Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Perfect Wedding

The lid has been closed, the flag has been folded; due honor has been given. The hole has been filled, and as spring comes, grass will cover the barren ground.  And so after a love affair of over 60 years, my grandparents are finally reunited in eternity. 

Sixty-eight years: three wars, many long deployments with only a letter or Red Cross for communication; three children; a nomadic lifestyle in Africa, Germany, and Japan; alcoholism.  It is enough to make a modern-day newlywed cringe- how can a marriage survive that much volatility? 

After the funeral concluded, my mom and I spoke about the definition of a “perfect wedding,” and what it means today. Today, a perfect wedding is defined as one in which every detail goes according to plan- the flowers are perfect, the song is just right, the cake is a work of art, the napkins are folded just so, and your vegan guest has a special meal prepared.  After all the time, money and fanfare though, what is left?   You walk out into the world as husband and wife, just like every other married couple. 

A wedding is more than an event, my mom inferred, a wedding is a lifetime.
A lifetime spent living one day to the next, steering through life’s challenges, all the while loving each other. A lifetime spent having children, working jobs, going to church, helping others.  A lifetime spent holding one another despite adversity or disagreements.

My grandparents had a basic wedding with a handmade dress made of material the queen would not choose; there was no photographer. To my grandfather, she was the handsomest most beautiful bride in the world, and until the day she died, he truly felt that way about her each and every day.

Their marital possessions included what fit in a suitcase. Off they went on a train to start a new life together. And yet after a meager beginning, they managed to carve a life for themselves over the course of many decades. I haven’t a clue how they survived the rough patches, but they did. Giving up was never an option, no matter how hard things were; marriage was not  
synonymous with furniture- if it breaks get new one.

Three children, eleven grandchildren, and numerous great grandchildren are a piece of the pie with which their success can be measured. All of us have wonderful memories and stories to share of the resiliency of their relationship.  Up to the end of their lives together, the love they had for each other was evident to anyone who witnessed them together. 

Today our challenges are similar, yet packaged differently. Communication is more instantaneous in a separated relationship. There are more books and seminars and retreats and all kinds of things out there. Look at all my grandparents survived, with none of that intervention? 

I am not writing this for sympathy; I am writing this because their love and perseverance  are so scarce in today’s world. Marriage has become fast food instead of homemade.  It is too easy to walk away when things get hard (a mantra infecting all facets of life).  My grandparents may not be a part of my world anymore, but there is still so much their lives can teach me. And with any luck, maybe you too.  

Guest Blogger:  Rebecca Pepper

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Good Housekeeping–My Messy Beautiful

Guest Blogger:  Marisa Suzanne

We do not have a dog. This is probably for the best because right now I just cannot imagine taking care of one more living creature (I realize this implies that we live in quite the menagerie, but no, I just mean one more living creature beyond the husband and two boys I already live with).
There are a few times each day, though, when I do wish we had a dog; I’m talking about meal times, of course. With every splat of baby oatmeal that hits the floor…with every fruit squeezer whose contents shoot out of the pouch onto our walls…I fantasize about what it would be like to have a dog around to bound over and efficiently clean up the mess without being asked.

Is anybody listening?? Does anyone care?? Please, I BEG of you! These stubborn--okay, I'll stop.

To some degree, we have this service in Noah, our one-year-old. The moment we release him from his high chair, he’s under the table finding little morsels of food that either we’ve missed wiping up, or that Jacob has flicked down to help a baby brother out. And basically, that’s the way Noah explores our whole house—eating things from the floor. So where I once had a relatively high opinion of my housekeeping skills, I now realize that I’m mostly just good at putting away my toys. I unload the dishwasher. I put laundry in drawers. But I do not, technically, do much actual cleaning…I now realize there’s a whole ecosystem thriving on my floors that I had no idea existed until Noah started crawling. (Nothing like fleece baby outfits for revealing just how badly your floors need cleaning, right?)

And so, poor Noah eats a lot that he shouldn’t. Nothing too bad—dust bunnies, carpet fuzzies, feathers, the like. Feathers, you ask? Do we have a bird? We do not. What we do have is a huge feather-stuffed couch in our living room that was an impulse buy several years ago. It’s a floor model! It’s a great price! For something from Restoration Hardware to go with our otherwise IKEA house! Let’s do it! We’ll never regret this! Except we do regret this, every day, because this couch sheds feathers like…a molting duck. Yes. Actually, like several molting ducks. At the end of every day, our living room looks like a whole flock of molting ducks took a detour through our house, molted wildly, and then took off. Noah finds most of the feathers, but there are still a lot for me to pick up each evening.
Noah on the hunt for his next meal.

