What if I Told You I Wasn’t Happy in My Marriage?

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Do you remember what it was like when you were young and you had your first inklings of love? Can you remember the butterflies, or the way you would wait eagerly until you saw that person again? In fact you wanted to see them all the time, and there wasn’t such a thing as seeing them too much!

And the kisses! Oh Lord, the kisses were incredible. That first kiss traveled all the way to your toes, and it was like a live wire ran through your body causing goose bumps to break out everywhere and your hair to stand on end. It was perfect. The absolute perfect feeling.

Despite ups, downs, and even a little heartbreak you found yourself still lifted by that perfect feeling of love. You craved it actually, and you finally understood the song Addicted to Love.

One day, before you realized it, you grew up, and you followed that feeling of love like a hound dog on a hot trail. You followed that emotional high, and it led you to the person you knew you would marry. (If by chance this hasn’t happened to you yet then just wait for it! It’s phenomenal).

Led down the aisle, floating on a cloud of desire, and flying on the wings of that crazy thing called love, you joined together with your helpmate for life in holy matrimony. The birds tweet-tweeted, and all was right with the world.

Then this crazy thing happened. Life.

Life happens, you know?

One day you realize that while you love that person more than the sun, moon, and even the stars that there are a few things you didn’t bargain for in this little adventure called marriage. You knew you were different, but the differences that you used to think were cute seem less endearing when you’re sleepy, sick, or still expected to keep a house, job, and children afloat, all while expecting yourself to look as attractive as the day y’all first met.

Kids happen. Your parents die. Things sag that aren’t supposed to, and hair grows where it never did before. Bills pile up, kids get sick, and important decisions have to be made. And even when you disagree on the important stuff you must maintain a level of decency since you’re roommates for life.

So what if I told you I wasn’t happy in my marriage?

See, when you first fall in love with someone it is driven by emotion. No matter how logical you think you are, or how level-headed you try to be the fact remains that it’s easy to be led by the emotion of love. In fact, it feels amazing. But one day you will look up from a stack of bills as children fight loudly in the next room and you will need so much more than that warm, fuzzy feeling in the pit of your stomach.

When life happens, and when the novelty fades you will need something deeper. And although the emotion of love is a wonderful, grand thing it should be so much more than just that. More than a feeling love is an action, and it’s a purposeful process that you have to want to give every ounce of effort and determination into to make it work.

Feelings will fade in the face of adversity. They will be swayed by turmoil and difficulty, but the act of love and dedication to that same person who made you swoon will carry you the distance. A purposeful determination to cherish someone through the ups and downs of life is the proof in the pudding, and that’s what real love is made of. There will still be feeling, thank goodness, but there will also be so much more.

When you first fall in love you are happy, but happiness is a feeling. It’s a fair-weather feeling that can be blown to and fro based on circumstance. It’s hard to be happy in the face of sickness, grief, or strife.

The good news is that when you love based on solid truth rather than mere emotion you aren’t limited by the feelings of happiness and sadness. You make the conscious effort to love unconditionally, with no strings attached. You don’t do it expecting anything in return; you do it because this person means the world to you. And in this you will still experience a wide range of emotions, but they will not determine the course of your marriage.

Recently I was commenting to someone about my marriage, and in my words I described my union as joy-filled. At the time those words just came out naturally, but moments later when I looked at them I was strongly affected by the gravity of that description. It was true.

I wasn’t simply happy in my marriage, but rather I was filled with an abounding joy. That joy, that purposeful love of my spouse permeated every fiber of my being, and the truth of my love for him bonded our marriage in a way my feelings could not.

It so happens that I feel very emotional about my husband. In fact I want to weep when I consider my love for him, and especially his love for me. I still want to see him all the time, and all the time is never too much. I still get butterflies, and I still feel an electric spark when his lips touch mine. But all that stuff is just an added bonus. It’s the real love I logically know I possess for him, and him for me that fills our marriage with joy. It’s this very real thing that directs my actions toward him, and ensures we will not be shaken when simple emotions fail.

How to (Accidentally) Have an Affair

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As a mom to two kids four and under I don’t usually get to watch a TV show when it comes on, but I do have the privilege of DVR, or recorded television in the late night hours. And it was while catching up recently on my Downton Abbey that I was reminded how easy it is to have an affair, especially without intending to have one.

I still haven’t caught up completely with the series, and I was only able to pay minimal attention as I folded laundry and prepared supper, but I did notice something that caught my eye. Cora Crawley “innocently” out with a man other than her husband, and although not even a brush of the cheek passed amongst them, I was on Mr. Crawley’s side when he was justifiably upset after becoming aware of the outing. She felt unjustly accused of infidelity in an apparently innocent situation, but I kept thinking, what do you expect Cora?!

Whether you watch the series of which I speak or not, I think you’ll be able to follow my train of thinking, and though you might disagree perhaps it will give you something to think about. And maybe, just maybe, it can prevent you from making an erroneous, albeit accidental affront against your marriage.

Here’s what I’m thinking. Married women can’t have friends of the opposite sex.

