laborofwonder

Where Whine Meets Wine

A Love To Last


So, I’ve been thinking, lately about the way children grow. This weekend I attended the beautiful wedding of one of my cousins. Now this cousin happens to be one that I carried on my hip for years. I’ve always loved children, and especially babies. And he was “my” baby. And I just witnessed him becoming a husband. Thinking about how old that must’ve made me feel? I hadn’t thought of that, but thanks for rubbing it in pointing it out. And it left me thinking about how just a few minutes ago, it seems, I was a tween, and he just a baby… it makes me realize that in seemingly a few more minutes, I’ll be watching my own children walk down the aisle. And that is truly mind blowing.

While I thought about what it would be like to watch one of my babies pledge their lives to someone, other than me, I couldn’t help but think of all the things I hope they find in a partner. I mean, how many times have we watched friends and family in relationships where we’re like Ugh, what do they see in him? Or How can he not see the way she treats him? But, let’s face it, it’s fairly safe to say that lots of us have been in a relationship like that. Where we couldn’t see what was right in front of our faces. So how do I teach my children to avoid that? How do I tell them about the things to look for in a spouse?

The long and short of it is that I show them.

I teach my daughter that although sometimes it feels like she will never stop talking, all of her words are worth listening to. I teach my sons that honesty is more important than being the one that is right. I show my daughter that true beauty is in showing kindness to those who are undeserving, because in reality, everyone deserves a little kindness. I show my boys the importance of gentleness. I show my daughter that her dreams are as important as anyone else’s by living out my own. I show my sons that raising a family is thing to be proud of, by having pride in our daily interactions. I show my children what commitment looks like. I show my children that their father is a man worthy of respect, by the way that I respect him. I show my children that I am not servant to their father, who follows behind him, but a partner, who walks along side of him. I show my children these things because this is how they will choose their partner. These are the ideals they’ll carry with them. The way their father and I relate to each other, and the way we relate to them. I can only hope that they see all the things I am trying to show them. And that I can remember to behave in a way that is intentional, so that I am showing them, and teaching them patience. With each other. With me. With their future partners. Because heaven knows, in marriage, and in life, you need a lot of patience to get you through.

To my baby cousin, who is now a married man, and his sweet wife: Hold hands, even when you don’t feel like it. Kiss each other goodnight, even when you don’t want to. Have a tradition that you stick to, and really stick to it. Because when you continue to behave as if you’re madly in love, it’s hard for those feelings not to follow. And in the hard times, that will get you through. And DO go to sleep mad once in a while. Sometimes you do need some sleep to think clear-headed and not to just say words out of frustration, anger, and sleep deprivation. Don’t look at arguments as an end, rather as a beginning to learning better forms of communication between each other. And from a former young bride to another, remember that while others may think you young and naive, really it just leaves you with all the more years of growing old together- and making fun of those that stood in your way.  Love you!

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Most Important Of All


A friend of mine recently shared this post, and wants it framed for her son’s room. She said it’s her favorite post of mine. And actually, the post I wrote yesterday already had me thinking about the things I want to teach and show and model for my children, which led me to think of those posts (there was one for my daughter too). So I’ve decided to repost them, and I hope you’ll forgive me. But sometimes, in life, you just need reminders. And today I’m wanting a refresher on all the things I want to teach my children, and really, things I want to (re)teach myself as well.

