Why my husband isn’t coming with me to the other side of the world

Those of you who visit my Facebook page will know that Madelyn and I are going to England in July. I am so excited! We’re primarily going over to visit my dad, step mum and little sister, but will catch up with a few friends while we’re over there too.

Controversially, we’ve made the decision that my daughter and I will go to England for three and a half weeks alone, leaving my husband at home. He was able to get the time off work, we have enough money saved to buy his ticket, and we were all set to book the flights, when a last minute truce resulted in his ticket just not being booked. Many people have been confused as to why, it doesn’t seem to make sense that half of our family would go to the other side of the world without the other half, so here is our reasoning. This trip to England has been in the works for almost 10 years, since the last time I went to visit my family over there at 16. I’d always planned on going back, and when Angus and I got married, we discussed going there together. We have several very close friends in England as well as my family, and had actually planned to go in July of last year, but put those plans on hold when I fell pregnant with Madelyn. Angus actually has zero desire to travel, and was not keen on the idea of spending thousands of dollars to go to England when he was perfectly happy here in New Zealand. My dad offered to pay for one of us and Madelyn to go over, we just needed to pay for the other one of us. So we saved up enough for one adult return flight, found the cheapest flights we could, and were all ready to book the flights…

We argued every evening for 4 days. We were stressed out and impatient with each other, and every conversation turned into a disagreement. I’d found these cheap(er) flights, and wanted to book them, but because of a few larger purchases we’d made recently (two new cars and a motorbike), we were slightly short. I wanted to figure out what money to move around so that we could afford it, but every time I tried to get Angus to sit down to sort it out, it would end in an argument about money. He would lament how much I spend, and would get a piece of paper and work out exactly how much money we would lose going on this trip (despite two flights being paid for, it was going to cost us around $8,000 due to credit card interest). Worried that my opportunity to go back to England was slipping quickly out of my hands, I became more insistent that we just book the flights right now.

It came to the last day that the travel agent could hold the tickets for us. To help Angus not stress about spending so much money, I asked my dad if he could pay directly rather than having us pay now and forwarding us the money. That morning, before Angus left for work, we argued about money. He came home a couple of hours later, and we argued some more. He said that after this trip we would never travel overseas again, and that he was going to take complete control over the money situation so that we wouldn’t need to use so much on our credit card. It didn’t help that we were short on money at the time anyway. He told me that, if it were up to him, we wouldn’t go. I couldn’t not go.

I spent the morning worrying. I knew that to make him happy I needed to say we wouldn’t go. I knew that he would forever resent the amount of money spent, that it would delay us buying a house, and that the bitterness would build up inside him for years to come. But I also knew that I would forever resent not being able to go, that I would be similarly bitter for years to come. I had no idea what to do, there seemed to be no easy answer.

Then my dad called to let me know that he had paid for one adult and for Madelyn. It was done. Madelyn and I were going to England. Definitely. No going back, despite the money situation. It was happening.

The weight that had been on my shoulders all week evaporated. And as it did so, I realised that there was one other option. Not one I liked. Not one I would have chosen if it were up to me. But I knew it was the kindest thing to do. So I called Angus and asked him to come home for a minute, and I said to him,

“My dad called, he’s booked the flights for Madelyn and I…”

“Okay…” he replied, his face still twisted with worry, his shoulders still tense with stress.

“There is one option, and I don’t like it, but it’s there” I took a deep breath, “You don’t have to come.”

He visibly relaxed, and said that he’d been talking about the exact same idea with his boss. His boss thought he should go, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but they’d discussed the pros and cons of me going without him. Angus had only two concerns, 1) Would I be okay on the plane? and 2) A month (the length of time we’d planned on going) would be far too long for us to spend apart. I assured him that, while the flights would be hard, I’d cope. And we discussed shortening the trip to only two and a half weeks.

