Category Archives: Love

My best friend’s baby

There are days, like today, when I think I deserve a medal. I often joke to my husband that there are moments when we earn our parenting stripes, and with two sick kids stuck at home, I feel like I’ve earned my fair share this week.

But while I’ve been here playing on the world’s smallest violin, my best friend had her first baby.

A precious baby girl with strawberry blonde hair and a perfect button nose, chubby little arms and those unmistakably long  newborn fingernails.

This delicious package did not arrive into this world easily. She followed a 22hour labour which ended in an emergency c-section. Her arrival shattered long-held dreams about a natural birth, and triggered a serious physical recovery for her doting mother. (Side note: Anyone who thinks a C-section is the ‘easy way out’ needs to be taken somewhere quiet and bitch-slapped.)

The Emergency C-section; an unexpected and unwanted birthing experience.
The Emergency C-section; an unexpected and unwanted birthing experience.

This baby’s arrival threw me straight back to the time of my own daughter’s birth in an almost identical scenario (but, lucky for me, I only had to endure 14hrs of labour before my operation was demanded).

If we’re going to talk about earning our parenting stripes, then let’s talk about the day our children enter this world. They rarely enter it in the way we hope for (ie. A birth with no drugs, no stitches, no tearing, no emergency c-sections….). Emotionally we’re smashed against walls sideways. At times, we are so fuelled with love that we’re riding high on the hospital room’s ceiling. The next minute we’re crashing onto the floor with a thud as we learn that establishing breastfeeding sucks (pardon the pun!) and hurts like hell.

One minute, we are staring at our precious babies in their hospital bassinets, refusing to give our body the sleep it craves because we’re literally addicted to this incredible thing. The next minute, our necks are pressed against our chests as we’re hunched over sobbing, wondering why our baby is crying non-stop and why it has to be that everything hurts so damn much. 

So if we’re going to talk about our parenting stripes, let’s forget about sick kids,  or kids who don’t sleep through the night, or toddler tantrums, or nappy nightmares. Let’s remember the biggest stripe of all… the one we earn the day we become parents. When we learn our biggest lessons, often through a period of immense pain. When we take on immense responsibility while we are weighed down by uncontrollable hormones. When our capacity for loving enters a new dimension, but we’re so fogged up from the birthing experience we aren’t aware that we even stepped through the door into a new world.

To my beautiful best friend, a sister to me, a woman I couldn’t be more proud of…. You have yourself a wonderful gift, and you’ve given all of us a new person to love beyond reason. Well done, you are my hero. You’ve entered the parenting army, and you’ve definitely earned your stripes.

You are already doing an incredible job. Keep going.

XXX

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The Lovers’ Diet – Week 2 – Tea Buddy Challenge

Week 1 of The Lovers’ Diet is done and dusted, and I have seven lovely complements to show for it.

Sure, my man may have forgotten his task (ahem, twice), but he made up for it in typical fashion by giving me three complements on one piece of paper, ensuring he met his prescribed quota and didn’t end up in the doghouse. Nicely played, sir.

Last week’s challenge was all about reminding ourselves – and our partners – of how lucky we are to have found each other. I’ve been reading ‘The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work’ and this paragraph stuck with me: 

“At first, this may all seem obvious to the point of being ridiculous: People who are happily married like each other. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be happily married. But fondness and admiration can be fragile unless you remain aware of how crucial they are to the friendship that is the core of any good marriage. By simply reminding yourself of your spouse’s positive qualities – even as you grapple with each other’s flaws – you can prevent a happy marriage from deteriorating. The simple reason is that fondness and admiration are antidotes to contempt.”

WEEK 2

This week’s challenge is about talking. Talking and really SAYING something. Rather than reeling off shopping list of priority admin items like we normally do.

Does this sound familiar?

Me – The baby’s sick and needs more Nurofen. Can you pick up some tomorrow for me?
Him- Can you remember to pay the energy bill?
Me – I think we need to buy an outdoor rug. Now that we’ve got the new BBQ, the back courtyard is getting filthy.
Him – Are we free on the 22nd? We’ve been invited to Josh and Anna’s place for a play-date?

