My Husband Is A Better Encourager Than Your Husband

June 22, 2016 in Beth, Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

Greg is an encourager, which isn’t at all what I was going to write today. I was writing, instead, an apology for my Christian faith, but I’ve only gotten to the part where I used to buy books on demon possession and stuff them in my heathen friends’ couches so they’d discover them later and be coerced by abject terror to follow Jesus. “Planting seeds,” I called it, and I ROCKED it, man.

But that story’s not finished, and I can’t write something called An Apology for My Christian Faith, or a Declaration of a Faith That’s Wild and Free, or GODAMMIT; I’M GONNA FOLLOW JESUS unless I get the words right in my own head and heart first, so that’s going to have to wait a bit.

So I’m going to tell you about what an encouragement Greg is to me, but first I have to tell you I have a new bike.

A new bike!

Which isn’t new ’cause I don’t really do new, but is new to me, so, like “Beth Woolsey New” which is as good it gets around here.

My new bike looks like this if we paint it in watercolor, which we’re totally doing because I’ve been playing with my Waterlogue app to avoid writing my apology:

Preset Style = Travelogue Format = 10" (Giant) Format Margin = None Format Border = Straight Drawing = #2 Pencil Drawing Weight = Heavy Drawing Detail = Medium Paint = Natural Paint Lightness = Auto Paint Intensity = More Water = Orange Juice Water Edges = Medium Water Bleed = Average Brush = Fine Detail Brush Focus = Everything Brush Spacing = Medium Paper = Buff Paper Texture = Medium Paper Shading = Medium Options Faces = Enhance Faces

 

Also, it looks like this:

Painted in Waterlogue

And like this:

Painted in Waterlogue

And like this:

Painted in Waterlogue

(Psst… this isn’t a Waterlogue sponsored post, ’cause I don’t do sponsored posts, FYI.)

Back to Greg being an encourager!

I bought a bike! And I love it! It has an electrical assist I can engage when I ride up the giant hill to my house and also whenever I want to pretend I’m 87 and too old to peddle. And it’s enormous and bulky enough to haul a kid AND groceries on the back both of which I now do regularly because COOL BIKE.

In fact, I love my new bike so much I’ve decided to take it on our annual central Oregon vacation this week. And, while some husbands might discourage their wives from packing a huge, unwieldy, motorized bike on vacation — what with the 5 children and the service dog and the piles of luggage and mountains of groceries that attend our holidays with us — Greg said, and I quote, “There’s no way — NO WAY — that enormous thing is going to fit in our car.”

Isn’t that cute??

“No worries,” I said. “We can get a bike rack!”

“Too huge for a bike rack, Beth,” he replied. “There’s no way.”

Aw. He’s the adorablest! I heart him to the moon, friends!

“Car top carrier, it is!” said I.

“Read. My. Lips,” said he. “NO. Way. On God’s green earth, there is NO WAY are we taking that thing.”

I was beginning to sense some reluctance, however small, so I called my dad, and HE WAS SUPPORTIVE, TOO! “Greg’s right, Beth; that’s ridiculous. There’s no way to bring that thing on a 4-hour road trip.”

The men in my life, friends! They get me! I say I want something and then they get all tense and RIDICULE MY ABILITY TO MAKE IT HAPPEN… which lets me know they must WANT me to bring my bike VERY MUCH since expressing contempt and derision for my ideas is the fastest, most efficient way to get me to do anything. They’re SUPER SUPPORTIVE, in other words, and ensuring all my dreams come true.

The internet is all about telling other people how much better our lives are than theirs, so I figure it’s OK that I put down my Christian faith essay tonight to write, instead, about how much more encouraging my husband is than yours.

In conclusion, #FinallyDoingTheInternetRight!

With lots of love,

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On Being Married 21 Years

January 14, 2016 in Beth, Family by Beth Woolsey

Today, Greg and I have been married 21 years.