Wait, what?! You heard me right. And conversely I don’t think married men should have female friends, but since I’m a wife I’ll only speak from my point of view.

When you decide to become committed to a lifetime of monogamy and faithfulness, both sexually and emotionally (very important), to just one person then you need to understand the responsibility you now have to that union. As a co-partner in the enterprise of your marriage the responsibility equally rests with you to uphold the vows you have taken, and to act in a manner that represents this agreement of faithfulness. Any situation that makes this difficult for you to maintain should probably not be a part of your daily activities.

As a wife your husband should be your best friend. Not your mom, your sister, or even your bestie from elementary school. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Marriage is a difficult relationship to happily maintain because of the many factors involved. As a married person you now have a roommate with which you share yourself sexually, but also are completely open to emotionally. They know your secrets, even the ugly ones, and now you’re expected to make important, life decisions with someone other than yourself. And you typically have to agree. Throw in childrearing, aging, and the whole “through richer or poorer, through sickness and health” bit and it really becomes a dance. But once you can find your rhythm it’s beautiful.

So naturally it’s not a good idea to let someone cut in while you and your beloved have finally got in the groove, and it’s especially a major lapse in judgement to dance with another while you and the spouse are still figuring out the steps. I mean, it’s easy to want to tango elsewhere, but it’s not wise if you want to keep your original partner.

As a wife if you are going out alone with a man other than your spouse I want you to seriously consider if this is wise. I don’t think it is. Even if your intentions are innocent and your relationship with your opposite sex friend is purely platonic it’s still a bad idea. Humans will be human, and sexual desire is a strange, sneaky animal. A friend who seems unattractive to you may suddenly become alluring in the right situation, especially if you add in a bottle of wine. I don’t care if you have the resolve of a stone wall; we are all tempted. It’s human nature.

And even if you’re not having inappropriate physical attractions to your opposite sex friend you may still be cheating in other ways. You may find the emotional stroking you desire, and you may be content to have it fulfilled by a friend rather than your spouse. This emotional disconnect will drive a distance between you and your marriage partner. It’s inevitable.

If you’re sharing hopes, dreams, and secrets with a man other than your husband then you should not be surprised when the conversational neglect you are dealing out takes its toil on your union.

Another consideration is the feelings of your spouse for the situation. Even if your husband says he doesn’t mind you hanging out alone with “Mike,” I want you to consider that it might still be bothering him deep down. He might feel as if he’s in competition for your affections, and even if he doesn’t mean to be jealous, he probably will be. Why put your spouse in that situation? And what if the shoe was on the other foot? Would you feel a little inkling of jealousy or inadequacy if your husband was out with another woman?

I think sometimes there’s a tendency to be unfair in relationships. Often times women can have male friends while married, but everyone flips out if the husband has a female friend. How unfair to unconsciously state that men are more likely to be unfaithful than their female counterparts. That’s basically what society is saying when wives are allowed male friends, but husbands are not. If you’re human you are capable of infidelity; it’s that simple.

So back to Downton. I don’t know if Cora will have an affair later down the road, and I don’t even know if her intentions were impure , but the point is that it doesn’t matter. No matter your intention, a bad situation is a bad situation. Why place yourself in one of those? Why risk the most important relationship you will have in your life?

Marriage is based on so many things, and yes, trust is one of those. My spouse trusts that I won’t cheat on him, but I’m not going to step out alone with another man to test his trust. I’m not going to test myself in that manner. I have male friends, but we are work friends or mutual friends. I choose not to go out alone, talk on the phone, or text/chat extensively with another man. I just don’t think that’s fair to my husband, and I’m grateful that he feels the same.

As far as the Crawleys go I’ll have to keep watching.

Parenthood Isn’t That Hard!

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I settled into the rocker to help carry my toddler on into dream land, and as I positioned her wriggly body onto my lap I realized it was the third time I had been in that rocker that day. The comfy, rocking recliner was the sure way to subdue cranky littles, and I had certainly done my share of lullabies that particular day.

I looked down at my youngest daughter and she returned my gaze in the dim light with a dazzling smile and a slight chuckle. I couldn’t help but grin in return, and I remembered a time not that long ago where I had spent what seemed like the entire day in that chair. Three trips to the recliner was nothing compared to the every two hours of nursing a newborn.

The thing was it really didn’t seem that long ago, and though memories of my daughters’ infancies were slightly clouded by the haze of sleep deprivation I easily recalled certain things. The smell of a newborn’s head. The pride felt over such a precious treasure that had someone come out of your very own, imperfect body. And I wondered how had it gone so quickly?

Life with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers is crazy. It’s this hectic, exasperating series of repetitive days that never work out as planned, and often times end in tantrums and tears. It’s been said that motherhood is the toughest job in the world, and I can certainly see how. Some days it’s all you can do to just get by, and you frequently end the day in your own tears, praying that you didn’t mentally damage your children beyond repair.

