Do unto others…

As I was driving on the highway to take PJ to playgroup this afternoon I saw a few people hitch hiking. Nothing out of the ordinary. Hitch hiking is pretty normal for Uruguay.

I don’t normally stop. Especially if I have PJ in the car. But it got me thinking about this time when we were still living in Miami and I gave this older man a ride home.

It was a Saturday morning and I had just finished dropping Carlos off at work. Instead of taking my normal route home, I went the long way. It was a bright, sunny, but cold winter morning. I had my sunroof open, blasting music and just enjoying the time alone. As I was driving down Coral Way I saw an elderly man sitting at a bus stop with a shopping cart FILLED with bags. I felt a pang in my stomach and a tiny voice inside my head telling me to go back and talk with him.

After debating with myself for what felt like forever, I turned around, pulled into the gas station next to the bus stop and got out of the car. I approached the man and asked him where he was heading. We talked for a bit and I offered him a ride home. As I helped put his groceries in the back of my car, a man in a brand new BMW approached me and told me that he wished more millennials would be so kind and said, “God bless you.”

Instead of feeling shy or honored by his praise, I was angry. I wasn’t giving this guy a ride because I wanted to be patted on the back, I did it because, well I felt God was calling me to. And if it was really such a great thing then why didn’t HE do it himself? He was at the gas station before I was. He could have easily offered the man a ride home. I ended up just smiling modestly and saying, “Oh it’s nothing, thanks.” Got in my car and left.

The drive home was uneventful. It turned out the man knew my dad when they worked at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach back in the 90s. He was just a lonely man living in a section eight apartment by himself. I was genuinely happy I was able to help him, I was able to do something kind and put a smile on his face. From them on I looked out for him every Saturday at that bus stop but I never saw him again.

Being reminded of this made me wonder if I would ever do something like that again. I think about it often enough but I haven’t. Since I’ve become a mom I’ve put other people on the back burner. I’ve been too worried about my daughter and family to focus on people on the outside.

Sure, whenever I’m on the bus I’ll offer my seat to an elderly woman or if someone has one item at the grocery store behind me and I’m buying a whole cart I’ll let them in front. But I haven’t really gone out of my way to be KIND to someone. I haven’t gone out of my way to sacrifice for someone.

Of all the things going on in my/our life/lives right now, I want to make it a point to forget about us and worry about others. I want to be a blessing in other peoples lives even if it means putting myself on the back burner, even for a little while. Stop waiting for other people to bless you and stop waiting for people to put you first. But don’t do it for other people, do it for yourself. Don’t be that guy in the BMW, fully aware that people NEED help, kindness, and love. Don’t wait for someone to do it in your place. If God, the stars, the universe, etc. places someone in need in your path, help them.

Motto for the week: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. (Again, not because you’ll get something in return but just because).

What I wish I knew…

I always find that around this time of year my social media timelines are full of an array of engagement and pregnancy announcements.

As Christmas and New Years came and went I patiently waited for my Facebook friends to start boasting about their new life adventures and it made me start thinking about where I was when I got engaged/married/pregnant. What I wish I would’ve known before hand and what I wish people knew that isn’t shown in Instagram posts and vague Facebook statuses.

  • Marriage isn’t work. It’s a choice. If you go into your marriage thinking something along these lines, “Uhhhh…I don’t really want to do this. Not sure if I want to be here. Well, if it doesn’t work I can always quit later on.” Then you probably shouldn’t be getting married to that person. Your marriage is a choice, not a chore. You chose this person. You need to choose them more than just one day in your lifetime, but every day.
  • Marriage isn’t 50/50. It’s 100%. It’s easy to say marriage is 50/50. But it really isn’t. It wasn’t until I wasn’t able to give 100% of myself in my marriage that I realized that my husband gives me 100% of himself. Without complaint and without anger, but rather with total compassion and understanding does he pick up when I fall. And the days when he can’t give 100% of himself to our marriage, I pick up where he can’t. If each of you is only giving 50%, it will seem like work when you have to pick up for your partner. Or you’ll constantly be thinking, “Well, I wash dishes and pick up the dry cleaning. What do YOU do?” That’s not a healthy mindset for your marriage. And for the days when neither of you can give much to the stresses of daily life, say “Screw it!”, order takeout, and watch Netflix all night.
  • No one is obligated to love your kid except YOU. I’ve had trouble truly accepting this. I’ve had issues with my in-laws and how I don’t feel they treat my kid the same way they treat the other babies in the family her age. Sure, it could be because of the distance, but that doesn’t take away from how much it angers me  when I see that they regard her with apathy as opposed to the love and kindness she deserves. But it makes me all the more aware and grateful for my parents that think the sun shines out of my kids butt.
  • Stop comparing your partner to other people. Seriously. Don’t do it. Just because someone posts the amazing things they do/their spouse does all over social media doesn’t mean that they’re happy or that their husband is any better/worse than yours. Your husband may not buy you flowers or expensive jewelry, but does he help you wash dishes, do laundry, help with groceries and dinner? Yeah, I’d pick that over dead flowers any day. And even if he doesn’t, I’m sure that comparing him to others isn’t going to make YOU or your marriage any happier.

