Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The "Grass is Always Greener" Effect: Why I Can't Read Other Mommy Blogs

I decided to start a blog last year because I was hoping to find a community.  Perhaps some other working moms, youth ministers' wives, whatever it was.  I spend my time either at work or with my kids & hubby.  I don't go out much.  I can count on one hand since I've had kids how many times I leave everybody at home & just go out by myself to do something I enjoy.  So, the fact that this blog has been completely unsuccessful in that one goal is very disheartening & is often the reason I sit at my computer wondering whether I should even post the various draft blogs I have written.

Lately, I've really been feeling the panic that sometimes comes along with losing yourself to all the job titles that we as mothers have.  I am Jesse's wife; Sophie, Bella & Maddie's mom; I am someone's employee; I am the caregiver, housekeeper, dishwasher, laundry do-er, bill payer, kisser of boo-boos, planner of family events...the list is never ending.  But somewhere in that list, I've forgotten to include myself or anything that I enjoy doing for me.  I realize it is a big part of my unhappiness, but I can't seem to find anything that I'm passionate about just for me.  My parents love the movie, "The Bridges of Madison County."  It's not one of my personal favorites, but there is a quote from that movie that keeps playing in my mind...

"When a woman makes the choice to marry, to have children, in one way her life begins but in another way it stops.  You build a life of details.  You become a mother, a wife and you stop and stay steady so that your children can move.  And when they leave they take your life of details with them.  And then you're expected to move again only you don't remember what moves you because no one has asked in so long.  Not even yourself."

I can't speak to the part about children moving away yet, but I can certainly relate to not remembering what moves me because I have become so identifiable with my family & their needs.  This feeling is only perpetuated when I read other people's blogs.  In particular, I find myself angry when I read about the stay at home mom who takes online courses or the posts about cute, simple recipes or adorable house decorations.  I suppose I should be encouraged, inspired or at the very least, indifferent to the happenings in the lives of other mommies.  However, most of the time the only thing I feel is frustration in being unable to live up to those standards & wishing I had the circumstances they have.  I find myself comparing myself to these other moms & feeling constantly inadequate.  It's not a personal thing against any of the moms writing these blogs, it's more in finding fault with my lack of motivation or ability to take on such things in my own life.

It's getting to the point where I'm not sure I should read those blogs at all anymore.  And, it is forcing me to take a long hard look at myself, the things that are most important to me in raising our kids, and what things in my life cause my unhappiness/lack of motivation.  The frustration lies in knowing what things I want to change, but having circumstances beyond my control keeping me from changing them.  Jesse has long said that I have to find things to do for myself so I have something to look forward to.  Although I agree with him, I'm not sure where to start.  I think turning to prayer needs to be more prominent so I can find some answers or at least peace with where I'm at.  After that, who knows.  But hopefully there will be some revelations in my life.

Monday, February 10, 2014

You know you're a YM Wife when...

I started this blog with the hope of finding other youth ministers' wives.  It is a unique situation that we spouses find ourselves in & I think there is a lot to be gained from sharing our experiences.  In seven years of being a youth minister's wife, I have made some observations of the ways that ministry work is more unusual than your typical 9 to 5 job.  This is not to say that other occupations don't have their own nuances, but I am speaking specifically to my situation here.  So, without further ado, here are (some of) my reflections on what it means to be a youth minister's wife...

- When your small children know all the top 40 songs, not because of your radio station selection, but because of the influence of the youth group.

- Most students at the parish school know your kids because they spend so much time there, even though they aren't old enough to be students yet!

- When you have a serious conversation with your husband about buying the 12 passenger church van when the priest sells it & surprise yourself by realizing how practical it actually would be to own that vehicle...

- When your husband misses your daughter's 1st & 2nd birthdays because he's at Creation for the week with the youth group.

- You rarely go to mass together & if it weren't for being known as the youth minister's wife, you worry people would think you are a single mother.

- When you do go to mass together, you rarely go in the same vehicle.

- Your kids refer to your church as "Daddy's office."

- You end up driving the 12 passenger church van to work a couple days a week because your husband was too tired after taking kids home to go back to church & pick up your vehicle.

