Tag Archives: Husband

After 15 Years, He Still Likes Me

At 22, I arrived at my first job fresh out of college with a degree, cheap clothes, big dreams, and little else. Happy to have work as a feature writer at a small daily newspaper, I settled into what I thought real-world living was. I found my own apartment in a dingy area of town, made my own meals, paid my bills, and still had a taste for fun and freedom. I figured if I got married, I’d be 30.

The serious dark-haired reporter who covered the cops and courts beat changed that. His deep voice carried across the newsroom. He didn’t have time to goof off. He was always on deadline or rushing to crime scenes or court.

Four months after I started my job, we were engaged. We had become fast friends. It wasn’t a storybook romance. It was more like we saw each other at a party from across the room and thought, “There you are. I’ve been looking for you all my life. Let’s get out of here.”

We just knew. It wasn’t that I couldn’t imagine the rest of my life without him; it was that I could only imagine the rest of my life with him.

Fifteen years later, here we are, a boring couple with two kids living in the suburbs. He works. I stay home. We live the American dream. We’ve had little drama. Frankly, I think it’s a good life. We laugh, we wrestle, we get on each other’s nerves, we ignore each other, we taunt each other, we get each other.

For fifteen winters he has put up with two pairs of socks on my feet, ugly flannel pajamas, and a sticky plastic strip across my stuffy nose to help me breathe. Nostrils flared, I look like a proud pig coming to bed but he doesn’t say anything, though he does roll the other way.

He puts up with the used tissues I leave all over the house year-round and the fact that I make him clean the unidentifiable objects from the back of the fridge. I suffer with the fact that he refuses to throw certain clothing away when it is so riddled with holes a moth wouldn’t touch it. I made a pact with him early in our marriage that I would never throw his things out without asking. And I don’t. I did not, however, say I wouldn’t nag about those items—or his box collection in the garage.

We’ve been through times when I wondered if we’d ever be the same happy couple again. Nights when our young son wouldn’t sleep, my word, there were hundreds of nights. But somehow when the sun came up, we always saw things differently.

When you’re young and stupid and you’re mumbling those wedding vows in utter fear, you know you mean them, but after fifteen years you understand them with all your heart. The honeymoon ended long ago, awkwardness replaced with being too comfortable in human skin. If something itches, you scratch it. My husband has held my hair for me while I puked, put ice packs on my head to ease migraines. He’s helped me through stomach disorders that I never wanted him to witness. He probably saw things during childbirth that I don’t want to know about.

That’s when you know you’ve got it good. Between all of that and those sticky nose strips, he loves me anyway.

We’ve been married fifteen years this month and he’s still that young reporter who invited me to his house to do my laundry and cook dinner for me sixteen years ago. And he still does my laundry and cooks dinner for me.



Filed under Everyday Life

When Date Night Goes Wrong

My husband and I rarely go out as a couple. When we get the chance for a date night, we snatch it up like kids grabbing candy from the Halloween treat bowl. So when grandparents come to town, we accost them and beg for a few hours away from our kids. The thing is, for years I just never found any sitters I liked—until now. To celebrate my husband’s fortieth birthday, I hired our new sitter and spent weeks anticipating the night out with my aging husband.

In the past, some date nights we’ve been granted have been spontaneous. A grandparent mentions, “Feel free to go out tonight,” and my husband and I are out the door within minutes. No time for chitchat or wardrobe changes—we make plans in the car. We have a habit of dining early, joining the older crowd for the early bird special. Or we go later and get seated by the couple with the screaming kid. As much as I try to ignore this, I’ve left my screaming kids at home so I can enjoy a peaceful meal for once. A meal that doesn’t involve someone squawking, “I don’t like this food!” A meal where some child isn’t climbing out of her seat and the parents are at wit’s end. I get a little deflated when that battle happens right next to me. I think, “I’ve been there lady, I really have, but I’ve been on this dating side so much less frequently lately. I’m a little more sympathetic to me right now.”

Having the luxury to plan date night is pretty rare. Saturday everything was going seamlessly. I actually dressed up for the finer establishment, switched purses even. The kids’ dinner came out of the oven just as the sitter arrived. My husband and I were walking out the door and my daughter ran to me, frantically pointing to her mouth. “What is it?” A mouth full of vomit, that’s what it was. My husband rushed her to the bathroom. I told the sitter to run home, away from our germs. In the kitchen my son bawled over his dinner. “I don’t like it when people throw up,” he sobbed. He shivered with fear, thinking of the last stomach bug that swept over our house two years ago that made him sick for ten days. Knowing a virus had entered our house again terrified him.


