Living up to our parents’ dreams

Raise your hand if the following has ever happened to you.

You call home and say: “Hey! Great news! I (insert accomplishment / something you’ve been working towards)!

Parent: “Oh, that’s great. You know what else you should do now?…”

All you really wanted to hear was, “That’s great! / Way to go! / We’re so proud of you! / We knew you could do it!”, and, cut. No add-ons or ways you could improve on it.

Sometimes a supportive parent adds to the weight of ambition.

It’s natural for parents to have hopes and dreams regarding what they think their children can accomplish. They see all of our potential, and they want to encourage us to achieve everything within the realm of possibility.

In addition, parents may see where they could have worked harder for their own goals, and they don’t want their children to miss the same opportunities they did. They want us to shoot higher, go farther, and have even better lives than their own; improve with each generation, right? They want more for us.

As sweet as it is for our parents to want us to ‘be all we can be ‘and ‘live out our dreams’; it equates to a lot of pressure because we don’t want to let them down.

Obviously, they aren’t intending their encouragement as a burden; but, nonetheless, it’s quite a load to carry. We never feel done b/c we’re conditioned to keep trying to reach the next level up. Face it, we could almost always be doing more.

For all the phases when they saw me grow and learn every day, it’s a bit more sporadic, and sometimes even stagnant, now. Think about it. Our parents have seen us learn everything we know, and the first twenty years were pretty exciting and filled with accomplishments. Now, most days are pretty much the same, so there’s less to report.

It’s not that I don’t want to keep striving to be better; it’s just that I don’t know how to judge how far I’ve come or how I’m doing because there’s always another step I could be taking.

As well-intentioned as encouragement from loved ones is, will there ever be a day when a call home includes the words, “You’ve become more than we ever could have dreamed. Why don’t you just sit back and feel proud of what you’ve already accomplished for a little while.”?

I’m just going to throw it out there that I’ll likely never make headlines. I see this as a positive considering some of the headlines out there. (Hello, Weiner tweeter!)

I want to keep making my parents proud, but sometimes I wish they saw a little less potential in me. Yes, it would be amazing to be a best-selling author, famous singer, the next Jillian Michaels, or a chef on the Food Network, but I’m also really okay with being (mostly) normal.

I know my parents are proud and love me no matter what I do or accomplish. I’m not questioning that at all. What I’m trying to find is a healthy balance between ambition, and enjoying life as it is presently.

When I hear all of the things my parents believe I am capable of accomplishing, it scares me. Instead of hearing it in a completely positive way – which I know is how it’s intended – I see how much farther I have to go, and am acutely aware of the possibility that it will never be fully achieved.

In order to appreciate who I am today, I need to know that it’s okay if I don’t go for the gold everyday (or, even make it to the games). As glad as I am knowing my parents think I could be great, it would be even better to hear that good will do.

Spouse Fit: You deserve to feel great

There’s a new program at some military gyms called Spouse Fit. The military requires active duty servicemen and women to take fitness tests frequently, so Spouse Fit is specifically targeting the other half of the family. It’s great to see so many new faces hitting the gym.

The new program has me thinking about fitness within a marriage. Ideally, your spouse will love you no matter what size you are, but to what degree should you test that?

My feelings are that my husband deserves a wife who takes pride in her health and her appearance (this goes both ways, of course) for multiple reasons.

Not only does a healthy lifestyle make me feel more confident, it also increases the likelihood that I’ll get to spend a long forever with my husband. As if confidence, appearance and a long life with my husband weren’t enough, our habits will also affect our future children.

Yes, we all grow and change, and it’s unrealistic to think our bodies will always be in perfect shape, but it is rude to your spouse to “let yourself go.” I’m not specifically targeting women. Both spouses should want to look nice for each other.

Your health affects everyone in your family. It is disrespectful to yourself, your marriage and your children to not take proper care of yourself.

It’s not about having the perfect body; it’s about realizing that this is the only shot you get to be the best version of yourself. Be the spouse your wife/husband deserves, and the parent your child deserves.

Almost every person who asks me about fitness for herself/himself also asks me about his/her spouse’s health and fitness. Weight is a touchy subject, and when one person is working hard to make a change, they want (and need) for it to be a family affair. Encouragement and participation are great ways for everyone to come together and truly subscribe to a healthier lifestyle.

