tooth tigers. That big, loud hairy thing that hangs around the fire (making funny smells while he’s there) seems more intimidating. Why not win him over to your side?

Dan didn’t wait until hearing his first “da-da” to be utterly devoted and captivated by his children; most modern-day fathers probably don’t. He was pretty much hooked from birth (if not a bit before). They barely got those babies — our babies — out and cleaned up before his heart was lost.

How funny language is. Because it’s not that his heart was lost, or gone, or melted. If anything, for Dan, it was the opposite. That in Flora, Kate, and Michael, Dan’s heart was found — especially after our loss of Gabriel. That part of his reason for being in this world was fulfilled in becoming not just a father, but a “da-da”.

This post is a day late because we were so busy yesterday, probably not the most ideal of Father’s Days in my husband’s view. We cleaned, and had brunch for his father and brother-in-law, set up a kiddie pool, and then got everyone cleaned up (again!) to go to my brother’s for dinner with him and my father. But ultimately, I know that being woken up (not until 10 a.m.!) by his children and their big handmade card was pretty much the pinnacle for him. That we can celebrate my husband’s fatherhood means the world, and not just to him.

Memory Lane: Date Night, Past and Future

My parents went on dates. Every week. I have very clear memories of Friday night babysitters coming over, and watching my parents walk out the door together, all gussied up.

Usually gussied up. At one point they were in a bowling league. Probably less gussying going on. But they each had their own bowling ball and bag… and possibly shoes. Can you buy your own bowling shoes?

I also recall them taking disco dancing lessons — hey, it was the ’70s. We kids used to clamor at them to show us the moves they had learned. I have an image in my head of my mother in blue bell-bottomed disco pants with a flowing blue shirt with a vest over top. Her red hair was permed into an afro (or as afro as she could make it, anyway). While I don’t recall my father’s outfit, I clearly remember his mutton chops. They boogied for us before they left for the night.

My parents made time for each other. It’s something I’ve carried with me, the memory of their date nights.

Saturday evening, Dan and I had dinner plans. I was feeding the kids while dressed in a robe. It brought back memories of my own childhood, watching my mom get dressed and put on makeup before she went out with my dad. She would wear a robe, do her hair and makeup, get dressed, and then — and this still amazes me — she would don her coat, and polish her fingernails. Then they were out the door for the night.

She still polishes her nails last thing. It’s a trick of hers I have never mastered. I can’t even get a manicure without feeling like I’m going to mess it up before walking out the salon door. Let alone get dressed for an evening on the town with my spouse and polish my nails immediately before leaving.

But Date Night is a tradition Dan and I are working on creating for ourselves. Like my parents, we are partners first, parents second. It’s tricky to remember in the crush of kid-stuff and schedules that are divergent (to say the least). We are looking into playing darts weekly, wine tastings, and dancing lessons. (Not all at the same time.)

I may never manage to polish my nails for date night immediately before leaving the house, but my parents taught me a vital lesson as I grew up. They did it without ever making us feel like we came second, but it was clear they stood united. The fact that their marriage was so very important to them — important enough for them to spend special time together on a regular basis — made me feel safe. It’s something I’d like to pass onto my own children: that as much as I love them, my relationship with their father is something special and (to a certain extent) inviolate. That as much time as I am willing to give them, I also have to give time to Dan (and he to me). And I hope that in doing so, in showing them our commitment, they will learn about marriage and love, and that they will feel safe.

What did you learn from your parents about love and marriage? What do you do on date night?

Cliche

(Dad, you really don’t want to read this post.)

(Oh, it’s about sex. So anyone else can opt out now, too.)

The thing about back and neck pain, of which I have had my fair share as of late, is that it seriously interferes with an already problematic sex life. I don’t mean that Dan and I have problems having sex, except if you count the fact that it is very difficult to find the time (or, primarily on my part, the energy) to have sex. (As Dan put it, “I would have sex during surgery.”)

I never would have foreseen this 10 or 15 years ago. I used to read magazine articles about ‘keeping the spark in your marriage’ or ‘how to prevent children from ruining your sex life’, and I would scoff.

Scoff, I tell you!

Now I want to go out and buy Babyproofing Your Marriage to find out how to do exactly that.