My Sons, I Want For You…

  • Be respectful. To everyone. Everywhere. People have hurts that sometimes aren’t visible, treat them accordingly.
  • Talk to others in a way that wouldn’t leave you embarrassed if you found out your mama was listening.
  • Learn to listen (for most men this is an acquired skill, I’m pretty sure). Really listen, not just hear someone making sounds, but the words that they’re saying.
  • Treat all women in the manner you should treat your mother: polite, respectful, helpful.
  • Be courteous- even if you think it’s not appreciated or deserved. Maybe especially then.
  • Be honest.
  • Violence (against anyone) is never really the answer.
  • Never look down on someone for the way they dress, how they look, or what they believe.
  • Be compassionate.
  • Never treat people as disposable. They’re not. Even if you date her for a week and find out she’s suuuuper annoying (even if I agree)… you will still treat her as an individual with feelings. Just not an individual you’ll marry.
  • When you are dating, try and behave in a manner you won’t be embarrassed to recount to your wife. Or your mother for that matter.
  • Never make fun of tears. No matter if they’re from a girl or a boy. Pain is pain. (Compassion, my sons!)
  • A strong man is someone who knows and accepts his weaknesses (or tries to strengthen himself in those areas).
  • Feelings are not a weakness in a man. Embrace them.
  • Don’t be run by emotions (or hormones), think things through.
  • Think before you speak.
  • Don’t let anyone push you around. Be your own man.
  • Learn to take charge and to be responsible for things. It’s ok to know what you want- and to go for it.
  • Don’t just follow ANYONE just for the sake of a) trying to look cool or fit in, or b) not having to make an actual decision yourself. Neither reason will suit you in the long run.
  • Know that you were made to be EXACTLY who you are.
  • Know that life really isn’t all about you.
  • Reach out a helping hand, whenever you possibly can.
  • A man of faith is a lot stronger than a man with no beliefs.
  • You’ll stand a lot taller, the more time you spend on your knees.
  • Family is a blessing. (Whether you like it or not!)
  • Dream dreams, wish wishes, and love your loves. No matter what others may say or think. (Except for your mother, of course.)
  • Be secure in who you are, because you will always have people that will support you.
  • No matter what else you do in life, what you wear, who your friends are, what your job is, how much money you make, or where you live… remember that your mama loves you. And please always live nearby.
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Yes, some of these are similar to things I want to tell her brothers, because let’s face it, the basis of how we live and treat people (or the ways we should), don’t change depending on which gender you are.

My Daughter, I Want You To Know…

  • The most beautiful people in the world are not movie or rock stars, but the people that are true to who they are and the things they believe.
  • While you are a beautiful girl, you should not look for validation through your looks. You will never find it, and it will leave you unfulfilled.
  • It is more important that you attain inner beauty than outer.
  • The way you treat people is much more important than the way you look. (Yes, I know these first ones are all similar, but in today’s society everyone comments on how cute or pretty or well dressed little girls are, instead of focusing on how polite or well-mannered they are.)
  • All that said, I hope you always know how beautiful you are, inside and out.
  • You cannot find validation through others. That is between you and God.
  • Never talk to anyone like you are better than they are (no matter what their circumstances are)- because you are not.
  • Talk to people in a way that shows that you are listening and that their thoughts are worth hearing.
  • When you have a difference of opinion with someone, consider their side.
  • Treat men the way you would treat a child. Kidding! Just wanted to see if you were paying attention! Treat men the way you would your father- with honesty, respect, and a little bit of fear. (ha!)
  • Don’t let anyone (man or woman) tell you that you are not good enough. You are. Always.
  • Don’t let someone treat you as though you are disposable. If they do, dispose of them. And quickly.
  • Embrace your feelings and emotions- but don’t let them run/control you.
  • Be a take charge person! Don’t follow anyone else who’s path does not lead to yourdesired destination.
  • Be responsible! And take responsibility for your words and your actions.
  • When you are dating, try and behave in a manner you wouldn’t be embarrassed/ashamed to recount to your future husband. Or your mother for that matter.
  • Think twice before you speak. Think three times before you act. And then go ahead and run it by your mother first.
  • Know that you are EXACTLY who you were made to be- and be proud of that.
  • Know that life really isn’t all about you, don’t expect others to act like it is.
  • A woman of faith is a lot stronger than a woman with no beliefs.
  • Family is a blessing, even when it doesn’t feel like it! Where else will you find people who will love and support you, no matter how crazy your ideas are?! (you are your father’s child)
  • You will never regret reaching out a helping hand, whenever you can.
  • Be secure in who you are and be the best YOU you can be because I will always support you. Maybe not without voicing my opinions, but I will still support you in your journey.
  • Don’t be afraid to dream your dreams (and follow them), wish your wishes (and turn them into reality), and love your loves (with your whole heart). No matter what anyone else says or thinks. Except for maybe your mother.
  • No matter what else you do in life, what you wear, who you know, how much money you make or have, or even where you live… remember that your mommy loves you. And I’d really prefer if you lived close by.