Everyone talks about wanting to get into better shape, but talking only exercises your jaw. How about this? If you want to walk the walk, going for a walk is actually a great way to start. Take care of yourself. You and your family deserve for you to feel great.


Shhh…your neighbors can hear you

My husband had to make some late calls home while he was traveling for work this past week. During one of them, I heard knocking on the bedroom wall that is adjacent to our neighbor’s master. I wasn’t talking loudly, in fact my husband was asking me to speak up and turning the volume up on his phone, but I guess the neighbors could hear me just fine.

The next day I attended a luncheon with the ladies from our building, and I decided to ask my neighbor about the knocking. They’re a very sweet family, so I felt comfortable bringing it up.

My neighbor said she hadn’t heard anything the previous night, and that the knocker must have been her husband; but she did add that the walls are so thin that they can hear everything, and she emphasized the word “everything.”

My take away from our discussion was that “everything” meant that they hear us… frolicking. I left the luncheon wondering how I wanted to handle it since frolicking is a very private matter.

We’ve certainly heard noise coming from neighbors before. Crying babies, kids squabbling, dogs howling … normal goings-on of life. We choose not to say anything because hearing noises from your neighbors is just part of apartment living, and we don’t think anyone should have to tiptoe and whisper while they’re in their home.

Thankfully, in this particular apartment, we really only hear anything when we’re in the room with the shared wall.

After the luncheon, conversation continued out into the common area of our building, and I quickly discovered that I was not the only neighbor wondering about our discussion.

Our floor plans are stacked same-on-same, so everyone in the building shares a master bedroom wall.

Whereas I had initially felt embarrassed, everyone else seemed very light-hearted about the matter. One person mentioned that perhaps her husband could compliment her frolicking abilities loudly sometime. Another friend said she’d likely cheer them on, or even start a little competition, so long as it didn’t continue too long into the wee hours of the night or really disturb their sleep time.

Funny business aside, we agreed that we would never be angry with a neighbor if we heard them frolicking, and that helped put my mind at ease.

I believe what happens in the privacy of someone’s home deserves to remain private – whether someone outside of your home hears it or not.

Neighbors owe it to each other to respect noise levels during normal sleeping hours; however, just as we don’t expect neighbors to convince teenagers and babies not to squeal, or dogs not to howl when they’re lonely; we don’t think our neighbors expect us not to frolic, or to frolic quietly for all the time we remain in this apartment.

That night, I (quietly) mentioned the situation to my husband when he called and was surprised that he just found it funny. We decided that, since we live here, it’s necessary that we “live” here. After all, this is one of the few places we are legally allowed to frolic.

I Thee Wed: Our wedding vows, and the best toast ever

In honor of our wedding anniversary, below are our wedding vows. (And, the best toast ever – given by my sister/Maid of Honor)

A vow is a solemn promise to live in accordance with a certain, binding set of rules. The vows we said at the justice of the peace for our first ceremony were traditional – the same ones said by many who came before us, many since, and many still to come. For our formal wedding ceremony, we chose to write our own.

I expect to be held to these, and I expect my husband to honor his, too. We have them in writing so we can look at them and be reminded of the promises we made to each other. May we always carry that hope and love that radiated all around us on our wedding day.

Andrew’s vows to me:

Katie, I didn’t know what true love meant until our paths intersected and I picked up the one for e at Logan International. Thanks for getting on that plane. Life has been good to me – and you’ve made it immeasurable better. Your laugh, your smile, your boundless zeal for living life – I’m so lucky to have found you. I know there will be good days and bad ones – and many others in-between, but together we can do anything. I could – and everyone here knows I actually can – talk forever, and I still would fail to adequately express how you make me feel. But I’ll get to the point. I love you. I will always love you. I’m so proud to be your husband and am so honored to have you as my wife. You are my reason for being until I take my last breath. Let’s do this. I love you baby.