Ready to go on the date that never was.

My husband and I put our crummy clothes back on. Like forecasters calling for snow, we were parents predicting a wave of stomach terror. It was time to stock up on Gatorade, crackers, and disinfecting wipes. We needed to run to the store for sick supplies in case we were unexpectedly shut in like last time when the virus took my husband and me down in the night within hours of each other.

Instead of the delicious dinner we dreamed about, we ate stale leftovers and spent our date night a little nauseated, pondering our indigestion, and wondering whether every grumble of our stomachs meant we would be next. We prepared for the storm, turned out the lights, and went to bed early, not knowing how many times we’d be up in the night.

But my daughter made it through. She nibbled Cheerios at breakfast and announced she felt fine. Now the rest of us wonder who’s next. We sit and wait. And for now, date night will have to wait too.


Filed under Can't Get a Break

Forty Is Just a Number

My husband turns 40 this week. He’s not thrilled about his milestone four decades of life. I think he feels kind of old, lost his youth, you know. If he drives up in a convertible and I have to put up with ten years of a midlife crisis, I’m not sure what I’ll do. Go along for the ride? As long as there isn’t a blonde in the passenger seat, I think I can handle a little change.

I’ve just never cared much about age. Forty doesn’t scare me, but I’m not quite there yet either. I still have two years (one and a half) until I say good-bye to my thirties, and they’ve been really good to me. Maybe by then I will be a weepy, wrinkly, achy mess.

For most of my adult life, I haven’t been able to remember my age. Twenty-something. Twenty-three, no seven? After I was legal, I really didn’t care. Now that I have kids who can speak and who are good in math, they don’t let me forget. “No, you’re 38.”turning 40

I think having kids helps me maintain a youthful spirit. When you play chase in the yard, pretend you’re Padme Amidala, immerse yourself in dolls and Harry Potter, and hear fart talk 24/7, it rubs off on you. My dad always says, “You’re as old as you feel,” and I agree. I look forward to a Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Little House book as much as my kids do. I let my spirit decide my age. The actual number can’t get me down.

But seeing my husband as he approaches 40, living with someone almost as youthful as I am who plays with the kids and lives this same life, I’m starting to see his perspective. I’m starting to get it, to feel it.

My mind may still feel young but my body is aging whether I want it to or not. Every winter now, my joints swell and ache. My fingers become stiff and the morning cold greets my body with a shock of reality. I’m sure it’s arthritis but I don’t want to take a multi-pill regimen every day. I’m too young for a day-of-the-week pill pack.

My eyes deceive me. For the rest of my life, I will always hear the story of the time I pointed up to the tree at the zoo and told my kids to look at the pretty bird. It happened to be a red panda, and I happened to be the butt of many jokes that day.

I fall asleep on the couch on Friday nights mouth gaping, tongue lolling, and mumble “I’m awake” from time to time. I’m cold from August through June. I always need a lap blanket because it’s so darn chilly. As I sweep the hair off the bathroom floor every morning, I wonder who will go bald first—my husband or me. It looks like we’re both regular contributors.

I hope once 40 passes, it will be just another number to my husband, to me. I hope it won’t crush my spirit, and loud music and Star Wars will always be fun. I hope my husband and I get a second wind and embarrass our teenagers by staying out late, holding hands, and partying too much.

But regardless of what we do, how old we really are, and what time we go to bed, I’m glad we spend all of our birthdays together. It will lessen the sting when 90 approaches.


Filed under Fatherhood

Tech-Challenged Mom Trying to Stay Ahead…of the Kids

“After dinner, we’ll show you our PowerPoint presentation,” my son said.

That’s not our normal Sunday evening, and the kids weren’t talking about schoolwork. The kids have been making PowerPoint presentations just for kicks featuring sports teams and now penguins. I’m not sure I can do anything beyond open the program. My husband and I tried to figure it out one day last year when we got our new computer. We sat scratching our heads and a few weeks later my son clicked away on it. “How did you do that?” I asked.

He gave me some pointers and I got lost in all the mumbo-jumbo.

I am a technology-challenged mom. My kids attend a science and technology school. It won’t be long before they know more than I do. I know my lack of skills limits me in many ways, but I get by with the help of Google and a husband with a pretty firm grasp in digital media.