So it was decided. I called the travel agent, not to book Angus’s ticket, but to see about the possibility of moving our flight home to nearly two weeks earlier. It turned out that the only flight home around the date we wanted was right in the middle of a camp Angus would be involved in, so we pushed it out to three weeks. At 5pm, when the ticket would have stopped being held, it was official. Madelyn and I were travelling to the other side of the world without our husband and father.

People think we’re crazy. They feel frustrated at Angus, because they think he should be coming too. It’s not proper for a family to be so far from each other. But, if I may be so very real, it was going to ruin our marriage if I forced him to come. It wasn’t fair of him to ask me not to go. But, at the same time, it wasn’t fair of me to pressure him into going. We will miss each other very much, and the flight will be horrendous, but it is the best decision for our marriage. We are both extremely happy about it. Straight away, Angus started talking about maybe going over to Australia to visit friends of ours, even a potentially international missions trip. I mentioned that I can save up the money I earn teaching dance to use as spending money, and he said “I’ll give you some spending money too.” That evening, we did not argue at all. In fact, we haven’t really argued since.

Marriage isn’t about “ought to”s, and it’s not black and white. It involves a lot of compromise. We each had something we absolutely could not move on, and we needed to work around that for the benefit of each of us.

Twenty six things I love about my twenty six year old husband

It was my husband’s twenty sixth birthday, so I’ve written a list of one thing I love about him for every year of his life. I did the same thing three years ago, but I’ve done this list without looking at the last one, so hopefully I don’t double up.

I love…

1. His wisdom
2. His loyalty
3. His sense of humour
4. That he works so hard so that I can stay home with Madelyn
5. How he is so good at keeping secrets
6. And how he knows when to keep said secrets, and when it’s okay to tell others
7. The admiration and trust in Madelyn’s voice when she says “Daddy”
8. How smart he is
9. His honesty
10. How easily he gets along with everyone he meets
11. How much the kids he works with love him
12. The way he gains the respect of the kids he works with
13. How level-headed he is
14. His ability to stay calm in an emergency
15. How logical he is
16. How good he is with money
17. His leadership
18. His confidence
19. How much he loves Madelyn
20. How understanding he is
21. How he remains in control of his emotions
22. His support of me as Madelyn’s mother
23. His hospitality
24. His face
25. How much fun it is to do life with him
26. The way we have become so comfortable with each other

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“I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest — blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine.” 
― Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)

Sunday Special: What’s for Brunch?

(I know it’s not Sunday, but I was going through my drafts and found this, so thought I’d finish and publish it)

My husband and I have a particular fondness for breakfast foods. We love cooked breakfasts, and really enjoy having people over to share breakfast with us. Finding breakfast to share with a 9 month old can be quite tough. You don’t really want to give her too much bacon, it’s quite hard for her to eat pancakes, she can’t have cows milk…

So, what’s for Baby-Led Weaning Brunch?

French Toast (Eggy Bread) with Home-Made Berry Sauce and Fried Bananas 

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French toast, or eggy bread, is insanely easy to make. Simply coat day-old bread in raw egg and fry it. The berry sauce is easy too, all you need to do is heat up a tin of berries in juice with a teaspoon of sugar or honey, and stir it until it’s a nice gloopy texture. And of course, for fried bananas you…fry some bananas. Angus and I also had bacon and maple syrup. French toast with all the trimmings is so yummy, yummy, yummy.

What’s for Dinner? Sausages, peas and vegetable mash

 

If I’m honest, Angus is actually the better cook out of the two of us. He just seems to be more successful at it more often, and I think he enjoys cooking more than I do, too. So often, if he’s home, I’ll start out cooking dinner and he’ll take over. Sometimes he’ll just insist on cooking dinner and kick me right out of the kitchen until it’s ready.

This was one of those evenings. I could smell whatever he was cooking, and I knew it was going to be so, so yummy. I was right. What was for dinner?

Sausages, peas and vegetable mash

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We tend not to buy meat from the supermarket. We get home kill beef and pork once a year, as well as venison several times a year, and that usually lasts us almost the entire year. The sausages were beef, and I think they were actually the last of the home kill sausages.