In all the chaos, and in all the disfunction it’s easy to complain, and even easier to wish the day away. Who hasn’t been guilty of counting down till bedtime, and then rejoicing in the solitude of the quiet night. In all the begrudging work of being a parent to young babies it’s easy to look down into your lap one day and realize your baby is not so much a baby anymore. Or you look down into your lap and it holds a magazine instead of a child. You look at the clock, counting down to curfew, and as you stew in your parental concern you realize it’s too quiet in the solitude of the late night.

They say parenthood is hard, and I suppose that’s true, but it isn’t that hard.

Nursing school was hard, but then when I held my degree in my hands I cried in relief, and the difficulty faded away.

Bootcamp was hard, but as I executed Pass in Review with my proud Momma sitting in a place of honor next to the Commanding Officer, I thought little of the difficulties of repeated, perfect push-ups.

Parenthood is the hardest job you’ll ever do, but it’s the only one that you’ll regret wishing away. It’s the most difficult endeavor, but the only one you would desire to last forever. And though once a parent, always a parent, the crazy, busy of little kids is but a passing spark in the spectrum of childrearing.

It’s like you have to decide to roll with the punches because time is certainly rolling. It’s rolling away faster than you can grasp, and one day you’ll look up and beg to be sleep-deprived and booger-stained. I used to hate to hear people say that. As I sat muddled in my breastmilk-stained shirts, I would think, whatever. I was just certain my babies would stay babies long enough. But then one day you see.

One day you look up, and you wish you had complained less and savored more. You wish you had cleaned less, and instead played a little longer. And one day the dolls will be gone, the Legos given away, and you’ll miss the clutter of toys everywhere.

Parenthood isn’t that hard; rather it’s a privilege. When you are bestowed the gift of raising a tiny human you are given the privileged position to mold a life, and not just to raise it unharmed, but to cherish every single moment. Those moments that pass far too quickly.

For now I get to rock, and as I gaze down at the sleeping face of my youngest I feel honored to capture this moment forever, pressed between the pages of my heart.

Three times in the rocker? No matter. That’s three precious moments to savor their childhood, and what’s so hard about that?

Trusting God When You’re Disappointed

I’ve always enjoyed the desires of my heart, the little dreams I hold close to my chest. I’ve always felt like God places the seeds of these dreams within us where they may grow until fruition. And in the circumstances when they do not come to pass thankfully they tend to wilt and wither, leaving behind just enough of a spark to help your next dream grow.

It’s nice to have something to think about, and to pray about. My dreams are like tiny trinkets kept in a box. I take them out occasionally and polish them. As I look at my precious dreams in the safety box of my heart I place them before The Lord, and I seek His voice for what may come of them.

Sometimes I put them back in the box, and while that’s a difficult thing to do I do it with joy. Well, as much joy as one can have when they wait anyway. But still, I trust God as I pack away my dreams because even though I cannot see how they will end I know they’re there. They’re in a box, but it’s a box of promises, and because of my faith I trust God keeps them there for a reason. It’s hard, but it’s kind of easy too. Because of hope.

But sometimes I take my dreams out and I lay them on a shelf, out in the open. I see signs I imagine are from The Lord, and maybe they are, but I get pretty excited to cash in on God’s promises for my future. Or what I believe His promises to be.

Hearing God’s voice is a tricky thing, and it’s easy to be driven by emotion and not guided by the Spirit. Sometimes I reckon I’ve heard God wrong so many times I wonder why I even try to listen, and when disappointment falls on me it falls hard. So dang hard.

It’s easier to trust God in the waiting time, but when the time finally comes, but comes in the form of a “no,” well, that’s the real test. It’s easy to trust God when you still have your dream. It’s a little bit harder when it crashes to the floor.

Some dreams are little, and some are a bit bigger, but the tears fall the same when they break.

A dream of a big family, or a dream of a big house. A dream of a new career, or the dream of a career period. Dreams of healing, and dreams of change. Dreams of God’s calling on your life fulfilled. Tiny trinkets swept off the shelf, and placed back in their felt-lined box, waiting to come true, or to change into something else. This is hard, but it seems a bit more difficult when you see your dream coming true.

The excitement builds, emotions rise, and then the door slams in your face. Hard. It might just get your fingers or your toes in the process.

As you lay weeping in your hurt you’re overcome by guilt. But I trust God! It’s not supposed to hurt when I trust God, right?!

Knowing God is in control, and believing He holds your life in His hand is easy while you dream. Continuing to trust Him as the dream is ripped from your grasp? Well, that’s the hard part. And even as the tears fall you whisper “I trust you Father; I trust you.”

Hurts doesn’t it?

Isaiah 58:11 ESV

And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

Trust is a continuing, ever-evolving, strengthening process. I suppose it could never deepen if it was not tested.

So I say, thank you Lord for testing me. I trust you Father; I trust you. Even in the midst of disappointment, I trust you. I’ll put it back in the box, and I’ll wait for your will. And even if it stays in the box forever, I’ll be happy trusting you.

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Become a Critical Care Nurse They Said. It Will Be Fun They Said.

I am a proud, critical care nurse, and I have been in that specialty for the majority of my nursing career. Over the years I tried different areas to give them the benefit of the doubt, and I’ve worked anywhere from a rehabilitation center to hospice. But I’ve always gravitated back towards intensive care. I suppose it just suits me. 

