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Tag Archives: marriage

The Paradox of Equal Parenting, to a Child of Unequal Parents

29 Nov

I was raised in a home with a detached and self-involved father, and a stay-at-home mother who made me her whole world, and still does to this day.

At the age of 6, I declared that I want to have a career and liked my first boy because he wanted to be either “an astronaut or a house husband”.

I liked him because of the latter. Well – that and the fact he shared his astronaut ice cream with me.

But mostly the “house husband” thing.

These two facts are important to note because they provide the context to throw my internal struggle into brighter relief. Some of you may read this and declare that I’m ungrateful. I am not. Or you may decide that I think stay at home moms don’t have a life outside of mothering. I don’t think that. I am eternally grateful for what I have. I understand that my upbringing was an anomaly and not that norm. But that doesn’t make things simple. Far from it.

Shmerson and I made the decision to move closer to our office (we work at the same company, in drastically different departments with no overlap) a year ago. In July, we finally pulled the trigger and moved a 10 minute walk away from it.

What was once a 4 hour-a-day commute for Shmerson, and a work-from-home most days situation for me, was transformed into something completely different. My schedule didn’t change by much, but being in the thick of things made me reorder priorities, remember that meetings, networking, heels, make-up, and business trips exist. It brought me back to a very ambitious, career-minded place.

This is something I hadn’t truly felt in almost a decade (pretty much since finishing grad school tired and disillusioned).

Shmerson’s schedule changed drastically as well. Instead of coming home at 9pm long after bedtime, he gets home just in time for Bunny’s dinner and bath. Instead of dropping her off quickly at day care each morning so he can catch a train, he usually takes her in her stroller, and literally has time to stop and smell the flowers. He spends the morning with her and drops her off, I pick her up and spend the afternoons with her.

When once I was the dinner-bath-bedtime officer during the week, we now rotate. We split weekends into time where we each have Bunny separately while the other sleeps, rotating chores, and quality family time.

In short – we’re 50/50 parents. As in – we really are. Yes. For reals.

Sure there are discrepancies. I’m usually the one to make and take Bunny to doc appointments. Shmerson is the one who gets her up and ready each morning. I cook and in general plan meals. He clears the table, does dishes and most of the laundry. I do the grocery shopping, he deals with anything involving paperwork, and running morning errands like going to the post office and bank.

In the 15 (!) months since Bunny was born, and especially in the last 4, we have fought, negotiated, and compromised our way into equilibrium. We both have quality time with Bunny, manage to push forward our careers, and even grab some quality time for the two of us, and with friends.

Granted, we don’t sleep much. But we’re pretty much “in the zone.”

We fought hard to reach this place. I’ve wanted it for as long as I can remember. Before I even knew him. This is what I wanted.

Now that I have it – I’m scared out of my mind.

There are days she clearly wants him to comfort her over me.

There are days I have to work late and I barely see her for an hour.

There are mornings I choose sleep and miss something adorable she’s done. Or a new word she said.

There are things he knows about her that I don’t.

Of course, the same thing can be said of him. Of course there are nights he works late. There are words he misses. There are things I know that he doesn’t.

But –

And I’m just going to go right ahead and say this, my women’s studies minor be damned.

But I’m her mother. I’m not supposed to miss things. She’s not supposed to go to anyone but me for comfort. I should be the one putting her hair in pigtails each morning, and in PJs each night.

This is what a mother does. A mother gives everything to her daughter.

This is the only world that I know.

And now I’m living in one where that isn’t true.

I know I’m modeling a wonderful, respectful and balanced relationship for her.

I know I’m demonstrating ambition, and being a strong independant woman and all that good stuff.

I know that making myself happy is critical to keeping her happy.

I know having two parents that are involved is GOOD FOR HER.

But it goes against what I experienced. It goes against what I grew up on. My mother is my whole world because she was always there, and still is.

Will Bunny feel the same way about me? I want her to more than anything else. And I’m deathly afraid that she won’t.

Every day, logic and experience are in a constant tug of war.

Of course she’ll always love me. I’m her mother, and I’m a good mother.

But I’m not there 24/7. I’m not always her soft place to fall.

That’s good. That means she has multiple soft places to fall.

But I want it to be ME. That’s the way it’s SUPPOSED TO BE.

No. It’s just what you were raised on. It can and should be different, and for her – it is different.

What if she hates me because I’m not always there?

She will always love you, you are her mother.

Yes, but I’ve chosen to be other things as well.

 

At the age of six, I thought I knew what being an ambitious woman with no desire to stay at home meant.

At the age of 34, I’m starting to realize that it isn’t as simple as I thought it would be.

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Truly Equal?

7 Jan

Oh my, dear lovies. I know I don’t come here nearly as often as I should. Going back to work has been a total clusterfuck. For reals.

Luckily, the holiday means that things are just now starting to gear up again, so miraculously, it is Monday at 11pm my time, Shmerson is asleep (long night with a fussy Bunny), Bunny is (thank FSM!) asleep. Dishes are done. Bottles are sterilized, and I for once have an empty inbox.

Miracles do happen.

A lot of posts have been brewing for quite some time now. But I think it’s time I pull this one out.

Let’s talk a little about marriage and equality, shall we?

Not marriage equality – though I’m all about that! The other stuff. The man-woman-in-a-post-feminist-world stuff.

So let’s start with this: Anybody who reads this blog knows I have a very happy marriage. You also know that Shmerson and I have been through the ringer more or less since the moment we got married.

I admit – having gone through all the shit we’d gone through – I thought we were made of steel.

Nothing like a baby to make you think twice.

Don’t worry guys – spoiler alert: We ARE made of steel. But it took a while to circle around back to it.

Let’s break it down like this:

This month marks six years since Shmerson and I got together.

Up until Bunny was born we had exactly 4 big fights.

Yep. Four.

Since Bunny’s birth we’ve had… I think it’s been 7 but I may be off by one or two in either direction. For us, relatively speaking, that may as well be a million.

Man – a baby changes things.

The thing is each of those fights has been exactly the same: I feel overwhelmed. Shmerson doesn’t help. I get pissed off. Shmerson gets pissed off because he feels like he is helping, and what the hell am I so angry about? I explain that I don’t only need practical, physical help. I need him to be more active and present. He kind of gets it. Then it happens again and we realize that he only kind of got it, and I’m being unfair and unclear. And on and on it goes.

It was starting to feel like a never ending cycle. I’m going to unpack that cycle for you guys, in the hopes that it helps someone out there. I’m going to go into some mundane detail, but bear with me. This has a point.

The fact is, that I spend more time at home and with Bunny. I work at home 3 days a week. Shmerson doesn’t. That makes me the “primary caregiver” for all intents and purposes.

That also makes my life very very VERY hard. I work a full time job. My day starts at 7am, and most nights ends at 2am, with interrupted sleep because even though she generally sleeps through the night now, Bunny still has her moments.

The thing is, it’s nonstop. 5 hours of sleep (on a good night) after NO TIME to do anything. Ever. When I’m not taking care of Bunny, I’m working. Or running errands. Or taking care of dinner. Or working. Or working.

Yeah – I work a lot. But I kind of have to. It’s a full time job. I have NO TIME during the week. NONE.

This is a sucky situation. Nothing can be done about it at the moment because Shmerson has a 4 hour commute every day, and Bunny is still too young (and it’s way too winter) to go to day care. I know I will have an easier time once she goes half days to day care, so I’m powering through till March. But I am spent in every sense of the word.

When Shmerson comes home in the evening we split things very evenly. He gets home, spends a bit of time with Bunny and then we both give her her bath. That’s quality family time. Then he dresses her and puts her down for the night while I get dinner ready. We have dinner, and put something on the TV for an hour while Shmerson does dishes, sterilizes bottles, and takes out the dog. I usually spend this time answering emails and working. Four nights a week I take night duty – which basically means giving Bunny her dream feed and waking up to her in the middle of the night as needed, and Shmerson gets the other three nights. Weekends we try to give each other time to unwind. I usually do the shopping because it gives me some time to decompress, while Shmerson takes care of laundry and other household chores, pays bills and watches Bunny. I almost always have to catch up on some missed work. On Saturdays, he lets me sleep late, and I let him get in some afternoon naps.

So really – we’re as even as we can get right now in terms of housework and taking care of Bunny. I have to do more just because I’m home more. But Shmerson really tries to make up as much as he can on the weekends. We’re planning on moving closer to where we both work to make it easier on both of us – but that’s still far away (we need to find time to house hunt. Not going to happen until Bunny is in day care).

