Tag Archives: Marriage

How To Read Books And Neglect Your Family

September 28, 2015


Every week or so, someone asks me how I have time to read all those books while also being a wife and mother to two young children. It’s a valid question, considering most people have better things to do than speed read celebrity memoirs and young adult thrillers. My standard answer is usually pretty tongue-in-cheek. For example, “You should see my dishes!” or “I just don’t parent my children!”

It is not the whole story, but it’s not exactly a lie either. I absolutely neglect my dishes and ignore my kids for the sake of reading, but there’s more to it than that. But before I answer how I do it, let me tell you why.

Just like every other unathletic millennial girl, I’ve been reading under the covers until 2am since 1995 when Stacey McGill got diabetes in The Babysitter’s Club. For as long as I can remember, reading has been both an escape and joy. It’s also become a habit and discipline. Any writer knows that in order to write anything, you have to read everything. In an interview last year, the Portuguese Nobel prize winner Jose Saramago was asked about his daily writing routine. His answer was, “I write two pages. And then I read and read and read.”

So that’s why. Here’s how.

I just do it. Not every day, not every week, not when the kids are sick or I’m in the middle of projects–but most of the time I simply make the time to read. My house is rarely clean because I don’t consider being a housewife my job. Mothering, yes. Loving my children and helping them grow up, of course. But the laundry? The dishes? The piles of unopened mail and old magazines? That is not part of my job description. I help take care of those things because I live here, but I’m not putting it on my resume because most of the time everything is messy and I wait for Austin to be home so we can work on it together.

Mother first. Writer second. The rest is relationships and occasionally taking out the trash. Whenever I see friends and family who find joy in cooking or general housewifery (and househusbandry!), I think– Atta girl! Please invite me over for your casserole. I will never be that woman. I will always push aside housework and complicated recipes for reading or writing or lying on the floor while the kids try to scratch my eyes out.

Speaking of the kids, I will also always be the mom who says, “This is Mommy’s time!” or “I’m reading, please stop poking me with that fork” because 1) There are only so many minutes in a day I can play dinosaur tea party and 2) Monkey see, monkey do. And if my monkeys turn out to be readers who sometimes neglect their chores to finish the last few chapters, I will consider that a pretty big win.


Guest Post: A Letter To Moms Whose Partners Works Long Hours

July 2, 2015


Austin started his first day of residency yesterday with 50 patients, two weeks of night float, and the nerves of a high school freshman who has never been in charge of a human life before. Some say making it through intern year is harder than making it through four years of medical school, but we’re just going to take it one day at a time.

A few weeks ago, my good friend Suzie sent me a letter of love and encouragement on surviving residency. I immediately shared it with my medwifery friends who now refer to it as “the letter,” and thought I would share it with you, too. Not only is it full of wisdom, but it’s packed with the kind of real life tips that are actually useful. It’s one thing to say, “Be patient!” but a rare thing to tell you how.

There are so many professions outside the medical field that require long hours away from partners and children at home without a co-parent. When I sent this letter to my friend Katie who is married to a farmer, she could only nod in mutual understanding. There is so much sacrifice that comes in any marriage, but ones that involve a lot of time apart require a certain skill set. One that I’m only starting to learn.

A letter for the sisterhood who is at home doing dinner alone for the 100th time.

We got this.


My dear friend Kate,

This is it. This is your “you’ve arrived at residency letter.” I don’t claim to have any amazing advice.  I only have a few  more years on you as we are about to start our LAST year of residency, as you begin your first. So, here are my thoughts.

Resentment is a dangerous emotion. Everything you feel as you go through this adjustment period (believe it or not, you will get used to this new insanity) is valid. The sacrifice you’ve made will feel huge and so much more than you knew you ever agreed to.  Try as hard as you can though, to avoid resentment. Resentment will seriously mess you up. When I’ve felt true resentment, and I have, I’ve learned to immediately name it and share it with Kyle. Often resentment comes when I don’t feel like the sacrifice is being NOTICED or appreciated. For me, I’ve learned I need words and reminders that Kyle is GRATEFUL for the sacrifice.  You might be the same way, or not at all. My advice is just to be careful and take note of resentment and don’t let it linger.