TWENTY ONE YEARS, friends, which, as we say around here, is a lot of years not to smother someone with a pillow.

Twenty one years, which means our marriage is old enough to drink and doesn’t have to keep having its older friends buy it booze.

TWENTY ONE YEARS, which is ALL GROWN UP by, like, EVERY measure, you know? Our marriage can drink and it’s been able to vote and die for its country for years. I mean, our marriage can’t rent a car yet, but still, it can make questionable choices in evening wear and pick guys up at the local bar. It’s mostly grown up, is what I’m saying.

I’ve written eloquently about marriage in years past. Or eloquently-ish which is the best I can do most days.

I’ve been married long enough, I think, that I’ve lost the trite answers to the “how do you do it” questions. I’ve stopped giving the magic bullet responses like “marriage takes hard work” or “we’re still together by the grace of God” or “marriage isn’t 50/50, it’s 100/100.”

Honestly, those answers suck. Hard. 

Now, of course marriage takes hard work.

And I do believe in a gracious God.

And it’s important to go beyond our fair share in any partnership.

But to say that our marriage is intact by virtue of our work or God’s grace feels too close to implying others have failed for lack of hard work or that God has somehow withheld a measure of grace, and, well, I just don’t buy either implication. Some of the toughest divorces I’ve witnessed have come on the heels of a whole lot of hard work. And God, I believe, gives grace extravagantly, especially when it’s all falling apart.

The truth is, Greg and I work hard on our marriage. That’s a fact. Except when we’re apathetic and worn out and don’t work on our marriage at all.

And Greg and I are consistently tenacious and determined to make our marriage better. Except when we’re exhausted and just kind of done.

And Greg and I are committed to always being available for each other. Except when we’re myopic and selfish and can’t move past our own needs.

Honestly, Greg and I aren’t in a 50/50 marriage very often. Oh, we strive for equality. And we try to bear one another’s burdens. Sometimes we even hold up our ends of the marriage bargain. Sometimes, we rise above the difficulties and each give 100%, which is when the toilets get cleaned and the children are bathed and we don’t forget parent/teacher conferences. But sometimes we fall down on the job, friends. Sometimes, I give 5%, and Greg gives 5%, and we’re grumpy and petty, and we both wonder where the hell the other 90% went.

The real problem with marriage is the fact that we let humans do it. It’s the same problem with parenting, really. And with the church. And with schools. And with government. And with family. As humans, we’re fallible, glorious, well-intentioned, messy creatures who create fallible, glorious, well-intentioned, messy systems and relationships.

Yep. I wrote those things when we were married 18 years, and it’s all still true 3 years later; it’s just that, this year, I don’t have any eloquence — or partial-eloquence — available, so I won’t be waxing poetic on marriage today.

Instead, I’ll just share a few snippets of life around these parts, and what a 21st Anniversary looks like from this perspective.

a) I texted Greg this morning a heartfelt “Happy Anniversary!” sandwiched between our chat about our broken dishwasher that tried to burn the house down last night and an even more awesome conversation about our son with special needs who’s been telling female peer helpers at school that he can’t get his school work done unless he keeps his hand on their arms or foot on their foot. By comparison? That Happy Anniversary text was VERY romantic.

b) I confessed to one of my besties last night that I still fantasize some days about running away to Mexico, only to have Greg pipe up and say, “That’s OK; sometimes we fantasize about you doing that, too.” I think a Normal Woman would’ve been offended, but I was kind of relieved, and I LOL’ed, guys. I LOL’ed for reals, and I still CUMB (Chuckle Under My Breath) every time I think about it.

c) I found my undies on the floor in our entry way. I’m pretty sure they’ve been decorating the entry way for days now, while our neighbors and friends come and go. I’d like to tell you I’ve fixed that particularly hospitable gesture, but I think they’re still there.