So in the middle of the week I’m spent. But it’s as even as it can get for the time being when it comes to the workload.

But for months, I felt like everything was on my shoulders. Everything.

Shmerson and I truly do strive for an equal partnership. But when it came to raising Bunny, there were two factors impeding this:

1) I’m a very pro-active person who likes making quick decisions, and Shmerson is generally non-confrontational and doesn’t like to argue.

2) I carried Bunny and gave birth to her.

Look – I know how that second one looks. I know that’s a wonderful thing that I should be and I am very grateful for. But when it comes to equality – it’s a huge issue.

Here’s how it breaks down: I carried her, which makes Shmerson have to “work” a little differently than me to connect to her. He connects beautifully. He’s an amazing father. But it’s a different experience, and it makes him feel “less than” me. It also fucks with his confidence when it comes to dealing with her. He’s not “less than” at all. He just feels that way because he didn’t carry her. Does that make sense?

Add to that the fact that – let’s be honest – I make most of our decisions. It’s not that Shmerson doesn’t participate. I just “drive” more. And Shmerson really likes it that way. He’s very much a “go with the flow” kind of guy. It’s a win-win. I get to be a control freak, he gets to enjoy the ride. No harm, no foul

Here’s the problem: Now there’s a third person in this equation. A whole life which WE – not I but WE are responsible for. If I’m doing the driving, and Shmerson isn’t even looking at a map, it’s on my head if we get lost.

And that’s the kicker. That’s a whole lot of weight on my shoulders alone.

Health. Education. Well-Being.

Sleep training. Feeding. Medical decisions. Watching out for developmental milestones. Vaccination schedules. Deciding what we have for dinner. Figuring out what to do with the dog when the neighbors complain. I was doing it ALL.

And it was killing me. The pressure. I felt like it was on me wholly. That Shmerson was along for the ride. Not ever driving. Not ever giving directions.

So the first fight – we realized that he was insecure. At that point I backed off and made sure to leave him alone and let him take care of Bunny as he saw fit, so he understood that I trusted him. He acknowledged my lack of time and was more respectful with taking Bunny off of my hands when he got home from work so I could have a bit more time.

Second fight – we realized that there was just more stuff that I knew. In the no time that I had I was doing research. Reading up on what to do and when. Talking to people. Shmerson didn’t know where to start on that one. So I told him to go read a couple of books to get up to speed. He started reading.

Third fight – we realized that I was making all of the decisions, and not allowing Shmerson his opinion. I started discussing things more with him, and he started coming to the table armed with information so that our discussions were informed and didn’t end with “do your research and you’ll know I’m right”.

Fourth fight – I was still making all of the decisions, though now there was informed discussion. Shmerson was more informed, but he still wasn’t “getting it.”

Fifth fight – I finally managed to put into words what he wasn’t “getting.” The fact that apart from being the primary caregiver, things were all on me. That I not only needed him to make decisions with me and to get informed, I sometimes needed him to be the one to start the conversation. To come to me before I came to him. To be active in the process of raising our daughter. He needed to initiate conversations sometimes. Make decisions without being asked (or sometimes begged) to.

The next morning, when I walked into the kitchen, I found salmon thawing by the sink.

Shmerson had decided what we were having for dinner. Without me having to ask him to decide.

I wanted to cry I was so happy. It was one less thing to worry about that day. And that’s a HUGE deal.

But there were still a couple more fights to come. We wanted to be truly equal parents. That’s effing hard when one of us is the one home more often. The one with more confidence. And let’s be honest -a complete effing control freak.

I needed to learn to let go and he needed to learn to take control. Things that are completely against our natures.

Then last night – I had my trumpets of triumph moment. I finally felt like we made it to the other side.

Bunny has been acting “off” for a couple of weeks. She’s going through a major developmental leap and is becoming way more aware of herself and her surroundings. I also think she’s started teething early because she wants to CHEW ALL THE THINGS all the time. The last week or so, sleep during the day has become a battle. She won’t go down for naps, and by the time bed time rolls around, things are insane. We’ve been using the Baby Whisperer method but no matter what I’ve tried – nap time is a nightmare.

So I’ve been at the end of my rope. Putting her down for a nap, and getting her to sleep in general has been on the verge of traumatic for me for more than a week now. It’s just effing hard. I know we’ll get past it. But it’s hard.

Last night, at 4am, Bunny decided it was time to wake up and play. She’s usually a champion sleeper at night. Last night it was a freaking circus.

It was my night, so for over an hour I tried to get her back to sleep. At 5:20 am I woke Shmerson up and told him that I need to sleep so I’m doing the worst thing ever and bringing Bunny into bed with us because I’m spent.

Then Bunny decided she didn’t like being in bed with us either and started to cry. At this point I was mechanically patting her on the back and literally begging her to sleep. That’s when Shmerson took the reins.

He grabbed Bunny and ordered me to sleep. He took her to her room and spent the next HOUR AND A HALF getting her back to sleep. By the time she was asleep it was time for him to leave for work. But I got 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep after that, and woke up to a happy Bunny. We both got to sleep late.

And when I walked in the kitchen, there was chicken thawing by the sink.

At that moment, I understood that we made it. We were equal. Finally, Shmerson took the wheel when I was too tired to drive. And I didn’t even have to ask. He just did it.

And I knew I was no longer alone.

Tonight, Shmerson came home to an early dinner and a calm Bunny (it was a miraculous day today. Naps were had). I let him go to bed early and I’m taking the dream feed even though it’s his night. I also took a break from my inbox to walk the dog and sterilize the bottles, so he could get a bit more sleep.

Because he got only 3 hours of sleep last night. And I got to sleep in.

Tonight – it was my turn to drive.

And that’s ok because I know he’ll be back at the wheel when I need him to be.

I know we’ll still have hiccups. This is a huge learning process. But I think we’re finally starting to hit a balance. We’ll never be 100% equal – things will always sway back and forth because it’s life, and that’s how life works. But the weight is now starting to be on two pairs of shoulders instead of one.

And that makes all the difference in the world.

Group Therapy Thursday – Marriage. That’s it.

22 Sep

Hi there! Did you pop in for Group Therapy Thursday? Awesome! Guess what though? I only got one submission this week. One single, solitary, lonely question. That’s all I’ve got for you today.

So let’s jump into to our one question, shall we?

Dear Mo and the Group,

What sorts of things are important in planning, not a wedding, but a marriage?  What conversations MUST you have with your partner before saying “I do”?  What can you do to keep your relationship thriving, even during times that are less for-better and more for-worse? 

Thanks!

Rapier

Yes, I did it! No nickname, and you will be Rapier! I loves me some HP references. Now, to your question: This sounds cheesy, but I think the secret is not just in pre-marital conversations, but also in making sure the conversations continue constantly throughout the marriage.  I think that the basis of a marriage is not love, sex, or anything like that. At the end of the day, by getting married, you are creating your own independent family unit. Remember when you were 5, 6, 7 years old? Your whole world was your parents. Everyone else were bit players. The main characters were you, your parents, and any siblings you had. By getting married, you’re making a brand new film, where you and your husband are the main characters. That means that your priorities shift. Everyone else, including your parents, now become supporting characters. (I’m stretching the movie metaphor a bit thin here I know. Sorry).

So first thing’s first – are you ready for that? Is he ready to put you first in his life?

The main pre-marital conversations I think have to do with the basics.

First: How will you be handling your money? Do you want to go back to school, or be a Stay-at-Home mom? Does he? Would he be ok with either of these options? How will you be handling your finances? How will you decide on where to spend your money? What happens if one of you wants to buy an expensive luxury item for themselves- do they have to run it by you? What are the big-ticket items that are important to you? A house? A yearly vacation? Finances are always a point of contention, so better to hash out as much as possible ahead of time.

Second: Children (and of course the issue of IF). How many do you want? If you know that you may be facing IF treatments, how far are both of you willing to go? How much money are you willing to spend? How will you handle disagreements on the subject? Beyond that – knowing how to raise your children. If you’re both from different religious backgrounds, I truly believe that is something that needs to be hashed out in advance. It can cause a lot of unwanted conflict. How do you think you’d handle discipline? This is another major cause of conflict.

Third: Infidelity. The fact is that research says that a large percentage (can’t find the number right now – but I know it’s more than 60%) of married couples face infidelity. There’s no point in mincing words about this. I’m not saying to give him permission ahead of time. What I am saying is to think to yourself – if he or you are tempted to be unfaithful, how would you want that situation handled? For example, I made it very clear to Shmerson from day one that for me, the thing I can’t stand about infidelity is the lying. If sometime in the future, he feels like he’s crushing on someone and may be tempted, I’d much rather he just be honest with me ahead of time so we can hash it out. If he has a drunk night where he loses control, I’d want to know about it immediately. Being lied to for me is far more important than the infidelity itself. So what about you? What is your priority and how would you like it to be handled?