- You have eaten more leftover pizza then you care to think about.

- You find it totally normal to drive the 12 passenger van (sometimes with the trailer attached) even though you are the only person in the vehicle.

- Your husband's laundry consists of t-shirts from youth events, funny quips & sweatpants.  Are you living with a college student?

- Date night consists of going to his guest speaking arrangements.

- Lots of kids call you "Mom" that aren't your biological kids & you're ok with that.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chicken Soup Visit

So, the illness that has been making me miserable for nearly three weeks seems to finally be loosening its grip on my sinuses, though I do still get an annoying cough & some congestion from time to time.  Though I love being pregnant, there is nothing worse than feeling terrible & being able to take nothing but Tylenol...which basically does nothing to help.  So, I had to tough it out & try my best with the homeopathic treatments as well as lots & lots of rest!

Knowing how under the weather I've been, my mom planned a visit for this past weekend.  It was originally intended as a trip to make me chicken soup & let me lay in bed all weekend resting.  But, because I was (finally!) starting to feel better, it turned into a restful but also very productive weekend.  I was able to sleep in...words can't describe how wonderful that felt!  But more than that, I love having my mom come for visits like this because she has the ability to kick me into gear on some projects I might otherwise be finding excuses not to complete.

For starters, we took down all the Christmas decorations.  I had already taken down the tree, but all the other signs of Christmas still remained.  And with the arctic cold temperatures that we've been experiencing this winter, I didn't really appreciate the reminder of how long winter is likely to remain.  So, I packed everything up & we did a quick clean of every room.  Then, I brought up what few Valentine's Day decorations I have & put them up.  The girls enjoyed helping put up the window clings, but I also got a little crafty & made a couple really simple decorations.  I'm so proud of them & think they look super cute!


One of the unexpected things that I finished (and that gets me on track with the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year) was to complete our pre-approval application so we can finally start house shopping.  It is painfully obvious that we are outgrowing our current rental house.  In addition to needing more space, I am greatly looking forward to getting a dishwasher.  I can't even describe how exciting that will be!

Overall, I owe my mom a huge thank you for helping me feel better, making me chicken soup, letting me sleep in & kicking me into gear on a few projects to start off the new year right!  I've been trying to continue this attitude & move forward with some other things that need done around the house.  So far I've been fairly successful, but it's only been a couple of days, so we'll see what happens over time!  I'm very blessed to have her as a close friend who always has a willing ear & open heart to help me out.  I hope someday to be able to provide the same loving care for my daughters as adults as my mom does for me.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

From my sick bed...

I have been home sick for a week now.  I got this lovely respiratory flu that seems to be going around.  Between  the aches, sinus pressure & coughing, it's all I can do to get from room to room.  Perhaps the worst part is that because of my pregnancy, I can't take anything but Tylenol & Sudafed.  I'm getting close to surrendering & just going to the doctor, but I don't think they'll be able to give me anything either.

I don't get sick very often.  In fact, I'm rarely ever sick.  If I do get a little cold, I'm always able to push through it.  Jesse said to me last night that this was really the first time he could remember seeing me this sick & miserable.  And I have to agree with him.  I've felt just awful, but it goes beyond the physical pain because I haven't been able to be the mommy that the girls are used to.  They've watched me lay on the couch, not being able to play or color with them.  I feel terrible about that, but I keep trying to remind myself that I need the rest in order to get better.  I just wish it would start happening already.

I've had to spend a couple of days home with the girls while Jesse works.  Those days have been the hardest because all I want to do is lay in my bed & sleep, but when you are in charge of two little ones, you have to be a bit more attentive.  So, we've been watching lots of cartoons & reading books.  And I absolutely relish their nap time!

And now I have to stop this post because I have a three year old that wants to cuddle.  It's enjoyable for both of us since that's about all I'm able to do with them.  Until next time...hopefully I'm feeling better.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bank Account Fears

I have a confession to make...I hate logging in to check our bank account balances.  It's a stress-filled event and (unfortunately) I usually put it off until I have to pay bills.

"But Jessica, you have an accounting degree, an MBA & work with finances all day at work?"