The View of the Front Door:

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The View From the Front Door:

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In conclusion, later tonight Greg and I will high-five each other on 21 years. We didn’t buy cards. We didn’t buy flowers. We didn’t go out to eat. There are panties in the entry way that no one’s going to pick up anytime soon, and sometimes we all fantasize about Mommy skipping town. But you know what? We dream about abandoning each other TOGETHER. Our hearts and minds ARE ONE.

And even later tonight, 4 minutes after we fall asleep, which will be 6 minutes after we didn’t manage to stay awake for sex again, a 9 year old will have a nightmare and will crawl into bed with us. We’ll grunt and moan, roll over and reluctantly make room, and when that kid whispers, “I’m scared,” we’ll say, “I know you are — the dark is HARD — but you’re safe here. Snuggle up, baby,” and it’ll be enough. We’ll be content, and it’ll be enough.

Happy Anniversary, Greg! We’re another year older and another year wiser, minus the part about being wiser, because we have no freaking idea how we’re still pulling this off. We’re scared some of the time; a lot of the time, if we’re honest. But we’re safe here because we made it safe. Good job, us. And snuggle up, baby.

Here’s to not smothering each other with a pillow for 21 more! (After that, all bets are off.)

With love,

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On the Importance of Wanderlust (and Why the “10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry” List is WAY Off Base)

January 18, 2015 in Beth, But Seriously by Beth Woolsey

I read a terrible article yesterday titled 10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry. It made me crazy because it was so full of judgement, teeny, tiny boxes in which to shove women (and God), and proof texts, that poorest form of theology which makes the Bible into a rule book instead of an epic love story and makes a mockery of Jesus’ life and the way he championed people again and again.

To spare you reading it, the author’s list of women who make poor candidates for wifery is as follows:

  1. The Unbeliever
  2. The Divorcee
  3. The Older Woman
  4. The Feminist
  5. The Sexy-Dresser
  6. The Loud Mouth
  7. The Child-Hater (aka, any woman who’s unwilling to procreate)
  8. The Wander-Luster
  9. The Career Woman
  10. The Devotion-less Woman

He includes Bible verses after each category and explanations.

After I finished reading the list, gasping aloud in horror (honestly, I sounded like I was watching a YouTube video of serial kitten murders), and then checking the internet to make sure it wasn’t some sort of satirical joke, I realized I’m 40% a Good Wife Choice by this man’s measure. After all, I cling tenaciously to the ideal of equality between men and women; I wear v-cut t-shirts regularly (sexy, baby); I am very, very loud, although I’m certain the man who wrote the list would be somewhat relieved to know I used to struggle with accepting the enthusiasm and volume at which I live life; I’m a career woman; and I discovered years and years ago that the rote morning devotions I thought I had to have to be a good, Christian woman don’t have as much to do with faith as letting God out of the box, discovering that Love is sanctuary in the midst of the storm, and letting grace unearth the light and not just the darkness inside me.

I shared this guy’s article on the Five Kids Facebook page, because I just couldn’t stand it, and I am so grateful for all your “wows” and “what the…?s” because I felt so much less alone. But someone asked why I’d even bother to give this guy publicity for his article, which is a really great question that deserves an answer. My answer is this: there’s an enormous amount of garbage and judgement that happens in the name of Jesus these days from voices so loud they drown out the rest of us, and I’m not willing to allow this man or those who believe like him to speak on behalf of Christians like me who try and fail and try and fail and keep trying anyway to love each other well, and love each other loudly, and love each other with wild grace, which is the greatest commandment, above all other “rules.” (Matthew 22, etc. Proof text that, dude.

But the thing on his list that just astounded me — even more than the prohibition against Older Women which is just laughable — was his denigration of Wanderlust.