Fourth: The in-laws. Do you get along with his parents? Does he with yours? If not, how will you resolve these conflicts? How will you split up holiday visits? What will you do if you need financial assistance from them?

Finally: Divorce. I know, I know. You’re just getting married, why the hell do you want to talk about divorce? Well, 50% of all marriages end in one. So it’s better to set some ground rules just in case. Do you feel like a pre-nup would be a good option in your case? Would you consider couples counseling? For example – Shmerson and I have a set rule: if we ever get in trouble, we take one year of couples counseling before even uttering the D-word. We’ve both committed to that, so we can make a fair attempt to solve our problems if they arise, and not run away from them.

As for the marriage itself – in my opinion, the key is communicating openly and honestly about your relationship, always. Dishonesty, or hiding your feelings, leads to bottled up emotion, which can explode in hurtful ways when you least expect it. If something bothers you, make an effort to point it out immediately. Don’t keep it in to use as ammunition later. There is nothing worse than pent up aggression. Even if it scares you to say it. This is a stupid metaphor – but I like those so bear with me – let’s say you were walking around with spinach in your teeth, and your partner didn’t say anything for fear of making you uncomfortable. Then you come home and find out that you’ve been walking around like that all day. Wouldn’t you be mad at him for NOT telling you? If you keep things to yourself for a long time, and it comes out in a huge explosion out of nowhere, your partner will be more hurt than he/she would have been had you just said something in the first place. A small moment of discomfort trumps months or years of pent up frustration.

There are two more issues I want to talk about:

Flaws: Some people walk into a relationship wanting to “change” someone. They think he or she will get better. Or that bad habits will go away with enough time, nagging, or work. This is not always the case. When you jump into marriage, you’re marrying the whole person – flaws and all. Yes, he or she may change. But they may not. Of course, people evolve with time, but sometimes certain things just don’t go away. If there’s something about your partner that you have a hard time with, don’t go in expecting that to be any different 5, 10 years down the line. It may, and it may not be. Expecting it to be will just lead to disappointment. You “buy” your partner “as-is”. If you can’t accept his or her flaws, then seriously consider whether you want to stay with him/her. Sure they will change, but their inherent character most likely will not. And if you can’t live in peace with who they are, perhaps there is no way for the two of you to live in peace in the long term.

Fun: This is so incredibly important! Life gets serious. Mortgages need to be paid. Cars need to be serviced. Jobs, medical issues, insurance… The list goes on and on. Things can get dull. They can get heavy. They can get hard. As hard as it gets, don’t forget to have some fun once in a while. Be silly. Throw whipped cream at each other while cooking dessert. Go out for cotton candy. Sing a stupid song. Do a stupid dance. Make each other laugh. Always hold on to that. Because sometimes shit gets heavy. And if you forget how to make each other smile, then you’ve forgotten how to love each other.

That’s my take. What do you ladies think makes a good marriage?

So. It’s lucky the ONE question I got is a complex one. Ladies, don’t let me down! For GTT to go on you must bare all!

Here, I’ll even put up a brand spanking new submission form right here in this post.

Look at that! With new options and everything!

Have at it, chicas.

Group Therapy Thursday: Friends, Gametes, UTI’s (and sex!)

16 Sep

Another week, another bunch of questions!

Let’s just jump right in, shall we? Oh- and PS- if you didn’t make up a cool nickname in your submission, I made one up for you. And it is most likely lame. Next time I’ll just call you all “Rapier”.

Dear Mo and The Group,

Okay – so a close friend of mine is going to be an Aunt, and her sister is pregnant… I live FAR away from her – and only talk to her once a week for about an hour — and now, at least 15 minutes of that time is spent talking about her sister’s pregnancy… That may not seem like a long time, but seriously, I expect my close friends to know that I really don’t want to hear about all the ins and outs of one of their relatives’ pregnancies. She knows of my struggles, but obviously doesn’t quite get it. Is there a polite way to communicate that I really don’t care and don’t want to hear about it or talk about every week!?

Thanks, 

Far Far Away

Hi There FFA!

Here’s my take on this: I’ve spoken a lot on this blog about the importance (to me at least) of being upfront and honest about infertility and miscarriage. I know a lot of us in the ALI community keep things to ourselves, but I personally think that does more damage than good. The more we can communicate openly and honestly about our struggles, the more awareness we raise. I think this is especially true of our close friends and family. I know that every single one of my close friends (regardless of their fertility status) knows what I’m going through, and is sensitive to it, because I clearly communicate my needs and feelings to them. I think this should be the case with your friend. She is obviously close enough to you that you talk with her weekly, and she knows of your struggles. You can’t really expect a person who hasn’t “been there” to get it right all of the time. The only thing you can do is explain, and then hope they get it right the next time. Honesty is definitely the best policy here. I think that if you broach the subject tactfully, using “I feel” rather than “you did”, making sure to make it about your feelings and not her actions, then there is no reason that she would not take that with love, and be sensitive to it. Keep in mind that she doesn’t know any better, because she hasn’t “been there”, and I’m sure that you explaining it further will make her not only more sensitive to you, but also more sensitive to other IFers she may encounter in the future. If you approach it from a non-accusatory angle, I’m sure it will only contribute to your closeness and create a greater sense of open communication and understanding. Good luck!

Dear Mo and The Group

My husband and I have been trying to conceive for many years now. We have a whole host of problems between us and are using donor gametes in order to build our family at this time. We are comfortable going this route, but our concern is what to say to others. We aren’t ashamed of the route we are taking to build our family, but we don’t want our future child(ren) to have to deal with negativity due to how they were conceived. We could use some advice in handling this topic!

Thanks!

Marvelous Momma To Be

Hi There MMTB!

I personally don’t have experience with this, but I do think that this is less an issue of what others will think, and more an issue of how your future children will perceive themselves. If they feel confident, secure, and loved, then that is what they will portray to the world. These days, there are lots of “unusual” family situations, from same sex parents, to single parents, to adopted children, adopted embryos, and donor-conceived kids. Maybe I’m naive, but acceptance of these things is slowly on the rise. I think that as long as your children feel loved and protected, and are encouraged to share their struggles and feelings with you, they should be fine. I think everyone in the world has a certain sense of “otherness” as a child. Whether you stick out because of your race, your weight, the unusual makeup of your family, or even wearing glasses. The best solution, in my mind, is knowing that you will come home to a safe and loving environment.

Keiko Zoll, one of my favorite bloggers, is considering going the DE route and has some fabulous resources on her site. I especially love this post about how a mother told her daughter that she was conceived via DE. It brought me to tears. If you haven’t checked out her blog, I encourage you to do so.

Those are my two cents. I’d love to hear what everyone else has to say about this!

Okay ladies, I am susceptible to UTIs…

Am I the only one? It’s definitely gotten worse since TTC began. 

I read somewhere that the “pee after sex” thing was a myth – but there are mixed “reviews” about that. Most times I go to sleep right after sex. 

How do you balance UT health (peeing after sex maybe) with TTC (laying down for 30+ mins after sex)?

Thanks,

Urinary Tract Infertile

Hi there UTI!

I’m lucky that I haven’t been plagued much with this. However, I do have a very simple solution for you: Baby Wipes. After all, the stuff that ends up outside of your pipes at the end of the deed won’t magically get in your pipes, so there’s no harm in wiping it away. If you keep a package handy by the bed, it should at least help with the issue.

Anyone else have experience with this?

Dear Mo and The Group,

I really enjoy masturbation.  I also really enjoy sex with my husband, but there’s a part of me that believes the two are not related/not comparable: sex takes more time and more effort; there’s prep-work, there’s clean-up work, there are expectations and many variables.  A moment alone with my vibrator, however, takes five minutes or less, and always accomplishes its clear and simple goal.

When I was young and single and masturbating out of necessity, I always kind of assumed that once I got married, I wouldn’t need to masturbate anymore.  I would have another person to have sex with, as often as I wanted.  And that part of it is true – I do have another person to have sex with as often as I want; my husband NEVER turns me down.  But sometimes, I don’t want sex with another person; I just want sex with myself.  And for this, I wait for a moment when my husband isn’t around, when he’s at work, or even in the shower, so that I can, you know, take care of myself.