But it’s starting to dawn on me that my kids may catch up to me sooner than expected.

They use iPods and iPads at school and I can count on both hands the number of times I’ve used them. My kids still have to show me how to turn them off, and my husband has to show me how to get to the screen I need. I just prefer to navigate my enormous computer screen.

When I began tweeting, I couldn’t wrap my head around the logic. I had to see it in action for a while and I couldn’t figure out why people kept tweeting the play-by-play of their favorite shows or who was talking to whom. I admit, my husband set up my Twitter account and even sent out my first tweets. I do manage my own now.

He helps me with the technical side of blogging and any computer issues I have. But for all of his knowledge, he can still be a dinosaur right along with me. When he left his last job of 13 years, of course he was sad. But leaving behind his cool Droid phone and going back to our pay-as-you-go plan stung a little. Well, it stung a lot. Being in the digital market, it’s hard for him to not have toys like the big kids do. But neither of us talks on the phone much and we don’t see a need to pay for a big plan.

flip phone, mominthemuddle.com

Hey, at least it’s not a bag phone. Remember those? Anyone?

So when my husband started his new job with a company full of fresh, young employees, he described the meeting scenario: Everyone grabs a seat and places their hip mobile device in front of them on the boardroom table. Everyone but him. We screamed at my husband’s suggestion of him placing his outdated flip phone on the table so he could join the crowd.

One of his first days on the job, he called me because he couldn’t figure out how to turn his snazzy new computer on. If only the kids had been home to help. No doubt they would have known from school. I Googled it and watched a video to instruct him over the phone. At least I’m resourceful even if I am challenged.

At some point, I know my kids will surpass my brilliance in some aspects of my life, but I always assumed it would be in math. And I didn’t think it would be this early. If they keep this up, I’ll be going to them with my technology woes instead of my husband.

Is this what parenthood is like? Not letting your kids know they’re getting smarter than you? I’ll hide it for as long as I can, but it won’t be long before my kids are helping me with my blog design and programming my phone, when I finally do graduate from the flip. They already know how to push my buttons.

The thing I hate about technology is just when I think I have things figured out, everything gets upgraded and I’m lost again. I try to do it on my own and inevitably my ignorance shines. Like not so long ago, when I wanted to send a message to a fellow blogger and tweeted two direct messages…to myself.


Filed under About Mom

Good Dads Need to Be Celebrated

While my kids don’t have the perfect dad, he’s pretty darn close. And I’m not sure whether they know it. It’s one of those things they may not know until they have kids of their own. But one day they’ll know.

Along my blogging way, I’ve met many dads who feel that fatherhood is shortchanged. Good dads need to be celebrated.

My husband is one of those dads. Although I usually write about my experiences as a mom, today I’m going to talk about him. I usually write about my decisions as a parent, but the truth is, he’s the other half of my team. I only give my side of the story. I couldn’t do my part without his.

1. From the moment my son was born, my husband dove into fatherhood. He took an entire month off work to be with his newborn son. Paternity leave. At night we took shifts on the couch with pillows propped precariously so we could get some sleep, the only thing that worked. Warming bottles of formula and changing a soiled diaper became an Olympic two-person sport at which we became adept in our sleep-deprived fury.

2. Night-time wakings have cursed this house for many years. As soon as our babies cried out, my husband’s feet hit the floor and he zipped across the hall before I had even sat up and opened my eyes. I’d walk in to find him already rocking and shushing. Never did my husband complain that this getting up in the night business was my job.

3. He has slept countless nights on our kids’ floors when they couldn’t fall back to sleep, covered around only his torso with a thin baby blanket and using a stuffed animal as a pillow if that’s all that was available.

4. He plays with the kids every evening after dinner, whether it’s wrestling, tag, a card game, catch, hide-and-seek, kickball, or just taking a walk. Every night he is a family man first, human playground second.

5. While I tend to act like a 10-year-old 90 percent more often than he does, he always makes dinner more lively when he tries to lick his plate when no one is looking or keeps a serious face when he sticks his smelly foot in your face and asks, “Hey, does my foot stink?” It’s the element of surprise that gets us every time.

6. He doesn’t always let the kids win. If you play a game with him, you’re on your own. My kids will be better for it when they’re older, though right now I don’t think they’d agree.

7. He does my daughter’s hair in the morning and lets her pick out her clothes because if I do it, the morning starts out in tears. When he does it, fits of giggles echo down the hall.