The more I thought about it, though, the more Wanderlust’s place on the list made terrible sense. It made sense because, of course, when we keep women only home, only focused on husbands and children, only giving of themselves and never caring for their own needs — when we feed women the ideal that their fulfillment comes solely from being a wife and a mother — when we tell them their dreams of both/and — both home and travel, both family and friends, both children and career, both God and grace, both boundaries and freedom, both our dreams as a family and my dreams as a person — are rich and full and a reality to reach for, we risk losing women to the wilderness. We risk losing women to complexity. We risk losing women to the place where they’re both human and divine — utterly fallible and also made in the very image of God — full of grit and grace and gratitude and grime and gory and glory all at the same time. We risk allowing women to be more than Stepford Wives and participate in the mess and find magic there and learn that there is that of God in everything. Just all of it. God in everything. Or Love, if you, like me, like to use God’s other name when The Whole God Thing becomes too muddied to understand.

It is easier, of course, to keep women contained. To squash the wanderlust that takes us physically away and the wanderlust of our hearts which lets us dream. It’s easier to keep us only home. To keep us feeling guilty when our entire fulfillment isn’t found in being a wife and a mother. Because when we women are set free to be fully who Love intended us to be, we are a force. WE ARE A FORCE to be reckoned with, and there are men and women in this world who are unwilling to do the reckoning.

To be clear, I am a woman who finds my greatest joy in my family; and they also drive me up a freaking wall. A FREAKING WALL, friends. Because my family is made out of humans, and I’m one, too, which is as awful as it is awesome, but my simultaneous desire to snuggle all five of my babies on my lap and also run away screaming to Mexico has nothing – nothing – to do with the depth of my love for or devotion to Jesus, nor my worth as woman, nor my value as a wife and a mom.

Truth is, I am a better mama and a better wife when I escape from time to time. To recenter. To rest. To live. To wander. To wonder. To think. To find myself beyond wilderness boundary and also longing to come home. To be terribly, deeply, beautifully both/and. And to be a woman fully loved and worthy of choosing, exactly as I am. 

………

P.S. After I read The Terrible Article, I offered to divorce Greg and remarry him ’cause I had an enormous urge to be an even bigger disappointment to the guy who wrote that drivel. 

P.P.S. Greg hasn’t responded yet, so I assume he’s considering divorcing me just to make me happy. That’s why I love him, and I’ll never leave him.

P.P.P.S. I’m writing this as I’m wander-lusting to Australia.

P.P.P.P.S. These are some pictures of me leading my daughter, Abby, astray and teaching her to be wanderlusty, too: 

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Because if I bring a child up in the way she should go, when she’s old she won’t depart from it. 

 

 

The Screw Chart Incident

December 8, 2014 in Beth, Funny by Beth Woolsey

My husband just came to our bedroom to inform me he printed out a Screw Chart.

I asked if that’s like a Special Advent Calendar for grown-ups but Greg looked at me like I was confused and said slowly, “It’s a Screw Chart for the iPhone,” so then I had to remind him we’ve had conversations with our teenager about this kind of thing, and, specifically, about never, ever (EVER) taking those kinds of pictures or videos on one’s phone because HELLO, INTERNET — you just don’t know where that stuff will end up. GEEZ, Greg.

Greg shook his head and used his I’m Very Disappointed in You face, which, coincidentally, is the exact same face he used last night at the dinner table when I taught our children the very best technique for spitting their vegetables into their napkins without getting caught. Until I stepped in with a solution, they just kept complaining and complaining about eating their vegetables, you guys; SOMEONE HAD TO DO SOMETHING, and Greg’s only offering was, “Eat your vegetables” with an occasional “It’s only TWO BITES; just EAT YOUR VEGETABLES” thrown at ’em for good measure. Listen; I don’t want to imply I’m the more effective parent here, but my method got them to stop complaining about their vegetables and Greg’s, well, didn’t. You be the judge.

The only difference in Greg’s reaction between last night’s Vegetable Debacle and tonight’s Screw Chart Incident is last night’s I’m Very Disappointed in You face made sense because *I* was disappointed in our kids, too. 

