Family, Relationships

Love Illuminated

Daniel Jones, the editor of the New York Times’ Modern Love column has read about 50,000 essays on love, and written a book  called Love Illuminated — Exploring Life’s Most Mystifying Subject about what he’s learned.

love illuminated

When Jones talked to Katie Couric about the book, she said she thinks if you want to find someone, you need to put out an APB to everyone you know.

The hazard in doing that, according to Jones, is that you have to know what you want before you send out that APB or it won’t make a difference — and, most people don’t know what they want.

They think they do, but they really don’t.

I believe there’s some truth in that.

Before I married Doug, I thought I knew, but looking back, I didn’t have a clue.

Does anyone, really?

We might be able to list certain characteristics and values, but is it possible or even practical to suppose that we can really know who we will love (or who we can love) by just analyzing ourselves, our needs, and wants?

How do we know who or even what type of person we can build a life with before we actually meet and get to know that person?

I’ve always envied people who found love quickly and easily without ever having to even wonder about things like this.

One of life’s most mystifying subjects to me is why some people find love easily and early in life; some find it much later; some never find it at all; and some find it; and then, heartbreakingly, lose it.

Daniel Jones told Katie three things he’s learned about love:

  1. You can’t hurry up fate. You can’t find someone fast AND have it be destiny. The two are incompatible.
  2. You can’t get married and stay single. You  have to give something up for marriage to succeed.
  3. You can’t have love without the possibility of loss. You have to love fully, knowing it will end.

These are interesting conclusions.

 

On the first point, I agree that you can’t hurry fate. Sometimes two parallel universes need to be aligned and sometimes, that takes time, a lot of time.

But is love always the result of fate? Can love be a choice?

Not to take all the fun and romance out of it, but what if love could also be an investment, like a savings account you decide to open and build with regular, constant deposits to make it grow and thrive?

At first, I dismissed the second point because it seems so obvious — you can’t get married and stay single. But, one thing Doug and I have learned as “empty nesters,” (I hate that term…) is that without our kids to bring us together for games, concerts or family meals, we can easily go to our separate corners of the house, pursuing our own “single” activities, and quickly lose our points of connection.

He travels frequently and when he’s home, I might have evening meetings, dinners with friends, or be involved in projects of my own. We watch different television programs; read different books; and prefer different bedtimes. If we let that go on for very long, we start to feel more like roommates than husband and wife.

We’re consciously making more efforts to connect– like me joining him on an occasional business trip or me watching his mind-numbing TV shows.  (In fairness, he says the same thing about mine. Take last night, for example, I wanted to watch Parenthood. He hates Parenthood because he thinks the characters always talk over each other. He wanted to watch endless CNN political talk shows, where they never talk over each other…)

But, back to writing about love…

In love, like most important things in life, there is no neutral. You are either moving forward or drifting backward.

Without effort, all relationships go adrift, and become purposeless. Unanchored, unmoored relationships cannot last; or at least, can’t be very fulfilling or satisfying. You need a destination, and you need to paddle.

To the third point, this one makes me sad, and would deter me from ever loving.

Except for two things:

1) You have to believe the relationship will be worth it. I remember when my dad died and the grieving was brutal. My mom said my grief was a testament to my love for him. “Would you have loved him less if you knew it would hurt this much to lose him?” Of course not. The love, the relationship was worth it.

2) Not all relationships have to end. 

Some will end because one person may care more than another, or for a million other reasons, but I think we have to look for, invest in, and believe in lasting love.

Life ends, but relationships don’t.

Yes, there will be separations. One person will most likely die before another.

“I am satisfied that happiness in marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion. Any man who will make his wife’s comfort his first concern will stay in love with her throughout their lives and through the eternity yet to come”
“I am satisfied that happiness in marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion. Any man who will make his wife’s comfort his first concern will stay in love with her throughout their lives and through the eternity yet to come” Gordon B. Hinckley

But, one of my core beliefs is that relationships don’t end when life ends.