8. He doesn’t miss a game, a practice, a play, anything. Though I don’t need to reveal our sideline conversations. The kids should never hear those.

When we have a rough time in our small family, my husband and I get through it and then we laugh. There’s no one else I’d want to muddle through parenthood with.

Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful dads out there who are their family’s heroes.


Filed under Fatherhood

What a Ball Taught This Wife About Her Husband in 20 Seconds

Across the street lives a not-so-nice man. I’m pretty sure if the kids are ever in the road when he comes home, he’ll squash them like a squirrel with his truck and never look back. When my son was three, this grouchy man yelled at him for getting a cool stick out of his yard. My son still gives him the stink eye whenever he sees him, and we never so much as touch a blade of his grass now.

The other night, my husband, son, and I tossed a ball around on our driveway, ignoring Mr. Meany, working in his yard. Until our bouncy ball rolled into the street and toward Mr. Meany’s driveway. The three of us looked at one another in horror, our eyes bulging like waterlogged diapers. Silently I beckoned for the ball to stop, to come back, to roll six feet to the left and hit the curb. But the laws of physics cannot change for one errant playground ball. Speed was not in our favor. That blue rubber ball gained momentum and rolled up Mr. Meany’s driveway as he walked up it toward his garage.

Hang on to your balls, kids.

I looked to my husband, the man of the house, sure that he would handle our awkward situation. He took one look at the ball’s position and sprinted away snickering like a cat that tipped a garbage can. The punk. My son stood paralyzed with fear, looking from his fleeing father to me. I knew he wouldn’t retrieve the ball. He won’t even go to Mr. Meany’s house to trick-or-treat.

I gulped. I wanted to avoid a confrontation with Mr. Meany. When a stray toddler steps foot into his yard, he yells, “Get out of my yard!” Neighbors have told me of past run-ins when their kids’ ball landed in his yard and he scooped it up and said, “Mine.” For a small frame, he delivers a whopping blow: unfriendly and no second chances.

It seemed if we wanted our ball, it was up to me. I dashed across the street and hoped Mr. Meany wouldn’t yell at me. Why my husband nominated me for this job was beyond me. I yell back when provoked. But wait, the ball started rolling down the driveway! Mr. Meany looked down and watched it roll past him. I grabbed it off the end of his driveway and ran. No eye contact. No words exchanged. Quiet on both sides of the street. My kids didn’t need a vocabulary lesson anyway. And now I know I can count on my husband to run away from my every beck and call.


Filed under Can't Get a Break

Oscar Fashion From the Stained Carpet

There’s nothing like the Oscars to remind me that my fashion lacks star quality.  While celebrities sashay down the red carpet in Vera Wang and Versace, I spend my days as a mom dressed in the best discount stores and clearance racks have to offer. And it’s not necessarily a bad attempt most days. When I parade down the sidewalk during afterschool pick-up, other moms in their daily uniform of T-shirts and black yoga pants shout, “Karen, who are you wearing?”

“Vintage Mossimo for Target,” I say as I gracefully dodge a path of gumballs in my three-inch Dansko clogs. Really, anything matches a pair of Levis.

I’m not into the whole yoga pants as fashion thing. I do make an effort to dress in something remotely considered an outfit every day. But fashion forward? Not quite so.

My apparel hasn’t changed much since college, so I can’t say I technically dress like a mom. But my hemlines have certainly dropped a few inches and my necklines don’t have quite the same plunge. A few sneak-peeks in a kindergarten class taught me that cleavage can’t be handled by anyone over the infant stage. I didn’t want to be the popular volunteer. And it’s not like there’s much of a peep show going on in that area.

The movie stars at the Oscars may be sequined, feathered, and stilted, but I need comfort around the clock. I need clothes I can bend in, take a nap in, scrape my lunch off and go about my day in, and good, supportive shoes that don’t make my back scream with pain at the end of the day. If clogs and Birkenstocks are those shoes, so be it.

When my husband comes home from work and sees me in layers of warmth and my newest clearance find, slippers purchased more for heat than beauty, I know he wonders whether I’ve gotten a sitter for the night. My favorite slippers may look like butchered Ewoks, but those lovelies are the only things to keep my feet happy till the spring thaw.

No Ewoks were harmed in the making of these slippers.

I could sit up all night oohing and aahing over all the glamour on TV, but this momma needs her beauty sleep. And I have a stained carpet to walk in the morning.