Over the years I have been approached by more than a handful of nurses who ask about critical care, and they’ll bounce the idea of them trying it out with me. It typically goes something like this:

“I’ve been thinking of becoming a critical care nurse. I’d love to just have two patients. I’m just so tired of the hectic pace of ________ (insert specific field).”

Honestly, I’m always happy when a nurse shows interest in my favored area. We are always on the lookout for a fresh new recruit after all, but there is that part of me that raises a brow. I am reminded of the Spaniard from Princess Bride, and I want to reply, “I do not thinka it means what you thinka it means.”

While dropping from a patient assignment number of six to an assignment of two sounds fabulous, there’s a bit more to consider. Sometimes you even get to have just one patient, and that’s where the fun really begins. 

In critical care you might enjoy being in the room with your single patient, but I would suggest taking it easy on the water since you will be unable to leave that patient’s side. The machine inserted in their body to help their heart pump blood requires your constant observation. But you won’t even notice not getting a potty break or lunch break. You’ll be far too busy recording hourly vital signs, hourly abdominal pressure, hourly central venous pressure, cardiac output, and such. 

In between that you’ll stay occupied obtaining hourly blood sugars, hanging six different antibiotics, and constantly titrating dangerous cardiac medications to sustain blood pressure and heart rate within parameters that are compatible to life. 

All the while don’t forget simple tasks like controlling pain, sedation level, suctioning of endotracheal secretions, and assisting with bodily eliminations and bathing. No, there’s no nursing assistant to help with this. 

You’ll be kinda busy so hopefully they won’t try to die on you. 

If you don’t have this one patient, you’ll be gifted with two. Other than a balloon in their aorta your two patients may likely require all above interventions plus a trip down to CT. They’re all full codes, by the way. 

Okay, so I’ll admit it’s not always crazy. Sometimes you get a pretty good patient, and you find yourself retrieving water or walking someone down the hall. That’s pretty awesome, right?

But I ask this. Have you ever seen a duck gliding across a pond? They seem so motionless as they maneuver through the water, and only small ripples are even glimpsed to let you know they’re moving. What you cannot see are the frantic kicks below the surface. Critical care is kind of like that. 

Critical care patients are like a smoking volcano, and there’s no way to know when or if it might erupt. Sometimes you see the build-up before it explodes, but sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you don’t see the frantic kicks trying to keep your patient above water, but you know they’re there. 

This is why a patient is in critical care, and if you’re a critical care nurse you understand that at any moment, often without warning, your patient may crash. Their vitals will plummet, their breathing will become distressed, and they will code. 

Every moment spent in critical care is spent in a mindset of watchful anticipation, until it is not. Then it becomes action. Life-saving, fluid action. 

So even if you have had a good day thus far you are always prepared for it to decline quickly. Sometimes it doesn’t. But often times it does. 

Critical thinking is a requirement, and critical thinking requires being able to see the forest despite the trees. Patients surrounded by a dozen monitors and alarms sounding still need to be treated for pain. A smiling, talking patient can still be circling the drain. Even with everything going on with an intensive care patient, low blood sugar is still a frequent cause of problems. And you always still revert back to your ABCs. 

I’m grateful for all my MedSurg and floor nurse co-workers. They do the job I cannot do! I’ve worked MedSurg before, and I can tell you that having six or seven patients is crazy, busy. It’s hectic. But having two is no less hectic. It’s just a different kind of busy. 

Often times it seems like the grass may be greener on the other side, but if my time in nursing has taught me anything it is this; nursing is hard no matter where you work. No matter what specialty area you are in you will be required to intervene for the life of your patient. No matter where you work you will be expected to do more than you feel like you are physically, mentally, and/or emotionally capable of achieving. This is the life of a nurse. 

I know on my end that being a critical care nurse is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. But if the above doesn’t scare you, and you can focus on multiple issues in a high stress environment, then we’d love to have you. If you’re interested in joining my crew come on down. We’ll find something for you to do for sure.

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A Few Things That Nurses Wish All Their Patients Knew

Over the years spent in the field of nursing I’ve come to realize that my career choice happens to be one of the most misunderstood. I’ve noticed on many occasions people tend to not see the whole picture about their nurse. To quote Paul Harvey, they may not have “the rest of the story.” Rather they see what they want to see because it’s easier that way.

Not always, but often times there are misconceptions about the field, and about your nurse. Some patients get it, and for them I’m so grateful, but some people don’t. Many times I wish I could just lay it all out there, to just explain exactly what runs through my heart and mind. But typically there’s about as much time for explanations as there is for lunchtime and potty breaks. 

But if I could say a few things briefly it might sound like this. 

I know being sick stinks. I know you may think that I don’t know this, but I do. And even though sick folks are my bread and butter, in all honesty I don’t want you here either. I want you back home where you belong. 

Even though I may seem aloof or distracted sometimes in your hour of need it’s never because I don’t think being sick is hard. I know it is. I also know it’s scary, so I understand. And even though I may not have personally been in your situation, part of my job is to place myself in your shoes. 

