Inherent inheritance: blame the parents

Some of the best advice I’ve heard recently:

Everyone has mommy/daddy issues, including your mom/dad. Everyone just does the best they can.

If you think about it, Adam and Eve were probably the first to have parental issues. When your dad is God, there’s a lot of pressure to be awesome.

All of us have things we praise our parents for, and things we blame our parents for. We forget that our parents have/had parents, too…until we become parents, ourselves. Suddenly, each time you tell yourself, “I’m doing the best I can,” you realize your own parents were also doing the best they could with you.

One reason it’s hard to visualize our parents having a tough time is because grandparents tend to be pretty awesome. By the time someone is a grandparent, they’re usually mature and squared away, and they get to be “fun” rather than responsible for grandchildren. Hence, our view of our parents’ parents is a bit skewed.

If only we could combine the energy of young parents with the wisdom of grandparents, we would be onto something!

It’s crazy for me to think that my parents were younger than me when they became parents. I have to stop myself, on the regular, from calling everyone I encountered in my twenties to apologize for my behavior, and I was only responsible for caring for myself and a dog.

I’m still working on me, and now I’m also raising a baby. I’m lucky my dog made it through my crazy, immature years!

The next time you get ready to criticize your parents, remember, what you don’t move past, you’ll pass right along to your own kids. We can’t help but screw each other up at least a little bit. It’s part of the beauty of parenthood.

The more you dish out about your own parents, the more crow you’ll eat later on.


Out with the new

Once upon a time, everything I have was new to me.

  • Everything in my closet was once new and I couldn’t wait to wear it.
  • Our car used to have that new-car smell.
  • My husband was once my new boyfriend.

I still have the same clothes I felt like a new person in when I was in the department store dressing room, the car still runs great, and my husband is as sweet and handsome as ever. The only difference is, now they’re worn and comfortable, instead of fresh and new.

What is it about new stuff that gets us so excited? We’ll enter stores with signs promising antiques and vintage goods, but who wants to shop at a store that sells worn and comfortable merchandise? Doesn’t that mean the goods are used? If I can afford new, why would I buy something used, right?

We’re probably less intrigued by our own used goods because we know the kind of care and abuse they’ve been through. We want to feel fresh and new again, so we seek out people and goods we haven’t potentially screwed up yet.

  • New clothes fit the body we have and the way we feel today. They update our personal packaging – as though we have a brand new marketing campaign.
  • A new car wouldn’t have that dent in the bumper from where you ran into a stationary object.
  • New people don’t know our faults. In fact, they only know what we tell them, and we can tell our stories and jokes for the first time all over again. We get another chance to impress.

We need to start referring to new stuff as what it is. Inexperienced.

No one wants to hire an entry-level (new) employee for a job requiring experience, so why do we like “new” so much? New hasn’t gone through the training process. New jeans are stiff, and new shoes give blisters. The insurance is even higher on new. New takes you all the way back to square one.

Before you spend a fortune on new clothes, a new car, or bestow more attention and affection on new friends, remember that new will also be old one day; and, your old will always be new to someone else.

How to be the Bachelor/Bachelorette in the normal dating world

I am not ashamed to admit that I love to watch ABC’s The Bachelor / Bachelorette. I get all into it. I discuss it with my friends, make my top picks, etc. Don’t hate on me… it’s no different from Fantasy Football, really.

While watching the show with my sister-in-law on her recent visit to Italy, she had one of the funniest, most brilliant ideas I’ve heard in a long time. She’s single, and she suggested that she might start taking a rose on her dates. Tell me you didn’t just laugh out loud. It’s genius!

See, on the show’s dates, there is always a rose sitting on the table as a reminder that you better make a good impression or you could be sent home at any time. On the positive note, if the date is going well, the Bachelor/Bachelorette could give you the rose at any moment to take the pressure off of you for that night, and on through the official rose ceremony.  That flower holds the key to your destiny, one way or the other.

In real life (because I’m not sure reality TV should actually be counted as real life), a rose might just be the key to date management.

We’ve all been on dates before where we either a) wanted a way out, or b) wanted to properly express how much we were enjoying ourselves, but couldn’t find the appropriate non-cheesy/awkward words to use. A rose would solve both dilemmas, as well as scenarios that fall between.

Examples of rose inclusion in two date scenarios:

Scenario 1: Bob is boring/vulgar/rocking weird facial hair/drunk/stinky/asleep/wearing a wife-beater/adjusting himself far too frequently/on his cellphone/way too deep/way too shallow/hitting on the waitress/calling you by the wrong name.

Bachelorette Rose to the rescue: You say, “Bob, if that is really your name, I’m sure you’ve noticed this rose sitting on the table. It’s not here for decoration. I had hoped to feel a connection and present it to you as token of my “like,” but as I do not feel we have a future together, I’m going to have to take my rose and leave. Best of luck to you, and thank you for coming.”

Scenario 2: Jason is hot/smart/charming/intellectual/funny/ambitious/considerate/obviously a flosser/an excellent orderer/Mr. Right/prince charming/going to get very lucky in the not so far off future.

Bachelorette Rose to the rescue: You say, “Jason, I’m sure you’ve noticed this rose sitting on the table. I brought it hoping things would go well and we could move from “like” to “like-liking” each other. I certainly feel my “like” multiplying as our eyes alternate shooting sparks across the table at each other. Why don’t we put this flower in water and see if it will continue to bloom.”

I hope you try taking a rose with you on your next date and report back. Also, I think Ashley should keep Mickey around for eye-candy, but end up with JP. Happily ever after is serious business.

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.