I mean, collectively they have 60 years of childhood under their belts; you’d think at least one of them would’ve stumbled on the Wipe Your Mouth and Simultaneously Spit Into Your Napkin technique without having to be given a step-by-step instruction guide, but sometimes our kids aren’t quite as bright as we imagine. Makes even those of us committed to science doubt evolution a little, doesn’t it? 

Now, it’s true that Greg’s I’m Very Disappointed in You face was pointed at me during my selfless Vegetable Heroics last night, but I just assumed his neck was broken/stuck due to the incident earlier in the evening in which he and our son tried to burst through an opaque door at the same time, but headed in opposite directions. Just so you know, that’s a bad combo; I’ll tell you about it later. For now, what’s important to know is Greg’s I’m Very Disappointed in You face was pointed at me last night, but only by accident, I think, and because he neck was stuck.Otherwise, it would obviously have been pointed at the kids where it belonged.

This time, though, during the Screw Chart convo, Greg’s I’m Very Disappointed in You face was directed at me, which is weird because he’s the one who brought the Screw Chart up, and also we were in our ROOM and if you can’t talk openly about Screw Charts in your bedroom with your husband, where CAN you, you know?

Anyway, long story short, Greg says a Screw Chart for the iPhone is a chart that shows you how to assemble and disassemble an iPhone and put all the parts back in the right places when you’re done, but I’m pretty sure that would be called an iPhone Assembly or Disassembly Chart because who would call something like that a Screw Chart? That’s just dumb.

On the other hand, if any of you Pinteresty types are looking for a Christmas project, I have got a GREAT Advent Calendar idea. Just saying.

 

What It’s Like to Communicate With Family

August 24, 2014 in Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

I know sometimes it’s hard to know how to talk to our families. Since some of you may be a little newer at this family gig than we are, I thought I’d share a few family communication tips based on the conversations I had today with my sweet ones. 

I was busy today doing all of my back-to-school shopping online.

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Scratching my head. Opening All the Tabs. Trying to find deals so my kids will arrive back at school with luxuries like pencils and paper.

Of course, my kids leave me alone to do this because they’re polite. Helpful. Respectful. And they know I’m working hard for them.

I might’ve had to yell down the stairs once or twice because they were fighting.

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But they assured me they were just play fighting. Which, you know, always goes well when the 14-year-old football player is play fighting his 7-year-old brother.

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So I reminded my 14-year-old, gently, of course, that THERE WAS A REASON I TOLD THEM TO STOP FIGHTING. 

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He took it well so we had a sweet follow-up chat, where I delivered profound, ancient mommy wisdom, and he thanked me for being so kind and wonderful.

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On my way back to my computer, I noticed through an open doorway that the other 7-year-old wasn’t doing his chore as asked.

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But he said he was. My bad.  

Which is when my teenage daughter came to spend time with me, ask me what I think about life, how my day was, and what she might do to help out around the house. You know, the usual.

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It was a special time.

Eventually, I wondered where my middlest child, whom I hadn’t seen for quite some time, might be.

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I figured it out.

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And I finally wrapped up all the school supplies shopping.

HOORAY!

I shared my good news with Greg,

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 … who told me what a good job I did.

It’s OK, though. It is. I didn’t overreact or anything. I just walked right past him. And then maybe turned around and said one more, tiny thing.

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In conclusion, I’m leaving my family. 

Today is an I’m Moving Out Day.

Tomorrow may be an I’ll Never Let Them Go Day. 

But TODAY is not tomorrow, and I’m leaving.

On a jet plane.

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Or on a boat.

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Or by scooter. 

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But this time, I’m not telling my family, ’cause last time I said I was moving to Mexico, my son just told me to bring him back a churro.

The End

 

P.S. I just spent the afternoon in my room, coloring. That’ll teach ’em.

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P.P.S. And how was your day?