Ah, I look back on those innocent days quite fondly. (Dad, seriously, you’re not reading, right?) I never would have pictured becoming a married woman with children who would choose sleep over sex. Not as a lusty 20-something, whose libido sometimes outstripped those of my boyfriends. One of the things I wished for in a partner was one with a high libido.

Well, be careful what you wish for.

I like sex with my husband very much and (as it’s the only sex I’m having these days, and presumably, the rest of my days) I would like to have more of it. Dan and I are very compatible in many, many way, including sexually — which, don’t let any lame advice columnist tell you otherwise, is vital to a marriage.

Yes, the ardor cools, the passion wears off. The heady early days of getting to know another person physically change into the attraction and comfort of a known quality.

And I am totally cool with that.

What I miss is the fact that by the time I am dragging myself to bed, I am too tired — and these days in too much pain — to invite my husband to come upstairs with me. Most of the time. (We both still get lucky, thank heavens!). If Dan is home “early” on any given night (early defined as 8 p.m. in my husband’s case) I would like to exercise my marriage rights, for him sometimes even more-so than for me.

I do a lot of stuff in the evenings. Not even counting the whole feeding-bathing-putting to bed of the children, there is laundry, kitchen duty, lunches to pack, bills to pay, etc., etc., etc. What I call here ‘the daily’.

And that’s all fine. If it’s been long enough and/or I want to feel intimate with my husband, I can (sometimes) muster up the energy for lovin’.

It’s when I do all ‘the daily’ while having back and neck issues. Or if I don’t do any of it (aside from the feeding-putting to bed of children) because of the pain.

Then Hugh Jackman could show up at my door with a bottle of Viagra, and I’d be like, “Hugh, not tonight, babe.”

What the heck chance does my poor husband have?

Public Service Announcement III: Be Nice to Each Other

Sunday night, for the first time ever in my entire life, I cooked a steak.

It was not for me, but for my husband. (For the record, I still think preparing chicken is the most disgusting thing in the world.) It is part of my strategy for getting DearDR to eat better food and learn portion control. He also had a lovely salad of Italian baby lettuce, strawberries, celery, and carrots. (No cheese, no nuts, not for DearDR for a while.)

See, DearDR needs to lose weight. Also, his triglycerides have to come down (to quote his doctor, they are “exceedingly high”), and quickly. If he can’t get them in line — and keep them in line — through diet and exercise, he’ll have to start taking medication.

DearDR is only 40 years old. And I plan on keeping him around a long time. I’m going to help him be a better eater and lose some weight.

A while back, Heather Armstrong at Dooce was reflecting on whether marriage or child-rearing was more difficult. (For her, the latter.) There are days that for me, the two run neck and neck, but part of that is due, to my discredit, to my poor attitude. A kind of “leave me alone” attitude. There are days that I seriously question whether I am cut out for this wife-and-mother gig I’ve gotten myself into. (Newsflash RPM: Too late!) Some days I just feel my household is out of my control, the budget is out of my control, my children are out of my control, and so-help-me if DearDR asks me to make him a sandwich, I’m going to lose it.

But then I get a good night’s sleep, and my children do something amazing, and my husband makes me laugh, and everything is all right again. A glass of wine and some quiet time at the end of a day do wonders, too.

I was having one of those cranky days last Wednesday (note to RPM: adjust the attitude in time for Lost night), and DearDR and I sniped at each other. And then he got his numbers from the doctor on Friday, and I got some perspective.

Remember a few years ago when those “Tips for a Good Wife” were making the rounds of the Internet? I’m not going to say that those are a good idea or anything (I am feminist, hear me roar), but something can be said for being nice to each other.

When your spouse comes home, stop what you are doing (unless this involves leaving a child undiapered or in danger) and hug and kiss him or her. You may not feel like doing it, I know. Do it anyway.

Pick up the occasional treat for your spouse — you do it for the kids when you’re out and about. Just a little something that says, “I thought of you today.” A book, a DVD, some (inexpensive) flowers, a nice beverage or chocolate. I think we all do this early in our courtships, and then it goes by the wayside, especially as other things take precedence. Bring back the treats! DearDR has given me bookmarks, and I’ve been thrilled to know that I am on his mind.