I know, I know, but it's a different beast to deal with your own finances!  Goodness knows, no one ever gets financially rich working for the Church.  Add to that some debt from Jesse's college days, rent & other bills...it adds up.  Not to mention, we've recently started the process of looking for a house & although we've never done it before, I guarantee that won't be cheap!

I've tried several different formats for managing our finances, most of which I copied from others.  But I was never able to stick with it.  So, I think it's time for me to come up with my own system.  Something simple, that doesn't require a lot of fiddling.  Jesse has given me control of managing our accounts, which I appreciate, but it's also intimidating to try & manage, so it's up to me to figure out what works.

My short-term goal is to get to a point where I don't cringe every time I log in to our online banking.  Long-term, I'd like to get more tucked away into savings & pay off some debts.

I'm posting about this not because I want pity for our financial state.  It's more like an accountability thing for myself.  If I post about it, I feel that I need to follow-through & even provide updates along the way of our successes!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Welcome to a New Year!

Welcome to 2014!  I've spent the last two weeks relaxing with my family, enjoying the holiday, spending all day in my pjs, taking time away from work & all other nuisance distractions to just slow down & take in all the wonderful people around me.  I even read a book from cover to cover...shocking!  Having this down time reminded me that I'd like to enjoy a better balance in my life once the chaos of work/school/religious ed/etc resumes next week.  So although I'm not usually one to make resolutions, I'd like to post some of my goals/things I'm looking forward to in the coming year...

- The arrival of Baby #4!  This pregnancy has been slightly different from the other three, so I'm not sure if I should interpret that in any way, but I am anxious to meet the new little son/daughter that God has placed in our lives & hearts.

- Finding more time for reflection/prayer.  I have a wonderful book that provides daily reflections/activities & a weekly saint specific to Catholic Moms.  Plus, Jesse bought me a Chartres labyrinth for meditation & I always feel more calm when I routinely use it.

- Prenatal yoga.  This is the one form of routine exercise that I (try to) follow.  I'm sure it's shocking that I don't spend hours at the gym, but seriously, chasing three children is more than enough of a workout!  Plus, it's fun when Sophie & Bella get out their mats & mimic the poses!  And during pregnancy, I always appreciate the benefits of stretching my muscles & joints.

- House hunting - Ok, this isn't exactly something I'm totally looking forward to.  I know we need the space & I like the idea of going to look at houses to see if they would fit our needs.  What scares me is the immense amount of debt that we will be in once we have a mortgage.

That's a pretty ambitious list & is about all I think I can handle right now.  I'm always trying to be the best wife/mother I can be, but that's a daily task.  So, here's to the new year & all of the possibilities that it holds!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Change is Coming!!

The last month or so has just gone by in a blur.  With all of the holiday activities, traveling to see family, visits with friends, Jesse's trip to NCYC...to say it's been chaotic is an understatement.  And as it usually happens, all these things happen at the same time as the crazy twists & turns life gives us.

The first big news in our household...


That's our youngest, Maddie, announcing that she is going to be a big sister.  We will be adding another set of little feet around July 4th, which is in between Bella (June 30) & Maddie's (July 14) birthdays.  I feel slightly guilty that they will have such close birth dates, but I hope we can develop some fun traditions in this two weeks timeframe.  Once I got over the initial surprise, I have been pleasantly excited with the news and am so excited we'll have another baby in the house!

With this announcement also comes a more serious effort to find a house.  We currently rent our home and although it has been a wonderful house, we are clearly outgrowing the space.  The girls all currently share the second floor room as a big bedroom/playroom.  We have only one tiny bathroom and (my biggest frustration) no dishwasher.  Although I offer up my dish washing time as prayer, I can only stand so much of it!  So, we are meeting with a friend who is a Realtor this week and will hopefully make some decisions about the next steps to make this happen.

The last (and very exciting) news isn't something that has happened...yet.  It has the potential to happen in the next few months.  I'm trying to exercise patience & not think about it too much, but late at night, I sometimes let myself think about it.  And it gets me really excited!  If it happens, this wonderful blessing would drastically change our lifestyle.  That's about all I can speak to for now, but I will ask that anyone reading please pray for this very special intention.