I know poking your finger is painful, and I’m aware that the blood pressure cuff squeezes really hard. I know we’re waking you up often, and I realize it’s loud around here too. 

Barium tastes like crap, and your heart healthy diet tastes even crappier because it lacks salt. The doctor was rude, and that other doctor was too young. I know. 

That needle is sharp, and that medicine burns. And I don’t want to stick you more than once for an IV; the lab technician doesn’t enjoy it either. You being sick makes your veins more difficult for us to cannulate (insert IV) for a number of reasons, and we don’t do it for fun, or even to punish you. 

Everything we do in the hospital is aimed at getting you better, and getting you out the door. Sadly most of those interventions are painful and annoying. It’s no fun, and I realize this. Don’t shoot the messenger. 

I really am busy. When I am gone for an extended period of time it is always with good reason. Yes, I said always. If I’m going on lunch you’ll know it because I’ll tell you first. If I am absent from your sight for a lengthy amount of time without explanation it is because I’m busy.

Seriously, I am. 

Short-staffing is real. It’s not just a term we make up so we can go hide in the lounge and eat bonbons. And then there’s the feces. 

Oh, the feces. It hits the fan. Frequently. Sometimes it’s literally feces I’m busy with, but sometimes it’s beyond that. Many times I may not return with your water because someone is dying. Nurses triage patient need, and if I see a situation that trumps yours then I will act accordingly. I’m pretty sure that’s the kind of nurse you want, especially if you find yourself needing the critical attention. 

Remember that I know when I’m being lied to. After years of dealing with people nurses become quite adept at knowing when someone is keeping something from us or not telling the whole truth. The thing is we’re a team, or we should be. Your nurse wishes to be your advocate, and to work towards a resolution of your condition together. This relationship requires honesty though. 

If you’re having abdominal pain due to something you inserted in your rectum just tell me. The xray will eventually. 

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Have you had anything to eat since midnight? Please realize your vomited and likely aspirated eggs will tell on you. 

If you don’t have someone to pick you up when I discharge you please just fess up. I’ll still give you the IV pain medicine, and then I’ll call you a cab instead. My treat. Let’s not waste time waiting on an imaginary friend. 

How much alcohol do you drink? A six pack a week? The truth will come to light, and it won’t be pretty. By honestly speaking with your nurse about your consumption we can work together before withdrawals hit. Don’t be embarrassed. I certainly won’t judge, and I can guarantee I’ve seen worse.

The one area where this does not matter is your level of pain. What I mean is that pain is subjective. So if you rate your pain 10 out of 10 then by golly it’s a 10, and I’ll treat it as such. Even if you’re playing Candy Crush Saga on your iPad while laughing on the phone with your brother. The brother who’s going to bring you a Route 44 Dr Pepper to help us with your diabetes. Point being, I will always treat your pain according to your perception of it. But for everything else I might call you out on your fib. 

But I do care! That’s the most important thing when it comes down to it, and even if you don’t think I do, I do. Nurses don’t do it for the money I can tell you. We do it for the patients, and deep down we really care how you’re feeling, and we care about your outcome. 

The thing is I love nursing. I love what I do, and if I didn’t you can bet I wouldn’t be here. Do I get busy? You betcha! Frustrated? Who doesn’t. Does that mean I don’t care about you? Not at all. 

Your nurse is in a heck of a position. They happen to be present when you’re at your worst, physically and emotionally. We just want to help you feel better, but sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it’s a tough road, but you’re not alone in it. Your nurse is also there. And though this might surprise you, your nurse feels every needle stick and the dampness of each tear shed. 

Look up and a nurse will be there, feeling your pain, and searching for the next step required to get you back home. After all, we know being sick stinks. I promise. 

So now you know the rest of the story. 

I Hope My Kid is the Weird One!

I was recently watching my four year old at dance class, and I noticed she seemed to be distracted. Okay, she’s four so she’s usually distracted, but the past two weeks she seemed even more so than usual.

As I watched her perform her different poses I saw her eyes partially on the instructor, but also watchful of a girl dancing behind her. I watched the young girl stick her tongue out at my daughter, and then I saw my daughter stick her tongue out in return. Sigh.

It was just kids being kids, but I had the memory of an elephant, and I hadn’t forgotten what it was like to be a kid. I hadn’t forgotten how crestfallen my daughter was the previous week when the same little girl had told her that her new, bubblegum leggings were ugly.

I watched my unique little dancer spinning to her own beat, and I remembered what it was like to be different. For a moment I was scared for her, and it wasn’t the first time.

When you become a mother something very unexpected happens. You become like a bodyguard, a bouncer to the doorway of your child’s heart, and you have no qualms about kicking someone to the curb who breaks the rules. You become a momma bear, a tigress, and more protective than an old dog holding a ham bone.

You don’t want anyone being mean or poking fun at your baby. You want them to fit in, and if you have a history of being the odd, unpopular kid then your feelings are multiplied. You don’t want them to suffer as an outcast or a square peg. You want them to be cool, and to be liked. You want them to shine like the brightest star that you know they are.