Filed under About Mom, Everyday Life

This Nosy Neighbor Needs a Dossier

On days when I spend a fair amount of time working on the computer, I see a lot of what happens on my street. As the gears in my brain squeak and grind, I look out the window and watch cars and people go by. We live on a cul-de-sac that can be surprisingly busy and since I’m home during the day, I feel it’s my duty to see what those strangers are up to. It’s amazing how many unmarked white vans drive by. When I mention to my husband what I’ve seen on any given day, he always says the same thing: “Did you write it in your dossier?”

It’s become quite a joke, both for me and for him. He thinks I’m nosy. I say if some van pulls into someone’s driveway and starts loading up furniture, or worse, bodies rolled up in a rug, the cops are going to want a description. And, I think, are you kidding me with dossier? It’s pronounced ˈdȯ-sē-ˌā, according to Merriam-Webster, and it’s a file you keep of detailed records on someone or something. I had to secretly look it up the first time he said it because who in the world says that? I’ll tell you who: the same man who pronounces vase as vozz. Someone who didn’t have a brother to beat him up for saying fancy words, that’s who.

Who is my husband calling nosy?

So back to my dossier, or lack thereof. If I had one, it would be pretty lame: a hawk on my porch, people walking their dogs, pest control, a man wearing a bathrobe and I hope something under it rushing to get his trash can to the curb—hello, fuzzy slippers. And several dozen of those white vans. They always creep me out because all of the crime shows my husband makes me watch start out with some nondescript work van and the ring of a doorbell. Ding-dong! “I didn’t call for a plumb…oof!”

Our house backs up to a nature trail, and one day I saw a guy peeing in a big holly tree. Now that’s something I don’t see every day and am happy not to. My kids play up in that big holly tree. I banged on the windows. “Hey, you! Man with the wee-wee! Put that thing away!” I ducked so he couldn’t see me. Sometimes I have to protect my territory while others are away. No one said this job was easy. People can’t be marking my turf.

I’ve also seen some suspicious things driving through the neighborhood. A man parked on the side of the road brushed his teeth. I can’t begin to imagine why. And another day something in a remote corner between neighborhoods looked kinky and I assume it wasn’t legal. But I didn’t get a good look at that.

I consider myself more of an observant neighbor, a watchdog. But sometimes people like me take the heat. Call me nosy if you must. But if a white van pulls up in my driveway, I just hope somebody’s watching out for me.


Filed under About Mom, Everyday Life

The Best Plans

When my husband announced he’d be off for the kids’ winter break, I had mixed feelings. The four of us together for eleven days with no real plans sounded like the perfect recipe for a bubbling disaster. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. But there are many weekends I don’t think I’ll survive, when I think we all can’t wait for Monday to come. The kids fight over who gets which vitamin at breakfast, who gets to brush their teeth first, and the grumpiness escalates from there.

I can handle them fine on my own for a week. They run off in their pajamas and play while I have a little “work” to do. But throw another adult in the mix and they suddenly need to be supervised. They need someone to play with them. This usually translates to my son begging my husband to be with him 24/7 and my husband not getting any peace.

I needed a plan. Eleven days together couldn’t possibly go well if we didn’t have a schedule of fantastic places to go. Our usual winter break of the kids and me lying around the house in our pj’s, playing games, crafting, watching movies, and playing the day by ear would drive my husband crazy, I thought. He would be bored in the house, the kids wouldn’t leave him alone, and I wouldn’t be able to stand the tension.

Or so I thought.

I never did make that plan. And we did lie around the house playing games, watching movies, reading books, and just doing whatever we wanted. The kids played with friends a couple of times. Save for one meltdown and a few minor fusses, our vacation went smoothly. We snow-tubed our way down a mountain one day, toasted in the new year together, and discussed every Star Wars character we could think of. We broke in my son’s new basketball goal, learned a new domino game, and broke household records and slept in every day. We drove dolls around in their new pink jeep, made the best chocolate-chocolate chip cookies ever, built the city of Atlantis, and made Lego starships take flight.

The night before my husband had to go back to work, I could tell something was wrong. He was sad. Since our son was a baby, that’s the longest time we’ve had at home together as a family to just be. To just enjoy each other, to have nowhere to be, and to go where the days took us.

We didn’t do anything fancy. We didn’t go far. But we defied all expectations and proved that sometimes the best times are those that are unplanned.


Filed under Everyday Life, Mom vs. Dad