My question is, am I crazy?  Am I somehow cheating on my husband with my vibrator, or hurting our sex life by occasionally leaving him out of mine?  Does anyone else see intercourse and a quick self-induced orgasm as two totally different things, or was I right in my younger assumption that once you have a partner, you should be using him for 100% of your fulfillment?

Guilty (Self) Pleasure(er)

You’re crazy. For thinking that there’s even a bit of “cheating” going on here. I strongly believe that you are OBLIGATED to pleasure yourself on occasion. Here’s why: our bodies change. We respond differently to different stimuli at different times. If you don’t know what you like, how can you communicate your needs to your husband? I think it’s important that we know our own body.

Beyond that, sometimes a girl just needs a little release. Sorry to be blunt – but I’m going to venture a guess here: Chances are that when your hubby is in the shower, and you’re getting off with your little friend, he’s rubbing one out. Does that mean he’s cheating? Of course not! So why is what you’re doing any different?

I do think that perhaps the simple act of “hiding” your little vibrating friend may be what’s causing you to feel like you’re deceiving your partner. I don’t know how he’d react to your self-pleasuring, but I would suggest perhaps incorporating the vibrator into your foreplay on occasion. That way, your hubby knows the thing exists, and you may feel a bit less shamed by it all. Some men may feel like you’re hurting their ego by using a sex toy, so tread lightly and carefully, so as not to cause unnecessary conflict. But if he’s open and giving enough in bed, it may be the perfect solution so that you can assuage your guilt about your “little friend.”

If you feel like he may feel threatened by it, then go ahead and leave well enough alone. But don’t feel guilty. Masturbation is a great way to get to know your own needs, not to mention, sometimes a girl just needs a little help to fall asleep!

That’s all for today ladies. Thanks for your questions! I look forward to hearing everyone’s take on things in the comments.

And don’t forget! GTT can’t happen without your questions, so head on over to the launch post to submit yours for next week’s edition!

Group Therapy Thursday – Sex, Marriage, Moving, and Pee-Sticks!

8 Sep

I’ve gotten some awesome messages from you guys. Thanks so much for participating! I couldn’t post all of them today, but I promise that if it’s not posted today, it’ll make it on here soon!

So are we ready…? Here we go (this is exciting)!

Dear Mo and the Group,

Sex is on my mind a lot lately!  The problem is this: I was married for a long time and after getting divorced I hit it off with the first guy I dated and he now lives with me.  But lately I find myself attracted to many men and women and I wish I had dated more before getting into another committed relationship.  I’ve had sex with just two men and although it’s been pretty satisfying I desire more sexual experiences.  My suggestion of having an open relationship did not go over well and I don’t think I want to break up with my sweet boyfriend just to have casual sex.

So tell me, am I missing out on anything by having had so few sexual partners?  How have others handled these feelings?

Thanks for your help,

Practically a Virgin

Hi PAV!

I personally was a bit of a slut in high school, so I can’t talk from experience here (I’ll leave that to everyone in the comments who has been in your shoes). But do allow me to make a suggestion:

Threesome! Seriously. If you feel like you may be a bit into girls, then you should bring up the option of doing a threesome with your partner and another girl. No man in his right mind would say no to that. This way you get to be sexually adventurous without actually opening up the relationship. I’m going to pull from the Dan Savage handbook here and suggest that if you decide to do that, set some very clear boundaries ahead of time for both you and your boyfriend, and make sure that you treat the woman who you bring into the “circle” with you guys with respect, and of course, be very safe about everything.  As Mr. Savage says, monogamy shouldn’t be the death of sexual adventure. I have plenty more to say about this, but I’ll leave it here for now and let the group chime in, and maybe add more later in the comments!

Dear Mo and The Group,

If you have to move in 9 months-ish (husband is finishing college, you never intended to stay where you are now forever), and you’ve narrowed the choice down to three awesome cities, all of which have pros and cons, how do you make the final decision?

This one is from Kristen. I emailed her and asked her for some more info, specifically, what ARE the pros and cons, and what cities are they considering?

Denver/Boulder, CO

Pros: Close to family, easy to move (already live in the same state), friends there, great snowboarding, affordable

Cons: The city itself is the least favorite city, not near the ocean

Seattle, WA

Pros: Beautiful, near water, husband and I both have our best friends there, moderate cost

Cons: Rainy and gray in the winter, has both snowboarding and surfing but both are a drive and not the best quality

Santa Barbara, CA

Pros: Beautiful, beach lifestyle (I’ve lived there before and felt like I was on vacation the whole time), surfing

Cons: Expensive, lived there with my brother who died and afraid I might be sad going back there, have friends there but not as close of friends as in other places

Before I give my take, it’s important to note that Kristen, after a heck of a lot of heartbreak, is 9 weeks pregnant. With twins! Yay Kristen! I’m going to take that into consideration in my answer.

Off the top of my head, I think Santa Barbara should be knocked off the list. Considering this economy, price is definitely an issue, and I think it may be hard on you because of your history there. Not to mention the lack of family/friends.

Which brings me to my real insight here: especially once those little ones come, you’re going to want to have a support system around you. I know you’re only 9 weeks and you have the IF paranoia, so you don’t even want to look that far ahead. But you should, especially since you need to make the decision soon.

I think beyond beaches and weather, you need to have people who you love close to you. Whether it’s close friends or family is not necessarily important, but whichever it is, it will be a huge help.

I’ve heard often that after a woman gives birth, no matter what her age or circumstance, she will instinctively “want her mommy.” I know you’re close with your mom, and you should definitely tick that  box in favor of CO.

But – Seattle is awesome, and it seems like you have a support system there as well.

So I would suggest keeping that in mind, and also thinking about where you want your kids to grow up. Do you want them to be in a family atmosphere? Do you want them to grow up in a really cool city, but farther away from their grandparents? Which is more important to you?

Guys – what do you think? I know a couple of you have lived in these cities – perhaps you have some extra insight?

Hey Mo and the Group,

My husband and I have been together (including dating years) for 8 years.  We have been having difficulties in our intimate area of our life for, well, as long as we have been having sex, but we always felt like we had enough other great things going on that it wasn’t everything.  We have been struggling with IF for 2 years, and had a miscarriage last fall.  For work reasons, we have been apart for about 2 months.  A little over a week ago, he called to tell me he had slept with another woman, a mutual friend who he has known since high school.

   After spending about 48 hours vacillating between hysterics and catatonics, I’ve come to a place of contemplation (aka over-analysis).  He is incredibly apologetic, and been very straight forward about the situation.  I do want to work on this… but I also realize that just because we try to fix this, doesn’t mean we can.

   So after driving three days he is back, and things are a mix of familiar/normal and awkward/strange, trying to figure out what our relationship looks like.  Doing our best to be honest about what we both want and need.  While we plan to pursue counseling, I think we are both a little lost as to what we should do (or not do) right now, and that is where I really just need as much input as I can get.   Specifically I’m trying to wrap my head around the concepts of “love” and “forgiveness” in such an unexpected situation.  How does a couple go about rebuilding the trust?  How do I know we are better, as opposed to me just wishing we were (aka denial)?  How do I know if/when it’s over, and I should stop trying?

Bleeding Tulip

Hi there BT!

Let me start from the end, I don’t think there is anything specific you need to do, except listen to your gut. Do you want him around right now or do you need some time alone? There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself some space. I don’t know if you guys have the capacity to re-build trust, and I don’t know where you would start rebuilding it. I do know that this type of brain-spinny craziness is not good for either of you. I’ve never been in your situation, and I’m sorry you’re going through this. All I know is this: I’ve always trusted my gut. For example, I was in a relationship for 2 years, we were living together, and the second the guy started talking marriage my gut told me to break up with him. I was all alone in a city with no family around and no money, but I moved out, and it was the best decision I ever made. We’re still friends, I introduced him to his wife, and I have Shmerson. I didn’t roll it around in my head, I just listened to my gut. Your gut will never fail you as long as you listen to it without judgement.

Now –  allow me to dwell on something in the first paragraph, that I think is the most telling: You guys have been together since you were 18. And your sex life has always been lacking.

I find this worrisome. I’m not saying great sex is the cornerstone of a marriage, but you guys were 18! That’s hormone city! If it wasn’t hot and heavy then, well, I’m not sure if it really can be.

I know your IF struggle is clouding this, and you’ve got major case of the baby-crazies, which is most likely clouding your objective judgement. I want you to put the baby-crazies aside for a minute ok? Rewind to two years ago before the IF kicked in. If this had happened two years ago, what would you have done?

I think that should be your true answer. Have an honest conversation with yourself about your needs beyond the baby issue. Just put yourself in those 24-year-old shoes and see where they lead you.