So sometimes you dress them in the highest fashions. You watch all the right movies, and buy the latest trend doll. You watch closely, oh so closely, and you instruct your child on what to say, and definitely what not to say. If they do something “weird” you might say, “No! Don’t do that!” Just fit in. Fit in to the status quo.

I realized a lot about myself growing up. My Mom cultivated my “uniqueness,” and sometimes I just wanted her to be like the other mothers. I just wanted to be like other kids, and I strove to find my place. It’s like you spend all your adolescence wanting to be one of the cool kids, but then one day you turn thirty, and you go, “Dang. I’m awesome! I’m so glad I wasn’t able to change me.”

I had to come to a place growing up where I realized I was different for a reason. I had to get the fact that God made me square so I could fit just right in the design he had for me. When God has a special calling on your life you have no choice but to break the mold. You have to be weird.

When you look at it this way it’s really a cause for celebration when your little, unique ballerina spins in her own direction. God is calling them to a specific purpose, and who are we to balk.

I hope my kid is the weird one, and while I never wish her the pain of feeling left out, I know from experience how strong she will become in the face of such opposition.

I hope my kid is the weird one for I know then that God has something really special for her life, something so fantastic that it takes a unique character to carry that torch.

Will I still watch like a hawk from my Momma perch of protectiveness? Probably so. But I won’t be worried. Instead I’ll be proud. Proud of my shining star, even if she does project a light all her own. Especially then.

My goal is to spend every day letting my daughter know how special she is in my eyes, and the eyes of her Heavenly Father. It’s my job not to try and change her, but to help her find her own way. I’ll give guidance and support, but never push her into a mold that is the supposed normal. She is who God made her to be, not who I think she should be. And I want her to be proud of that, not ashamed.

As far as what other people think? I’ll help her know it doesn’t matter, and I’ll help her know what does. She’ll learn to love herself, and to embrace her unique qualities just as I do.

She’ll never feel that different is a bad thing from my words or actions, and she’ll know that what the world calls weird God calls wonderful. God calls us wonderful.

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50 Joys of Having Daughters

We are a houseful of girls. Little girls. And we love it. As I begin thinking of adding another to our brood I wonder about baby boys, and if this time around I will be blessed with a male child. My four year old girl is requesting another sister, and my husband has succumbed to the fact that he seems only capable of manufacturing more daughters.

While I would love a son, I must admit I adore my girls! There’s just something about little girls, and when I watch them with their father I completely melt. There is a joy in raising little girls that cannot be measured. Every day of my life is filled with the blessing of my little ladies, and I can’t imagine it any other way.

With my first daughter I painted her room yellow, and purchased neutral-colored items not wanting to impose girlie-girl things on her right out of the womb. But that child made her own decision to be a little princess, and loves the color pink. Heck, she’s even made me love pink.

While I don’t know the happiness involved with raising boys, and perhaps some of these fit them also, I decided to jot down a list of blessings I see from having my precious ladies. So here’s fifty joys, off the top of my head, of raising daughters.

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1. Frilly dresses. 
2. Brushing their hair. Except when it’s tangled; then it’s just torture.
3. Playing dolls. Who doesn’t love playing dolls?!
4. Girlie diaper bags. I mean, it’s like getting to carry two purses.
5. Watching them wrap Dad around their finger. The best part of my day by far.
6. Teaching them about makeup. They love to stand there on a step stool and just watch me.
7. Painting their toenails. A blessing, and a practice in patience and dexterity.
8. Hair bows.
9. Picking a favorite princess.
10. Tea parties.
11. Having an excuse to get back into Barbie.
12. The color pink. Seriously. Everything is pink!
13. Learning to braid.
14. Playing dress up.
15. Automatic shopping partners.
16. Play purses and pretend lipstick.
17. Plastic, high heel shoes. Precious!
18. Little pink panties or bloomers with ruffles on the bootie. Is there anything cuter?!
19. Patent leather shoes. I adore red ones!
20. Ponytails and pigtails. Love.
21. My own little helpers in the kitchen.
22. Daddy’s little girl. I’m not jealous at all; it’s so cute!
23. Spa day fun.
24. Tutus.
25. Bubble baths. We love our bath time!
26. Scented lotion and perfume.
27. Picking out clothes. I never knew it would be so fun to dress another person!
28. Leggings. So many cute styles I could never get away with.
29. Tomboys. Girls with grit! Love it!
30. So fragile, so strong. I get to see the essence of being female blossom before me daily. It’s beautiful.
31. Picking flowers and making necklaces out of them. Just like I did with my Momma.
32. Ballet shoes. Didn’t think I’d raise a little ballerina, but she’s so cute in those tights and slippers.
33. Watching them fix their Daddy’s hair. A tie for best part of my day.
34. Earrings.
35. Dollhouses. 
36. Miniature kitchens and Easy Bake ovens.
37. Baking cookies together. Reminds me of childhood.
38. Manicures.
39. Tiny bracelets and rings.
40. Princess crowns.
41. Fairy wings.
42. Socks with lace.
43. Watching Dad cringe when dating or marriage is mentioned. Wait, I cringe too!
44. Them playing with your jewelry and trying on your shoes. Cute with your permission, but exasperating without. Yet still cute.
45. Watching Daddy fix their hair. Yes, it’s usually a messy bun, but still so precious!
46. Sisters. This may be the best part about being a girl.
47. Pants with ruffles at the bottom hem. I thought I would pass on this fad, but I’ve fallen in love with them.
48. Flavored lipgloss. They’ll put it on for hours if you let them, and the kisses are so sweet.
49. Dance recitals. Little. Girls. Dancing. Eek!
50. Little girl swimsuits. Especially with big ole diaper booties!