 

How to Win at Parenting (You Know, More Than Your Partner Wins at Parenting)

June 9, 2014 in Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

I lost last week’s Parenting Competition to my husband, which, to be precise, really Sucked the Sucky Suck.

Now, Greg doesn’t know there’s a weekly Parenting Competition, or that we’re competing at all, because I’ve never told him. Also, he’s nice and not competitive (except during Settlers and Scrabble when he’s kind of a jerk) and so he’s always rooting for me in parenting and in life (but not in board games), but that doesn’t make the Parenting Competition less real. Or me less of its winner. Because winning when no one else knows you’re playing? IS STILL WINNING, friends. Still winning.

In case you’re kind-hearted and a team player (pffttt) like Greg, though, the Competition goes like this: the parents in two-parent families compete against each other, and the one who works harder, who’s more exhausted at the end of every day, and who most convincingly plays the role of martyr wins. 

Throughout the week, each parent accrues points for every task he/she performs. This is works-based, folks, not grace-based. For example, points can be awarded for (but are not limited to) family scheduling, kid transporting, appointment tracking, grocery shopping, errand running, party planning, clothes washing, tear drying, puke cleaning, butt wiping, up picking, nap putting, manners reminding, bread winning, meal prepping, and, of course, for remembering your kids’ birthdates, sizes, food preferences, diagnoses, allergies, friends’ names, teachers, sports practices, recitals, clubs and All the Appointments that are trying to kill you.

Bonus points are awarded for performing any task while sick or with a sick kid in tow. 

OR, if you’re not into tracking specific points, you may alternatively accrue general points by committing to do way, way too much, never asking for help, raging internally about all you’re doing, muttering about how little help you’re getting, and then getting defensive when your partner offers to help reduce your workload. This is my preferred method because I believe it’s important – critical, really – to play to my strengths and live into my areas of giftedness. Throw in a dramatic sigh, toss your hands in the air, and say something along the lines of, “You just don’t GET it!” or “Nevermind, I’ll do EVERYTHING” and you’re a shoe-in for 1st place. Sure fire way to WIN, baby! 

A winner is declared (not necessarily out loud… in your mind is fine) when one parent has clearly out-parented the other. 

And I? I WIN. Like, all the time. 

Except when I realize what I’m doing, and then I don’t win because I try to be kind (gag) and a team player (gross) and communicative and mature and responsible for my own feelings and dysfunctions, which is vulnerable and hard and makes my marriage better in the end. But most of the time I just stuff my feelings with food and the slightest bit of rage… so, WINNING. YAY!

Last week, my oldest kid had foot surgery. Which was planned. And still hard. And painful. And exhausting. And I hate seeing my baby suffer. But ALSO IT WAS AWESOME, because HELLO, OPPORTUNITY TO WIN! 

And I had last week’s Parenting Competition in the bag, I tell you. IN. THE. BAG. Because I was up ALL NIGHT with her, newborn style, every half hour, clicking her ice machine on and off, and on and off, and on and off, and on. For days at a time! EVERY HALF HOUR, man. I set my alarm for EVERY HALF HOUR to ice my baby’s foot, and I threw in some pain meds for her every 3rd hour, and I never, not even once, helped myself to those narcotics. So I deserve, like, a TROPHY, right? 

And it was RAD. I mean, I looked TERRIBLE. Smudgy make-up. Droopy pajamas. No shower for 4 days. Hair wonky. Smelled fantastic. And I didn’t cry at all. Like, ZERO crying. Just stoic and stiff-upper-lip and very I WILL OVERCOME. Very sacrificial. Very LOVING and GIVING and Woe Is Me; I AM DOING ALL THE THINGS.

And, sure, Greg offered to take a night or two or all of them so I could sleep in our bed and he could take a turn on our daughter’s floor. He offered over and over again. And, sure, Greg handled All the Other Things during the week. And, sure, he changed sheets and ran for meds and watched the kids and kept up on his job and handled the bedtimes and checked to see How I Was Doing. But I did not let him help me. I did not let him Win, ’cause I know that ploy. That ploy to pull ahead! And he was NOT going to get away with it. Nope. Not on MY watch.