Those are my two cents. What do you guys think?

Dear Mo and The Group,

Do other women in the IF/Loss community hoard their pee-sticks?  I’m not talking about stockpiling pregnancy tests for testing, or keeping your positive tests.  I’m talking about keeping every negative test I’ve taken.  They are stashed in the bottom of a drawer. I don’t understand why I do this, but I do.  Nor do I go back and look at them afterwards.  

~Future TLC Special In the Making

Hmmm… Interesting one. First of all, yes, reading HPT’s after the designated time is a really bad idea, so it’s good you don’t do that. I don’t necessarily hoard my BFN’s, but there was a time that I did hoard a couple, and look at them with a serious case of the bitter. They were a good trigger if I needed a good long cry. However, three losses in, I no longer do that. I don’t think it’s weird though. My guess is it happens more often than you’d think.

Any IFer’s out there need their own TLC special as well? “Pee-stick Hoarders – buried alive!” No, wait “Pee-ntervention!” No, that’s Bravo. “Kate plus 8 (thousand pee sticks)!” “Extreme Peesticking!”

I could go on forever. But I won’t. Thank you folks, don’t forget to tip your servers!

That’s all for today! I know there’s plenty of fodder out there for discussion, so comment away!

You guys sent in some awesome questions. Sorry that I couldn’t get to all of them – but keep them coming!

If you want to take part in next week’s Group Therapy Thursday, please head over to the launch post and fill out the handy-dandy form.

How I Met Your MO There

25 May

So today I’ll give you my view of what Shmersonette described in the previous 5 posts. But a little about me first.

I’ve always believed in honesty. It’s not always a good thing. In some relationships, I scared the girl away because I was too honest. See, another thing was that I would fall in love really fast. And because I was honest, I would say it. I didn’t like playing games, teasing, playing hard to get. I couldn’t play it cool around a girl I was in love with.

9 months before I met Shmersonette, I went to South America for six months. It was a trip to see the world, but as always it was also to change myself. I did a lot of thinking and gained self-confidence. I can really say that had we met without me going there, it wouldn’t have worked between us.

So I decided to be less honest. Wait with my feelings. play games. I also had doubts about love. I thought maybe I was expecting too much. I wondered – am I like a person who never had ice cream, and when they describe ice cream to him as “heavenly, orgasmic” he takes it too literally and is later disappointed? Maybe all those poets and novelists who wrote about love were exaggerating. Maybe love is just friends having sex. Maybe if I stopped expecting so much I wouldn’t be disappointed and hurt anymore.

Of course, none of it is true. Writing those things now makes me sad for myself  back then. But at the time, I thought I was growing up.

I also thought I should change in other ways. I never had sex outside of a serious relationship with strong emotions. I started to think maybe I should loosen up, and have meaningless sex. I decided to date girls just for that and ‘for the sport of it’.

Still, I learned some things. For example, I noticed how we prefer the thing we know, even if it was bad for us in the past. I always knew what I wanted in a girl. She had to be intelligent, with a sense of humour and independent. But usually I found myself in a relationship with someone not-so-smart, not-so-funny and dependant. ( I like to put it in PowerPuff Girls terms: I always wanted Blossom with just a little bit Buttercup, and found myself with Bubbles). So I realised it was a cycle; you go there because you know it, and you prefer it over the unknown. And every time you go there you just make it more likely that next time you choose, you’ll choose the known over the unknown. Until the point when it’s not even a choice anymore. And I realised that the first step to get out of it was to acknowledge it.

I didn’t like Bubbles-girls because they tended to look up to me, and I don’t like that. I also didn’t like looking up to girls. I believed in equality, I believed both people in a relationship should feel just as lucky to have each other. I think that on How I Met Your Mother they said that every relationship has the person who settled for less and the person who got more than deserved. I don’t think it’s healthy in the long-term.

A short while before I met Shmersonette I dated a girl for a short period of time. I tried implementing my new ideas, expecting less, playing it cool, etc. and they collided with my other new idea – she was totally a Bubbles-girl. I ended it. We didn’t have meaningless sex, and I’m happy for that.

Two weeks later, it was my zero date with Shmersonette. As she already told you, it was very special. As I was driving home after I dropped her at her place, I thought “what if she didn’t enjoy this as much as I did? What if she tells me it was nice but it’s not going anywhere?” and I thought that if that happens, I’ll probably know how that Bubbles-girl feels about me right now.

I used to have this dream: I meet a girl and we’re together. We barely need to speak. There is no suitor and “suitee”. We just like each other very much, and are happy. People around us think we’re strange, or that we’re going too fast. We don’t care. I used to hate waking up from that dream.

By the end of our Zero-Date I knew I finally found her. I was perfectly honest, and so was she. We didn’t play games. After our third date, I was walking back to my car, very happy. I thought of how perfect it all is, and then I thought this is much like that dream. Then I got to my car and saw a parking ticket, and smiled. This would never happen in a dream.

On our real first date, she said: “There is something you need to know about me. I’m a little messed up”. I told her it’s okay, great even. I like messed up. I’m a little messed up myself. (She didn’t believe me back then).

She was right- she IS messed up. And today, she knows I am too. And every now and then, during hard times, she says something like: “Is it okay that I’m so messed up?” and I always remind her of that conversation.

On one of our first nights together, we were talking. Then I thought of something stupid. See, I have a weird sense of humor not everyone gets. And I knew that if I said what I thought out loud she won’t get the joke and would think I was weird. This voice in my head was like “don’t say it you’ll ruin everything” but I said it anyway. And she cracked up laughing. And yes, that’s the origin of our private sense of humor and our private language.

The first time I told her I loved her was also very strange. I blurted it out less than a week after our Zero-date. And for a second I thought “There you go again, you’re too honest, too quick, you just scared her away like you always do”. Then I thought “well, screw that” because I knew I meant it. And I knew that all that crap about playing games, not being honest and so forth was BS.

I’m so happy it happened that way. I think the strongest thing about us is that we’re perfectly honest with each other. We can’t go to sleep after a fight without making up. We can’t keep a secret for more than a minute. It’s great.

During our first week together, I met up with my brother and sister. I told them about her. I told them that when I’m driving with her in the mountainous  roads of
Haifa, and every time the road goes down I go “wheeeee!” and then she replies “must. kill. moe.” they both said: you should hold on to her and never let go.

Between our Zero date and Valentine’s day, we saw each other almost daily. Met each other’s friends. When I had to stay at my place and study, she showed up with pizza. Some other night I woke up to watch a lunar eclipse. She came with me. After Valentine’s day, I practically moved in. My roommates started calling me “Garry the imaginary” behind my back, because I was never at my apartment.

About the period of time when Shmersonette was waiting for me to propose. (About 6 months from when the subject was brought up to when I proposed): I have only this to say: I always knew we would get married. There is a difference between knowing you’ll get married and being ready for it.

I’m proud to say I chose the wedding ring myself. A week before I proposed, we went to Paris. I decided not to propose in Paris. I wanted it to be were we live. I wanted to be able to take the kids there. I felt like when you propose you should be close to home, in a place that means something to you. And I told her it would not happen in Paris, and why. See, at the time she already knew I was going to propose. And during the time in Paris she found out it was going to happen in less than a week. See? We can’t keep secrets.

Mo’s note. I thought it was probably going to happen, but I’m a hopeless pessimist. Or at least I used to be. Now? Who knows.

About a month before I proposed Shmersonette said that if she wanted to propose (She didn’t really, and I didn’t want it that way either), she would buy tickets to our favorite singer  – Shalom Hanoch’s concert in Ceasaria, and pull some strings so that she gets on  stage and proposes to me in the middle of the show. I know. Totally not us (and totally Mr and Mrs No balls). Then I thought of doing the same thing – only without the rock concert. So I took her to that stage (it’s a 1500 year old Roman stadium) and proposed there.

It has been a strange year. I think you, as readers of this blog, are mostly aware of the bad things. But a lot of good things happened also. In a way, I’m glad we had to go through all of that this year, it was a test for our relationship and guess what? we passed. “A plus plus” passed.

Anniversary Week Post 5 – I Want My Husband.

24 May

“You can only bring one person in with you.”

It’s the end of July. I have just been diagnosed with a blighted ovum. I’m at the hospital to get a D&C. Both Shmerson and my mother are there. At patient intake that is what I am told.

One person.

I look at both of them. I know they both want to come. I am scared out of my mind.

“My husband. I want my husband.”

That’s the moment I realized that I was truly married.

I mean – I think a lot of people who get married never really get MARRIED. But Shmerson and I – well, we were about three months into our marriage. And we were a family already.