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The Know-It-All Who Doesn’t Know It ALL


I’m a little bit sad… I wrote a post and really loved it, and then MissE walked up, pushed a button, and away it went, never to be found again. Boo. Hiss. Timeout. (Ok, so she didn’t go to time out, but I did.) I will attempt to rewrite it, but you know how that goes (if not, I’ll tell you:), it’s never the same. Because while I was feeling inspired when I wrote it the first time, now I’m just annoyed and cranky.

The last month or two I have gotten e-mails, comments, messages, and even some texts from my dearly beloved friends, both ones I see on a regular basis and ones I haven’t seen in years but stay in touch with via the computer. I have been asked some really hard questions. Which has led to a comment or two, wondering about what claims do I have on the expert title and so I am here to set the record straight. I, in no way, shape, or form, claim to be an expert. On anything. Really. I am just one woman who is also a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, and also happens to be a blogger.  That is not to say I don’t have opinions on things, in fact, I think that is saying I have opinions on things. Just not the say-all, end-all opinion. I do admit to some level of know-it-all-ness on my part (I do not like not knowing things), but I, by no means, know it all. Got it? Good.

In trying to come up with really great answers to some hard questions, it has caused me to go back and forth in my answers. Because I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all answers for most questions. Because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all life for most people. I know that my road (you know, the one that got me from there to here) has had twists, turns, and a few dead ends that I can clearly recall. Along the way I have been told by others that I was on the wrong path; that I’d lost my direction; that I should have taken an exit or two along the way… but through it all, I honestly never believed I was lost. I always knew that it was my path. I knew I was heading down my road, to my destination.

I truly believe in living with intention. In treating people the way we’d intend to if we stopped and thought about our actions, instead of just reacting. And maybe by default, I believe in us each having our own paths in our own lives, and in supporting each other as we go along those paths. Do I have opinions, thoughts, and beliefs that I feel strongly about and believe are the “right” way. Of course. Do I wish I could push a button and pass them on to you, occasionally. Will I judge you and tell you your way is wrong, if it’s not what I would do…no. At least, I strive not to!  I have to believe that God made us unique individuals for a reason, and that alone makes it something that should be celebrated (and supported!!) and not condemned.
So go ahead, twist, turn, exit… do what you need to do, on your road, to get you to your destination. And yes, feel free to ask for help along the way. Sometimes, someone has already paved the way and could offer insight into how to make your road a little smoother.
People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost. – H. Jackson Browne
It reminded me, of this:
I’m at the checkout, and the lady behind me starts making small talk as we wait. Why do they stick those order separator things so far out of your reach anyways? I smile and agree it’s ridiculous. And then this stranger showed me kindness. She looked at me and said, “You must have small children.”  I quickly look myself over trying to find the stamp (or hand print) that screamed, “I’m a mom.” I didn’t see any. Unless the state of my hair, my sweatpants, and the exhaustion in my eyes count. I smiled and said 3 and asked how she could tell.. She just smiled and said she’d recognized the look of exhaustion the can only be caused by 2 types of parenting: the under 3 crowd or the teenage crowd. And since I didn’t look old enough to have teenagers, it must be the former. I smiled and nodded, then asked her, “Teenagers?” She smiled, and I saw the exhaustion in her eyes as well as she nodded. And that was the the long and the short of our “conversation.” But somehow, afterwards I felt a little bit more refreshed. I think that it offered some sense of community. A moment of “I’ve been there before.” combined with “we’ve all got our own struggles,”  that made me feel a sense of the bigger picture as well. They’re not little for long, we all have different struggles, each as unique, and as hard, and as scary, and as sad as anyone else’s, because they are our own. But for a brief moment in time, I felt like I wasn’t alone in my struggle after all. So the next time you’re at the grocery store, the gas station, walking down the road… offer a little support to those you meet. Even if it’s only in the form of a smile. You never know how life changing (even if momentarily) it can be.
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A Letter To My (Former) Self


Have you ever thought about all the things that you wish you’d known: a) as a child; b) in high school; c) in college; d) when you woke up this morning? I have. More than once. Now I know that you can’t really go back and redo things otherwise you wouldn’t be where you are now… and really, I’m happy where I am now. But it would be nice if I could go back in time and at least some of the heartbreak, or worry less, or something.  And so if I could whisper in the ear of my former self, during some life-changing moments, these are some of the things I would say.

