A Love Letter

Everyone deserves a love letter every now and then.  Seeing that tomorrow is Valentine's Day, I thought I would write a little letter to my love.  This one is for you Seth....

Dear Seth,

This year marks the 10th anniversary of when we first started "hanging out".  While we didn't officially start dating until 2005, our friendship started a decade ago.  I will always remember how you took care of me during those early days after my divorce.  Whether cooking me dinner, or bringing me an extra TV, you took me under your wing. Thank you for helping me feel lovable again.  Thank you for teaching me to accept the things I could not change.  Thank you for being there for me and holding me while I cried.  Thank you for helping me laugh and love again.

I remember those early months of dating so clearly. I remember everything felt exciting as long as I was with you.  I loved helping you paint your house, organize your shop and help you study. I remember the butterflies seeing your name appear on my cell phone. I remember secretly taping you playing your piano and singing and then watching it over and over again while we were apart.  I was smitten.  Through my lovesick eyes you were talented, passionate, funny and handsome. I couldn't believe I was with a guy that could sing, cook, build a kitchen with his bare hands and worked for a nonprofit.  You were a dream come true. I still remember those early years when you would sing me to sleep.  You now sing our daughter to sleep, something I absolutely love.

We have had our ups and downs.  We survived the scrutiny of friends who didn't think I was good enough for you or who believed we were getting in too deep too early.

We survived a long distance relationship for 2 years. We survived two degrees.  We survived our indecisions.  Your family proposed to me before you did after all!  We survived fear of marriage and somehow made it.  Our wedding was one of the happiest days of my life.

Here we are nearly a decade later.  Our romance isn't all that romantic anymore. Our romance is no longer a night out, dressed and looking our best.  Our romance is more takeout and Dexter.  As the years pass I realize we aren't always wooing each other with the best versions of ourself.  We are more raw, exposed and real. We know each other very well, flaws and all.  We fight, we bicker, we get incredibly annoyed with each other.  And yet, our love is deep.  We understand each other.  We have become wonderful partners.

Thank you for being such a hard worker and for providing so well for our little family.  Thank you for the long hours you work.  Thank you for all of the nights you have stayed up, unable to sleep, because you were worried about a patient.  Thank you for waiting until I go to bed to dictate your notes. While I hate not having you go to bed with me, I appreciate you not taking away our time together.  Thank you for stressing out about savings and retirement. Thank you for working hard during the day and then coming home on weekends to create something beautiful for our house.  Thank you for teaching me to love food and for making beautiful meals. You are talented in so many ways.

You are an amazing father.  Your eyes light up when you are with our sweet Millie.  From day one you have  shown what a natural caretaker you are.  I never had to show you how to do anything with Millie, you have shown me much more.  You have taken on whatever she needed without complaining.   You are the best toy for her.  She loves wrestling and playing with you. You are patient and loving and a wonderful teacher for her.  I am so lucky.

I love you Seth. I love you for the constant whistling, singing and joking. I love you for putting up with my quirks and high expectations.  Thank you for bringing such an amazing group of in-laws into my life.  Thank you for loving me. Thank you for encouraging me, believing in me and accepting me for who I am.

The past 10 years have been amazing.  Happy Valentine's Day.

I love you. I love us.

A Series of Phases

Last night, long after Millie had gone to sleep, I snuck back into her room.  I validated my interrupting her sleep with, "She sounded so restless on the monitor." or  "She is probably too hot with all of those blankets."  Truthfully I wanted her.  I wanted to stroke her cheek, smell her hair and feel the weight of her in my arms.  She rolled over, smiled at me and said, "Wanna rock-a-bye" in her sleepy husky voice.  I held her in my arms while she rested on my shoulder and my heart swelled with love.  I swear sometimes I can physically feel my heart increase in size when I look at my daughter.  And so I held her, and I sang "Baby Mine" softly while I tickled her back, kissed her temple and ran my fingers through her ringlets.  Finally, after a few minutes I  put her back in her bed and quietly left her room.  Satiated until morning when her enthusiasm and light would once again fill this house.

My baby isn't a baby anymore. My baby is a little girl.  She turned two yesterday and I suddenly felt myself mourning for my little baby.  I've never been the mom to really mourn her earlier stages because I feel like she just keeps getting better and better.  This morning after she drank some milk she quickly asked to play and asked me to go out of the room.  My presence is often a nuisance to her.  She self plays so well and clearly loves having some alone time.  Other times in the day however she will of course insist I play with her and will cling to my leg until I oblige.  So this morning I left her room and began my morning routine of coffee and dishes while she happily played.

Life is simply a series of phases.  We are leaving behind the baby phase and entering an entirely different phase of parenting.  No longer do I worry about how many times I'll be up in the middle of the night with her.  No longer do I have to sit near her while she plays, or follow her everywhere around the house as she creates one mess after another.  No longer do I need to pack a diaper bag of supplies when we leave the house.  No longer do I get to hold her while she peacefully sleeps in my arms.