We ask about each other’s days, but it’s not like we are really, really interested. Most of the time, it’s a habitual question asked as a matter of course, while our brain keeps prattling on with whatever we have been thinking about before we asked the question. We don’t really expect a different answer to the one we got yesterday. Or the day before. Sometimes we’re surprised by the outcome; like the days when my physio hubby tells me he has treated a celebrity (I know, I sound like a teenager, but I find it sooo cool!) but these responses are one-offs, and a far cry from the auto-pilot answer “my day was OK”.

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I know for a fact that I used to reveal more about myself – my hopes, dreams, failures, fears – to my tea buddy at work. We’d talk about books we had read, movies we’d seen; politics; our elderly grandparents, and heaps of interesting stuff that I’m just too tired at the end of the day to bring up with my own man at home. In fairness, we tend to spend the majority of our waking hours  in the office, so perhaps this isn’t surprising. But it doesn’t mean it isn’t sad.

For this reason, I’ve decided to call Week 2’s challenge the TEA BUDDY CHALLENGE.

YOUR TASK

Set aside 15-20minutes every day for tea with your loved one. Put on the kettle, sit down, and talk.

This is a real challenge for me. I have a 3 year old and a baby who doesn’t sleep through the night, and I’m usually knackered at both the beginning and end of a day.  This task is going to require me to either wake up early, or go to bed late, and I am dreading both options. But the truth is, there’s simply no other time. So sleep-sacrifice is a must.

There are some ground rules.

(1) I want you to cover the following topics, and

(2) I you aren’t allowed to talk about ADMIN. (This includes kids, if you have them).

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TOPICS:

Day 1: Think about how far you’ve come together as a couple, and talk about it. Talk about everything you’ve accomplished as a team.

Day 2: Think about everything that’s interesting you at the moment: politics, fashion, new products, news, the book you’re reading… and share it.

Day 3:  Look over this list of 36 psychologist-approved questions you should ask someone on your first date, to determine compatibility.  It’s quite a hoot – I’d  have been MORTIFIED to ask a guy a handful of these upon meeting, like …squirm….”How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?” Tackle a few of them, and have a laugh over how you would have responded to them back in the year that the two of you first met, versus now. What – if anything – has changed?

Day 4: What’s your heart’s greatest desire…. currently? how has this changed over time?

Day 5: Bring out the photo albums. Talk about the memories that crop up. (And the fashion faux pas, of course!)

Day 6: Try to make each other laugh. Any way you can. What are the funny things you can remember from over the years? Like the time when my fella took me to Scotland’s BEST fish’n’chips shop in Pittenweem and I promptly burst into tears (a STREAM of tears) when he squirted brown sauce all over my chips. RUINED. We’d been dating for 3 months, and he didn’t drop me straight away. I knew he was a keeper.

If you see something funny on facebook, keep hold of it and share it over tea. Let’s lighten the load of marriage – forget about kids, mortgages, bills, and all that background noise for a while. Let’s have a giggle.

Day 7: Plan a date night. Spend the whole 20 minutes working out how you can find/afford a babysitter, where you’ll go, what you’ll wear and BOOK IT IN.

Good luck, and don’t forget to share how you’re getting on! Post pictures of your teapot, or a selfie of you sipping on your chamomiles to Instagram and remember #theloversdiet @stresslessjessie 

Wk 1's first complement

Week 1 of The Lovers’ Diet….THE GOOD LAY

Have you been with your partner for a while now?  So long that you remember reassuring him that his blonde streaks looked great (cringe), but now you’re reassuring him that it’s OK to be bald (truly guys….it’s fine). 

OMG - the hair!! Circa 2006
OMG – the hair!! Circa 2006

Do you still love your partner after all these years? Ah ha.

Do you remember when you were so passionate that you had to peel yourself off each other like apple skins, just to come up for air? Yep.