  • You will recover. You will move on. You will be safe.
  • Childhood really doesn’t last forever… enjoy every carefree moment you have.
  • Do not let anyone treat you as disposable. You are not.
  • Dispose of him. Dispose of him quickly.
  • You will not have to make excuses for someone who really loves you.
  • Be loud! Be funny! Be you and enjoy being you!
  • Their opinions of you are less important than the way you feel about being you. Focus on that.
  • You really can love your first kiss forever.
  • You can think feministically while holding on to your desire for children. You don’t have to choose one or the other.
  • You don’t have to have it all figured out all the time.
  • Marriage is going to be harder than you ever imagined and better than you ever dreamed.
  • There is an adjustment period when he comes home from a deployment. Prepare for it.
  • Your husband is never going to be able to read your mind.
  • I repeat: your husband is never going to be able to read your mind.
  • Children are going to change your views and opinions on so many things, people, and ideas.
  • Peanut butter on a spoon and applesauce will get you through your pregnancies buy in bulk.
  • Your children will make you feel like you are the most impatient person in the world. Start praying for patience now.
  • Eventually, they will start picking up their own toys.
  • Your husband will never learn the workings of a laundry basket/hamper. So just give it up.
  • The people you love will not be here indefinitely. Love them all you can, every minute.
  • Life goes by faster than you can ever imagine. So hold them close, cuddle them all you can, always be willing to dole out kisses to the owwies, keep your camera in hand, and love like crazy.
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Did I Show You?


For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.
-Audrey Hepburn

Those are just such lovely words, and as I sat thinking about them this morning, I thought about all the other wonderful things I want my children to grow knowing. And hoping that not only do I teach them and tell them things to prepare them for life, but also to show them. So this is my letter to the future them…

Dear children, you are adults now. I hope that I taught you and told you all of the things I meant to, over the years. But most importantly I hope I showed you by modeling them in my own life. Did I show you how important you each are as individuals? Because you are. Even on days when things get lost in the busyness of doing the laundry, making the dinner, and driving you to Tae Kwon Do and dance class.

Did I show you how to be courteous to each other and to others, without ever being anyone’s doormat?  Did I show you that life is filled with choices and so you need to choose carefully. Did I show you to reach for, wait for, and work for all the things that really matter in life, including your biggest dreams?

Did I show you that even in the middle of the biggest heartache, you can find some reprieve in humor? Did I show you that there is always reasons to hope? Did I show you that even though sometimes things don’t go the way we planned, it doesn’t mean that it’s not a blessing or that there isn’t a plan? Did I show you what faith looks like? Did I show you how to believe in yourselves, by believing in you myself?

Did I show you how to be creative? Did I show you that creativity has many forms, and all of them are worthwhile? Did I show you to invest in whatever your creative interests may be?

Did I show you to be thoughtful of people and their needs? Did I show you to have meaning behind your manners? Did I show you to not just say the words of politeness, but also to mean them? Did I show you to have some courage? Did I show you how to embrace the unknown  and live your life to its fullest? Did I also show you to have some control over (your father’s) sense of adventure and to pair it with (your mother’s) good judgement? (*wink*)

Did I show you that even when we disagree the most, we can still love the deepest? Did I show you to dance wherever you feel like it; to sing as loud as you can; to love as thoroughly as you feel; to listen to the words said and unsaid; to laugh as hysterically as you can; be as compassionate as you can be?

Did I show you how to learn from your mistakes? To accept your mistakes? To move past them? Did I show you how to embrace the past, without dragging it into your futures? Did I show you to be considerate of the feelings of others, but to not sit still or silently when change is necessary? Did I show you how to not be afraid of speaking up and speaking out?

Did I show you how beautiful the world around it can be? Did I show you how to live in a way that makes the best of what we have been given? Did I show you the value of making your own path in life? Did I show you the reasons behind the things I believe, and the beliefs I hope you cling to?