I’m mostly okay with this; after all, I’m doing a great job of boosting Noah’s immune system by allowing him access to our floor grime. However, this approach backfired a few weeks ago, conveniently enough on an evening when we had company. (Isn’t that perfect?) We’d enjoyed a meal together and were chatting in the living room when I happened to look over to see Noah in great distress, working something around in his mouth. The look on his face seemed to say, “Whatever this is, I had no idea something so unspeakably bad existed.”
John got down to mouth level, took Noah’s face in his hand to get a good look, and announced, “I think it’s…poop.” Excuse me, WHAT?? And with an expert finger swipe, he cleared Noah’s mouth and offered his final diagnosis: “Yep. Definitely poop.”

Well, that certainly brought all post-dinner banter to a grinding halt. And in case this ever happens to you, want to know what you can say that’s the Right Thing in this situation? NOTHING. Want to know what sounds totally lame? EVERYTHING.
  • “Where could this have come from??” That’s certainly the million dollar question.
  • “What?? He’s never eaten poop before!” The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
  • “Did he get into an old diaper? Did we not fasten his diaper tight enough? Did we forget to clean out Jacob’s potty chair?” Those are all horrible possibilities. Stop listing them.
  • “Is it fresh?” Does it MATTER??
See what I mean? On the other hand, taking a more flip approach and making light of the whole thing sort of seems a little too laissez-faire. I mean, it’s not like the kid just ate a feather or something like that—it was poop, after all. Ah well, whichever approach you choose, be assured that your guests will be swiftly moving toward the door and bidding you adieu for the night, or forever.
Actually, we were lucky to have the company of dear friends that night—the kind of friends who, if your child had to try eating poop in front of anyone, it might as well have been them—and they were very gracious. In fact, they even got down on their hands and knees to inspect our brown shag rug for any more…you know. (Don’t worry, we didn’t find any.)

Would I enjoy housework more if I dressed up to do it? I don't know, maybe.

This incident (a one-time thing, honest, it’s never happened before or since—but there I go again, because isn’t that what anyone would say??), though, points to the reality that motherhood is messy. And not just our floors or our houses—our hearts, our dreams for ourselves, our hopes for our kids, our love for our families. All of motherhood is messy—maybe because motherhood itself is so all-consuming that every aspect of it spills into everything else.

And here at Real Mommy Diaries, we’re committed to being…well, real—the good, the bad, and the messy. Because there’s a beauty and a freedom in that kind of realness. Check back on Thursday for the kickoff of our new “Real Moms” interview feature, and if you haven’t already, visit our Welcome page to read more about our heart for moms and this hard, wonderful thing we’re all doing.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Spaghetti Surprise!

It was a typical Monday in our little abode.  We struggled to get up after  nice weekend of nothing in particular; breakfast needed eaten, clothes changed, school lunch made.  I walked with my son to first grade, and then shuttled my youngest off base to his preschool.

The day progressed fairly normally and without incident. Throughout the day I was plagued with the proverbial question on most mother’s minds- what am I going to make for dinner.  I stared into the refrigerator and freezer searching for the answer. I walked into our pantry-laundry-room-entry-hall and stared at the non-perishables, but still no ideas.

 After a while, as if pregnant with a hankering for something,  I decided upon cornbread. Mmmm, warm cornbread with butter and honey.  Chili worn normally accompany this, however I was unprepared, naturally, to make it (that and it wasn’t cold enough to enjoy the benefits of chili, according to my husband’s sense of right and wrong). So what to accompany it? I once again consult my refrigerator and freezer, hoping my firm desire of cornbread inspires my appliance to give me an answer.   Green beans; green beans can go with cornbread right?  Good; now for one last thing to round the plate out.   I walk back to my multipurpose room and Bisquick jumps out at me with its recipe for chicken tenders. That’s it! I’ve got my balanced dinner.


When school was over the kids and I made the cornbread to have that out of the way before gymnastics. Once home, I could get the chicken done in about 20 minutes. The cornbread was sounding better every time I thought about it. I could not wait!  

Off we went to gymnastics, a short bike ride away. Once class was over we, naturally, came home. As I opened the door to our house my ears and nose detected activity in the kitchen.  I walked in to find my husband at the stove cooking polish sausage and spaghetti noodles, and warming up sauce. My first thought was not how nice it was to have him making a meal unasked, but how I was not going to have cornbread for dinner! My warm, yummy blue corn cornbread with butter and honey.         

I mentally stormed down the hall to put something away, annoyed my dinner plans had been changed without consult. How could he think I could forget? Providing meals is part of the job description.  As I walked back down the hall, ready to face a meal I am not overly fond of (otherwise known as a fall-back meal in my house), I realized how childish I was being. How many wives would  do anything for their husbands to open a can of soup! Here was mine, cooking a me! Akin to our disagreement on how apples should be cut for a pie (he says cubed, I say sliced), I was quibbling. I should be so lucky!

And you know what? I am. 

I walked in to the kitchen, gave him a big hug, sat down with him at the table, at ate that entire bowl of spaghetti and sausage. 

Be grateful when your husband makes spaghetti for you!

Guest Blogger:  Rebecca Pepper