Prepare a meal for your honey — or simply provide one. Whichever spouse does more meal planning and prep needs a break. Give him/her one. It can be as simple as bringing home a Costco pizza to bake at home, or suggesting the family go out — even Eat ‘n’ Park can be a relief.

Cuddle. Watch a movie together. Spend special time on a regular basis with your significant other. I know for DearDR and me, this is challenging because of the children and our schedules. We are trying to bring it back. (I’m not talking about green beans. I’m talking about intimacy.)

I know this is all common sense stuff, but I also know I lose sight of simple things — over and over again. When DearDR and I married and talked about having kids, I told him I wanted us to remember that we were married first. And then I forgot — or, more likely, I get so frustrated with what I perceive is my bad job on the spousal and/or parenting front, and I want to chuck the whole thing and go away for a week.

Some day, it will be just DearDR and me again. I don’t want us to have to try to reconnect when the kids leave home. I want us to take the little steps we need to take to stay connected. Now and forever.

Couples Quiz

I picked this up over at ClumberKim’s place. It’s standing me in good stead since I’m still in the woods.

What are your middle names?
My middle name, which used to be Marie, is now my “maiden” name. (I hate that term, maiden.) I tend to use it professionally. His middle name is Reed, after his maternal great-grandfather.

How long have you been together?

Our first date was October 1, 1999. We got married September 1, 2001. Coming up on 10 years!

How long did you know each other before you started dating?

We were acquaintances from college, so we probably first met in 1990 or so? We never really hung out, but we knew each other to say hi or have little conversations.

Who asked whom out?

DearDR asked me to have dinner with him. I had to email him about a month later to see if he meant it, though. I didn’t actually give him my phone number the night he asked me — I told him I was in the book. Unfortunately, DearDR didn’t have a current phone book at the time.

How old are each of you?

DearDR is 40; I am 38.

Whose siblings do you see the most?

We see his sister a little more often than my brother, even though we all live in and around Pittsburgh. My sister we usually only see two-three times a year. We live next door to my in-laws. It’s actually pretty even, though, between holidays, birthdays, and random family events.

Which situation is hardest on you as a couple?

Our biggest source of conflict is the household duties. I feel that he doesn’t help out enough; he feels that since he works such long hours (and he does) and makes most of the money, that the household should be my duty. Unfortunately, since I also work and take on the majority of the kid stuff, the state of our house suffers. We both hate it, but until I can hire someone to help me out, it’s the way it’s going to be. It causes a lot of friction, because when he complains, I get very defensive.

Did you go to the same school?

We both went to Duquesne University. Technically speaking, I finished before he did, because I graduated in 1992 (is that right??) with a bachelor’s degree, and he didn’t earn his Ph.D. until 2004, when I was pregnant with Monkey.

Are you from the same home towns?

No. I grew up in Erie and he grew up in Coraopolis.

Who is smarter?

Well, now, that depends. Book smart? School smart? He is, no doubt. But I have more common sense, and a lot more pop culture savvy.

Who is the most sensitive?

He is, hands down. I am clueless.

Where do you eat out most as a couple?

Most often when we’re on our own, we really enjoy Bocktown Beer & Grill.

Where is the furthest the two of you have traveled as a couple?

We went to Italy on our honeymoon — landed in Rome on Sept. 10, 2001.

Who has the craziest exes?

I’m going to go with him. Because, let’s face it, he dated women, and women are crazier.

Who has the worst temper?

He says he does. I asked. I think I get angry more often, but when he gets angry, he gets angrier.

Who does the cooking?

Me, me, me. Unless it’s pancakes and eggs on Sunday.

Who is the neat freak?

Sigh. We both want our house to be much, much neater. I clean more, but he cleans better (when he cleans).

Who is more stubborn?

I am.

Who hogs the bed?

Neither of us. I do hog the covers, though. When a kid ends up in bed with us, she hogs the bed.

Who wakes up earlier?

Me. Every single day.

Where was your first date?

Kaya in the Strip District. The next night, we went to a Pens game together. The day after that, we ran into each other at a Steelers’ tailgate party. You can see we were meant to be together.

Who is more jealous?

He is. And why shouldn’t he be? I’m hot (hahahahahaha!).

How long did it take to get serious?