This was the first of many realizations about love, marriage and family that I have had in this last year. This first year of marriage. This year of depression, anxiety, loss, and growth. When you get married, even before you have children, remember – you are already a family.

This choice – my husband over my mother. This choice proved to me that I was truly a ‘wife’ now.

I didn’t have to force myself to make that decision. It was my husband. Of course it was my husband. I didn’t even blink.

“I want my husband.”

I think that’s been the crux of our first year of marriage. We are truly a family. We have truly learned what that means.

***

It’s November 19th. We have just decided to move back to our old studio apartment in my hometown, to take things easy and regroup after our second loss in three months.

I haven’t been sleeping. I haven’t been functioning. I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night screaming.

3:30am. I’ve had another panic attack. My third or maybe fourth that day. I go to another room to watch something stupid on my computer to try to distract myself and tire myself out so I will be able to sleep. We have a lot of packing to do. The movers are coming the next day.

4am. I feel a bit calmer. I go into the shower. I don’t even know what sets off another attack. But all I see is a dark gaping hole and horror. Complete terrifying horror. I collapse in the shower, screaming. The water still running.

Shmerson, who was fast asleep in the other room, runs into the bathroom. My screams have woken him up. This isn’t the first time, either.

He turns off the water, grabs a towel, and wraps me in it. He hugs me and tells me that he loves me. That’s all he can do, really.

A month later I’ve finally come to my senses enough to understand that I can’t go on living this way. I break down and find a psychiatrist. The panic attacks finally stop, and I start this blog.

And through all of that, through all of this – there is my husband. Cheering me on. Telling me he loves me. Telling me I’m beautiful despite the extra 20 pounds that three failed pregnancies and months of anxiety and depression have added to my already plump figure. Despite the fact that I spend half of my time a total and complete mess. And I sometimes take it out on him. He tells me he loves me and that I’m beautiful.

Through all of this – he is there.

April 2oth (wow, i can’t believe it’s only been just over a month. it feels like eons) was the first time I’d ever had to spend the night in the hospital. I was scared out of my mind. I didn’t know what was going on. Shmerson didn’t leave my side for a second. And when they kicked him out of my room at 2am that night, he slept on a cot in the hallway. Just so I would know he was there.

This is the man that I have married.  A man who has been with me through the hardest year of my life. Probably of his as well. A man that still makes me laugh, that reads this blog every day and has become a huge supporter and a part of this community that I have found for myself. For both of us. A man who takes it in stride when I unceremoniously announce to him that in a year we’ll be flying to the States to attend a wedding of a woman who I’ve never met in real life, but who I love like a sister. Who celebrates with me when another announces her pregnancy after more than a year of trying. Who emails back and forth with another, talking about Whiskey and inviting her to crash on our futon. Who gets it. Who gets why I need this space and cherishes it as much as I do.

A man that bravely stood up a couple of months ago and wrote openly about our losses on facebook, because he wanted to be there to support others.

My husband.

****

When you get married, there are always little nuggets of doubt. My brother is divorced, and just leading up to our wedding, I was kind of freaking out. I talked to my brother about my fear. About loving Shmerson, but worrying that maybe that wasn’t enough.

My brother told me that we were perfect for each other, and I should calm the fuck down.

He was right.

My body and my soul have been through the ringer during this last year. I have been at the lowest points possible. The literal depths of pain, despair, and grief.

I have also grown, and learned, and tried to find meaning through all of this.

I often talk about that. About finding meaning in this insane roller coaster of a year. Trying to find a “why”.

I don’t know why. There are very few things I know. In fact, I feel like each time I’ve got things figured out, I get bitch slapped and realize that I probably know nothing.

But there’s one thing I do know: We have gotten through this. We continue to. We continue to love and support each other through this. Our first year of marriage will always be this sad pit of grief and despair.

But it will also be the year that we learned how to be a family.

The year that we learned how to compromise our plans to help each other, and still be happy within that compromise.

The year we realized that we will be amazing parents, because now we will love and appreciate a healthy baby more than we ever thought possible.

The year that we pulled each other out of the muck and mire of loss and depression.

The year that we learned just how strong we really are.

The year that we started the new tradition of high-fives and saying how much we rock when we get stuff done, or find a healthy compromise and make tough decisions.

As I wrote these last few sentences, I started crying. Shmerson had just gotten out of the shower. He sat next to me on the couch, buck naked. He put his arm around my shoulders and said:

Next year we’ll have much happier stories to tell.

I hope so. I really do. But even if we don’t, I know we’ll get through it. As a family. Because that’s what we do. Because we rock. *High Five*

Tomorrow – Shmerson insists on telling his side of the story. 

Anniversary Week Post 4: The Proposal (?)

23 May

It’s the middle of July, 2008. Shmerson and I have been together for 7 months, and I am still freshly shocked from the Philly Freak Out of June ’08.

Shmerson is with my parents and I at a wedding of a family friend. The cocktails have been served and my mother has already downed two glasses of white wine. We get called to gather for the ceremony. We stand around the Chuppa. Shmerson and I are kind of leaning on each other, and my mother, without even noticing, stares longingly at the ceremony while affectionately petting Shmerson’s shoulder. Willing him to get off his ass and propose already. Shmerson takes it in stride and we casually mock my mother on the drive home. In fact, to this day we tease her about the “drunken two-ton unsubtle hint of July ’08”.

It was always pretty obvious to both me and Shmerson that we would get married. It wasn’t a question of yes or no, it was a question of when.

That July, I was 27, and Shmerson was 25. My uterus had started slightly screaming. But I was ok with waiting a while longer. Letting Shmerson take his time.

You see – in that way, we are very different. Shmerson is a very contemplative, slow-moving kind of guy. He doesn’t make decisions lightly. I on the other hand, have been known to decide to move to a different country in the course of 24 hours.

(I am happy to report that in the last few years, we have managed to balance each other out on the big decision thing)

S0 – back to July of 08. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want him to propose. But we were only together for 7 months. There was time.

Fast forward to July of ’09. We are at my second cousin’s wedding. Shmerson and I comment on the decor, and sometime between the ceremony and the food we come up with the perfect idea for a wedding invitation (that idea came true – you can see it in my header).

No – he hadn’t proposed yet. But this is what we had been doing for a while now. Examining other people’s weddings and discussing what ours would look like.

And yet, no ring. I was 28 and Shmerson was 26, we had been together for almost 2 years and I was – well, I was starting to go a little nuts.

He knew it too. We even had several fights about it. He wanted to wait until he thought we were good and ready. I was a panicky crazy person and actually said stuff like – “What if we die tomorrow? Don’t you want to check “get married” off of your list?”

Yes – I used to think like that. Thank goodness for xanax and understanding husbands.

At this point, my conversations with my mother, on a daily basis, went something like this:

Mom: So – when is he going to propose?

Me:  I don’t know mom. And please stop asking because I want him to and I don’t want to give him any ultimatums.

Mom: Well – I have a diamond I want to give him for your engagement ring. Tell him that.

Sometime during our next “when the hell are you thinking of proposing?” fight, I mention the diamond.

Then, I literally start getting paranoid. Does he not really want to marry me? Is it because I gained weight? Maybe I’m completely wrong about this?

Nearly daily talks with Squish and Me0Me around this subject help keep my sanity. Barely. I somehow get it into my head that he’s waiting for a special occasion. Like my birthday.

So – around comes September 25th of 2009. My 29th birthday. The night before, Shmerson had taken me out to a fancy dinner. There was no ring in sight, and on top of that – I was a bit disappointed when the chocolate cake came out and there was no sparkler for me in honor of the big 2-9. I voiced my disappointment to Shmerson. About the sparkler, not the lack of a ring.

We throw a birthday BBQ the next day. I see Shmerson plotting something with Squish while checking the Chorizo sausages. I think to myself – oh – maybe now. Maybe he’ll propose here – in front of all of my friends.

Then Shmerson turns around with a big sparkler on a chorizo. Especially for me.

There was no ring on that sparkler.

I smiled, then I hit him. A bit too hard. I’ll cop to that.

A month earlier we had started planning a week long trip to paris. This was taking place at the beginning of October.

Paris. It had to be Paris. I mean – who wouldn’t propose in Paris?

I started getting sneaky. I searched his backpack one day. I found a ring box and a ring. A really ugly, really thick gold ring.

Oh dear flying spaghetti monster – please don’t let this be my engagement ring.

And we go to Paris.

We had a lovely time in Paris. Truly.

And we came back still NOT ENGAGED.