Is the most intimate thing you’re doing nowadays licking the same gelato cone? Hmmm…

Well, then – maybe this little exercise program is for you. Think about it – you’ll happily commit to 12 weeks of food deprivation and ab-punishing exercises for the sake of your physical health,  but what are you doing for the wellbeing of your relationship?

Let’s go and find the magic that seems to have disappeared along with the mystery.  You know what I mean? Once you know the exact timing of each other’s daily bowel movements, it’s kind of hard to see each other as mysterious creatures of heavenly deliciousness. (Ahem, too much information?)

And for those of you with kids, I imagine that any latent shreds of ‘mystery’ disappeared in the birthing suite. Talk about revealing circumstances, hey? On the plus side though, I’m sure when the mystery disappeared a very healthy dose of respect and admiration kicked in!

There’s no denying that kids can make things tough on a relationship – that’s a given. Most of us are time poor as it is, but when kids are thrown into the mix then the opportunities you have to invest in your relationship become relegated to family-time activities. And I doubt any of us are really staring lovingly into each other’s eyes next to the swings at the local playground. (And if you are, I quietly envy you.)

Kids aside, it seems to me that a lot of the issue facing those of us in long term committed relationships is centred around the topic of intimacy. For  my man (and a lot of my friends’ fellas, not naming names), intimacy equates directly with sex.

For me (and again, a lot of my girlfriends), intimacy leads to sex. Intimacy relies on a more complicated set of variables than sex alone. It requires conversations about how you’re feeling. It requires affection, but not the get-in-your-pants kind. It requires complements and gentleness and smiles. And yes, sometimes it involves sex too.

The aim of my 6 week Lovers’ Diet is clear. I want to re-establish the intimacy in my relationship. And I want you to get onboard. If the flame in your partnership isn’t igniting, then jump on board with me in my experiment. What have you got to lose? 

So, how does The Lovers’ Diet work?

  • Follow me on Instagram – @stresslessjessie
  • I will publish a weekly relationship challenge for 6 weeks
  • You will be assigned homework each week
  • Post to Instagram and share how you’re getting on with the assignments, using #theloversdiet and #stresslessjess
  • Then….commit to it. Put up a poster in your kitchen with boxes next to each week’s assignment and cross them off as you do each one. Or put alarms in your phone. (Does anyone ever do that??!)

And remember. This is supposed to be a bit of fun. This isn’t to designed to fix a broken relationship. It’s designed to bring some spark back into a healthy one.

WEEK ONE: THE GOOD LAY.

Nope. This week’s challenge has nothing to do with sex. I’m talking about laying off each other. Go on, lay down your arms. Bite your tongue. Hold back the nag. Even in the most loving relationships, we seem to reserve our  harshest words for the ones we love most. I know that at times I speak more cruelly to my fella than I do to shopkeepers, Centrelink telephone staff, and door-to-door salesmen. It’s not fair. It’s called ‘Common Courtesy’ for a reason and should be extended to everyone. I would have NEVER spoken meanly to my man in the origins of our relationship – or vice-versa. But somewhere down this long, long road of our partnership, bites of meanness have been taken, and it shames me.

Source - Huffington Post
Source – Huffington Post

The strategy for this week is two-fold.

(1) Bite back any nasties

(2) Replace those nasties with some niceties.

YOUR TASK

  • Write down a complement every night on a piece of paper and put it under the pillow of your loved-one, telling them something they’ve done that you’re grateful for, or something you love about them that day. Did you sneak a peek at your wife as she left the shower in the morning and think to yourself she had a butt that rivalled Beyonce’s booty? Tell her!
Beyonce's bum ain't got nothing on your Mrs!
Beyonce’s bum ain’t got nothing on your Mrs!

It’s SEVEN compliments, on SEVEN slips of paper. Doesn’t matter if you’ve got SEVEN kids….You will still find time to do this, I’m sure.

So c’mon – let’s have some fun!  Share how you’re progressing on Instagram, and together we can ignite that first-date spark!!! 

Wk 1's first complement
Wk 1’s first complement