But Greg is sneaky. And Greg is savvy. And Greg is SMART, darn him, and he keeps thinking with his giant, genius brain, and so, on Day 4 of my Surgery Vigil, Greg offered a solution. A way to make my life easier. He suggested – get this – that we put Abby’s ice machine on a timer. A timer. A timer to automate the on/off cycle so I could sleep, pulling my martyr rug right out from under me like a magician with impeccable timing and expert slight-of-hand, and leaving me standing there, shocked and rugless.

Don’t worry, though; when he offered to set up the timer, I wasn’t nice about it or anything. I sighed and said, “You just don’t GET it!” like a timer was the world’s stupidest way to handle a round-the-clock icing machine, and then I threw my hands in the air dramatically and said, “FINE; set up a timer if you think that’s a good idea,” like I was doing him a favor. And, I know, I know; even though it was clearly the strongest possible comeback under the circumstances, I still know Greg won last week’s round. 

But what I really think you need to take away from this is, I’m winning. You know, in general. I mean, not recently. Recently, I lost the Parenting Competition. Bigtime. But I’m on a Winning Trajectory is what I’m saying. Lifetime Parenting Award! And one teeny, tiny setback will not (will not) determine the outcome of the entire competition. 

(Also, I apologized to Greg.)

The End

P.S. This may not be the best site on the internet for marriage advice.

P.P.S. Or parenting advice.

P.P.P.S. Or, you know, advice of any kind.

When I Stopped Hating My Husband for Loving Me

April 10, 2014 in Beth, But Seriously by Beth Woolsey

In my 40 year history as a human, I’ve disliked a lot of people for loving me, but none of them as much as I detested my husband.

I just spent a lot of time wondering, subconciously, mostly, but sometimes at the front of my brain, how he could be so stupid.

So dim-witted.

So stubbornly blind to my physical flaws and to my pettiness and my meanness and my rage.

So consistently unrevolted by me. 

Because the things to hate about me were legion, and I once could have filled pages enumerating them.

The way my unconfined breasts rest on the bulge of my belly.

The way the insides of my thighs rub together.

The scars and the scars and the scars and the scars.

The size of my backside and the way it shifts and moves like ripples in the water.

My nearly uncontrollable anger that came from the shame of hating myself.

I could have gone on like that forever.

Some days, it felt like I did.

But somewhere along the way, I made a conscious decision to stop hating my husband for loving me.

I’m pretty sure it was right around the time I made the conscious decision to start loving myself.

And it was horrible. Hard. And I was sure sometimes I couldn’t do it. 

Because it’s almost impossible to shut down the firehose of loathing.

To throw a wrench on that valve.

To pull and pull and pull until my muscles shook with the effort, and to find at the end of the day that I’ve staunched but a fraction of the infinite flow.

And to sleep and to rise and to tackle the valve again.

And again.

And again.

For days and weeks and months and years.

To tackle the valve, weak and weary, and some days not at all, just sitting at the curb and letting it go. 

But one day, I realized the trickle was less. And when he grazed the side of my breast with his hand and pulled me, tentatively, into another hug I was likely to reject, I leaned in instead of away, and for seconds, I accepted comfort before I made an excuse that I was tired. That I was in the middle of something. That dinner needed to be made or a kid’s butt wiped or anything… anything else but stand there being loved. 

For seconds, one day, I hugged him back.

And the next day, I shied away.

And the next, I hugged him a few seconds more.

And so we’ve ebbed and flowed through new days and new months and new years. Each one, truly, better than the last. Not perfect. Not finished. But better.

I’m learning to love myself these days and to love my husband for loving me. And it turns out, with Love comes freedom, and we are reborn. 

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