I was seriously about to lose it. Was he really that cruel? Was he going to wait until our 2 year anniversary in January? How the hell will I have time to plan a nice summer wedding in January?

This was getting to be too much.

Then – the last weekend of october, I knew something was up. I mean, it was kind of obvious. He had told me to pack. He didn’t tell me where we were going. But I knew I was going away for the weekend.

Shmerson and I suck at keeping secrets from  each other. It was obvious what was going on. I was just hoping that hideous ring was not part of the plan.

So, in the car we go. It’s a rainy day. Shmerson takes me to Ceasaria National Park – one of the most beautiful places in the country. He walks me to the bottom of the ampitheater – a place where I’ve seen some of my favorite musicians give epic performances. Now bare for the winter – just made up of ancient ruins overlooking the sea.

I don’t remember exactly what he said. But it was pretty fucking awesome. We both cried.

Oh – and the ring – well – see for yourself:

I’m not sure how much you can make out from the picture. But it was perfect. And he used my mom’s diamond after all.

It turns out that gold ring was an attempt to take something of his mother’s and blend it with my mother’s diamond. A lovely thought. But he had the sense to know my tastes and know that I would dislike whatever version of that ring he would have come up with.

Still – you have to love him for the thought.

We spent the next three days at a bed and breakfast (our favorite past time). Shmerson had called my boss and told him that I was taking a day off.

And yes, he was right, it was worth the wait.

I sometimes wonder if we had gotten married sooner, if perhaps, this whole baby-making thing would have gone a bit smoother.

I will never know. But one thing I do know – that had we gotten married sooner – we wouldn’t have been able to deal with this last year nearly as well as we have. We needed that time to grow as a couple. And we did.

So – we got married on May 27th, 2010. I was 29, Shmerson was 27. And it was beautiful.

Tomorrow – how our first year of marriage became arguably the worst year of our lives, and yet, on a lot of levels, arguably the best. 

Anniversary Week Post 3: The Whiskey Fake-Out

22 May

Welcome ICLWers! If you’re just tuning in, my husband, (aka Shmerson) and I will be celebrating our one year anniversary this Friday. In honor of that, and to get away from the nightmarish couple of months we’ve had (feel free to check out our TTC timeline to see what that’s all about), I’m dedicating this week to our amazing marriage. Just scroll down for parts 1 and 2 of the story. 

So, when we last left off, Shmerson had moved in, and the fur baby had been adopted. Just around the five month mark.

I had been invited to a wedding in Philly during the second week of June, and since I had introduced the couple and had the designation of “best dude”, of course, I planned to fly out. Plus – I hadn’t been to the States in  couple of years and was looking forward to seeing my friends.

Before I go on with this story – a little background. At the age of 19, I decided to leave Israel and study in the states. I did my BA at University Y in Philly, and my MFA at Grad School X in LA (the names have been changed to allow me to bitch openly – mostly about Grad School X. University Y is actually rather awesome).

So – that means I spent the majority of my twenties (7 years to be exact) a minimum 12 hour flight away from my family and my friends in Israel.

Now – during that entire time I didn’t feel homesick once. Don’t get me wrong – I talked to my mom every day, I missed my friends in Israel. But at that point, Israel didn’t feel like “home” to me (the States didn’t either, but that’s a different post for a different time).

If I look at it on a philosophical level, there was no real place that I felt at home.

Now – back to our story.

The plane ticket was bought. I was leaving for Philly the second week of June (forget the exact date), and flying back June 22nd – exactly our six month anniversary.

Shmerson is a Whiskey lover (to say the least) and I already had a dastardly plan to pick him up a bottle of Johnny Walker Gold as a present.

I was really looking forward to the Philly trip. I LOVE Philly. Seriously. It is one of the most underrated cities out there. If I was ever forced to live in the States again, I would totally live in Philly.

So off I went, packed and ready and arrived in Philadelphia. Shmerson had driven me to the airport, and we had brought Luna along for the ride. I had a really hard time saying goodbye at the security gate. Little did I know that I was headed into utter torture. Not only for myself, but for my poor Philly peeps who had to put up with my whiny ass.

I got on the plane, I cried.

I landed, happy to see the groom, we hugged it out, I got to the happy couple’s apartment, I got on skype with shmerson, and I cried. I told one of my BFFs about my incredible love affair over pizza, she was skeptical (AK I love you to bits and always appreciate your skepticism!), and I went back to the happy couple’s place. And I cried.

I didn’t just miss Shmerson, and our little apartment, and our new puppy. I ACHED for them. I LONGED for them.

From the second I landed in Philly, all I wanted to do was go back home.

This had never happened to me before. Ever. 7 years away from my family and friends in Israel, and I had never ACHED. I didn’t know what homesick was until that time I spent in Philly.

The wedding was lovely, of course. The plan was that after the wedding I would go to a family friend’s place for a couple of days before the happy newlyweds headed off to their honeymoon, and then I would spend about 4 more days crashing at their place, hanging out with old friends, maybe taking a train up to NY for the day, etc.

So I was up at the friend’s house when I got the call: The bride had come down with the plague. Better not to come back to the apartment for fear of me catching it as well. The honeymoon was off.

Now – most people would be pissed at this. I had made plans, I didn’t have money for a hotel or another place to crash, and I didn’t want to stay up at the PA burbs with a 70 year old woman. I mean, I loved the woman, but after a day – it’s a bit much.

But I wasn’t pissed. Not in the slightest. I WAS RELIEVED.

I picked up the phone, called my travel agent in Israel, and changed my flight. Screw my friends, screw NY, screw everything. I wanted my Shmerson and my fur baby and my apartment and I wanted them NOW.

On the way to the airport the next day I realized that I had a problem. Our 6 month anniversary was four days away. Should I give Shmerson his present early? But wouldn’t that make him feel bad? (Yes – this was the only thing that was occupying me. I didn’t even care about the extra 200 bucks I had to shell out to change the flight.)

So I put together a dastardly plan. At the duty free, I bought TWO bottles of whiskey. The JW Gold as planned, and a cheaper bottle of something I knew he liked well enough. I would present him with the cheap bottle just as I landed, and then on the anniversary day itself, he would get the good stuff – Surprise!

This plan of course went off without a hitch, and Shmerson loved all of his presents (yeah – I also did some serious clothes shopping for him at Target and Ross, because I can never say no to keeping him out of black velvet pants and in discount Rocker T-Shirts).

But you guys know that’s really not the crux of the story.

It took 10 days (well, actually one) of me being away, and driving my poor Philly friends crazy (sorry guys! I know I was obnoxious! Love you!) for me to realize something: I finally had a home. And it wasn’t the apartment. I had lived there for almost a year before Shmerson came along. It was the man that was waiting for me at that apartment, along with our amazing little puppy.

He picked me up at the airport, we drove back to our little place with me cradling our little puppy the whole way home.

That night, I slept like a baby, with the huge smile plastered on my jet-lagged face.

Tomorrow – “Why hasn’t he proposed yet? Oh, yeah. Ok.”

Anniversary Week Post 2: Valentine’s Day Becomes Moving Day

20 May

So Shmerson and I were moving at a pretty rapid clip. Our “Zero Date” happened on January 16th, and by January 22nd, there were already declarations of love on both sides. He had this ratty apartment with two roommates that was walking distance from his University, but we spent about three (maybe four) nights a weeks together at my place. By Valentines day, it was even more than that.

Then came Valentine’s Day itself. Shmerson planned a really nice evening out, and had brought a small rolling suitcase with him because he was planning on spending the weekend.

Oh! But before I continue this story – I must tell you of a shopping trip which happened a few days earlier. A legen- wait for it and I hope you’re not lactose intolerant – dary shopping trip. Just because it gave birth to a line that I will forever be trying to find a way to work into a script, but for now, I guess the blog will do.

I knew Shmerson was planning something big, so I decided to surprise him by wearing some sexy number under my dress. So Squish and I went lingerie shopping.

We were at a bit department store looking at lingerie, when we stumbled upon some ridiculously cute boxer and tank top sets with mickey mouse on them. And they were on sale.

We both looked at the sets longingly and debated. I mean, we love Disney, but at the time, Disney was being disappointing in terms of their films, plus – there was high school musical, and Miley Cyrus. So we were definitely in a moral dilemma about whether we wanted to pay into the big Disney corporate machine.  A heated discussion ensued. Finally, we decided that it was ok if we each bought a set, as long as we “wore it ironically.”

And that’s when the phrase “ironic underwear” was ingrained forever into my consciousness. Hopefully now it’s ingrained in yours as well. Use it well, dear readers, use it well.