This was Madelyn’s first time eating peas. Her pincer grip has really developed, and she gets so excited about being able to pick up each individual pea and put it in her mouth. It’s also exciting to spit them back out again.

The sausages and peas were, well, just sausages and peas. It was the vegetable mash that was really special, and it was that which I could smell as he was cooking it. It had potatoes, kumara, capsicum, carrots and onion in it, all mashed up together. The onion had been caramalised, so it was especially tasty. Madelyn loved it, too, and it was so easy for her to eat because she didn’t have to chew it. Definitely a winner for baby-led weaning dinner.

What’s For Dinner? Easy Pasta

Angus was working late last Thursday, so Madelyn and I just had a simple, lazy dinner.

I threw together some pasta, cooked capsicum and cooked cherry tomatoes with some tomato and roasted garlic tomato pasta sauce (the sauce was just from a jar). Madelyn had the pasta, raw cherry tomatoes and lightly cooked capsicum without any pasta sauce.

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She also had some cucumber and pear. Pears are a funny thing to have with pasta, I know, but we have fruit bowls on the dining table and I always eat heaps of it once I’ve finished dinner. If I pick up something she wants, she’ll reach out towards it, so I give it to her. She wanted some pear with her dinner.

DSCF1615I know it’s not much, but when you’re just cooking for one adult and a baby who will probably throw most of it on the floor (or stuff it under her legs, which is her new thing) anyway, you don’t tend to go to too much effort. Pasta with vegetables and half a jar of pasta sauce is a winner for dinner when the husband is away.

 

Maddy and her Daddy

This little girl loves her daddy. DSCF1312 Her face lights up when she hears him arriving home. She turns to me, her eyes sparkling, and sighs happily. As he walks to the door, she sees him, and her little feet wave around. The first thing he does when he gets inside is kisses and tickles her, and she giggles and blushes. She pats whatever she’s eating or playing with, as if to say “Look what I’m doing, Daddy.” If she hears his voice while breastfeeding, she’ll stop feeding and start trying to sit up to get a look at him. Even if she’s half asleep. And she cries when he leaves for work in the morning. It is the cutest, most sad thing, watching her face as she realises he’s stopped playing with her and has started to leave.

Yesterday, while they were playing together, she looked at him and said “Da!” for the first time. She doesn’t know what that sound means yet, but the timing was brilliant.

She knows he delights in her. She knows she is his precious little girl. She knows her daddy loves her.

Deserving extravagant thanks (the Proverbs 31 Woman)

The husband half of a couple from our church is treating his wife to a trip to Melbourne with a friend (who he is also treating), to thank her for the way she has supported him and helped him with his farm for the past couple of years.

What extravagance. What thoughtfulness. What a guy.

And if I’m honest, my first thought was “Oh, how lucky she is. My husband would never do that.” I even thought about telling him, specifically to make him see how much sweeter he could be. But as I thought more about it, a horrible realisation dawned on me…

The reason my husband would never treat me to a shopping trip in Melbourne is because I don’t deserve it.

I don’t say that to put myself down, to get sympathy, or to be shocking. It’s simply the truth. My husband is a reasonable and kind man, and if I deserved such an extravagant gift as thanks, then I would get it.

I might look after Madelyn relatively well, but I don’t do all that much to improve life for Angus. I don’t really keep the house that tidy, I don’t cook him dinner, I spend all his money. And I expect thanks for every tiniest thing I do.

In the 31st chapter of Proverbs, King Lemuel recalls his mother’s advice about the ideal wife. She is hardworking, she rises early in the morning to feed and clothe her family. She is wise with money, and makes good decisions that result in prosperity. Her body is strong from the work that it has done, and even at night, she does not give up her duty. She is generous. She helps those in need. Her children and husband praise her, and her husband is respected because of her. She honours the Lord, and for this she deserves to be praised.