In many ways life is more simple.  Yet in other ways we are entering a much more difficult phase.  A phase in which we set boundaries, teach lessons and try to divert tantrums. Also a phase in which we are mostly well-rested. A phase in which we craft, color, bake and explore.  A different phase but so far equally wonderful.

I hear over and over how quickly they grow up.  I hear how important it is to not wish for a new phase.  To enjoy the moment.  This is what I am working on.  The last two years have been simultaneously the longest and fastest of my life.  I can't believe she is already 2.  And yet it feels like she was born a whole lifetime ago, which I suppose she was.  Our lives have changed so drastically since Millie joined us.

I guess I understand why so many people choose to have more than one children.  We see out beautiful babies grow up and we feel the draw for those squishy, delicious infants.  We yearn for that sweet infant smell, the gurgles, the kicking feet and the first smiles.  We miss the simplicity of a baby.  Until we have another baby join our family I am going to focus on Millie and these precious few years where she is our only child.  Never again will she be our sole focus.  I must give her my all.

I choose to embrace this new phase. I welcome the power struggles and potty training with open arms.  Goodbye baby phase...for now.

Therapy vs. Date Night

It happens slowly.  Marriage changes, transforms and morphs into something completely unrecognizable.  One minute you are happy, in love, laughing and charmed by each other.  The next you are bickering, rolling your eyes, criticizing and not connecting.  Things you once found endearing about the other person shifts into things that drive you absolutely crazy about the other person.  Soon you take a step back and think, "What have we done?" Sadly Seth and I have been caught in this trap lately.  

January is a tough time of year.  It's tough emotionally for me.  I get very depressed with the air quality. I know I'm way more bothered by it than the average Utah citizen but I really get down. I feel trapped. I feel suffocated.  And I feel down right grumpy.  January also means Seth's busiest time of year.  Winter means more hospital patients.  Pair that with the air quality and you get a lot of really sick people.  A lot of sick people means a lot of long hours at work.  A normal week during the winter for Seth is 60 hours or more.  These two situations lead us down a rough road each winter.  A road that I normally could cope with when we didn't have kids.  With Millie though, it just leads to a crappy phase of marriage. 

It's so easy to play the blame game with our spouse.  We also are pros at the old "I work harder than you" argument.  Truth is, we both work our asses off.  We are a partnership.  He works 12 hour days, and so do I.  I just don't work 12 hours in the office.  We make it work but sometimes this schedule really grates on us.  There are weeks where I feel like we haven't had a real chance to talk, or connect.  A typical day means Seth is out of the house at 7:30 (Millie wakes up between 6:30-7:00).  He walks in the house at 6:30 or 7:00pm (Millie goes to bed at 7).  That means no time with Millie, which makes me sad.  Plus I'm exhausted after a day of work, taking care of Millie, cleaning, and cooking. Once Seth is home we usually eat dinner, watch an episode of whatever show we happen to be watching (because honestly doing anything else feels too exhausting), and then Seth has to dictate his patient notes. I go to bed, he comes up an hour or two later.  Same thing, day after day after day.  No real interactions.  No conversations of substance.  We talk about how Millie is doing, what needs to be done around the house, etc.  It's rare we actually sit down and really listen to each other. As a result our marriage suffers.  We are stressed, tired and start snipping at each other.  It's all so damn stupid - yet we can't pull ourselves out of it.

Enter date night.  First, let me just say how much I HATE the expression "date night".  It feels so superficial and cheesy.  It feels forced.  It is forced.  But it is needed.  Last night we went on a real date, just the two of us.  We paid nearly $50 for a babysitter and headed out the door.  We enjoyed a beautiful meal at Faustina.  We went to the Ririe Woodbury performance at Capitol Theatre and we even stopped and had a drink. 5 hours of just us.  And you know what?  It was freaking awesome.  

Not an actual picture from last night.  Portland a few months ago.
It felt like we were when we were first together.  We left our cellphones in our purse/pocket.  We talked about politics, religions, food, traveling, health, our crazy families, Utah, etc.  We laughed, we were engaged with each other.  We spent a crap load of money and it didn't matter.  What mattered is that we got out of the house.  We didn't talk about our kid all night (even though she's freaking adorable).  We just enjoyed each other.  

Who says you need therapy?  Really we just need to take the time to reconnect.  To remember why we are together.  To remember that we really do adore each other (quirks and all).  To remember that we are a great pair.  To remember that we compliment each other.  To remember why we are together.  

This to shall pass.  The sun is shining - and green air is in the forecast for the week!  Life is ok.  We are going to be ok.  We just need to plan the good old-fashioned "date night" to remember how good life really is.