Ok – back to our story. I bought a sexy red number along with the ironic underwear, and I was ready to go.

Shmerson came to pick me up with the rolling suitcase, and a stuffed bunny holding a heart in tow. Wearing black velvet pants. Yes. Black velvet pants. For him, at the time, that was considered “fancy.” I’m happy to announce that I threw away the black velvet pants during our first closet purge a few months later. But I forgave him the pants at the time, knowing that soon enough I would be doing most of the clothes shopping for him anyway. Men who buy black velvet pants are officially banned from shopping for their own clothes. (This is actually a very nice arrangement. I buy him semi-preppy rocker clothes, he looks hot, and he hates shopping anyway).

So, a nice evening was had. We went to this great little wine bar and got particularly smashed. The red lingerie was an unmitigated success. Shmerson slept over, and he never really left.

About a month later we realized that he had only gone to his apartment a couple of times to pick up stuff after valentines day.

So there never really was a “moving in” conversation. It was pretty much – “Oh, so I guess we live together now.”

“Yep, I guess so.”

“You Ok with that?”

“Yep. You?”

“Yep. Though – Maybe you should officially move out of that other place – you know, to save on the rent.”

“Yeah, I probably should. But let’s wait another month or so before I do. I think my parents would freak out.”

“Ok.”

(He called them two days later anyway, told them we were living together, and they did indeed freak out. They asked him to keep the other apartment for a couple more months. And he did. But by that time we had already adopted Luna, so it really was just to appease them. They’re kind of conservative, in the – we’re not sure our son should move in with his girlfriend after they’ve only been together for a month – kind of way).

The first several months of our living together were pretty happy and uneventful. I do remember at one point realizing that I was playing the happy housewife and freaking out a little. I even wrote him a love letter which ended with the sentence: “You made me bake cookies!”

That is indeed a dramatic statement coming from a reformed feminist. And that was only the beginning of my descent into wanting to be a 50’s housewife. But I think that part of the story (which involved my screaming uterus, and we’re not talking about that) may be for another time.

Tomorrow – how a trip to Philly made me finally understand what “home” really meant. 

Anniversary Week Post 1: How We Met

20 May

So I’ve been bad about blogging in general. I guess existential crises easily explained by sitcom metaphors will do that to a person. Plus Shmerson and I apparently have the plague, because we’ve both been pretty non-functioning sick for the last week.

Still, I kind of don’t feel like talking about That right now. I know it and its repercussions will be taking up plenty of blog space here in the near future.

Instead, I want to focus on the fact that exactly 7 days from today, Shmerson and I will be celebrating our one year anniversary. This wasn’t the first year of marriage either of us imagined – running to emergency rooms, spending most of our time grieving.

But it has made us stronger, and I want to celebrate that with you this week. Starting with telling you all the story of how Shmerson and I became what our friends fondly call us: “The Shmersons.” Today, I’d like to tell you how we met.

Facebook. Yes. You read it right. Shmerson and I met through an app called “Are You Interested.”

If you would have told me a few years ago that I would meet my husband on a silly FB app used mostly for booty calls I would have laughed in your face. But so it goes.

Basically, the app works like this – you set parameters: Age range, location, and such. Then the app shows you pictures. You click on people who you think are cute. If you click on someone, and they click on you as well, you get a notification and you guys can start communicating.

Now – mind you, I was pretty jaded with dating in general, and online dating specifically at this point. It had become an endless parade of guidos and assholes. But I’m not one for singles bars, and I work from home, so I kept at it.

After two particularly disastrous weeks with a 40 year old divorced film director (and a pretty crappy director to boot) that I had met on Jdate, I log on to the app, and see this picture:

“Not too bad” I think to myself. Plus – I have a long hair fetish. I have since I was 10 years old and saw Mike Patton for the first time in the music video for Faith No More’s “Epic”.

My picture on the app at the time was this one:

Needless to say – this was during one of my relatively skinny phases. Not half bad.

So I clicked away, and immediately got a pop-up saying that we have a match!

Mind you, I was still jaded from the 40 year old filmmaking hack. But I checked out pony-tail guy’s facebook profile and was pretty ok with it. Coen Brothers fan, “Lost” obsessed, listens to Pink Floyd, REM and Radiohead, and studies at the Israeli equivalent of MIT – so definitely smart. Hopefully not a sex-crazed asshole, doesn’t look like a guido, and not a filmmaking hack. So that’s definitely progress.

So starts a month long facebook message exchange. Yes, a month. Like I said before, I was jaded.

And our relationship almost didn’t happen. And it’s all Karl Marx’s fault.

We were talking about music and books. I had mentioned having a secret love of 80’s hair metal, and that I loved the Harry Potter series, had just finished a book by Coelho, and I adore Paul Auster.

Shmerson wrote back something like (and I’m paraphrasing here): “I don’t really know 80’s hair metal, and I think the Harry Potter books are ok**. I don’t get why people like Coelho so much. As far as authors go, I really like reading Marx.”

Now – this is a moment in which I need to explain a bit about Hebrew. “Marx” is spelled exactly the same way as “Marquez” – as in Gabriel Garcia Marquez – author of one of the most beautiful books ever written – “100 Years of Solitude”.

But I read it as Marx (which when I finally told him about, made him burst out in a fit of laughter). Plus – he had just downplayed the harry potter series, and said he didn’t know hair metal.

I read that message and decided this long haired “Lost” obsessive was a pretentious a-hole. I mean, who brags about reading communist manifestos? That’s just weird. I had just had a short-lived relationship implode with another pretentious a-hole.

So I didn’t write him back.

And it would have ended there.

Except, Shmerson, who was usually incredibly insecure, decided on whim to persist. When I didn’t answer, he waited about a week and then wrote me a short message giving me an out: “Still busy with work?”

I gave in, I wrote back, and our FB courtship continued. To this day Shmerson jokes that if it wasn’t for his deciding to write that second message, well – who knows where we’d be. But such is fate. Or randomness. Or whatever I believe in (darn it Mo leave your existential crisis at the door today, will you?).

Aaaaaanyway, I remember that sometime during this month Me0Me came for a sleepover and I told him about this guy I was talking to on facebook. We hadn’t met yet. I said to him “I’ve been saying my first name with his last name to myself in the last couple of weeks. And I haven’t even met the guy. Isn’t that weird?”

I guess now that I actually do have his last name – it’s not that weird. At the time, Me0Me took it in stride. I found out later that, at the time, Shmerson was just about as jaded as I was, and had decided that most likely nothing significant would come out of our exchange, but hell – at least maybe he can get laid from this thing (mind you, in his defense, this was generally a very un-shmerson-like thought)***.

It was finally time to meet but neither of us wanted to put too much pressure on the whole situation. A band that I had recently directed a music video for was performing in town, so I suggested he come to the show, and “bring a few friends” if he wanted. Basically a non-date (today we refer to it as our “Zero Date” since we hadn’t wanted it to count as a date when we first planned it).

16 people showed up at that club. Luckily, Shmerson was among them (sans friends). After a rather lame set by the band, we hung out with them a bit, I took a couple of hits off their pot, playing it cool. Turns out Shmerson wasn’t a pot smoker. I really wasn’t either. Ahh well. After a while the band piled into their van and I suggested Shmerson and I hit a coffee shop. At that point we hadn’t really talked much.

We got to the coffee shop – and I basically knew it was meant to be the moment the waiter walked up to us and we both ordered cokes. Neither of us likes coffee.

We talked for several hours. One of those really awesome conversations. Sometime during it I decided that I am a 28 year old woman, and I’m done playing games. It was the most open and honest first date conversation I had ever had. We clicked immediately. After about 3 hours Shmerson dropped me off at home. And we had our first kiss.

At 3am I call Squish.

“He dropped me off 20 minutes ago and I can’t stop smiling.”

And just like that – I knew I had met the man I was going to marry.

Yes – through a freakin’ Facebook App.

It’s not knight in shining armor romantic, I know. But heck – at least it involves communist manifestos and a pot-smoking band, right?

Tomorrow – how Shmerson came over for Valentine’s Day weekend and never left. 

** I am happy to report that since that exchange, Shmerson has changed his mind and is now a big Harry Potter fan. I think it’s kind of hard not to be when your wife has read the books so many times she may have set a world record.

***Shmerson later told me that the “just getting laid” thing went straight out the window the moment we started to really talk. I mean – I’m sure he still was hoping to get laid, he was at the time a 26 year old man and that is very much a justifiable motivation. But to his credit, he didn’t even try to cop a feel by the end of the night. So I tend to believe him.

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