It’s not a long list but I know that these are things I wish I knew before I entered my marriage/parenthood.

Feel free to share any advice you may have for those about to get married or become parents!

Devoted.

Oh well hello there! I can’t believe I haven’t written since last year! [insert sting drumroll here] It is very hard for me to accept that we’re already in 2016. It’s crazy how time flies as an adult but when you’re a kid a year feels like an eternity.

This month is Carlos’ and my nine year anniversary of being together. Three of those we were long distance, five married and the past two as parents.

I’ve been in love with Carlos since I was 16. And when I fell in love I never thought I could love anyone more than I loved him in that time. But I was wrong. Here we are nine years later and I love him more than I did then. Every day I’ve fallen more in love with my husband than the last and know that will continue well into the future.

Today we went on a walk with PJ up our drive way and I had my fiftieth moment of realizing how blessed I am to have married such a loving and caring man. I know that I’m bragging about this man but just hear me out for a bit.

When we were younger, Carlos was a total jerk. He set limits on our relationship, he wouldn’t call when he said he would, blew me off with no explanation, and would never express himself in a way which satisfied me. My friends strongly disliked him and how he treated me. My parents hated him. It was awful. But I was young, in love, and convinced that I knew him better than anyone else.

When I moved away to college we decided to stay together and he started changing. He made it a point to be kind and thoughtful whenever we saw each other, and the days I couldn’t be in Miami we would talk constantly. Every day he reminded me that being together was a choice and as long as we chose to put an effort into our relationship we could make it work. But that didn’t stop us from “breaking up” a few times.

When we got married, I don’t think anyone in our families thought we would last six months, let alone 5 years (this May!). We had had a rocky relationship but we loved each other. We wanted to be together forever. And we agreed going into our marriage that divorce would never be an option. If we were doing this, there was no going back.

The first year of our marriage was one of the hardest years of my life. We were newlyweds living with my parents, I hadn’t found a job yet, he lost his job due to cutbacks, student loans were looming and I had ended the relationship with my best friend so I had no one to confide my fears in. I was so used to my independence that jumping into our marriage and under my parents thumb at the same time probably wasn’t the best decision. I spent most of that year in tears, praying for guidance, and maybe not so secretly breaking our agreement by looking up divorce lawyers.

But we worked through it. We found a balance to everything. And honestly the next few years of our marriage were great. We made a conscious effort to connect and love each other. So…we decided to have a baby.

It only took us four months to get pregnant. I think both of us expected it to take longer but we were thrilled. And nervous. And terrified. Here we were not only moving 4,000 miles away from all we had ever known,  but now we would soon be responsible for a new life? We started bickering and becoming distant. I admit that while I was pregnant I HATED Carlos for the first four to five months. If I saw him just sitting down and watching TV I would throw things at him for no reason. Or let’s say he would wash the dishes before bed I would purposefully dirty tons of dishes and make him get up and wash them. Typing this makes me wonder why I want to get pregnant again, but I digress.

Once Paloma was born everything changed. As my husband fell in love with our daughter,  I fell more in love with him than ever before. I’ll never forget how serious he took his responsibility to clean PJs umbilical stump. He set an alarm every few hours to clean it and would then change her diaper and cuddle her until she fell back asleep. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, my heart swelling from the joy of seeing those two together.

Nothing has changed in the past two years. He still dotes on her (and me) and spoils her (and me) rotten. He has never been afraid to change a diaper or ignored a sink full of dirty bottles. He is a vital part in our potty training journey. He takes his time teaching her things and takes notice of little things like when her laugh changes or always knowing where her Peppa Pig stuffed doll is. And because of his love and devotion to our daughter, I find myself more devoted and in love with him.