I want to talk about guilt. It will be EASY and tempting to make Austin feel guilty. Sad stories of the kids crying for their dad, little videos sent that are meant to be cute but really have a subtext of “ you’re missing this…” or a subtext of “these kids are crazy and it’s all your fault.” It’s easy to point out what they’ve missed because of work and always emphasizing how much harder your life is because of his chosen career. Please remember that what you want Austin to feel is GRATEFUL. Not guilty. Guilt does not make anyone feel better. But feeling recognized and appreciated does. Guilt builds a wedge and just makes things harder. It isolates. And a very important thing to know is he will already feel guilty on his own. More than you will know at first. He will ache to see his kids and worry about what this whole thing is doing to his family and relationships. Yes, he will work Mother’s Day and feel like shit about it already. For the first part of residency, he will doubt himself as a doctor, a husband and a father and that is a heavy burden. Be the person who makes him feel better, not worse.

I am not suggesting a 1950’s relationship where your needs are sidelined because you don’t want to make him feel bad. NOT AT ALL. I am saying is you want to get through this together and be stronger for it and I believe it’s important to be mindful of how words and actions elicit guilt. Always know there is nowhere else he would rather be than home with you and the kids.

Create a buffer for extended family. They will not get it. They just won’t. They will take things personally and be offended when they shouldn’t be.  He will miss family days, holidays, and forget how old his nieces and nephews are. As much as you feel you can, help them understand and then move on. Don’t let it get to you that they don’t understand. They can’t.

Share with others who get it! Vent and cry and talk it out. Please talk with me, voxer 1000 times about his schedule, I WANT TO KNOW. Tell me 23 times how his next day off is 24 days away. Here’s my advice though, share with those who get it in an uncensored way, but for everyone else, stick to small doses. Share with me and “the birds” and new residency friends. We will get it!! You will notice others want to understand, they genuinely do, but it can cause a sense of pity and friends not wanting to share with you about their weekend plans. You will get a sense that they just feel bad for you. You might just have to see how this goes for you, but I’ve found that friends in the same situation react in a way that feels helpful and is uplifting. With friends who can’t relate it feels like you’re dragging them down or just raining on their amazing 10 weeks of summer off with their teacher husband.

DON’T WAIT. Do not wait for Austin. I can’t stress this enough. If he’s working Saturday and texts that he will “be leaving in a few minutes” right as you’re about to head to the park with the kids, DO NOT WAIT. Do not wait to have dinner because he said he might be “out the door soon.” Do not always wait to do something fun with the kids till dad has a day off. Waiting = resentment. Too often the reality is he won’t be home in a few minutes. It will be 20 or 30 or another 2 hours. His day off will be switched or cancelled when he’s called in. If you’re living in a sense of waiting for him you will go crazy.  It’s always better to not wait because if he does get out the door…great! He can show up at the park and surprise the kids and it will be wonderful. If he makes it home for dinner, he can heat up a plate while everyone is still at the table. So much better than waiting around feeling angry. Don’t hold him to time. You just have to be really zen about this. It is hard and as you know I am not a zen master. They have no control over their time. It is what it is.

If he’s working on a holiday, don’t look at facebook. Enough said. Try as hard as you can to not compare your life with “normal” people’s lives. It is really hard.  Don’t look at everyone’s barbeque pictures on the 4th of July when you spent the last 12 hours dealing with crying whiny kids all by yourself. You know the quote on comparison. Thief of joy.

Listen and give space regarding what he needs to share about his days. His days will include some really boring things and then some really dramatic and really heartbreaking parts too. Help him not be a robot about it all. They need a wall to get through it day after day, but I think they really need someone to listen when they are ready to release the emotional parts of the job.