I knew in the first month of dating him that we were going to get married. It panicked me a little bit, but I rode it out. Eleven months later, we got engaged. Since my dad reads this blog, I think that’s all I’ll say about that.

Who eats more?

He does. I eat better.

Who does the laundry?

All me, again.

Who’s better with the computer?

Hmm. That’s an interesting question. We each know how to do different things on our respective computers — he’s a PC and I’m a Mac — but all-in-all, he is probably a little more tech savvy.

Who drives when you are together?

Usually he does. This is fine with me. I drive enough as it is. Besides, we’re usually running late, so I can do my makeup in the car.

Public Service Announcement II

(To clarify: This post was inspired by three things: One, the parents.com article I link to in the first paragraph; two, some frustrated-with-husband plurks from this past weekend; three, my own frustrated desire to get something done on Sunday. In other words: DearDR, it’s not all about you. XOXOXO)

Dear Husbands:

Psst. Your wife is mad at you. Especially if you have children.

It’s okay. Or it can be okay.

Do you know what your wife wants? Of course you don’t — that’s why she’s mad at you! And yes, she wants some things that you just don’t feel like doing, it’s true. But you will be amazed at how little “extra” you have to do.

Here are some things you can do — right now, today! — that will help your wife be less angry at you:

Four simple words: “How can I help?” Ask your wife this tonight after dinner. Really listen to her answer. She wants you to clean up the kitchen? Just do it. Or would she rather you bathe the children? Just do it. And do it all on your own, the first time she asks you. Your wife doesn’t want to be a nag, but if she asks you to do something and you say, “Okay, I’ll do that” and then start surfing YouTube on your computer, she’s going to have to ask you again. And possibly again, and then you will say, “I said I would do it! Stop nagging me” and then her head will explode.

Take care of the kids. No, really. You should have some basic knowledge of how to take care of the children. And, truly, I mean basic. Have a rough idea of their schedules. Know when they eat meals and/or snacks; have a clue about what they like or dislike. Know where their clothes are and how to dress the children appropriately. Do the bath thing, start to finish, once a week. Put them to bed — yes, both (or more) of them, if applicable. Let your wife clean up the kitchen uninterrupted and then sit down a read a book. We will understand if it’s not every night. And we’re not asking you to remember the doctor appointments or school details. Basic.

Let her sleep in. Some couples I know divide the weekend: He sleeps in Saturday; she sleeps in Sunday, or vice versa. In short, though, even if you can only do it once a month or so: get up with the children, and don’t let them wake her up. Let her loll in bed until 8:30 or 9 a.m. If you sleep in more often (be honest, guys), then give her a break.

Figure out how to give your wife some uninterrupted time. I don’t know if you know how many times your wife is interrupted in the course of her life with the children. If they are awake, be assured that they are interrupting her. Roughly every 30 seconds (this gets better as they get older, or so I hear). She is constantly turning away from whatever she happens to be doing (cooking dinner, cleaning, laundry, even trying to read a magazine or going to the bathroom) to “deal with” the children. Even if it’s to look at something they want her to see or stopping to say “hi” to the toddler who has run into the room for the umpteenth time yelling, “Hi, Mommy!”, it’s getting on her nerves a little bit.

There are two ways your wife wants uninterrupted time: She wants it out of the house, and she wants it in the house.

Give your wife a few hours — or even a day — off. Encourage her to leave the house. Don’t ask what she is going to do. Don’t ask when she is coming home. Don’t call her cell phone to ask her when or what to feed the children, or if they need baths, or what time they go to bed. This time alone, I almost guarantee, will pay dividends. Doesn’t have to be every weekend. Once a month, though? Would rock.

Give your wife a few hours around the house without the children underfoot. You know that really messy room you’ve been complaining about? Or have you noticed that the kitchen floor hasn’t been mopped in a while? Are boxes of things she means to donate piling up? Quit bugging her about it. She wants to deal with it, she really does. Some days it’s hard enough cleaning up the mess from that day, let alone getting to things that have accumulated. Disappear with the kids for a few hours. Take the children to the mall or the Children’s Museum, or to the zoo, or to a movie. Treat them to lunch at a restaurant. Give your wife a few hours in the house alone. That room, that floor, those boxes, will probably be taken care of. Really. It’s bugging her too.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Well why doesn’t she just tell me this stuff?” There are a few possible reasons that your wife hasn’t mentioned how upset she is:

First, it’s possible that she simply cannot believe that you don’t know what needs to be done around the house and/or with the children. She thinks that you will wake up, and start doing that little bit more — putting your socks in the hamper, carrying that basket of laundry upstairs, bathing the children. She hasn’t said anything because she doesn’t think she needs to say anything.