My husband needs a wife who is steadfast, loyal, and motivated. Who takes care of things at home with joyfulness and humility. I want to be that wife. I want to be “the Proverbs 31 woman.” I want to deserve extravagant thanks.

‘J’ is for “Just a stay-at-home mum”

My daughter is 6 months old now, so when I meet people. they often ask “So, what do you do?” When I reply “Well, I take care of Madelyn,” they look kind of put off by that, so I always find myself qualifying it by saying “I do teach 3 dance classes a week…”

Because it seems there is something wrong with spending your days caring for your family.

…and that’s good enough for me

Women are assured that they’re not “just” a mum, that what they do makes a difference, that they have an important role in society. But I don’t really think that society’s view of stay-at-home mums is always that they’re unworthy. Mothers are becoming more and more valued, and raising a child who becomes a successful adult is considered significant. No, I don’t think that people are put off by my doing “nothing” because of their view of me as being lazy or not making a difference.

It seems to come from the perspective that I could not possibly be fulfilled by staying at home with my child.

They don’t look at me with disdain. They look at me with pity. I am educated, and have a high earning potential. And it seems to be generally well-accepted that someone like me, who could do very well working outside of home, would be bored at home with my baby. So they really can’t understand it when I claim to be so happy. In fact, the answer I get when I qualify myself by mentioning the dance classes I teach is a relieved “Oh, it must be nice to get a break from Madelyn.”

I don’t know if I’m a member of the norm, or not, but having Madelyn in a different building to me stresses me out. A different room is bad enough. The longest I have been away from her, apart from the 2 hours of surgery the night she was born, is an hour. One hour which felt like an eternity, where an invisible hook in my stomach pulled me towards the door, compelling me to go and find her.

Time with adults is wonderful. Time to dance, to shop, to read a book, is fantastic. But time away from her is not what I need. On days where I feel like it’s all too much, what would be far more helpful than being away from her, would be to have someone come and spend time with us both. Play with her while I have a shower, take a nap, or just sit and do whatever I want. Come and do my dishes, vacuum the house, or fold the washing. Time away from her isn’t what rejuvenates me. Time away from the heavy responsibilities of my new life is what rejuvenates me.

There are a whole lot of things that I love doing, and could do as a job. But I love kissing the soft underside of her chin more. I do have days where I wish I could be more involved at the dance studio, but I remind myself that I’m never going to regret the time I spend with Madelyn. There is not one moment of her life that I have missed. I received her first smile. I made her giggle her first giggle. I saw her first clumsy attempts at crawling. I wouldn’t swap those moments for anything.

I am so, so thankful that my husband and I are in a position that allows me to stay at home for as long as I like. I know how rare that is these days, so I don’t take the privilege lightly.

I don’t need pity. I don’t need assurance that time without her is good for me. At home with my baby, I am more happy than I have ever been.

Four months old

Madelyn Maria is now four months old.

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She is growing and changing so much. Every day, there is something new to celebrate.

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She was seeming massive to me, until she got to 4 months old and was still no where near fitting into her 3 – 6 month sized clothing. She must still be on the smaller side of life. But she’s still so healthy and yummy and chubby. I’m finding now I can’t even remember how tiny she was when she was first born.

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On the 10th of June, a week before she turned 4 months old, Madelyn started sitting up by herself. She does the “tripod sit,” where she supports herself with her hands. She’s still not quite strong enough to sit without someone sitting behind her because she’ll often suddenly face-plant, or tip to the side, which is pretty cute. She’s always been an upright baby, she detests laying down, so I guess it makes sense that she would have found a way to hold herself upright as soon as possible.

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On the 18th of June, the day after she turned 4 months old, she rolled over from her back on to her tummy. That means she can now do a full circle, but I don’t think she knows that yet. It had been looking like that’s what she was going to do for a while, but she couldn’t quite make it. We were playing on her play mat, and I started shaking a toy up beside her shoulder. She tried so hard to reach for it, but kept falling back onto her back, so when she got herself half way over I just held her there and she completed the roll. We did this a couple of times, and then, with much effort, she rolled over onto her tummy all by herself. My clever girl.