Let’s talk about the kids. I have a good friend from Goshen whose dad is a doctor. I’ve talked to her a lot about this and gained some insight from her experience. She has shared that her memories of this time are completely shaped by her mom’s reactions and attitude. I’ve found that challenging in a good way. She doesn’t remember feeling like her dad was never around or missed everything, even though she knows that was the case. She remembers how her mom always stressed and reminded her how important she was to her dad.  It’s important to remind the kids how excited dad will be to hear about something compared to,  “too bad your dad missed this…” This sounds like a no brainer, and you are obviously an amazing mom and will do this naturally. It is something I do find myself needing to remember. It is especially hard when Kyle gets called in on a day he should have off or has to work Christmas morning for example. My attitude completely shapes Amelia’s reaction and attitude (and soon Everett’s.) Amelia has gotten many real life lessons on how to deal with disappointment (as will your kids) so I try to be aware that I need to model what I want her to learn. I’m not saying to be fake, but there is a bit of theatrics when young kids are involved. This is a long time of their childhood and the memories are important.

Lastly, perspective. This is a mental exercise that seems ridiculous but I honestly find myself doing it A LOT. I really do try to think of things I am grateful for, because as you know, all the scientists and Gretchen Rubins of this world are right. It does make you happier to be grateful! I try to remember military wives are apart from their husbands for 9 whole months. As you know, I often hate cooking dinner. I used to complain about it all the time, but I’ve stopped. Because when I am so stinking sick of being the only one to cook dinner over and over and over, I think of refugees with hungry babies and honestly, how dare I begrudge the gift of feeding my children?! What a lavish luxury to prepare my children food THREE times a day. How many mama’s in this world would give anything for that? I could cry about it right now.  These sorts of mental exercises and perspectives help me remember that when it comes down to it, the majority of the human race has endured much greater hardships than spending a 14 hour day alone with their children. It’s NOT THAT BAD.  (THIS is not to negate feelings of the opposite that actually IT IS UNBELIEVABLY HARD. Yes. It is.  Both are true.) Mental exercises in perspective and gratitude really do help.

When it comes down to it, it will all be harder and easier than you think. It will be unbearable and then, just like that, not as much.  You’ll be going along great, thinking you’ve got it all under control and then a month from hell will take you down at the knees. But the next month will be better, and rotations and night floats will come around more than once and you will notice it is easier than it was the first time.

You’ve got this. I am here for you and I love you!!!



Love + Marriage: Six Years

June 3, 2015


I met Austin eight years ago. Two short years after that, I married him. It was kind of strange, actually. He had some of the qualities I was looking for; tall, smart, ready to change the oil in my car. But he was quieter than the rest. Less affectionate. When I wanted to make unnecessary purchases or go out for ice cream, he scrunched up his face and looked at his shoes. When I wanted him to meet all my friends, he smiled politely but didn’t offer any grandiose stories or wave his arms. For the first year of our relationship, I observed him like a casual science experiment. Oh, you watch golf tournaments? Oh, you only like homemade pies? Oh, you don’t like when I change the radio station four hundred times in one minute? Interesting.

But just as the rom coms tell us, opposites attract. They might want to occasionally murder each other or pretend they don’t hear the other person shouting for toilet paper in the bathroom, but the attraction will be there. And when it comes down to it–Austin and I are more alike than we admit. For example, we both like to have things our own way. First borns can be like that. We also both really enjoy not cooking, not cleaning, and not organizing the pantry cupboards. I guess it was meant to be.

On Saturday we celebrated six years of marriage. Six years of moving boxes, changing careers, and fighting over the cell phone bill. Our relationship has changed so much since that day in May. Of course you know things will change, but just like you know your kids will grow older or your face will get wrinkles–it’s still surprising when it actually happens. Some of it is for better, some of it is for worse. Mostly it’s just different. Kids, aging, career–those things are game changers. Priority shifters. Things to be addressed and discussed and hashed out when everyone would rather go to bed.  The most inconvenient truth about relationships is that it’s always better to say “I feel like shit,” than slam the cupboard doors and expect telepathy. Even if it’s writing an e-mail or having an awkward conversation at 2am, it’s better than letting an angry tumor grow. I already have enough problems with digestion.

If anything, we have only grown more into ourselves. We go through so many versions of ourselves in our twenties, that who I am now is so different from who I was when we first met. It always feels good to arrive at something better, but it does require getting to know each other over and over again. Side effects include growing pains and googling, “Why is my spouse always hiding in the bathroom.” An easier way to approach these changes would be an annual meet and greet. You know, slap on a name-tag and say, “Hi, my name is Kate. I no longer enjoy Chinese food and need at least one day a week where no one is touching me. Thanks!”