Second, she assumes that it is her role to do “everything” and since you work full-time (you do work full-time, right?), you deserve a break today. This is very sweet of her, of course, but here’s the thing. It’s not helping her be less angry. And when she snaps — and she will lose it sooner or later, sooner if she also works outside of the home — and throws something at your head, don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

I know, I know, she doesn’t do everything. But that’s how she feels. So help her out a little bit.

Third, she has told you. She has asked you. And you either haven’t really heard her, or after agreeing to do certain things at certain times or on certain days, you haven’t followed through.

No, your wife is not perfect. And yes, she could possibly manage her time a little better, too.

Here’s another a big, important point: Your wife doesn’t want to be angry with you. She didn’t get here alone, but she feels alone — and angry, right now. Be her partner; help her out. She didn’t marry your and have children on a whim. She loves you.

Public Service Announcement

An open letter to husbands:

Your wife’s birthday is a very, very special day. And it should be treated accordingly.

It is the day that the beautiful woman whom you charmed (and/or conned) into marrying you was born.

It is the day that (in many cases) the mother of your children was brought into this world. Which means, also, that it is the day that your green bean supplier was born.

You like green beans, don’t you?

Go to the calendar — now, go — and mark the day of your wife’s birth on it. Big, bold lettering — use a sharpie, maybe a couple of stickers. Make it stand out on your palm pilot — have it play her favorite song on your work computer calendar.

On the day of your wife’s birthday, do something special. Actually, do whatever she decides she wants to do to make it special.

If it’s on a weekend, get up, and get yourself and the kids out of the house. Let her sleep in on her birthday. You and the kids can pick up her present now, or some cards, maybe even a birthday cake. Doesn’t have to be fancy, but chocolate will probably win you some points.

Do something that lets her know you are aware that it is her special day, and that you, too, celebrate the day that she was born. Send flowers to the office. Leave a wrapped present under her pillow. Make her breakfast, or lunch, or dinner.

Hire a babysitter and take her out. Or send the kids to your parents’ (or her parents’) house over night, and stay in. Light some candles.

Buy her a spa certificate. Or even better: schedule her a spa day on her birthday. Drop her off, and let her know you’ll come get her in a couple of hours.

Do not, under any circumstances, do something you want to do on her birthday. Do not buy her a present that you would like for her birthday. I understand that sometimes husbands get confused and think what they like is what their wives like. Please disabuse yourselves of this notion, stat. (Credit: BurghBaby)

And if your wife wants to go out to dinner with you and the kids, then go. Even if it means going up to the horribly crowded consumer mecca nearby. Entertain the children during the wait, eat at a family-friendly place. Take them to the germ pit at the mall and let your wife shop for a little bit. It’s her birthday.

If you are angry with your wife, put it aside. Please do not ruin her birthday by fighting with her — or fight with her early enough that you can get it all out of the way soon, before dinner or her spa day. You have a right to your anger, but she has the right to her special day. Work it out.

Remember: Birthdays are not just for children. (Credit: ClumberKim)

Also remember: Before you and the children came along, her birthday was a day all for her, a day that she probably set aside to do something on her own: go to a museum or a movie, or spend a day in a bookstore or a coffee shop, reading a book.

Christmas is about the kids (and baby Jesus); everyone does something special on Valentine’s Day; Easter is a weird day to give gifts; Mother’s Day… she tends to think that’s for your mother (you have to train the kids to treat her special on this one). One day out of the year, her birthday should be “her day”. You have the power to make it so. You can make it or break it, buddy.

Make it.

Let it all be about her and whatever she wants.

Love it. Love her. Show it. Celebrate it.

She deserves it.

…Baby, One More Time?

No, I’m not pregnant. Not even “trying”.

It’s just that the other night, out of the blue (okay, not totally apropos of nothing; we were watching Lost Season 3 on DVD, and Juliette had just told Jack she was a fertility doctor) DearDR said, “Do you want to try for another baby?”