I have decided that I could probably continue this list for miles. Daughters are a gift from above, and I’m grateful I have the chance to raise so many. I may feel differently when it’s time for dating and weddings, but for now I’m savoring the pink, princess dresses and lopsided pigtails!

What about you? What joys of daughters do you have to add?

Why Fighting for American Freedom is Never Cowardice

Like most people I too have seen or heard the comments made by celebrities as of recent concerning the new movie American Sniper, based on the true story of Navy Seal Chris Kyle. I’ve read Michael Moore’s rebuttal of his infamous tweet, and even if he wasn’t specifically talking about Chris Kyle, as he claims, but instead a WWII Japanese sniper, I still think it was ill-timed. I mean even if he wasn’t attempting to make a jab at a dead, American hero why speak publicly on the subject of snipers during the time of the film’s release? Poor taste, and poorly thought out words in my opinion. But whatever.

I’m sure no one was really surprised to hear something like that come out of Michael Moore’s mouth, or even the likes of Seth Rogen, though I will admit disappointment there. Point is it wasn’t really shocking, per se, but rather disgusting. And the whole ordeal reminded me of the poor attitude towards veterans nationwide.

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Why just yesterday I saw a comment on social media from a man stating he thought “military members were the most over-indulged, coddled over group in existence.” I thought it was really swell that he was allowed the freedom to sit behind his computer desk and practice his first amendment rights, and I wondered if he knew where he might credit such a gift.

Michael Moore called a soldier a coward, and a troll called them over-indulged, but I just wondered who called them to say, “thank you.” Anyone?

For the record I am a veteran, and while I did not serve in a combat situation, I did serve in a time of war. As a Hospital Corpsman in the US Navy I had the privilege to serve as the medical provider for many injured soldiers returning from the front lines. I saw limbs lost, so many missing, and I saw faces disfigured, lives too. I saw vacant eyes, broken hearts, but also strength beyond what can be imagined. Never in that time did I see anyone being coddled or cowardice.

I saw a man with only one remaining arm use it to hold his fiancé tightly. I saw Marines eager to get back to their unit. I saw men with one leg manage to stand during the Star-Spangled Banner, or when an officer entered the room.

I saw and experienced personally the feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know it’s time to go to war. As a dual military spouse I went through hugging my husband goodbye as he left for Iraq, not knowing when he would return. Then I watched him sit in silence by himself, staring into the distance after he did. But he got to return. Others did not.

When their mothers were handed their folded flags they did not feel like their sons and daughters had died a cowardly death, and I’m certain as they jolted emotionally along with the boom of the three-volley salute they didn’t seem the least bit entitled or indulged beyond that of the honor they deserved.

And this honor, the one which they deserve, this honor is the one I wish they could be given on a daily basis. Rather than ridiculed as brainless warmongers a little gratitude and appreciation would be only expected, and certainly considerate.

Since the idea of respecting military members seems so foreign and undeserved to so many I thought I would make a rather elementary comparison.

Imagine, if you will, that you have been given a sackful of money. You are accompanied by your gorgeous wife who also happens to be scantily clad. If you’re a woman then I want you to imagine you are the buxom, underdressed lady. You have your cash in hand, but now you have to walk to the bank through the worst, gang-ridden neighborhood imaginable. With your loved one on your arm looking so alluring. Would you care for an armed escort? Someone to protect you? You don’t have to pay them; it’s simply their honor and duty to protect you. And while no one may rob, rape, and murder y’all wouldn’t it be nice just to have that added assurance. It certainly might prevent such an atrocity from occurring.

I have always loved the quote by Theodore Roosevelt, “walk softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”

This is why we do what we do folks! Your military carries the big stick for you so when you’re walking down the street carrying your sack of money you can feel safe.

You have the freedom to call snipers cowardly and the military as a whole coddled because of the many men and woman who have died so that you may speak your mind. A thank you isn’t necessary, but it sure would be nice.

You don’t like war? Well neither do I. Neither does your soldier. Do you think young women want to leave their babies, or that young men wish to die too soon? Heck no! The American soldier is called to duty. They are called to protect you, your family, and all the freedoms that you carry as an American citizen. They do so for very little pay (trust me), and they do so with no expectations for what they will receive in return.