Clearly, some relationships have to end for the well-being of one or both partners, but going into a marriage with the idea that it is temporary, automatically limits its success, depth, and potential for happiness.

Turns out I have a lot of thoughts on this topic and will likely follow up with my own ideas about love.

But, I’d like your ideas too.

Do you agree with Jones’ findings?

Are you paddling or drifting in your relationships?

Please share with me and help me illuminate this subject even more.

Change, Family, Parenting

Letting Go

As a mother of two college students – one of them only two weeks away from graduating –I am continually asking myself, “What would my mom do now?”

I want to be the kind of mother she’s been.

The area that needs the most improvement lately is trying to be a better listener.

Sometimes, I am more of a fixer than a listener.

When my daughters call and tell me their concerns and problems, I instantly, naturally want to fix everything.

I get worked up in my here’s-what-we-need-to-do speech, and then I think of my mom and an inner voice yells, “Shut up Laurie! They only want you to listen, not try to make everything all better! Think of Mom.”

Annie called a couple of weeks ago to tell me that she’s going to Uganda for a service mission with HELP International.

http://help-international.org/uganda

African child

It was an awkward conversation as I felt this rising, confusing objection, and wanted to say in a scolding mom voice: “Ah… no, you are not going to Africa. You are coming home, getting a job, sleeping in your bedroom down the hall from me. You are going to sing in the shower, bake cookies, have parties, and    scatter your clothes all over the floor, and play the piano for me. …just like you’ve always done.

I stammered a bit and kept thinking of my mom, and what she would do.

Just listen.

I calmed down as the conversation went on, and I told her she had to be patient with me as I got my head around her new, exotic, and oh-so-foreign-to-me plan.

In a moment of weakness, I blurted out, “Annie, I am just not ready for you to be this grown up. I know you have an adventurous spirit and I am trying to be supportive, but I am fighting some powerful mom instincts here that make me want to fling my arms around you and keep you close to me forever. I still see you as a little girl, not as a world traveler and humanitarian!”

I reminded myself of Steve Martin in “Father of the Bride” when his daughter, also named Annie, told him she was in love and wanted to get married. He looked across the kitchen table and saw those grown up words coming out of a little girl’s mouth.

While it’s a hilarious scene, it’s also painful to realize I’m Steve Martin.

I’m not transitioning well from seeing my daughters as my little girls to seeing them as independent, adventurous women whose passions are taking them in directions that feel further and further away from me.

Cover of "Father of the Bride (15th Anniv...
Cover via Amazon

And, I know they need me to listen more than advise.

They need me to support more than protect.

Yet my adviser and protector instincts are not easily tamed.

In my conversation about Africa with Annie, I vacillated between being supportive and curious and treating her like she was 10 years old, when I would have said, “Well, you certainly are not going to Africa. Now, finish your homework so we can get you bathed and ready for bed.”

As I navigate the new waters of parenting adult children, I think of my mom constantly and wonder how she did it.

I call her often and say, “Mom, really, how did you do it?”

I’m still trying to figure it out.

I think the real answer is that she did it a day, and a conversation at a time just like I am.

I hope my daughters can understand that this “letting go” part of parenting is not easy.

help letter annie

But, of course, like me, they will only really learn it when they become parents.

Then,  I hope they’ll call me for advice and say, “Mom, how did you do it?”

Family, Relationships

Marital persnickety-ness follow-up

I love the responses I get from all of you on my blog.

My last story on “Marital Persnickety-ness” generated several interesting comments.

https://lauriesnowturner.com/2012/01/23/1059/

One of my favorites was from my friend Sara, who I’ve always admired

because she and her husband consistently work on strengthening their marriage.

She said, “Just wait until your 40th anniversary and you have been empty nesters for years. All those little habits become more and more evident and yet our capacity to ignore the trivia and love the person continues to increase.”

I love the idea that the longer we’re married our capacity to overlook each other’s habits and our ability to love each other increases.

Inspiring news from a woman who knows.

Now, about the pillows — ‘Mr. Right, and Mrs. Always Right.”

