Monday, July 19, 2010

Good Housekeeping

My first Christmas with the Stockman family was wonderful and awfully awkward all at the same time. I was really hesitant because Beej and I had been dating, and then he'd let me know (oh so painful!) that he just, to paraphrase: couldn't be in a relationship at the time. So, now we weren't dating...but he'd asked, insisted, and pushed for me to come spend the holiday with his side of the fam so much that I finally gave in and decided to go. 

Again, the whole week was filled with so many strange and awkward moments, but it makes for very good laughs now! 

Like when we got out of the car and he slung his arm around me as we walked up to his grandparents house only to quickly look over and realize we weren't dating--whoops. Better drop that arm buddy!

Or when we opened our gifts Christmas morning. Their tradition is to open one gift at a time while everyone watches. This is the polar opposite of my family where my dad would always pass out gifts and everyone would just tear into their pile, laugh, compare, hug and thank each other. So, I was on the spot, opening a tiny box from Beej...which turned out to be one of those flip flop necklaces that were so popular at the time. And it wasn't just one of the regular, old tacky ones--it was made of sterling silver with tiny sapphires and diamonds inlaid into it. It was hideous! 

{Side note: So sorry if you loved those! I was never a fan.}

Everyone was eagerly awaiting my reaction--so I did what most single, in love with the guy they're not dating girls would do. I faked it. I exclaimed how wonderful it was, and Beej looked both relieved and pleased. Shortly after gift giving was done, I beelined it to the room I was staying in. I needed a moment. So the thing was hideous--at least it told me one thing: He still liked me! My heart soared. He'd obviously gone to great measures and expense to get me something. Who cared if he was WAY off the mark!  Jenn (my dear friend and now sister-in-law) followed me into the bedroom and immediately started laughing. She got it. She knew the second I'd opened the gift that I would never, in a million years, have picked something like it for myself! We had a good laugh, and I remember her saying, "Wait  a few years, after you're married, and it'll be a good joke between you". She was right!

Fast-forward five years into our marriage and Beej has become an excellent gift giver, all on his own. I know he tries very hard to gift me things I will like and usually presents them to me in a creative manner.

Last year, Christmas Eve rolled around and as I climbed into bed, I found a thin, flat package under my pillow. I ripped it open to find...a Good Housekeeping magazine?! Granted, I was a little down about the first holiday without my dad, and I was exhausted because Grace was eating so often, so I could only muster a "oh, thanks babe." He could tell I was a bit disappointed. Usually he gives me something small, but special Christmas Eve, so I was just a bit surprised because I would never, on my own, sign up for a Good Housekeeping magazine subscription. Nothing against the magazine, I just thought it wasn't really my thing. He told me he found a deal online to get a year for $5, and so he took a risk. I know, by now you're probably thinking that my behavior was quite spoiled--I agree. 

But, the gift has been redeemed! I'm actually going to point you to an interesting article I read in the July issue this week. It's an interview between Emma Thompson (I'm a huge fan!) and Maggie Gyllenhaal who are best friends in real life. In it they talk about how they just can't do it all. Nobody can. They can't have their careers and husbands and children and large homes and travels and etc. all at the same time. Somethings gotta give. They talk about priorities and how they love to take care of their husbands--all without apologizing for wanting to uphold some of the more traditionally feminine aspects of marriage. How having and raising kids is hard work. About how to run a household hands-on takes a tremendous amount of time and energy.

Here's a snippet of their conversation I found incredibly refreshing and down to earth:
"Emma: I don't want your readers ever to think they have to have it all. I think that's a revolting concept. It's so false! Sometimes you'll have some things, and sometimes you'll have other things. And you do not need it all at once; it's not good for you. You can't be a great mom and work the whole time necessarily; those two things aren't ideal. We have an awful lot to work on and to debate about in relation to our working lives, because it isn't working for a lot of people, particularly for a lot of women....
The only way you can have it all is by delegating all the running of the home to other people — which I don't ever want to do, nor does Mags. So you do it yourself, and it takes time and energy and effort. And if you give it the time, it's profoundly enjoyable.
Maggie: I do care about my home feeling warm and clean and loving and welcoming, and that takes a lot of work. I mean, I had no idea how much work that takes. I am just getting above water on that.
When I was pregnant, we bought a four-story brownstone — we'd been living in this little apartment. I didn't know what I was taking on; I didn't know how to manage it at all. I got this book called Home Comforts, about the basics of housekeeping and homemaking. And I am fascinated by it. How there's a marketing day — or a day when you do the big shop — and another when you do a little shop. And organizing all the meals for the week. And truly how if you're organized, how different your life is.
I'm not naturally organized, but I'm getting there. Being a mother has absolutely forced me. You have to write things down and have systems for all of it. And then you set up systems and you realize they don't work. [Laughs.] That's the stage I'm in now: "I set up all the systems! Why isn't this working?" And then you have to change them."
I loved hearing that being a celebrity doesn't make all that we "everyday" women strive for any easier--unless you're willing to pay someone else to take care of everything--including raising your children--for you. I want a peaceful home where people feel welcomed and loved, a husband who feels honored and affirmed, a child who knows just how much I love her and enjoy being her mom, among many other things. But what I don't want is that feeling of pressure to do it all, be it all--right now! Nice to know I'm not the only one who can't and doesn't want to be SUPER-human. 

See the rest of the article HERE.  


Missy said...

You have no idea how much I needed to hear this today! I mean wow! Today was a rough day...and I felt so out of it and unorganized (Emory is not nursing anymore as of today and I just realized that he is out of his goats milk and have to go to the grocery store first thing in the morning..o ya and diapers are scarce today!) so it has been a day, but this post seriously just made my day so much better! Thanks!

jeannine said...

Amen Kate! I spent years feeling like I was running on ice. The feeling like you are always trying, but never getting much of anywhere. Running a business and a home is a lot and I felt most of the time like I had done neither very well. My first priority has and always will be my family. I finally cut myself some slack and realized I couldn't do it all. I may not have the cleanest house or serve the most amazing meals, but my home is filled with love and laughter and that is enough for me!

Lindsey G said...

Really encouraging...Thanks, Kate!

mickey said...

i'm now caught up on all the blogs in July...i loved the pics @ Petrolia...
i remember helping beej pick out the sapphire & diamond necklaces, to bad u didn't tell him cuz he could have spent all that money on something u did like...u could melt it down & redo it.
grant got me a necklace his mom helped him pick out but it was just costume jewelry...LESSON LEARNED it's probably best NOT to have the mom help pick out the present

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