Did I show you that I love you more than words could ever express? Did I show you that I am proud of your beyond belief? Did I show you that I believe in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself? Did I show you that I am someone you can always trust and come to for support, comfort, and laughter? Did I show you the joy of being a family? How to live and work as a team? Did I show you my joy of being your parent?

I know you learn through experiences as much as through what you see being demonstrated for you, more than just what has been told to you. So I am hoping that I have shown you all of these things along the way. I hope that I did, but if I missed one along the way, I hope that I have shown you enough that you can make the right choices for yourselves.

Did I show you I love you forever, and always, to the moon and back, plus *16?

Because I do, and I always will.

 

*As soon as Big E could talk, when I’d ask how much he loved mommy, he would shout 16! When asked why 16, he said it was because it was a big number. So big that it was too big to count.  So now when we say our “I love you’s” I always include the 16. (Miss E has also joined in the fun.) But Big E now responds with, Moooom, there’s no numbers in love. And I can’t help but smile and say, but if there were it would be a big number. So big that it’s too big to count.

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Just So Ya Know


So there’s been a lot of talk around here (and by around here, I mean me, with my blah-blah-blogging) about being in a funk… well, I still feel a little bit that way, but I am crawling my way out of it. Thanks in no small part to some sweetheart of friends, family, and of course my sweetheart of a man, the hubbyman. Encouraging words have been spoken, hugs have been given, fun has been had, and while I’m still feeling my way out, I’m finding more and more about who I am, what I stand for, what I won’t stand for, and how better to support my friends and how to best let them support me as well!

When I was discussing my funk with a girlfriend, I told her how I was feeling tied down by the worry over whether or not someone would take something I said personally (like it was said about them) or that they would be offended by my words (should we happen to have different opinions). She gave me these great words, Let  people choose to read your words and what they do with them; don’t let them choose the words you say or how you feel. (Unless of course you have topic ideas- I’m totally down for that!) And then she added, Besides, if they knew you they would know that you were just trying to be supportive while talking in general. You would never call someone out like that. You aren’t *itchy enough. (Please don’t all jump out of your seats at once to disagree with her… we all occassionally have those tendencies, ok?!) But for the most part, she’s right… I haaaaaatttttttteee stirring the pot, conflict, confrontation… hate it. Hate it. Hate it.

So here it is, or here I am, in my simplest form, or my most complex… either way, just know that if I’m just  stating my OPINION, I’ll admit that. If I’m stating a FACT, I’ll say that. If I’m stating a BELIEF, I’ll own that as well. I welcome everyone’s input, advice, words of wisdom, and maybe even a little constructive criticism. (Just be gentle.) Know that my words are my own, my thoughts are my own, my beliefs are my own… obviously they’re the right ones (for me!!), but…hey, they’re mine. So take my words to heart, take them as lessons, take them as a way of passing time, take them to the bank… or leave them. I’ve been on paths others didn’t understand (and frankly, there are certainly things  and beliefs in my life that even those closest to me wouldn’t necessary understand) and I am not judging your path. I just am someone who wants to lighten the load by offering my support whenever possible. I am not going to be the end all solution, for anyone- not even myself! And that is certainly not what this blog is about. I am not going to always say the right thing, do the right thing, and heaven knows I’m probably not going to wear the right thing (because that would mean I’d have to get out of my pajamas!). But what I do have is 3 children, some good ideas, some mediocre ones, an extensive background in early childhood education along with family studies (I know, I went to school to be a mom! *shakes head/rolls eyes*), a keen sense of what can be thrown into a pot and actually taste good, a sense of humor, and a caring heart. So even if you take my words as just another mom rant, just know that somewhere in between all the lines is the heart of a woman who just wants to be comfortable in her own shoes and maybe even help someone (anyone!) else to feel a little comfortable in theirs.

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Inventive Parenting


(Things You Should Say To Parents…With More than One)

You think you know what parenting will be like before parents, and you think you’ve got it all figured out while loving on that newborn in the hospital. And then you go home. Reality sets in. This baby cries more/eats more/needs more diaper changes/is awake at night, more than you ever thought possible. And that’s just the easy stuff. You muddle through, then you have baby number two and begin to repeat the process. And it doesn’t work. Sound familiar to anyone?