Some of you wanted to know how to buy them.

I found the photo on my favorite website pinterest.com, and should apologize for not crediting it!

Just remember the rule if you go to pinterest:

Get in, Get out.

I’ve warned you before that if you don’t, you’ll be lost in pinterest land forever.

Then when you finally look up from your computer

you’ll wonder where your life went.

tinywhitedaises.tumblr.com

I did a little searching for how to buy the pillows and made a couple of discoveries.

First, you can buy the linen pillows that I pictured on my last blog at etsy.com in the “yellowbugboutique.”

http://www.etsy.com/listing/61132741/mr-right-and-mrs-always-right-linen?utm_source=googleproduct&utm_medium=syndication&utm_campaign=GPS

A couple other good ones from the yellow bug folks:

probably not the best Valentine present...

My second pillow discovery was pillowcases embroidered with “Mr. Right/Mrs. Always Right.”

http://www.amazon.com/Hortense-B-Hewitt-Accessories-Pillowcases/dp/B000PI1JIE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327501901&sr=8-

 So there you have my shopping tips for the day… not my usual type of blog post but since a few of you asked, you got it.

And while I’m plugging websites, I have one more for all of you who love food/and or cooking.

It is my go-to site for awesome recipes.

http://barbarabakes.com/2010/01/breakfast-hashbrown-casserole/

I just made Barbara’s yummy Breakfast Hashbrown Casserole this morning.

(Barb, I used all egg whites — not as pretty and tasty but a bit healthier.)

Warning:  You will get hungry and want to make (or at least eat) everything you see on this site.

And in the interests of full disclosure, I must confess the blogger is my awesome, talented cousin.

Trust me, you’ll love her recipes.

http://barbarabakes.com/

I’m craving her PB&J cookies now…

And I really want the donuts for breakfast instead of the healthy casserole.

Unfortunately, the cookies and donuts won’t move me toward that New Year’s weight loss resolution I publicly shared…

Darn. Why did I share that anyway?

https://lauriesnowturnerdotcom.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=702&action=edit

Happy pillow and recipe shopping!

Family

My Empty Nest

My empty nest.

No more back-to-school-nights, field hockey tournaments, spirit packs, and games.

No church youth meetings.

No sweaty girls lounging on the couch and eating snacks after field hockey practice.

No black bits of turf field ground into the carpet.

No jerseys, UnderArmour, and uniforms drying all over the house.

No team dinners.

No Bachelorette!

No waiting up on weekends for kids to come home.

No Homecoming float to build.

No Homecoming banner to carry in the parade.

Very little laundry.

No junk food.

No Annie singing in the shower.

No Sara watching Law & Order.

Fewer dirty dishes.

Quiet.

Clean bedrooms and bathrooms.

No school lunches to make.

No Friday night and Saturday night parties at our house.

No teenage angst and energy.

But, it’s all okay.

Really.

The empty nest life is not all bad.

I’m returning to other things in life that bring me joy

like writing, teaching, and spending time with my husband.

(A wonderful marriage helps immensely.)

I used to feel completely immersed

in all the details of my girls’ lives —

where they went, who they went with, when they would be home.

It was my job to teach, protect, and actively try to shape their lives for good.

Now they live 2,000 miles away.

They do their own laundry, make their own meals (or eat in the cafeteria).

And, I miss them every day.

I miss their physical presence in my daily world.

I even miss their dramas.

I miss their hugs the most.

But it is surprisingly, refreshingly okay.

Some days are too quiet, and their phone calls come just in time.

But, overall, living in this empty nest is more natural than I imagined.

There are moments and days when I ache for them to be closer.

But it is right for them to be where they are, doing what they’re doing,

which means it’s right for me to be without them…

for now.

I remind myself everyday that I’m still a mother.

I just have a different job description now.

And, it’s really, truly, wonderfully okay.

Family

Just Like Me but Better

While visiting my mom recently, I said, “Mom, remember when you used to say, ‘I hope you have a daughter just like you?’ In case you haven’t figured it out by now, your wish came true.”