I have a lot of regrets in life, regrets that I know I should let go because it’s not helping anyone to sit around regretting them. Marrying this man is not one of them. He is everything I never knew I always wanted. One day a year, I’m allowed to use that cliche.

Happy anniversary to the guy who takes out the trash, delivers my babies, and makes us homemade waffles on rainy days. There is so much more in store for us. May we weather the storms with more grace than we deserve. May time only make us better.



13 Tips On Love And Relationships From Smart Women

May 21, 2015

When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.
Sheryl Sandberg

amyIt’s never overreacting to ask for what you want and need.
Amy Poehler

chelsea_peretti_mirror_RJEpkoF.sizedIf you text “I love you” and the person writes back an emoji, no matter what the emoji is – they don’t love you back.
Chelsea Peretti

mindy-kaling1As my mom has said, when one person is unhappy, it usually means two people are unhappy but that one has not come to terms with it yet.
Mindy Kalingstrayed

You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.
Cheryl Strayed

rosanneA guy is a lump like a doughnut. So, first you gotta get rid of all the stuff his mom did to him. And then you gotta get rid of all that macho crap that they pick up from beer commercials. And then there’s my personal favorite, the male ego.
Roseanne Barr

lenaIt’s somebody who gives you the space and time you need to do your work. Somebody who says, “You couldn’t do anything that would embarrass me. Just be yourself in a way that has integrity, and I’ll be proud of you.” I think women are conditioned to stand by their man and watch them make it to the top, but most men never believe the person they get into a relationship with is going to rise any higher than she was when they met. It takes a very special, evolved person to be able to deal with change within a relationship.
Lena Dunham

cherylDon’t be strategic or coy. Strategic and coy are for jackasses. Be brave. Be authentic. Practice saying the word ‘love’ to the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will.
Cheryl Strayed

sarahBeing single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.
Sarah Jessica Parker

meganSpend a few minutes a day really listening to your spouse. No matter how stupid his problems sound to you. 
Megan Mullally

lizPeople always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other’s personalities. Who wouldn’t? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that’s not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner’s faults honestly and say, ‘I can work around that. I can make something out of it.’? Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it’s always going to be pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you.
Elizabeth Gilbert

ellenSo many people prefer to live in drama because it’s comfortable. It’s like someone staying in a bad marriage or relationship – it’s actually easier to stay because they know what to expect every day, versus leaving and not knowing what to expect.
Ellen Degeneres

cheryl sandbergEveryone knows that marriage is the biggest personal decision you make, but it’s the biggest career decision you can make. Partner with the right person, because you cannot have a full career and a full life at home with the children if you are also doing all the housework and childcare.
Sheryl Sandberg


|Click Image For Source|

Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2015

i like you

“Much has been said about love…” – Every writer trying to write about love


Say what you will about Valentine’s Day, it has already been said before. Lovely, weird, silly, stupid, expensive, polarizing, fake, cliche — all those words are true.

It is hard to celebrate love without celebrating something that isn’t real. The love we see in romantic comedies, in Disney’s wide eyed princes, in reality shows with fantasy suites and cheap red roses–it is such a giant spectacle. At the end of the day, no one wants to raise their glass or exchange chalky hearts to that kind of love.

Real love is problematic, messy, covered in boring dinners and rehashed arguments on the quality of hand towels. Real love is not forever. You can be in love for decades and have it disappear. A boyfriend, a wedding, a ten year anniversary–they are not finish lines.

Real love is perpetual motion and constant work. The navigation of emotions and responses and honesty. The daily struggle against our selfish tendencies.

What I want to remember on this strange holiday is that the love worth celebrating is the love that stays even after the ugliest words and most shattered expectations. The love that fights, that fixes, that says all the words out loud. The love that keeps moving forward.

Like every other holiday we’ve made up, Valentine’s Day is what you want it to be.

May the love you seek find its way.


|Image Source|