To which I was quick to respond, “Not right now.” I’m such a wit. Or twit. Your pick.

But it’s had me thinking for a couple of days now.

In truth, I always thought I would have three children. Technically speaking I did have three children, of course, but I thought I would be raising three children.

I don’t know why three. My mother had three children (really three, not three with an asterisk like me). I mean, I have never made plans according to what my mother did (as she can well tell you), so I doubt that’s it. (Although, as the third aside in this paragraph alone, I will admit I am turning into her. That’s to pre-empt DearDR from pointing it out later, if he ever reads this.)

Another truth is: I really want another boy. I mentioned this in my Crazy Eights post. And I know DearDR brought it up because he, too, wants another boy. It’s a guy thing. Especially an Italian guy thing. Although it turns out, we are firmly in the majority in preferring a boy over a girl (in a future pregnancy; I wouldn’t trade my girls for anything…). For completely different reasons than those listed in that article. (I know in part DearDR wants a boy to carry on the family name. He’s the last shot.)

I don’t want a boy for him, though, I want a boy for me. Because (rumor has it) mothers and sons have a completely different relationship than mothers and daughters. More akin to the father-daughter dynamic.

As a first-hand witness to my mother’s relationship with my brother, and comparing said relationship to my relationship with my mother, yeah, I get that. He was special to her — not more loved by her — it’s just that there was truly something different about their dynamic. It was more peaceful, maybe… more hopeful. It’s hard to describe. Suffice to say that I remember being on the outside and looking in at my mother’s relationship with my brother, and thinking, “I want that at some point in my life.” (Not the relationship with my mother; a relationship with a son.)

To clarify: I did not have a bad relationship with my mother (with either of my parents). As a teen, I butted heads with my father — we were each as stubborn as the other. In my early 20s, after Mom saw my tattoo, she did threaten (in writing, in a letter about three days later) to never speak to me again, because of, and I quote, “the things you have done to and with your body”. Which, to sum up in my mother’s eyes, included piercing my lip, losing my virginity, smoking, and getting a tattoo (not necessarily in that order). I’m not sure she knew about the birth control pills.

Anyhoo, I have gotten way off track here.

To attempt to return to the subject and in the spirit of High Fidelity (the movie with John Cusack, not the book by Nick Hornby; I haven’t read it yet, and I just caught some of the movie today), here are the Top Five Reasons to Immediately Have My Tubes Tied:

5. I have very stressful pregnancies. Der.
4. Every child I have seems to put my writing career further out of my reach.
3. As if it’s not bad enough, I’m sure another child would be financial suicide.
2. I’m pretty sure my perinatologists’ reactions would be, “You again? What are you, out of your mind?”
1. I’m almost sure my midwives would kill me.

(I would never, ever have my tubes tied, for the record. DearDR’s not getting snipped, either.)

Plus, what if I have another girl? I mean, I wouldn’t care, as long as she was healthy and happy and all that, but poor DearDR. I don’t think he would be able to handle the hormones, especially once they hit puberty and I hit menopause.

Top Five Reasons to Try One More Time:

5. It’s a baby!
4. It would totally mess with my in-laws.
3. It’s actually possible it will be a boy. I thought it was more likely that older moms had girls, but not according to this article. She adds, “(Actually, there is about a 51% chance that everyone will have a boy! Older mothers are also more likely to have boys according to some recent studies.)” I wish she had linked to those studies!
2. I just don’t feel like we’re done. Even after Bun was born, I didn’t have the feeling, “That’s it; we’re done.” More like, “Oh, good. She’s here; she made it. Maybe when I get over this, I’ll think about having another one. It’d be nice to have a healthy, living baby boy.”
1. We would have an excuse to have lots and lots of sex.

Listen, people, not having sex as a method of birth control is fool proof, but frankly, it sucks. And technically, NFP isn’t NO sex, but it’s so… rigid about when to avoid sex if you don’t want to be pregnant that it feels that way sometimes. Especially when we’re horny at the same time (DearDR, it probably goes without saying, is horny almost all the time) and/or I want to feel close to my husband.

Also… well, let’s just say, I was no virgin when I got hitched. But, baby, I saved the best for last.