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!

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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.

Let’s talk about sex…

I normally avoid talking about my sex life at all costs. It makes me uncomfortable to the point where I start nervously shaking and sweating. Even talking about it with my sister makes me blush like a tomato. Don’t misunderstand where this post is headed. I’m not going to into detail about my sex life in detail. But I do feel compelled to talk about my journey to where I am now.
I started having sex at 16. I’ve only ever been with my husband but he has had other sexual partners. I grew up in a Christian home but at the time I wasn’t practicing. I believed in God but not enough to stop me from having not sex. But when we started having a sexual relationship I felt guilty.

This was us about three months into dating. March 2007.

Then maybe after the first five times I stopped feeling guilty. Let’s be honest, sex is F U N. It feels good and it’s stress relieving. And the more you have it the better it gets. Especially in the beginning. Coming into senior year of high school I had my own car and Carlos was at the community college. Needless to say but I skipped a lot of school that year. If he wasn’t in class then neither was I. Luckily I still managed to get into university and graduate with honors.

Now I just want to point out that I’ve been fat for as long as I can remember. I’ve always had bullies reminding me of it. So when I found someone that wanted to have sex with ME I was more than just surprised. I was petrified. My first time I stayed underneath the covers and with my shirt on the whole time. It was awful. I was so fearful that he would see my fat and run away. Looking back I realize how ridiculous I was.

My insecurities didn’t stop there. Even though I had fun while having sex I still couldn’t completely let go of my inhibitions. There was this very loud voice in the back of my head telling me he would leave, that he was grossed out by my body, he was only with me out of pity. The more I thought these things the more cautious I became during sex. I never wanted to be in a position where my fat was completely visible or I would make sure my eyes were closed so I couldn’t see if he was grossed out.

Not sure how many of you have felt this way during sex but for those of you that have you know that you can’t fully enjoy sex while your mind is racing a mile a minute.

Fast forward to sophomore year of college. I joined a Christian sorority and focused on my relationship with God. Carlos was an unbeliever at the time and didn’t want our relationship to change. I decided we should break up so I could focus on school and God. But whenever I went to Miami on the weekends there I was calling him and before I knew it we were hooking up.

Hanging out during our "breakup."
Hanging out during our “breakup.”

Whenever I talked about my struggle with my sisters I was met with kind words but told very bluntly I was committing sin. Over the course of the next two years I struggled with sex. At this point in my life and relationship with Carlos it was how I showed affection. I’m pretty sure I cried every time, heavily weighed by my guilt.

I felt dirty and sinful for not being able to fight my desires. It was awful. Sex stopped being as enjoyable for me as it once was. I was allowing the negative views the church holds towards premarital sex affect me. These thoughts followed me into our marriage.

Fast forward to us getting married. Our wedding night was amazing. We ordered Little Caesars pizza and watched How to Train Your Dragon on HBO. And yes we did consummate our marriage. I was looking forward to this moment. We were officially husband and wife. I wasn’t going to feel guilty anymore. But that wasn’t what happened. I still felt that pang of guilt once it was over. I remember being in bed wondering why this was happening. Didn’t I do the right thing?

I continued to feel that way for the next two years of our marriage. I tried to do everything to stop feeling that way. I prayed and talked with my woman’s group but still I had that tiny pang to in the pit of my stomach. Looking back, I think it had to do with me not feeling married. Nothing in our relationship changed except us sleeping in the same bed every night.

251215_1856177199571_2379332_nIt wasn’t until we got pregnant with PJ that something clicked. It wasn’t just him and me anymore. Our love created something. We were a family. Slowly I stopped feeling guilty. I started enjoying sex again. I stopped worrying about the sexual immorality that once consumed me.

But once PJ came my physical insecurities came back. Would he hate my post-pregnancy body? Oh my gosh he touched my flab, did he notice my flinching? I started keeping my eyes closed praying he couldn’t sense my panic.
At the start of 2015 I got tired of feeling so insecure. I was scared of having sex with my husband. Scared of him being grossed out by my body. I knew it made no sense considering he’d seen it hundreds of times. I decided that’s it. I needed to change my mindset. So I made it a point to start having sex with my eyes OPEN. Really paying attention to his face to his eyes. I needed to trust that my husband wanted to be with me. And woah did things change!

Sex stopped being about fulfilling a need but about intimacy. We started laughing again and making sex more playful. We started having sex like teenagers again. I make it a point to stare into his eyes and just be in the moment with him.

I started learning more about myself, learned that I needed to start accepting myself no matter what.

I don’t want my post to make it seem like I’m against the church for preaching abstinence or refraining from premarital sex. Do I think that it’s realistic in the world we live in? No. I do think that the church needs to stop focusing on sex being dirty. I’m sure I’m not the only person on the planet that couldn’t shake that sinful feeling when having sex while married feeling. I don’t know how to fix the problem. I don’t know what we can do to change the views. But I do know that I’m going to need to figure it out for PJ.

Us on the rambla. October 2014.
Us on the rambla. October 2014.

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.