My vows to Andrew:

The first thing I noticed about you was your awesome energy and enthusiasm for life. I will never forget you looking me straight in the eyes and saying, “Let’s do this.” I knew then that you were committing to never letting me, or us, down. Your genuine passion for, and commitment to everything you love is amazing, and I am so honored and grateful to be a recipient of your intensely beautiful love. Your smile and laugh instantly make me smile and laugh, and I want to bring that contagious joy out of you as much as possible. Marriage is a lot of work and a huge responsibility, without the option of giving up or quitting the team. It means that we are submitting to each other for life. Your needs over my own. I give myself to you because I trust you to handle me with care. I want everything for you and with you, and I will do my best to be a partner who can support or lead, always knowing that what’s best for us, is best for me. You are my soulmate and my very best friend, and I vow to give you the most perfect love I can for the rest of my life.

Marriage: What I’ve learned about fighting

There is nothing worse than that knot in the pit of your stomach when you know something is off in your relationship. Something has happened but isn’t resolved yet, and it totally screws with everything else going on in your life.

Fighting before you’re married is scary.

When you’re dating/engaged, even if you feel fully committed, there is still an easy escape route. Yes, married people can choose to get divorced, but that requires a lot more paperwork and money than simply breaking up. The ease with which one person can call it quits is a scary enough reality that you might not feel safe saying what you need to say.

The threat of leaving represents major bargaining power.

The end of most fights while you’re dating is that one person is the clear winner, and the other person apologizes/grovels to get back in his/her (normally ‘her’) good graces.

When you resolve a fight before you’re married there is also a passionate rush of emotion because you’ve just crossed a bridge and decided to stay together. It’s all super dramatic.

Enjoy making up. This part will not be as passionate once you’re married.

Fighting when you’re married is safe, but annoying.

First, I think it’s obvious that, “I’m staying either way, but I’d still really like to get my way…” does not carry the same weight as threatening to leave. It does, however, help create a less volatile environment. 

Once you’re married, assuming it’s a healthy dynamic and you both fully intend to stick it out for better OR worse, a fight is just a fight. The fate of your relationship doesn’t hinge on the outcome of one argument. It’s safe to speak your mind, and it’s easier to focus on the matter at hand when that is really all that’s being determined.

The annoying part is that, once you’re married, it’s unrealistic to expect arguments to end with one clear winner.

See, if it is decided that you are 100% right, the other person either, 1) gave in because you were being ridiculously one-sided and pompous or, 2) is left feeling really low. In either situation, being right doesn’t sound nearly as great as you thought it would.

Because (all my English teachers just cringed because I started this sentence with “because”) you intend to stay together, your best case scenario needs to involve both parties feeling at peace with the resolve. What c-word is more disconcerting than commitment? Compromise.

To make matters worse, I think it’s sexy how smart my husband is with the exception of when we’re arguing. Each time he makes a really good point, it grates on my nerves.

Trust me when I say that this really puts a damper on the passionate making up part. The joining of two people who have each just had to compromise does not come with a full set of fireworks.

Although, fireworks or not, I always feel like an argument with my husband is productive because we’re working toward the common, big goal of staying together and doing it better everyday. For me, that is hot.

Quick fix for romance

Life is so busy, and it’s easy to feel like you should be cleaning or taking care of something while you’re at home, but sometimes you just need to slow down. A quick room transformation helps a lot.

Dimming the lights (so you can’t see the mess you need to clean), putting on a soothing, sexy playlist, lighting candles, pouring some wine and asking each other fun questions while snuggling on the couch can go a long way towards getting back in touch.

There are lots of things you can take care of tomorrow. Your relationship deserves your attention tonight.

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda – Phewy!

Hi, my name is Katie, and my first instinct is to be selfish.

There. I said it. In every situation, the first person I think about is me.

How do I feel? How does this affect me? What do I want? What will I get out of this?

I prioritize me first because I only experience things as me. I know what I want, so it’s easiest to work with my wants, needs and desires.

The trouble with prioritizing me is that I’m really the only me, so I’m not making a very large impact on the population as a whole. I’m only half of my marriage, a daughter to two people, a sister to one person, a mom to one dog, etc.

What’s more? Hindsight always leaves me wishing I’d prioritized other people and their needs and feelings more than my own. And, since I’m selfish, I hate feeling disappointed!

It turns out that, in order to take care of me – numero uno – I have to take care of everyone else first. Go figure.