To place your life on the line for a stranger is honorable, but to then be called cowardice for that same action is despicable. I’m not expecting you to personally condone what the military has to do to keep our great nation free and safe, but a small measure of respect for that sacrifice would be appreciated.

That is all.

5 Things Nurses Aren’t Saying About Nursing. Out Loud.

*Be forewarned. This is a post by a nurse speaking honestly about her feelings and her profession. It’s not to hurt feelings or anger anyone. Rather it’s written for nurses with the hope that a camaraderie forged over shared emotions may lift the spirits of my coworkers everywhere. Every day isn’t a good day, and that’s okay. You are allowed to take your wings off sometimes.

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I recently had a bad day. It was one of those days where everything goes wrong at once, and even little things seem like big things. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel, and there seems no reprieve for the downhill slide your shift has taken. 

On this particular day I was not alone in my angst, and as I sat down for an uber-late lunch, sucking down delivery chicken wings with my cohorts I listened to their comments, and I was relieved. Thank God it’s not just me I thought, and I was honestly at ease that I wasn’t the only one ready to pop. 

Like an overinflated balloon I had reached my point. I could stretch no further, and it’s during those moments of stress and frustration that a nurse feels their lowest. Thoughts of surrender and desperation come to mind, and you call into question what you do. You wonder if you can come back, and you wonder if you even want to. 

You might have one of these five thoughts pass through your brain, even if only for a moment. 

1. I picked the wrong career. Some days you’re just certain you made the wrong career choice, and you ask, “what was I thinking?!”

When your patient is coding five minutes into the door, and especially if they don’t pull through, you think it. 

When you get yelled at for doing your job, when you’re short staffed (again), or when you cannot finish a single thing, you question your vocation. 

When you’re staying three hours past your shift to chart, or when another mandatory class is due, you wonder if you made the right choice. 

When you are your worst critic, and you feel like you just can’t do this job like it should be done, you question yourself. You ask, “am I really cut out for this?”

2. I’m stuck. Sometimes you feel stuck. On those days when everything is going wrong, and you do not want to return, you know that you will. You’ll be back. You have obligations not only to your family and yourself, but also to your patients, your organization, and the profession as a whole. You feel an allegiance, and sometimes that makes you feel like you couldn’t leave if you wanted to. Even if money allowed. 

3. I’m not a people person. There’s this weird thing about nursing. You are bound to care for the physical needs of another, but then you are also required to care for their personal, emotional needs. And usually that’s not a big deal. Except when it is. 

Just like waiting tables, in life there are bad customers. Bad customers get sick too, but you care for them just like you do your good customers. And you don’t spit in their soup. 

Nursing is an introvert’s nightmare, but even if you’re “not a people person,” you figure it out. You communicate effectively, even when it’s not reciprocated. You are kind, even when you don’t want to be. When insults are thrown upon you, you turn the other cheek. Literally. Then you wipe it. 

It’s not always easy being kind, compassionate, and caring to people who curse you, hit you, lie to you, and threaten litigation, yet you are. But your obligation doesn’t make it enjoyable or any less vexing. Mean people are mean no matter where you work, but they seem to be even uglier when they don’t feel well. True story. 

4. The bad days outweigh the good. Everyone knows that nurses have bad days, but it’s always the reprieve of the good ones that bring balance back to things. The problem is there are more bad days than good. Overall the stressful, chaotic, cry-worthy days are many more than the smooth, good days. 

Yet, despite that, somehow one good moment will make it all okay. One “thank you” or one hug makes the bad days fade into the background. They’re still there, and they still exceed the the good days, but somehow the sting of the massive bad is made less by one, tiny good thing. It’s really weird. 

5. I wouldn’t suggest pursuing a career in nursing. That sounds so harsh, but I think of my daughters. While I am honored to be a part of my field, and I’m proud of it, I’m just not sure if I would suggest or encourage my girls following in my footsteps. 

I don’t know if I want them to be so close and personal to the pain of losing a life, or to feel the responsibility of making another person well. 

And though I know already that they have the heart for it, I hate to see those same hearts broken over the downfalls that come with the job. 

As it stands nurses are left knowing that they love the profession, and feel honored to be a part of it when it comes down to it. But in those moments when they don’t feel all warm and fuzzy they are left feeling like a failure. A failure to their calling. 

There seems to be this expectation that nurses should remain happy, resilient, and completely satisfied with everything on a daily basis. After all, it’s their job! Not many other jobs seem to be held to such an unrealistic expectation. Naturally, when a nurse misses the mark on being perfect they feel as if they’ve fallen flat.

When thoughts of discontentment come a nurse is left feeling less than what he/she thinks is expected, and those feelings are buried in favor of nursing pride. It’s easy and supported to be a fulfilled nurse, but on the days when you’re not, you’re just not. 

I don’t think having a bad day makes you a bad nurse, just as having a good day doesn’t make you a better one. Having moments where you throw your hands up, and in essence are discontent, I think these are normal. You are normal, and so am I. 

Being happy with your vocation is easy. Continuing to be a good nurse on the days you aren’t happy is another. It’s actually outstanding and commendable my friends. So hang in there. After all, there’s always the good days.