Our first was really terrific. The best labor/birth out of my three. He never cried. People used to pretend to teach him what a cry sounded like, because he obviously didn’t know how to do it. Slept through the night at about 2 weeks. Ate all the time. This boy liked to eat. But while the first couple days were painful and a learning process, we quickly corrected his latch and had smooth sailing in the nursing department. Enter peanut #2. Every night she would cry for hours, no matter what I did… I felt so helpless. And so unprepared. Eventually I realized that I was treating her the way her older brother had wanted/needed to be treated, but this little girl needing something entirely different. She was picky about the way she was held and how she was laid down. It turned out she needed a couple weeks of chiropractor visits, but in general, she still needs to be parented different than her older brother. And our youngest was an entirely different baby too. He hated to be in a wet diaper. No matter how tiny the amount of wetness. He’d cry and fuss, you’d change him, and he’d be back to being a happy camper. And while the first two were what I refer to as “add water and stir” kind of babies (meaning if they were a little cranky, toss them in the water and stir and they’d be fine!), number 3 hated bath time for at least the first 9 months.

Now that they’re no longer babies, there’s a whole other level of parenting to be discovered. One thing is for sure, parenting is not a one-size-fits-all kind of a deal. You have to invent yourself as a parent with every child you have. Big E craves freedom to roam and wander. Miss E craves reassurance- that you’re still there, that she’s behaving herself, that she’s doing things right. And Littlest, well, we’re still learning, but rest assuredly, it will be something entirely different than his siblings.

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Things You Should Say (To Your Partner)


I was looking at my other “Things You Should Say…” posts (you can read them here and here) while I was listening to the Brad Paisley/Carrie Underwood song, Remind Me, and it got me thinking. I’m sure in no small part due to last week’s visit to the place where I met hubbyman (and where we shared our first kiss – 14 years ago!), that I was thinking about our relationship all those years ago in comparison to where it is now. Don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to have our relationship to be what it was when we were teenagers, and I’m thankful for the relationship we have now. But after 14 years of…us, almost 7 years of marriage, and 3 children… maybe we could use some reminders.

  • Remember our first year of marriage, and you gave me flowers every month (Starting with 11 daisies -my favorite- and one rose, then 10 daisies and 2 roses, etc. as the months continued. Ending with all roses on our one year anniversary.)? Remind me that you still think I’m special.
  • Remember when you used to spend hours MAKING me a card that would look like a piece of art? Remind me that I’m still worth the energy of making the extra effort.
  • Remember when you worked nights and I worked days and I would go to sleep at 7 so that I could wake up at 1am just to watch an hour of TV with you on the couch. Remind me that I’m worth your time.
  • Remember when you filled every vase and glass in the house with daisies, just because. Remind me that you’re still thinking of me.
  • Remember when I’d be waiting at the door when you came home from work (without a baby in arms)? Remind me of when we used to be so excited to see each other we’d be counting down the minutes.
  • Remember when we moved into the townhouse and the Navy hadn’t delivered our stuff yet (and we had nothing!) so we’d have movie nights in the computer room (on the computer) while sitting in our camping chairs. Remind me that you just want to spend time with me, no matter what we’re doing.
  • Remember when Big E was a baby and you’d rush home and insist on taking him and holding him? Remind me that you enjoy co-parenting with me.
  • Remember when you used to take the Big Es to the park so I could get some things done in peace and quiet. Remind me of when we used to value each other’s alone time.
  • Remember when we’d always go to bed together, at the same time?! Remind me of when I was worth staying awake for.
  • Remember when we used to get dressed up and go on dates that I didn’t have to plan? Remind me that I’m still the one you’d choose if you were choosing again today.
I think the longer you are with someone, and children only triple that number, the easier it becomes to get complacent in our relationships. You get in a routine and a rhythm and you forget the energy and excitement of when you were consistently keeping your other half in the forefront of your thoughts. It doesn’t mean that your relationship is going down the drain (and I certainly don’t think that/feel that way about mine!!), but every relationship worth having, is worth maintaining!
We do still like to be silly together!
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