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She has found her feet. They are the most exciting thing out. She keeps looking at them like, “Everywhere I go, those things are there!”  It’s also extremely fun to taste them. A couple of times I’ve caught her looking at them, and I could swear she’s been thinking “I wonder what they taste like… I should eat them” because she’s wobbled forward like “1…2…” and then suddenly lurched forward and stuffed her feet in her mouth.

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We’ve officially come to the stage in life where we can’t have anything in front of us on the desk or table, if she’s sitting on our knee. She grabs for everything that passes her line of vision. More and more, she has actually been able to grab on to whatever she’s reaching for, and she can hold things for quite a long time. There are still plenty of times though where she swipes and misses by a mile. She’s particularly good at pulling hair.

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She loves being on her tummy, and we don’t think it will be too long before she crawls. She already seems to be trying to figure it out. It’s like she knows that if she does something with her arms and legs, she’ll move forward, but she hasn’t quite figured out what that something is. She mostly just puts her head down and frantically waves her arms and kicks her legs, and then looks up like “Did I move yet?”

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She giggles. It is the most beautiful sound in the world. She isn’t yet consistent about what she will giggle at, so we’re having fun trying to find out what makes her laugh. She is very ready with her giggles, but then we’ll do something again that she’d previous giggled at and she’ll just look at us blankly.

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And she is on full volume all the time. She squeals with delight and shouts. When she’s upset, she loudly lets us know. She just loves making herself heard. She charms people wherever we go. She smiles so easily, and she’s just started doing the adorable smile-then-hide-in-mum’s-shoulder thing.

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Her daddy is the flavour of the month. Whenever he walks in the room, she stops whatever she’s doing to look at him, and she won’t stop looking until he comes over and gives her kisses and makes her giggle. She talks loudly and exuberantly to him. She loves being kissed on the face, it makes her close her eyes in bliss and wriggle around. She has this beautiful “Hey, I know you!” smile that is just for us.

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We love her so much. She is delighted in. Our precious little daughter.

My husband, the emergency medical technician

In my last blog post, I mentioned that my next blog would contain exciting news that was up there with “I’m having a baby!”…

One thing I may not have mentioned on this blog (though our friends and family will know already) is that my husband has been studying to become an EMT. He’s had to do it part time, as he needs to work full time, so he’s been volunteering at the local ambulance station doing night shifts once week, and has been attending block courses. The big examination at the end of the course is a massive interview. They suggest setting aside two or three hours for this interview, it’s quite intense, and in order to pass you can’t get anything wrong. It involves not only being able to remember all that has been learnt during the course, but also being able to effectively communicate that, and have good rationale for ambulance jobs that you have volunteered on. They don’t just look for knowledge, they look for competence, calm under pressure, experience. You have two chances to sit the interview, and a lot of people don’t pass the first time round.

My husband’s interview was this Tuesday. He has been using every spare second he’s had to study. He really, really, really wanted to pass, so he’s been absolutely dedicated to ensuring he’s in the best position to do so.

His interview was at 1:30pm. Remember how I said the interview usually takes 2 or 3 hours? At 2:30, he sent me a text saying “Yay, I passed.” His interview only lasted 45 minutes! I’d planned what I’d say if he passed (and if he didn’t, though I was sure he would), but when he text me two hours earlier then I thought he would, all I could say was “Already?!”

The two men interviewing him said that some of his rationale was better than what they could do. They said they’d see him at the ILS  (Intermediate Life Support) course in about two years. They said that they’d call the district manager and tell her how much she wanted to keep him in the area, and to offer him a job. My husband is smart. And impressive. I am so proud.

This means that he can apply for a full time, paid position at an ambulance station. Being so well-liked by those who run the course is a good position to be in.

He worked so hard to achieve this. It’s been what he’s wanted to do for so long. I am so proud of him, I could burst.