A quick note: I loved, loved, loved your comments! Thank you for reading, thank you for encouraging, thank you for sharing your thoughts. It's obvious that we are all going to learn a lot from each other and I hope you keep the comments rolling. I think we'll also have some guest posts by those of you who want to share something specific that you have learned or struggle with. You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like the chance to post in the future. Thank you!
I married my sweet husband and after a three-day honeymoon we moved across the country--switched coasts--put our cars on a truck, along with our wedding gifts, newly purchased couch and entertainment center from RC Willey (where I got an employee discount) so the paid-for-by-the-new-employer moving company could make the drive for us while we comfortably flew--arrived in January to bitter cold with a new coat thanks to my in-laws who knew this girl from the desert was in for a rude awakening. I grew up in Las Vegas, much of Hubby's family was in Denver and we settled into our first apartment in Upstate New York. (I totally recommend this for newlyweds, by the way. Not specifically the New York in January part, but the part where you move away from both sides of the family at the beginning of your marriage. Except when it comes to my children. I recommend that they live about 5 minutes from me.) I had a lot of family and good friends on the other side of the United States who I was SURE wanted to have updates on our lives and know how we were settling in, so I would send long-winded e-mails with some frequency to a large group of people.
These e-mails only picked up recipients and interest when we moved BACK across the country, this time to Washington State. By interest I don't mean that the readers began clamoring for more...the added interest was because I was growing a little human inside of me which is infinitely more interesting than the walk we went on by the river or that I made meatloaf for the first time. My husband would read these e-mails and say, "WHO wants to know this much about our lives? Nobody really cares this much." There would be the occasional friend or family member, though, who would tell me, "I love your e-mails! Thanks for sending them. Keep it up!" If this was said just to me, I would make sure that it was repeated in the presence of my sweet husband. "See?! People care!" And he would just smile and shake his head, I'm sure silently cursing them for encouraging his verbose wife.
Fast-forward some. Now we've added children, three to be exact. I have an obsession passed down from my mother for Baby Magic lotion. It's heavenly. If you've never had the pleasure of smelling it, you should. Every time we leave the house, I MUST put Baby Magic on my kid's heads so that they will smell appealing and everyone who holds them or hugs them will instantly be more in love because they smell so good. I also have to fix hair - which involves more Baby Magic - and make sure clothes are presentable. MOST of the time, Hubby doesn't mind. But when we are just going to one store, running late, or if he is taking the kids out by himself and I insist on taking the time to freshen them up, he'll insist, "Nobody cares!"
When I stand in front of the mirror, frustrated by bad hair or a shirt that doesn't fit the same because I've had three babies and eat too much ice cream and cookies, he'll say, "Dana, nobody cares." Followed with a comment on how beautiful I am, of course; brother knows what's good for him.
Our oldest son is into making his own fashion choices these days (he's 4) which would involve his Wolverine costume every time if he were permitted. And somehow when my husband dresses the kids he has the uncanny ability to pick the one shirt in their entire closet that I really don't like and never put on them and then match it with the pair of pants that I should have packed away months ago because they are too small. It is SO hard for me to let it go if we are going somewhere. If I want to change them, I am sure you can guess what my man says, "Dana, seriously, nobody cares!"
Many times I will respond with , "But I care!" Which begs the question, "Why do I care?" It's something I've thought about a lot.
I think that many of us feel like we are living our lives on some sort of imaginary stage, playing out our lives for the world to see and critique. And, boy, are we concerned about reading the reviews...in fact, we often write them ourselves! But if I am so busy playing the part in my personal play, I certainly don't have time to critique your performance. And the same goes for everyone around us. We are not being judged nearly as often as we imagine. I really believe that. And compliments can sometimes be the good review that encourage a destructive way of thinking.
Now, I don't think that we should walk around unkempt, smelly, and mismatched, never complimenting each other. I just think that we need to evaluate the reason we do what we do and not care so darn much! It's pretty liberating taking your kids to a birthday party in costumes even though costumes weren't requested...especially when your daughter wants to wear the Red Ranger costume that is way too big on her, rolled up at the ankles and wrists, with the mask sitting atop her messy hair and she is still the cutest thing you've ever seen. It also feels good to have a group of women to your home for a friend's birthday party without having had the time for a shower or makeup and realize that they love you just the same.
So, how does this nobody cares business translate into how we live our lives? I am still going to slather my kids in Baby Magic (probably until they're 20...I'll have to resort to doing it in their sleep at some point, I'm sure) and I still love to do my daughter's hair and dress my kids in clothes I like; I will continue to compliment others and appreciate the compliments I receive. BUT I am also going to chill out and let my husband dress the kids sometimes, I will proudly walk into Albertsons with my son in his Wolverine costume, and I will occasionally rock the shirt that shows my love handles because I still really like the shirt. When I receive a compliment, I will not think that I have to continue looking or living a certain way for that person to approve of me. In short, I will joyfully, and often, exclaim within myself that nobody cares! Not nearly as much as I think they do.
I still maintain, however, that people DID care about those e-mails early in our marriage. They cared and they loved them.