My 18-year old daughter Annie is so much like me it’s scary.

I realized how much Annie is like me as I drove her to a doctor appointment in Utah. I almost drove off the side of University Avenue in Provo while listening to her rattle off her long list of urgent goals. She sounded so much like the college version of me that I screamed, “Annie, you sound just like me!”

I quickly apologized, knowing that she might not appreciate the comparison.

I felt like I needed to assimilate what I was experiencing. It sounded like she read all my journal entries and absorbed them in her DNA somehow.

“I’m so stressed Mom. I need a plan! I need to know how everything is going to progress over the next four years. And, by the way, I don’t think I can do everything I want to do in four years. I think it will take five. I want to do an internship in Africa. (Oh, and did I tell you I’ve been learning the tribal languages? I have words and sentences taped around my dorm room.) But, back to how I need a plan. I need to know how to schedule out my classes over the next five years so I don’t miss anything.”

“Annie, slow down. You don’t have to know these things now!”

Hypocrite, a little voice echoes in my head.

“Mom,” she protested. “I don’t want to waste time!”

“Annie, you’ve been her for six weeks! You can’t expect to know your major, have every semester’s schedule planned in advance, and know your career plans now. It will all evolve. You don’t have to control it all right now.”

Hypocrite! The voice says a little louder.

Be quiet, I command the inner voice. I’m an adult now, and I don’t need to know my entire life’s plan. I trust the universe and all those other platitudes. Don’t you think I remember how I obsessed over my short and long-term plans, and how frustrated I became when I didn’t know everything I needed to know to fill in the blanks of my entire life? I’m not like that anymore.

Hypocrite!

Well, I am wondering about this empty nest life I’m facing. But, I’m confident it will evolve naturally, and my life will still be fulfilling, rewarding, and fun.

Ah huh…

“Mom, it’s just that everything is so important now,” Annie said. “I just can’t afford to waste time or I won’t get what I want.”

“Annie, this is so eerie! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said exactly what you’re saying. Now I wish I’d slowed down a bit. It’s good to have plans, but sometimes you have to let life happen. Sometimes we get so consumed with our plans, schedules, goals and dreams that they become burdens and just pile on more stress. If you don’t loosen your grip on your plans sometimes, you miss out on some of the lessons you really need to learn.”

John Lennon~

Wasn’t it John Lennon that said something about how life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans? Plan or no plan, life just happens sometimes. I’m all about letting it happen now.

Sure you are, the voice whispers.

“Mom, you don’t get it. Everything matters more now that I’m in college.”

I know she’s right. I felt that way too when I was in college. I believed it even more when I had children. Wasting valuable time was my worst fear. I wanted to remind her that life doesn’t always go according to The Big Plan. In fact, sometimes it goes way off The Big Plan and we need a little flexibility to accommodate for the stuff we didn’t anticipate. But, I let it go, knowing that I was already in eye-rolling territory.

A few days after I came home, she called and said, “Mom, I’ve been thinking about my life and how things have played out for me lately. I mean, I had a big plan, and it didn’t work out. When I tore my ACL playing lacrosse everything changed for me. It took me out of my favorite sport during my senior year, and killed my dream of playing college lacrosse, at least for now. It’s weird how things change because in college, nobody knows the “me” I was at home. I’ve lost my status as class president, my athletic ability, my friends, and everything that was familiar and comfortable to me, but I realize now that I can find new things and just rework the plan a bit. I can build my confidence in other areas, and it’s all okay.”

I hung up the phone thinking, I love that girl — that cooler, wiser version of me. I love that sometimes when I hold back from spewing out too much advice, she learns more from her own life experiences than she ever could from my words. Then she one-ups me and teaches me something new.

As I move into my new phase of empty nest life, and lose all my labels, I’m going to dip into Annie’s well of wisdom and rework the plan, build my confidence in new areas, and trust that it will all be okay.

After all, it’s working out pretty well for her.