Somedays I can’t help but think back to where we started and know how blessed I am to be where we are. To know that our relationship is standing on solid ground and that this man chooses to love me even when I don’t deserve it. I know that our relationship works because every day we remind each other that our love and commitment is a choice we make daily. Some people find that making a declaration of commitment is enough on your wedding day but we keep it at the forefront of our marriage. It’s easy to forget your vows when you’re living the same day over and over again, falling into our societies repetitive nature of work, home, work, home, work, home day after day.

I renew my vows to him each day by doing little things that I know will make him smile. I let him pick what movies we watch or what we have for dinner. I leave little notes in his studio for him to find just saying “I love you.” I make him tea when he’s sick. I constantly remind him to reach out to his family, no matter my personal feelings. And he renews his by being an amazing father, partner, and son-in-law.

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February 2011. Gainesville Museum of Natural History. 

The past nine years have been a roller coaster and I can’t wait for the next hundred.

The unexpected outcome of unpacking

After two stressful days of unpacking and moving boxes, my mom and I decided to take a break and go through the fun stuff. Most people (ie, my sister) would take that to mean either their personal belongings like clothes or cooking spices but for us the fun stuff is BABY CLOTHES!

PJs room isn’t anywhere near being done so we decided to just start organizing the stuff into what needs to go into storage (stuff that doesn’t fit) and stuff that we can start selling. It was a lot easier deciding to sell or give away these clothes because PJ never wore any of them. We have a few nice pieces that I kinda wish I could save for any future littles we might have running around here but realistically that won’t happen for another few years. Why keep stuff when I know I’m just going to end up buying new then anyway…

After about an hour of monotonous exchanges of “keep?” “toss!” we came across the boys clothes. When we packed our stuff into storage we still didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl. If you would’ve asked me at any point before 14 weeks if we were having a boy or a girl I would’ve sworn we were having a boy. I wanted a boy sooooo badly but then one day at around 14 weeks I was talking with a friend about the baby and said, “blah blah blah she’s hungry which makes me gag.” My friend looked at me and said, “SHE?!” From that moment on something inside of me just clicked and I KNEW, I knew that I knew, that the little frijolito inside of me was a girl. So much so that during the sex ultrasound (not gender, people) I screamed at Carlos “I TOLD YOU I TOLD YOU I TOLD YOU!” I mean, I’m sure I’m not the only person to do so but hey it happened.

Opening up that box of little boy people clothes my heart just started melting and my uterus was screaming. I remembered all the sweet and tender moments that I was blessed with when pregnant with PJ. My favorite memory of pregnancy was a day Carlos and I spent by the lake at our apartment. I don’t remember the details of the day other than it smelled like rain. We were talking about our future and trying out baby names when all of a sudden we heard this roaring sound heading for us. We saw the ducks start flying toward us not realizing that they were actually flying away from this wall of rain. It was coming so fast we had to sprint from the lake to our first floor apartment to avoid getting wet. The millisecond we reached the door the rain was splashing at our feet. I vividly remember slamming the door shut behind us and laughing together. I looked at my husband in that moment and realized I never loved him more than I did at that moment. He didn’t do or say anything romantic or do any sort of grand gesture to cause that surge of tenderness, but from what I can guess it was the overall sincerity of the moment.

Since then there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of moments like that. Small, insignificant moments where I get this overwhelming rush of love for him. Like the first time he wore PJ in the Moby wrap, when he sang PJ to sleep when I was pregnant, or whenever PJ comes up to him with a book in her hand he sits her on his lap and starts to read to her.

I didn’t know how much I could love my husband until our daughter was born. All over the internet you read these anonymous cries of women all of the world complaining about their husbands that checked out once baby came. They don’t help at all with their children and see any involvement in child rearing as babysitting. But I was blessed with a man that not only loves me but adores our daughter. He has changed and fed her just as many times as I have, he still wakes up in the middle of the night with me whenever she cries, and he never makes it seem like spending time with us is a chore. We were lucky enough that he was able to be with her all day, every day for her first year and a half of life. And his love for her has allowed for my love for him to grow to an unimaginable capacity.

It’s not like I somehow forgot about this and unpacking brought on all these emotions. I’ve always known I love my husband and have been conscious of how the past two years have allowed me to fall more in love with him, but remembering the early days just brought these feelings to the surface in a way that I couldn’t expect.

Although we’re getting rid of most of the clothes due to a lack of storage space I hope to hold onto these memories and one day share them with our daughter. I hope that when she reaches that age of wanting nothing to do with her wacky and annoying parents she can see that all we’ve ever had for her was love. That one day when she’s looking for a partner she finds someone that loves her just as much as her father loves me, if not more.